Alan Wong's, Hawaii
If you're into your fine dining, then Alan Wong's would be a must-go stop when you visit Hawaii. Alan Wong is one of the top chefs synonymous with Hawaii fine dining, and his clever use of unique local ingredients with international knowledge and techniques really impressed me when I visited his other restaurant - the Pineapple Room.
So with the amazing experience from the Pineapple Room still flowing through my veins, I arrived at Alan Wong's with anticipation bubbling in my belly.
When I head to a restaurant like this, I always try and go for the fanciest tasting menu they have to offer, because I figure that the food on there would be thoroughly representative of the dining establishment. The Chef's Tasting Menu - featuring eight courses - really caught my eye, but I was informed that they required the whole table to order the menu, as the number of courses would leave some at the table waiting for me to finish eating while they had no food, which would not contribute to the dining experience. Fair enough.
So the next best thing that I could order was the six course "Tasting of the Classics" ($85 per person, $125 with wine)
First and second courses: "Soup and Sandwich" - Chilled Hamakua Springs Tomato Soup with a Grilled Mozzarella Cheese, Foie Gras and Kalua Pig Sandwich, and Chopped Ahi Sashimi and Avocado Salsa Stack - Stacked on Crispy Won Ton, Spicy Aioli and Wasabi Soy
Third course: Butter Poached Kona Cold Lobster - Keahole Abalone, Hamakua Heritage Abalone and Eryngii Mushrooms, Green Onion Oil
Fourth course: Ginger Crusted Onaga, Long-tail Red Snapper - Miso Sesame Vinaigrette, Mushrooms and Corn
Fifth course: Twice Cooked Short Rib, Soy Braised and Grilled "Kalbi" - Gingered Shrimp, KoChoo Jang Sauce
Sixth course: "The Coconut" - Haupia Sorbet in a Chocolate Shell, Tropical Fruits and Lilikoi Sauce
The food was of a high quality, and utilising fresh, flavourful ingredients. Standout dishes for me were the Kona lobster (it's hard to go wrong with fresh lobster as long as you don't overcook it), the Twice Cooked Short Ribs (surf and turf! And short ribs always carry lots of hearty beefy flavour), and "The Coconut" showed an immense amount of creativity and technique. A balloon was used to create a chocolate shell, and rolled in desiccated toasted coconut while it's wet. Then when it's set, the balloon is popped, and it's filled with haupia (coconut) sorbet, and an indent is made with a small bowl or ladle. Once that's set, the edges are hand-carved with a knife, to create the cut-open-coconut look. Incredibly impressive.
One of the courses impressed me a little less, like the snapper course. I'm not the biggest fan of snapper to begin with - it's a fish that dries out wayy too easily, and has a tendency to be 'squeaky' when it's overcooked. The fish here wasn't squeaky, but it definitely left me reaching for the water after a couple of bites. I would much prefer they included the butter cod that was also on their menu, but I understand that it's not within their theme of the 'classics'.
In all, I much enjoyed my experience at the Pineapple Room better. At Alan Wong's we were seated at an incredibly noisy area where the waiter had to constantly yell at us in order for us to hear him. He was also a little abrupt with one of us. Another waiter who brought us our food rattled through the description as though he couldn't wait to leave, and didn't bother waiting to see if we had any questions about what we ate. Then finally, when they decided to do damage control with my offended friend and asked her how her meal went, they asked her about a meal she didn't have, which really made things worse.
Not the best experience although the food was decent enough. Maybe next time.
We ate at:
+1 (808) 949-2526
1857 S King St
Honolulu, HI 96826
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