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A new restaurant has opened at the Hawaii Mission Houses Museum in historic Honolulu. The Mission Social Hall & Café is the brainchild of Hawaii chef Mark Noguchi, which assures the fact that the restaurant will be more than a convenient concession at the popular visitor attraction. (The Hawaii Mission Houses were originally built for Hawaii’s earliest missionaries in the 1820s.)
Hawaii chef Mark Noguchi emerged as a prominent Hawaii chef a few years ago, with his [haw]Heeia[/haw] Pier General Store & Deli. The out-of-the-way eatery is located on Oahu’s Windward Side and has been featured in a variety of local and national news media, including Travel & Leisure, the Cooking Channel, and the Food Network.
His use of locally sourced ingredients to create imaginative but simple interpretations of local and ethnic favorites like guava chicken, for instance, caught on among Oahu residents and food-savvy visitors. Noguchi left Heeia Pier General Store & Deli in 2012 and turned his attention to the Pili Group, which now operates his new venture at the Mission Houses Social Hall & Café. Noguchi also operates Lunchbox, the Hawaiian Air employee restaurant. His commitment to using local ingredients remains strong.
What sets the menu at the Mission Houses Social Hall & Café apart is its contemporary approach to dishes inspired by the food eaten in the 19th century missionary era. Noguchi has said that the menu wasn’t taken from a history book, necessarily, but it does honor the tradition of not just what, but how people were eating in the early days of the missionaries. Where the food came from was just as important as how it was prepared.
The menu changes, but features several regular items that are familiar to anyone who grew up in Hawaii like the luau stew with pork shoulder or kajiki (Pacific marlin) sandwich. The beef at the restaurant is ranched in Hawaii. The fish is always freshly caught. Having a rotating menu allows the restaurant to bring in the best in seasonal ingredients like mango and lychee when they are in season. I’m partial to the ahi and bacon sandwich.
The Hawaii Mission Houses Museum should be a part of any walking tour of Historic Honolulu. Within just a few blocks are ‘Iolani Palace, the State Capitol, Ali’iolani Courthouse, Kawaihao Church, the State Library Building, Aloha Tower, and the historic Chinatown Arts District.
That is a lot of walking, a couple of miles between all of the important sites in Historic Honolulu. That’s certainly enough to work up a powerful hunger. The Mission Houses Social Hall & Café is the perfect place to sample the kind of food people in the area since early times. It offers indoor and outdoor dining. And it’s probably best to walk to it, because there is no designated parking other than metered public parking on surrounding streets.
Hawaii Mission Houses Social Hall & Café
553 South King Street, Honolulu 96813