Archive for December, 2015

Jedi chef brotherhood reunited

By
December 16th, 2015



The Alan Wong Jedi brotherhood, with one sister, reunited.

The Alan Wong Jedi brotherhood, with one sister, reunited.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comJedi chef Steven Ariel, now with the W Seattle Hotel, was among the alumni of Alan Wong's family of restaurants who came together for a reunion event Dec. 14 at MW Restaurant.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Jedi chef Steven Ariel, now with the W Seattle Hotel, was among the alumni of Alan Wong's family of restaurants who came together for a reunion event Dec. 14 at MW Restaurant.

"Star Wars" imagery is everywhere this season in anticipation of this week's release of the latest tale in the film saga, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."

Even so, when I spotted the Jedi T-shirts and life-size Storm Trooper balloon outside the tents at the MW and Friends "Reunited" event that took place Dec. 14 under a tent in the restaurant's parking lot, I was a little confused about the meaning of the thing.

At least I wasn't the only one clueless about the insider's joke. Everyone else was asking the same questions: "What's with the Jedi T-shirts?" "What's with the Star Wars theme?"

OK, first things first. As well as being praise-worthy in their own right, chefs Alan Wong, Roy Yamaguchi and George Mavrothalassitis have been responsible for providing the real world training ground for most of Hawaii's next generation of top-tier chefs. This particular reunion brought together chefs who formerly worked together at Alan Wong's Restaurant and the Pineapple Room.

In addition to MW host/owners Wade Ueoka and Michelle Karr-Ueoka, in house were:

Sonny Acosta: Now at Abunai Food; Washington, D.C.

Steven Ariel: W Seattle Hotel

Brandon Hamada: Home Bar & Grill

Lance Kosaka: Top of Waikiki and Sky Waikiki

Jon Matsubara: Bloomingdale's Restaurant Kaola

Gary Matsumoto: Hawai'i Convention Center

Jonathan Mizukami: Chef Mavro

Jared Murakawa: MW Restaurant

Neil Nakasone: Home Bar & Grill

Marc Urquidi: Roy's Restaurant

Sean Walsh: Top of Waikiki

Mark Okumura: Kapiolani Community College

Also there was longtime restaurant manager Charly Yoshida.

Guarding the tent.

Guarding the tent.

As for the "Star Wars" reference, Wade explained all in his program notes, writing:

"I remember long, long ago, in a kitchen not too far away ...

The day I was new to the fish station ... I had actually just learned to cook a simple fish fillet, and now, all of a sudden, as service was starting, I was responsible for a whole fish? I had no idea what I was in for. Being it was my first encounter with a whole fish (and nervous as hell), I nonchalantly asked,

"How do you know when it's done?"

"The reply I received in the heat of the rush was, 'Use your Jedi sense!'

"It was at that moment that I knew I wanted to commit myself to learn the ways of the Jedi. ... It has taken many, many years of practice, long hours, and countless cuts, burns and mistakes to learn the ways of the Jedi.

Jedi chefs, from left, Wade Ueoka, Lance Kosaka and Jonathan Mizukami, who has returned home after working kitchens from Alinea,  to Per Se, El Bulli and The French Laundry. Planning for the reunion event began about five months ago.

Jedi chefs, from left, Wade Ueoka, Lance Kosaka and Jonathan Mizukami, who has returned home after working kitchens from Alinea, to Per Se, El Bulli and The French Laundry. Planning for the reunion event began about five months ago.

"... Through years of battle, and the opportunity to cook with hundreds of different troops, there have been those with which a group has formed. A group that has shown passion, dedication, determination, and the skills to become a true Jedi master. It had always been a dream of mine to bring all the Jedi back together again."

As much fun as it may have been for them to see and cook alongside one another once again, it was just as thrilling for guests who enjoyed a lengthy grazing menu.

Charly Yoshida and Olena Heu were among the first employees at Alan Wong's Restaurant. Heu continued working at the restaurant even after she took on full-time news duties at KHON.

Charly Yoshida and Olena Heu were among the first employees at Alan Wong's Restaurant. Heu continued working at the restaurant even after she took on full-time news duties at KHON.

Former front-of-the-house staffers were also there to check in with old friends and simply enjoy themselves. Among them was former KHON morning news anchor Olena Heu, who served as hostess when Wong opened his first eponymous restaurant in April 1995.

She had arrived from Kauai and was working at David Paul's Lahaina Grill. When that restaurant was put up for sale, she simply decided she wanted to work at Hawaii's No. 1 restaurant and rang them up.

She put in 10 years while attending school, and it was only after taking on an internship at KHON that she decided TV news was the place for her. Yet, even after landing a full-time job with the station, she continued to work at Alan Wong's restaurant until she could no longer do so after taking the morning anchor job that required getting up at 2 in the morning.

"The restaurant shift didn't end until midnight," she said. "But they still let me come in and work one day a week. Everytime I see Alan I tell him I loved the time I spent working at his restaurant."

As for the man who saw the promise in them all, he is in Shanghai, preparing to open his next restaurant.

Michelle Karr-Ueoka shows a tray of her lemon meringue confections.[/caption]

Michelle Karr-Ueoka shows a tray of her lemon meringue confections.

The Jedi moms, Marge Kosaka, left, mother of Lance, and Alan Wong's mom Terry Yamamoto, who's said to be a very good cook. She said she didn't teach him to cook, but through eating her food, he learned the optimal flavors. She said she's proud of all of her son's protégés, who still call her mama.

The Jedi moms, Marge Kosaka, left, mother of Lance, and Alan Wong's mom Terry Yamamoto, who's said to be a very good cook. She said she didn't teach him to cook, but through eating her food, he learned the optimal flavors. She said she's proud of all of her son's protégés, who still call her "mama."

Some of the dishes:

Jon Matsubara offered up a taste of his new menu at Bloomingdale's Kaola Restaurant, with "Hibiscus Egg," creamy "fu yung" topped with a dollop of ikura and scallions.

Jon Matsubara offered up a taste of his new menu at Bloomingdale's Kaola Restaurant, with "Hibiscus Egg," creamy "fu yung" topped with a dollop of ikura and scallions.

Jonathan Mizukami put a garden on a plate, starting with a panna cotta of fromage blanc, layered with Ma'o Farm vegetables, preserved young strawberries and finished with refreshing cucumber shiso granite.

Jonathan Mizukami put a garden on a plate, starting with a panna cotta of fromage blanc, layered with Ma'o Farm vegetables, preserved young strawberries and finished with refreshing cucumber shiso granite.

Representing Home Bar & Grill, Neil Nakasone offered up a seared scallop with Kahuku sea asparagus namasu.

Representing Home Bar & Grill, Neil Nakasone offered up a seared scallop with Kahuku sea asparagus namasu.

Marc Urquidi of Roy's presented Kona kampachi crudo with citrus flavor derived from being wrapped around a cube of compressed Hawaiian Crown pineapple and yuzu fluid gel, with the heat of jalapeño.

Marc Urquidi of Roy's presented Kona kampachi crudo with citrus flavor derived from being wrapped around a cube of compressed Hawaiian Crown pineapple and yuzu fluid gel, with the heat of jalapeño.

The flavors of Thailand came through in Sean Walsh's pork sausage lettuce wrap with coconut curry sauce, a touch of green papaya salad and crispy noodles.

The flavors of Thailand came through in Sean Walsh's pork sausage lettuce wrap with coconut curry sauce, a touch of green papaya salad and crispy noodles.

Sonny Acosta put a party on a plate with a combo of Kauai shrimp and Sun Noodle mazemen with shrimp head gravy, uni, achiote, whole quail egg and chicharon.

Sonny Acosta put a party on a plate with a combo of Kauai shrimp and Sun Noodle mazemen with shrimp head gravy, uni, achiote, whole quail egg and chicharon.

Steven Ariel served washugyu beef and Seattle foraged black trumpet and hedghog mushrooms, with smoked sea salt.

Steven Ariel served washugyu beef and Seattle foraged black trumpet and hedghog mushrooms, with smoked sea salt.

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Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage is in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

Penfolds dinner unfolds at Azure

By
December 1st, 2015



PHOTO COURTESY SAMUEL GOLDWYN FILMS Dylnn Proctor, featured here in the documentary film "Somm," is Penfolds Winemaking Ambassador, and offered a history of the company and its winemaking processes during a Penfolds dinner at Azure restaurant.

PHOTOS COURTESY SAMUEL GOLDWYN FILMS

Dylnn Proctor, featured here in the documentary film "Somm," is Penfolds Winemaking Ambassador, and offered a history of the company and its winemaking processes during a Penfolds dinner at Azure restaurant.

Azure restaurant at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel welcomed master sommelier Dlynn Proctor during a Penfolds dinner that took place Nov. 24 at Azure restaurant in the Royal Hawaiian Hotel.

Proctor, named “Best New Sommelier in America” by Wine & Spirits Magazine in 2008, is Penfolds Winemaking Ambassador, Americas, and was featured in the 2012 documentary "Somm," which followed four men through the labyrinth exams of the Court of Master Sommeliers and the grueling Master Sommelier Exam, a test with one of the lowest pass rates in the world. Since its inception in 1969, fewer than 200 candidates have been named Masters.

While guests enjoyed a luxurious meal prepared by RHC executive chef Colin Hazama and Azure chef de cuisine Shaymus Alwin, Proctor shared Penfolds unique history as an Australian winemaker that helped to shape the country's industry. Its attempt to create world-class vintages and achieve luxury status, given regional quirks, occurred over a relatively short span of 172 years when compared to Europe's centuries of winemaking tradition.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comRoyal Hawaiian executive chef Colin Hazama, left, and Azure chef de cuisine Shaymus Alwin, teamed up to present the extravagant meal.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Royal Hawaiian executive chef Colin Hazama, left, and Azure chef de cuisine Shaymus Alwin, teamed up to present the extravagant meal.

Dinner started with a beautiful amuse bouche of citrus-cured hamachi with vodka creme fraiche, Meyere lemon and Oscietra caviar.

Dinner started with a beautiful amuse bouche of citrus-cured hamachi with vodka creme fraiche, Meyere lemon and Oscietra caviar.

Apple pear gazpacho was poured over Wailea hearts of palm panna cotta, escargot caviar relish, compressed Ho Farms cucumber, kaffir croutons and morsels of Dungeness crab. I was two-thirds pau when I was distracted and a waiter took away my plate. Bummer. I really wanted to finish this. I loved the lightness, multi-layers and beautiful textures. Paired with Penfolds Bin 51 Riesling.

Apple pear gazpacho was poured over Wailea hearts of palm panna cotta, escargot caviar relish, compressed Ho Farms cucumber, kaffir croutons and morsels of Dungeness crab. I was two-thirds pau when I was distracted and a waiter took away my plate. Bummer. I really wanted to finish this. I loved the lightness, multi-layers and beautiful textures. Paired with Penfolds Bin 51 Riesling.

A seared Hokkaido scallop and duck prosciutto were on the menu at Azure's Penfolds dinner. Also on the plate: roasted baby beets and basil-caviar dressing. Presented with Penfolds Bin 311 Chardonnay.

A seared Hokkaido scallop and duck prosciutto were on the menu at Azure's Penfolds dinner. Also on the plate: roasted baby beets and basil-caviar dressing. Presented with Penfolds Bin 311 Chardonnay.

Kiawe-smoked Hawaiian sea bass presented with maitake mushrooms, Kahuku sea asparagus, puffed rice, braised daikon and silky truffle dashi. I loved the delicacy of this dish accompanied by Penfolds Bin 128 Shiraz.

Kiawe-smoked Hawaiian sea bass presented with maitake mushrooms, Kahuku sea asparagus, puffed rice, braised daikon and silky truffle dashi. I loved the delicacy of this dish accompanied by Penfolds Bin 128 Shiraz.

An autumnal offering of wagyu striploin, marrow Dauphine, sunchoke fondue and persimmon mostarda, made even more memorable when served with Penfolds Bin 707, a 2012 cabernet sauvignon.

An autumnal offering of wagyu striploin, marrow Dauphine, sunchoke fondue and persimmon mostarda, made even more memorable when served with Penfolds Bin 707, a 2012 cabernet sauvignon.

The Penfolds Bin 707 is available at Fujioka's Wine, Times at Market City Shopping Center, for about $342.

The Penfolds Bin 707 is available at Fujioka's Wine, Times at Market City Shopping Center, for about $342.

The finale was a warm Hashimoto persimmon pudding with eggnog cream, rum butter candied pecans and creme fraiche gelato, served with Penfolds tawny port.

The finale was a warm Hashimoto persimmon pudding with eggnog cream, rum butter candied pecans and creme fraiche gelato, served with Penfolds tawny port.

One of the most extravagant wines poured over the course of the evening was Penfolds Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, which Fujioka's Wine recently offered at $341.99. The Grange wine is a result of the late Max Schubert's experiments in the 1950s and '60s to create a wine in the style of Bordeaux, using the shiraz or syrah abundant in Australia, and a small amount of cabernet. The Bin 707 was named after the Boeing 707 aircraft which linked Sydney to California, a sister in wine production.

It was an evening well spent, both delicious and educational. A lot of effort went into the meal and when told I enjoyed the saturated essence of duck captured in the duck prosciutto, chef Alwin shared that he had two more ducks maturing, part of the lengthy process. He shared that he's not a patient person except when it comes to the kitchen arts.

If you missed this dinner, note that the two chefs have more holiday feasts planned on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Chef Alwin will be offering a four-course feast at Azure both days. On the menu are chilled Kona lobster salad; Thai-scented Kauai shrimp bisque with braised fennel, sweet basil oil and cognac crema; a choice of a Pier 38 fish selection and Hokkaido scallop with lemon verbena nage, roasted turnip and sweet corn; or Colorado rack of lamb with basil potato puree, winter vegetables and shiraz lamb jus; or Maple Farms’ duck breast with chestnut puree, crispy Brussels, pioppini mushroom and pomegranate gastrique. The dinner will end with a mont blanc island fruit cake, warm ginger torte.

Seating is available between 5:30 and 9 p.m.; and the cost of the dinner is $150 per person, or $195 with wine pairings. Prices do not include tax and gratuity.

For keiki, a three-course children’s menu will start with seasonal fruit; entrée of a grilled steak or fish with rice and green salad, or roast turkey with mashed potatoes and herb gravy; concluding with a dessert of Waialua chocolate flourless cake with vanilla gelato and raspberry sauce. The meal is $45 for children between ages 5 and 12.

On Christmas Day, Hazama and his team will present a lavish brunch buffet in the hotel’s Monarch Room, with everything from pastries from the “Only at the Royal” Bakeshop, to a build-your-own eggs benedicts station, chilled seafood offerings, local greens, and “Pink Palace” pancakes. A variety of carving and action stations will also be open, offering a range of delectables such as sushi and Shinsato Farms suckling pig from snout to tail.

Seating times for the Christmas Day Brunch are at 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. The price is $110 per person and $55 for ages 5 to 12. Prices do not include tax and gratuity. To make reservations for Christmas Eve dinner, Christmas brunch and Christmas dinner at The Royal Hawaiian, call the Starwood Waikiki Dining Desk at (808) 921-4600.

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Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage is in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

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