Grind Time: Arancino unveils new menu items

Jul. 17, 2014 | 0 Comments

COURTESY ARANCINO AT THE KAHALAArancino at The Kahala celebrates its first anniversary with a number of new menu items.

COURTESY ARANCINO AT THE KAHALA

Arancino at The Kahala celebrates its first anniversary with a number of new menu items.

BY JASON GENEGABUS / jason@staradvertiser.com

Local residents used to enjoying an expensive dinner at Hoku’s or high tea at The Veranda may not realize another dining option is available at the Kahala Hotel and Resort.

Yes, Plumeria Beach House and Seaside Grill also serve food. But it’s Arancino at The Kahala, which just celebrated its first anniversary at the hotel, that is gaining fans of the modern Italian cuisine coming out of executive chef Daisuke Hamamoto’s kitchen.

Hamamoto also launched a number of new menu items late last month in honor of the anniversary, including the addition of Miyazaki Premium Wagyu Beef. Winner of the Prime Minister’s Award in Japan for the last 10 years, this beef is imported from Miyazaki Prefecture and prepared sous vide-style for Arancino diners.

We stopped by for dinner last week to try a few of the new dishes. The meal started with an amuse bouche of corn foam with bits of proscuitto on top:

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While we waited for the first course, our server brought out one of Arancino’s signature cocktails.

The Dolce Vita ($11) is an adaption of the classic Mai Tai, made with Flor de Cana Extra Dry and Myers Dark rums, orange curaçao, honey syrup, passionfruit puree and lime. It was a great way to feel touristy without being tacky and ordering a Blue Hawaii or a Chi Chi.

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Other signature cocktails include the namesake Arancino ($11) made with Skyy blood orange vodka, Combier Liqueur D’Orange, passionfruit puree and pomegranate; the Baci Rossi ($13) made with Dimmi di Milano liqueur, strawberry puree and sweet and sour; or the Peach Milano ($12) made with Dimmi di Milano, Stirrings Peach liqueur, Tanqueray gin, sweet and sour, club soda and fresh mint leaves. Another new option is the Sangria Fiore ($40) served in a 750 mL carafe and made with St. Germain liqueur, pinot grigio and fresh fruit. This one sounds like a lot of fun for large groups who want to drink and dine in the classic Italian family style.

Those who don’t drink might want to go for Arancino’s Whole Leaf Tea Service ($9), which is served in a custom tea set with honey, lemon and milk. Guests have a choice between Darjeeling or Earl Grey teas.

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Of course, you need some bread to go with the alcohol. Arancino elevates the simple bread plate with this offering of rosemary foccacia, left, and a whole wheat square next to a parmesan crostini. It was all served with a generous slab of softened butter and Hawaiian sea salt.

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Our first course was the Crostacei di Mare ($19), a plate of Kona abalone, Molokai ama-ebi, micro greens and herb oil, arranged by Chef Hamamoto himself to look like an ocean reef on a plate.

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We went from the delicate flavors of the sea to the decadence of foie gras next with Arancino’s Fegato d’Oca ($19). A generous serving of sautéed foie gras was topped with a not-too-sweet wild raspberry and red wine reduction; two small bread squares were provided to help soak up any leftover sauce. It may not have looked very pretty on the plate, but the flavor was amazing.

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From there it was off to even more savory dishes, including this plate of Spaghetti alla Carbonara ($25). Made with plenty of cheese, cream and truffle butter, this heavenly plate was served with sliced pancetta and a poached egg that provided the perfect amount of runny yolk to mix into the pasta.

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Diners with food allergies will find Arancino to be very accommodating; this plate of Tagliatelle ai Frutti di Mare ($26) was actually made with brown rice noodles for someone with sensitivity to gluten. The different pasta didn’t keep the plate from overflowing with pieces of tiger shrimp and scallops tossed in a lemon garlic white wine truffle oil.

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The star of the show had to be the Miyazaki beef. The Bistecca alla Lavanda ($42) was infused with lavender and placed in a sous vide machine to cook. While we appreciated the technique, there’s really not much you can do to mess up a cut of beef as incredible as this stuff.

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Here’s another look at the plate, which arrived with salt, pepper and house made mustard along with a unique shoyu gelee that provided an adjustable salty/sour component to each bite. Can you see the happy face?

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We also got to try the Grigliata di Mare ($38), a plate of grilled lobster, scallops, shrimp, calamari, watercress pesto and a spicy tomato sauce.

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For dessert, I went against my gut instinct to order an affogato with housemade vanilla gelato and opted instead for the Monte Bianco ($10), a yummy nugget of custard-filled chestnut puree accompanied by chestnut meringue triangles and a yuzu honey sauce. I was surprised how quickly I cleaned my plate!

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Arancino’s current five-course tasting menu is priced at $85 ($110 with wine pairings by Japanese world champion grand master sommelier Shinya Tasaki) and provides great value, with some of the restaurant’s newest and most popular dishes available to order.

Looking to save a bit of time and money? Head to Arancino for lunch, when the restaurant offers a three-course meal for $39. Diners receive a choice of antipasti, pizza and dessert.

Arancino at The Kahala is located at The Kahala Hotel and Resort, 5000 Kahala Ave. Open daily for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and dinner from 5 to 10:30 p.m. (last seating at 9:30 p.m.). Four hours of complimentary self or valet parking is available with validation. Call (808) 380-4400 for reservations.
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“Grind Time” is always looking for the latest places to get your grub on. Email Jason Genegabus with restaurant, bar or any other food/drink-related item at jason@staradvertiser.com and follow him on Twitter and Google+.