In the forty-seventh episode of Menu Stories, we meet chef/owner Jordan Keao and chef de cuisine Chris Yang of ‘āina, a refined Hawaiian enclave in San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighborhood.
The restaurant was born out of a popular Hawaiian food popup and it has since clearly fulfilled an unmet need, with lines out the door and a constantly packed house. ‘Āina’s bright and sunny space and equally sunny menu have won over just about everyone, especially San Francisco’s discerning brunch crowd.
But there’s more to this restaurant than what meets the morning eye. Keao, who was born and raised in Hawaii, and Yang, who spent his college years there, are fighting a larger battle — to shed light on the history of the Hawaiian people and culture through food. The tale is all too familiar — America arrives to a beautiful tropical island, claiming it for its own, with the culture and stories of the island’s long-time occupants getting washed away. We heard something similar on Menu Stories with Prubechu and the history of Guam and learned that Hawaii’s story isn’t all that different.
Thankfully, we are now able to hear this story about the culture and history of Hawaii, the way Keao and Yang tell it — through delicious, authentic food.
Listen to the episode to hear the full story. Be sure to subscribe to Menu Stories to get more episodes like this one delivered to your inbox.