There’s that moment on every trip when it hits you: You are officially in vacation mode.
It might sneak up on you well into your first afternoon. You’ve been in a swimsuit all day by the pool, enjoyed a relaxing massage at the spa, or maybe you’ve been snorkeling at Poipu — but now the sun is mellowing into the golden glow of happy hour and you find yourself seated comfortably at a dark wood table full of friends at Koloa Landing’s new poolside Holoholo Grill. You’re halfway through one of Jake the Bartender’s deliciously sour, pineapple-forward mai tais, and your server sets down a platter of ahi poke that everyone leans in to devour. Tender cubes of silky raw fish are bathed in a secret spicy marinade, studded with toasted sesame seeds and scooped up with crisp taro chips. You wonder, How could anything taste this good? Somewhere by the bar a guitarist croons a Hawaiian love song, and mixed with your friends’ laughter and stories of the sea turtle that got away you realize you are absolutely, undeniably on vacation.
This is what the Holoholo Grill is all about.
A collaboration with James Beard award-winning chef Sam Choy, the Holoholo Grill serves up gastro-inspired Hawaiian comfort food in a modern outdoor space. Choy, a local legend turned television celebrity, brings all the freshest seasonal flavors of the island directly to your plate. Known as the Godfather of Poke (rhymes with “okay”) with eateries from here to Washington state, Choy has helped make the delicacy a global staple. In most big cities today you can’t swing a catfish without hitting a poke restaurant.
In Hawaiian, “holoholo” means “a pleasurable journey of discovery”
…and that pretty much sums up the menu here. Kauai-style fish tacos full of grilled fish-of-the-moment, tangy pineapple slaw and drizzle of Sriracha mayo offer an array of contrasts: cool and hot, sweet and spicy, tender and crunchy all folded into char-grilled tortillas. Pair them with a Kona Firerock Pale Ale, and you’ll start to get the idea. Your friend is almost sorry to dig into the Shrimp ‘n Papaya Salad because it’s such a work of art but gets over it quickly once she tastes the sweet shrimp dressed in lime curry all tumbled together with cucumber, farmer’s market tomato and peppery daikon shreds.
An appetizer of Coconut Shrimp is passed around the table and one crunch of its deep coconuttiness recalls your morning stroll under the swaying palms and just makes you happy to be here. An entree choice features a bed of vibrant purple mashed potatoes in a shiitake broth topped with barbecued ono so fresh you wouldn’t be surprised if it had been swimming in South Shore waters that very morning. And BC’s Fish & Chips is named after beloved resort owner Bill Child: Mahi mahi double dipped tempura-style and fried to a crisp so crunchy that neighboring patrons turn to look at you with envy. You grin and answer questions about the dish which in turn creates more than one I’ll-have-what-she’s-having moment.
Soon the tiki torches flutter to life, the last smudge of Loco Moco gravy is swiped up with an errant french fry and everyone is hooting and clapping for the musicians who have just wrapped their set. Some friends head to the upper meadow for the resort’s weekly s’mores event around the firepit. Others decide to walk down to the sunset wall to catch the last gasp of pink across the darkening horizon. Then someone in your party sits back and suggests, One more mai tai? and you smile and nod, yes, please. After all, this is a carefree holoholo-style journey and you are positively, indisputably, definitely on vacation.
Holoholo Grill is open 7:00am to 10:00pm daily for breakfast, lunch, happy hour and dinner. For reservations, please call 808.240.6600, dial 22538 from your resort phone, or visit us on opentable.com.
Post By: Erica Karlin, Koloa Landing
Photo credit: Jennifer Hedayat