Customers come for final taste at TASTE

It’s a business that helped give up-and-coming chefs their start, and a venue where chefs could hold pop-up dinners.

More recently, it was known as the place that served the Ramen Burger.

But Friday night, TASTE on Auahi Street in Kakaako closed its doors for the final time.

TASTE opened in September 2012, in the middle of the food truck craze.

The co-owners say it was never meant to be a permanent thing, more like a project, and a place where chefs could collaborate and think outside the box.

It’s not fancy, but the customers didn’t come to TASTE for fancy.

They came for good quality and fresh food, creatively prepared, at a reasonable price.

“We’re sad that this is one chapter that’s ending but I know there’s a lot more to come,” said Suzanne Uratani of Makiki, a TASTE regular.

TASTE has certainly left a mark on the island food scene.

A food venue of the times using and relying on the web and social media to get the word out about who’s moving in and serving up what.

“We were really just a venue, a vessel for creativity,” said Amanda Noguchi, Co-Owner of TASTE.

The owners wanted to end on a high note.  They sure did that this month with the Ramen Burger event, with people waiting as long as four hours in line.

“I mean never have I had my dentist and people that are 75 to 10 years old asked me about the Ramen Burger,” Noguchi said.

TASTE took the concept of a pop-up restaurant, and expanded on it, creating a permanent pop-up venue.

“Nobody else in Hawaii really did something this in-depth,” said Mark Noguchi, Co-Owner and Chef of TASTE.

“I would say we’ve had about 50 different vendors, chefs, pop-ups at TASTE, and I want to say there’s like six to seven that have actually opened up or have gone to a permanent space,” said Adam Lock, General Manager of TASTE.

Mexican Restaurant Cocina is one of them.  It’s now located around the corner from TASTE, on Keawe Street, and at events like Eat the Street.

“TASTE gave me the opportunity to try out this new venture so I say without them I wouldn’t be here right now standing in this food truck,” said Quinten Frye, Cocina Owner.

Cocina will soon come full circle, taking over the space on Auahi Street once TASTE moves out.

“So it’ll be nice,” Frye said.

So, one door opens as this door closes.

“It’s been a great ride and just being part of something so innovative has been a great great run,” Lock said.

RELATED STORY: Ramen burger creators return to Honolulu

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