Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Hualalai Grille by Alan Wong

Pack your survival kit, grab some flares and if you go at night hire a tour guide or a knowledgeable local especially if you haven't been to the Big Island or the Four Seasons Hualalai before. When calling for directions the hostess said to look for the big tree. Not exactly the easiest thing to do as the sun is setting. And after all this searching, the "big tree" was a little bit bigger than a Charley Brown Christmas tree.

Once you finally do find the property, the road to Oz strangely passes another resort and winds through a residential neighborhood. At the end of the road, like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, appears the majesty of the Four Seasons resort.

The restaurant is set in a lovely open air space, like a lanai, that overlooks the golf course. It feels like you are on a deserted island that you can call your own.

The tasting menu is a must. It starts with the signature dish of "Soup & Sandwich" but this is no ordinary soup and sandwich. The soup is a chilled red and yellow tomato soup, with each color in its own half of the bowl. The sandwich is a foie gras, kalua pork and grilled cheese sandwich. The combination may sound strange but works wonderfully. The tomato soup helps to cut through the richness of the foie gras while still allowing the flavors of the sandwich to shine through. It also comes with a wonderful seafood cake composed of lobster, shrimp and crab. It is lightly held together with mayo and the sweet, delicate flavors of the seafood to be the star.

The next course is pan seared diver scallops with a pork hash risotto. Huge diver scallops are perfectly seared with a nice golden brown crust and the delicate interior allows the natural flavor of the scallop to rise to the top.

The fish course is ginger crusted onaga (ruby snapper) with a miso sesame vinagrette. This delicate fish is perfectly cooked and the ginger crusting gives it a sharp bite that is perfectly paired with the fish. The saltiness of the miso also helps to bring out the flavor of the onaga.

The meat course of short ribs is nothing short of spectacular. Braised to perfection the meat falls off the bone to give the taster a mouthful of pure beef flavor. The accompanying soy glaze adds a hint of saltiness and sweetness.

The signature Chocolate Crunch Bar is unlike anything Hershey's or Nestle ever made. The chocolate is not overly sweet and the infused macadamia nuts add texture and saltiness, as well as helping to cut down the sweetness of the chocolate.

This is one of the best meals I've had in my life and worth every penny. It's actually pretty affordable compared to some other restaurants.

The Hualalai Grille by Alan Wong
72-100 Kaupulehu Drive
Kailua Kona, HI 96740
(808) 325-8525

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