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Alan Wong: Excellent 40th Birthday Dinner
Alan Wong’s was a restaurant that I definitely wanted to try for some time. Alan Wong is a well know chef that specializes in Hawaiian Regional Cuisine. If you want to truly “Taste Hawaii” this is the place to come to experience Chef Wong’s take on the traditional dishes and flavors of the islands.
We were visited Oahu as one of our stops on my 40th Birthday trip and my wife decided to surprise me with dinner at the Honolulu location which is the flagship restaurant. I was told ahead of time that the location is not “wow” being the top floor of an office building with not much of a view. I wasn’t here for a view; I wanted the excellent food that this place is known for. Yes, the place is unassuming from the outside but the interior is quite nice with good atmosphere.
When we arrived the hostess checked off our reservation and brought us to our table which was right by a large window with a view of the mountains. She wished me a Happy Birthday and handed us our menus. When I opened my menu, it was personalized for me. It read Happy 40th Birthday Christopher with the date. All the chefs and staff had signed the menu with Birthday Wishes as well. Wow, what a nice touch; I had a massive grin from ear to ear seeing that. My wife already knew this was coming so she was happy at my reaction.
Now for the menu. You can make a selection from the menu for your appetizers, entrees, soups and salads or go with one of their two tasting menus (A Tasting of the Classics or the Chef’s Tasting Menu). I chose a Tasting of the Classics which was six courses of food. The courses included: Soup And Sandwich(Chilled Vine Ripened Hamakua Springs Tomato Soup, Grilled Mozzarella Cheese, Foie Gras, Kalua Pig Sandwich), Chopped Ahi Sashimi and Avocado Salsa Stack(Stacked on Crispy Won Ton, Spicy Aioli and Wasabi Soy), Ginger Crusted Onaga(Long-Tail Red Snapper Miso Sesame Vinaigrette, Organic Hamakua Mushrooms and Corn),Butter Poached Kona Cold Lobster(Keahole Abalone, Eryngi Mushrooms, Green Onion Oil), Twice Cooked Short Rib(Soy Braised and Grilled “Kalbi” Style Gingered Shrimp, Ko Choo Jang Sauce) and Chocolate Truffle Crunch Bars. My wife did not want a ton of food so she chose the Whole Tomato Salad with feta cheese and Li Hing Mui Ume Vinaigrette. For her entrée she chose the Steamed Shellfish Bowl which had Lobster, Shrimp, Mussels and Clams, Bouillabaisse Style Broth with Chili Pepper Aioli.
As we enjoyed our drinks a large rain storm erupted which created some beautiful rainbows over the mountains which were quite beautiful. Our server was very attentive and made sure our drinks were full, we had enough bread and kept us posted on our food status. The first course of my tasting arrived along with my wife’s salad. Wow, presentation here is excellent; with esch course explained fully by the server. My gilled cheese, pork sandwich was incredibly good. The Tomato soup was excellent and so flavorful. This was a perfect beginning to a meal. My wife enjoyed her salad but thought it was a bit heavy on the dressing for her taste. Second course, the Ahi Sashimi and Avocado stack was unbelievably fresh and so good. My wife’s entrée arrived along with my third course the Ginger Crusted Onaga. I’m not a huge fan of snapper but I appreciated the good flavoring used on the fish as well as the fresh quality of the fish itself. My fourth course arrived quickly after I dismissed the fish. The butter poached Lobster was very sweet and good. I’m not a huge Lobster fan but this was quite nice. Now on to my favorite course, the fifth course was short ribs. Oh my God, there were so tender, so tasty, so yum. I savored every bite and loved the shrimp on the side dipped in that tasty sauce. I have to say to date; this is the best meal of my life.
Now on to dessert. I was incredibly full after that Tasting menu, but there was more to come. My dessert was these chocolate truffle crunch bars with chocolate macadamia nut cookies. They also brought a plate of homemade truffles and macaroons for my birthday along with a Birthday candle. Liz and I enjoyed the rich chocolate truffle bars and really enjoyed the light and sweet macaroons as well. We definitely didn’t finish dessert but it was an incredible finish to a great meal.
As a birthday gift we received a box of Alan Wong’s homemade truffles wrapped in a beautiful gift box and bag; what a nice touch. I have to say that this exceeded my expectations for food, service and overall atmosphere. I am so happy my wife arranged this for us and I cannot wait to return.
Alan Wong's: The BEST Restaurant in Hawaii
Alan Wong's is the best restaurant in Hawaii, bar none. Don't just take my word for it -- Honolulu Magazine has ranked it number one for the last 13 years, President Obama flew Alan Wong to the White House to cook and the New Years eve 2010 dinner we had there was shared with Honolulu mayor Mufi Hanneman. Alan Wong's menus usually feature creative melanges of local and international flavors, such as a surf and turf with Kalbi and king crab or the use of kalua pig with french pastries. You can get wine pairings with most menues, but we've had some difficulties with those choices, so you might want to choose your own. The service here is excellent -- very personal and attentive. And definitely sabve room for their great tea selection and desserts. A big Yum yum for Alan Wong's!!
- Food and Dining
Alan Wong's: Premier Hawaiian Cuisine
On our last night in Honolulu, Hal and I wanted to spoil ourselves to a nice sit-down dinner at Alan Wong's. Considered one of the Father's of Hawaiian Regional Cuisine (a couple of others include Roy Yamaguchi and Sam Choy) Alan Wong's was a nice treat. While I can't say the food at Alan's stood out (sorry Alan!), there were a few dishes that both Hal and I enjoyed, including the duck nachos, "Da Bag" (although the clams were tiny), and the strawberries romanoff. The lamb chops I ordered weren't as tender and lean as I've had elsewhere and Hal's ginger crusted onaga wasn't that remarkable. To be perfectly honest with you, while Roy's restaurants can be more readily found, its my preference for Hawaiian fusion, especially their Lakanilau roll, the best! However, big kudos to Mr. Wong for promoting and using locally grown produce.
~“Da Bag” ($11.50), a foil bag containing steamed clams, kalua pig, and shiitake mushrooms
~Chinatown Roast Duck Nachos and Chili ($12.50), homemade tapioca chips served with avocado salsa
~Ginger Crusted Onaga ($35), long-tail red snapper with miso sesame vinaigrette, organically grown hamakua mushroom and corn
~Macadamia Nut Coconut Crusted Lamb Chops ($52), Asian ratatouille, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, red wine lamb jus
~Kula “Strawberries Romanoff" ($9), Big Island dairy goat cheese panna cotta, kula strawberry-hibiscus soup, goat cheese sorbet, Hawaiian vanilla sabayon
Note: Tip originally written on Oct. 23 for Oct. 2009 visit to Oahu.
- Food and Dining
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