In Hawaiian, paakai means "sea salt," and the appropriately named Paakai restaurant in Turtle Bay Resort on the beautiful North Shore features sea-to-table cuisine. The upscale restaurant prides itself on offering fresh, locally caught fish, Kauai prawns, farm-raised lobster, sea asparagus, and, of course, dishes prepared with Hawaiian sea salt. One of its signature dishes is the crispy whole Big Island Kampachi with hearts of palm and shiitake mushrooms. Ask for a table near the restaurant's floor to ceiling windows for a stellar view of the Pacific Ocean as you dine. Paakai is a great place to unwind after exploring Oahu's North Shore.
Hoku's, located in the Kahala Hotel & Resort in the upscale east Honolulu neighborhood, offers couples innovative dishes which deftly meld Hawaiian, Asian, Mediterranean and European flavors. The hotel's signature restaurant recently revamped its menu, too and features culinary delights such as the "Aburi" Kampachi carpaccio, king crab and kinki fish bouillabaisse hot pot and "sous-vide" California squab. The menu also has helpful wine pairing for entrees, and gluten, nut and egg free designations next to certain dishes. If you want to get a taste of all that the restaurant has to offer, opt for its prix fixe menu, tasting, or degustation menus. You won't be disappointed.
Head to Hawaii Kai in East Honolulu to the ocean-side Roy's restaurant. It's where owner and chef Roy Yamaguchi opened his first Hawaii Regional cuisine restaurant more than 25 years ago. And now that the internationally known chef has locations across the U.S. the original Roy's is still a fine dining classic. Kick off your romantic night out with an order of sushi or Roy's dim sum style canoe for two which comes with mini crab cakes, miso salmon tempura roll, Szechuan pork ribs, shrimp sticks and Chinatown chicken spring rolls. The "ocean" entrees feature seared butterfish, blackened ahi, pan roasted ehu and mochiko crusted Kauai prawns. "Land" dishes include veal tenderloin Milanese, Jidori chicken and honey mustard grilled beef short ribs.
If you and your significant other want a little history, stellar views and top-notch service to go with your fine dining experience, then make reservations for two at the Beachhouse. The ocean-side restaurant is located in the Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa, which is celebrating its 115th anniversary this year. The menu features a raw bar, appetizers, salads and soups made with local ingredients, as well as steaks, Maine lobster tail, Alaskan king crab legs, prawns and foie gras. Beachhouse also has an international wine list to expertly compliment each dish--including more than 20 wines by the glass--as well as a private Beachhouse label cabernet sauvignon.
The French are known for romance, so treat you and your partner to a lovely evening with fabulous fine dining at Michel's. The traditional French cuisine restaurant is located at the Colony Surf hotel in Waikiki near the scenic Diamond Head. Start off your romantic evening with an order of helix escargots bourgogne drizzled in herbed-garlic butter. Entrees include steamed onaga with somen noodles, beef tenderloin with a black peppercorn crust and Michel's Ocean Bounty, featuring an assortment of fresh seafood including grilled mahimahi, oyster Rockefeller, blackened ahi, Tristan lobster tail, scampi-style caledonian and Kona baby abalone. Save room for a dessert to share, such as the Hawaiian apple-banana flambé made with locally grown bananas flambéed in dark rum.
If you want to splurge on a luxurious, romantic dinner, look no further than La Mer. Located in the Halekulani Hotel in Waikiki, this southern French fusion restaurant with ocean views, is dining at its finest. Start off your elegant evening with one of the restaurant's warm or cold appetizers, such as the beef tartare, poached oysters, seared duck fois gras or lobster bisque. The restaurant's impeccably prepared entrees include opakapaka, squab, roasted duck fillet and seared lamb loin, each dressed with flavorful confits or jus. The restaurant also offers three and four course menus. An evening at La Mer is worth every penny.
For a romantic dinner, head to MW Restaurant. The posh restaurant is tucked behind Ala Moana Center, just off Kapiolani Boulevard. The restaurant, known for its innovative takes on Hawaii Regional Cuisine, is the brainchild of husband and wife team, Michelle Karr Ueoka and Wade Ueoka, the restaurant's owners and chefs. The menus also reflect their detail in meticulously sourcing fresh, Hawaii ingredients. The mochi crusted opakapaka with house-made somen noodles is renowned, as is the braised short ribs with seared Hudson Valley foie gras and truffled smashed potatoes. Be sure to save room for dessert! The tropical fruit creamsicle brulee, MW's take on the classic creme bruluee is excellent. It's made with lilikoi sorbet and custard, tapioca pearls, fruit and guava air cake. MW Restaurant also has a five-course tasting menu and a chef's tasting menu, both of which are available with wine pairings.
While this Honolulu restaurant may not look like much on the outside, it's what's on the inside that counts. And on the inside of Alan Wong's, located on King Street, in downtown Honolulu, is expertly prepared Hawaii Regional Cuisine by owner and chef Alan Wong. You can watch the kitchen staff skillfully prepare a bounty of locally-sourced, fresh ingredients into toothsome dishes such as pan-steamed opakapaka with shrimp pork hash, the soy braised, kalbi style, twice cook short rib or the macadamia-nut-cococut-crusted lamb chops. For dessert, the restaurant is known for the "Coconut," haupia sorbet in a hard chocolate shell, served with tropical fruits and lilikoi sauce.
For a truly outstanding dining experience, from the food and wine to the service and intimate setting, Chef Mavro in Honolulu is the restaurant you and your significant other won't soon forget. The Hawaiian-French fusion restaurant is helmed by owner and chef George Mavrothalassitis who masterfully combines fresh, local ingredients into inventive dishes. Favorites include onaga, a long tail snapper baked in a salt crust with a tomato-ogo-fines herbes sauce, and the house-made lilikoi malasadas with guava coulis for dessert. The restaurant is also known for its seasonal, prix fixe menus, featuring four or six courses. The dinners are also expertly paired with wines. Be sure to make reservations.