Hawaii Mom Blog: Ka 'Ikena Laua'e




April 27, 2012

Ka 'Ikena Laua'e

I never imagined that dining at restaurant on a college campus would be one of the best dining experiences that I've had all year. Last night we had dinner at Ka 'Ikena Laua'e, the fine dining restaurant located on the Kapiolani Community College (KCC) campus, and it exceeded our expectations tremendously.

KCC is probably the most well known and respected culinary arts program in the State of Hawaii. Ka 'Ikena gives culinary students hands-on experience in both cooking and servicing in a real-world setting. The kitchen and restaurant are run entirely by students - from the host/hostess, to the food servers, to the cooks in the kitchen.

Since the restaurant is only open during the fall and spring semesters, reservations are highly sought after, especially towards the end of the module (semester). I made our reservation on Opentable.com one month in advance.

For those of you who are not familiar with the KCC campus, I would check the map for directions on how to get to the restaurant, which is located in the Ohelo building on the KCC campus. There aren't any signs on campus directing you to the restaurant.

The dinner menu consists of four courses: starter, soup or salad, entree, and dessert. They give you several options within each course, just like a regular restaurant. The price is determined by the entree you select, and some appetizers are an extra dollar or two.

Here's a snapshot of the entrance to the restaurant. As you can see, there aren't any signs signifying that you have arrived at the restaurant.

The inside of the restaurant. At the time I took this picture, it was towards the end of the evening and the chefs/cooks were going around each table asking the patrons for feedback.

The view from the restaurant is picturesque. You get a bird's-eye view of Kaimuki and Kahala, and you can even see the ocean.

I didn't catch the name of this, but it's a piece of daikon and it served as a palate cleanser. It was complimentary.

Starter: Chinatown Duck Local Style (duck prepared three different ways)

Starter: Chili Spiced Shrimp Lemon Grass Lollipop (additional $2)

Salad: Shredded Spiced Chicken Salad

Ciabatta Bread

Entree: Szechuan Peppercorn Crusted N.Y. Steak & Kaffir Lime-Lemon Grass
Dusted Kauai Shrimp ($32)

Entree: Grilled Island Kampachi with Thai Infused Corn-Crab-Potato Cake ($29)

Dessert: Flourless Chocolate Cake

Dessert: Lilikoi Gelato

Banquet Rooms are available for private events

Customers are not allowed to leave a tip to their server, but donations to the Culinary Program are accepted at the entrance.

The food was outstanding. Every dish was bursting with moisture, flavor and seasoning. The food servers do everything by the book, which is a pleasant change from regular restaurants where food servers tend to cut corners. I was amazed at the quality of the food and service, given that these are students and not professionals.

Unfortunately tonight is the last night for the spring module, and they are probably sold out for this evening's service, therefore if you want to try Ka 'Ikena, you'll need to wait until the Fall semester.

Ka 'Ikena Laua'e
4303 Diamond Head Road, Ohelo Building 2nd Floor
(808) 734-9499 (daytime reservation line)
(808) 734-9488 (evening dining room line)
Open during the Fall and Spring semesters only
Free parking

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