Cutting Portions And Prices

Jo McGarry
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Wednesday - September 10, 2008
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Executive chef Mike Longworth at Romano’s Macaroni Grill now offers more choices with smaller portions at a lower cost for lunch

Is it just me, or are portion sizes getting into the realms of fantasy?

At the state’s most-popular convenience store, the smallest fountain soda is now 20 ounces, while at the other end of the plastic cup scale, consumers are urged to purchase drinks in 64-ounce containers (BEST BUY!!). You might save a couple cents on the soda, but what about calories? If you really want to know, there are 620 calories in a 64-ounce cup of soda. That’s frightening.

I’ve a friend who works in a busy tourist restaurant in Waikiki who says she is utterly amazed by the number of parents who order large sodas for their kids and then keep them coming.

“Sometimes, on the way back to the table with soda No. 4, you start to feel really bad for the kids,” she says.

I took a peek at the latest dietary information at a couple of fast-food chains, and the truth is while you can make healthier choices at most fast-food restaurants nowadays (love those apple slices, lowfat milk and salads options), you’re still in danger of eating yourself out of existence if you stop by a fast-food joint and go for its “best value” meals.

Example: An Ultimate Cheeseburger with humongous fries and a gigantic drink adds up to more than 2,300 calories and almost 100 grams of fat.

Isn’t that worrying? Perhaps not for consenting adults, but what about children, who are almost utterly defenseless when it comes to food choices?

Oh, and don’t be fooled by kids meals. The average “kid-size” cheeseburger with fries and chocolate milk is almost 800 calories - scary.

Far less scary are the new portions sizes at Chart House.

“We decided, with the economy taking a turn, that we’d offer customers the same entrees but in smaller portions sizes and at a reduced price,” says general manager Scott Okamoto. Guests apparently love the options, and at Chart House you can never go wrong just ordering pupu at the bar. With 80 different dishes, it’s like a tapas menu on steroids.

Romano’s Macaroni Grill at Ala Moana Center is offering a similar deal with smaller portions, more choices and less-expensive lunch items. Executive Chef Mike Longworth also has worked on a new kids menu.

I promised to let you all know when tickets are released for the Roy’s 20th anniversary food and wine events, and now they are. It’s no exaggeration to say that the upcoming gathering of chefs who plan to meet here in October for a series of wine dinners and a grazing event makes for the grandest lineup of culinary stars ever seen in Hawaii - if not the entire United States. Tickets for the Gala Dinner (to be held at the Honolulu Fish Auction) are available at $10,000 per table of 10. Even in this economy they’ll sell out in record time.

For the rest of us, there’s a grazing event on the grounds of KCC on Sunday, Oct. 5. Tickets cost $200.

Proceeds from the events go to promote culinary education in Hawaii. You can buy tickets at any Roy’s location or call 396-7697 for more information.

Next time you have dinner at Roy’s, wish him happy anniversary and thank him for changing the face of Hawaii’s culinary scene forever.

Happy eating!


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