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Diamond Head Theatre: Show stoppers
DHT PRODUCERS AWARDS
The Ranch House
Nostalgia rules at the reinvented Ranch House Restaurant — today’s version of the old Aina Haina landmark that served up steaks, chops and good old Americana for decades until it closed in the ’80s. The Old West ambience is back with saddles and ranch paraphernalia, and so are many of the meaty menu favorites, although the overall effect is somewhat lightened up with seafood selections such as Chinese-style steamed fish.
Recommended: Prime rib crusted with Hawaiian alae salt, meatloaf with Hamakua mushroom brown gravy, Mongolian braised short ribs.
449 Kapahulu Ave. No. 201; 737-4461. Dinner. $$$
Chef Darren Demaya has reinvented the buffet at the Sheraton Waikiki’s bold and beautiful Kai Market. The concept is a “farm-to-table” buffet, which basically slaps down the traditional limp, beige, warming-table image of the genre. Demaya’s goal is to offer as much locally grown produce as possible, on a menu that represents the cultures that have defined Hawaii’s palate since plantation days.
Recommended: Niihau chowder, Misoyaki Marinated Hapu’upu’u, “Kahlua” Drunken Duck, bread pudding with Wild Turkey brandy sauce.
Sheraton Waikiki, 2255 Kalakaua Ave., 921-4600, www.sheraton-waikiki.com/dining/kai. Breakfast, dinner. $$$$
Kincaid’s Fish, Chop & Steak House
This past ‘Ilima Award winner is a favorite of business lunchers, celebrating families and pau hana diners, especially for seafood specials such as the annual Copper River salmon run.
Recommended: Pea salad, crab cakes, New York steak in brandy peppercorn sauce.
Ward Warehouse,1050 Ala Moana Blvd.; 591-2005. www.kincaids.com. Lunch, dinner. $$$
BEST SPECIAL OCCASION
Hy’s Steak House
At Hy’s, patrons step back in time to cozy banquettes, tableside preparations, tuxedoed waiters and plush, dim surroundings. While some menu items have been updated, this is one of the few places where you can get classic cuts such as Delmonico and porterhouse.
Recommended: Bone-in steaks, chicken Marsala, chocolate-lovers’ flambe.
2440 Kuhio Ave.; 922-5555, www.hyshawaii.com. Dinner. $$$$
BEST QUICK DINNER
Big City Diner
Local boy Lane Muraoka went from dishwasher to director of a family of restaurants offering a wide-ranging menu, breakfast, lunch, dinner and brunch in bustling family-friendly environments popular with locals and visitors of all ages.
Recommended: Grandma’s Incredible Kim Chee Fried Rice, Paniolo Chicken Salad, Boneless Korean Kalbi Steak.
Waipio Shopping Center, Pearlridge, Ward Entertainment Center, Kaimuki, Kailua. www.bigcitydinerhawaii.com. $$
JJ Bistro & French Pastry
“JJ” is Laos native Praseuth Luangkhot, the chef who presides over this wonderland of pastries. JJ made his name with his Chocolate Raspberry Pyramid, but the display case here offers a bewildering array of sweet choices. And JJ does meals, too.
Recommended: Haupia tart, variety of mousses hidden in chocolate ganache.
3447 Waialae Ave.; 739-0993; www.jjfrenchpastry.com. Lunch, desserts, dinner. $