HONOLULU | Hawaiian food, and local food. Hawaiian, and from Hawaii. These are important distinctions that you learn about very quickly when you visit Hawaii. At owner/chef Ed Kenney’s modern American restaurant, Mud Hen Water, the two inform a unique, exciting, and delicious menu.
Ed is from Hawaii, and expresses much about what makes dining in Honolulu great in his food. Traditional ingredients are used in new ways, across dishes that dance across the various cultures that make this melting pot of a city what it is. In particular, the food of Japan, China, Korea, and the Philippines. It’s food that’s very much grounded, with a real sense of place.
Pohole (fern shoots) are served with okra, yamaimo, sweet onion, nori, and shiso. The crispness of the ferns offset wonderfully by the sliminess of the okra. Chunks of ‘ulu (breadfruit) are buttered and complimented with fermented black beans, sour orange, and coriander. A favourite of mine, Japanese katsu curry, is reimagined as long rice croquettes that I could snack on all night. And of course that delicious sausage and clams which I told you about in its own post last week. It’s exciting food, and it’s brilliant.
The drinks list is short and sharp, with cocktails that follow the same philosophy as the food. I recommend the palolo penicillin. A twist on the classic cocktail, featuring xicaru mezcal, mezzodi, lemon, and ginger.
One thing I’d say about eating at Mud Hen Water. You’ll enjoy dining here no matter when you visit, but if you can, visit a traditional Hawaiian restaurant like Highway Inn first. When I ate at the latter a few days after my dinner at Mud Hen Water, it gave me context and a greater appreciation of the food that Ed and his team are cooking.
Mud Hen Water
3452 Waialae Avenue
Tue – Thu: 5:30pm to 8:30pm
Fri – Sat: 5:30pm to 9:00pm
Sun: 9:30am to 2:00pm