Courtesy Tsukada Nojo
The grand opening of new restaurants is nothing like we’ve seen in decades. And there is no slowing as more eateries come on line. Yauatcha and Tsukada Nojo are the latest to open their doors, welcoming diners to experience a modern Hong Kong-style tea house and contemporary izakaya, respectively.
One of the most anticipated openings this year, Yauatcha (pronounced Yaow-ah-cha) redefines the traditional Chinese teahouse. Stainless steel carts are absent from the room, which has a Feng Shui vibe with tall columns of blue glass juxtaposed by brick walls and pendant lighting. No detail has been spared on the décor and the same could be said about the cuisine and, of course, the variety of teas, including the calming tender branch hibiscus. Dim sum baskets filled with venison puffs, prawn-and-chive dumplings, Shagnhai siew long buns and roast duck in a pumpkin-shaped puff release aromatic plumes as the lids are removed. In the open kitchen, staff members — currently led by Michelin-starred chef Ho Chee Boon of Hakkasan Group, which founded the first Yauatcha in SoHo, London — can be seen hand stretching noodles and performing a choreographed dance as they prepare such house specialties as jasmine-tea-smoked pork ribs, Kona kampachi in homemade soy sauce and the tableside-shredded crispy aromatic duck served with homemade pancakes. Desserts here are edible art pieces, from the rose-shaped strawberry délice to the Tropical Dome. Take home some macarons for an added treat.
International Market Place, Third Floor, Grand Lānai, 739-9318
The izakaya to the Japanese is what the gastropub is to Americans. Dishes are meant to be shared in a communal setting, a point well made at Tsukada Nojo, a popular chain from Japan that opened on Kalākaua Avenue next to the Micronesia Mart. Named after a region in Miyazaki, Kyushu, Tsukada aims to source its ingredients from local nojo (farms), having already established relationships with Aloun Farms, Maui Farmers’ Cooperative Exchange and Kaneshiro Farms. Almost all the dishes here will have some green component, whether it’s as minor as the green onions with the hamachi jalapeno or the main star as is with the slices of saikyo-miso avocado. A few of the must-tries include the Nojo chicken nanban, tender chicken fritters dipped in a soy vinaigrette then topped with a house tartar sauce; Nikumaki rice ball, a pork belly-wrapped rice ball in sweet soy ginger sauce; “tacos” compose of chicken-curry and wrapped in sliced radish; and the house- special bijin nabe, a chicken-based collagen — hence the dish’s nickname “beauty pot” — soup with garland chrysanthemum, zucchini, watermelon radish, tofu, chives, enoki mushroom, maitake mushroom, aburaage, green onion and tsukune meat ball.
1731 Kalākaua Ave., 951-4444