Earlier this summer, Lanai welcomed a new Szechuan restaurant to the island: Chengdu Taste. Named after the provincial capital of Sichuan, a province in southwest China, Chengdu is known for its dishes that leave your mouth numb, but still filled with flavor. The numbness comes from chilis and Sichuan peppercorns.
Knowing that local palettes may not be accustomed to very spicy food, Chengdu Taste and Hotel Lanai manager Travis Sparks says that the menu offers a good mix of spice levels to choose from, along with traditional Cantonese dishes most people are familiar with such as chow mein.
Crowd-Pleasing Dishes and Drinks
So far, the reception to the food has been positive, with a few dishes in particular that have won the tastebuds of diners. “The toothpick lamb has proven to be popular,” said Sparks. “It’s a little surprising since lamb is not in abundance on Lanai, but this dish is also the most popular at Chengdu’s other locations.” The popcorn chicken is another crowd pleaser, first fried Chinese-style with cornstarch for a light and crispy texture and then tossed in the wok with peppercorns, chilis and cilantro.
The Chengdu menu also features new creative cocktails that complement the Szechuan cuisine. The Lanai Green Tea Cocktail is mixologist Jacob Baltero’s take on a popular local shot. He also created the Chengdu Sling, inspired by the Singapore Sling, and enhanced with Chinese aromatics like cinnamon and infused with local flavors of passion fruit and pineapple.
New Food and Kitchen, Same Welcoming Vibe
Along with learning a completely new food and bar menu, the restaurant team worked hard and fast to transform the previous Lanai City Bar & Grille kitchen from a traditional cooking line with stoves and grills to a wok line. Despite the changes, one aspect of the restaurant the team made sure to keep the same was the welcoming vibe that customers have come to know and love. “People truly enjoyed coming here, being recognized, being with friends, listening to music,” said Sparks. “This space has always been the place for celebrations, birthdays, anniversaries. It’s just that kind of spot and we didn’t want to lose that vibe.”
Dinner hours are Wednesdays through Sundays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Please call (808) 563-9036 for reservations. Visit chengdutastelanai.com to learn more.