Back from Hawaii–The Restaurants Are Still Great

Years ago, when we first sampled Hawaiian Regional Cuisine in the Islands, the stars at that time were Jean-Marie Josselin, Roy Yamaguchi and Beverly Gannon, among others. We were not, at that time, fans of Peter Merriman. Well, after a longed-for retreat from the New York cold to glorious Hawaii, I can now report to you that the stars of Hawaiian Regional Cuisine are—-Jean-Maire Josselin, Roy Yamaguchi and Beverly Gannon–and we still don’t like Peter Merriman (although truthfully we only sampled his pizza and burgers place).

Roy’s, first established in Honolulu, now has satellites all over the world and, if they are anything like the ones in Hawaii, they have remained great. His signature dishes include braised beef short ribs,

roy's braised short ribs Szechuan pork ribs,

roy's pork ribs( and his chocolate souffle

roy's chocolate souffle(; we sampled them and they are still memorable. Any good restaurant in Hawaii must know how to treat fish and he does, particularly his special butterfish.roy's misoyaki butterfish( and of course, the always great Hawaiian delicacy, ahi poke.

roy's ahi poke 2Our first Josselin restaurant was A Pacific Cafe on Kauai, now gone, and the Beach House on Kauai, now under different management, but after a sojourn in San Francisco, Josselin is back on Kauai with Josselin’s Tapas Bar and Grill. This is not Spanish food, but rather local dishes in smallish portions and all superb–some of the most creative and delicious cooking we have had. The kabocha pumpkin ravioli and the ahi tacos,

Josselins fish tacos the fried oysters and Josselins fried oystersthe roasted lamb meatballs,Josselins lamb ballsand his own special versions of roast chickenJOsselins roast chickenand ribeye steak.Josselins ribeye steakBTW, even I had a glass of the lychee sangria–sweet–just what I like. Desserts were delicious –familiar old friends.Josselins dessertsBeverly Gannon, now 65, still watches over Joe’s Bar and Grill, the Hali‘imaile General Store and Gannon’s on Maui and all that supervision makes a difference. Joe’s serves what it calls “classic American cuisine with a twist, ” including meat loaf, prime rib and ribs.joes ribsI loved their taquitos.JOes taquitosThey will, however, be changing their menu and their management so I suspect things won’t be the same but it was nice to revisit.

Fine restaurants in Hawaii are not cheap–in fact, the prices may have been higher than Manhattan–this is because everything that is not grown or fished in Hawaii has to be flown in from elsewhere.  The  fish and vegetables, however, are local and when you rave about the lettuce, you know you are eating local food. The beef can also be from Hawaii and is splendid.  This is a vacation paradise and paradise is not cheap, but go and enjoy–a day in the sun, a night at a fine restaurant–oh well, somebody had to do it.


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