STAR-BULLETIN / 2006
Any fashionplate will feel comfortable enveloped in the rich, muted ambience of P.F. Chang.
Honolulu's wide selection of restaurants are places to wear those fresh spring threads
The fashion enthusiast's lament is that there are too few dress-up places in Honolulu. Ironically, restaurants offer daily opportunities to take our fanciest threads on an outing, but there are numerous fashion fanatics who, for the sake of continuing to squeeze into a size 2 or 4, try their best to refrain from eating.
Here are a few places to consider when taking your new spring wardrobe for a spin.
E&O Trading Co: The restaurant recalls the British colonial era by combining the dark, rich woods, sari-silk fabric, lanterns, tapestries, wood carvings and bamboo of Southeast Asia and East India in its Ward Centre space. Lovely to look at and I hear the food has gotten better too. Don your most colorful silks and ethnic-inspired baubles a la Doris Duke.
Indigo: Before E&O, there was Indigo, also finding inspiration in Southeast Asia with a touch of the dark side, recalling Shanghai and Honolulu's early opium dens. By day, downtown business casual looks rule. By night keep your eye on the marquee at Hawaii Theatre for clues as to how to proceed. At 1121 Nuuanu Ave.
La Mer: One of the grand dames of Oahu dining, La Mer opens to cool breezes and a clear view of Diamond Head, easily capturing the bucolic essence of old Hawaii as imagined by 1930s travel planners. You'll be grateful for lengthy degustation menus that allow you to linger as long as you want in the House Befitting Heaven of Halekulani.
Mac 24/7: This restaurant is a sleek modernist surprise. I was expecting to see yet another tropical-themed hotel coffee shop, only to find a vibrant red-and-purple updated diner interior that's both retro and contemporary as befitting a menu highlighting "Modern American Cooking." In the Hilton Waikiki Prince Kuhio Hotel, 2500 Kuhio Ave.
STAR-BULLETIN / 2005
Shokudo offers a more funky, retro-mod vibe.
The restaurant on the third floor of Neiman Marcus achieves the impossible, serving as one huge veranda that causes Ala Moana Boulevard to disappear as diners are treated to a view of Ala Moana Park and the ocean beyond. Fans turn overhead to keep diners in Pucci, Cavalli and Armani and crisp whites from breaking a sweat.
Michel's at Colony Surf: Given the $8 million view of the Pacific, do Michel's French cabinetry, flowers and objets d'art even register with most patrons? This is old Hawaii elegance in a time capsule. Put on your best Princess Kaiulani or Mamo design. European and American classics also apply.
Okonomi Cuisine Kai: The restaurant's guiding principal is "kai wa," a respect for invisible atmosphere. It's no wonder patrons feel an invigorating energy permeating this Tokyo-meets-Soho setting that marries such modern touches as bead-chain curtains and metal with a ceiling of naked wood from an ancient Japanese farmhouse. Dress appropriately by mixing classics with Boho flourishes. At 1427 Makaloa St.
P.F. Chang's China Bistro: Does anyone really come for the food? The dining room is exquisitely dressed in a mix of wood, slate and dyed concrete, with an open kitchen highlighted overhead by a mural depicting 12th-century China. Dress to fit in with the million-dollar babies who populate the Hokua luxury condominium P.F. Chang also calls home.
STAR-BULLETIN / 2005
The understated Town is a fitting backdrop for both upscale and hipster alike.
This restaurant's plain exterior gives little clue to the treasure within. Look for the unassuming curtained entryway that opens to reveal a pristine masterpiece of modern design in a cavernous space that's all clean angles, with a tidy arrangement of white banquettes and chairs. You'll feel comfortable in Chanel or Escada. At Ala Moana Center, next to Panya.
Shokudo: A sculptural form looms over the dining room like a giant lantern or a vortex with an alien egg at its base. Cool! The vibe is Italy's Memphis Design movement of the 1980s -- a mix of cartoon, color and kitsch -- still suitable in 2007. Throw a graphic tee or Cynthia Steffe top over your best jeans and climb the stadium-style riser seating. In the Ala Moana Pacific Center, 1585 Kapiolani.
Town: Town's interior is urban hip and unassuming, with concrete floors, stainless steel tables and hard benches, like an industrial gallery populated by an unusual mix of Kahala matrons, with their Fendi and Hermes Birkin bags, and a coffee-art-music hipster crowd. They find common ground in food equally unassuming but wonderful.