Disclaimer: These reviews reflect my own prejudices & personal experiences. Be your own judge - try them yourself & create your own experiences.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Best for: Organic and/or locally-grown
Location: Kaimuki
Foodgasmic dish: Mussels, Panna cotta, Any breakfast dish

seared ahi, organic egg, watercress, and sweet potato ($8)
I have now experienced every possible meal at town: breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and Wine Down Wednesdays. In fact, one day I ate here for lunch and dinner - the food is that good. Or maybe I'm just slightly ridiculous.

handcut pasta, $13
I had started dining at town for lunch when it first opened in 2005, but after scraping my car in their parking lot I had been too scared to come back for a long time. After years of avoiding one of the best restaurants in Hawaii, I finally returned for dinner with Mizuki about two months ago and have now added town to the top of my list of 10 Favorite Restaurants in Hawaii.

black mussels, fennel, pastina, tomato, cinzano broth ($10)
When we arrived for dinner on a Thursday night, the restaurant was packed, so Mizuki and I had to wait at an outside table overlooking Waialae Avenue (not a bad way to wait, if you ask me) for a mere ten minutes. Town may have been the first restaurant to bring that whole locally-grown, organic craze to Hawaii. And the restaurant definitely exudes it. Tables are stainless steel, the menu is made out of recycled paper and attached to a clipboard. The usual accoutrements. But since I'm in Honolulu not Portland, it works.

'One Hundred' cocktail for $10
The mussels ($10) are some of the best mussels I've ever had. A large bowl of black mussels, fennel, pastina, and tomato, floating in cinzano broth. Their ahi tartare ($12) is also lovely, served with risotto cake and balsamic vinegar. I wasn't too fond of my 'one hundred' cocktail, which had too much ginger in it. Mizuki had better luck with her tequila.

buttermilk panna cotta and a glass of Domaine de Fontsainte rosé
For dessert we shared the buttermilk panna cotta ($7), which was insanely smooth and silky. It's exactly how a panna cotta should taste. I paired it with a glass of Domaine de Fontsainte rosé, which was delicious. 

latte love
I've also started coming to town for breakfast, and it may be one of my favorite places for breakfast as well. They serve 3 things consistently, but also offer about 5 different specials each day. I've had the seared ahi, egg, watercress, and sweet potato ($8). Unbelievable. You can tell right away that the food is locally-grown. During breakfast, you order at the cashier and get your own coffee on the left. Their coffee is so good that now I really feel like I'm back in Portland. Breakfast is usually the least busy time to come, filled with only three or four other people with their laptops.

breakfast burrito, $8
my favorite breakfast buddy
Lunch is good too, but I think I prefer the more extensive menu available at dinner (gotta have my mussels or ahi tartare!). Town has also become my new favorite study spot in Hawaii (sorry, Glazers! Sometimes your music is too loud, and I get sick of eating madeleines all day). Lately, I've been coming early in the morning since town opens at 7, ordering a cup of bottomless Illy coffee for $2 and maybe a chocolate-walnut scone if I'm feeling indulgent, and working on my grad school applications for a few hours before the lunch time crowd kicks me out. It's the perfect setting, with free wifi, large windows, and good food whenever you get hungry. There are only about three power outlets, but I've never had a problem claiming a nearby table.

studying with a scone ($1.75)
slow roasted pork sandwich, shaved onion, pork jus, served with Ma'o greens and french fries ($10)
Yesterday Cara, Mizuki and I tried town's Wine Down Wednesdays, a wine tasting event every Wednesday night during which 20 guests are seated at a communal table on the patio and are given four samples of wine from one country. The event is only $25, which is a very good deal considering you also receive a small dish of food with each wine. We were the last ones to arrive, so all the good seats were taken; luckily, the group next to us was kind enough to shift seats so the three of us could sit together. Mizuki is such a pro at these wine events that she was prepared with her pen (and even another pen for me) to take notes about each wine on the menu. This week's country was Portugal, which excited me since port is one of my favorite dessert wines.

communal seating at Wine Down Wednesdays
my menu from Wine Down Wednesday (11/2/11: Portugal)
Our first wine was an Alianca Vinho Verde '10, which was paired with mullet sausage and 'green goddess.' Apparently this white wine is acidic and very citrusy. Our second wine was my favorite of the night: Kopke White Porto, which was served with cured pork shin, olives, manchego, and almonds. It was my first time drinking white port, and I'll definitely have it again sometime. Our third wine was an Alianca Foral Douro Red '07, which was served with a poached egg and 'pig head.' The pig head didn't look anything like a pig head, but it was delicious, and I love poached egg, so this was my favorite dish of the night. Our last wine was a Kopke 10yr Tawny Porto. This was the most disappointing wine because I'm a huge fan of port. I guess I only really like white port and colheita? Mizuki described this port as tasting like molasses, and I couldn't agree more. It was served with a thin biscuit, some whipped cream and a prune.

poached egg and 'pig head'
I've been told that next week town will be closed for renovations, which terrifies the hell out of me because I have no idea where to eat or study. Fortunately, it'll just be nine days. I suppose I can handle that.