Birthday Dinner in Honolulu
Posted 21 October 2010 - 09:33 AM
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Posted 25 October 2010 - 06:20 AM
7-COURSE MENU TASTING
wine pairings also available (menu subject to change)
Ahi Tartare with Coconut Ceviche
Coconut Yuzu-Kosho, Caviar
"Soup and Sandwich"
Chilled Vine Ripened Hamakua Springs Tomato Soup with Grilled Mozzarella Cheese, Foie Gras, Kalua Pig Sandwich
Kabayaki Unagi Foie Gras Pork Hash Terrine
Steamed Opakapaka, Short-Tail Pink Snapper
Shrimp & Pork Hash, Truffle Nage
Butter Poached Lobster
Micro Green Onion
Maui Cattle Company Beef Tenderloin
Okinawan Sweet Potato Kabocha Flan, Hamakua Springs Tomato Chutney, Bone Marrow Butter
Kula "Strawberries Romanoff"
Big Island Dairy Goat Cheese Panna Cotta, Kula Strawberry-Hibiscus Soup, Goat Cheese Sorbet, Hawaiian Vanilla Sabayon
The service was unpolished, but warm and eager. They might have sung happy birthday if I hadn't stopped them (my daughter fell asleep by course 5, as we were on California time, so no point). The printed a special menu which the chefs all signed. It was a perfect event meal for a food enthusiast.
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Posted 17 February 2011 - 05:25 PM
ad a rather disappointing dinner at AW over the weekend.
First, it seems they've added tables to the inside dining room because there is no more than a foot between tables... specially the ones up against the waianae wall. Not only is there no privacy but the crowd is so multigenerational there is no way you are going to talk remotely dirty making AW a terrible date restaurant & quite the Coq-Au-Vin block. In comparison, at Chef Mavro you have your own booth with.. and although the dining room looks like something from an 80's movie the vibe is much sexier. But if you must make a reservation at AW for an intimate dinner make sure to ask for the sun room... you at least have views of the mountains and not somebody's sweet grandma.
Service was very campy & amateurish.. the guys who waited on us were just reciting monologues including the wine runner (no way he is a trained sommelier) in contrast the team at Mavro was infinitely more professional.. it was clear they taste the dishes & wines and really understand what they are serving.
The 5 course tasting menu that day was really hit & miss.
Grilled Cheese with Kailua Pig & Rib meat, Martini class filled with a Yellow & Red ying & ying tomato cream puree, parmesan crisp & "Pokipines"
The cool tomato soup duet & grilled cheese were absolutely delicious, the parmesan crisp was the most bland version I've ever tasted.. the Pokipines.. raw tuna flavored with "won ton" seasoning wrapped in rice paper & fried was utterly delicious however the little purse had these long crispy tentacles that were just stupid... made the dish ridiculously harder to eat and added nothing.. had one of those curmudgeony Steingarten moments on Iron Chef.
This was paired by a forgettable sparkling wine from the Carneros region (hilly area between the Napa & Sonoma). On top of that the pairing did not work, because the tomato soup was the most dominating aspect of the dish and there wasn't enough fried dough to balance the sparkling wine.
This was quite a delicious, if simple, dish. Basically, shrimp & scallops sauteed in a traditional (Italian) Vodka sauce were housed inside a "chamber" made by par-boiling & then pan frying a few lasagna noodles, a round cut noodle at the bottom & then one long strip wrapped around to encase the creamy seafood. Also on the plate were a couple of reductions.
Paired with a lovely, light, slightly mineral very food friendly French rose.
Ginger Crusted Onaga
A perfectly cooked 2inch thick filet of Red Snapper, panko & ginger crust (only on the top)... served with a sweet corn sauce. Everything was cooked competently but the flavors were cloyingly, overwhelmingly sweet.. compounded by a ridiculously sweet German Riesling... the whole course felt like a dessert... a crime against the poor fish that was sacrificed.
Twice Cooked Short Ribs
Slow cooked short ribs.. nicely browned exterior.. melt in your mouth interior.. served a few nicely prepared vegetables & white rice. Again competently cooked but overwhelming sweet.. not at all helped by the prune like Beaujolais Gamay... again this was just another dessert and the sauce on the ribs seemed like bottled Oyster Sauce plus added brown sugar.. at had a really cheap Plate Lunch quality to it.
The only spectacular & inspiring dish of the evening... a thin chocolate shell about the size of a softball studded with shaved coconut on the exterior was stuffed with an absolutely perfect coconut sorbet... one look and I thought I would have just two bites... but it was so delicate, tasted like fresh coconut, and moderately sweet that I could not stop.
It was served with a very nice rose dessert wine that had a lightly sparkling characteristic to it.. it was very lovely on its own but had nothing to do with the flavors of the dessert it was just a forced, unimaginative attempt to maintain the French culinary progression corset.
Coffee... I tricked myself into ordering a single estate Big Island coffee.. predictably it sucked. The most amusing thing is - the impressive looking coffee menu with serveral dozen choices - kept "promoting" the low acidity of Hawaii coffees as if it were some kind of asset instead of a flaw. No the reason Hawaii coffee is very flat tasting is the lack of acidity... of course many Hawaii coffees have a very nice, rich flavor but without the acidity it doesn't taste like much... Hawaii coffee only shines when it is blended with a medium body, high altitude Arabica that has enough acid to bring out the flavor & nuances of the rich Hawaii coffee.
Big Picture... the dining room & service is a big step down from Mavro. Alan Wong's course progressions are very ironic.. on the one hand he is a slave of the traditional French progression (Starch, Seafood, Poultry, Red Meat, Dessert) etc., yet he tries to defy French conventions (Fish should never be served with sweet sauces etc.)
AW came across as a simple wannabe on that dinner.