José Andrés has a Zaytinya in Frisco, Texas. Fabio and Maria Trabocchi operate a Fiola in Venice, Italy. And now, Eric Ziebold and Célia Laurent are bringing a branch of Kinship, their elegant Shaw restaurant, to a former Ralph Lauren store in a Honolulu shopping center. If that makes you say ‘huh?’ you’re not alone. But to Ziebold, it makes total sense.
For one thing, it brings him closer to his travel obsession: Japan. It didn’t hurt that the company that approached him more than a year ago about the expansion was Japanese (the massive transit outfit called Jatco). He says the negatives—mainly the grueling back-and-forth trips across the country—were outweighed by the inspiration he gets from traveling (the idea for a new nonalcoholic pairing menu at his tasting room, Métier, was triggered by a recent visit to Tokyo). “I was in Japan in January for a few days, and when I came back, everyone was like, ‘You have so much energy,” Ziebold says. And he expects there will be some synergy between the two locations. He’s currently trying to source chu-toro belly in Hawaii that he can use in DC.
His Waikiki Beach restaurant, like the one here, will be divided into two concepts. But instead of the high-end Métier, there will be a casual Kinship Cafe serving breakfast (pain au chocolat, Portuguese egg custard tarts) and lunch (rice bowls, noodle dishes). The dining room’s menu will be split into the same format as the DC location’s roster, with lofty categories like “indulgence,” “craft,” and “history.” A few DC employees both in the kitchen and front-of-the-house have expressed interest in moving west, and pastry chef Anne Specker will consult on desserts. Ziebold is still searching for an executive chef.
“Hawaii is a tourist destination,” Ziebold says. “In DC, our business is 60 percent local; there, it will be 5 percent local.” So the company has encouraged him to think in different ways about things like decor, which at the original Kinship is sophisticated but understated. The new location may be more Insta-friendly: “The Japanese like to take pictures, so there’s going to need to be little more flair. What’s that iconic thing people will want to snap a photo of?”
Ziebold’s menu will use Hawaiian, Polynesian, and Portuguese cookery as a starting point, but he stresses that the restaurant will be Western. And yes, he’s bringing his lobster French toast.
“But instead of Maine lobster, it’ll be Kona lobster.”
The restaurant is slated for March 2020.