First Taste: Beachhouse 110th Anniversary Prix Fixe, Moana Surfrider, Waikiki
Chef Rodney Uyehara of Moana Beachhouse has come up with a historic four-course prix fixe to celebrate the hotel's 110th anniversary.
As we noted in yesterday's post, the Moana Surfrider Waikiki canceled tonight's food and wine gala (not because of last night's tsunami alert, but because of a threatened strike).
The entertainment is still on, now free. The folks who'd bought $110 tickets for the gala are being given the opportunity instead to have Beachhouse chef Rodney Uyehara's $110 four-course anniversary menu. Response has been enthusiastic.
As well it should be. Biting Commentary prevailed upon Uyehara to give us a preview tasting, knowing that the culinary veteran (Cascada, Chai's, Bistro at Century Center) is adept at updating hearty classical dishes.
The Moana researched its old menus at the Bishop Museum, and Uyehara reinvented the dishes.
First course was a play on 1960s bacon-wrapped scallops. Uyehara instead wrapped the scallop in proscuitto and then encased it in a net of julienne potatoes.
"There was lots of poi on the menus in the '60s," said Uyehara, "so I sauced it with poi vinaigrette." The vinaigrette gave just enough bite to the dish, especially as it was enlivened by drops of Thai chili oil. Those potatoes? Essentially some of the best hash browns you've ever tasted, wondrously crispy.
Uyehara always makes sure patrons get enough protein. The second course went straight to the that 1930s classic, steak Diane. It's named after the Roman goddess of the hunt, Diana, because in the 1930s it was a flamboyant venison preparation, served flamed with brandy at the table.
"We flambéed our steak Diane tableside at the Bistro, but they were too afraid to let us do that here," says Uyehara. "This is a historic property. Take no chances."
You take no chances with Uyehara's steak Diane. It's not flaming, but it's surrounded by morel mushrooms in a glistening butter sauce. It's hard to know which is richer—the filet mignon or the mushrooms.
If steak Diane wasn't enough, for his third course Uyehara unveils veal Oscar, named in honor of the king of Sweden, Oscar II (1829-1907). The turn-of-the-century recipe calls for veal medallions, topped with Bearnaise sauce and crab meat.
Uyehara wasn't content to recreate it. Instead he takes a veal chop off the bone, roasts it, tops it not with crab meat but with foie gras. ("I didn't see much foie gras on the old menus, but I decided, just go for it," he says.) He sauced it with an old-style Tawny port demiglace.
The crab meat became instead crab leg tempura. There was a little classic Bearnaise on the plate, but you could dip the crab tempura into a zingy yuzu chili pesto.
Dessert? That blast from the 1980s when, thanks to a restaurant called Horatio's, all of Honolulu went crème brûlée crazy. "I didn't see any rum in the old brûlées, but I really like dark rum," says Uyehara. The rum adds a layer of bitter caramel richness to the sugar-topped light custard.
You can also order wine pairing with the dinner, each course matched with the Moana house wines, including a remarkable late harvest pinot noir from Bella del Notte with the dessert.
The best news of all: this menu's available through March.
Beachhouse at Moana, dinner nightly 5:30-10 p.m., 2365 Kalakaua Ave., (808) 923-2861, beachhousewaikiki.com