Casual Corner

Merriman’s Monkeypod Kitchen brings craft beer and local foods to the West Side.

Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman in Kapolei truly leads by example.

Serving only the freshest products, including most from local farmers, ranchers and fisherman, the restaurant genuinely cares about the community and its people.

“We are a handcraſted restaurant, which to us means everything we do, we do from scratch,” explains Sara Hill, vice president – development general counsel for MONKEYPOD KITCHEN. “Our burger buns, pizza dough and breads for our sandwiches are made in-house, and our pies are made from scratch daily in-house. Everything we do is made from scratch. It’s not dumped out of a can or frozen.

“One of our newer slogans is ‘freezers are for ice cream,’” Hill adds. “We look for the best preparations for everything. We don’t do extravagant food. We do simple food, but the right way, and that’s part of Peter’s [Merriman's] food philosophy throughout all of his restaurants.”

Merriman, a culinary pioneer of the Hawai‘i Regional Cuisine movement and farm-to-table concept, teamed up with restaurateur Bill Terry to open Monkeypod Kitchen—first in Wailea, Maui in February 2011 and then in Ko Olina in January 2013. Hill says they plan to open more locations and are considering different sites both in Hawai‘i and on the mainland.

Described as a casual, community restaurant for “families, beer lovers and foodies,” Monkeypod Kitchen offers live music twice a day Monday through Thursday, and three times a day on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. On the menu is a great mix of Hawai‘i Regional Cuisine, American classics with a twist, such as burgers and pizza, and local favorites like saimin, which is one of Merriman’s personal favorites.

“We take a lot of pride in each one of our dishes,” says Hill. “Our saimin noodles are handmade by the Iwamoto family out of Pa‘ia, Maui. It’s always fresh, never dried or frozen.

“All of our produce is fresh and local at every chance possible. We do grass-fed beef from the Big Island and we always use local fish, such as monchong, kampachi, mahi and snappers. We love local products and we love them for a lot of reasons. First, fresh is always best, but also one of our main values is to give back to the community and to leave the world a better place. It’s a commitment that we made to ourselves and to our community.”

Among the top selling dishes are the Fresh Caught Fish Tacos ($20.95), followed by burgers and pizza. The pizzas, which are all hand-tossed to order and kiawe wood-fired, are great for sharing or yourself.

There are six different pizzas on the menu, including Margherita ($16.95) made with fresh diced Hau‘ula farm heirloom tomatoes, organic local basil, fresh mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce; and Roasted Butternut Squash ($15.95) with local kabocha squash, caramelized Maui onions, Kula farm rosemary, pine nuts and Monkeypod white sauce.

As for chef Merriman’s favorite dish at Monkeypod, he says it changes every night, but currently it’s the Keahole Lobster, Fresh Fish and Coconut Stew ($29.95) from the dinner menu. “It has bold flavors and I love savory coconut because coconut is often served sweet,” he says.

Also, be sure to save room for dessert, especially for Monkeypod’s signature Strawberry Cream Pie ($8.95). Featuring a hand-baked crust covered with a heaping stack of homemade pastry cream and homemade whipped cream, and finished with a layer of Kula farm strawberries topped with a homemade guava glaze, this ultra decadent treat is simply irresistible.

The 11,000-square-foot, two-story restaurant also has a large wrap-around 36-seat bar downstairs, as well as a more intimate 10-seat bar upstairs. All of its bartenders are mixologists, and, of course, local liquors are highlighted at every chance possible. There are 36 craft beers available, including beer from Maui Brewing Company and Kona Brewing Company, and various local microbreweries.

Happy Hour takes place twice a day (from 3:00 to 5:30 p.m. and 9:30 to 11:00 p.m.) offering half-price pupu (with some exceptions), pizza for $9 (excluding Bourgeois) and drink specials. Draft beers are $4.75 for beers originally priced $9 and under, and $7 for beers originally priced over $9. There also are $6 Ocean Vodka cocktails, $6 white and red wines by the glass and $8 culinary cocktails.

“We always want Monkeypod to be a place where locals and tourists can come and have a fabulous meal with friends and family without feeling like they have to spend a ton of money or have to get super dressed-up,” adds Hill. “It’s just about being who you are and showing up to have a really great meal.”

MONKEYPOD KITCHEN
92-1048 Olani St.
380-4086 | www.monkeypodkitchen.com