A very good friend of mine has been a regular at Alan Wong’s for years. The restaurant features an open kitchen with a chef’s counter and on her suggestion, we requested that seating. I tried having the kitchen just cook for us, but as first timers we were given their 7- course chef’s tasting menu.
Open kitchen and chef’s counter
Cold Seafood Salad – ahi, abalone, crab and lobster in abalone gelee – the abalone gelee was the star of this dish – light, refreshing and just perfectly executed.
Soup and sandwich - Chilled Vine Ripened Hamakua Springs Tomato Soup with Grilled Mozzarella Cheese, Foie Gras, Kalua Pig Sandwich – A parmesan crisp separated the soup from the sandwich. The sandwich was decadent – very, very rich and very, very filling.
Close-up of the soup
Kabayaki Unagi (eel) Foie Gras Pork hash Terrine – this didn’t work on a number of levels. First, the soy sweet eel seemed to fight with the foie pork hash. Second, this was a very heavy dish and the third course in a seven course meal. Third, the flavor profile was similar to the soup and sandwich dish and as such the symphony of a tasting was off kilter.
Steamed Moi, Pacific Threadfin, Dried Scallop Truffle Risotto Flan – Portion size at Alan Wong’s is enormous. This was a tasting menu portion and although the photo doesn’t show it, there was enough flan for 2 people. The flan was excellent, but again very, very rich. 3 very rich dishes in a row becomes a punishment instead of a delight. I am a firm believer in a tasting menu “symphony” or balance in a meal. This tasting menu seemed out of balance to me.
Day Boat Scallop “Tofu”, Lobster, Itogaki, Soy and Green Onion. Itogaki are thin strands of dried bonito and sprinkled on top. The day boat scallop had been pureed in the robot coupe, mixed with egg whites, wrapped in plastic wrap and then briefly boiled. It then sat in the refrigerator overnight. This dish should have appeared earlier in the tasting menu as it was so much more delicate in flavor to the prior dishes and we were also quite stuffed at this point.
Maui Cattle Company Beef Tenderloin, Mushroom brown sauce, Big Island Goat Cheese Potato Croquette, Sauteed Green Beans, Tomato, Beef Marrow (I think), Baby Tomato – The potato croquette was absolutely wonderful. The vegetable accompaniments were also a welcome addition. The beef with the mushroom sauce was another heavy-handed dish and we were feeling punished.
We basically asked for just the lightest sampling of dessert – mostly fruit.
I was disappointed with Alan Wong’s. I was expecting an omakase experience of exquisite, small tastes. In retrospect, I wish I had ordered a la carte, one for two, and chosen the lightest dishes on the menu. The portion size of the dishes at Alan Wong’s are huge – I saw a la carte plates that would feed at least 4 people with ease. As I mentioned on the 3660 On The Rise post, I have a definite personal bias in dining and Alan Wong’s is just not my type of dining.