Kula Grille at Turtle Bay Resort in North Shore is one of the newest restaurants on Oahu to adopt a farm-to-table ethic. The restaurant, decorated in modernist style, has large windows that take advantage of the views of palm-fringed Turtle Bay. It’s a family-style place with wooden tables, handmade tableware, and a casual feel that encourages guests to come as they are and relax.
The restaurant serves breakfast and dinner and all the dishes are made with local ingredients. They use seasonal produce picked from area farms; fresh seafood from local waters; and premium meats and poultry raised on small-scale Hawaii farms and ranches. The dinner menu offers both full dinners and salads, burgers and pizza.
Kula has a nice selection of starters (harvest salad, lobster, oysters, cheese board, poke). We opted for the roast beet salad, a surprising variation on a classic salad. It included roasted red and yellow beets, fresh and chewy micro-greens and pine nuts, creamy goat cheese and chunks of watermelon and blood orange that offered sweet notes. It came lightly dressed with Meyer lemon vinaigrette.
Cornbread, Pork Belly, Opa
The waiter brought us warm squares of delicately sweet cornbread served with soft butter. He encouraged us to try the cornbread with the coral-colored chili pepper water offered as a table condiment. Chile water, made primarily of water, local chilies, and salt, went amazingly well with the sweet corn bread.
Entrees included local fish, pork and beef dishes (steak and short rib) and three vegetarian options. For an entree, I opted for the braised/grilled pork belly, which came as four generous strips of deliciously fatty pork with a slightly sweet, spicy star anise reduction. Underneath were comfort veggies—cubes of pumpkin, watercress and confit Maui onions—that proved the perfect complement for the pork belly. The dish was delicious, but so rich I took half of it home.
My companion ordered the island catch of the day, herb crusted Moonfish (Opa), a medium-firm whitefish served over house made fettuccine with a flavorful lobster Parmesan sauce, tomatoes, Kuhuku corn, broccolini, and English peas. The fish was incredibly fresh and tasted almost buttery. The pasta was cooked al dente and the lobster sauce was flavorful without overwhelming the fish.
For dessert, we ordered the mango soufflé pie with macadamia nut crust. It was the only part of our meal to disappoint. “Soufflé” is a misnomer here because this dessert is neither light nor a soufflé. Instead it was thick, dense and rather flavorless. Next time, we’ll opt for the pineapple or passion fruit tarts or one of their chocolate options.
Real Bottom Line: When you’re in Oahu’s North Shore and looking for farm-to-table freshness, Kula Grille at Turtle Bay Resort is a good choice that can match any budget. – Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor; Photos by Anne Weaver, RFT Editor