Deck’s new seafood-forward menu is worth a trip into Waikiki

A hidden oasis on the third floor of the renovated Queen Kapiolani HotelDeck looks like it came right out of a gorgeous brunch ad. Across the street from the Honolulu Zoo with an unobstructed view of Diamond Head, it’s been on my radar as an option for pau hana or a girls’ night out — but not a must.

That is, until a recent media event when Deck introduced a new dinner menu by its new chef. The dishes stayed on my brain for days — and pushed this spot onto my must-go list.

Here’s what’s new. Executive sous chef Masatsugu “Masa” Kubo, who trained in Italy and Japan, updated the poolside restaurant’s menus last month. About half of the dinner menu is new, with dishes like wagyu carpaccio drizzled with parmesan and lemon oil ($18), oven-baked whole branzino wrapped in a ti leaf ($35) and slow-roasted vegetables ($15). There are noticeably more seafood dishes, like an oven-baked whole lobster with uni miso mayo sauce ($38) and grilled king salmon with cherry tomato and caper sauce ($26). Best-sellers like the signature Kobe beef cheeseburger ($19) are still there with slight tweaks. Other subtle changes: Shoestring fries have replaced thick-cut fries, most of the side dishes are new, and the rotating selection of flatbreads have new flavors.

Here are highlights from the new dinner menu:

These mini tacos are adorable. Each daikon radish shell is stuffed with fresh salmon, avocado, cilantro and tomato. A holdover from the lunch menu that’s now on the dinner menu, this is worth getting.

The richness of the thinly sliced beef with cheese, mushrooms and lemony olive oil almost makes me forget that I’m eating a salad. The meat-to-greens ratio is pretty even, and this dish is gorgeous and tasty at the same time.

This octopus is easily one of the best dishes on the new menu. I’ve never eaten an octopus so tender or one that cuts so easily, and the glorious herb marinade produces tons of flavor.

A must-have entree for any seafood lover, these scallops are ultra tender and seared to perfection. The buttery corn reminds me of a more elegant approach to corn on the cob and the flavor of basil oil is pronounced. Next to the octopus, they’re my fave new dish.

If you have to choose one side dish to share, go for these caramelized brussels sprouts ($9). They’re tender without being mushy or overcooked, and the spicy teriyaki glaze has the perfect balance of sweet and spicy and a nice, sticky texture.

This meaty entree features a Snake River Farm certified Angus ribeye steak served with Japanese barbecue sauce, scallion chimichurri and Hawaiian salt. The ultra savory chimichurri is similar to a pesto, while the Japanese barbecue sauce packs a huge savory-sweet flavor punch. Use it sparingly; the steak only needs a small dollop of it.

Besides the new dinner menu, Deck also started a $40 three-course prix fixe menu with choice of Caesar salad or ceviche mini tacos appetizer, grilled king salmon or grilled marinated spicy Berkshire pork ribs for the main (grilled Snake River Farm Angus ribeye steak is an upcharge) and the dessert of the day.

Be warned, though, that the hotel does not offer free validated parking, though valet parking is available, and public parking in the zoo lot is across the street.