Review: ‘āina 2.0.

After having a bomb ass Hawaiian brunch at ‘āina a few months ago, I knew I had to come back to try their dinner menu.

‘āina extended their hours and I was beyond excited since the dinner menu is of course completely different. Reservations are still hard to come by since the restaurant only holds about 30 seats.

Cocktails to Start Off.

Shoyu Cured Pipikaula: Beef Short Rib with Okinawan Sweet Potato Focaccia (8.5/10).

Spam Bao with Yuzu Kosho Aioli and Tsar Nicoulai Smoked Trout Roe (8.5/10).

For brunch they serve spam musubi “spam style” which is a lettuce wrap with rice, kimchi, and egg yolk furikake (amazingly delicious). I knew I had to order their dinner spam dish and it didn’t disappoint. The steamed bao, colored with beetroot juice, was airy and fluffy stuffed with homemade pork spam, yuzu kosho aioli, and topped with Tsar Nicoulai smoked trout roe. We liked this so much that we ordered two more orders!

Ahi Tuna Poke with Heart of Palm, Shiso, and Sea Lettuce (7.5-8/10).

You can’t go wrong with ahi tuna poke. It’s simple and satisfying. While it was tasty, it was the least “exciting” dish of the night.

Lomi Arctic Char with Chive Soubise, Fried Sunchoke, and Confit Tomato (8/10).

Heritage Berkshire Pork with Broccolini, Ginger Citrus Chimichurri, and Turnips Served with Koshihikari Rice (8/10).

The first four dishes were all small plates. This was the only main dish we ordered and it was scrumptious. The pork was tender and juicy and the fat harmoniously melted in your mouth with the meat. The ginger citrus chimichurri gave the pork that added layer of flavor and the carrot top pistou was a great addition as well. The dish was served with perfectly cooked fluffy koshihikari rice.

Haupia Tart: Coconut Pudding with Ginger Shortbread, and Black Vinegar Ice Cream (8/10).

I loved the flaky crust of the ginger shortbread with the creamy coconut pudding. The pears were poached in umeboshi (Japanese pickled plum) that cut through the sweetness of the tart. The black vinegar ice cream was really unique and actually worked great with the dish.

Matcha Green Tea Mochi with Kuromitsu Caramel, Sesame Spun Sugar, Yuzu Meringue, and Adzuki Bean Jam (8/10).

This was basically a matcha green tea mochi cake that had that chewy soft texture that mochi has. The lilikoi cream (yellow passionfruit) was silky smooth with a tart flavor that complimented the kuromitsu (a very dark syrup made from black sugar) caramel that has a molasses flavor with a slight bitterness.

‘āina serves creative fun dishes that ultimately taste great. Even though the restaurant is a bit out of the way, I’m so happy I came back to try their dinner menu. My rating is an 8-8.5/10.

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