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Snout-to-tail dinner: Who’s in?

An open invite to a Downtown dinner using the whole pig

Posted May 10, 2011 by Mari Taketa

Who wants offal?

This is a legitimate proposition, born of a random question on Twitter that got me wondering why we eat some things and not others, and really why that should be.

The question was where to find good offal dishes in town. That was easy. I was still mentally drooling over my last bowl of chao long heo, or pig intestine jook, at McCully Shopping Center’s Pho 777. Then there was the perfection of my first-ever beef tongue at Jinroku, the always crunch of the fried chicken gizzards at Side Street, the crisp and salt of chicharron, that star anise-simmered beef tendon at that old Chinese place in Kaimuki, and … wait.

Really? In a city as multicultural and tolerant of alternative animal parts as Honolulu, how is it that offal lovers have to traipse across neighborhoods and most known cuisines to satisfy cravings for more than one dish at a time?

Come to think of it, why are we so fixated on a few choice cuts when it comes to pork and beef? Many people, chefs and butchers in particular, prefer tougher, harder-to-sell cuts because they pack more flavor. I don’t think there’s one cheek dish Bourdain(@noreservations) hasn’t gone rolly-eyed over. Zimmern(@andrewzimmern) is practically a connoisseur of testicle preparations. And Michael Symon(@chefsymon), the only ‘Next Iron Chef’ judge who got Ming Tsai’s(@chefmingtsai) reverence for pure pork fat, lists calf heart, beef cheek and crispy bone marrow on the regular menu of his restaurant, Lola.

Yum, right? It’s not that I’m advocating all-out meat consumption. But for those of us who do love meat, and who extend our love to the organs that make up the rest of an animal, why not take it a step further? Why not help the case for locally raised meat? Why not do better justice to the work of livestock farmers and the lives of their animals by appreciating the parts most people don’t want? Why not sit down and make a meal of it?

I called Town(@edstown) restaurant to see if they could help. It seems nearly every event I’ve seen them at lately, they’re serving pork, always brought in whole from Kahaluu or the Big Island and used completely from snout to tail, which takes dedication and skill. Whether in parking lots, the courtyards of the Academy of Arts, the grassy knolls of Ko Olina or at the restaurant, I’ve only ever had dreamy pork from Town.

One other thing: Town does a weekly wine down on Wednesdays, three or four appetizers paired with wines, for 20 people. After my four-hour natto fiasco at Naru, I was looking specifically for a place I knew could pull off a seamless dinner. And I did mention the wine pairings, right? And the price? Twenty-five dollars a head.

Town was down for my pig dinner. But not just using offal. They want to use the whole hog. Offal is nice, they said, people will love it, but you learn so much more when you go snout to tail.

Fine, I said, perfect. But this will be a hard sell, so let me get back to you with a head count, and we’ll take it from there.

That’s why I don’t yet know the price. It will depend on the number coming. I have asked for wine pairings, and I’m hoping for a more-substantial-than-wine-down dinner in the range of $40 a person. That’s also why I don’t know the date, except I’m hoping for later in May. But I do know the location: Downtown, Town’s sister restaurant at the Hawaii State Art Museum on Hotel Street. And I know one more thing: Many people who will eat natto won’t eat offal (I’ve been polling), so I’m putting it out there and hoping enough of you will respond.

That’s my proposition. Open to all who are open to the snout-to-tail experience. So who wants in?


  1. Melissa808
    Posted May 10, 2011 at 5:57 am

    You know I’m in!! But it has to be after I come home from my trip.

  2. mjc_808
    Posted May 10, 2011 at 6:18 am

    Sounds like the kind of special dinners I’ve read about by Incanto’s exec chef Chris Cosentino in San Francisco! Chef Kenney rocks so I know this will be good! Count me in. Aside from sweetbreads that I’m not too fond of, I have no prob with other forms of offal!

  3. Ynaku
    Posted May 10, 2011 at 7:48 am

    Ooh I so want to do this. But can’t :( Please share pics

  4. kyleepuu
    Posted May 10, 2011 at 7:48 am

    After all the fun at natto/durian dinner you know i’m all in on this too! Thanks @nontstopmari for organizing these adventures in eating!

  5. Posted May 10, 2011 at 8:48 am

    Umm, can I film it? I’ll do pork chops…

  6. 808guy
    Posted May 10, 2011 at 9:33 am

    Hi, long time reader, first time contributor. I have longed for an experience like this. I would definitely want to be a part, but I am unavailable until the 6th of June, which may not fit with your timeline, so if not I hope it becomes a recurring theme. Maybe even a butchery class followed by a dinner?

  7. Melissa808
    Posted May 10, 2011 at 9:52 am

    @808guy That would fit my schedule!

  8. SabrinaSutherland
    Posted May 10, 2011 at 10:05 am

    I want in please contact me at

  9. 808marv
    Posted May 10, 2011 at 11:49 am

    Shoots, just let me know when!

  10. nonstopmari
    Posted May 10, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    phew! i was worried i wd wake up this morning and find zero responses, but it looks like we have enough to get the ball rolling.

    i’m hoping for abt 20 to make the whole thing more whole-hog feasible and more cost-feasible, so if any of u know others who wd be down for this experience, pls come ahead and let me know!

  11. nonstopmari
    Posted May 10, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    @808marv k i’ll post updates, but right now looking like late may or early june.

  12. nonstopmari
    Posted May 10, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    @SabrinaSutherland will def contact u. let me get a firmer count and a couple dates lined up…

    btw if u know any like-minded carnivores, ask them if they want in!

  13. nonstopmari
    Posted May 10, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    @Melissa808 @808guy will shoot for late may or early june. i already have an idea for a similar but different dinner, so pls stay tuned!

  14. nonstopmari
    Posted May 10, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    @johngarcia this will make awesome video! can u do more than chops? not sure exactly what will be served, but if u’re open to belly, ears etc u’ll leave a little fuller :D

  15. nonstopmari
    Posted May 10, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    @kyleepuu if natto/durian was fun, it was thnx to u guys. spread the word on the offal dinner, we need more peeps!

  16. nonstopmari
    Posted May 10, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    @Ynaku u know i will.

    p.s. how come u’re always posting from hilo? don’t u ever get to honolulu? we can organize a whole dinner ard ur visit!

  17. nonstopmari
    Posted May 10, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    @mjc_808 thnku for the @offalchris callout. here’s his v clear explanation of what we’re talking abt:

    and i’ll look fwd to meeting u!

  18. nonstopmari
    Posted May 10, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    @Melissa808 u got it.

  19. kyleepuu
    Posted May 10, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    @nonstopmari will do, I know @anotherplate808 is interested and possibly @offmenuhi ,same crew from naru, what’s the best method to rsvp w/ you? fb/twitter/here??

  20. nonstopmari
    Posted May 10, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    @kyleepuu@offmenuhi fantastic! let’s use this site as rsvp central.

  21. nonstopmari
    Posted May 10, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    getting there … have more yesses pending date: @noahtom @cheekeater @CarmaGal @dseohonolulu :D

  22. Posted May 10, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    Hey, all want in!

  23. Posted May 10, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    Hey, I want in!

  24. nonstopmari
    Posted May 10, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    @Cat u’re in!

  25. hnlmark
    Posted May 10, 2011 at 9:35 pm

    @nonstopmari sounds like a great idea and HISAM is a good location. Count me in.

  26. Ynaku
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 6:37 am

    @nonstopmari I live and work there das why :) My Oahu trips are so short, in and out. One day!

  27. Ynaku
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 6:38 am

    @nonstopmari @808marv I definitely can’t make it. Son graduates HS

  28. nonstopmari
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 9:01 am

    welcome @hnlmark! also @graf808 @jrushin @orangelement :D

  29. Posted May 11, 2011 at 10:52 am

    Do we know when it’s happening…?

  30. nonstopmari
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    @Cat just talked to the ppl at downtown today to say #wholehog is on! i shd know some dates and prelim pricing by friday or next week.

  31. Annoddah_Dave
    Posted May 12, 2011 at 5:43 am

    EO: Sorry, for late response but I am interested and possibly my partner depending on date.

  32. nonstopmari
    Posted May 12, 2011 at 9:14 am

    @Annoddah_Dave hi AD, yay! will keep u posted here as details firm up

  33. turkfontaine
    Posted May 12, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    thinking back to my youth, i remember off the menu meat my grandmother on my father’s side used to cook. Virginia farmers, hunters of hooved, feathered and clawed critters, many meals at granddad’s included the sound of spat out buckshot hitting the china on the table.

    i can still hear my grandmother saying; “that’s the best part”

    i remember pig’s feet, cow’s tongue, calf’s brains, deer testicles, chicken gizzards, livers of all of those, whole squirrels, and of course, being southerners; chittlins’ or, as my friend Jason, fellow southerner, US Navy carrier pilot and African American po’ boy said as he passed the bowl to me at ‘soul food’ night in the O club at Atsugi: “chitterlings, old sport?”

    the Mexican butcher’s depts. at Mi Pueblo super markets have a dizzying display of stuff most gringos have never eaten. i love to listen to privileged, judgemental Marin vegan-ersatz-Buddhists go totally un-Buddhist and disrespect a whole culture.

    Then there’s Taiwan; in a class by itself.

    PS – a pig’s snout, dried, shellacked and mounted to a bucolically whittled piece of timber, wood burned with a pithy country witticism makes an attractive desk top pen holder set.

    PSS – i’d gladly come to this dinner if i was in town and could get a date ’cause if she’d eat any of the planned delicacies, i might be able to convince her to do some other unorthodox things. i mean, life is for living, n’est-ce pas?

  34. Posted May 12, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    It’s cool that noreservations andrewzimmern chefsymon chefmingtsai are all mentioned in here, nonstopmari@andrewzimmern’s show about snout-to-tail cuisine in SF and was super inspired! Great stuff.

    Shall we build an actual RSVP list and post it here? Might be a nice way to neatly keep track of those interested?

  35. Vfozzie
    Posted May 12, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    I’m mostly a lurker, but me and my gf are interested in coming! We actually went to Cochon 555 event in Seattle this past February, which all kinds of pig awesome

  36. nonstopmari
    Posted May 12, 2011 at 11:43 pm

    @johngarcia noreservations andrewzimmern chefsymon chefmingtsai a twitter fairy came and tagged all these chefs while i slept. didn’t realize these cd appear in our stories now, but it’s fantastic.

    liking idea of rsvp list. hoping to hear from town/downtown friday or next week, so shd have better idea of date/price then. will keep u posted!

  37. nonstopmari
    Posted May 12, 2011 at 11:45 pm

    @Vfozzie cochon 555 looks unbelievable, wish it wd come to hnl!

    will add u 2 to the #wholehog list :D

  38. nonstopmari
    Posted May 12, 2011 at 11:47 pm

    @johngarcia i missed andrewzimmern ‘s snout-to-tail sf episode; abt when did it air? did see the one from the appalachians or ozarks, where a family carefully killed and butchered a pig, then cooked the whole thing different ways, and then everybody ended up in the river w/ beers. that scrapple looked really good.

  39. Posted May 12, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    @Vfozzie Sweet! Are you from Hawaii or WA?

  40. Posted May 12, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    @nonstopmari andrewzimmern It was probably about four weeks ago. They had an SF foraging event and undeground dinner which was quiteawesome then segmented into the sount-to-tail segment. Super forward and cool. Looking forward to more of this, Mari!

  41. Posted May 13, 2011 at 12:00 am

    @nonstopmari noreservations andrewzimmern chefsymon chefmingtsai Yes! We’ve made a few article improvements in the last few weeks. I’ll post a blog about it soon! Essentially, if you write about anyone on twitter, simply @reply their names in the article and they’ll magically get a mouseover box with the ability to follow the user! Mahalos to johnleblanc and docrock for helping me with it!

  42. Posted May 13, 2011 at 12:02 am

    By the way, Mari — you have full support from the Nonstop Tech crew for full HD video, photos and live twitter coverage of the event. :)

  43. Vfozzie
    Posted May 13, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    @johngarcia @Vfozzie From Hawaii. Just happen to be going to Seattle for a short vacation and found out Cochon was going on. Awesome watching professional butchers compete, great food..unlimited fresh oysters with caviar/wine/cheese/beer…never been so stuffed in my life!

    Looks like an all star Cochon event is happening in Vegas on July 24th!

  44. konaish
    Posted May 15, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    Hi @nonstopmari My apologies, I’ve been MIA from nonstophonolulu for a few days. I love your theme dinners & you can count me in for the snout-to-tail. I wouldn’t miss it! I’m in for the wine pairings, too.

  45. nonstopmari
    Posted May 15, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    @konaish u got it! will keep u posted :D nonstophonolulu

  46. sakeshop
    Posted May 17, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    Mari, add me to the list! (Malcolm) Unfortunately Nadine drew the short straw and will have to watch the shop that night. =)

  47. nonstopmari
    Posted May 19, 2011 at 1:18 am

    @sakeshop hi malcolm, sry for delay in responding. we’re on! just don’t know when yet. here’s details on why not many new details:

About Mari Taketa

Mari Taketa is a dedicated eater who's as opinionated as she is hungry. She covered everything from neighborhood mom-and-pop places to ethnic eateries to fine dining restaurants on Honolulu's dining scene for Metromix Honolulu and The Honolulu Advertiser's TGIF. Before that, she ate her way through Vietnam, Scotland and Japan, where she lived, traveled or worked, after recovering from a journalism career that included stints as editor-in-chief of Hawaii Business magazine and reporter and editor at The Associated Press. Her goals are to always be hungry for more, and to always want to know what's around the next corner.

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