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HAWAII Magazine picks: Six great dinners on Oahu


Chai’s Island Bistro

Aloha Tower Marketplace, 1 Aloha Tower Drive
(808) 585-0011,

At Chai’s, you can sit outside amid flickering tiki torches, listening to the best of contemporary Island music, sipping a glass of wine from the extensive wine list and feasting on seared sea scallops in lobster pumpkin beurre blanc or quail stuffed with foie gras and Portobello mushroom.

Ah, Hawai‘i.

You’ll find a few Thai accents to the food here, grilled mahimahi in a Thai red curry sauce, for instance. That’s because chef Chai Chaowasaree also owns Honolulu’s most celebrated Thai eatery, Singha Thai Cuisine.

Chai’s desire to extend his menu into Hawai‘i regional flavors caused him to open this casual, yet elegant bistro in Aloha Tower Marketplace. Here he cooks from all the cuisines of Hawai‘i, from Mongolian lamb chops to Chinese-style fresh whole moi, a fish once reserved for Hawaiian royalty.

In the above photo, Chef Chai's wok-seared jumbo black tiger prawns with Thai chili-ginger sauce.

“We’re also glad to cook for vegetarians, vegans,” says Chai, though he notes that it’s helpful to call ahead if someone in your party would like a vegan meal. “That way we can do something special.”

It’s easy to find this restaurant at Aloha Tower Marketplace. Just listen, because there’s live music every night, from masters such as the Brothers Cazimero and Danny Couch.


Chef Mavro

1969 South King St.
(808) 944-4714,

In Honolulu, everyone calls Chef George Mavrothalassitis simply Mavro. Despite his Greek surname, Mavro grew up in the south of France, and brings the focus and precision of a French kitchen to Hawai‘i ingredients.

Chef Mavro is a stylish, personal little restaurant, where the chef cooks for only 50 or 60 lucky people a night. Dinner here is French style, with your choice of three, four or six courses, served with or without wine. You don’t have to choose your wine here. Wines are served by the glass, and are chosen by Mavro and a panel of experts to match each individual course.

The menus change seasonally. Every three months, Mavro creates new dishes: Big Island abalone served with spiced, shaved vegetables. Lobster paella with saffron puff rice. A Wagyu beef strip loin with a green peppercorn sauce. Colorado lamb with curried Brussels sprout leaves.

Pictured above is Chef Mavro's meli-melo of spring vegetables—a du jour medley of whatever vegetables the chef finds best that day from Oahu's Ma'o Organic Farms, each prepared with a different recipe.

There’s even a cheese course, usually something special like a Big Island goat cheese mousse.
Mavro’s a master of desserts. In a town that loves the Portuguese doughnuts called malassadas, his are famous, filled with passion fruit, served on a guava puree with pineapple-coconut ice cream. Mavro may be French, but he’s lived in Hawai‘i for more than two decades and his flavors show it.

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