35th Annual Hale ‘Aina Award Winners: The Best Restaurants in Hawai‘i
Best New Restaurant - Editor’s Choice
Best Service - Top Write In
Best Tasting Menu - Finalist
Brought Me Back To My Childhood
“The infusion of the Chinese flavors brought back memories from my childhood. It was easily most enjoyable meals I've had the pleasure of experiencing”
Technique. Flavor. Local Ingredients
“One of the menu’s standout dishes was the agedashi XO turnip cake with flaky smoked akule and bits of papaya in an interesting ti leaf broth. The cake had the consistency of tofu, with a spicy XO kick. My husband said he could eat this all day, every day."
The 12 Hottest New Restaurants in Honolulu
Dining experiences at the upscale PAI Honolulu take three forms: Small plates at the bar/lounge, a prix fixe menu in the dining room, and a chef’s tasting at the counter. Locals are rooting for chef Kevin Lee
Pai Honolulu Ups the Lunch Game in Downtown
“All of the bread, served at both lunch and dinner, are now made in-house. For the past eight months, Lee has been perfecting bread-making, learning methods from books and videos. Now, everything from the toasted baguette topped with beef tartare on the dinner menu to the sourdough bread bowls at lunch is made fresh in the kitchen here.”
Great Deal of Experience
“I’m glad to see another strong fine dining option in Honolulu and already have a tasting menu reservation booked for July!.”
Humbled Chef. Humbled To Live & Work Here
“More successful is a pipipi (sea snail) ragout—a rich, resonant dish that has the snails’ briny chewiness mixing with similarly shaped housemade cavatelli. And what made it even more delicious was finding out that Lee and Kadokawa had plucked the pipipi off rocks on the North Shore themselves that morning. It is the earthiest seafood dish ever.”
"Chef Kevin Lee is a cerebral chef. You could imagine him as a professor—instead he puts his brain power into his food. On his plates is a restrained drama. An alumnus of such lauded New York restaurants as Dovetail and the late, great Tabla, he can pull flavor out of shiitake mushrooms like nobody’s business."
Best New Restaurant 2017
PAI “opened this June in Harbor Court tower and has blossomed into Honolulu's new best culinary hotspot by fusing several international cuisines and showing its guests a good time in its wood-paneled space. Flavors from around the world dominate the tightly edited tasting menus at PAI -- think truffles from Australia on a Japanese egg custard, washed down with perfectly paired French Champagne."
One of My Favorites In The World
"Perhaps more importantly, however, dining out, especially at this level, should be a surprising experience. And that surprise is one of my primary drivers for dining out. It is, after all, what makes an excellent meal a truly memorable one. And I’m happy to say that PAI Honolulu excelled here as well. ."
Breads part of artisan lunch menu at Pai
“At Pai Honolulu, adding lunch service required waiting for chef Kevin Lee to perfect the art of bread-making.”
Influences Across the Globe
"Dinner at PAI is equally imaginative, with influences from across the globe like in New Zealand king salmon covered in chermoula to a Singapore chili crab risotto."
Pai Honolulu in Downtown Serves Familiar Dishes with Unexpected Flavors
“'I wanted to create something that’s comforting and homey, not stuffy,' Lee says. 'I want people to be themselves and just have a good time.'”
Top 5 Most Exciting Openings
“Given Kevin Lee’s background at Manhattan’s Michelin-starred Dovetail, it’s no wonder his upcoming resto is one of Honolulu’s most anticipated openings of the year. .”