Hawaii Mom Blog: Na`au Hilo x PAI Honolulu Collaboration Dinner




September 13, 2021

Na`au Hilo x PAI Honolulu Collaboration Dinner

If you have been following Hawaii Mom Blog and Hawaii Mom Blog's founder Gem (@808Gem) on Instagram, you will be quite familiar with Na`au Hilo - a concept by Chef Brian Hirata.  Gem is the taskmaster for Na`au, which means she basically does everything short of the actually cooking for Na`au's popup events.  

Na`au's Pop-Up events usually occur in Hilo, however they have participated in collaboration dinners at PAI Honolulu with Chef Kevin Lee once in early 2020, and once in early 2021.  I was not able to attend either of those collaboration dinners, and I had assumed I wouldn't get another chance until 2022 (since it seemed like these pop-ups on Oahu were going to be occurring on an annual basis). But to my surprise, a second collaboration dinner in 2021 at PAI Honolulu was announced for September 5, and I did not hesitate to purchase tickets for the 5 pm seating. 

Guests for the 5 pm seating were seated outdoors, which was perfect, since we prefer to dine outdoors these days.

There was an option to purchase the Sommelier Select Wine Pairings (6 wines), however, we just purchased wine by the glass from PAI's beverage menu.

Before the start of the dining experience, Chef Brian of Na`au and Chef Kevin of PAI came out from the kitchen to introduce themselves. These Chefs were so humble and sincere in their words.

Time to FEAST!  Here's what we enjoyed this evening:

Samoan Crab - corn pudding, red miso, ginger wasabi emulsion | Chef Kevin

Buttermilk Cornbread w/miso honey butter | Chef Kevin

Tofu Salad - soy milk custard, smoked akule, bean sprout namul,
concentrated tomatoes, watercress, toasted goma dressing | Chef Brian

Nduja & Goat Cheese Arancini - soft egg, mentaiko mousse | Chef Kevin

Local Pork & Tako Ragu - local pork bacon, Waimea tomato ragu,
'uala garganelli | Chef   Brian

Kampachi - taro gratin, hibiscus beurre rouge, luau leaf,
smoked fire water | Chef Kevin

Mom's 'Ohelo Berry Cheesecake - 'ohelo berry compote,
sheep sorrel | Chef Brian

The Chef who crafted each course would come out from the kitchen to introduce the course and give us a brief description of how it was made or how the ingredients were foraged (most ingredients are sourced from the islands by the Chefs themselves).  It is quite apparent that each dish was meticulously prepared and plated.  You definitely do not get this kind of experience anywhere else on the island.

Although I am somewhat biased since Gem is one of my BFFs, I will say in all honesty, this was one of the most memorable dining experiences of my life (it ranks up there with my wedding dinner at the Halekulani!).  I love the farm-to-table concept, and the fact that the dishes are prepared by the Chefs themselves. Their styles are innovative and contemporary, yet they are committed to preserving Hawaii's food culture by incorporating locally sourced ingredients into their recipes. If you are looking for a unique dining experience in Hawaii, check out Na`au''s website for upcoming events and purchase your tickets! 



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