I might be a broken record by now but I can’t but express how much the Honolulu dining scene has grown over the past few years. New and exciting restaurants, exploring new avenues of cuisine, seem to be opening at a rapid pace! Newest on the scene is the long awaited Pai Honolulu, which will grand open tonight.

I’ve been waiting for Pai Honolulu to open since I moved back to Hawaii from Minnesota last fall. Chef and owner Kevin Lee brings to Pai a great deal of experience, including time working at Michelin rated restaurants in New York and Hong Kong. I also had the good fortune of working with Chef Lee and his staff recently, and was even more fortunate to be invited to join them for their soft opening this past weekend.

We moved away from Hawaii back in 2011 and my memory of the Harbor Court lobby space was still the long-gone Satura Cakes. The large, curved retail space has been transformed by Chef Lee and his team into a modern, bright, and welcoming restaurant with a very prominent open kitchen. Pai Honolulu will be serving a menu of small bites in the bar/lounge area, a prix fixe menu in the main dining area, and of course a chef’s tasting menu at the counter overlooking the kitchen. For the soften opening we got to sit up at the bar and watch the mixologists create a variety of craft cocktails.

Since I don’t really drink these days I’m always on the look out for interesting non-alcoholic beverages, so I was very pleased to see a non-alcoholic offering besides water or coffee. During the soft opening weekend the restaurant was serving its prix fixe menu:

Mentaiko Taramosalata – Spicy code roe spread, chervil, lavosh
Chilled Corn Soup – Turnips, pickled cherries, goat cheese, tarragon

Our second favorite dish of the night. So simple yet full of flavor. A wonderful summer soup.

Octopus and Fennel Ragu – Tagliatelle, curried fonduta, octopus “bottarga”

My personal favorite from the night. The pasta was perfectly cooked and had a great layering of flavors with the fonduta, spices, octopus “bottarga”, and the dehydrated basmati rice.

Pan-Roasted Opah – Katuray flower tempura, broccoli florets, wood ear mushroom
Spiced Apple Banana – Smoked macadamia nut brittle, rum gelato

The service and food at Pai Honolulu were both great. The staff has only been working together now for a short while, so I anticipate that things will only get better over time as they find their groove and settle in. I’m glad to see another strong fine dining option in Honolulu and already have a tasting menu reservation booked for July!

Pai Honolulu
Harbor Court Lobby
55 Merchant Street Ste. 110
Honolulu, HI 96813