Wisp opens in former Diamond Head Grill location
A new dining option along the Gold Coast
Wisp's ram-lette should appeal to local residents' palates.
The room has been quiet since 2014 when Park closed its doors and Lotus Honolulu at Diamond Head guests were stranded with no in-house dining options. But the cobwebs have now been dusted and Wisp owners, Jon Ishimi, Lani Nakamura and Jason Kainuma, look to succeed where others have not.
Wisp Restaurant and Lounge’s success will largely hinge on Kainuma’s menu. Unlike his predecessors, Kainuma isn’t touting “seasonal,” nor is he pretending to be experimental, which is wise. His cuisine is approachable yet still creative. One of the appetizers that is certain to draw attention is the ram-lette, a fluffy omelet that’s folded with noodles, Spam, fishcake and scallions, then placed atop a pool of ramen sauce. It works well and other chefs will probably soon — if not already — follow with their own iteration.
Other worthy starters include the Kaua‘i shrimp cocktail served with a zesty lomi tomato; brine-kissed Kusshi oysters from the Pacific Northwest; and the sashimi omakase, which will include a tasting of four different types of fresh fish. For a leafy beginning, try the Nalo Farms mixed green salad drizzled with a red vinaigrette.
“This is such a great restaurant with a storied history among locals who live nearby,” says Ishimi, who also co-owns the popular Kissaten. “Nothing has really opened on this side of Waikīkī so residents and hotel guests now have another option.”
Entrée selections range from $15 for a Kulana Beef cheeseburger to $39 for a herb-roasted rack of lamb. Priced in between is the Garlic Lover’s Steak ($24), which is complemented with a bold port wine reduction, and accompanied by a choice of white rice or garlic mashed potatoes. For $5 more, the 10-ounce Harris Ranch prime rib is pan-seared and served with a horseradish mousse.
“The menu was a collaborative effort; it’s classic American cuisine with Hawaiian and Asian influences,” Nakamura explains. “I love to eat good food and this definitely meets my approval.”
The coconut curry opah or moonfish deserves high marks for flavor and presentation. Wrapped in kataifi, the firm, flaky flesh holds up to the sweet coconut curry while the Okinawan sweet potato mash and Ho Farms grape tomatoes add visual pop to the plate.
“We’re trying to source local products as much as we can,” Nakamura says. “We want to support our local farmers whenever possible.”
To end on a sweet note, two must-tries: a parfait like dessert composed of white cake cubes, fresh berries, lemon curd and matcha cream; and the mochurro bites, a hybrid between fried mochi and churro served with chocolate coffee sauce or lilikoi curd.
“We offer some craft cocktails, too,” Nakamura points out. “And our happy hour will run from 4 to 7 p.m., offering $3 house reds and whites, well cocktails and draft beer, and certain pupu.”
Open daily for breakfast and dinner. Lotus Honolulu at Diamond Head, second floor, 2885 Kalakaua Ave., 791.5163, wisphawaii.com