Sometimes you just gotta get dressed up and have a night on the town — and Restaurant Week Hawaii is the perfect excuse to do just that. This time the year’s most delicious seven days started last week on Nov. 17 and ended today on Nov. 23. I seriously wish I had more time and money so that I could experience all the great deals the week had to offer.
Not only is , but Restaurant Week Hawaii is also a benefit to support students at the Culinary Institute of the Pacific at Diamond Head. Their goal is to train future chefs in a state-of-the-art environment, hone their culinary skills, and shape a future generation of world-class chefs from Hawaii.
Luckily, Jake and I squeezed two restaurants in this weekend: Dinner at Wai’olu at the Trump, and lunch at Mai Tai Bar.
Last year we had the pleasure of dining at Beachhouse at the Moana. They have a special called the “Moonlight Serenade Menu” that’s $50 with your Hawaii ID. While the dessert option and appetizer courses did change from this year to last, the main courses highlight similar dishes (if not the same, as long as my memory serves correctly): Your choice of either their delicious Hawaii ranchers New York steak with parmesan potatoes and Waialua asparagus, or the porcini crusted ahi loin with a chili vinaigrette and warm barley salad.
Let me tell you, the steak was so delicious last year when we went — so juicy and so rich. After a first experience like that during Restaurant Week, we were beyond excited for what this year had in store. We were not disappointed.
Jake and I pulled up to the Trump Hotel in Waikiki and were greeted with complimentary valet service. (Don’t forget to get validated!) Our car was whisked away, hassle free, and we went up an elevator to the 6th floor where the restaurant sits on a beautiful lanai overlooking Honolulu’s cityscape.
The menu for Restaurant Week at Wai’olu was a three-course meal for $48 per person — plus another $20 per person if you add on the wine pairing option. I’ve never had a meal where I’ve done the wine pairing thing, so I figured what better time to do it than at a fancy restaurant with a sommelier who knows their stuff? What ended up selling me was the fact that one of the wines we had with our meal was $17 a glass — and we got three 6 oz. pours for $20! A true steal.
With two different choices for every course, Jake and I ordered opposite dishes so that we could get a bite of everything on the menu. The first course was either the Beets & Berries Salad, or the Eggplant Miso Dengaku. While I do love eggplant, I love goat cheese more — which was the highlight of the salad appetizer. Small balls of goat cheese brought a welcome tartness to the sweetness of the berries and the strawberry vinaigrette.
I took a scoop of Jake’s eggplant and it was creamy and delicious, coated with a sweet and savory miso glaze.
I was beyond excited for my main course pick: The New York Steak & Rack of Lamb Combo served with a smoky red wine. Talk about carnivore heaven. The star of the plate was the pair of lamb chops. They were SO tender with a tangy kind of flare.
The only thing missing was a good ol’ side of potatoes! Instead this dish came with some seasonal vegetables and a deep fried sushi sandwich. Yeah, I had never heard of a “sushi sandwich” either, but it was basically rice wrapped in nori, then deep fried. Heaven to some, not so much to a girl who doesn’t like nori. I quickly passed it along to Jake — who loved it.
The other choice of entree was the Seared Pistachio Crusted Ahi with Thai red curry sauce, a buttermilk pancake, and microgreens. Jake was very happy after this dish. To all you seafood lovers, it gets two thumbs up!
As you know I love dessert, and I still can’t get this creme brulee out of my mind. Why was it so spectacular? Because it was basically a creme brulee macaron sandwich! A vanilla bean creme brulee to be exact, with a house made macaron. The dessert was the perfect size to cap off a filling meal — it really was the icing on the cake. To top it off, the white wine paired with it was sweet and amazing. By far one of the best dessert wines I’ve ever tried.
I enjoyed a couple bites of Jake’s Lilikoi Cheesecake, which was tart and creamy Classic New York style cheesecake — definitely one for citrusy dessert fans. The lilikoi sauce is actually fresh from the Big Island! Being a fan of locally made lilikoi butter (and cheesecake), I knew from the start that this dish would be a hit with my taste buds.
Even though it doesn’t visually look like a whole lot of food, the time between each course really allows the food to settle before moving onto the next dish. I love eating like this because you don’t feel like you’re going to die at the end of a meal. That being said, we left full and extremely happy. The airy atmosphere, amazing view, and live music make for a wonderful dining experience. We definitely picked a winning location for a Restaurant Week date night.
Where did you go for Restaurant Week Hawaii 2014? To see more food from this week, you can check out @RestaurantWeekHawaii on Instagram or search the hashtag #RestaurantWeekHawaii. Looking forward to next year already!