We have been disappointed at Roy's and Alan Wong's, and Sam Choy's Breakfast Lunch and Crab doesn't belong in the fine dining category. What is a Pan Asian lover to do? Head to Hoku's--our go-to restaurant on Oahu for as long as I can remember. Every table has an ocean view, and the service is professional and understated with plenty of aloha spirit.
The amuse bouche was a tiny crabcake a top a little nest of ocean salad and dolloped with some Asian remoulade. A little bite of the sea to start us off on our journey.
Ian's Gibson became a martini when the server realized the bar was out of cocktail onions. At least he knew what a Gibson was. The drink menu is loaded with tropical drinks--unfortunately the craft cocktail craze hasn't invaded Hawaii yet? They do have a nice wine by the glass selection--the rose and the pinot noir suggested by the server were an excellent pairing for my meal.
Big Island Hearts of Palm: shaved hearts of palm, ahi and hamachi, orange and grapefruit with yuzu orange vinaigrette. Hearts of palm fascinates me--more textural than a taste it blended nicely with the other ingredients. The fish was buttery soft and fresh. My only complaint was the relatively light hand with the dressing--the blandness of the hearts of palm could have used another splash.
Short rib tempura: braised short rib, kalbi jus and avocado tempura. This was one of those dishes I had to order because I cannot imagine myself at home braising short-ribs and then tempura frying them. I have forgotten the names of the other sauces on the plate, but they had enough acid to cut the richness of the ribs and the avocado.
Chinese House Roast Duck with bao buns, wok fried vegetables and orange hoisin sauce. Another dish I wouldn't dream of attempting at home. I had missed out on the opportunity to get honest to goodness roast duck in Vancouver's Chinatown, and I took a chance on Hoku's. This was my favorite dish of our meal. The duck was seasoned and roasted to perfection and came to the table sliced and ready to stuff into the little bao with some sauteed bok choy and asparagus.
Fish special: onaga with citrus panko crust, fresh tomato salad. Another reason I ordered the duck...Ian beat me to the fish special. Hoku's does offer a whole fried fish for two, but after having this dish in Thailand for <$30 I doubted that the $120 version at Hoku's could be 300% better. This was an interesting preparation, and I expected a thin panko coating instead of the slab pictured above. The fish was moist, and the citrus in the crust really shone. The tomato salad was meh. The tomatoes were a little overripe, and I am suspicious of a tomato in December, even in Hawaii.
Haupia Katsu: mango sorbet and tropical fruit minestrone. Haupia is a coconut pudding/gelatin dessert. Coating it with more coconut and then deep frying it? The best. I am not sure why they called the sauce minestrone, but it was good.
Nondescript cookie, macaron, cranberry gelee, hazelnut/chocolate crisp, lilikoi truffle. These came to our table with the check...yay! The hazelnut/chocolate crisp was our favorite, and I would love to see a full-size version on the menu.
If you are lucky enough to go to Oahu skip the craziness of downtown Waikiki and head down Kahala Avenue to Hoku's for a meal you will remember.