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Downtown Eats: Restaurant Epic

Yesterday our office gang rang in the new year with a celebratory lunch at Restaurant Epic, located in the Chinatown side of downtown Honolulu.

Restaurant Epic is a rather contemporary affair, aptly suited for the yuppy crowd that swarms the area during the bustling daylight and early evening hours of the work week.

To the left of this main dining area is a full bar to service the downtown pauhana crowd, while to the left in front, there’s also a private room with a single large table to accommodate up to 8 guests, which is where we sat.

Let’s check out Epic’s lunch menu…

With Roy’s alumnus, Chef David Hoffman at the helm, the menu reflects a similar Eurasian/Pacific Rim fusion theme, with just about everything listed — at least in writing — sounding exotic and absolutely mouthwatering!

Getting right to it, not listed on the menu, Diner CM decided to try one of their daily specials, as explained verbally by our server, which would be the Togarashi-spiced Pan-Seared Ahi…


Restaurant Epic – Shichimi Togarashi Crusted Pan-seared Ahi, with Beurre blanc and Kabayaki Sauce drizzle, served with an Asian Slaw . $17

Diner C kept it light as well, going for Epic’s Seared Ahi Salad…


Restaurant Epic – Seared Ahi Salad: Togarashi Crusted Yellow Fin Ahi, Mesclun Greens, Fingerling Potatoes, Asparagues, Tomatoes, Lemon Vinaigrette (opting for Red Wine Vinaigrette instead). $17

Diner A loves always enjoys a good Teri’ Burger, opting to try Epic’s wild take on the classic…


Restaurant Epic – Spicy Teriyaki Angus Burger: Swiss, Teriyaki Glaze, Wasabi Aioli, Asian Slaw, Tomato. $10 + $2 for side of fries (angle Ewa)

Diner E was in the same frame of mind as myself, wanting to try something unique to this restaurant, that would be difficult to find similar elsewhere (at least on this island). With that, he went for Epic’s Kiawe Smoked Pork “Grilled” Cheese…


Restaurant Epic – Kiawe Smoked Pork & Avocado “Grilled” Cheese: Provolone, Carolina Slaw, House made BBQ Sauce, Jalapeno & Cheese Biscuit. Served With Roasted Barlic Tomato Bisque. $10

All three “Grilled” Cheese menu items include a side of their Roasted Garlic Tomato Bisque…

Since Diner E  chose the Kiawe Smoked Pork version, I decided to try Epic’s Havarti & Bacon “Grilled” Cheese, served with a side of Roasted Garlic Tomato Bisque…


Restaurant Epic: Havarti & Bacon “Grilled” Cheese: Havarti, Center-Cut Bacon, Apricot-Caper Spread, Hawaiian Sweet Bread. $10


Havarti & Bacon “Grilled” Cheese: Havarti, Center-Cut Bacon, Apricot-Caper Spread, Hawaiian Sweet Bread.

Garnished with their “Grilled” Cheese plate is a baked Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese Chip. Ooh-la-lah! Can I have more, please?


Havarti & Bacon “Grilled” Cheese: Havarti, Center-Cut Bacon, Apricot-Caper Spread, Hawaiian Sweet Bread.

And how was it? Overall, very good!

Particularly STELLAR for Diner A, who gave his Spicy Teriyaki Angus Burger a “broke da’ mout’ ono” 5 SPAM Musubi, saying that was easily one of the best burgers he’s ever had. Wow.

Which you know what made it? Not only was the Angus Beef patty wonderfully char-grilled and HUGE, easily weighing 1/3 pound to possibly close to 1/2 pound. What made it was the FURIKAKE they sprinkle directly over the patty after it’s grilled. On a burger? Duh! In the famous words of Shallow Hal, “Koo-koo! Koo-koo! Koo-koo!”. Why the HECK didn’t I ever think of trying that in my kitchen!


Restaurant Epic – Spicy Teriyaki Angus Burger: Swiss, Teriyaki Glaze, Wasabi Aioli, Asian Slaw, Tomato. (Diamond Head angle)

Hey, when any given savory dish needs extra kick, Furikake almost always takes it from boring to OISHII-TASTIC, right? Well, according to Diner A, that’s what did it with Epic’s take on this popular local burger classic, especially when further enhanced in depth by the sweetened shoyu Teri’ glaze, along with the spicy kick from the Wasabi Aioli, which certainly wasn’t shy of the sinus-clearing green stuff. He also loved the added dimension texture and flavor contrast of the slaw in the burger. I’m definitely gonna’ try replicating this at mom’s house next we fire-up the grill.


Shichimi Togarashi Crusted Pan-seared Ahi, with Beurre blanc and Kabayaki Sauce drizzle, served with an Asian Slaw

Diner CM really enjoyed the Togarashi Crusted Ahi Fillet, simply noting it was “responsible”. Word. An enthusiastic 4 SPAM Musubi for the dish.

Diner C enjoyed Epic’s Seared Ahi Salad, only noting the Red Wine Vinaigrette dressing was a bit bland, needing “something” to kick it up. 2 SPAM Musubi.


Restaurant Epic – Kiawe Smoked Pork & Avocado “Grilled” Cheese: Provolone, Carolina Slaw, House made BBQ Sauce, Jalapeno & Cheese Biscuit. Served With Roasted Barlic Tomato Bisque. (angle Ewa)

Diner E’s feedback of his Smoked Pork “Grilled” Cheese was the most shocking, as without thinking about his “Saimin Kaukau” (Simon Cowell) reputation, he initially gave it 4 SPAM Musubi, which is practically UNHEARD OF due to his extremely demanding palate. “Whoah, 4!?” So he gave it 3, which is a 4 to you and I.


Kiawe Smoked Pork & Avocado “Grilled” Cheese: Provolone, Carolina Slaw, House made BBQ Sauce, Jalapeno & Cheese Biscuit. Served With Roasted Barlic Tomato Bisque.

With that, he said the super-buttery-rich cheesy ‘n toasty Jalapeno Biscuit is what sealed the deal here. The “bread” is certainly the most important component of any great sandwich, and it’s good to hear this buttery-cheesy-spicy biscuit pulls it off so well in making one onolicious “grilled” cheese sammy. Actually the reduction to 3 SPAM Musubi if fare, as he did note the thick slice of Provolone Cheese wasn’t melted, which actually is taboo as far as a grilled cheese sandwich is concerned.


Kiawe Smoked Pork & Avocado “Grilled” Cheese: Provolone, Carolina Slaw, House made BBQ Sauce, Jalapeno & Cheese Biscuit. Served With Roasted Barlic Tomato Bisque.

Yet really, with all that Kiawe-smoked, BBQ sauce-laced pulled pork stacked in it, I suppose this isn’t even a “Grilled” Cheese Sandwich anymore. So yeah, he really enjoyed it. 3 SPAM Musubi.


Havarti & Bacon “Grilled” Cheese dipped in Roasted Garlic Tomato Bisque

Finally, as for my Havarti & Bacon “Grilled” Cheese, even for this, I wouldn’t quite call it a Grilled Cheese Sandwich anymore, as once there’s meat in it, that takes the center stage. Especially also in this case, where it’s Maple Smoked Bacon, which easily overpowered the creaminess of the Havarti cheese. Yet in a good way, just not what I was expecting.


Havarti & Bacon “Grilled” Cheese dipped in Roasted Garlic Tomato Bisque

Dipping it in the Roasted Garlic Tomato Bisque is what it’s all about though with these “Grilled” Cheese sammies. That really takes it from the ground floor to the penthouse. You get the almost creamy sweetness from the Hawaiian (actually originally Portuguese) Sweetbread, the earthiness from the Apricot-Caper Spread and savory depth from the Maple-glazed Bacon. Then add to that the creamy-thick viscosity of the Tomato Bisque, which also introduces acidity and more earthiness to each bite, and POW! Delicious.

If there’s anything I’d change with this dish, is the bread, as my only complaint is the sweetbread added too much sweetness when combined with the already fruity Apricot spread and Maple-glazed bacon. I’d say use French Baguette slices instead, and it would probably be perfect. As it is, I give it 3 SPAM Musubi.

Pretty much stuffed, we all passed on dessert, however in hindsight, we wish we had gotten something, as about an hour later we were craving some sweets. It’s often like that.

Epic’s service was SUPERB, with our server being friendly, attentive, and 100% knowledgeable of the menu and daily specials. Our dishes arrived simultaneously at the table within 10 minutes of being ordered, and our drinks were kept topped throughout our stay.

The best place to park if you go there is the Chinatown Municipal Parking Structure, located on the corner of Beretania and Smith Street. The lot entrance is on the left off Beretania, just before Smith. It will cost about $2 for 2 hours, and best of all, the lot is clean, well-lit and secure, with ample parking. Restaurant Epic is just steps away, on the corner of Nuuanu and Pauahi street.

We all agreed Restaurant Epic is a place we’d definitely like to return and try more dishes on their tempting menu.

Restaurant Epic
1131 Nuuanu Ave.
Honolulu, Hawaii 96805

Tel. (808) 587-7877
www.restaurantepichawaii.com

The Tasty Island rating:

(3) Very Good. Considerable of another visit or purchase. (Ono!)

P.S. Speaking of epic, the beaches of Hawaii can surely be that. Including Diamond Head Beach, just a short walk out of Waikiki, where last Sunday a group of Paragliders cruised aloft peacefully overhead. Watch in the following video, as I captured a Paraglider expertly coming in for approach and precision landing within a shadow’s distance of sunbathers relaxing just feet away…

They jump from the top of Diamond Head crater, gracefully gliding across the skies overlooking scenic Diamond Head point, catching thermals along the way to maintain altitude.

Here’s a still photo of the Hawaiian Monk Seal (an endangered species) that was captured in the Paraglider landing video above…


A Hawaiian Monk Seal rests at Diamond Head Beach, Sunday, January 15, 2012

10 thoughts on “Downtown Eats: Restaurant Epic

  • January 20, 2012 at 6:04 pm
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    We used to dine here when they opened for lunch on weekends but I guess Downtown is still primarily the work/after-work crowd (they had surf-n-turf sushi with tataki beef and crab…). I never would think cheese and teri in a burger would work but… But that smoked pork and biscuit is on my list now…

    Reply
    • January 21, 2012 at 5:00 pm
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      According to Diner E, the magic in the Smoked Pork “Grilled” Cheese was that Jalapeno Cheese Biscuit it was wrapped in. Super buttery, super cheesy. Mmmmm. They should use that for the Havarti & Bacon one as well. The sweetbread didn’t match. Too sweet. Thankfully the Roasted Garlic Tomato Bisque for dippin’ had its back, countering with some acidity.

      Reply
  • January 21, 2012 at 1:06 am
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    Pomai, My dad like escargot and duck dishes. This place is not far from my neighborhood too which great instead of heading all the way to Waikiki most of the time. This the place my family would like to try indeed.

    Reply
    • January 21, 2012 at 4:57 pm
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      Kelike, well, Diner A RAVED about the burger (“up there with the best!”, so that’s one to consider. Many on Yelp also rave about their Braised Beef Ravioli app’. The Cioppino’s got my name written on it on my next visit.

      Reply
  • January 21, 2012 at 12:29 pm
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    Liked the hang-gliding video and especially him landing so close to the couple on the beach. If it was me, I’d probably up and take off if I saw him coming in so close but they just nonchalantly sat there. Like “no biggie.” *L* Loved the seal on the beach ~ so they are used to people that close? Lucky you live Hawaii. ;)

    Reply
    • January 21, 2012 at 4:51 pm
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      I actually got a little nervous where I was standing video-taping, where as you can tell, he was headed pretty much my way!

      The Hawaiian Monk Seals frequently rest on beaches all around the island chain, and are quite used to people. Many become “regulars” at certain beaches, like the ones at Diamond Head. Usually NOAA marine biologists are informed by phone whenever one is spotted, and they go and put cones around it and signs so that people keep a safe distance away (approx. 25′), just enough not to bother them.

      The thing is, if there aren’t any signs and you’re not paying attention while walking down the shoreline, you just might bump into one, assuming it’s a rock, and not a seal. It happened once to a friend of mine who throws net out there. Scared the cr@p out of him. lol

      Reply
  • January 22, 2012 at 3:09 am
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    Pomai, Cioppino I had in San Francisco they put a big slice of sourdough bread on top the soup. It was so good wonder what kind of bread this restaurant would serve with their soup.? Do they have desserts menu ?

    Reply
  • January 23, 2012 at 5:04 am
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    Hi Pomai, The video of the paraglider, was that shot with your Canon Powershot S95? Good quality video. Thanks – Winnie

    Reply
  • July 16, 2012 at 10:29 am
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    Hi Pomai!
    My name is Jane and I’m with Dwellable.
    I was looking for blog posts about Diamond Head Beach to share on our site and I came across your post…If you’re open to it, drop me a line at Jane(at)dwellable(dot)com.
    Hope to hear from you :)
    Jane

    Reply

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