The owner, Takeshi Sekiguchi of Japan, spent $20 million and selected 29 year-old chef, Chris Kajioka, to run the operation on a blank check. Sekiguchi in 1991 developed the $600 million Grand Hyatt Wailea Resort on Maui and in 2005 announced the development of the $1 billion Grand Ko Olina Resort & Spa (he is in a blue shirt with Jeff Stone).
Vintage Cave started as a membership club, but now allows peons like me to eat there. You can still become a member for $5,000, where you get special privileges and discounts, or can pay half a million dollars for more wine storage, and, I would think, more.
I used my fingers a lot here. Next, a strange lightly roasted salsify (a root vegetable) with asian pear, salmon eggs and quinoa (a whole grain with 9 amino acids) topped with watercress, which was surprisingly quite good:
Chef Chris is well-known for his charred cabbage with miso, konbu, dill and anchovy:
Yes, the whole platter was all for me, carefully carved unto the plate at the bottom and delicately anointed. Incredible. The wagyu-type beef from Kyushu (I think Kagoshima was mentioned) with heart of palm and sancho (also known as Sichuan) pepper melted in my mouth:
The second dessert course featured a personal performance by Pastry Chef Rachel Murai (sorry that the flash did not do justice):
Then a truly wonderful canele (a kind of cake from Bourdeaux):
I might suggest at this point, though, that a really heavy pastry, when the customer is approaching supersaturation, might be replaced by a crispy and thin something else. Finally, petits fours:
Negatives? Perhaps a couple of dishes could have been warmer. The patronage was sparse and I think all from Japan. Well, can't deny that made this a rather private affair, as quoted at the top, with a lot of attention.
I felt compelled to personally congratulate Chef Chris for this singularly memorable extravagance, so I went into his kitchen, where he was hard at work:
My dining experience last night certainly is now in my Top Ten of best ever. Not in any particular order, here are some of the others:
NOMA and Chef Rene: it is, after all, #1 in the world
My Most Memorable Lunch: Paul Gagnaire in Seoul, Korea
DOM in San Paulo: enjoy the color and artistry of Chef Alex
Jiro's and Ryu Gin: two 3-Stars in Tokyo I went to on the same day
Robuchon Tokyo and Robuchon Las Vegas: both 3-Stars, on the same trip
My best lunch ever: La Terraza at the Spanish Steps, Rome (what a white truffles risotto)
The latest 2013 Michelin list still has Tokyo as the #1 in the world for 3 Stars. I ate at Noma before it became #1, and went back a second time when it was the top Pellegrino selection. However, it only has two Michelin stars, and I can see why, as explained in my postings. Paul Gagnaire has a 3-Star restaurant in Paris, and his Seoul gem will gain 3 when Michelin gets to Korea. Chef Alex had a lot more color and artistry than anyone, and this dish is a good example:
Chef Chris has just begun. If he can survive for three years I predict he will be responsible for the first restaurant in Hawaii to gain a Michelin star. Three stars? Certainly possible. I wonder if the local Chaine des Rotisseurs might want to have a seating at Vintage Cave? Perhaps the Gourmet Philosophers might want to splurge. I'll no doubt return someday.
Finally, what is that first photo at the top of this posting all about? Well, you'll see it immediately upon your entrance into the dining room (the front door, incidentally, is a real challenge to find--hint...it's in the dark basement). Something to do with Hiroshima and Little Boy.