HONOLULU | The first meal that I booked in Hawaii, before I left Melbourne, was at Bar Maze. I didn’t want to miss out on a spot at the tiny restaurant which, to me while researching where to eat, stood out as one of the most interesting restaurants in town.
It’s the brainchild of owners Justin and Tom Park (unrelated), the duo behind the The World’s 50 Best bars in the USA award winning, Bar Leather Apron. I’d had drinks at Bar Leather Apron the previous day, and had a good chat with Justin while there, which served to heighten the anticipation for my meal at Bar Maze. TLDR, the experience did not let me down.
Bar Maze offers an omakase style menu by head chef Ki Chung, who’s CV includes stints at restaurants like The Fat Duck and The French Laundry. The food is broadly Japanese and Korean, with Hawaiian flourishes, and a farm to table ethos with a real respect for the quality produce and it’s origins.
What elevates Bar Maze above similar restaurants, is just how intertwined the food and drinks on offers are. You don’t come to Maze for food and maybe a drinks pairing. You visit for both. Justin and Ki develop their ever changing menu in unison, with each cocktail (and occasional wine option) not just complimenting each dish, but being an essential part of the experience. If booze isn’t you’re thing, the non-alcoholic option is just as considered.
There’s not enough space to give everything I enjoyed justice here. However, let me tell you about course three. Triple seared A5 Miyazaki wagyu ribeye, freshly milled tsuyahime wagyu fat rice, and local banchan. The beef and rice, outstanding, and the banchan a wonderful summation of the philosophy of Bar Maze. A sheet is provided with the dish, describing each banchan, and the origin of the key ingredient. Justin provided additional context, giving each component a story and sense of place. To pair, an Old Fashioned with Hibiki Harmony, maple, vanilla and Angostura chocolate bitters. What a course.
A calming, informative, and delicious dining experience and one of my most memorable meals of the year. An eclectic, genre jumping soundtrack in the background top things off.
604 Ala Moana Boulevard
Wed – Sun: 5:30pm to 10:00pm