1009 Kapiolani Blvd, Honolulu
We arrived… on a Sunday evening, having made a reservation earlier that day. We probably could have chanced it but if you're heading up in peak season (July-Sep) you'd be well advised to book ahead.
We chose here because… we were looking up another restaurant that had been recommended to us and came across this online. To be perfectly honest, the menu looked a lot more appealing and we decided to check it out for ourselves. Chef Chai's online reviews are excellent and it's rated as one of Hawaii's best restaurants, popular with both tourists and locals.
Our first impression was… it's certainly off the beaten path, or at least, the tourist path. If you're heading from central Waikiki, it'spast the giant Ala Moana shopping centre and towards downtown Honolulu, nestled among office furniture shops and car yards. The decor is more sterile than the tropical luxury that greets you elsewhere in Honolulu but the staff are warm and welcoming and the food, it turns out, is very good.
We started with… gravlax salmon roulade with cream cheese and crab meat on cucumber chips (US$15) followed by spicy suicidal chicken drummets (US$13). Both were tasty if not particularly revolutionary and certainly a step up from the standard fare being served up around most of Waikiki.
The highlight was… without doubt, the jumbo Hokkaido scallops, which came served on a bed of truffle risotto, topped with lobster reduction. The scallops were twice the size of anything you'll see at home and cooked to sweet, tender perfection. Rich, decadent and thoroughly delicious, it was one of the best dishes we've ever experienced, anywhere in the world.
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Dessert was… almost too much to face after those scallops but we persisted and shared a slice of shredded coconut cheesecake with Tahitian vanilla creme anglaise (US$10). It was light and airy and an excellent end to a very enjoyable meal.
Come here if… you value flavour and quality over decor and location. The prices are on a par with most standard eateries in Waikiki but the food is well above par.
The bill… came to US$155 (NZ$240), including 20 per cent tip. That included two starters, a main, a side salad and a bottle of Napa Valley sangiovese.