Living the “Hy” Life

By Alana Folen | Photos by Rachel Breit

In times of uncertainty, especially in this day and age, society gravitates to familiarity, something that exemplifies a trace of “the good life.” So, just what breeds comfort and continuity with a touch of magnetic appeal and charm? Hy’s Steak House, of course. Situated within Waikiki Park Heights Hotel, guests are greeted by managers and staff in suits, and it isn’t long before you’re whisked away to your anointed table in the grand dining room, which resembles that of a European men’s club, or to the upstairs dining area also known as the Art Deco Green Room.

“Hy’s is very unique,” says general manager Bob Panter. The restaurant first opened in Calgary, Canada, in the 1960s, and then the Hawaii location opened in 1976. “A lot of the carvings and archways you see in our restaurant come from the Baldwin Estate in Philadelphia, and Dutch and English artwork hang from the walls.”Peruse the menu, and spectacular cuts of filet spectacular cuts of filet mignon, New York and ribeye catch the eye, and a slew of sides, appetizers, soups and salads make for an eclectic and vivacious dining experience. Show stealers, though, are the handful of filet mignon variations.

Garlic Steak Steak Oscar
Garlic Steak ($44.95) Steak Oscar ($69.95)

Garlic Steak ($44.95) is a beautiful piece of dry-aged USDA Prime-grade, 7-ounce filet mignon broiled over native Hawaiian kiawe wood. It arrives topped with Hamakua shimeji mushrooms, drizzled with a demi-glaze, beefed up with roasted garlic and then finished off with garlic chips.

Steak Oscar ($69.95) is a mouth-watering rendition of the classic Oscar, in which a succulent filet is served glazed in meat drippings on a bed of steamed spinach. Yet, it’s the 3 ounces of Alaskan king crab meat sauteed with cloves of garlic, shallots, white wine, butter, salt and pepper that sits atop the morsel of meat that is truly captivating. For the surf-and-turf enthusiast, this off-the-menu creation is a good bet.

Finally, Filet Au Poivre ($46.95, off the menu) is presented in all its glory with its nicely charred exterior and medium-rare interior. The meat is kneaded with cracked black pepper-corns, kiawe broiled and doused with a savory sauce composed of butter, shallots, a dash of white wine and whipping cream infused with a peppercorn medley.

Filet Au Poivre Lobster Salad
Filet Au Poivre ($46.95) Caroline’s Lobster Salad ($45.95)

All entrees are served with vegetables du jour and choice of baked potato, garlic mashed potatoes, potatoes O’Brien, steak fries or white/brown rice. “The filets here have always been so tender, that’s why we want to play it up and offer different options,” Panter explains. “We switched from choice to prime beef quite a few years ago, which kind of forced us to change the menu format. Also, back in the late ’70s, when we first opened, the steaks were served on cutting boards. Now, we’ve switched to china.”

Executive chef Erwin Manzano is the man behind the magic — with more than 20 years of experience in the restaurant industry, he has built a longstanding relationship with Hy’s and has come full circle in his career. “I began working as a dishwasher at Hy’s back in 1988 and worked my way up the ladder. After 15 years (at Hy’s), I moved to Pacific Beach Hotel, where I stayed for 13 years, and now I’m happy to be back at Hy’s,” Manzano says.

“Chef Erwin has a very good work ethic and he’s a great leader. He’s been creative with a lot of our signature steaks, and because of that we’re able to feature many specials,” Panter adds. Most recently, Hy’s debuted its monthly set menus. Priced at $49.95 per person, these prix-fixe menus are available Monday through Thursday and provide a slew of enticing options.

Chef Erwin Manzano Chef Erwin Manzano
Chef Erwin Manzano on the grill Chef Erwin Manzano

This month’s menu features a first course with a choice of Arugula Salad with Prosciutto and Parmesan Cheese or Soup du Jour; then select from an entree course of Filet Mignon with Bordelaise Sauce and Truffle Compound Butter or Lobster Thermidor; and for dessert delve into Molten Chocolate Cake, Haagen-Dazs Vanilla Ice Cream or Haagen-Dazs Mango Sorbet. This menu cannot be combined with other specials or promotions.

“This past Mother’s Day, our chefs also served Caroline’s Lobster Salad ($45.95), which features lobster claws and lobster tail medallions paired with fresh ‘Nalo greens, endive lettuce, shaved hearts of palm, avocado slices and blood orange segments with a tarragon vinaigrette,” Panter states, noting that the positive response from guests resulted in its continued offering.

While palates are treated like royalty with five-star fare, musicians Audi Kimura and Wendell Au add to the premier Hy’s experience with weekly entertainment. Kimura performs Wednesday through Saturday from 6:30 to 10 p.m. and Au takes the stage Sundays from 5:30 to 9 p.m.

These days, as restaurants seem to come and go quicker than ever, there must be something special about this award-winning establishment that has flourished for more than a quarter of a century.

“Reservations are highly recommended,” Panter says. Life is good at Hy’s Steak House.


Hy’s Steak House
Waikiki Park Heights Hotel
2440 Kuhio Ave., Honolulu
Mon-Fri 5:30-9:45p
Sat-Sun 5-9:45p

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