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Hyatt Waikiki Eats: Ciao Mein

Ciao Mein – Tiramisu dessert

Last Sunday we had dinner with “Maui Mom & Dad” at Ciao Mein, which as this clever name implies, is a hybrid concept restaurant featuring both Italian and Chinese cuisine on one menu. Yet we can’t quite describe it as ‘fusion cusine’, as most of the dishes on the menu are either Chinese or Italian in and of themselves. While there’s just one small section titled ‘Collision Cuisine’, which is described as “A unique combination of Italian and Chinese Cuisine”. Whatever the difference in meaning between the moniker “Collision” and “Fusion” is beyond me at the moment.

Before we move on to the menu, first let’s look exactly where we’re at, which would be the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Resort & Spa…

Ciao Mein is located on the third floor below the Ewa Tower…

Here’s the main entrance to Ciao Mein…

Many more of those beautiful bronze statues are positioned in various locations throughout the restaurant….

…making the experience at Ciao Mein feel almost as if you’re in an Art Gallery, both from a 3-dimensional, as well as culinary aspect.

Here’s more….

Getting to our table, here’s how the setting is presented upon arrival…

As you walk through Ciao Mein, you’ll find a mini labyrinth of private dining rooms, followed by one main open dining room, which is where we were seated…

As you see (or may not), the room is dimly-lit, making it ideal for that romantic night out with your special someone.

So that’s the place, now let’s see what’s for dinner! Starting with our Ciao Mein Appetizer Platter, which was specially selected and prepared for us by the Chef….

Ciao Mein – Chef Ching’s Special Appetizer Platter: (clockwise from top) Focaccia, Schezuan Eggplant, Shrimp Spring Rolls and Black Bean Alaskan King Crab Legs

Our wonderful server treated us like royalty, personally plating each appetizer for us…

So here you see a little of that “collision” happening, as along with the three Chinese appetizers, you have one Italian dish with the Focaccia, which happened to be my favorite of the four. Every one was fantastic, but the Focaccia stood out for me with its flavor-packed and complimentary combination of Sauteed Plum Tomatoes, Fresh Oregano and Smoked Mozzarella. Simple yet so delicioso!

Here’s a closer look at that Focaccia with my ever-so-lovely-to-look-at “bite-through view” lol…

Ciao Mein – Focaccia: Sauteed Plum Tomatoes, Fresh Oregano and Smoked Mozzarella

Here’s another plating of the same set of four appetizers…

I was also diggin’ the Black Bean Alaskan King Crab Legs as a well, noting the abundance of garlic also in there. Who wouldn’t dig that?!

Like every finer dining meal, Ciao Mein provides a complimentary basket of dinner bread to go along with the meal…

Ciao Mein – Complimentary Dinner Bread Basket: Olive and Cheese Ciabatta Rolls and Bread Sticks

This is accompanied with a sweet pepper jelly and tradional Italian Pesto sauce…

Ciao Mein – Pesto and Sweet Garlic Chili Sauce condiments for the Dinner Bread

The rather rustic Olive (the other one is cheese) Ciabatta Roll had great flavor and texture, but I just wish it were served warm or hot. As it was, it was at room temperature. That warmth really brings out the nuances of the bread you just can’t taste and enjoy when it’s at room temp’. Ya’ know? Minor, but still.

Moving on, let’s check out the main course! First up we have the Honey Walnut Shrimp…

Ciao Mein – Honey Walnut Shrimp: Shrimp and Sugar Snap Beans with Honey-Glazed Walnuts, $28

Looks good. Next we have Chef Ching’s Beef…

Ciao Mein – Chef Ching’s Beef, $28

Yum. That looks great too. Rounding it out, we have the Steamed Tai Snapper…

Ciao Mein – Steamed Tai Snapper with Soy-Ginger Sauce, market price

This steamed snapper is presented piping hot table side, as our wonderful server meticulously removed the main bone and once again dished out each plate with nothing but the moist and tender meat and some skin for those wanted it. Here he first severs the head from the main spine (sounds lovely, doesn’t it?)…

Steamed Tai Snapper prepared for service tableside

After some “fishin’ around” under the snapper meat with his fork and spoon, the entire spine and rib bones are removed in one piece…

Of course there’s a still a few pinbones in the meat, which the diners are reminded to be careful of when eating it.

Here James gets ready to dish some for one of our guests…

For starch, we ordered a bowl of Jasmine Rice.

With that, here’s my plate with everything for the main course dished up…

Ciao Mein – Main course: Honey Walnut Shrimp, Chef Ching’s Beef and Steamed Tai Snapper with Ginger-Soy Sauce, along with Jasmine Rice

Obviously as seen so much attention I focused on it, the steamed Tai Snapper with Ginger-Soy Sauce was my favorite of the three main dishes. It really is an easy dish that anyone can make at home, but of course when it’s done for you by a celebrated chef in a fine dining restaurant such as Ciao Mein, it’s that much better. And it was ONOLICIOUS!

The Honey Walnut Shrimp was delicious, although nothing that stood out any more than I could have got from the neighborhood Chinese restaurant down the street. Chef Ching’s Beef was great. Loved that too. Very tender, with an interesting, slighty sweet, slightly spicy, yet super-savory sauce.

So I give 3 SPAM to the Honey Walnut Shrimp, 4 SPAM to Chef Ching’s Beef and 4 SPAM to the Steamed Tai Snapper with Ginger-Soy Sauce.

For the appetizers, I give 4 SPAM to the Focaccia with Tomatoes and Smoked Mozzarella, 4 SPAM to the Black Bean Alaskan King Crab Legs, and 3 SPAM each to the Schezuan Eggplant and Shrimp Egg Rolls.

Oh, we enjoyed our meal with a glass each of Cabernet Sauvignon. Worked out great with each dish. Any red is fine with me.

What? No room for dessert? Of course we have room! Especially when you’re talking about Ciao Mein’s absolutely delicious take on the classic Italian favorite, Tiramisu…

Ciao Mein – Tiramisu

We also sampled a plate of the other Italian (specifically Secilian) dessert classic, Canolli…

Ciao Mein – Canolli

It was hard to discern the lady fingers in the Tiramisu or the other individual parts of its sum, but all I can say is that was one fantastic “love fest” on a plate. Fantastic.

The canolli on the other hand needs work. Mainly the Canolli shells themselves, which you could tell were taken straight out of the freezer, having a hard, stale texture to them. The least they could do is pop them in a toaster oven to crips them up before service.

With that I give Ciao Mein’s Tiramisu a solid 4 SPAM Musubi rating, and the Canolli barely making 1.

Like most trendy Chinese-American restaurants, Ciao Mein also provides complimentary Fortune Cookies to their guests…

Dig that porcelain Chinese take-out container serving “bowl”. I’d read you my fortune, but then it won’t come true! “Ancient Chinese secret!” lol

Once again, the service on our visit on this evening was second to none. We were treated like royalty, making that alone a reason to visit Ciao Mein again and again. On top of that, aside of a few bumps in the ride, our trip to China and Italy via the work of Chef Ching makes Ciao Mein a highly recommended restaurant, and one to consider, whether for that special romantic occasion, or to entertain in or out-of-town guests.

Before I cap off this review, here’s a few more dishes that were conveniently placed on a service tray near our table, awaiting service for guests at other tables, so I got some of photos of them to share here!.

Straight from the “Collision Cuisine” Italian-meets-Chinese menu, here’s the Spicy Ginger Garlic Shrimp…

Ciao Mein – Spicy Ginger Garlic Shrimp: Shrimp, Angel Hair Pasta, Ginger and Garlic, $28

Ciao Mein – Risotto: Italian Arborio Rice with Chef’s Daily Selection of Ingredients, $9

Ciao Mein – Raviolo Aperto: Sea Scallops sauteed with Pancetta, Cream and Air-Dried Tomatoes, $24

Ciao Mein – Saltimbocca Di Vitello: Veal Scallopini topped with Sage, Sliced Prosciutto and Fontina Cheese, $29

OMG! I’m so try that Saltimbocca on a return visit. Yum-oh!

Another classic favorite…

Ciao Mein – Fetuccini Alfredo: White Cream Sauce with Julienne of Prosciutto, $20

A back-to-basics Chinese dish…

Ciao Mein – Garlic Choy Sum: Stir-fried Choy Sum, Garlic and Sherry, $15

Here’s the man behind all these creative dishes, Chef James Ching…

Ciao Mein Chef James Ching

Ciao Mein
Creative Italian and Chinese Cuisine
Hyatt Regency Waikiki Resort & Spa
Third Floor, Ewa Tower
Tel. 923-CIAO (2426)

The Tasty Island Rating:

(4) Excellent. Worth another visit or purchase. (Winnahz!)

P.S. Opting to walk home instead of riding in the car, I stopped by and checked out this amazing street performer on Kalakaua avenue in Waikiki. Her name is Kiana and let me tell you, this girl is going places. She’s destined for stardom. She has to be. Talk about a VOICE!…

Singer, Guitarist and Song Writer Kiana

Singer, Guitarist and Song Writer Kiana

Her beautiful and exotic looks are thanks to her mother being Japanese and father being Irish and German. She speaks fluent Nihongo (Japanese language), which you could tell had some Nihongin tourists a little taken by surprise.

I’d say her voice and style is an eclectic mixture between Sarah McLachlan, Ann Wilson of Heart and Bjork. Plus she’s a fantastic guitarist as well, being a one-woman band.

Check out Kiana at her MySpace page here: www.MySpace.com/KianaMusic

Seriously, if you’re a big time music producer looking for that next big talent, RUN, don’t walk to Waikiki and look for Kiana. She’ll absolutely have your jaw on the ground. Mines was. Almost tear moving.

Kiana sings with the voice of an Angel

12 thoughts on “Hyatt Waikiki Eats: Ciao Mein

  • August 28, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    Pomai, I am always looking for a very chic place in Waikiki for important bus. dinner. This place seem perfect for my husband and I to entertain. Some guests will be out of towners from Taiwan.

  • August 28, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    Pomai, I forgot to ask is it the same owner of Ciao Mein in Reno NV? I always see it when heading up to Tahoe for ski trip and stop by Reno afterward. I really like this one in Waikiki and will dress up for dinner when heading there. It a San Francisco thing for formal dinning we like to do.

  • August 28, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    Betty, I notice the Ciao Mein Trattoria in Nevada is also in a Hyatt Hotel, which must mean the Hyatt owns that restaurant as well.

    In fact, all of the restaurants in the Hyatt Waikiki are owned and operated by the Hyatt hotel corporation, and are not independently owned. There are currently three feature restaurants in the Hyatt Waikiki: The Colony (a steakhouse), Ciao Mein and Terrace Grill. They recently closed down Musashi (a teppanyaki restaurant), and are also in the planning stage of restructuring the existing restaurant operations.

    Your guests from Taiwan will probably be much more critical of the Chinese dishes served here than I am, but I’m sure they’ll enjoy it, regardless.

  • August 28, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    Great pictures pomai, but as i looked at the pictures and the prices, all i could think of the entire time is i could get most those dishes at 1/3 the prices with bigger portions! Did all the asian dishes really warrant those uptick in prices or are we just paying for the service and atmosphere?

  • August 29, 2009 at 7:45 am

    Pomai, dude that a very elegant restaurant for fine dining. It not for everyday dining for sure. When I have guests formal entertainment this the place they would enjoy very much. I would not worry of price since it for the guests from the mainland.

  • September 1, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    Pomai, I’m in agreement with Dan that the food looked great but those prices were off the charts, especially since they looked like manini portions! Were the dishes really as small as they seemed or was it your trick photography? :-)

  • September 2, 2009 at 4:27 am

    Pomai, for an elegant restaurant I say this is one of best for fine dinning. If I want big portions well head on to a family style restaurants. This places is VIP dinners most important guests you have. Prices is what people expect in fine elegant restaurants. This is not a family type menu service restaurant.

    I will try it out my date and she will enjoy it very much. If I want to just go out and just eat regular restaurants will do me fine too but this places is for very special events to remember.

  • September 2, 2009 at 9:34 am


    After reading this entry I would like to take my mom on her birthday to this place. She always like very elegant restuarant when my late father and her use to go out to. This will be so special for her

  • September 3, 2009 at 6:37 am

    Pomai, this will be the place I want to go for my birthday also. If I want big portions I would settle for regular type restaurants. A special occasion when all dress up this is the one I would pick. If people want fancy setting and chic service expect a up scale price. If care about portions and prices settle for regular restaurants. To each his own.

  • September 4, 2009 at 8:10 am

    Hey Pomai – Wow, this is another blast from the past for me! This was a favorite of an old girlfriend of mine….waaaay back when.

  • September 5, 2009 at 9:39 am

    Kirk, sounds like the trend for Ciao Mein is reminiscent of romance. Nice!

    Amy, great point.

    Erica, if you receive the same service and great food we received (which I’m confident you will), your mom will be quite pleased with her dinner at Ciao Mein.

    Michael, also great points (in line with what Amy said).

    Jenny and Dan, see Amy and Michael’s take on that. lol

    Howzit Brandon! I’ll work on that link this weekend. Great job!


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