Senia Part I: Love at first bite

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Crisp poke-topped nori crackers ($3 each).

Diners have so many options these days that for restaurateurs, keeping up can be a matter of diversifying. Within a single restaurant, there can be two or three ideas at play, which also keeps things interesting for chefs who need to put out something consistent, while feeding their own creativity.

Senia recently opened its doors with an a la carte menu of about 20 items by chefs Chris Kajioka (Aziza, Per Se, Vintage Cave) and British chef Anthony Rush (Per Se, French Laundry, Fera at Claridge’s) in the main dining room, plus a Chef’s Counter tasting menu offering multiple small bites. (More on that in the next post.)

The menu starts with snacks and mostly moderately priced dishes, with a handful of pricier share plates ideal for parties of four.

Here’s a look at some of the dishes on the opening menu:

TOP 3

Charred cabbage ($12) with shio kombu, and green goddess and buttermilk dressings.


Glazed pork belly ($60 for three to four) was pure heaven, with melty fat, and not overly sweet. Served with flour tortillas for wrapping, with pickled vegetables, beet “char siu,” harissa sauce and Manoa lettuce.

“Pastrami-style” beef shortrib ($110 for four to five). Incredible, and so rich that with other small bites, a couple of pieces is plenty.

MORE DISHES


Chicken liver mousse ($7) topped with droplets of honey vinegar and served with four mini “Everything Spice” financiers. Extra financiers are $3 per order.

Bubble and squeak croquettes ($6) were reminiscent of arancini, rooted in the British tradition of frying up leftover vegetables. Served with a smoked egg mousse.
BBQ beet salad ($12) with avocado, seeds and grains. In the background is a foie gras terrine. Also shown below.

Bone marrow custard with beef cheek marmalade and Hawaiian sweet bread ($22).

Campagnelle ($19) with wild boar ragu and rosemary bread crumbs.

Tako a la plancha ($18) with the Middle Eastern herb blend zaatar, served with charred eggplant.

A perfectly grilled maitake mushroom ($7).

King salmon ($19) served with cauliflower florettes, dates, a touch of lemon and chopped almonds. It was decent, but not a standout.

Mushroom and kale lasagna ($21) had an inexplicably sour flavor.

The Chung Chow, a Pimm’s Cup with fruit, vegetable and herb ices.

Chocolate Mousse Pie ($12), with salted caramel and popcorn ice cream.

Yuzu cake with black goma “flowers.”

Orange “Creamsicle” dessert. Very refreshing.