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Here’s a current published description of a relatively-new Honolulu restaurant:
The majestic “Million Dollar” ocean view from The Ka Ikena Restaurant is surpassed only by the gourmet delights found on its menus. Great food at reasonable prices, served in a beautiful atmosphere — that is the Ka Ikena Restaurant.
Sounds like a typical blurb for a pretty typical restaurant, doesn’t it?
But Ka Ikena is, in fact, not typical at all.
Let’s back up a little. You may be aware of what is referred to as “Hawaii Regional Cuisine (HRC).” It’s the island style of cooking that utilizes Hawaii’s freshest ingredients of all varieties and incorporates them into wonderfully creative and beautifully presented dishes at many of the state’s high-end restaurants. Not only has Hawaii Regional Cuisine taken Island dining to the highest possible level, it’s also established Hawaii-grown products as among the finest in the world.
Okay. The Ka Ikena Restaurant is on the campus of Honolulu’s Kapiolani Community College, which happens to contain the state’s pre-eminent cooking school, The Culinary Institute of the Pacific. The Institute has produced many of Hawaii’s top chefs who have become world famous for their HRC artistry. The restaurant’s menu is prepared by students and alumni. Lunch is produced and served by students enrolled in its culinary and pastry arts program, while dinners support work opportunities for both alumni and apprentices of the American Culinary Federation program. What you find on the menu will be creative, well tested, and delicious.
Named in honor of Queen Kapiolani, the college and its culinary arts program maintain her legacy and her motto, “kulia i ka nu`u” (to strive for the highest) in all that we do.
The campus is at the foot of Diamond Head (back side) on Diamond Head Road, and there are zillions of parking spaces in the evening (harder to find at lunchtime, when classes are in session).
It’s — yes — a unique dining experience. Try it out while you’re on Oahu for vacation.