Hoku's at the Kahala. Everything about this room speaks of quality and sophistication: the wall of windows with their beach views, the avant-garde cutlery and dinnerware, the solicitous staff, and the carefully constructed Euro-Pacific cuisine. The menu constantly changes, but you can count on chef Wayne Hirabayashi to use fresh, local ingredients when possible in his innovative dishes such as braised short-rib tempura, salt-crusted rack of lamb with basil pesto, and butter-poached lobster with passionfruit jus. It's an excellent and popular choice for special occasions or for Sunday brunch. The dress code is collared shirts, no beachwear. The Kahala Hotel & Resort, 5000 Kahala Ave., Kahala, Honolulu, HI, 96816. 808/739–8760. www.kahalaresort.com. Reservations essential. Closed Mon. and Tues. No lunch.
Mar 3, 2009
Having read the previous review I was reluctant to dine here but having eaten here many times in the past, I felt that we should experience the restaurant, if for nothing else the beautiful room and ambiance. Something new which Hoku's is offering (and perhaps this was just for a limited time) was a five course tasting menu which was excellent. We began with oysters prepared three ways followed by an outstanding mushroom and truffle risotto in parchment
paper. The salad was the Waimanalo Valley greens nicely dressed with a white balsamic vinagrette. After a refreshing amuse bouche the main course of filet and lobster tail was served - both perfectly prepared and delicious. Finally for dessert we were served a platter of various pastries which were very good, but after such a filling meal we could only have a taste of. The wine list continues to offer a large selection of new as well as old world wines and the service was impeccable. We dined at some very fine restaurants during our recent visit, but glad that we had this dining experience at Hoku's on our last night of our trip.
May 22, 2007
Wife started with Ahi Musubi ($19) - very bland, basically diced ahi gently mixed into rice and rolled. No noteworthy flavor. Friend had Big Island Greens ($11) - lettuce with a few small slivers of asparagus and potatoes. The vinaigrette was barely there, and the salad was described as tasting "like a small plate of lettuce." Wife and I shared the Lamb for two ($94). Wife is Asian and prefers rice as a starch, which we were promised. The lamb
arrive without starch. It tasted salty - very salty. They brought 2 small tourines of sauces, but they did little to cover the saltiness. I can't even remember tasting lamb, just salt. the rice arrived just as we gave up on eating the lamb (I made it through 3 our of the 4 pieces; wife only managed to choke down 2 pieces). Friend ordered N.Y. Steak ($49). It was described as stringy and not flavorful. He ate about half of it. Friend's date ordered poached Onaga ($40). It was a small piece of fish and did not come with any sides (such as starch). Flavor was a type of curry. The fish was dry. She is a local girl who has eaten onaga many times, and said this was one of the worst preparations she has had. Only friend's date ordered dessert - the warm chocolate cake. It came with a small side of strawberry sorbet. She enjoyed it. Coffee and iced teas were $5 each, and they charged $5 for each re-fill. I don't understand how anyone can be satisfied with this restaurant. Perhaps some believe that if the restaurant is next to a beach and has fancy place settings, the food MUST be good, so they convince themselves that it is. Sadly, it is not. It's better than Zippy's for sure, but far, far, below Alan Wong's, 3660, and Roy's. The food is even below Sam Choy's, OnJin, and Kakaako Kitchen. Very disappointing, with the apparent exception of the warm chocolate cake dessert.