Oahu’s Great Steakhouses

Jo McGarry
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Wednesday - June 07, 2006
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Chef Danny Morioka knows his dry-aged steaks
Chef Danny Morioka knows his
dry-aged steaks

As you all probably know, Mother’s Day is the busiest dining day of the year, strongly followed by Valentine’s night as the busiest night of the year. So, you’d think, wouldn’t you, that Father’s Day would be the next busiest day of the year in the restaurant world? Dad takes you out for dinner, so you reciprocate, right?

Wrong. Dads don’t want to go out for dinner on Father’s Day, apparently they’d rather stay home. Give them the remote control, the chance to play baseball with the kids, and a couple of pounds of meat to grill on the barbecue and most dads are in heaven.

Yes, I know it does sound sexist - but it’s true. There’s something about the hunter-gatherer in men that draws them to the fire on a grill. Most men I know are also equipped with a radar-like ability to locate a great steakhouse while maintaining a remarkable inability to find anything in the refrigerator.

So, are restaurants busy at all on Father’s Day? Yes, if you’re a steakhouse or a barbecue joint; no if you’re serving brunch on the beach. Real men, it seems, don’t eat at omelet stations.

Steakhouses are where most men want to go on Father’s Day, and in Honolulu carnivores have more choices than ever before. Ruth’s Chris and Hy’s have been around the longest, but in recent years the addition of Morton’s, d.k Steakhouse in Waikiki, and (coming soon) a new Ruth’s Chris on Lewers Street, means that you and your dad/brother/husband/partner now have more choices than ever. But how much of a difference is there between the steaks and the sides at these, the bastions of male dining?

Ruth’s Chris is really the benchmark for a great steakhouse, and certainly the Restaurant Row location does everything right. The steaks are grilled on a 1,800 degree broiler and brought sizzling to the table. Side dishes include outstanding potatoes, perfectly creamed spinach and one of the greatest chopped salads ever made. I’m not going to mention anymore that sitting at the bar in the company of one of the city’s most professional bartenders, Brian Blair, is one of my favorite things to do - that bar is getting way too busy! d.k Steakhouse in Waikiki offers more of the same - traditional steakhouse appeal (with Japanese touches), perfectly cooked side dishes and lots of meat - but it brings a couple of things to the table that are entirely different. It is the only restaurant in Hawaii to dry-age steaks (the process tenderizes the meat and draws out more flavor). d.k’s meats are in the capable hands of chef Danny Morioka, who has the aging process perfected. “We’re dry-ageing a rib eye and a porterhouse right now,” he says with a huge grin. “They’re awesome.” They really are. If you’ve an appetite for steak and you enjoy bold flavors, you’ll love it here. d.k’s also has one of the best steakhouse wine lists in Honolulu, thanks to master sommelier Chuck Furuya - he finds the wines - and general manager Ivy Nagayama - she’s responsible for encouraging guests to try some of their fabulous finds. Ivy’s taste is impeccable, and if you love hugely fruit-forward, bright, juicy wines, or huge, bold, tanniny reds with your meat, then d.k’s can deliver the perfect glass - Cruvinet poured and served in Riedel crystal.

Hy’s, with its old-English country manor ambience, bookshelf-lined walls, and a glass-encased wood-burning grill in the middle of the restaurant, offers a close experience to the private clubhouse feel of Mainland steakhouses. Here you’ll find traditional service, excellent food, tableside preparation of classic dishes - and a huge waiting list for Father’s Day, I’m sure.

And if these places are all full? Then try Longhi’s, where they have the Steak Longhi served pupu style, or 3660 On the Rise, where I’d rate the Steak Alaea as one of the greatest (and simplest) of all time.

Happy eating!

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