Alan Wong’s | Mo’ili’ili, Oahu, HI
When we arrived, we had an idea that there would be some kind of Valet parking service that was available. The two guys were super kind and friendly. The Hawaiian way, I assume. Sure the entrance to the building where the restaurant resided was somewhat unassuming, very low key but that made the big reveal even better.
Upon entering, we were greeted by the hostess and immediately guided to our table, one that we made sure to reserve. We literally waited thirty seconds.
The food? Wow. The food was undeniably ‘Wow’.
Let me put it this way: The food and total experience was so positively unforgettable, my wife and I made it a point to devote a day in Honolulu during our two week Honeymoon through Hawaiian Islands we had never visited… just to eat at Alan Wong’s again.
Our goal for our honeymoon was to visit and enjoy as many of the other beautiful islands that Hawaii has to share, but it was easy for us to make an exception to revisit Honolulu for Alan Wong’s. In fact, that was the first experience we reserved, before anything else that we wanted to do. Sounds funny, right? But trust me… It’s with reason.
Seafood Cakes | Lobster, Shrimp, Scallop and Crab Cakes, Caper Mayonnaise, Tsukemono Relish
First off, yup, that’s an iPad you see up there! As an tech guy, I valued this a whole lot because their iPad was being used well. They had their wine menu on there and it was locked down to IT standards. #impressed
The crab cakes were very good! A nice way to start the meal. I’ve mentioned this before — it’s a big risk to order crab cakes because you run the risk of having them lack the jumbo pieces of crab. You also run the risk of the dish having some kind of grit or crab shell. Not this time around though. Take the risk because it was delish.
The portion was a little smaller than I would have hoped but hey, who wants to get full off of the app?
“Da Bag” | Steamed Clams with Kaluah Pig, Shiitake Mushrooms in a Foil Bag
This dish, right here, is Alan Wong’s take onal cartoccio as Italians would call it, or the more popular en papillote as the French would. En papillote means ‘in parchment’, so normally they would use parchment to steam the dish in and of itself. It is acceptable and in style to use other materials like foil, which is what you see above.
You’ll notice that this style of cooking is mainly done with some kind of seafood and is meant to be torn open at the table when served. This allows for the wonderful aroma of the dish to be revealed only once it arrives at the table. Wonderful concept, no?
When our server revealed the dish, I have to admit, it was very effective in sharing the aroma that was contained in the bag. It gave us the full experience of enjoying the dish — wonderful, exciting, and enjoyable all at the same time.
I’m sure you can imagine, the clams were steamed in what seemed like a white wine broth. The smokiness of the kalua pig permiated throughout the broth and the shiitake mushrooms brought it all to another level by bringing the rich umami layer. I wish there were more clams. I wish there was more everything. And next time around? I’ll order this with a side of rice!
Keahole Lobster “Escargot” Style | Red Onion Butter, Parmesan Cheese
This review has been so tough to write, and will continue to be tough because every dish was spectacular. How many synonyms can I find for the word “spectacular”? I need it to at least bring some variation to the writing, no?
This dish, believe it or not, was an appetizer and it blew our mind. It might be the only reason we’re flying back to Honolulu.
Let’s talk about escargot first. In French culture, snails are used as the main star of this dish. They’re essentially removed from their shells, cooked, placed back into their shell and then served.
Most importantly, they’re normally cooked with wine, garlic butter and/or chicken stock and then served with the same mixture they were cooked in. Yum.
Now, if you still haven’t seen past the snail part of this all, Alan Wong has brought a dish into this world that will have you appreciate the cooking method even more.
Luck for us, the Lobster Escargot has no snails or shells included! On top of that, it’s purely lobster tail that you’ll be eating and enjoying. With butter and all that other saucy goodness of course.
The lobster tail has been cut into nicely sized bites and has been cooked in an onion butter mixture, with some herbs and Parmesan cheese to add a layer of freshness. It’s really nice and cuts through the richness. In addition, Alan Wong has provided a generous layer of bread crumbs across the top of the dish that becomes golden brown during the cooking process. The additional texture that the bread crumbs provide adds beauty and another layer to the dish. It’s amazing how it all came together.
The lobster? Immaculate. Everything you’d want to experience when eating a lobster cooked in butter and served in a delicious pool of that same mixture that it was cooked in. Texture was melt-in-your-mouth perfect.
To be honest, I’ve got to stop here… because if I continue, I’ll just keep repeating how exquisite this was. Simply put: There’s just so much more to this dish that can’t be written.
If I could give one tip though: Save the bread for this dish. Or ask for more bread once this arrives to your table. That’s the only way to clean the sauce off of the dish. #notembarrassed
Don’t be embarrassed! And even if you are… it’s worth it.
Twice Cooked Short Rib Soy Braised & Grilled “Kalbi” Style | Gingered Shrimp, Ko Choo Jang Sauce
I’ve always been a surf and turf kind of guy and what you see right here is a great decision by a talented chef. The twice cooked short rib is so flavorful. You can taste the complex Asian flavors layered one on top of the other. I wish there was more on this plate. The short rib was so tender. All I did was take the tip of my fork to easily dismantle the deliciousness.
The shrimp? Cooked perfectly. It could have used another drop or two of lemon but hey, it was deliciously seasoned, which made up for that.
Keahole Lobster Lasagna | crab cioppino sauce, saffron braised vegetables
This ‘lasagna’, assembled in a ring mold, was amazing. I never would have imagined lobster to be so tender and fresh. The Cioppino sauce/broth was comforting and the veggies were crispy! I enjoyed this very much but unfortunately it was a bit overshadowed by the other dishes. It’s tough to go against a lobster escargot! You can’t blame the dish or the chef for that.
Parmesan Garlic Mashed Potatoes
This was delicious and comforting. Exactly what you’d imagine it would taste like! I would order this again and eat it with the Lobster Escargot. That would make the best meal.
Lilikoi White Chocolate “Mousse Tart” | Lilikoi Caramel, Honey Goat Cheese Sorbet
Yummy and delicate. The white chocolate mousse tart was dainty and light. The honey goat cheese sorbet was also nice. Creamy and paired nicely it’s the caramel. The goat cheese wasn’t very strong or pungent, which is a good thing.
“The Coconut” | Haupia sorbet in a chocolate shell, tropical fruits and lilikoi sauce
First off, the presentation was out of this world! I’m sure that this is the first time you’ve ever seen someone build a half-coconut out of sorbet, chocolate and nuts.
It was so light and refreshing. A great way to end the meal.
Alan Wong brought us some of the most unique dishes we’ve ever had. He was able to succeed in surprising us, dish after dish, which is why we booked a reservation with them four months in advance and even added a stop to Honolulu just to have their Lobster Escargot.
Find your way to honolulu and make a reservation at this restaurant as soon as possible!