Three Hawaiian Chefs Invade Los Angeles: Deliciousness ensues…

What happens when you invite 3 up and coming Hawaii star chefs and invite them to cook for a bunch of foodies and food bloggers in Los Angeles?? DELICIOUS things happen. That’s what.



I was invited by the Hawaii Visitor’s Bureau to a special chef collaboration with executive sous chef Oscar Torres from Acabar. Three Hawaiian chefs shared a kitchen at the Sunset Blvd. restaurant as they brought some much welcomed Aloha along with traditional Hawaiian ingredients and flavors. They were, chef Riko Bartolome from the Montage Hotels on Kapalua Bay, Mike Lofaro from the stunning Grand Wailea and Kyle Kawakami from the relatively new food truck, Maui Fresh Streatery. Each with varying backgrounds and passions, the chefs brought out the best Maui had to offer.


For me, the 8-course meal was a pleasant tease, and a reminder of all the fantastic meals I’ve had on past trips to the Island.

Here is a recap of some of the good food we indulged in.


Beautiful and sweet smelling lei’s. A nice touch — I’m whisked out of LA and off to Hawaii for a few hours…


Everything about the decor at Acabar is lovely. From the giant gold front doors, the decorative walls, and artwork, the intricate Mediterranean decor, colorful tiles and pretty center skylight.


The sky from inside Acabar

An Ahi appetizer to start things off. A nice touch. Poke, is a traditional appetizer similar to carpaccio or tartare and is a MUST when on the island.

From chef Michael Lofaro. This was a lovely introduction to what was to come.


Ahi Tartare Shiso, Ginger / Lime Vinaigrette, Soft Herbs


If we didn’t photograph it, we didn’t eat it, right? The bloggers took their plates under the skylight to catch some natural lighting.

Chef Kyle Kawakami of the food truck, Maui Fresh Streatery presented a dumpling with an octopus which he speared himself! It was crunchy and soft with sprinkles of seaweed on top. A perfect bite. I appreciate that the Maui chefs really understand where their food comes from, often sourcing from local farms on Maui or catching their own fish.


Takoyaki Dumplings (octopus)


Charlene Kahuane @kauhaneinc snaps a pic of the octopus!

The fried Chèvre from Surfing Goat Dairy Farm really took me back to the time I spent in Up Country Maui. The small dairy goat farm provides cheeses and chocolates for many of the local restaurants and resorts. I once tried to bring some cheeses back home with me to LA and they melted in my bag. #Fail. Thus, it was a real treat getting to eat it off island.

Also, the last time I enjoyed liliko’i (passion fruit) was in the line at TSA on my way back to LA (can’t take the fruit with you!). Alas, another lovely taste of paradise.


Surfing Goat Dairy Cheve, Balsamic Caramel, Liliko’i


(Top View) Surfing Goat Dairy Cheve, Balsamic Caramel, Liliko’i


Bloggers at work: Natalie James @njinla and Jay Terauchi @Chef_Jay

A rich, buttery surprise from chef Oscar Torres of Acabar. So. Good!


First Course: Foie Gras Terrine, Quince + Rhubarb Chutney, Quince Gelee, Petite Mustard Frill, Chinese Long Pepper

This was my first time having Foie Gras in California since the ban that prevented the production in California was lifted.

I sit somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. I’m not a fan of the process… but I must say, this was a particularly satisfying dish. My blogger pal ended up with two plates and she ate them both. It was decadent.


(Side view) First Course: Foie Gras Terrine, Quince + Rhubarb Chutney, Quince Gelee, Petite Mustard Frill, Chinese Long Pepper

Chef Kyle Kawakami’s course of tender beef hearts was especially nice. Combining the local Maui Hana Pohole Fern into the salad and creating a vibrant red, wafer-thin Sriracha topping. It reminded me of Ernesto Urchimura’s fruit roll up-like ketchup leather from Plan Check but with an added zing! a spicy kick, that paired nicely with the heart.

It’s only a matter of time before someone comes up with Sriracha chips. Oh wait, that’s already a thing.


Vietnamese Seared Maui Cattle Beef Heart, Green Papaya and Hána Pohole Fern Pok Pok Salad, Sriracha Crisps


Chef pours a tomato coconut emulsion as we bloggers capture the moment.

Third course… I’m getting full by now but I can’t help but finish this beautiful and decadent, flaky fish from chef Michael Lofaro.


Kona Kampachi fragrant rice cakes, anise, tomato coconut emulsion, hearts of palm

Chef Riko Bartolome presented this explosion of flavor bombs as his final dish — herbed tender grass fed beef — fit for a king. Oh, man. So much goodness going on.

At this point in the afternoon, I’ve made the decision that I have to return to Maui for an Eat-cation…. like soon.

Who’s with me!?


Herbed Molokai grass fed beef, vadouvan kabocha purée, eggplant braise, cauliflower cos

Inside this little golden softball is something sinful. From chef Oscar Torres of Acabar…


Piña con coco, crispy pineapple meringue, Rum I.C., coconut curd, roasted pineapple fool


Last looks!


Mahalo chefs!! (left to right) Chef Kyle Kawakami, Backyard Bite, Chef Oscar Torres, Chef Mike Lofaro, Chef Riko Bartolome

Mahalo Keli’i Brown and Charlene Kahuane for bringing a taste of Maui to Los Angeles!

I only wish, this was a regular thing so I could have Hawaiian food more often!


Outside Acabar

Click below for more Hawaii Coverage:

Read: What it’s like at the Hawaii Food and Wine Festival: Morimoto’s, Aulani, Mariott

Watch: Chefs explain what you should eat when visiting Hawaii

Watch: What to do in Hawaii (Read:) ride horses and (Read:) other awesome things


Watch: Season 10 Top Chef chef Sheldon Simon talks to Backyard Bite about his (Read:) new restaurant


[*Note* This meal was sponsored by the Hawaii Visitor’s Bureau. All opinions are my own. Mahalo Charlene!]


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