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The Weekly Eater

W Bistro’s simplicity deserves big applause

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    W Bistro owners Richard and Judy Weinstein join executive chef Eric Omick, left, at the bar of the new restaurant.
    W Bistro’s panzanella salad is topped with seared ahi.

Richard and Judy Weinstein have had more than 30 years of success marketing pharmaceuticals and medical products in Hawaii. When not working, they enjoy dining out, so when the Le Guignol space opened up in the Honolulu Medical Arts Building, which houses their pharmacy, they thought it would be nice to preserve the space as a restaurant, where they could enjoy the greenery of Thomas Square from the open-air lanai.

They found a chef whose food they enjoy, and just like that, W Bistro at 1010 S. King St. was open for business. 

Could opening a restaurant really be this easy?

A lot of things could go wrong in this scenario, but the couple appears to have hit the jackpot with chef Eric Omick, who’s worked with such name chefs as Roy Yamaguchi and Chai Chaowasaree, and run a catering business. His experience has paid off considering the restaurant opened during the height of the "Lion King" frenzy at the Blaisdell Concert Hall across the street.

W Bistro at 1010

1010 S. King St. No. 108 (across Blaisdell Concert Hall)
>> 589-2295

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

Hours: Lunch 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays to Sundays; dinner 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays to Thursdays and Sundays; 5 to 11:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays Cost: $20 to $30 for two for lunch; $50 to $80 for dinner; BYOB

Ratings compare similar restaurants:
**** – excellent
***– very good; exceeds expectations;
** – average;
* – below average.

That’s brought in a lot of dinner patrons who need to be fed and outta there just before curtain time at 7:30 or 8 p.m. Given the brief mealtime window, I would expect to enjoy a couple of light pupu and perhaps return later for another bite after the show. But apparently, some diners show up an hour before showtime expecting to complete a three-course meal. It’s not been easy, but Omick’s been able to accommodate theater-goers so far without introducing a more limited pre-theater menu. (Note: They are already taking Bruno Mars pre-concert dinner reservations April 18, 19 and 21. A post-concert menu will be available from 10 to 11:30 p.m.)

During this trial by fire that included Valentine’s Day weekend, the restaurant managed to maintain its quality, which bodes well for this first-time effort.

Much of what Omick presents caters directly to the Weinsteins’ palates, and luckily for the rest of us, they have a taste for what’s contemporary and on-trend without veering toward fussiness. The menu is built on simplicity and a "farm-to-table" philosophy supporting local food producers.

The freshness is evident on a lunch menu that features an array of salads including a wedge Caesar ($9), summery watermelon and feta ($9) and panzanella of locally grown heirloom tomatoes tossed with white beans, sourdough croutons, arugula and many other ingredients ($10). Add chicken or blackened ahi for $3.

Pair a salad with rustic flatbreads topped with shrimp, artichokes and Kalamata olives ($10); linguisa, tomato, basil and burrata cheese ($9); or opt for the house specialty "W Bistro" of roast duck, caramelized onions, black bean BBQ-Hunan sauce, pineapple salsa and cilantro ($10).

The vibe is light and just right for the time of day. 

For those in need of something more substantial, there is the 1010 Burger ($9) featuring a thick local beef patty, aged white cheddar and arugula on a brioche bun, or a charred steak sandwich ($10) with onion jam, arugula, Swiss cheese and horseradish cream. A roast pork sandwich ($9) was a banh mi equivalent, with pickled carrot slaw on toasty baguette, though it could not compete with banh mi champ The Pig & the Lady. Can anyone?

Salads and flatbreads return on the evening menu, at roughly $3 more per dish.

In the evening, it’s hard to know where to begin. Each dish reads like Cupid’s arrow to the heart. It starts with a blackened ahi panzanella salad ($14) extravagant enough to win over those who aren’t fans of salad, along with appetizers of salt-and-pepper chicken wings ($13), a pair of perfectly seared sea scallops ($16) served with sweet Big Island kabocha puree, pear relish and local alii mushrooms, or a small portion dynamite bake ($13) served with toast rounds. 

The latter has the feel of a veggie dip with its combination of artichokes, broccoli and mushrooms, dotted with bits of bacon. The dynamite combines blue crab hidden underneath, and a hint of chili peppers throughout. 

W Bistro’s short list of entrees range from steak frites ($36) pairing fries with a seared Hawaiian-salted rib-eye laced with a slight hint of curry from the W Bistro butter, to creamy seafood coconut curry ($32) featuring scallops, jumbo shrimp, market fish and vegetables, served with jasmine rice.

There’s BBQ salmon ($33) and blackened mahimahi ($27), and the 1010 burger ($16), which makes its return from lunch.

And for those who look at chicken as the plainest item on a menu, Omick’s organic Meyer lemon chicken ($26) could change your mind. It’s juicy throughout, under a thin layer of skin with a pleasant, airy, brittle crunch. The accompanying salted black bean Hunan sauce is rather heavy but works well in moderation.

Simplicity continues to reign during dessert in tiramisu ($7), cheesecake with fresh berries ($7), seasonal sorbets and ice cream, or bread pudding with vanilla anglaise ($7).

With a BYOB policy in place, the Weinsteins have partnered with The Wine Stop up the street, where owner Liane Fu can suggest pairings. Study the entire menu at A one-time $10 wine service fee per meal includes corkage, wine glasses and ice-filled champagne bucket.

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

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