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THE WEEKLY EATER


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With abundant seafood, restaurant lives up to billing

By Nadine Kam

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 05:51 p.m. HST, Jul 22, 2013

A tower of shellfish is served at SHOR American Seafood Grill in the Hyatt Regency Waikiki hotel.

Maybe it's because I'd just returned from East Coast escapades that I was searching for ways to keep the post-vacation glow alive, and SHOR American Seafood Grill, the Hyatt Regency's third-floor dining spot, provided ample excuse to kick back and relax in the open air.

There, overlooking Kuhio Beach Park and the expanse of blue-green ocean, I was reminded that even as we spend thousands of dollars to be anywhere else, there are even greater numbers of people who spend thousands of dollars to be right where we are. It's easy to forget to appreciate what we have.

The new restaurant takes the place of Terrace Grill as part of a $13 million renovation to update the Hyatt's dining facilities to keep up with the glitzy neighbors on the beachfront and the Ewa end of Waikiki.

Coming soon will be Japengo with Asian fusion cuisine that already had its trial run on Maui. In addition, the poolside lounge will soon be home to Swim, highlighted by a pan-Latino accent.

For now, SHOR Grill brings some of the most popular trends in seafood to the table, chief among them sustainability. Only fish and shellfish approved by Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch Program is served. Luckily, that still leaves plenty of options. (Those so inclined can check out the approved list for Hawaii at bit.ly/pRqu5E.)

Just as at Terrace Grill, days at SHOR start with breakfast covering all the basics, but now with a SHOR Benedict of blue crab and spinach ($18), and seafood omelet of shrimp, blue crab and Surfing Goat cheese with mornay sauce among the selections.

Lunch sees a variety of $14 to $18 seafood and burger selections, including the blue crab burger that brings both together ($18).

Of course, the Waikiki premium factor is alive and well, so if cost is a factor, it's better to enjoy the restaurant by day when you can bask on the patio and watch the beach idyll below.

In the evening, the seafood aficionado will need to look no further than the starter list of seafood at its most basic. It starts with a heavenly blue crab cocktail ($12) with remoulade, also available as part of the $24 SHOR Trio including poke and seafood salad of shrimp, squid and mussels. Considering the miniature portions of the trio — about two to three ounces each — I'd just go with the full order of crab cocktail.

SHOR American Seafood Grill

Hyatt Regency Waikiki, 237-6140

Food: **1/2
Service: ***
Ambience: ****
Value: ** 1/2

Hours: Breakfast 6 to 11:30 a.m., lunch 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., dinner 6 to 10 p.m.

Cost: Dinner about $70 to $90 for two without drinks. Lunch about $40 for two.

Ratings compare similar restaurants:
**** - excellent
*** - very good
** - average
* - below average.

The highlight of this fresh menu is the Seafood Tower, which for $60 includes an eye-catching array of lobster, oysters, abalone, mussels, shrimp, poke and king crab, sure to make all your Foodspotting.com followers go wild.

After enjoying $18 to $20 moules frites all over Manhattan, I wondered why we can't get large quantities of mussels here at that price. SHOR Grill comes through with its Mussel Pot ($18) of two dozen mussels in a garlic-citrus broth with a splash of vermouth. The mussels come with toast for sopping up the juices, though going in with a soup spoon works as well. I can't think of a better way to enjoy a summer evening than sharing cocktails over this ocean bounty. If you do want the frites pairing, you'll have to order SHOR fries ($4) a la carte.

The mussels and SHOR chowder ($9), thick with fish, potatoes, mussels, shrimp, bacon and a small corn cob, make my list of favorite dishes.

In New York I found a great lobster roll at Luke's Lobster, but the Hawaii title is up for grabs and SHOR is the leading, if not only, contender at this point, for its seven ounces of all-claw meat ($36) with minimal dressing. The bread could have been sliced thinner and made more toasty, and the price seems stiff, given that it's about $16 in New York.

Purple potato ravioli ($9) was another appetizer offering, but I found the purple sauce visually off-putting. Someone suggested that with haupia accompaniment, it would make a better dessert.

All that seafood can be taxing on the stomach, so calm it down with one of the salads, such as heirloom tomato with Maui onion ($12), mango and pear with greens, macadamia nuts and Maytag blue cheese ($14), or a surprising salad of yellow tomatoes layered with watermelon slices and mesclun greens dressed with a balsamic reduction and sprinkled with roasted pistachios. I think even people who don't like salads will find this one irresistible.

For the entrees, you get to play chef in mixing and matching seasonings with sauces, so in many ways, success is up to you. Good luck.

Seasoning choices for New York strip ($48), filet mignon ($44), rib eye ($38), pork chop ($38) and roast chicken ($28) include Hawaiian red salt, Cajun spices, espresso salt, mesquite rub, hickory salt and a house steak seasoning.

For fish and lobster, seasoning choices are guava and garlic, shichimi togarashi, Old Bay, chili pepper, wasabi salt and passion fruit chili powder.

These then can be layered with sauce choices of four peppercorn, tarragon hollandaise, Hamakua Ali‘i mushroom with lobster essence (said to work well on all meat), apple horseradish chutney, tropical salsa, Maytag blue cheese, spicy mango BBQ and basic teriyaki.

It doesn't hurt to ask for two, as I did with wild salmon with the mushroom sauce and chutney. Our server didn't bat an eye, and there was no extra charge for the extra selection. If you're in doubt as to how the sauce will work, you can also request to have it on the side.

As for sides, there's nothing more popular these days than truffled mac 'n' cheese, this one boasting eight cheeses. (They try not to talk about the secret ninth, Velveeta, which adds a bright tang to the dish.)

House-made ice cream provides a nice finish, with options of bacon-buttered popcorn, ginger lychee, coconut sorbetto or a tasting flight of all three ($9). They can do a great buttered popcorn ice cream but that day only offered vanilla with a few pieces of bacon-buttered popcorn on top, so make sure you check what's available and hold out for the popcorn-flavored ice cream.


Nadine Kam’s restaurant reviews are conducted anonymously and paid for by the Star-Advertiser. Reach her at nkam@staradvertiser.com.






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