A Dish That Takes a Journey Through Hawaii’s History

One of the standout dishes on the Arden Waikiki menu is the Maui Venison Tartare. This exquisite creation combines flavors, textures, and ingredients in the most harmonious way possible. Here we delve into the intricacies of this dish and unveil the fascinating stories behind its components. 

The first intriguing element of this tantalizing dish is the venison itself. A pleasant surprise for many, the availability of venison in Hawaii is a testament to the efforts put forth by an organization dedicated to preserving the delicate ecosystem of the islands.

The Axis deer are invasive to Hawaii. As the story goes, In 1867, the trading company Jardine Matheson allegedly brought seven of the spotted deer from India to Molokai at King Kamehameha V’s request. With no natural predators or seasonal changes, the deer population steadily grew. They became a source of nourishment and hunting traditions across Hawaii. In September 1959, the archipelago’s Territorial Legislature released two bucks and three doe into Maui’s Puu O Kali forest in order to encourage recreational hunting. Today, an estimated 60,000 deer live on Maui alone. Left unmanaged, the population will reach 200,000 in the next two decades at a 30 percent annual increase. 

Luckily, our friends at Maui Nui Venison are trying to manage the issue. The company hunts, processes, and commercially sells the deer with the goal to both maintain them as a food source and manage their population in order to protect the rare and vital ecosystems unique to Hawaii. 

Accompanying the venison tartare is the intriguingly named Pillow Toast. This Japanese-inspired delicacy adds a touch of elegance and novelty to the dish. The term “Pillow Toast” refers to a unique presentation style where the toast is sliced into small, pillow-shaped pieces, creating a visually appealing and texturally interesting element. 

Another local ingredient that adds depth and flavor to the Maui Venison Tartare is the okra. Chef Makoto was pleasantly surprised to find this versatile vegetable available in Hawaii, and he sourced it from Kahumana Farms, known for their commitment to sustainable farming practices. 

The inclusion of okra not only adds a delightful crunch to the dish but also pays homage to the rich agricultural traditions of the island. By supporting local farms, Arden Waikiki ensures that our dishes are not only delicious but also contribute to the local economy and promote sustainability. 

Through dishes like the Maui Venison Tartare, Chefs Makoto and Amanda showcase their ingenuity in combining unique flavors, local ingredients and cultural influences to create a dining experience that is educational and memorable.