Alan Wong’s is one of the best, if not the best, restaurants by reputation on Hawaii—and for good reason. From the ambiance to the food to the service, there’s little to nothing mandating criticism. There isn’t a ocean view or any view for that matter, but the presentation of the food more than makes up for a sunset.
I’ve dined at the restaurant three times, so I have a broad taste of what the menu offers. My favorite appetizer is the “Poki-Pines” (Crispy Won Ton Ahi Poke Balls on Avocado with Wasabi Sauce, $15). Not only does it look divine, it tastes out of this world. The hot and crunchy won ton provides a striking contrast in texture with the cold and firm ahi poke. The sauce is complementing and unique. The price is steep for two oversized won tons, but worth the money.
For something refreshing, I like the Hamakua Springs Whole Tomato Salad with Li Hing Mui Vinaigrette ($9.50). It’s literally a whole tomato, and I literally must get it every time I come. The tomato is fresh, sliced, and succulent; the vinaigrette is sweet, salty, and enhances rather than overpowers the tomato. To me, this dish is a perfect 10.
I just tried the Ginger-Crusted Onaga (Long-Tail Red Snapper, Miso Sesame Vinaigrette, Organically Grown Hamakua Mushroom and Corn, $35) last week. This flavor symphony was a masterpiece! The fish was so moist, the sauce was so light, and the fried ginger provided an unusual crunch—it was from no container of Italian bread crumbs.
Dessert is interesting. It could use improvement. I’ve had Five Spoonfuls of Brulees (An Assortment of Flavors, $7), David Murdock Estate Chocolate Sampler (Wong Way Hawaiian Salt Caramel and Macadamia Nut Chocolate “Candy Bar”, Waialua Single Estate Chocolate “Bar”, Chocolate Sorbet, $12.50), and Flavors of Hawaii Cheesecakes (A Tasting of Cheesecakes: Hawaiian Vanilla Bean with Pineapple “Mojito” Relish, “Lava Flow”: Coconut with Strawberry Yuzu Comopte, Okinawan Sweet Potato with Haupia Sorbet, Kona Coffee, $8.50). Alan Wong’s tries too hard to reflect Hawaii in its dessert and in doing so, it complicates an otherwise simple, tasty dessert like cheesecake. All the desserts are beautifully presented with intricate details and lovely garnishes, but it might taste better if simplified.
Although the endings are bittersweet, they don’t take away from the rest of the meal. Alan Wong’s blends classic and modern for an innovative and profound experience. It’s not cheap and it’s not an everyday affair, but it’s definitely worth saving up for.