A vacation to Hawaii can revitalize the soul. Little did Melissa Gray know that it would change her life. Melissa’s reputation as a pastry chef abounds in Asheville as she is the owner/operator of Cakes by Gray. As the creator and owner of RosaBees, she imagined the new store being another brick-and-mortar bakery. But on her trip to Hawaii, she savored the variety of foods and knew that Asheville needed a restaurant featuring Polynesian cuisine.
One major hurdle loomed on the horizon as she dreamed about her new business venture. She was a baker, not a chef. Enter Executive Chef Cookie Hadley. Chef Hadley acquired his taste for Polynesian food from his Japanese stepfather, who grew up in Hawaii. Hadley’s palate was forever changed when he sampled his grandmother’s pickled mangos as a child. As the Executive Chef for RosaBees, Cookie bases his diverse menu on his childhood dinners and many trips to Hawaii.
RosaBees’ slogan best sums up Melissa and Cookie’s passion for serving exquisite food: “A Polynesian Restaurant with A Pastry Chef’s Flare.” RosaBees is open Wednesday-Sunday, and they offer delivery services and online reservations. The exterior boasts colorful artwork reminiscent of Hawaii, and the interior has an eclectic casual-industrial vibe. Menu items are small plates that some categorize as fine dining based on price and portions. While desserts are unique (we’ll explore shortly), Melissa also offers custom cakes for special events under her Cakes By Gray website.
Nothing says Hawaii like poke! At RosaBees, this poke comes with Shoyu Ahi Poke with macadamia or Spicy Ahi Chili-Masago Poke.
This crispy Filipino spring roll is packed with cabbage, carrots, green beans, mung sprouts, cilantro, and scallions. The dipping sauce is chili-mango coulis and coconut syrup.
This healthy bowl features baby organic greens, sprouts, radish, grilled pineapple, macadamia nuts, and local chevre. The dressing is a guava vinaigrette.
A salad with sliced braised octopus sashimi, cucumber, smoked tomato, wakame, tobiko, and comes with yuzu vinaigrette.
This poke is the big brother to the appetizer version. First, select your protein: ahi shoyu poke, spicy ahi chili-masago, or crispy tofu poke. Next, the chef adds macadamia nuts, scallions, Hawaiian chili flakes, coconut sticky rice, cucumber, radish, local greens, fresh mango salsa, and tempura avocado.
Ube is the Hawaiian purple sweet potato used in various Polynesian dishes and desserts. For this entree, the chef combines pan-seared jumbo sea scallops, Hawaiian purple sweet potato puree, yuzu edamame succotash, and gochujang chili oil for a mouth-watering meal.
Before the chicken thighs are fried, they steep in a coconut-ginger brine. When the chicken is golden brown, the chef adds them to wasabi satsuma imo mash with a side of ginger-chili green beans and house ponzu.
Be sure to save room for dessert! While they have some “safe” choices like The Smores and Peanut Butter Brownie Bombe, we suggest trying one of the more exotic selections. Here are some standouts:
Right Side Up Pineapple Butter Mochi
This decadent dessert has hexagon butter mochi, pineapple curd, bruleed pineapple, cherries, macadamia nut crunch, and whipped cream.
Ube Haupia Pie
Do you recall how we mentioned Hawaiians use ube in everything? Here’s a prime example. This pie has layered Hawaiian purple sweet potatoes, creamy coconut, and macadamia nut shortbread crust. Additionally, it has lilikoi buttah, pineapple flower, and ube chiffonade.
When your taste buds are craving cuisine flavored with foods from the South Pacific, you owe it to yourself to dine at RosaBees.
Some diners complained that it’s noisy inside due to the small space. If you think this will be a problem, they offer outdoor seating.