Restaurant Review of Monkeypod Kitchen in Ko Olina, Oahu, Hawaii. This “farm to table” type restaurant features ingredients and brews found locally, paying homage to Hawaii’s native offerings and advancing its growing culinary scene.
All opinions are my own. I was not compensated in any way for this review.
I’m going to try something new! Instead of sharing a recipe with you today, I’m going to share my experience at Monkeypod Kitchen in Ko Olina. My husband and I went to their happy hour on a date while my in-laws watched the kids, then we took the entire family the next evening for dinner, so I was able to try a lot of different dishes.
This is my first official restaurant review, so let me know what you think in the comments! I welcome comments about what you wish I included so that I can give you more of what you want on reviews I do going forward.
About Monkeypod Kitchen
Monkeypod Kitchen is a Chef Merriman restaurant. There are three of them – two on Maui (in Wailea and Ka’anapali) and one on Oahu (in Ko Olina).
The founding idea behind this kitchen is commitment to craft. Whether it be sourcing local ingredients or offering locally brewed beers (I’ll get more into the beers later), Chef Merriman creates his menus around the craftsman that are local to Hawaii. It’s like being farm-to-table, but taking it a step further and making sure you not only know where your food is coming from, you make sure it’s coming from your neighborhood.
This approach is extremely admirable, especially when applied by an award winning chef like Peter Merriman. This brings notoriety to the endeavor and highlights its benefits, as well as its sustainability.
Our first visit there we sat on the lower level in a corner so that I could have a view of everything. There are large doors that open to the expansive patio, so the inside seating on the street side of the restaurant feels very open and airy.
The second time we went we were seated on the second level, which is also open to the air outside.
The decor is very clean and modern with some beachy decorations in the form of outdoor friendly seating, big woven hanging lights and surfboards. There’s a cool, island vibe to it all.
They have live music everyday, and you can see who will be playing and at what time by going to their website. (Scroll to the bottom for links) Both musicians we heard were very good and were so fun/relaxing to listen to.
We tried a lot of different dishes. They were all delicious, and you could tell the ingredients were super fresh.
Lobster Deviled Eggs –
They took the classic deviled egg up a notch with this one, and it’s a really good idea. Using free range eggs and local Big Island lobster, the creamy, seasoned filling was perfect with a big chunk of tender, sweet lobster on top.
Kauai Shrimp & Hamakua Mushroom Potstickers –
I’m a sucker for potstickers, so I had to try them off the appetizer menu. These are mushroom and shrimp stuffed, and they come drizzled in a sweet, salty citrus soy sauce with dollops of hot mustard and chili paste on the side. My father-in-law got them as a main course because he wasn’t very hungry, and he too thought they were delicious.
Pumpkin Patch Ravioli –
So, I’m not a huge fan of pumpkin, but I had two different friends who don’t know each other recommend the Pumpkin Patch Ravioli specifically. I had to try them after that, so my husband and I ordered them when we went for happy hour. They were good, but not great. The flavors are very classic with the sweet squash and the brown butter sauce. I was a little disappointed with the presentation, as ours came out kind of half covered in a big mess of spinach leaves and goat cheese, and I don’t think there was enough of the walnut sage pesto. I couldn’t really distinguish the pesto flavor from the rest. I would probably not order this one again.
Proletariat Pizza and Hamakua Wild Mushroom & Truffle Oil Pizza –
The Proletariat is kind of a classic pizza supreme, but with better ingredients and a fancier process. Delicious, of course! A thin, chewy, wood fired crust that was substantial enough to hold up the ingredients but not so much that I didn’t want to finish the crust at the end. I’m sometimes tempted to leave the crust behind so I don’t get too full, but not this time.
The mushroom and truffle oil pizza was also very good, with very distinct flavors of parmesan and truffle that were almost overwhelming, but so good that I persevered until I was done with the entire thing. I was impressed with the amount of mushrooms on it, which was surprisingly generous, and there was plenty of cheese.
Originally we ordered both to split them, but I only had one piece of the Proletariat and my husband only had one piece of the mushroom, and then we finished our favorites on our own. If we had gone straight halfsies, then I don’t think I would have thought the flavors of the mushroom and truffle pizza were too much at any point.
Big Island Cheese Burger –
All of the other items we got during their really awesome happy hour, but when we went back for dinner with the rest of the family the next night, I just wanted a good ole’ fashioned burger. So, I chose the Big Island Cheese Burger.
Like everything Monkeypod Kitchen does, it’s familiar food but better than what you are expecting. Fontina cheese, house-made pickle and dijon aioli, softly caramelized onions and fresh tomatoes and lettuce on top of a local beef burger patty. Yes to ALL of that.
I asked for my burger to be cooked to medium, and it came out overdone, on the later side of medium well. Despite that, I really enjoyed it. The bun was appropriately sized for the patty and ingredients, and the texture was soft enough to bite into without falling apart. I love those black sesame seeds.
I was so excited when I realized that the majority of their on tap brews were from breweries local to Hawaii. How cool is that!
I love Saiasons, so I tried both of the Saison offerings on the menu.
- Honolulu Beerworks, Pia Mahi’ai Saison was sweet, citrusy and really crisp tasting.
- Aloha Beer Company, Waimanalo Farmhouse, Saison was light and refreshing, but it had a bit more flavor and depth than the other one.
When deciding on my third and final beer (it was a date, no driving and happy hour! so just turn that judgy face right off ; ) I went back to my first choice, the Pia Mahi’ai Saison. Just so delicious and perfect for a warm afternoon on the island.
If you get a chance to go to Monkeypod Kitchen, you should definitely choose to. Now I need to try their two other kitchens on Maui!