Rising Stars: Perpetual Awards
Chosen by Honolulu Star-Advertiser dining and food writers
This year we initiate a perpetual “Rising Stars” award to the student-run restaurants at Kapiolani and Leeward community colleges. These restaurants are training grounds for the next generation of Hawaii’s restaurant chefs and managers, but the dining experiences they offer are professional and sophisticated.
Just make allowances if your server seems a little nervous.
We salute the ambitions of these students and the dedication of their teachers.
KA ‘IKENA LAUA’E
It’s hard to capsulize the Ka ‘Ikena experience because it’s a moving target. The fine-dining restaurant at Kapiolani Community College is a training ground for the school’s culinary students, so the staff changes by semester and evolves as each semester progresses. Lunch is a continental menu that changes weekly; dinner is Asian, changing every eight weeks. Should you chance it? For sure, as a talented teaching staff sees to overall quality. The price is right, too: Dinner is a four-course prix-fixe at $28 to $32. That, and the view from up there is gorgeous.
$$ Kapiolani Community College, 4303 Diamond Head Road, ‘Ohelo Building; 734-9499 until 4:30 p.m., 734-9488 from 4:30 to 8 p.m.; culinary.kapiolani.hawaii.edu. Lunch, dinner.
The west side of Oahu offers few options for an upscale sit-down meal, unless you’re willing to pay the resort prices at Ko Olina. The exception is The Pearl, the student-run restaurant at Leeward Community College, where the menu is sophisticated and the prices are low. The culinary students may be inexperienced, but their instructor, Ian Riseley, is a pro and he watches over their every move. The only problem is The Pearl is open for lunch only Wednesdays through Fridays. If you’re free at that time on those days, though, you really should partake. The menu changes every two weeks, so partake often.
$$ Leeward Community College, 96-045 Ala Ike St., Pearl City; 455-0475; www.leeward.hawaii.edu/thepearl. Lunch.