In case you have missed out on the new Hawaiian look at Duke’s, it is outstanding. The relaxing Hawaiian setting is so inviting that you can’t wait to look at the menu—if you can tear yourself away from gazing out the windows at the ocean.
The ocean view is most compelling at any hour. For us, it was at lunchtime and we enjoyed sampling from the menu of Hawaiian starters, salads, fascinating fish dishes and Mainlander items such as Duke’s classic burger.
My friend Carl and I decided to share a Lilikoi ceviche starter, which turned out to be great. Served with a small bag of tortilla chips to dip into the ceviche of small bits of red onion, garlic, cilantro, avocado, tomato and jalapeño pepper along with bits of fresh fish in a lime/lemon juice, this was an enticing beginning to our lunch.
There were many other offerings from which to select, such as crispy coconut shrimp, blackened sashimi, Korean sticky ribs, fresh fish chowder and Maui onion soup. Starter prices vary from $8 to $12 for the ceviche, $15 for the poke tacos, and $17 for the crab cake.
The Swimmers menu caught my eye with everything from fish tacos ($14) and a fish sandwich to fish and chips ($15). Even more compelling, however, were the roasted Duke’s fish ($17), and for me, the sauteed MacNut and herb- crusted mahi mahi ($18). The fresh fish, crisply coated with a dusting of parmesan and panko breadcrumbs, was excellent.
With it came delectable lemon butter with capers, jasmine rice and a bok-choy macadamia slaw. This Asian coleslaw with sliced macadamia nuts and chopped cabbage along with Napa/Chinese bok choy is fragrant with herbs, basil, lemon grass and cilantro, making it a delicious side to the mahi mahi. Furthermore, this dish was perfectly portioned for lunchtime.
Carl also very much enjoyed the delectable roasted swordfish with its basil lemon glaze, jasmine rice and coleslaw (which he substituted for the macaroni salad). Here, they do an excellent job with fresh fish.
Of course, if you wish meat there are the burgers, including a mango BBQ burger ($15), Korean steak street tacos made with Kalbi marinated steak ($16), a Kalua pork sandwich ($13.50), roasted turkey and Brie sandwich ($14.50) and, a local favorite from the streets of Waikiki, a ribs and chicken plate ($17).
In addition, there are salads such as kale and grapefruit with candied macadamia nuts ($9), a Caesar salad ($7.50) and a chilled shrimp and crab salad ($19).
Naturally, no matter at what hour, I have to sample a dessert. Here, the prime one is Kimo’s Original Hula Pie ($11).
What a treat (and far too much for me)! This large slice of pie with a chocolate cookie crust, macadamia nut ice cream, hot fudge and roasted macadamia nuts with whipped cream makes a succulent and delicious spoonful of dessert.
There are other dessert choices, including Key Lime Pie ($9), Malasadas (made of Hawaii’s favorite Portuguese pastry tossed in sugar, cinnamon and guava) and McConnell’s sweet-cream ice cream ($8).
Hours vary during different seasons, so it’s a good idea to call and ask. They usually open for lunch at 11:30 a.m. weekdays and Saturdays. Sunday Brunch starts at 10 a.m. and the kitchen usually closes at 9 p.m. Valet parking is $6.