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Oahu’s Ewa Plain isn’t necessarily the first place residents think of when it comes to upscale dining. It’s a land sprawling with tract homes and strip malls, with golf courses and big-box outlet stores. Numerous subdivisions have been built in recent years, catering to middle class and military families priced out of neighborhoods closer to Honolulu proper.
There is no shortage of dining options in this part of Oahu. All of Central Oahu’s zip codes (Waikele, Waipio, Kapolei, etc.) are home to a wide variety of plate lunch places, chain restaurants, and fast food franchises. But Plantation Tavern in the Kapolei Marketplace has broken free of that cutout approach to dining, and is reason enough to make the 20-30 minute drive from town.
Owner/Chef Adam Gilbert is the former Executive Chef for the Star of Honolulu, a sunset dinner cruise long popular with residents and tourists alike. With his wife Sunny, Adam has created something the area had previously lacked: a farm-fresh, tapas-style eatery with upscale food at affordable prices.
The dishes are evocative of the food eaten during Hawaii’s plantation days, when the food cultures of the Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, and Portuguese workers shared campfires and kitchens. With a Pan-Pacific approach, Plantation Tavern elevates simple ingredients, Kauai shrimp or Mililani-raised pork for instance, or local greens and produce. Plantation Tavern’s menu features ingredients sourced from farms on Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island, with vegan, vegetarian, and gulten-free options.
Adam’s 20-plus years in the kitchen are surely an asset as he and Sunny have been able to build out, open, and operate a new restaurant, all while raising a young family. Oh, and Sunny has another full-time job, too. It’s definitely a family business, and dishes named Not-Your-Auntie’s Kal Bi and Uncle Norm’s Poke Nachos (pictured above) speak to that fact. Also, you’ll likely be visited by a smiling and friendly Chef Adam or Sunny as you enjoy your meal.
Other than a round of golf, a trip to West Oahu beaches, or to the big-box and outlet stores of Waikele or Kapolei, Oahu visitors haven’t had much reason to make the drive “out Ewa.” And neither did many Oahu residents. But now they do, because Plantation Tavern offers top-end dining like you’d find at the nearby resorts of Ko Olina and Disney’s Aulani, only at not-resort prices.
Plantation Tavern serves lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday, with a fine happy hour offering ala carte menu items and signature cocktails from 3:00pm-5:00pm and 10:00pm-11:00pm. Friday Happy Hour features live entertainment. Call for daily lunch and dinner specials.
Kapolei Marketplace, 590 Farrington Hwy, Kapolei, HI 96707