Tuesday, November 19, 2013
VINTAGE CAVE: THE BEST RESTAURANT IN HAWAII
Earlier this year I dined at Vintage Cave, the best restaurant in Hawaii. Last night, Ted Johnson of Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion and I had a memorable dinner here, confirming my contention that this is the best restaurant of the state. While the background looks like red flowers, the depiction is of the Atomic Bomb over Hiroshima.
OTE Corporation was doing in the Caribbean, Guam and with partners from Europe. Fortuitously enough, Governor George Ariyoshi was also dining here, and he and Ted had a small chat, with the Governor effusive over the early role he played in developing the technology and how much he remains interested in the prospects. I will later in a future posting go into further details.
Click on the above first supper to gain the details about how fabulous this place is. Here to the left is Sommelier Chieko, posing before their bar, and while mine is more expansive, I don't have a 50 year old MacCallan (right).
We ordered their Chef's course with accompanying wines. To tempt us, two gigantic white truffles from Italy were shown to us with a gigantic price tag if we wanted to upgrade one dish.
I was tempted, remembering my best lunch ever in Rome of white truffle risotto, but we showed considerable discipline by declining, mostly because of the cost.
I would never have thought to make french fried kale, but here it is:
It was interesting but not particularly spectacular. The appetizers were sweetish, and served with a German riesling (I'm kicking myself because I was provided a handwritten list of the seven or so wines/sake we had, and left this info on the table):
I could, but won't provide details. The next course was a caviar over brioche:
Each of the above was artistic and unusual, for Chef Chris Kajioka is being creative. The "From the Sea" assortment was particularly excellent:
Various raw seafood morsels, with the best a foie gras over chutoro (fatty tuna) combination:
I've actually made this combination at home with o-toro (a fattier blue fin tuna). So far, all white wines plus a fabulous cold sake from Niigata. Then came an ikura (salmon eggs) composition:
Here is where it gets uncertain, for we either got some beet combination or a Hirabara tomato salad:
Remember, we are up to more than five wines now. Then Chef Kajioka sends us, gratis, some white truffle special over brioche, which was the second tastiest dish of the night:
I've never had so much white truffles at one sitting in my life. Heavenly. The next course featured Nantucket Bay scallops:
Chef Kajioka does this right. Most chefs serve scallops medium rare. Kajiioka fries (I guess) the scallops to reduce the moisture content, allowing that unique scallop taste to appear as it should. The mahimahi was worthy:
Visitors to Hawaii like mahimahi because there are no bones and no fishy taste. Kajioka prepared this fish in a manner that maximized the essence of mahimahi. There was an intermezzo of something:
I do this all the time, but missed taking a photo of the evening highlight, a wagyu steak from Miyazaki plate that was as good as this can get. I think beef from this region of Japan is #1 and was treated to a barbecue of Miyazaki wagyu by Mayor Chihiro Takeuchi in my quest to interest his constituency about rainbow pearls. Followed was then a train of desserts and petit fours:
Ted then enjoyed a tour of the restaurant, here with part of 18 Picassos:
He found the Ruby Room to be ideal for a future gathering he might someday host:
President and COO Naoshi Uchida and I on my way out:
How much did this meal cost? Not sure. Ask Ted.