Chai's Island Bistro
|Chai's Island Bistro
|Restaurant & Bar
Aloha Tower Marketplace
Honolulu, HI 96814
Phone: 808 585 0011
Owner of Singha Thai and Chai's Island Bistro, Chai Chaowaseree
is one of the most pleasant people on the planet. Confident and self-
assured in his work, he has managed to combine a competitive spirit and
modest disposition. The youngest of 7 children, Chai grew up in Bangkok
where his mother owned a restaurant - and where he developed an early
fascination with cooking.
"Thai food is all about using the flavors we have around us - not
just making food hot and spicy," he says. "We use lemon grass, kaffir
lime leaves, ginger, all the aromatic herbs, and then we use
heat." The result, as anyone who loves Thai food knows is a special
marriage of flavors.
When Chaowasaree first came to Hawaii he worked his way through a
variety of restaurants learning the ups and downs of restaurant life.
"I even worked for a short time at a KFC," he says, never too proud to
remember his early days.
While Singha Thai, opened almost 20 years ago remains one of
Waikiki's most popular Thai restaurants, Chai's Island Bistro shows
another side of the creative Chaowasaree. Singha specializes in both
traditional and non-traditional Thai dishes while Chai's caters to
Chaowasaree's love of Pacific Rim Cuisine. The Thai influence is
evident, of course in the flavors, the fragrance and the spice of the
food, as his background brings to Hawaii cuisine the unmistakable
influence of another culture.
Marrying the fresh flavors of the Pacific - fresh fish, Island
grown produce and tropical fruits, he is able to incorporate the
fragrances and flavors of his homeland. Grilled beef salad has a
lemongrass dressing, for example. His steamed whole moi is served with
jasmine Yukari musubi, tempura Nalo braising greens and is
lightly steamed over Asian pesto sake. Consequently at Singha you will
find Thai dancers performing every night, and at Chai's some of the
best entertainers in Hawaii today.
The intimate setting, the tropical ambience of the outdoor lanai
with its mini waterfalls and colorful bromeliads provides the perfect
backdrop for an evening of music, food and wine.
Everyone comes to play for Chai. Jake Shimabukuro had until
recently a regular weekly gig that will resume in April after he
finishes his new CD. The Cazimero brothers play once a week, with
younger brother Robert performing solo with piano on Tuesday and
Saturday. Olomana, Azure McCall, Na Leo and Kealii Rachel are all
performers who appreciate not only the setting, but the fact that Chai
appreciates live performers and is willing to give them a venue.
Popular at lunchtimes, too, Chai's serves a quick and inexpensive
($20.00) lunch that features some fabulous dishes. Three courses
include fresh Kauai prawns and chicken langostinos served over jasmine
rice with a spicy sauce, Kiawe smoked chipotle-guava marinated grilled
pork tenderloin with roasted red pepper risotto, nalo braising greens
and a balsamic reduction and a premium NY strip served simply with baby
red potatoes and roasted garlic jus.
Service is fast and efficient at lunchtime and the ambience is
perfect for away from the office meetings, or just a simple lunch with
At night, amidst the trickle of water from the outdoor fountains,
the shimmering of moonlight on the silver decorations that hang from
the ceiling and the gentle sounds of local musicians, Chai's becomes a
magical dining destination.