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Food La La: Tsunami’s revamps menu
BY LINDSEY MURAOKA / Special to the Star-Advertiser
On Tuesday, Feb. 12, I went to check out Tsunami Hawaii and their revamped food menu created by new executive chef Wade Ueoka (formerly of Alan Wong’s).
Better known as Tsunami’s, the S. King St. bar and lounge has been open for four years serving up bar-style dishes, such as their popular ahi poke balls, but managing partner Bryan Yoshida said it was time for a change. He said Tsunami’s wants to be known for their food and not just solely as a bar, so in came Ueoka to take over the kitchen and create beautifully plated dishes made from fresh local ingredients.
Ueoka worked at Alan Wong’s for 17 years. He started as a dishwasher and worked his way up to chef de cuisine, so he knows his way around the kitchen. He was also featured on Starchefs.com last year as one of “Hawaii’s Rising Stars.”
As soon as I heard a chef from Alan Wong’s was taking over the kitchen, I just knew I had to try it out. I was invited to sample some of the new dishes as Yoshida’s guest, so I got a group of my food loving friends to join me.
Chef Wade Ueoka.
The first dish to come out was Chips and Dip, made with won ton chips and avocado ($6). The avocado was creamy and had a strong citrus flavor. Of course, you can never go wrong with ordering chips and dip when you want something to snack on while drinking.
I would never go out of my way to order a vegetable dish, especially at a bar, so I was quite surprised by how much I enjoyed this dish!
This is Ho Farm Vegetable “Poke” ($8), made with okra, tomato, long bean, squash, and cucumbers tossed in a sauce made with kochujang.
The vegetables used in this dish were very fresh and vibrant. The sauce was not spicy at all instead it was tangy and bright. I couldn’t stop eating this.
Ueoka’s inspiration for the new menu is to take comfort food and give them a twist. His take on pork tonkatsu is to cook it twice and pair it with braised cabbage and a mustard katsu sauce ($16).
Unfortunately, the pork was a little overcooked. The first end piece I had was tough but my second piece towards the middle was juicy. I liked the braised cabbage idea since traditionally tonkatsu is served over raw cabbage.
My favorite dish of the night was the hot roast duck sandwich with garbonzo bean mash (3 sandwiches for $16). The duck meat was tender and the gravy rich and tasty. The cilantro on top gave it an additional kick of flavor. This reminded me of a fancier version of my favorite dish to eat at Zippy’s when I was a kid, the hot roast turkey sandwich with gravy and mashed potatoes, which Ueoka took inspiration from since he used to work there for two years as a cook before Alan Wong’s.
I also really liked the Beer and Nuts (three pieces for $12) — pork belly braised in the bar’s signature Hi beer and boiled peanut pesto inside of bao buns. The pork was fatty and more tender in this dish compared to the tonkatsu.
We also tried some of Ueoka’s specials of the day. This is an ahi tofu salad ($15) with okra, karabi, and locally made natto. I’m not a natto fan, but this natto was not as pungent as others I’ve tried. This dish was light and fresh and definitely not something you would usually see served at a bar.
The highlight and finale of the night was another daily special — spicy maguro poke topped with uni and bubu arare ($20). Anything topped with delicious creamy uni gets an A+ in my book. I would have loved to have this dish all to myself so I could slowly savor each and every bite, but instead I had to eat it quickly because my three other friends loved this dish as well and were not going to leave any of it left on the plate.
Here’s an up close picture of it to show just how awesome it is!
Yoshida said Tsunami’s will continue to come out with new items to constantly keep the menu fresh. I can’t wait to go back and try more dishes!
Tsunami’s is located at 1272 S. King St. Reach them by phone at (808) 596-0700.
Lindsey Muraoka blogs about food and drink for the Pulse. Contact her on Twitter or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.