The Weekly Eater

By Nadine Kam

Thursday, April 15, 1999

Cooking students
show lots of class

Observers of restaurants have seen a lot of failed businesses, projects of aspiring restaurateurs who put themselves in the position of finessing the food biz as they go.

This shouldn't have to be the case, as 13 advanced food service students at Kapiolani Community College are discovering. Beyond learning how to filet a fish or trim an artichoke, the students are getting first-hand experience in the business of restaurants through ownership of Tamarind Restaurant, which they conceived and are running through May 5.

Unfortunately, after opening night last Thursday, the buzz factor took hold and all seats have been sold. There is a wait list, however, and you can always request to be put on the mailing list for next semester.

If the students make a profit -- which they fully intend to do, being stockholders and all -- it will be a first for this practicum class.


Food: starstarstar
Atmosphere: starstar
Service: starstar
Value: starstarstarstar

Bullet Address: Kapiolani Community College
Bullet Hours: 5:30 to 8 p.m. through May 5 (all tables sold out, but there is a wait list)
Bullet Prices: About $45 to $60 for two
Bullet Call: 734-9484

Chef-instructor Alfredo Cabacungan led the students through the many stages of business planning, from financing, to legal structure, to gauging the market, to publicity.

And somewhere in that tangled mess, there is also food, which thankfully, was covered early in the curriculum, before the practical stuff scared anyone away.

"It was a real awakening for them," Cabacungan said. "But the only thing that discouraged them was the cost of financing."

THE Tamarind is a seafood restaurant that offers the basics -- lobster tails, tiger prawns, shrimp cocktails and the surf-and-turf combos. How did they know we miss that stuff?

Prix fixe dinners range from $21.95 to $29.95 per person depending on entree choice. For this price, diners also get a choice of appetizers, plus salad, dessert and beverage.

Appetizer choices include New England-style Clam Chowder with fresh Manila clams, Blackened Ahi, Sashimi and Grilled Shrimp and Scallop Kun Pao. In the latter dish, the hoisin sauce is served separately from the skewered shrimp and scallop, for you to add as you wish. I'd stay away from the Grilled Oysters, which, by smell alone, should have been discarded.

Lobster tail seems to have been grilled slowly over low heat so that was sweet and succulent without becoming rubberized by overcooking. This was $23.95, combined with a perfectly cooked 5-ounce tenderloin.

Seafood was also handled well in a dish of Cioppino ($21.95), and true lobster fans jumped at the 2-pound broiled Maine lobster for $29.95.

All in all a good job from student chefs who seemed less concerned about service. My guest and I waited a half hour for appetizers, dinner rolls arrived after the salads and 3 minutes separated our salad and entree arrivals.

Excellence matters in the real world. I'm hoping the students are taking good notes and I'm looking forward to seeing where they are in a few years.

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.

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