Celebrate Valentine's Day at Laniakea YWCA

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Have you made your Valentine's Day plans yet? Whether you want a romantic dinner for two or just a fun night out with friends, Laniakea YWCA is cooking up something special.

Nestled among the hustle of traffic and towering skyscrapers, the dining room at Laniakea YWCA is a hidden gem on the edge of downtown Honolulu.

"No one really thinks about this place being downtown," says food and beverage manager Christopher Gee. "I get a lot of comments about dining in the dining room and how they feel they're not in that whole scene of downtown. They feel relaxed, they feel rejuvenated and recharged coming here."

For Valentine's Day, the chefs have created a special three-course menu for couples who need a romantic escape.

"A lot of people don't have time to get all snazzed up, have a late night cocktail with their significant other, so we thought let's do it down here," Gee says. "You can walk from your office and enjoy what you see around you."

There are two options for each course, like a refreshing winter beet salad with mandarin oranges, mao greens and a plum vinaigrette. "We have a trend in Hawaii and United States of local first, organic and that's the kind of thing we're doing here," Gee says.

Entrees include juicy seared scallops, served on a bed of lemon and spinach risotto and topped with a veal jus chili oil. Finish with an organic dark chocolate panna cotta for two, infused with rose water syrup.

It's a far cry from what the dining room first served when it opened in 1929. "Just a line of women and children coming through the cafeteria every day," Gee says. "If you think of a regular high school cafeteria, picture that, that's what it was before."

The building itself is a historic landmark, designed by renowned architect Julia Morgan. Last year the restaurant was renovated back to its original form, so visitors get a unique taste of history. "The architecture alone, if you look around, has been unchanged for so long," Gee says. "You don't really find in the state anymore."

Proceeds from each meal help fund outreach programs, like Dress for Success. "We have so many other programs here that involve senior citizens, day care centers," Gee says. "What that does is supplement that so we keep those programs running."

Diners can share their love for each other and the community on this Valentine's Day.

A three-course dinner for two costs $95 for YWCA members and $125 for non-members, and an additional $20 for boutique wine with each course. Tax and tip are not included. The first seating will be at 5:45 p.m. Reserve a table with the Laniakea YWCA Hospitality Desk at 695-2625 or visit Laniakea YWCA at 1040 Richards St.


Lobster Bisque, Sweet Corn Relish and Crème Fraiche
Winter Beet Salad with Mandarin Oranges, Feta, Mao Greens and a Plum Vinaigrette


Seared Scallops on Lemon and Spinach Risotto with Veal Jus Chili Oil and Micro Cilantro
Kona Coffee-Rubbed Ribeye with Sweet Potato Mash and Asparagus


Dark Chocolate Panna Cotta with Rose Water Syrup for Two