Asian-Latin fusion goes Hawaiian

As the hippest hotel in Waikiki, Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The Modern Honolulu needed a restaurant that matched its cool factor. The Modern found it in Ravish, a new spot with an eclectic menu that incorporates South American flavors with Pacific Asian ingredients.

Headed by executive chef Keith Pajinag, Ravish specializes in Pacific Rim-inspired small plates that run the gamut from fresh oysters with a spicy-lime mignonette to a double-cut pork chop with a yuzu glaze. Or get a taste of your island surrounds with fresh sushi and ceviche with a Latin American twist.

The open-air restaurant looks the part, too. Quirky mural-emblazoned walls feature an octopus-headed man, an open kitchen offers a peek into the behind-the-scenes action, fire pits lend themselves to evening huddling with cocktails and Pacific views make you want to linger.

Our Highlights

• Ravish offers three menus that showcase an array of small, shareable plates. There are only a handful of entrées, all beautifully plated and decadent.

•  There are two seating areas, each evoking different moods. Dine in the modern dining room with its stylish wooden tables and floor-to-ceiling windows, or opt for a seat on the lanai with its sweeping views of the Ala Wai Boat Harbor where, on Friday nights, you can watch fireworks light up the skies above Waikiki.

• Pajinag, who grew up in both Hawaii and Alaska, is committed to locally sourcing as many of his ingredients as possible. You’ll taste asparagus from Twin Bridge Farms in Waialua in Oahu and shrimp from Kauai.

• The drink menu is extensive, from specialty cocktails to wines by the glass to an assortment of locally brewed beers. Don’t miss the dessert drinks, including a housemade horchata using almond milk, basmati rice, condensed milk, sugar and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

• The menu changes seasonally based on the availability of ingredients, but some dishes, including the signature ‘Ele ‘Ele entree spotlighting a bounty of fresh seafood atop calamari-ink-infused rice, are year-round staples.

Things to Know

• Ravish doesn’t serve breakfast or lunch. However, Pajinag plans to start brunch service soon.

• The Oahu restaurant offers complimentary valet parking, which we highly recommend.

• Go local. The daily fish, Kauai shrimp and Kona kampachi are going to be the freshest selections, and you get to sample the seafood of the islands.

The Food

• The philosophy of Ravish is to showcase both South American and Pacific Asian flavors. A great example of this fusion is the grilled octopus dish, which is cooked to perfection and served with roasted potatoes and crunchy chicory encircled with romesco sauce, dabs of botija olive purée and chorizo breadcrumbs.

• Order the Ravish charcuterie board, an interesting take on the classic cured meat plate. Instead of salumi and French cheese, this seafood-centric board has an ahi rillettes, octopus terrine, cured mackerel, smoked Pacific salmon and pickled vegetables.

• The modish sushi offerings are exactly that. The combinations are unexpected, even in Hawaii: fatty ahi with yam and kizami (chopped) wasabi; scallops with matcha salt; and prime strip steak topped with uni (sea urchin).

• Save room for dessert. Our favorite is the Ravished by Chocolate and Gold, which combines a pillowy dark chocolate cremeux with milk chocolate ganache, praline crisp and golden candied hazelnuts, accompanied by a Thai tea ice cream.

The Drinks

• The drink menu at Ravish is as eclectic and original as the dinner offerings.  Try the specialty cocktails — including the earthy Thai Me Up, which combines cucumber Deep Eddy vodka with yuzu, St-Germain, Domaine de Canton and springs of fresh Thai basil.

• There’s also a section on the menu called Research and Development, with experimental drinks that are fun to try. The Ahi Wela, which translates to “fire hot,” is for the adventurous sipper, with its mixture of tequila, lime, triple sec, Sriracha and chili pepper water muddled with basil.

• For spectacular pyrotechnics any day of the week, order the Ring of Fire, a dessert cocktail that’s literally set ablaze. It combines Kahlúa, Baileys Irish Cream, mescal, honey, Godiva dark chocolate liqueur and a marshmallow on top that’s lit tableside.

DETAILS - Insider Information About This Restaurant

DETAILS - Insider Information About This Restaurant