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STORY BY: ANNE LEE | PHOTOS BY: LAWRENCE TABUDLO Since opening in January 2018, Appetito Craft Pizza & Wine Bar has thrived under the direction of regional executive chef Hiroyuki “Hiro” Mimura, who started at Appetito’s sister restaurant Taormina 13 years ago. He now oversees the culinary direction for both establishments, but this week shares what’s new at Appetito heading into 2021. AL: How did you get into the restaurant industry? HM: I loved to cook and especially eat. I was double my size, I was crazy fat! I also was in eating competitions and won a lot of them, and held records in some of the competitions. I started cooking Italian food in Tokyo for about four years but really wanted to learn how...

STORY BY: NICOLE MONTON | PHOTOS BY: JADE DYNASTY SEAFOOD RESTAURANT Next month, Jade Dynasty Seafood Restaurant at Ala Moana Center will celebrate its 10th anniversary, and that longevity in Honolulu’s iconic open-air mall is all thanks to its desire to invest in genuine Hong Kong-style cuisine. Jade Dynasty’s chefs, for example, have trained with the best of the best in Hong Kong and returned to Hawaii with an abundance of knowledge and culinary mastery that’s evident in the extensive menu. “Good food, good service and a clean environment are what we always try to accomplish,” shares general manager Gary Chan. And, longtime customers can rejoice because also on the agenda are daily dim sum hours from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For...

STORY BY: ANNE LEE | PHOTOS BY: LAWRENCE TABUDLO Hula Grill Waikiki is the sister restaurant of Duke’s Waikiki, located upstairs at the beautiful Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort. This location has been around going on 17 years, and general manager Drew Crocker shares the similarities Hula Grill has with Duke’s Waikiki — both are owned by TS Restaurants — as well as what makes it unique. Hula Grill incorporates handcrafted local products in a more intimate dining experience. You see a lot of different hula-themed figurines and artwork — even the social distancing signs reflect the dance. The hula culture is embraced in this restaurant, and recognizes all the legends with its annual E Ola Mau Ka Hula awards. When Drew was in...

STORY BY: PAIGE TAKEYA | PHOTOS BY: LAWRENCE TABUDLO The Counter Custom Burgers has been an anchor at Kahala Mall since it opened back in 2009. Eleven years later, new owner Jon Muranaka is hoping it sails to even greater success. He’s been in charge since Oct. 2, and acknowledges that now is a less than orthodox time to be a new restaurant owner. “It was about the opportunity,” he says, adding that he had been in talks with the previous ownership for a year prior, and that this was something he had been keen on doing for a long time. For right now, Muranaka is learning the ropes (you can find him doing just about everything on a typical day: seating guests, washing...

By Mindy Pennybacker Brush has been cleared and a fence will be installed on a 200-yard-long strip of city-owned land running alongside Kamehameha Highway across from popular Laniakea Beach on Oahu’s North Shore, city officials said. Work started last week and will continue this week as part of an initial effort to increase safety, provide better beach access, and improve traffic conditions along the section of highway, the Honolulu City and County Department of Parks and Recreation said in a news release Monday. There has historically been a notorious traffic bottleneck at the section of two-lane road, where hundreds of thousands of visitors a year park on the dirt strip and cross the street to view the honu, Hawaiian green sea turtles, that...

By Bob Sigall, Special to the Star-Advertiser Every December, I review the past 12 months and write a two-part article about things I learned while researching this column. I am constantly uncovering new facts and insights about people, places and organizations I thought I knew well. Writing Rearview Mirror is a joy for me. Here are some of the things I learned this year. Times Supermarket Albert and Wallace Teruya left Kewalo Inn to start Times Grill cafe and then Times Supermarket. I knew that. But I didn’t know why. In 2020 I learned they had a brother, Herman, who wanted to own a grocery store. Unfortunately, he died fighting in Italy with the 442nd in World War II, but his brothers fulfilled his...

By Nina Wu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and members of the Rotary Club of Honolulu this afternoon held a blessing for Centennial Park in Waikiki, the city’s 304th park location. The park, formerly a vacant, nearly one-acre lot on Aloha Drive between Royal Hawaiian and Seaside avenues, has been in the works for years, and is expected to open to the public by February of next year. It was the result of a public-private partnership between the city and the Rotary Club of Honolulu, which put forth a donation of $1.5 million. For more information check out the Star-Advertiser...

By Steven Mark With tourism reopening in Hawaii we locals might be getting into a vacation state of mind, and local resorts and hotels are ready to cater to us with some kamaaina specials. It’s a chance to experience our beach resorts the way the rest of the world does — purely as places for fun and relaxation and places to enjoy that sense of “getting away from it all” — at affordable prices. Even people in the hospitality business are taking advantage of the opportunity. Monica Salter, vice president of corporate communications for Outrigger Hospitality Group, recently brought her family for a short stay at the Outrigger Waikiki, her first stay there ever despite having worked at the company for four years. For...

By Allison Schaefers It was a solid first day for the reopening of Hawaii tourism with 8,000-plus passengers coming through local airports — still only a little more than a third of October 2019’s daily domestic air traffic. State Department of Transportation spokesman Tim Sakahara said about 30 flights arrived in Honolulu from out of state Thursday, compared with about 100 on any given day before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the islands. According to Hawaii Airports System data, some 51 trans-Pacific flights with the potential to fill roughly 10,319 seats among them were scheduled to have arrived Thursday throughout the state. Lt. Gov. Josh Green estimated as many as 8,300 passengers flew into Hawaii for opening day of the state’s pre-arrival testing program,...

The Rearview Mirror Insider by Bob Sigall Rob Roy’s restaurant Misae Hironaka told me, “Decades ago there used to be a restaurant called Rob Roy’s in Kailua. My family and I remember it fondly as it was our favorite night-out place. Do you have any history regarding that restaurant and its owner?” Rob Roy’s restaurant opened in 1969 at 26 Hoolai St. in Kailua (where a strip mall is today with a Subway and an L&L). It was a popular family restaurant. The owner was Chuck Fraser, who also owned Chip’s, Scotty’s Drive-In on Keeaumoku Street and in Pearl City, the Village Inn in Kahala, the Crouching Lion in Kaaawa and Hawaii Blueprint, which is still in operation. The restaurant’s namesake was Robert Roy MacGregor...