Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Heavenly Island Lifestyle Restaurant at Shoreline Waikiki Hotel {Media Dinner & Restaurant Review}

Like many bloggers, I get periodic requests to attend a media event or try out a new restaurant. I don't do it a lot. Often it is due to time constraints, sometimes due to the type of restaurant--for a mostly-veggie-with-some-fish-thrown-in blog, I get a lot of steakhouse and meat-centric invitations. ;-)  When the email for the new Heavenly Island Lifestyle Restaurant came through, I was immediately attracted to the philosophy and the menu. A 'health-conscious menu reflecting the richness of Hawaii and using local and organic ingredients' is something I can get behind. So, I asked if I could bring my favorite foodie friend Natalie along, and Monday night we met up with a dozen or so bloggers, food and travel writers, and other foodie types to check it out.

*Hotel & hotel room photo provided from Shoreline Hotel Waikiki & Joie de Vivre

Heavenly restaurant is at the Shoreline Hotel Waikiki, a hotel that was purchased and renovated as a boutique hotel by the popular Joie de Vivre Hotel group about a year ago. Both the hotel interior and the restaurant have a beachy, surf chic feel. I neglected to get (iPhone) photos of more than the food (yes, I have a one-track mind and stomach) but Natalie got a lot of great interior shots (check her photos out on Twitter @asknatalie and Instagram asknataliehawaii). 

The restaurant had a soft opening about a month ago and has been serving breakfast and lunch. Monday night they were very brave to host a media dinner on their very first night of serving their dinner menu. We were welcomed with a variety of tropical fruit mimosas (mine was mango) and given an extensive tasting menu with shared plates of thirteen of their menu items. The actual restaurant menu was provided with the details of each dish with local and organic items clearly called out. The back of the restaurant menu features the different local vendors that the restaurant sources the bulk of their ingredients from.

Plating of the dishes was fun and in keeping with the surfer chic vibe of the restaurant. The pupus--appetizers came out on wooden boards inscribed with the restaurant name. Heavenly's take on a bagna cauda featuring a miso paste instead of garlic oil for dipping had a small glass "vase" filled with a bouquet of fresh veggies for dipping. The poke came with a kale salad, a chunk of fresh ginger and a grater to add the amount of ginger you like. Being a big ginger fan, I appreciate being able to add a lot to my dish without worrying about any less ginger-loving dining companions. The guacamole was chunky and fresh and served with cilantro, taro chips and corn chips. I think the chip amount could be increased a bit--especially for sharing. It's hard to make mushrooms look pretty but the meaty Hamakua mushrooms made this mushroom addict very happy. The standout appetizer dish for me was the Kona 'Kanpachi' Coconut Ceviche. The kanpachi (aka kampachi, amberjack, yellowtail), was fresh and buttery, the disks of Big Island hearts of palm added a nice crunch beneath, while the coconut oil, cilantro and lime made a flavorful dressing. 
There was a bit of a wait between courses but given the number of dishes for our group, the fact that this was their first night of dinner operations, and that they were serving a decent-sized crowd of customers too, the kinks in service speed were expected. It looked like food was coming out in a timely fashion for the bar and smaller groups. The service was friendly, my water glass was constantly filled and the (organic) wine was plentiful. We had good company at our table including John Henry, the Regional Managing Director for Joie de Vivre, fresh off the plane from San Francisco, Will McGough a free-lance travel writer (Wake and Wander) on a hiking adventure through the islands, and @saGEMom, from Hawaii Mom Blog and Sage and Savvy, a local blogger who I have followed on Twitter from a while now but had not had the pleasure of meeting until last night.   

Green Cobb Salad was next up--I didn't get a great shot of it mixed up but hidden in that forest of green were lentils and quinoa and the herby green dressing was light and complimented it well--another favorite dish for me. (I hid my pre-mixing photo in with the main dishes above.) Speaking of our Main Dish and "Rice, Pho & Pasta" courses, there was sauteed Shinsato pork with (more yea!) mushrooms and onions in a very lickable ginger sauce. The Makaweli Ranch ribeye came out tender and was sizzling in a decadent truffle sauce with local veggies. If you regularly read this blog you know I am no longer a  regular meat eater but, I make an exception for tasting menus and I had a bite of each of the meat options to try them out. (How I suffer for my art!) ;-) I also had a bite of the patty on Heavenly's Organic Veggie & Beans Loco Moco. Loco Moco is a Hawaii classic and Heavenly's take on it--with a 10-grain rice and black bean mixture and a ginger and soy glaze instead of gravy, was fabulous. The egg was cooked perfectly--as you can see from the photo as it was cut open. I would return for this Loco Moco--but for my veg-friendly soul, I would ask to order it with more vegetables and no patty. I would have liked a bit more herb flavor or acidity to balance all of the creamy in the Kuhuku Shrimp Ravioli but I liked the cauliflower on top. It could also be that even sharing plates, I was getting pretty full by the time the pasta hit the table so was looking for something that 'popped' more in flavor.

As stuffed as we were getting, we did manage to squeeze in tastes of the three desserts. I liked that the House Made Kona Coffee Tiramisu was not too heavy and that there wasn't an overpowering harsh rum flavor that you get in some tiramisus. In this one the coffee and chocolate flavors were at the forefront. The 'Pina Colada' had coconut sorbet on the bottom and a Maui Gold pineapple shave ice on top with jelly cubes (coffee jelly?) in between--a good combo of sweet and tangy and not too heavy. Having a love for both crème brûlée and ginger--I had a feeling it would be my favorite dessert and I was right. The ginger was present without being overpowering and it was light and creamy.

As we were enjoying the last bites of dessert, our host "Mild" (Makoto Hasegawa), Heavenly's manager, brought out the Executive Chef, Keigo Yoshimoto (see center photo of first collage). Chef Yoshimoto is the chef for the Aloha Table Group --including Aloha Table and Goofy Cafe & Dine (both in Waikiki). The chef's attention to detail and Mild's attention to service made for an overall delicious and fun evening. 

Would I return on my own dime to Heavenly Island Lifestyle? Yes, definitely. The freshness of the food, the fact that I can get a meal that is on the healthy side, and the support of Hawaii's local agriculture and businesses will bring me back. (Plus the Kona 'Kanpachi' Coconut Ceviche, Green Cobb Salad, and Heavenly's Loco Moco especially would draw me back to Waikiki for their all day breakfast or a light lunch or dinner.)

The Details: 
Heavenly Island Lifestyle
Shoreline Hotel Waikiki
342 Seaside Ave, IF
Honolulu, HI 96815

Open 7AM - 12PM

Note: My friend and I were hosted at a media dinner by Heavenly Restaurant and Shoreline Hotel Waikiki, a Joie de Vivre, property in return for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated for this review and as always my thoughts and opinions are my own.


  1. sounds and looked like a great place!

  2. Well, if m ever in Hawaii....... :).


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