International Market Place’s top floor is a new dining hot spot. It’s home to Yauatcha Waikiki, the first U.S. branch of the London dim sum tea house that debuted in February, and Eating House 1849 from Hawaiian-fusion pioneer Roy Yamaguchi.
We opted for Stripsteak Waikiki, an indoor-outdoor space dressed in chocolate browns and wood. At famed chef Michael Mina’s first Hawaii outing, a Japanese-influenced steakhouse, meat rules the menu. Go straight for the peppery, tender A5 wagyu. Mina’s secret is that he butter-poaches cuts before searing them.
You could get away with pairing it with the flight of duck fat fries and dips (complimentary in lieu of bread) — truffle fries with truffle aioli; herb and garlic fries with housemade ketchup; and furikake (a Japanese seasoning that typically includes dried and ground fish, sesame seeds, chopped seaweed) fries with a sweet tonkatsu sauce. Warning: They are all addictive.
Bolster your meal with the fried rice, which packs great spice and chunks of pork belly, and “Instant Bacon,” thick slices of crispy pork belly doused in a black-pepper-soy glaze topped with a tempura oyster.
If you prefer seafood, this is the only Stripsteak outpost with a sushi and poke bar. But once you see the fuss made when the lobster pot pie (a signature at Mina’s Stonehill Tavern in Dana Point, California) arrives at a neighboring table, you won’t want to feel left out. Kona lobster makes it local, and the chef deconstructs the dish and then gives you an impressive tableside presentation.
Either way, follow it up with the Shaka Sour, an eminently drinkable cocktail with Death’s Door gin, Lillet Blanc, yuzu and mangosteen. A big orange shaka sign left on the frothy egg white top makes it distinctly Hawaiian and a must for your Instagram feed.
End on a refreshing note with the macadamia nut semifreddo, which gets some zip from a quenelle of lilikoi (passion fruit) apple banana sorbet and brûléed bananas.
Mina will expand his presence at the International Market Place, as his second eatery, casual food hall The Street, opens later this spring.