Hawaii Kai Eats: Blu Water Grill

Seafood Fetecinne with Herbed Cream Sauce, $17.95

When it comes to finer dining establishments in the Hawaii Kai area on Oahu’s east side, names that might come to mind are Roy’s Restaurant, featuring “Hawaiian Fusion” cuisine, Assagio’s Italian Restaurant, and what we have labeled here as “Global Island” cuisine at Blu Water Grill.

Their neon sign is usually lit up, which would have made a better picture here, but on this night they had it off. Oh well.

Blu Water Grill opened its doors at this prime Hawaii Kai marina location back in 2004, and now, four years later continues to thrive, often filling the house during peak lunch and dinner hours, as was the case when we arrived the other night.

Which is no wonder, as not only do you get a spectacular million dollar waterfront view, but also a tantalizing menu created by Chef/Owner Bill Bruhl, who served as Executive Chef at Ryan’s in Ward Center for many years prior to taking on this new venture.

Reservations are highly recommended here, which we booked our birthday dinner party for mom of five for 7:45pm at an outside patio table , just steps from the water. During this early part of summer, the sun was just about set, yet even with the light at dusk and dark setting in, the marina is still a beautiful place to behold.

The establishment is cozy in size, with a clean, contemporary islander decor. There’s bar area on the right side, with a waiting area and main dinning room to the left…

Here’s where we sat on the patio outside…

Those are neighboring patrons, not us.

As you see, every table out on the patio is taken here, which is ideally where you want to sit when the weather is nice (almost always), as it was on this occasion.

Those lights on that wall in the background is the backside of Costco – the only thing visually unappealing of an otherwise gorgeous panoramic view of the marina

As you see, by the time we settled in, it was about 8pm and already dark…

Even if you sit inside, it’s an open-air restaurant…

…which I much prefer over enclosed AC “boxes”, giving BWG major points over Roy’s in that regard.

Also open to view is the kitchen…

Of course, it just can’t be named “Blu Water Grill” if they didn’t have a grill!…

See the Kiawe coal’s flames burning under those scorching cast iron grates? That’s big time FLAVOR my friends! Big mahalo to our waiter for taking this shot!

OK, enough peeping around the digs. Let’s eat!

The waiter immediately took our order for cocktails and brought back a warm basket of complimentary what I think are Okinawan Sweet Potato rolls and a french loaf…

The purple rolls tasted a little sweet and were soft and supple, but I preferred the hard crust and slight saltiness of the french bread to accompany my dish.

Saving room for the main entree, for an appetizer starter we all just shared a plate of BWG’s popular Macadamia Nut Crusted Prawns…

Macadamia Nut Crusted Prawns with Thai Chili-Coconut Aioli – Black Tiger Prawns crusted with crushed Macadamia nuts and Japanese bread crumbs, $13.95

These were ono! Only thing is, I couldn’t really detect the Macadamia Nuts in texture or flavor; just the panko. Perhaps they went too far and pulverized the nuts instead of only crushing them.

The prawns itself were juicy and sweet, yet rather small, which kind of made eating just one a “tease”. But wow, that Thai Chili-Coconut Aioli.. broke da’ mout! There’s just a hint of spicy-hotness in an otherwise explosion of exotic creamy delight. You could spread this Aioli on a rubber slipper and it’d taste good.

Now that we’re all “Prawn teased”, it’s time for the main dish!

Diner “M” ordered the Seafood Fetucinne (also pictured at the top of this posting)…

Seafood Fetecinne with Herbed Cream Sauce – Kiawe-grilled shrimp, scallop and daily catch served atop fetucinne with a basil pesto cream sauce, $17.95

Diner “M”, who is a major pasta lover, was totally into this dish. She gave me a grilled scallop and some of the fetuccine to try myself, and yes, that basil pesto cream sauce is killer! A pleasant balance of “creamy-herbyness”, and it tasted like quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) was used for the pesto. The fetuccine itself perfectly al dente. This dish was an excellent choice.

Diner “K” ordered this…

Mango-Guava Glazed Pork Spareribs with Caribbean Slaw – Slow-roasted pork ribs, finished over Kiawe coals with our signature mango-guava BBQ sauce. Served with Jamaican peas and rice and Caribbean style slaw, $22.95

These had a slight spicy-hotness to them, with a mildly sweet fruitiness to it, but it didn’t really scream “MANGO GUAVA” to me, which I tried a few ribs that she shared. It was tender and moist though, with the all-important flame-seared, crusted “papa’a” edges. The rice was a dry, loose, long grain “Uncle Bens” type, which is sort of weird for us locals used to sticky medium grain rice, but it actually brings a sort of nuttiness and texture contrast to the plate which is nice. The Caribbean style slaw was delicious, balanced out the dish perfectly. Otherwise, the flavor spices and sauce on the ribs were just OK, but I’m not sure I’d order this here again unless I were REALLY craving ribs. Diner “K” also had the same sentiment, mainly ordering the dish out curiousity over any other reason of choice.

My girlfriend went with a rather unconventional choice for dinner here and ordered this…

Fire-Grilled Chicken Panini – Herb-marinated and kiawe-grilled breast of chicken on an onion-ciabata roll with basil mayonnaise, mesclun greens, balsamic vinaigrette and crisp fried capers, $13.95

She really enjoyed it the sandwich, noting the distinguishable kiawe-smoke flavor of the moist chicken breast and and chewy texture (in a good way) of the grilled Panini bread. The only issue was the fries, which were cooked perfectly golden crisp ‘n tender, but were over salted, making eating only about 1/4th of what was on the plate tolerable – a minor blunder that’s surely an isolated case. She said she’d order this again for lunch.

Yours truly chose one of the specials on the menu here…

Creole-Crusted Ono with Orange Beurre Blanc – Crusted with Cajun spices, fire-grilled, served over garlic mashed potato, grilled seasonal vegetables and finished with citrus infused beurre blanc, $22.95

I chose this because it was seafood dish using Ono on the menu. Other than that there was shrimps, scallops, mahimahi and salmon, which are all too common. I ended up not very thrilled with this citrus infused Orange Buerre Blanc sauce though. IMO, it just didn’t work with the smokey-spicey grilled fish. You could certainly taste those Cajun spices.

The fish was also a bit too medium-well for me. I should have requested them to cook it medium rare. The saving grace were the grilled seasoned vegetables, which were very tasty, retaining most of their texture, without being limp, and the house garlic mash was fantastic, but if I had my choice again, I’d take pasta or rice as a starch with this dish. Something about Mash and seafood doesn’t work for me. Mash gotta’ be with meat.

BWG is flexible with their menu, and I could have requested a different preparation for the ono instead of the Cajun/Orange Beurre Blanc treatment, but at least I tried it, which is always a good thing to expand my culinary experience.

Finally, my mother, the birthday girl, ordered the steak…

Hawaiian Salt Rubbed Angus Beef Top Sirloin – Center cut, aged sirloin, hand-cut, rubbed with cracked black pepper and Hawaiian sea salt, kiawe-grilled, served over red jacket mashed potato and toopped with crisp fried Maui onions, $25.95

Looking at the plate presentation, I’m gonna’ have to give them a D-minus on that. Why are they covering that juicy dry-aged steakand it’s beautiful Kiawe-fired sear markings with those onions? Put the onions around it! And put some color on the plate! At least a sprig of parsley or something.

Aside of presentation, how did she like it? She LOVED IT!

Medium-rare perfection…

See, mom is a purest when it comes to steak. Absolutely no fancy-shmancy sauces or rubs for her. All she wants on her steak is Hawaiian Salt, pepper and garlic. That’s it. Nothing else, and I agree. Let the beef do the talking – don’t drown it out. So this choice was perfect for her.

The steak was very flavorful, tender and moist, with a smokey, seared crust from the Kiawe coals. And the fried Maui Onions, which look to be dipped in a simple tempura batter, paired with the savory steak just perfect, as did the garlic mash.

A highly recommended dish.

And if that steak preparation isn’t exactly your bag, the menu also offers a Carribean Roasted Ribeye Steak with Garlic Au Jus at $24.95, and a Kiawe-Grilled Fillet Mignon with Wild Mushroom Demi Glaze for $29. A bargain if you compare that to a comparable cut of steak from Outback next to Roy’s. Especially when you factor in the much more sophisticated level in preparation and quality of ingredients BWG offers over the competition.

Not to mention, once again, that million dollar waterfront marina view.

After the main course we were all stuffed and skipped on dessert, even though it was a Birthday (which we forgot to mention to the waiter). Although we did come close to ordering the popular Lilikoi Creme Brulee and Banana Lumpia, but then opted out, thinking it would only go to waste, even if we doggie bagged it.

Our waiter was very friendly and on top of everything, keeping glasses full and table clear, while the dishes all came out in a timely manner and piping hot.

Mom, for some reason, loves Outback and requested we take her there for her birthday, but thankfully we were able to talk her into trying out Blu Water Grill. Now she’s hooked and wants to return again soon! This was actually a return visit for me and the lady, as we’ve been here several times over the course of the years since they opened. IIRC, my last order from here was also a steak. I also remember their Banana Blintz dessert which was so ono, but that’s no longer on the menu, replaced by the Banana Lumpia.

Like any restaurant, there’s hit and miss dishes at BWG, but those that hit, hit hard and good, as was the case on this visit with the Hawaiian Salt Rubbed Sirloin and the Seafood Fetucinne. So ono. Surely there’s many other items on the menu we have yet to try that are also dynamite. With a fire-buring Kiawe grill to back that up, a competitively priced menu with something for everyone, and a romantic, quiet waterfront dining experience in beautiful Hawaii Kai, you can’t go wrong.

Here’s how Hawaii Kai Marina looks from approximately where Blu Water Grill is located during the day time…

Blue Water Grill is highly recommended.

Blu Water Grill
377 Keahole St.
(at the Hawaii Kai Shopping Center, located on the marina waterfront between Long’s and The Shack)

The Tasty Island Rating:

(4) Excellent. Worth another >repeat< visit or purchase. (Winnahz!)

Related links:
Blu Water Grill review – Honolulu Advertiser
Blu Water Grill review – Honolulu Star Bulletin


6 thoughts on “Hawaii Kai Eats: Blu Water Grill

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