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The Dish: Duke’s Asian-inspired dish a big hit

Pictured are the steamed pork buns from Duke’s Malibu. Photos by Chris Bashaw/22nd Century Media
Pictured is the island-grilled fish from Duke’s Malibu.
Pictured is the farm salad at Duke's Malibu.
Heather Warthen, Manging Editor
2:33 pm PDT July 28, 2014

Known for its fresh seafood and picturesque views along Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, Duke’s Malibu is a must for both locals and tourists alike. 

Duke’s is one of the T S Restaurants group’s 13 restaurants located throughout Hawaii and California and named for United States Olympic medal-winning swimmer Duke Paoa Kahanamoku. The restaurant itself gives off a warm tropical vibe in both views and atmosphere. Large windows throughout the dining rooms offer panoramic ocean views of the Pacific which helps set the tone for an aloha-style meal with a menu highlighting fresh fish and seafood, steaks and local favorite dishes. 

For the past year, one dish seems to keep finding its way back on to the menu that offers Asian influences.  Steamed pork buns – Korean-marinated pork belly nestled inside a steamed rice bun and served with pickled vegetables, hoisin, cilantro and sriracha – for $9.75 is one dish Malibuites can’t get enough of.

“Its been on the menu in one shape or form for the past year,” said Eric BosRau, executive chef at Duke’s Malibu. “I think the combination of spice, pickled vegetables and pork belly, which is very moist and basically bacon, is what people like.”

The trio of sandwiches, with tender pieces of pork belly tucked inside the steamed bun and paired with the slaw-inspired vegetables, can be dipped into the California hot sauce, which is not made for those who cannot stand a little bit of heat. Dipped into the sauce, the sandwich packs a memorable bite of savory, spicy and sweet.

Also new to the menu is the farm salad which has slices of fresh grapefruit and avocado atop a bed of butter lettuce and kale. Candied macadamia nuts and a ginger vinaigrette finish off the refreshing salad for $9. 

“It’s fresh and coastal with bright flavors, perfect for summer,” BosRau said.

Another dish not to miss is Duke’s island-style grilled fish. Using one of the daily fresh whitefish – mahi, sea bass, halibut, opah or monchong – the fish is marinated in citrus flavors of orange, lemon and lime with agave syrup before it is grilled. It’s then paired with a tropical relish of pineapple guava, mint, cilantro, tomatoes and onions and served with sides of jasmine rice and baby bok choy stir-fry. The dish ranges from $15-$17 during lunch and $26-$30 for dinner.

“The dish really brings out the flavors of the citrus marinade and the guava pineapple relish helps round out the sweetness to balance the tart and sour citrus,” BosRau said. “The stir-fry pulls it all together.”

Summer months are busy for Duke’s “The view, the food and atmosphere are fun and the price point is reasonable for Malibu,” BosRau said. “We also have the real Gidget here.”

Kathy Kohner Zuckerman, the woman who was the inspiration for the “Gidget” novel, movie and TV series, can be found at the restaurant on Tuesday evenings and Sundays during brunch.

“Duke’s is also an integral part of the community,” BosRau said, adding that Duke’s is currently hosting Big Wednesdays, which offers proceeds to local non-profits around Malibu. They also sponsor several surfing events.

Other dishes not to miss...

• Farm salad ($9) – A new addition to the menu, a mix of kale and butter lettuce is topped with sections of grapefruit, chunks of fresh avocado, candied macadamia nuts and dressed in a ginger vinaigrette. For an additional charge, chicken, fish or shrimp can be added.

• Island-style grilled fish (market price) – A cut of fresh fish (mahi, sea bass, halibut, opah or monchong) is charbroiled with tropical fruit salsa featuring pineapple, guava, tomatoes , onions, cilantro and mint, and accompanied with jasmine rice and bok choy Asian slaw. Price ranges from $15-$17 for lunch and $26-$30 for dinner.