HONOLULU
On Oahu, the dining scene has always been bright in Kaimuki, a residential area on the east side of town near the University of Hawaii. But during my last visit, it seemed like Kaimuki is THE place for eating as everyone undoubtedly would recommend a restaurant in the area.

One of the most popular spot is the 12th Avenue Grill, which has been around for a few years but just recently opened in a new expanded space (still on 12th Avenue).

Walking in, I felt like I was dining somewhere in the Bay Area, with the contemporary décor, bustling bar, blackboard menu wall, and locally sourced seasonal menu. Dining with my nephew Chris and his girlfriend, Mary, I was impressed by the menu, which had many local ingredients, many coming from the Big Island.

Despite the constant flow of people coming in for dinner, the staff was friendly and polished, staying on top of everything even during the peak busy times.

Local Touches
I was excited to see Hawaiian kampachi on the menu (a sustainable fish that popped up on Bay Area menus a few years ago but now seem hard to find), and we had a starter of seared kampachi crudo ($13), nicely done and served with a chimichurri sauce.

An ahi bruschetta ($9) was also enjoyable, although I couldn’t help but think that at its core we were eating tuna salad on toasted bread.

Shinsato Farm pork osso bucco ($25), Maple-bourbon braised, lemon verbena-green peppercorn gremolata, Hau’ula tomato-pecorino bread pudding, wilted Nalo mustard greens.

Shinsato Farm pork osso bucco ($25), Maple-bourbon braised, lemon verbena-green peppercorn gremolata, Hau’ula tomato-pecorino bread pudding, wilted Nalo mustard greens.

The main courses were substantial with lots of Hawaii twists, like Chris’ duck ($26) with pink peppercorn tagliatelle served with Big Island kabocha and my pork osso bucco ($25) with Hau’ula tomato and pecorino bread pudding.

One of the signature dishes is the hefty 12-oz grilled pork chop ($27) that Mary ordered, with the juicy chop served on top of crispy potato pancake and chutney stuffed apple.

The Hawaiian ingredients continued with desserts, like the Lilikoi mochi cake. Lilikoi is passion fruit, and mochi is the Japanese sticky rice treat. In Hawaii, it’s a local delicacy to use the sticky rice flour to make cake, resulting in a chewy cake bar. It’s been awhile since I’ve had a mochi cake, so I really liked this version from 12th Avenue Grill.

But we also loved the Naked Cow Dairy fromage blanc cheesecake ($8). The cheesecake texture had the right balance of light and rich, and it would have been great alone without the Big Island poha berry-Manoa honey sauce.

The Last Bite
Chef/Owner Kevin Hanney has created a beautiful new space to highlight Executive Chef Jason Schoonover’s intricate and delicious menu. The 12th Avenue Grill deftly takes on the trends coming from the mainland but delivers them with a local touch.

Rating: 3 out of 4 camera snaps
3-snaps

 

12th Avenue Grill, 1120 12th Ave., Honolulu. PH: 808.732.9469. Dinner nightly from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Reservations, major credit cards accepted. 12thavegrill.com

12th Ave Grill on Urbanspoon

Seared kampachi crudo ($13), coriander-lime dusted Hawaiian kampachi, cilantro,garlic chips, pickled Serrano chimichurri

Seared kampachi crudo ($13), coriander-lime dusted Hawaiian kampachi, cilantro,garlic chips, pickled Serrano chimichurri

Smoked ahi bruschetta ($9), hearts of palm and garden vegetable relish, house dried Hau’ula tomatoes

Smoked ahi bruschetta ($9), hearts of palm and garden vegetable relish, house dried Hau’ula tomatoes

A special bar menu is served only at the bar, and it had some tasty items like a burger and meatloaf not on the main dining room menu.

A special bar menu is served only at the bar, and it had some tasty items like a burger and meatloaf not on the main dining room menu.

Smoked Maple Leaf Farms duck and fresh pink peppercorn tagliatelle ($26), Ho Farms tomatoes, roasted Big Island kabocha, Kunia Country Farms red sorrel, toasted walnuts and house lemon ricotta Madeira pan sauce

Smoked Maple Leaf Farms duck and fresh pink peppercorn tagliatelle ($26), Ho Farms tomatoes, roasted Big Island kabocha, Kunia Country Farms red sorrel, toasted walnuts and house lemon ricotta Madeira pan sauce

Grilled pork chop ($27), crispy potato pancake, horseradish crème fraiche, slow-baked chutney stuffed apple

Grilled pork chop ($27), crispy potato pancake, horseradish crème fraiche, slow-baked chutney stuffed apple

Contemporary artwork at 12th Avenue Grill gives the room a sophisticated vibe

Contemporary artwork at 12th Avenue Grill gives the room a sophisticated vibe

Lilikoi Mochi Cake with Manoa “honey comb” gelato & vanilla-ginger syrup ($8)

Lilikoi Mochi Cake with Manoa “honey comb” gelato & vanilla-ginger syrup ($8)

Naked Cow Dairy Fromage Blanc Cheesecake with Big Island Poha berry-Manoa Honey sauce ($8)

Naked Cow Dairy Fromage Blanc Cheesecake with Big Island Poha berry-Manoa Honey sauce ($8)

 

3 Responses to Review of 12th Avenue Grill in Honolulu

  1. Carolyn Jung says:

    I always love kampachi. I think you don’t see it that often because it is a pricey fish. Plus, some folks prefer not to serve farmed fish of any kind.

  2. Tara says:

    Ooh, Hawaii! Lucky you. I went when I was younger but did not enjoy it because I felt like it was a huge tourist trap, I must go do more planning next time I go.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current day month ye@r *

Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.