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Honolulu is known for its diverse ethnic cuisines, so it's a surprise that Dagon Burmese is the island's only Burmese restaurant. It’s a neighborhood gem in an area full of eateries that cater to the University crowd, and servers are friendly and willing to walk first-time diners through the menu. Some items may look familiar, as the cooking of Myanmar often resembles that of neighboring countries --- so novices may recognize hints of India in the biryani listed among rice selections, or in the spice mixture in the curries, which cross Indian and Thai flavors. It's BYOB, so feel free to bring along a light wine or beer to complement your meal. Dagon Burmese, 2671 S. King St., Honolulu, HI 96826, 808-947-0088.
One thing Honolulu sorely lacks, when compared to mainland cities, is boozy brunch options. At Koko Head Cafe, locals line up for chef Lee Anne Wong’s creative takes on local favorites, like the koko moco. Loco mocos are ubiquitous on breakfast menus in Hawaii but this one comes smothered in a rich mushroom gravy, topped with kimchi tempura and served in a small cast iron skillet, allowing the garlic rice underneath to crisp up to add a nice layer of texture. Hawaii's affection for Asian flavors get a nod with a daily dumpling special, congee and even a breakfast bibimbap. Wash it all down with the Queen's Mimosa, made with sparkling cava, elderflower liqueur and fresh guava juice. The place is busy every day, but especially on the weekends when you're likely to run into other chefs from around the island enjoying their day off. Expect a wait unless you come right at opening. Koko Head Cafe, 1145 12th Ave., Ste. C, Honolulu, HI 96816, 808-732-8920.
At Sangrita Grill + Cantina, chef-owner Paris Nabavi took some of the favorite offerings from his former restaurant, Cilantros, like rotisserie chicken, and then added gourmet Mexican delights. Sangrita features three distinctly different guacamoles, and the same goes for the ceviche. Tacos come in duck, chicken, chapulines (grasshopper), short rib, veggie and shrimp versions; and made-to-order enchiladas are complemented by roja, poblano verde, fig mole or suiza sauces. There are more than 20 tequilas and mezcals to taste as well. Sangrita is tucked into The Fairway Shops in Lahaina, and guests may opt for al fresco tables to enjoy the tropical weather or go for the climate controlled environment of the dining room. Sangrita Grill + Cantina, The Fairway Shops, 2580 Kekaa Dr., Lahaina, HI 96761, 808-662-6000.
W Bistro has opened in the former space of Le Guignol in Honolulu. The restaurant offers a menu of New American cuisine highlighting local food producers. Expect dishes such as steak frites, seafood coconut curry, organic Meyer lemon chicken and blackened mahi mahi. For dessert, you'll find cheesecake, macadamia nut gelato and white chocolate and blueberry bread pudding topped with vanilla anglaise. W Bistro, Medical Arts Building, 1010 S. King St., Honolulu, HI 96814, 808-589-2295.
The brand new Andaz Maui at Wailea is the magnificent home to Morimoto Maui, chef Masaharu Morimoto’s first restaurant on the island. The sushi menu is extensive with sustainable ahi, white fish, eel, caviars, pickled veggies and more. A surprising selection of Asian-inspired flatbreads and sandwiches are on the menu as well. Morimoto Maui, Andaz Maui at Wailea, 3550 Wailea Alanui Dr., Wailea, HI 96753, 808-573-1234.
The Pig and The Lady began as a pop-up and has since established a brick-and-mortar location in Honolulu's Chinatown. Chef Andrew Le’s menu is inspired by Vietnamese family cooking and offers bahn mi sandwiches and hand-cut pho noodle soups, plus larger plates like Shinsato pork. The Pig and The Lady, 83 N. King St., Honolulu, HI 96817, 808-585-8255.
Wade Ueoka and Michelle Karr-Ueoka, both alums of Alan Wong's Honolulu, are behind MW Restaurant. The menu, which highlights local produce, meat and seafood, features dishes such as Kauai shrimp with seafood ravioli; grilled kalbi short ribs; and miso butterfish and unagi duo. MW Restaurant, 1538 Kapiolani Blvd., Ste. 106, Honolulu, HI 96814, 808-955-6505.
PACREP, LLC, announced that it will partner with ESquared Hospitality to launch Hawaii's second BLT restaurant: BLT Market. The "farm to table" restaurant will be located at The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach, on Oahu, and is set to open in late 2015 or early 2016. BLT Market's menu will feature an array of organic and sustainable grains, herbs, vegetables, fish and free-range animals. It will be driven by the seasonal availability of ingredients sourced from local and regional areas that supply the city's farmers markets. BLT Market, The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach, 2112 Kalakaua Ave., Honolulu, HI 96815, no phone.
New Menu Items at Chef Mavro
Chef Mavro has unveiled new summer menu items. Among these seasonal inspirations are the Meli-Melo Salad with upcountry vegetables of the day, Sumida Farm watercress purée, watercress salad, watercress stems, poppy seeds and chickpea fritters on the "Hana Hou" (Guest Favorites) menu, as well as a new dessert on the Chef's Menu: Waialua chocolate cremeux, acai-blackberry sorbet, "sand" and coulis. Chef Mavro, 1969 S. King St., Honolulu, HI 96826, 808-944-4714.
New Menu at Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa's Luau
Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa has unveiled a new menu for the sunset luau held every Wednesday and Saturday at the resort. Dishes include J.A. Farms' garden salad, Waipio Valley poi, pulehu (barbecue) steak, and grilled chicken with Hamakua mushrooms. For more information, visit www.sunsetluau.com. Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, 69-275 Waikoloa Beach Dr., Waikoloa, HI 96738, 808-886-6789, 800-922-5533.
Sushi & New Sun Sails at Honu's on the Beach
Honu's on the Beach at Courtyard King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel has added new sun sails to cover the outdoor seating area of the restaurant. In addition, "Sushi and Jazz" has been extended to three times a week on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights. Honu's on the Beach, 75-5660 Palani Rd., Kailua Kona, HI 96740, 808-329-2911, 888-236-2427.
Percy Taylor has taken over as executive chef at Brasserie Du Vin in Honolulu. A flourless chocolate cake has been added to the menu of French dishes. Brasserie Du Vin, 1115 Bethel St., Honolulu, HI 96813, 808-545-1115.
Johnny Loua has joined Mauna Kea Beach Hotel as chef de cuisine of the resort's Manta & Pavilion Wine Bar, which will soon unveil a new menu. Manta & Pavilion Wine Bar, Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, 62-100 Mauna Kea Beach Dr., Kamuela, HI 96743, 808-882-5810.
Ono Gelato Espresso Bar has closed its location in The Outlets of Maui shopping complex in Lahaina. Ono Gelato Espresso Bar, 900 Front St., Lahaina, HI 96761, no phone.
After more than two decades in business, the Grateful Dead-themed, family restaurant Stella Blues Cafe on Maui has closed. Stella Blues Cafe, Azeka's II Shopping Center, 1279 S. Kihei Rd., Kihei, HI 96753, no phone.
Yum Cha Asian Eatery at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa has closed. Yum Cha Asian Eatery, Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa, Poipu Bay Golf Course Clubhouse, 1571 Poipu Rd., Koloa, HI 96756, no phone.
View our calendar of Wine Dinners & Tastings in Hawaii