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Best of the Islands: Food & Nightlife

BY The Editors | February 22, 2017 | Feature Features

From the silver screen to the creativity-fused eateries of Chinatown, Hawai‘i is bustling with new openings, hot brands and fresh talents that are earning critical cred far beyond our shores. Here, our look at all that's bright and buzzworthy in 2017.
Chefs and friends Chris Kajioka and Anthony Rush are drawing national attention with their new Chinatown eatery Sen

Next Level
At Senia, friends and collaborating chefs Chris Kajioka and Anthony Rush are redefining Honolulu’s cuisine scene.

It turned out to be one of the most talked about restaurant openings in the United States, as food critics and enthusiasts scoured the media and waited for months for Senia to open. The momentous occasion arrived just in time for the holidays in December. This new gastronomic gift—right in the heart of increasingly epicurean Chinatown—is the creation of chefs Chris Kajioka and Anthony Rush, who met while working at Thomas Keller’s famed Per Se in New York City over a decade ago.

Both Kajioka and Rush, chef-owners and partners, are equally mild-mannered, but their résumés and awards are knife-sharp. At the luxe Vintage Cave, where Kajioka became executive chef in 2012, he earned nominations for the James Beard Foundation Rising Star Award and Food & Wine’s People’s Best New Chef, as well as a place in the magazine’s “Top Ten Dishes of 2013.” Rush, who originally hails from Devon, England, has his own enviable list of credentials. Notably, he was part of The French Laundry team, when the restaurant was ranked at the top of San Pellegrino’s “World’s 50 Best Restaurants” list, and also worked for Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck in Berkshire, England.

Now settled in at Senia, the duo’s vision is simple: to showcase the islands’ delectable ingredients through their shared experience and savoir-faire. A combination of French, Italian and Regional American touches reveal themselves in exceptionally refined and exquisitely prepared and presented dishes. Our picks: the chicken liver mousse ($7) with dainty “everything spice” financiers ($3 each); the hot-smoked king salmon ($19); and the ubertender “pastrami” beef short rib ($110). Our other suggestion: Come hungry. 75 N. King St., Chinatown, O‘ahu, 200.5412

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