Since we opted out of a luau (we’re been to two already) and probably saved around $300, we decided to splurge a little bit and enjoy a fancy dinner out instead. After a lot of research, I settled on Alan Wong’s Restaurant, Gold winner of Honolulu Magazine’s Hale ‘Aina Award for Best Oahu Restaurant. I tried to make reservations on OpenTable about three weeks in advance but was only able to snag a 7:45pm reservation. A bit late for our standards since we were running on East Coast time, but it’ll have to do.
The location of the restaurant is a bit weird and out of place – it’s on the 3rdfloor of an office building in a not-so-nice part of town. It’s definitely not in the Waikiki tourist area. We arrived about 15 minutes early but they seated us right away. The drink menu was provided on an iPad and the food menu was provided in the traditional paper version. I liked this because I could tap around on the iPad to read drink descriptions.
We all decided to do the “A Tasting of the Classics” tasting menu at $85.00 a person. A bit pricey, but you definitely get a lot of food with the tasting menu. I don’t think we would’ve gotten to try as many items if we ordered a la carte.
Our two appetizer courses arrived together on one plate. On the left is the Chopped Ahi Sashimi and Avocado Salsa Stack, served on top of crispy won ton flakes with spicy aioli and wasabi soy sauce. On the right is the “Soup and Sandwich”. The Chilled Vine Ripened Tomato Soup is served in a martini glass, designed to be sipped with each bite of the Grilled Cheese, which is made out of Hawai’I Island Goat Diary Mozzarella Cheese, Foie Gras, and Kalua Pig. I thoroughly enjoyed both appetizers but I think the grilled cheese was my favorite. The sandwich was savory and so scrumptious.
Our first entrée course was the Butter Poached Kona Cold Lobster served on top of Keahole Abalone, Eryngii Mushrooms, and Green Onion Oil. The lobster was poached to perfection and the abalone was very tasty. As a Chinese person, I can attest to how much we love our abalone! My favorite, though, was the green onion oil. It was very fragrant and flavorful without overpowering the lobster.
Our second entrée course was the Ginger Crusted Onaga, or Long-Tail Red Snapper. The snapper was served on top of a Miso Sesame Vinaigrette, Mushrooms, and Corn. I really enjoyed the miso sesame vinaigrette along with the corn. I didn’t care much for the ginger, which I thought was a bit strong, but I enjoyed the dish. I think I like Orchids Red Snapper dish better, but this one was quite good as well.
Our third and last entrée course was an uphill battle. By now, we were all pretty full. It doesn’t sound like a lot of food since most of the courses are smaller versions, but it gets very filling, very fast. The Twice Cooked Short Ribs, Braised in Soy and Grilled “Kalbi” Style was a very impressive dish. It is served with a dash of kochujang sauce on the side and with a gingered shrimp. The shrimp was sweet and the short ribs were savory. It was a nice contrast. The short ribs were very tender and barely required any chewing on our parts. I think I would’ve enjoyed it a lot more if I wasn’t so full!
Our dessert was their signature, The Coconut. It features coconut sorbet in a chocolate shell served with tropical fruits and lilikoi, or passionfruit, sauce. Even though I was filled to the brim, I somehow managed to devour this dessert. That’s how good it was! It also attests to how light and refreshing this dessert is because I still have no idea how I finished all the sorbet and fruit.
Service was impeccable. Our waiter was always checking up on us after every course was presented (most of the time someone else brought our dishes over). He also made sure to ask us if we had any dietary restrictions or allergies before we started our meal. The supporting wait staff was also very on point – our dishes were always cleared quickly after we finished and utensils were replaced in a timely manner. Besides the slightly out-of-the-way location, I can’t fault my dinner at Alan Wong’s at all.