Words + photos by Vina Cristobal
From world-renowned chef and restauranteur Peter Merriman — of Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman — comes a new hotspot in the SALT complex of Kaka’ako.
Moku Kitchen made its soft opening debut during the October Honolulu Night Market last Saturday, but officially opened its doors to the public this past Wednesday, October 19. The restaurant aims to give a “upcountry, downtown” vibe. Each dish was inspired by some aspect of Hawaiian countryside, which is served to the urban downtown scene.
While the outside was a bit quiet with only a few people seated at a table, the homey environment inside was a lively and festive contrast. Enthusiastic waiters buzzed from each table, making conversation with guests, while live music livened the crowd. POW! WOW! artist Kamea Hadar painted one of the inner walls of the restaurant, which would eventually become its second phase.
We started off the night with a glass of red wine. Since it was their grand opening night, the waiter informed us that they only had two wines on tap — the rest of the options would be introduced later on as the restaurant progressed. For those that are interested in knowing what the happy hour specials are, Moku Kitchen discounts some of its drinks off their regular prices. For instance, it takes $2 off of beers that are under $9 (regular price), while it takes $3 off of beers that are over $9 (regular price). The happy hour lasts from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., for those who get off early from work.
Afterward, our appetizers came to the table. The poke tacos, with a side of pickled brussel sprouts, were a nice, crunchy starter. The guacamole added flavor to the fresh poke cubes, which were tucked nicely into a small tortilla shell.
The other appetizer that was served was the garlic truffle oil fries, which were sprinkled with parmesan cheese. Ketchup and creamy mustard aioli sauce were placed on both sides of the fries plate.
Then cam dinner, which included fresh, farm-to-table ingredients that gave these classic dishes a local twist:
While the dinner dishes tasted delicious, the dessert options were great finishers to the meal (of course, who can’t go wrong with a sweet post-dinner treat?). I had the Kona coffee gelato — which was just a classic scoop in a little cup — while the rest of the table feasted on the restaurant’s variety of cream pies.
For homestyle hospitality and country-style dishes, look no further than Moku Kitchen.
660 Ala Moana Boulevard, Suite 145
(next door to Starbucks in SALT)
Honolulu, HI 96813
Open daily 11:00AM – 11:00PM
Happy hour: 3:00PM – 5:30PM
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Lunch and dinner menus are varied by season, according to Moku’s website.