Keeping Up With The Times On The Rise

Jo McGarry
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Wednesday - September 21, 2011
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Chef Russell Siu and Gale Ogawa at 3660 On The Rise. Jo McGarry photo

It’s been almost 20 years since I started writing about food and wine in Hawaii, and I’m going through the kind of shock that hits you when you realize the best parts of life fly by. It’s comforting to see that I’m not the only person feeling the gentle hands of time speeding up.

“I just can’t believe how fast the past 19 years have been,” says Gale Ogawa, co-owner of 3660 On The Rise.

“It’s shocking really to look around the restaurant and see that there are staff our family who have grown up around us.”

When Ogawa and chefpartner Russell Siu opened their doors, their goal was to strike a balance between local and European classic food served in a casually elegant environment.

“Originally all we wanted to do was to try to bring flavors and foods to people that they already knew and would recognize,” says Ogawa. The Euro/Asian menu was an immediate hit. Nineteen years later, this month’s celebrations include some of the restaurant’s alltime favorite dishes including ones that have never left the menu.

“It’s been challenging at times to keep the same dishes on the menu,” says Ogawa, laughing, “but it’s flattering to know that dishes like Ahi Katsu and Tempura Catfish have become such favorites.”

It’s the consistency and familiarity of these dishes that contribute to the restaurant’s success. In searching for the flavors of his own childhood, Siu has created dishes that have become part of Hawaii, representing yet another generation of melding culinary cultures. Growing up with a mixture of American and Chinese cooking, then training classically in the French style, his strength lies in combining the flavors and tastes that he knows and loves.

“I have the tastes of the food that my mom and my grandma cooking in my mind,” he says. “I remember the flavor profiles and I play with them. I add different ingredients, of course, but the idea is to create dishes that are similar to ones people remember from their own childhood.”

There’s a great opportunity to see how well it all works as the restaurant offers an anniversary dinner through the end of September.

A three-course menu priced at $36.60 features Caesar Salad, Corn Chowder, New York Steak Alaea, Tempura Catfish, Chinese Steamed Snapper and a dessert of Crème Brule and Warm Chocolate Soufflé Cake. The N.Y. steak alone is worth the $36.60.

And it’s only fitting that a restaurant famous for its banquets and celebrations should be throwing itself a birthday bash. “We’re having a party on Thursday, Sept. 22, to benefit United Cerebral Palsy,” says Ogawa. Tickets cost $60 (reservations at 737-1177). The grazing event will be held in the restaurant’s banquet rooms and will feature an impressive array of wines, with foods prepared by 3660 chefs among them, chef de cuisine Lydell Leong, who’s been part of the culinary team for 15 years.

“I looked around the other week,” says Ogawa, “and I couldn’t believe how many people have grown up with us. Lydell’s married now, he has two kids ... it’s like people are building their lives here, around the restaurant.”

Time may be flying, Gale, but at least we’re eating well.

Happy eating!

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