The Weekly Eater

Nadine Kam

Come on in,
the latitude’s fine
Twenty One Degrees North

Educators sometimes have trouble getting their lessons across because they tend to talk about abstracts rather than any sort of reality that people can relate to.

You can talk about how simply people lived 200 years ago, but it's not something kids with cell phones and a throw-away wardrobe can imagine, until you show them a 19th century frock in a museum, made extra sturdy so it could be worn year after year. Or the power goes out in New York and people suddenly experience the pre-nightlife era and the wisdom of mixed-use neighborhoods.

A single visit to Twenty One Degrees North at Turtle Bay Resort succeeded in drilling into me the basics of longitude and latitude, something that 12 years of public education failed to do. For those similarly challenged, latitude run in circles parallel to the equator, ending in points at the North (90 degrees north) and South (-90 degrees south) poles. At 21 degrees north, Hawaii is 69 degrees away from the North Pole.

Retreat to Turtle Bay Resort's Twenty One Degrees North, overlooking the pool and ocean views.

The joys of living in this latitude is the sun factor that makes a profusion of fruit trees, herbs and other produce shared by the restaurant possible. And you won't even have to pass a test to partake of this bounty. All you need is time and a full tank of gas. Make the most of the day by spending some time in Haleiwa before the restaurant opens at 6.

Once at Turtle Bay, you can find the restaurant by skirting the pool and outdoor bar area. Or you can wander through the hotel lobby, which will lead you to a retro "jungle" path, complete with wooden bridge, dim lighting, a mini waterfall and wall of foliage. The jungle ends at the restaurant, which is done up in stark brown and white. The real ambience comes from Turtle Bay's natural beauty, with partial views of waves tumbling to shore. My view included the resort's Jacuzzi, though why anyone would want to simmer with strangers is beyond me.

MEALS BEGIN with an amuse bouche, a mini appetizer to amuse the palate, such as a carrot-ginger bisque with a splash of Jack Daniels.

Light eaters would find dining on appetizers appealing. Few can resist the Dancing Shrimp Salad ($11), the crustaceans sitting tall atop a salad of micro greens, papaya and crisp jicama, with Kahuku corn vinaigrette.

The Pot of Shellfish is a steal for $10 with its dozen pieces including mussels, clams, shrimp and scallops sitting in a delicate coconut-carrot nage sprinkled with crisped green onions. It's like bouillabaisse, Hawaiian-style.

Kona Lobster Salad ($13) didn't fare as well, with the chilled lobster left a bit dry from its refrigerator stint. Its accompanying relish of mango, onions, pickled daikon and cucumbers was fairly refreshing, but I wished sweeter mangoes had been available to spare me from a handful of tough, sour little cubes. With mango season short, I guess I can't be too picky. Surely a substitute will be found soon.

Medallions of macadamia-nut crusted lamb sit atop layers of pineapple and polenta.

Those who like to travel light may also sip on cool gazpacho ($9) of red and sunny yellow tomatoes, accented with a dollop of crabmeat and a touch of basil.

The entree menu is short and sweet as befitting a resort where the mind takes a vacation. I found it difficult to comprehend the few words that were there, and strangely, the menu seemed to change when I reread it in my office. Pear-ginger duck breast? I just didn't remember seeing it while in the restaurant. Tarragon butter-braised Kona Lobster Tail? I didn't see that either.

What's left is a lot of fish: Crispy whole moi ($29), sake-seared salmon ($28), grilled ahi ($29) and Thai-chili braised opakapaka ($28). These seemed fairly straightforward, so we picked the more unusual crab-crusted sea bass in carrot minestrone ($29), which was drier than it should have been, possibly in the process of crisping the shredded crab on top. And the minestrone seemed extra starchy.

Faring much better was the macadamia-crusted rack of lamb ($32), with two bone-attached bites and three tidy medallions perched upon a napoleon built on a ring of pineapple and delicious polenta, with mint chutney and a light ginger veal reduction.

Dessert fiends need make no decision if simply ordering the $10 dessert sampler with bites of its li hing mui pineapple creme brulee, Thai coconut tapioca, basil ice cream, and chocolate espresso ganache cake (let's not leave out anything important)!

Twenty One Degrees North

Turtle Bay Resort, 57-091 Kamehameha Highway / 293-8811

Food Star Star Star

Service Star Star Star

Ambience Star Star Star

Value Star Star Star

Hours: 6 to 10 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays

Cost: About $75 to $85 without drinks

See some past restaurant reviews in the Columnists section.

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

very good, exceeds expectations;
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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