Christmas in Honolulu

This is no pantomime, but a recommendation for food lovers: Senia, a new gourmet destination, has opened

Senia is a brand new gourmet restaurant in Honol

Senia is a brand new gourmet restaurant in Honolulu, Hawaii: chefs Chris Kajoika and Anthony Rush met at Thomas Keller's Per Se and present their technique applied to the extraordinary ingredients of the US archipelago. Francesca Zanetti visited the restaurant and spoke with them for Identità Golose

I was lucky to find myself in Honolulu on vacation. Having been here many times before as tourist, this time I decided to explored the local food scene. I had the opportunity to meet the creators and chefs of a highly anticipated restaurant Senia: Anthony Rush and Chris Kajoika. Both young and with a rich curriculum of working experiences under their belt. They met and worked at Per Se under Thomas Keller in 2007. Working in a space where people are happy has allowed them to create a friendship and a collaboration for the creation of this restaurant that they have designed together. The name Senia plays on the greek word Xenia, which means guest-friendship and represents the core value of hospitality.

Gli chef Chris Kajoika e Anthony Rush 

Gli chef Chris Kajoika Anthony Rush 

I met both Chefs inside the future dining room of Senia, opened some days ago. The restaurant is in the heart of Chinatown, in an old building of the end of late 1800s (natural brick walls decorate the dining room). It is located right next to the very successful Pig and the Lady (Vietnamese restaurant that opened as a pop-up in the farmer’s market in 2011) .

Senia serves three types of menu: in the main dining room a la carte menu and a special Chefs’ Counter menu and upstairs, in private banquet room, the menu is shaped based on client’s requests. The Chef’s Counter menu is served at the counter overlooking the open kitchen and in one banquette table nearby. It is a special multi-course menu created with the freshest local ingredients and is a surprise creation that will change based on the ingredients availability and Chef’s creativity. The restaurant caters to different types of guest, the one that are looking for the special Chef menu experience and the ones that would like to select just one dish à la carte. The main dining room is à la carte, much more casual, and with plates that are intended to be shared by a group, including large format dishes that serve 4-6 guests.

The private dining room at Senia

The private dining room at Senia

The freedom to create new dishes and the appreciation of the craft is clearly what is driving these two chefs and transpires in the conversation and the passion that they put in their work. I appreciate hearing also how they are inspired from previous work experiences and the idea that the restaurant team is like a family where if people are happy everything flows better.

Our conversation takes place over the counter where the special menu is served, the floorplan of the restaurant is in front of us. Describing the plans, the conversation flows to the idea of hospitality and what making clients happy really means and how important ingredients are.

Chris, originally from Hawaii, is coming back to the island and is bringing the experience and the ingredients that he has collected in the last few years around United States. His cuisine is Japanese inspired and at Senia he is looking forward to blend local flavors and ingredients with international ones. I asked if the menu includes Italian dishes and ingredients. Chef Chris told me he likes the craft of handmade pasta and would like to include that on the menu.

At work in the kitchen 

At work in the kitchen 

When I asked about dressing and I asked what is the dressing of choice, both chefs agreed that Extra Virgin Olive oil combined with citrus. Chef Chris pointed out that even Japanese cuisine includes many simple dressing of Oil and citrus. From here the reflection on ingredients and what makes the perfect dish and the answer from both is the selection of the pure, fresh ingredients is at the core of a great dish. The craft of the chef brings to life the purest ingredients and allows the flavors to blossom. Once you have a pure and beautiful ingredient the Chef can truly create as an artist. Talking about special ingredients both agree on the idea of including the best of the local ingredients and special fresh ingredients from far-away (such as Italian Truffle) .

When I asked if they alternate at the helm of the kitchen they tell me that they work together. And having created collaboration and friendship in the kitchens when I asked if they might host guests chef, they both agreed that that is something they would be happy to explore.

The concept of Xenia, hospitality & friendship, seems to flow naturally from this land into .

75 N. King Street, Honolulu, HI 96817 (808) 200-5412
tel. +1 (808) 200-5412


Dal Mondo

Reviews, recommendations and trends from the four corners of the planet, signed by all the authors of Identità Golose