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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Sunday, February 12, 2006

Kamaaina flock to the timeless Shore Bird

Kelly Phillip will provide guests with grilling tips, helping them prepare their rib-eye and striploin steaks.

Photos by Randy T. Fujimori

The Shore Bird

Where: 2169 Kalia Rd., Outrigger Reef Hotel

Call: 922-2887

Hours: Breakfast menu from 7 to 11 a.m.; lunch and lanai menu from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.; and dinner from 4:30 to 10 p.m.

Parking: Valet parking is available for $5 for four hours.

Wearing a broad smile, David Nagaishi fanned his arm across the drawn-back, floor-to-ceiling windows and with a sigh said, "You can't get any closer to the beach than this."

He's right.

Guests to The Shore Bird can almost feel the gritty sand beneath their toes as they dine at this nostalgic, plantation-style beachfront restaurant.

"The idea is for people to feel like that they're attending a barbecue in someone's backyard," said Nagaishi, who oversees The Shore Bird and the neighboring Ocean House. "We even put in some decorative windows to appear as if you're looking in someone's home."

For the past 27 years, The Shore Bird has become a popular Waikiki destination that was once legendary for its Sunday afternoon, celebrity-judged bikini contests and for its grill-it-yourself meats in the evening.

Nowadays, though, the contests have stopped and it's no longer a place for just grilling steaks.

"We've become known for a place to gather for daytime bridal showers, birthday parties, anniversaries, baby's first luau, office get-togethers and wedding showers," Nagaishi said. "We've got semi-private areas, for which we don't charge a room fee. And there's no need to wait for the food. Just go up to the buffet."

Replete with colorful fruits, cereals, sweet smelling pastries and bacon, the breakfast buffet is priced at $11.95 and is available from 7 to 11 a.m.

"We've got carved honey-glazed ham, roast turkey, Portuguese sausage and fried rice," said kitchen manager Brenda Roberts, who has been with the restaurant since 1982. "And we bake all our pastries — from cinnamon buns to danishes to sticky buns — and ciabatta bread right here on premise."

Always popular during breakfast are the fresh tropical fruits, including lychee, assorted melons, fresh pineapple and papaya wedges.

"We go through a 100 pounds of pineapple during breakfast and about 50 pounds of papaya," Roberts said. "People eat a lot and that's why they come here."

During the transition between the breakfast buffet and lunch's all-you-can-eat feast (from noon to 3 p.m.) this past week, guests paced the buffet area, eyeing the items as they slowly emerged from the kitchen.

"We're a production and service kitchen at the same time," Roberts said. "This means that we have to be efficient since we have to service the buffet lineup while also preparing dishes from the a la carte menus."

Like the breakfast buffet, this one too is priced at $11.95, which includes such hot items as Hawaii-style beef stew, homestyle chili, homemade pasta, soup of the day, four-bean salad, lomi lomi and fresh fruit.

"And on Fridays we offer such Hawaiian fare as kalua pig and cabbage, chicken long rice and poi," Nagaishi said. "We even put out haupia."

Those wanting to order from the lunch a la carte menu may want to try the beefy, eight-ounce "Shore Bird" burger ($8.95), a hand-formed patty that's made with grounded filet, top sirloin, rib eye and New York steak tips and sandwiched between a soft homemade bun.

Janel Toguchi says she can make this mai tai with her eyes closed.
Also worth having is the Island fish and chips ($9.95), crunchy strips of mahi mahi served in a basket with a mound of french fries.

New to the menu are ahi tacos ($8.95), chunks of fresh ahi are covered with a zingy wasabi mayo and shoyu, and stuffed in a flour tortilla.

In the evening, guests still huddle around the gas grill, where they prepare their own 12-ounce top sirloin ($19.95) center-cut pork chops ($17.95) and filet mignon ($22.95).

"But, hands down, the rib eye ($22.95) is the most popular," said manager Cory Nakashima. "It's got marbling, it's tender and it cooks quickly. You can't beat it."

Yes, it's still the thrill of the grill.