HONOLULU, HAWAII — When Honolulu residents choose to celebrate life in an island city or entertain out of town visitors, many will go to the Hau Tree Lanai Restaurant for its wonderful beach-side ambiance beneath the leafy canopies of ancient hau trees. Now, the readers of Honolulu magazine have confirmed what most residents have long known to be true, that the Hau Tree Lanai is “Honolulu’s best restaurant for outdoor dining.” And the magazine has made it official by bestowing the Hau Tree Lanai with the Gold Award for “Best Outdoor Dining” as part of the publication’s 25th annual Hale Aina awards.
The restaurant and its unique setting on the foot of Sans Souci beach have won numerous accolades for its ambiance. In fact, the famous Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson wrote about the site, “If anyone desires suchold fashion things as lovely scenery, quiet, pure air, clear sea water, good food and heavenly sunsets hung out before his eyes over the Pacific and the distant hills of Waianae, I recommend him cordially to Sans Souci beach.” J.P. Cercillieux, the hotel’s Executive Vice President and General Manager says that he and the Hau Tree Lanai staff feel they are responsible for a unique part of Honolulu’s history as much as they are for running one of the city’s most popular restaurants.
Hau Tree Lanai Restaurant Executive Chef Rene Caba celebrates the restaurant’s special location with an equally inviting breakfast, lunch and dinner menus that offer local favorites as well as traditional continental cuisine. The breakfast menu includes “Loco Moco,” a local working man’s favorite combination of corned beef hash and cutlet of ground chuck, pork, and sausage, on a bed of rice, topped with an egg and mushroom gravy. But by far the most popular breakfast is one of the restaurant’s varied preparations of Eggs Benedict. Choose from Eggs Benedict Kaimana (traditional preparation) to Salmon Benedict Florentine, Crab Benedict or the Garden Benedict (Benedict with sliced vine-ripened tomatoes and sauteed spinach). A popular lunch item is the fresh-from-the-sea Scampi and Mahi Burger. The lunch menu also offers a wide variety of hot and cold entrees. The dinner menu includes fresh fish entrees including the popular Chinese Steamed Opakapaka. Equally requested are the Colorado lamb chops, flame broiled filet mignon and Hawaiian grilled chicken.
Like Caba, who has been at the restaurant for 20 years (the last five years as Executive Chef) many of the 40 restaurant staff count their tenure in decades, not months or years. Maitre D’ Mathew Leong has been at the Hau Tree Lanai Restaurant for 30 years and the average length of service for staff is 15 years. The result, according to Food and Beverage Manager Jay Walfhoff, is a staff that works together seamlessly, easily acknowledges repeat patrons and accommodates special requests.
The New Otani’s other popular restaurant, Miyako, didn’t get a nod this year from Honolulu magazine readers as a favorite location for outdoor dining, perhaps because its outdoor lanai tables were added just within the last year or so. But the outside lanai tables, or those inside, overlook Sans Souci beach from the hotel’s third floor and offer some of the best views of Waikiki Beach and the Waianae mountain range in the distance. Sunsets are often spectacular.
While the Hau Tree Lanai comes quickly to mind, the Miyako is less well known. But Cercillieux thinks that this is destined to change, and for good reason. The restaurant offers some of the most authentic Japanese cuisine in Honolulu. The Tokyo-trained Chef Shintaro Kuwabara meticulously prepares and presents favorite dishes like nabe, sushi, sashimi, donburi, Kobe steak and many varieties of fresh fish. Unique at the restaurant is the Kaiseki seasonal menu, which changes monthly to feature the freshest seasonal items available. Guests can also choose private tatami rooms. Those who are unfamiliar with Japanese cuisine will find Miyako’s friendly and knowledgeable waitresses, all of whom wear kimonos, very helpful.
For more information, call The New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel, 808 923-1555.