One of the often-recommended restaurants to try in Honolulu is Town, the local-organic casual restaurant that opened in 2005. I’ve been trying to get to this place every time I visit Hawaii, and only got as close as its sister restaurant (Downtown@HISAM).
The restaurant, opened by Chef Ed Kenney, has attracted diners with its promise of “local first, organic whenever possible, with Aloha always.” It’s located in Kaimuki, an older neighborhood on the west end of Honolulu that serves as an incubator for some of the most innovative restaurants in town.
The neighborhood is also close to where my nephew works, so I made plans to meet him for lunch, along with my sister (his mom) and my Mom. Town, decorated with contemporary Hawaiian artwork, wasn’t too crowded for lunch, but still we were tucked away in the back.
The menu spotlights various local ingredients, such as Ma’o lettuce and opah (a Hawaiian white fish). Both my nephew and Mom ordered the slow-roasted pork with polenta ($16) while my sister got an arugula and beet salad ($7.50) and the mushroom risotto ($14).
I went with the opah ($15), which was served with roasted potato, poblano, red onions and roasted tomatoes.
What was memorable about this lunch wasn’t necessarily the food but the slow-like-molasses service. It took a long time for our waitress to ask for our orders, and just as long for the food to arrive, from the drinks to the starters to the entrees. And even though we ate in an hour, it was because we pretty much wolfed down our food once it arrived (and skipped dessert). (And need I remind you that the place wasn’t that crowded.)
The food, itself, was tasty and nicely presented but slightly off in the execution. My opah sat on some big potato chunks and seemed a bit oily while the slow-cooked pork came out looking like a pork patty or a hash. Still, the food is well seasoned and I appreciated the use of local ingredients.
Side note: One memorable part of lunch that was positive was the beautiful lemonade I ordered that came with a splash of parsley juice on top, giving it an intoxicating green hue.
Town definitely runs on “Hawaiian” time, so don’t go if you’re on a business lunch or a tight evening schedule. And while the menu is local and sustainable, it doesn’t sparkle to the point that will make you forget about the wait.
Rating: 2.5 out of 4 camera snaps
Town, 3435 Waialae Ave., Honolulu. PH: 808.735.5900. Open Monday-–Saturday for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Closed Sunday. Reservations, major credit cards accepted. www.townkaimuki.com
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