Eating House 1849 opens at Kukuiula

After a month of delays, the anticipation is over — Eating House 1849 is open at The Shops at Kukuiula.

Although officially opened on Monday, the staff put together a preview party for residents of the Kukuiula Development Association last Friday. Around 60 guests were treated to the latest creation from Master Chef Roy Yamaguchi, who opened his third, and only remaining Kauai restaurant, in what he calls the evolution of the Roy’s brand.

“I am proud to be here and intend to be here for a long time,” said Yamaguchi, who had planned to eventually come to the Shops at Kukuiula when he was opening Roy’s back in 1994. “We are so very, very happy to be here. I would never have this restaurant start anywhere else.”

Peter Fernandez opened Hawaii’s first restaurant in 1849 called the Eating House. It was the first known free-standing restaurant on Oahu. It was likely a sustainable place that used local foods, and blended his Portuguese background with the Spanish, Filipino and other ethnic flavors that all influenced each other, Yamaguchi said. 

Eating House is the evolution of Hawaii’s tapestry of ethnic foods with a bit of Roy’s excitement. Yamaguchi said the concept blends 27 years of Roy’s innovation and it will be on par with great restaurants of the world. It’s a homage to Fernandez and a vision of what he might have done with the space today.

“This is like another concept that is going to be Roy’s with muscle behind it,” he said.

Pupus range from $9 to $16 for Portuguese rissoles, steamed clam cataplana; bean soup with kale; or Filipino pork and tofu lumpia. Main entrees range from $13 for Kailani kale salad, to $38 for open-fired grilled ribeye.

There is also the 1849 roast pork ramen bowl; Canton style-vegetable noodles; and Kamameshi hot pot rice bowl. Feature items include garlic Kekaha shrimp piri piri; crispy whole tai snapper; Hapa burger with Makaweli beef and Kulana wild boar patty; honey mustard beef short ribs; and corned beed Reuben.

The decor offers a plantation style with a distinct a modern twist.

It features an ornate ceiling fan to dropping lights on pulleys, cowbells at the bar, and a warm, wooden interior to include a full bar. A state of the art kitchen is viewable through glass, and folding windows open for an hilltop view of South Shore sunsets.

“We didn’t really want the restaurant to look modern,” said Yamaguchi, whose grandparents were plantation workers on Maui.

The designer is Honolulu architect Brian Fujiwara. Kekaha contractor Joe Koetje did the building. They developed a dining hall and kitchen in one large open room.

“It’s kind of an older feel, which, to me, gives warmth,” Yamaguchi said. “I didn’t want this restaurant to look like you could have been sitting in a restaurant in Los Angeles, but for people who live here or are visiting that they will feel at home.”

Eating House General Manager Natural-Lee Garcia said the location, the ambiance, and the new concept all come together.

“It is all combed in the easy ambiance and simple flavors of the plantation era, with the dynamic modernity of haute cuisine, and the best fresh farm ingredients found on the island,” Garcia said. 

Executive Chef Krizpin Oades has been with Yamaguchi for 15 years. The Oahu native attended the same Culinary Institute of America as Yamaguchi and after working for Nobu in New York, went on to work as a corporate chef trainer at Roy’s in California and Hawaii in 2000. He took over as executive chef for Roy’s Poipu last year and began collaborating with Yamaguchi in the Eating House 1849 project.

“I feel very blessed to have this opportunity,” Oades said.

The dishes will be presented in casual, rustic and cultural ways. Food will be served in the same types of cast iron pots and pans, casserole dishes and even Kerr jars.

“The presentation and the food mindset is about how it was back then but in an elegant way,” Oades said. “We are serving it family style, like a gathering where everyone shares.”

The Shops at Kukuiula is at 2829 Ala Kalanikaumaka Road, Koloa. Info: 742-5000.

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