2020 Hale ‘Aina Award Winner: Rigo Named Best New Restaurant in Hawai‘i


Photo: Olivier Koning



“This place was dark, it looked kind of sad,” says Atsushi Iwasa, general manager at Rigo. “We felt we should make something in here. Make this place more happy.” The space on Kapahulu Avenue had been boarded up and desolate for about a year after Genki Sushi departed in 2017. Rigo filled it with light and luxury, punching out walls and letting sunlight stream in through floor-to-ceiling windows, building chartreuse leather banquettes along the glass and tucking turquoise onyx tabletops into cozy corners. The opulence extends into the kitchen, with the flashy red-mosaic tiled Stefano Ferrara oven—handmade by a third-generation oven maker in Naples, Italy—and the decidedly more understated, but just as expensive, Josper charcoal oven and grill from Spain, likely the only one in the state. With it, Rigo’s chef, Masa Yoda, pairs different smoking chips with different proteins, such as the bold flavor of

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In the Finale, the Winner Proved Fusion Cooking Isn’t Just Some Lame ’80s Fad

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This season we’re recapping every episode of Top Chef All Stars Los Angeles. You can check out who had to pack their knives and go last week.

In a season honoring Los Angeles, one LA legend was noticeably absent: Wolfgang Puck. Sure, snooty New Yorkers may like to make sport of disrespecting the chef to the stars who became a star himself. But he’s much more important to late 20th century American dining than his east coast critics give him credit for. In the 1980s at his hit restaurant Spago, and especially at Chinois on Main, Puck helped usher in era of fusion cuisine by merging Asian and European traditions. Perhaps some of the dismissal of Puck is simply a residual hatred of what that trend devolved into: sushi tacos at Guy Fieri’s Tex Wasabi’s.

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