Taking Sandwiches To A ‘HI’ Level
By Nicole Kato
Sandwiches are the highlight at the soon-to-be opened HI-Craft Kitchen, and while most people think of the meal as your standard bread, lettuce, tomato, deli meat, mustard and mayo, this new Kakaako establishment and its stellar menu proves that it’s not your average sandwich shop.
At the helm is chef Carlos Jorge, known for his stints at notable joints like Japanese izakaya Zuma in New York and a number of Starwood Hotels & Resorts. He’s spent the better part of two decades opening mega restaurants and resort eateries around the world, but HICraft Kitchen isn’t like anything he’s done before — though patrons can expect that same attention to detail and distinguished artistry Jorge is known for.
“I decided I was going to come back and do something of a smaller nature, smaller scale,” he said. “But one that just serves great food that people can get behind. We want to take a sandwich to a higher level.”
Expect quality ingredients of the freshest variety from local farms around the state. Jorge has plans to source his chicken from a farm on the North Shore, pork from 2 Lady Farmers and various other cuts from a ranch on Kauai.
Local ingredients are put on full display with HICraft Kitchen’s three dedicated and segregated slicing stations. Nothing is ever pre-sliced, ensuring each cut is fresh.
“Each slicing station will contribute one particular component of the sandwich,” Jorge explained, likening it to a full-service restaurant where cooks each have a hand in putting together a meal on the hot line. The process is a step-by-step endeavor that highlights the technique of each person involved. It’s mastery at its finest, and it’s why the name HICraft was no accident.”We have taken some painstaking efforts to ensure we named it that,” Jorge explained.
While the focus is on the food and crafting a high-quality sandwich from scratch, there’s also a big nod to reusing and recycling within the restaurant’s interior. Floorboards from the old Waialae Bowl have been repurposed into booth seating, and monkey pod wood from Waianae now serves as tabletops. It’s this sense of reusing and newness from the old that’s the heart behind HICraft Kitchen, and it’s that same mentality that Jorge likens to the restaurant’s home in Kakaako, as well.
“It’s reminiscent of places that were once downtrodden, a little less than desirable,” he recalled. “But all of a sudden, they experienced this gentrification, this resurgence, this renaissance, and now they’re these hubs of creativity and collaborative thinking.”
In addition to the rotating sandwich menu — expected to be a favorite is the braised short rib — HICraft Kitchen will feature signature salads and soups (like Jorge’s Thai-style Chicken Soup), as well as baked goods like brownies, cookies and blondies. All recipes are from Jorge’s own imagination, which is good news for those who walk through the door, as well as those who choose to join the HI-Craft Kitchen team.
Experience, he said, is preferable but not a requirement for applicants. Instead, Jorge is looking for workers who exude a passion for food and culinary craftsmanship. It’s a chance for up-and-coming chefs — or just those who love food — to work under the tutelage of one of the best. “If someone has the right attitude, the right passion, and shows desire, drive and energy, then they’d be a great fit for this space,” Jorge added.
One thing that is required, though, is that applicants have their own knives.
“If you’re a carpenter and you go to a job site without at the very least a hammer and a tape measure, what sort of carpenter are you really,” Jorge mused. “These are the tools by which you earn your income.”
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COMPANY: HICraft Kitchen
LOCATION: 516 Keawe St., Ste. D, Kakaako
OWNER: Carlos Jorge
BENEFITS: Medical, dental and vision
NOTEWORTHY: Chef/owner Carlos Jorge has more than 20 years experience in kitchens from London to Kauai, where he was opening executive chef for St. Regis Princeville Resort a decade ago.
ANTHONY CONSILLIO PHOTOS