This past weekend, P and I decided to get a leg up on Christmas shopping in town (that’s what they call “the city,” or the Honolulu/Waikiki area here). We decided to stay in the area afterward and try someplace new for dinner. I’m a member of Slow Food, and learned about Town through the Oahu chapter’s website. Town is a restaurant that serves food grown from local farms around the island, supporting the slow food movement, from farm to table. It promotes sustainability on a local level and has a menu that changes daily. Meaning: your food is farm-fresh, not frozen and flown in from hundreds of miles away. My cup of tea.
Town is located in Kaimuki, southeast of Honolulu. After some shopping, P and I got hungry pretty early and arrived at the restaurant about 5:20pm. It opens for dinner at 5:30pm so we hung out at the front of the restaurant for a few minutes, and looked at the menu they had up from the day before (pictured above). Town is a cute and trendy place, kind of reminiscent to us of a small San Francisco or New York eatery, with metal tables and chairs, modern and minimalistic decor. The outside of the restaurant was lined with bougainvilleas, which always adds a charming touch.
I noticed that on the menu for the previous day, there was a bottarga pasta. Now, I’ve only heard of bottarga from an Anthony Bourdain “No Reservations” episode where he shared it with his wife and family in Sardinia. It’s basically fish roe (eggs) that’s been dried and cured. Naturally, I like to try everything at least once, so was intrigued by it. I asked the server where they got it from (because Sardinia is a far away place from Hawaii) and surprisingly, the chef makes their own bottarga in their restaurant out of ahi tuna! Now if that isn’t a mark of local, slow food, I don’t know what is. Sad to say, it wasn’t on the menu the day we went, but I’m sure this won’t be the only time we’d be eating here.
Anyways, on to the food. P and I started off with some house-made bread that was served with nicoise olives and butter. (Sorry, I didn’t take pictures of the bread and olives, nor the dessert, because we just dove right in). I’m usually very picky with olives (I despise them most of the time), but was pretty surprised to taste a fruity, tart olive that wasn’t too briny. Delicious.
Next up came the salad that we shared. Roasted, sweet beets, sections of orange, fried chickpeas, fresh farm goat cheese, cucumber, and sharp arugula dressed in a light vinaigrette. Wonderful balance of flavors and a refreshing way to start out a meal. Our server also informed us that all our vegetables were not only local, but organic too. We definitely felt good about this choice.
This is what I got – home made, hand-cut pasta, with mussels, prawns, squid, and tomatoes in a light saffron and tomato broth. This was served in a right-sized bowl. I couldn’t get over the texture of the pasta! It was divinely light and chewy, and the seafood was cooked perfectly. If “town” is able to deliver fresh, hand-cut pasta to my door, let me be the first recipient!
Here’s P’s dish. Slow-roasted pork shoulder stuffed with fennel and other fresh herbs, served alongside a pool of creamy polenta and fresh kale and collard greens. So simple, yet so delicious. Let me just say that all he had to do was stick his fork in the meat and it fell apart. That’s how tender it was. The end.
And oh, I forgot. We usually never order dessert, but since everything we had for dinner was all so good, we wanted to try it out. We ordered the “miel and honey” panna cotta, served with starfruit and drizzled with honey from Waimanalo Farms. I wish I had taken a picture of it, but we both stuck our spoons in it before I remembered to take one. Let me just say it was both light and creamy at the same time, and wasn’t too sweet with the drizzle of honey. Perfect way to end a meal.
3435 Waialae Avenue
Kaimuki, Hawaii 96816