DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Tangö's open-faced gravlax sandwich on Finnish rye bread is an example of how the restaurant does basics well.
Hokua, 1288 Ala Moana Blvd. 593-7288
Tangö chef Göran Streng seems to have been hoping, I believe, for a low-key return from the private realm of the Hawaii Yacht Club and catering, but as was bound to happen, word spread quickly about his little contemporary cafe at the Hokua.
For now, lunch is prime time, for those who love the combination of leisure and light that streams in through glass windows. The menu adheres to the beauty of basics done well, such as a Hamakua mushroom and asparagus risotto ($10.50, with shrimp or chicken), grilled pesto-glazed salmon ($10.50), even a trio ($9) of spicy tuna, shrimp tempura and crab salad sushi handrolls. A classic homemade burger ($8.25) perches atop a whole wheat-brown rice bun studded with sunflower seeds. It's beautifully presented with a small carrot-and-raisin salad. If this is not enough, additional toppings of avocado, mushrooms, grilled onions and Swiss or cheddar cheese are 50 cents each.
Velvety gravlax that nearly melts on the tongue is served atop Finnish rye as an open-faced sandwich ($8.50), using salmon that has been house-cured for three days.
Dinner entreés are priced at about $18 to $23. Selections are slated to change to keep regulars interested in coming back. Recent selections have included tender five-spice braised beef ($18.50) and the king of fish, moi ($19), served with a delicate tomato fennel coulis over ratatouille.
You'll be competing for tables with the Hokua residents who likely consider the restaurant one of their private amenities, but they are so wrong, aren't they? Tangö belongs to all of us now.
Open from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Mondays to Fridays, from 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Meals run about $20 for two for lunch and $50 for two for dinner; BYOB for now.