Wednesday, July 1, 2015
15 CRAIGSIDE GOES TO M/W RESTAURANT
Earlier this month, 15C went to Budnamujip, where an introduction was provided for MW Restaurant. Fourteen of us were in the MW group, but only the seven on our table appear in the photos.
All previous experiences here, reviews we had seen and personal discussions we had with others were positive, if not glowing. However, last night we were all disappointed, our table much more than the second. Apparently, for a reason not adequately explained, their kitchen that night had some problems. Perhaps we were imagining things, but the staff seemed under some heavy stress. We tried to be as understanding as possible, and, in most instances, should be given gold medals for our acceptance of less than tolerable conditions. A second factor might have been that we were placed in a side room lacking in any aesthetics, where it was easier to forget us, since we were the only ones in that space for the first two hours.
Let me begin with the drinks. First, some of us weren't asked. Second, someone ordered VO Canadian Whiskey on rocks. Third, bad choice on my part, for I ordered the Chef's Tasting Menu with their wine pairing, and the first drink comes with course #1. After reminding various staffers five times, at least half an hour later, the whiskey orderer was told that, sorry, they did not have any VO. But at least she then got her red wine. I had to wait another half an hour for my first drink, which came with the meal. You ask, why didn't I have a martini or aperitif of some sort? Six wines were to come and I thought that that was way too much. To the left, Paula, Pepper and Eric playing charade (hint: they are signifying VO).
Anyhoo, finally came the Champagne Duetz with Osetra Caviar on Hawaiian Hearts of Palm Panna Cotta (I'm getting picky here, but it's hard to stomach Hawaiian Hearts of Palm, for that kills the plant--well, there is a Kauai company that says their palm then sprouts a new trunk),
Osetra (and my computer keeps changing this to Austria, no matter what I do) only comes from Russia and is second to Beluga in cost. What's wrong above? This caviar is BLACK, and Osetra is supposed to be gold to brown. Osetra means sturgeon in Russian. You think, maybe, they substituted something cheaper?
Next came a Quartet of Small Bites:
They were all not at the right temperature, but edible. Another mistake here is that someone brought a Kasumi Tsuru Sake (only Junmai, and it tasted like the bottle was opened a week ago), out of order.
The third course was seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras with Hawaiian Cacao and Raisin Chutney:
A glass of Domaine La Tour, Banyals Grenache was served, a sweet red wine and quite nice with this dish. However, the foie gras must have been prepared fifteen minutes too early, for it was cooler than lukewarm by the time I got it.
The Mochi Crusted Opakapaka was almost excellent, but much too salty:
Here is where the sake was supposed to come. I think they recognized their error, so they brought a second glass of sake. I must say that the staff made numerous attempts at amends for their mistakes, to my benefit. For example, I am allergic to crustaceans, so, at my request, they substituted their vaunted Truffle Local Egg Flan for the Kona Cold Lobster, with a Dr. F. Weins-Prum Riesling (a Kabinett, the cheapest, compared to Spatlese and Auslese). Mind you, they did indicate that they might be adding a surcharge for this favor, and it probably had to do with the truffle:
I think this is where MW is being almost deceptive. The server went through the exercise of shaving this fungus, and gave me so much that I wondered how they could afford this. Stanley Ho (he is in the middle) of Hong Kong has paid more than $100,000/pound for white truffles. The one served here is black and not as expensive. However, when I sniffed the cup, there was zero smell of the distinctive truffle pungency. Only later did one of the waitresses admit that this truffle was not of the quality "usually" served.
Finally, Washugyu American Kobe Beef with Wailua Onion and inundated with Caramelized Onion Vinaigrette:
If I may recommend, reduce the sauce by a factor of ten, or completely, as the steak tasted like a dessert, sweet. What a waste! Halfway through this dish I noticed that the final red wine had not yet been served, so I inquired, and relatively quickly came a Gamay Noir, which, like the sake, seemed to have come from a bottle that was not recently opened.
At this point it was about three hours into dinner and the other table had already eaten their desserts. We waited another half an hour for ours, and hastily finished to go home:
On the left, something called Floating Island, Lilikoi Frozen Souffle, Lilikoi Sorbet, Tropical Fruits, Poached Meringue with Pineapple Elderflower Consommé, plus something called Candy Bar and Donuts to the right. I somehow shared this combo with the entire table and must say that the desserts were fabulous, when compared to the rest of the meal.
Mind you, at our table I think I complained less that a couple of others. So much so that we had a running estimate of the tip we were planning to give. Starting at 20%, we were down to 3%, at the end, but were encouraged by the person in charge from 15C to consider 15%. Finally, the President of our group said 12% and no more. The point is that we just had to leave a message to the management. Three percent would have been more appropriate.
Henry sitting next to me waited, and waited and waited for his entre. I don't think I am exaggerating, but his dish came half an hour after we had all finished. The excuse was that the kitchen, to preserve quality, felt that the first piece of fish was a tad too small, so they had to re-do everything. You would think, if this was so, that they would have informed him of the circumstances. They must have a list of excuses to provide. Henry, ever the gentleman, simply ate his dinner and waited for dessert...and waited. Here he is, with Audrey to his left, earlier, showing off his poke, which he loved. Jerilynn with her first course.
The good news, Henry did not have to pay for his entre, and they deleted the cost of my wine pairing ($60) and did not charge me any extra for that deceitful truffle flan. We returned back to 15C just about four hours after we first left.
I sat in the shuttle next to Cookie, in charge of programs at 15C, and we discussed the prospects in the future of featuring some uber high end restaurants, such as Teppanyaki Ginza Sumikawa, a Japanese beef establishment, with a minimum $200 charge, before drinks. Or, maybe Vintage Cave, where the tasting menu is $295, plus wine. Coming up in July and August: Bac Nam (Vietnamese), Signature (steak), Hoku's (expensive lunch place) and Ocean House (seafood on the beach at Waikiki)
Tropical Storm Chan-hom is now predicted to strengthen into a Category 3 hurricane and pass between Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands: