The Clever Root

Spring 2018

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s p r i n g 2 0 1 8 | 4 3 Mitch's Fish Market & Sushi Bar: Famished after that long plane ride? This excellent, unpretentious sushi bar is tucked just behind the Honolulu International Airport. President Obama, flanked by sushi chefs Hideo Mitsui and Masakazu Murakami, grins from a photo on the far wall. You'll find no frills here: just impeccably-fresh sushi prepared by the skilled staff behind the five-seat coun- ter. (There's also a separate dining room.) Don't miss the chutoro sashimi or live abalone in season. Mitch's Fish Market & Sushi Bar, 524 Ohohia St., 808-837-7774, Lucky Belly: Good name, no? Wine buffs will love the generous corkage policy ($15 or free for wines 5 years old or more), but the real crowd-pleas- er at this wildly-popular spot is the free-wheeling ra- men. Slurp up bowls of noodles embellished with oxtail wontons, shrimp, and whatever the chef is inspired to add that night. The restaurant doesn't take reservations, so you'll usu- ally have to wait for a table with a craft cocktail or beer in hand . . . not exactly an inconvenience. And on the weekends, a take-out window stays open until 2 a.m. (The night's spe- cials are posted on Instagram at @_dawindow.) Party on. Lucky Belly, 50 N. Hotel St., 808-531-1888, Mud Hen Water: Chef Ed Kenney, the Hawaiian native behind New American/Italian brewpub Town, is killing it at Mud Hen Water just across the street. With a funky beach shack vibe and a menu focused on hyper-local ingredients, Mud Hen Water reflects modern Hawaiian cuisine and all of its wide-ranging culinary influences. Kenney's savvy riffs on island staples are surprising—and delicious. Order up a slew of plates to share: iced local oys- ters, crimson roasted beet poke with macadamia nuts, golf ball–sized croquettes filled with slippery rice noodles and pork, or a hearty pig's feet noodle soup. Opah is paired with steamed green banana and coconut cream, while the thick slab of swordfish wrapped in ti leaves comes with beautiful hand-pounded taro. For dessert, go with the polenta pine- apple upside-down cake. Mud Hen Water, 3452 Waialae Ave., 808-737-6000, Skillets, like the breakfast bibimbap with bacon, sausage, ham, kimchi, and veggies, are a popular choice at Koko Head Café. Koko Head Cafe: Lee Anne Wong, a former Top Chef contender raised in New York, moved to Hawaii five years ago to open this popular all-day brunch cafe. Surfers, bicyclists, joggers, and mere strollers carbo-load on her kimchi bacon cheddar scones, black sesame yuzu muffins, and cornflake-crusted French toast. I'm all for the breakfast congee loaded with bacon, ham, and Portuguese sausage or the fat udon with lo- cal cabbages and a soft poached egg—but then again, what about the poke omelet with masago (fish roe) aioli or the poi biscuit and gravy? With menu dilemmas like that, you might as well make this your breakfast spot every day. Koko Head Cafe, 1145c 12th Ave., 808-732-8920, PHOTO COURTESY OF LEE ANNE WONG

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