Going far beyond ‘āina’s beloved brunch.
Irresistible bites like short rib loco moco, chicken katsu and guava-filled malasada donuts easily earned ‘āina lines of eager weekend patrons that wrapped around the block when the Hawaiian eatery opened in April 2016. The dinner menu, however, remained under the radar in a lesser glowing spotlight; garnering solid interest but without the craze of brunch. That is, until now.
Chef/owner and Hawaii native, Jordan Keao, just added a dinner tasting menu that is nothing short of phenomenal. Expect an intricate approach to Hawaiian cuisine with dishes like fresh ahi tuna poke with crispy black rice “rocks,” or pork belly with flavor reminiscent of underground Hawaiian cooking techniques paired with a scoop of hand-pounded poi and a gorgeous, vibrant green raviolo. All in all, you’ll enjoy six marvelous, innovative courses for $60—a steal by San Francisco standards. For now, this tasting menu is only offered at the chef’s counter featuring six coveted seats, available in two nightly seatings booked by reservation. Mark my words, this is about to be one of the must-try spots amongst foodies. Catch a sneak peek of a few of the exciting courses.
A glimpse at the ‘āina tasting menu.
Chef Keao cures Hawaiian kanpuchi fish with konobu seaweed, serving it alongside dollops of ti leaf salata ricotta and crispy pa’iai puffs made from hand pounded taro root. While many associate pineapple as the symbol of Hawaii, Keao stressed that it should really be the taro root—the main foundation of traditional Hawaiian food.
The poke course is both visually stunning and undeniably delicious. Hawaiian ahi tuna emerges from an arced ti leaf alongside perfectly crunchy black rick crisps that resemble lava rocks. The dish is topped off with a sprinkle of sesame seeds and an ocean-like foam made from shoyu.
A beef tendon chicharron creates a crunchy base for crisped arugula, black garlic pureé, and a tender piece of cured wagyu beef that’s been smoked and aged for two weeks.
Midway through your dining experience, expect the welcomed interlude of a tea course with Kohala Farms guayusa tea. After having enjoyed three smaller courses, this marks the turning point for the next two larger plates.
Embracing more of the fresh seafood that Hawaii is known for, expect a course of onega fish flown in from Hawaii, “mid-cooked” to be true to flavor. Other components of the dish include koji mushroom barley, pickled mushrooms, and bright banana leaf roasted baby beets.
The chef prepares the pork belly “kalua” style in an underground oven like those used in lu’au feasts. The tender meat is accompanied by a swash of hand-pounded purple poi, and a giant, vibrantly green “taro” leaf raviolo with an egg yolk filling.
Opt for an additional hamachi supplemental course and you won’t be disappointed.
The tasting menu ($60) has optional wine pairings ($20) and is offered during two seatings per night at 6pm and 8pm, reservations
// ‘āina is open for dinner Wednesday through Sunday from 5:30pm to 10:00pm. The tasting menu ($60) has optional wine pairings ($20) and is offered during two seatings per night at 6pm and 8pm, reservations at resy.com, 900 22nd St. (Dogpatch), ainasf.com