OK, I’m back at Ama’ Ama’ to try some of their new Island offerings for lunch. The menu has been slowly changing over the year, offering more “local eats” each time I visit.
I was a totally beautiful Hawaiian day (that’s why I live here!), so I started off with a Cucumber Lychee Fizz. If you didn’t know, Lychee is a locally grown fruit that originally came from China. It is very popular in deserts and as a flavoring on Hawaiian Shave Ice. This drink was very light and refreshing. It had a touch of Lemon and Ginger, and as you can see, nice and cold! Do you want to see the “Off the Hook” bar menu? Just click HERE!
From the starters section I ordered the Nori-wrapped Ahi Tuna Tempura with Mustard and Pickled Vegetables ($13.00). This dish was GREAT! The Ahi was done to perfection and literally melted in you mouth. It came with a soy-mustard-wasabi dipping sauce that really complemented Ahi Tempura. Could this get any better? The pickled vegetables were superb. I eat a lot of pickled veggies here in Hawai’i so I’m saying, without reservation, that these little gems were the best I have had in a very long time.
Next is my main entree’ the Daily Local Plate Lunch ($20.95). It consisted of Island style BBQ Pork Riblets with White Rice, a Mac and Potato Salad, and Chili Cheese Fries!
First I tried the Mac and potato salad. Everyone here on the Island has their own version of Mac Salad, and it’s taste can be all over the map (yucky to killer good). I found Ama’ Ama’s version well done.
Next is the Chili Cheese Fries. With this dish… what you see is what you get! The funny thing is that I was not expecting it as part of a Hawaiian plate lunch! It seemed really out of place. It would have been much better served with a Hamburger or a Hot Dog.
Now for the main part of the box lunch, Island style BBQ Pork Riblets with Rice. It looked yummy but after a few bites I found it overwhelming in the sauce department. There was too much Hoisin Sauce added to the base sauce, and it overpowered everything. I never tasted the Pork or Pineapple, just the sauce. Unfortunately I didn’t finish the dish.
So let’s review: Great Drink, Killer Appetizer (I should have ordered two), and a disappointing entree’ where none of the dishes complemented each-other. Why was there French Fries, Mac Salad and Rice? Someone needs to learn the old culinary adage, “three starches do not make a right.”
November 12012 Hawai’i Food and Wine Festival Wrap-up
After four days of one fabulous food event after another, what better way to close out the Hawaii Food and Wine Festival than on a beach at Disney’s Aulani Resort. The stars were out Sunday night, both at the Ko’olina lagoon, and in the clear skies above. The Hawaii Food & Wine Festival once again delivered a amazing group of chefs, which included stars like Iron Chef Hiroyuki Sakai, Marcel Vigneron, Susan Spicer, Mourad Lahlou, Patrick Callarec, Celestino Drago, Patrick Fahy, Dean Fearing, Scott Higa, Jackie Lau, Raphael Lunetta, George Mavrothalassitis, Andrew Sutton and Seamus Mullen in addition to chefs from other events who came to Aulani Resort to enjoy the closing festivities. The mood at the event was kept lively and fun, starting when arriving guests were given synch bags to carry their shoes in… because the event was held right on the beach!
Iron Chef Hiroyuki Sakai’s wrapped Kampachi with fruit salsa.
Grilled beef with Hamakua mushrooms and pepper threads.
The Hawai’i Food & Wine Festival finale, hosted at Ko’Olina Resort with Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa, and JW Marriot Ihilani Resort & Spa.
photos: Ed Morita/Hawaii Agricultural Foundation
Aloha! This is my second lunch at Aulani’s Makhiki Restaurant. It features easy and light fare, perfect for a hot Hawaiian day. Served is a variety of salads, sandwiches, and pizzas… all build-you-own. What fun! They also have signature entrees and a four item Keiki section (for my mainland friends Keiki is Hawaiian for “kids”). As tempted as I was to order the same thing I had last time (Story and Menu Here), I ordered their Crispy Asian Salad and big glass of un-sweetened Iced Tea. For only $10.00 your get sizable plate of Mixed Greens, Candied Pecans, Crispy Wonton strips, Tomatoes, Avocado, Orange Slices, Julienne Red Peppers, Gari (Japanese Pickled Ginger), and toasted Sesame Seeds tossed in a Ginger-soy Dressing. So how was it? Completely refreshing! It was light with a lot of different textures, it was sweet, salty, crunchy, fruity, exotic, and well balanced. The candied pecans were to die for… really! With my bottomless Ice Tea I was one happy boy. My waitress even brought me a paper cup with a top and straw so I could have my unfinished tea to go. How sweet!
Papalua Shave Ice and Mama’s Snack Stop are two co-located food shacks in the middle of Aulani’s Waikolohe Valley, between the main Pool and Rainbow Reef. Papalua Shave Ice (not “Shaved”) has been in operation since the resort opened last year. It is a traditional Shave Ice stand with local flavors like Lilikoi, Haupia, Mango, and Watermelon. I always get a rainbow with Guava, Grape, and Pineapple. Yum!
Mama’s Snack Stop just opened this week and offers hot dogs, chicken tenders, fries, and sweets with seveal Kieki (kids) combos. Remeber this is pool food so the menu is very limited. The buildings local Hawaiian theming is right on, and as you can see no long queues!
I ordered a Local Red Frank in a Soft Roll, an order of Fries, a Macadamia Nut-Pineapple Cupcake, and water.
For those of you who have never been to Hawaii the “Red” hot dog is very popular here. Redondo’s Hawaiian Winners are the best known. I was pleasantly surprised to see my Hot Dog was actually a “Puka Dog!” Puka is Hawaiian for “hole” where you dont cut the bun longways, you put a hole at one end and put the dog in the Puka. These dog aren’t served with all sorts of toppings, just a sauce. Needless to say they are very tasty and easy to eat. The fries were very good too.
But I saved the best for last. The Macadamia Nut-Pineapple Cupcake was incredible! On top was a very thin slice of dried pineapple with white chocolate on one side. Next to it was a triangle of white chocolate infused with Vanilla. The vanilla sugar-cream frosting has little Mickey Mouse sprinkles on it and was surrounded with a ring of chopped macadamia nuts. The pineapple cake’s inside was full of a wonderful pineapple preserve with a touch of whipped cream. I’m tellin ya, it was totally worth $4.50!
June 17Aulani – Lunch at Makahiki
Aulani’s Makahiki restaurant has had a few changes since opening nine months ago. One of those very recent changes is that they now serve lunch. On the new menu is, build-your-own Pizza, build-your-own Salad, and build-your-own Sandwich. The signature entrees are two of their favorite Pizza, Salad, and Sandwich combos along with the Chef’s Special Bento box. When looking at the menu I was struck on how reasonable the prices were.
I opted for the Chef’s Special Bento box. For those readers unaware what a “Bento box” is Wikipedia has a great description: Bento (弁当, bentō) is a single-portion takeout or home-packed meal common in Japanese cuisine. A traditional bento consists of rice, fish or meat, and one or more pickled or cooked vegetables, usually in a box-shaped container. OK, now you are in the know! My Bento consisted of three slices of very fresh Ahi Tuna Sashimi with a small cake of Wasabi, Chicken Teriyaki served on a bed of shredded Cabbage, Cucumber and Carrot Namasu, Fried Rice, and Mochi Ice Cream.
I loved the Chef’s Special Bento! First I started with Cucumber and Carrot Namasu. Namasu is very similar to Sunomono whereas the thinly sliced fresh vegetables are lightly cured in Rice Wine Vinegar, Sugar and Salt. This was an excellent start to my meal. Next I moved to the Tuna Sashimi. With a little dip into the soy sauce I had poured over the Wasabi, it just melted in my mouth. So good! Next was the Teri-chicken and Rice. The pre-cut chicken breast was tender and moist and the Teriyaki was bold but not overpowering. You may ask, “are you saving the best for last Mark?” Yes I am! The Fried Rice was “Broke Da Mouth” good (Hawaiian Pidgin for something so delicious it Broke your mouth). It had Peas, Carrots, Pork, and a killer sauce that the rice was stir fried in. Yummy! But wait, what about the Mochi? Do you see the little white ball in the picture? That is an Ice Cream Mochi. A Mochi is pounded sticky rice that is made into a pouch so you can put sweets into. This had Kona Coffee Ice Cream in it! What a great way to end a meal. My lunch made my day at Aulani.
Note: This review was originaly posted September 4th on The Disney Food Blog
So the resort has been open for five days now and I thought it would be the perfect time to dine in the resorts signature restaurant, ‘AMA’AMA. The restaurant is named after the tasty mullet fish ʻamaʻama that us locals enjoy. The setting is an open air thatched roof fishing shack on one side and a minimalist fishing factory with concrete pillars and a large fish holding tanks complete with pipeline and spigot. Of all the beautiful facilities at Aulani Resort this place’s theme is the only one that doesn’t work.
Our reservations were for 5:30pm and my wife and I were seated directly. Unfortunately since it is an open air dining area (no walls) the sun was low enough to shine in so it was very bright and hot at our table. In retrospect I would wait until sunset to be seated. For drinks I ordered a Pineapple Papaya Cosmo. It was fun, tropical and fresh with a light foam on top. Good enough to order a second, which I did! My wife’s Coffee was bitter and tasted like it was re-heated in the microwave. Seriously, we live in Hawai’i and are accustomed to having great local coffee. This was not it.
Our waiter Kevin was wonderful! He was a delight to talk to and really helped make the evening. My wife ordered Island Field Greens with a Papaya Seed Vinaigrette salad and the Paniolo Rack of Lamb (medium-well), with Island Fruit and Poha Berry Chutney. Feeling dehydrated from heat she ordered a Lemonade that has a slight taste of ginger and was very refreshing. She found the Salad “ordinary” and only ate half. Her Lamb was not a “Rack” but three bone-in chops that were burnt on the outside and undercooked on the inside. The wine sauce (not described in the menu) had not been reduced properly and exhibited an alcohol taste.
I ordered the Hamukua Mushroom Tart with Baby Arugula, Coriander Crème Fraiche and Parmesan. My entrée was Grilled Keahole Lobster with Lemmon Grass Sauce, and Korean Pancake. To complement my meal I ordered a S.A. Prum Essence Riesling. The Mushroom Tart was delightful. It has an unexpected savory sweetness that was very satisfying. My Lobster although small was perfect. The small veggies were pickled Japanese Sunomono style and the “Korean Pancake” was very much like a crab cake. There was also a tempura Shiso leaf for a fresh flavor contrast. The star was the Lobster that was cooked to perfection and melted in my mouth.
Wow! How could our two meals be so far apart? After five days they should have worked out all the kinks with the new kitchen staff. Was Chef Patrick Callarec in the kitchen last night? Maybe not.
So we finished with desert. I had the Coconut Panna Cotta with chilled Passion Fruit broth and Green Tea Tuile while my wife had the Hawaiian Chocolate Cake with K’au Coffee Cream and Caramel Chard. Both were great! We ended our evening being serenaded by two musicians singing traditional Hawaiian songs. That was very nice.
O.K. so here is the bottom line. At $198.00 before tax and tip the “ANA’ANA is not every night fare. The quality of the food preparation needs to be improved and frankly the restaurant does not feel Hawaiian. All-in-all we will not be rushing back any time soon for dinner.
Here is a well deserved Shout-out!
The Best Coconut Shrimp on Maui is at Tommy Bahamas Tropical Cafe, in the Shops at Wailea. Perfect butterflies, golden coconut, killer sauce. Yum!
June 29Himalayan Kitchen – Honolulu
Date of Visit: 6-17-10 @6:30pm
The Skinny: Nepalese cuisine in Honolulu? Go figure! I heard about this place from a professor at UH who could not stop raving about their food. Located upstairs in an area featuring many small restaurants I found the décor colorful with Buddhist prayer flags hung in the outside courtyard. Inside the place was packed, a good sign for a Thursday night. The menu is quite extensive with a lot of dishes with very odd names. I found there was no sampler meal for the un-initiated and had to rely on the waiters suggestions. Many food categories were served including Indian, Central Asian, Curries, Vegetarian, and Kebab’s. They also served “Himalayan Seafood” which I found most ironic and very funny. My guest and I started with homemade drinks called “Lassi” which is yogurt blended with Mangoes or Rose Water. It was most refreshing! Of note, they do not have a liquor license but you can BYOB and are not charged a corking fee. Next we ordered an Indian classic called Garlic Naan. This bread is shaped like a tear drop and baked in a tandoor oven with garlic. We then ordered the Lamb Biryani and Lamb Shish Kabab entrees. The Lamb Biryani is a big serving of basmati rice cooked with lamb chunks & Himalayan herbs. Its taste reminded me of the heavy spiciness of Mexican Chorizo without any of the grease or heat. The skewered and grilled Lamb Shish Kabab (they spell it with two a’s) was mildly spiced and seasoned with chopped onion and herbs. There was plenty of lamb and it was cooked just right. When asked about desert we both agreed to forgo it because we couldn’t finish our respective meals. We gladly took home the leftovers.
The Best Thing: A new food experience in a fun atmosphere
The Worst Thing: You have to pay for parking
My Recommendation: Try it, you may like it!
Date of Visit: 1-3-10 @6:30pm
The Skinny:This is the 2nd time I have eaten at Ruth’s in Wailea. I was lucky enough to get a gift card for the holidays and wanted to have a nice romantic evening out. This location used to have great views of the ocean but since they built a condo resort in front the views are now limited to the parking lot. I ordered Seared Scallops, Ruth’s Chopped Salad with blue cheese, and a New York Strip cooked medium. The service was very good but slow as our waiter seemed to be working too many tables. The fact that the waiter remembered us from our last visit (over a year ago) made it special. I started with the Scallops and found them over seasoned and small. The chopped salad was large and very satisfying. Mostly made of chilled iceberg lettuce, the blue cheese was rich and strong. With a good dose of salt and pepper I was a happy boy. The strip steak started off very good but as I worked my way from the end to the middle it quickly became rare. It was also devoid of any real taste due to it being very lean. My wine was a very heavy French Burgundy and found that a lighter red would have been a better paring with the meal. We shared a rich Mud Pie for desert that really hit the spot.
The Best Thing: The waiter comped me the wine and we got a Kama`aina discount
The Worst Thing: The loud and drunk wedding party in the next booth
My Recommendation: You can get a comparable steak for half the price elsewhere.
May 30Colleen’s – Haiku
Date of Visit: 5-30-10 @10:30am
The Skinny:Colleen’s is a local eatery in Haiku town that always seems to please. They keep the menu simple and use fresh local ingredients. Today we went for Sunday breakfast. Unlike other places on Sunday it is not overwhelmed by the church crowd, just a lot of locals like wind surfers and the Sunday morning yoga crowd. I had the Smoked Salmon Omelet with wheat toast and roasted potatoes. The omelet is filled with a generous portion of smoked sliced salmon, sweated onions and diced tomatoes. Swiss cheese is added before it is flipped. On top they put just the right amount of hollandaise sauce and a sprinkling of capers. This was a most decadent and satisfying omelet. The potatoes (wax not russets) are quartered and roasted so the outside is crispy and the inside soft and moist. All is needed is a little sprinkling of salt (which they let you do since they are not seasoned). The wheat toast was well buttered and served with jelly. With a big cup of Kona coffee it was a most satisfying breakfast.
The Best Thing: Great food in a relaxed atmosphere.
The Worst Thing: I don’t know yet.
My Recommendation: Make a point to go there!