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Sunday, September 10, 2017

VINTAGE CAVE REVISITED

A few months ago, I took Tadashi Matsunaga to Vintage Cave.  He had recently completed a six year run as president of Nokodai (Tokyo University of A&T).  Next month I return to Japan to participate in his retirement party.

On the 12th floor of 15 Craigside reside four neighbors, where our doors open next to each other.  Over the past few months we have gone out to dinner at Noboru, Chengdu Taste, Miyake and La Mer.  This weekend we dined at Vintage Cave (VC).  To the left are our two drivers, John (going) and Deanna (returning), and that is their Mercedes on the right side of that photo.

I asked the manager of VC if this was the best restaurant in the state.  Basically, he said no, for they consider themselves to be something at a higher level of cuisine.  Note it says Private Society in the above shot.

The basic cost is $300/meal for their French Japonais Kaiseki, but if you really want to splurge, the teppanyaki area starts at $500 and up, depending on what you eat.

They also have various special rooms and a bountiful wine cellar. Just to the left of Tom is a small case exhibiting an extraordinary selection of wines valued at a couple of million dollars.

The place could fit a hundred diners, but by policy they generally restrict the clientele to four tables per night.  Why?  VC wants to create the ideal ambiance for their diners.  The owner, Takeshi Sekiguchi, a billionaire from Japan, is distinguished for his fine tastes.

Their bar serves 1.5 ounces of 50-year old Glenffidich (left) for $6000.  That is, for one drink.

The wine list has a bottle that goes up to $29,000, and it was hard to find anything under $100.  There were more above $1000 than below $100.  However, I found a Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon and Conundrum White Meritage for a combined cost of $91.  I asked why these two were so relatively "cheap."  Our waiter Dustin smiled and said you ordered well.

You don't need to be a member to dine here, but by the end of the evening, one of us became one.  The advantage is that you don't need to tip, wines are 30% off and you can get a reservation at any time.

The membership fee paid is not lost.  For as long as you're alive, they just delete the cost of all your meals from what you paid to join.  This account also can be used at their new restaurant, Vintage Cave Cafe, located at the Ewa end of Ala Moana Center.  A third restaurant is being finalized on Park Avenue in New York City.  Future locations include Dubai, London Beverly Hills and Frankfurt.

Here we are in the Amethyst Room, with Tom and Al across from us, just like in 15 Craigside.  If I look like I've already drunk too much, this was because I had walked 18-holes at Ala Wai that afternoon:



We started with cocktails, mine was a Bombay Sapphire martini, and went to those white and red wines mentioned above.  The first course was Japanese Wagyu Beef Carpaccio (raw) with Crispy Sushi Rice:


Next came Ayu (freshwater fish from Japan) Kobujime with Watermelon Tartare, Frozen Melon and Cucumber Coulis.


The fish was crispy, so theoretically one could eat the whole thing.  However, the head was a bit to bony for me.

Then a Chef's Special Homage to the Ocean and to the Land, Bluefin tuna Chu-toro, Aori-ika and Meichidai:


Every dish was a work of art.

Then a Kona Cream Cheese Tofu, Cauliflower Mousse with Osetra Caviar, Hokkaido Uni (sea urchin) and Amaebi (sweet shrimp):


These were all very tiny portions, I was already getting filled.

Followed Kinmeidai (Japanese golden eye snapper) and Kona Abalone Poeler (not sure what this means) with Cream Spinach Sauce and Fried Heart of Palm:


Loved the crispy lemon slice.

Next, Fried Madai (?) and Kona Lobster Tomato Stew:


Hard to explain, but this might have been the most tasty dish.

A Komomo (?) Sorbet, then an outstanding Crispy Kurobuta Pork Belly with Enoki Mushroom Carbonara (Italian white sauce):


Finally, the primo entre, A5+ Sendai Wagyu Beef and Pan Seared Foie Gras, Onion Ponzu, Petite Vegetables:


Huge plate, minuscule tidbits, but I was already supersaturated anyway.

The dessert was another art piece:


Mixed Berry Mousse, Blueberry Compote, Dark and White Nama Chocolate, Coffee Butter and Cream Macaroon.  You'd think coffee would be free, but, no...$8.  Anyway, the food was, indeed, superb, and visually pleasurable.  The whole combination of drinks, cuisine, company and excellent service made this one of the highlight meals of my life.

But eating at Vintage Cave is only part of the experience.  Picture yourself dining in a fashionable museum of a Medieval castle.  We got a full tour through their facility and art gallery, featuring a wide array of masterpieces owned by Sekiguchi,  including 20 Picassos:

We left 15 Craigside at 5:30PM and arrived home just before 11PM.  While the whole undertaking was wonderful, just the fact that we survived was a minor miracle.  Next month we go to Nanzan Giro Giro.

Incidentally, if any of my friends want to move into 15 Craigside, this coming Tuesday afternoon I will make a presentation on DINING OUT AT 15 CRAIGSIDE, which will focus on food some of us consume beyond our dining room.  Such a waste of money, but I pay for 90 meals/month and only eat around 20 times/month here with the residents.

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Hurricane Irma is walloping Florida:

Scarily enough, the damage could amount to a quarter trillion dollars.  Hurricane Katrina saw a $160 billion loss to the economy in 2017 dollars.  Harvey exceeded that amount and Irma should just about equal the loss.

Hurricane Jose, now at 135 MPH, is projected to make a full loop, but still, eventually, move away from the USA:



Follow that white line.

In the West Pacific, Typhoon Talim is now projected to move a bit north and strike the middle of Taiwan late Wednesday night as a Category 3:



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