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Ulu Ocean Grill & Sushi Lounge at Four Seasons Resort Hualalai

June 7, 2019, 10:21 AM HST (Updated June 8, 2019, 8:26 AM)
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Ulu Ocean Grill and Sushi Lounge Chef-Thomas-Bellec. PC: City Sullivan

Magical only begins to describe the oceanfront setting of Ulu Ocean Grill and Sushi Lounge at Four Seasons Resort Hualalai. For gastrophiles near and far, Ulu is arguably one of the best restaurants on the island to experience high-quality dining. With excellent food and impeccable service in a breathtaking setting, it’s the perfect spot to celebrate a special occasion.

Four Seasons Executive Chef Thomas Bellec, who grew up in Brittany, France, is celebrating his 20th year of sharing his culinary skills at Four Seasons properties.

“I started cooking when I was 14 years old,” said Chef Bellec. “I received all my schooling back home in France. After I earned my master’s degree in Culinary Art and Hotel Management, I began working in a mission-style restaurant back home in Brittany during the summers. In the winter season, I worked in the Relais & Chateaux in Courchevel, France, at the Hotel des Neiges and in Parry Sound, Canada, at the Inn at Manitou.”

Braised Paniolo Short Ribs at Ulu Ocean Grill and Sushi Lounge. PC: City Sullivan

While in Canada, Bellec began working for Four Seasons, and as of today has worked for seven Four Seasons’ properties. Today, Chef Bellec oversees all eight restaurants at Four Seasons Resort Hualalai and operates Ulu Ocean Grill and Sushi Lounge with Chef de Cuisine Chad Yamamoto.

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Creative and delicious, the majority of their fish and produce is locally sourced from farmers and fishermen. One of the stand out dishes is Chef Yamamoto’s version of Loco Moco—a local favorite. His rendition of this Hawaiian classic is make with sushi rice, ahi tartare, a quail egg, a squid ink crisp and an unforgettable kabayaki gravy.

Hualalai oysters with finger lime at Ulu Ocean Grill and Sushi Lounge. PC: City Sullivan

Chef Bellec feels it is important to keep the menu fresh, which also allows him to be adventurous and innovative with his dishes. He pulls his inspiration from the natural beauty of the world around him.

“Seeing the beautiful flowers here on the island, or a picture in a magazine—one color, one photo, one beautiful piece of produce from the farmer’s market in Waimea and Hilo, will spark something in me and then I will go from there,” he said.

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Born and raised by the ocean in France, Bellec loves preparing and eating seafood of all kinds.

“Growing up in Brittany, I knew how to eat a crab and shrimp before I could even walk,” he said. “I love seafood. My comfort food is chocolate chip cookies.”

Hualalai Shrimp Dumplings at Ulu Ocean Grill and Sushi Lounge. PC: City Sullivan

In addition to the outstanding Ahi Loco Moco, other standout dishes include the Hualalai Shrimp Dumplings served with whipped celery root, charred scallion and green garlic. The shrimp is grown on-site at Four Seasons, as well as their oysters, which are served with finger lime that pops in your mouth like a burst of tangy caviar. The Braised Paniolo Short Ribs are melt-in-your-mouth delicious, made with green apple puree, caramelized Hamakua mushrooms and pickled mustard seeds.

Yuzu Parfait created in white chocolate with crispy lilikoi meringues, yuzu pineapple and sake gelee at Ulu Ocean Grill and Sushi Lounge. PC: City Sullivan

Of course, no meal is complete without a decadent dessert. Executive Pastry Chef Kalani Garcia creates a one-of-a-kind Yuzu Parfait created in white chocolate with crispy lilikoi meringues, yuzu pineapple and sake gelee.

Four Seasons Resort Hualalai is located at 72-100 Ka‘upulehu Drive.

For more information about Ulu Ocean Grill and Sushi Lounge, or their special dinner events, visit www.fourseasons.com/hualalai.

Karen Rose
Karen Rose is a writer and journalist living on the Big Island of Hawai‘i. Her writing focuses on food, wine, travel, arts and entertainment. She never met a food she didn't like—except black licorice.
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