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The Weekly Eater

By Nadine Kam

Thursday, August 31, 2000

Spice up your
curry vocabulary

BLAME it on the British. They sampled curries throughout India, brought home the necessary spices and packaged it as a generic yellow powder. That yellow powder then made its way across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, infiltrating our island homes, making its way into a local stew of beef, potatoes, carrots and onions. For many, this is curry, but it's a rather limited view.

At The Veranda at Kahala Mandarin Oriental, executive chef Wayne Hirabayashi is offering an introduction to a world of curries. In a space formerly used only for lounging and afternoon tea from 2 to 5 p.m., patrons can now sit and enjoy a mini curry buffet in a brightly lit parlor-style setting.

Curry and rice isn't the most exciting food combination in the world, but if you've got a day off and a chance to meet a friend you haven't seen in a while, you can't beat the laidback air, and the fun of mixing and matching flavors.


Food starstarstar1/2
Atmosphere starstarstar1/2
Service starstar1/2
Value starstarstar

Bullet Address: Kahala Mandarin Oriental, 5000 Kahala Ave.
Bullet Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Mondays to Fridays
Bullet Prices: $14.25 per person
Bullet Call: 739-8895

For $14.95 per person, one can sample three styles of curry from Japan, Thailand and India. In its debut last week, the offerings were a silky Thai Seafood Curry featuring shrimp, clams, scallops, fish, potatoes and eggplant in a blend of coconut milk, curry spices and herbs; an aromatic Indian-style Kerala Chicken Vegetable Curry; and Japanese Beef Curry with a distinctive touch of five-spice separating it from the other two.

With the curries came the appropriate accompaniments: Thai sticky rice, peanuts, green papaya salad and toasted shallot to accompany the Thai curry; Basmati turmeric rice, pappadams (thin, spiced wafers), toasted coconut and mango chutney for the Indian version; and white rice, takuan and pickled vegetables to enhance the Japanese curry.

The menu will change weekly, and this week offerings are a Japanese Shrimp Curry, Lamb and Spinach Indian Curry and Tofu-Vegetable Thai Curry.

Although chile peppers are part of the curry equation, Hirabayashi has toned down the heat to make them more palatable to whoever might show up. Unlike a Thai or Indian restaurant, where diners can specify their heat tolerance levels, there's no such customizing in a buffet. The chef is already learning that some like it hot, so look for extra chile sauce on the side or some other solution to this dilemma.

Drinks of a refreshing Cucumber Limeade and Melon Lassi (yogurt drink) with the fiery bite of ginger are a perfect complement to the curries, but at $5.25 each, they raise a $30 lunch for two up to $40. Ow. And what kind of buffet doesn't include dessert? Maybe hotel patrons adhere to the saying that one could never be too rich or too thin, but I'm neither and would have enjoyed the luxury of a light fruit sorbet.

Grand opening

For those on the Leeward side starved for something new, Dixie Grill opens its Aiea restaurant at 4 p.m. Sunday, at 99-016 Kamehameha Highway on the lower level of the Pecos River Cafe Building.

On the menu will be the ribs, catfish and crab legs that have made the Ward Avenue original popular enough to spawn. Call 485-CRAB (2722).

See a listing of past restaurants reviewed in the
Do It Electric!

section online. Click the logo to go!

Nadine Kam's restaurant reviews run on Thursdays. Reviews are conducted anonymously and paid for by the Star-Bulletin. Star ratings are based on comparisons of similar restaurants:

-- excellent;
-- very good, exceeds expectations;
-- average;
-- below average.

To recommend a restaurant, write: The Weekly Eater, P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, Hawaii 96802. Or send e-mail to

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