Last Friday, I had the opportunity to take my first bites, or two, or ten, at MW.
MW Restaurant is the undertaking of husband and wife, Chef Wade Ueoka and Chef Michelle Karr-Ueoka, recent alumni of Alan Wong’s Restaurants. Both were born and raised in Hawaii, and recently named Hawaii’s Rising Star Chefs.
After months of preparation and training, their restaurant’s doors finally opened last Thursday to the public. During the day, the sun floods through the tall windows, illuminating the untarnished dining room. Upon entering, you’ll notice the bright lights, high ceiling, and open kitchen. Here, Chef Wade stands at the helm, overseeing each dish, while Chef Michelle works meticulously in her corner on her composed desserts. This is the new generation of HRC (Hawaii Regional Cuisine) chefs that continue to pave the way for Hawaii in the culinary world.
Here is a ‘tasting’ of their menu:
My friend ordered the “Yuzu Fizz,” which the waitress deemed their “Most Popular” drink. I found it to be slightly lackluster in flavor, and unfortunately, without ‘fizz.’ However, I had the “Feel the Beet,” which was refreshing and very well-balanced. The drink consists of tequila, ginger, fresh lime, and homemade beet syrup. Tequila may not be my favorite drink of choice, but I couldn’t have asked for a better way to start my day than with this drink. The Mochi Crusted Monchong (Sickle Pomfret) was served over a bed of somen noodles, and a side of assorted homemade banchan, or Korean condiments. The dish was also accompanied by a Yuzu Kosho Soy Vinaigrette, in which I craved a more prominent kick from the yuzu kosho, a Japanese spice paste created from chilis, yuzu (citrus) peel, and salt. As a Korean, I found the condiments to be pretty spot-on, and I enjoyed having them prepared with my entree; it was comforting. The mochi crust on the monchong was light and airy, but unexpectedly addictive and well-paired with the moist and flakey fish.
I gravitate towards anything with the words “mentaiko” or “egg” on any given menu, and this dish did not disappoint. This mentaiko pasta was luscious. I prefer my pasta al dente, but I savored each bite of this homemade fettucine tossed in a light and creamy mentaiko sauce. I found the additional bits of pork to be unnecessary, but the soft poached Kaneshiro egg made an otherwise delicious dish even better, while the karashi mustard provided a bit of earthy contrast to all the rich flavors.
Speaking of ‘rich,’ this may have been one of the most memorable lunch entrees on the menu, Chef Wade’s reinterpretation of a BLT sandwich. Atop the thick-sliced homemade white bread rests wilted romaine lettuce, braised bacon (thick hunks of pork belly), baby tomato salad, and chicharrones, or fried pork rinds. The textures contrasted beautifully in this open-faced, hot sandwich; its flavors imparting a warmth in my then-half-empty stomach, all the way up to my nurture-craving soul.
This carrot cake was almost too pretty to eat. But, perhaps, not pretty enough, as we devoured it within minutes. Perfectly sweet, and not cloying, Chef Michelle’s interpretation of a carrot cake came complete with the most delightful lemongrass sorbet, persimmon, and hearts of palm. I could eat this for breakfast, and my day would magically be better. I saved the best for last: Chef Michelle’s Wailea Meyer Lemon Meringue Brûlée. Taking a spin off of her award-winning Lilikoi Brûlée dessert at Alan Wong’s Restaurant, this version has candied lemon, meyer lemon kanten (Japanese agar jelly or gelatin), sorbet, custard, and tapioca. Amazing, and very hard to share.
Their service needs a little bit of polishing, which is to be expected of any newly-opened restaurant. Nonetheless, my mind is already set on going again in hopes of taking my next bite, or two, or ten, out of the rest of their menu.
1538 Kapiolani Blvd. #106
Honolulu, HI 96814