This month is a riot of ribeyes, a sizzling collection of six steakhouses.
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I was with two gentlemen, both of whom, against my sage advice, ordered their steaks adulterated, one a filet slathered in garlic-wine sauce, the other a steak Hy’s calls “The Only,” a New York strip with what the menu calls “unique steakhouse sauce,” which tasted strongly of Worchestershire, to my palate.
Hy’s doesn’t soak you for sides, giving you vegetables and that wonderful steakhouse staple: a baked potato with butter, sour cream, chives and bacon bits.
Then we got to dessert, Ernie doing his thing with cherries jubilee, melting the sugar and butter, adding the cherries, letting the lit brandy spin its fiery way down a spiral orange peel.
My father, who loved restaurants, used to say, “Restaurants flame desserts because it sells desserts.” No sooner did we order one than Ernie was making cherries jubilee all round the room. You can’t resist.
The check was, by steakhouse standards, a reasonable $267, with a round of cocktails and a glass of wine apiece. But we had such a good time, I learned something: There is more to a steak dinner than a steak.
WAIKIKI BEACH MARRIOTT // 2552 KALAKAUA AVE. // 931-6280 // DINNER NIGHTLY 5:30 TO 10 P.M. // $12 VALET PARKING, $6 SELF-PARKING, MAJOR CREDIT CARDS
I’ve eaten at d.k.’s with pleasure in the past. Having eaten at the chains, I made a special attempt to get there. I wish I’d skipped it, because it was a sad experience from the outset: a poorly mixed, weak cocktail, a waitstaff young enough to mount High School Musical, and a tiny portion of sashimi served on a beat-up wooden sushi tray.
The sides were sad. The creamed spinach seemed barely creamed, and the french fries had the perfectly uniform look and nonexistent texture that seemed to scream frozen.
There were two pleasant things: the steaks and the wine.
We ordered two steaks for three of us. I picked up the bone of the dry-aged bone-in ribeye, and greedily stripped it of meat with my teeth. The American Kobe filet had a nice, easy slide across your palate, but to my newly critical view, hardly up to its $79 price tag.
As you might expect from wine director Chuck Furuya, there was a remarkable wine list. We drank flights of reds—Domaine La Garrigue Cotes du Rhone, Trumpeter Malbec from Argentina, Wishing Tree shiraz from Australia—rich, rustic wines that added to each bite of steak. it was also the only reasonably priced wine I'd drunk all month, $11.95 for a two-ounce pour of each.
We liked the wine so well, that's what we had for dessert. And ended up with bill for $327 with tip, with only two steaks split among three people.
FOUR SEASONS RESORT MAUI // 3900 WAILEA ALANUI, WAILEA// 808-874-8000 // DINNER NIGHTLY 5:30 to 9 P.M. // VALET PARKING (TIP ONLY), MAJOR CREDIT CARDS
You are perhaps unlikely to travel to Maui for a steak, but with interisland airfares still maintaining a relatively low altitude, who knows.
For sheer extravagance—which seems to be a steakhouse staple—I am fond of Duo. An outdoor terrace above the Four Seasons pool, everything is casual here, except the food, wine and prices.
Photo by Monte Costa
Another decadent option at Duo: The filet mignon
There's a seafood tower that actually towers, an elaborate presentation of oysters, clams, shrimp and a remarkable quantity of lobster tail.
You can get perfectly fine Prime steak here, even an organic Prime, but I can never pass up the opportunity to eat Kobe beef. Not American Wagyu, but the real deal from Tajima-ushi—so prized that it costs $28 an ounce, so tender you hardly need a knife to cut it, so heavily marbled it does not even feel like red meat on the palate. The only way you new it was beef was that it really, really tasted like beef.
The first time I ate at Duo, I had to order a New York strip of Kobe, a minimum of eight ounces. In a world of 16- and 20-ounce ribeyes, eight ounces doesnt sound like much. But, if there's such a thing as too much heaven, that was it. Especially for $200.
Sanity—or some upscale steakhouse version of it—has prevailed. You can now order a 4-ounce portion, $104. Go ahead, you only live once. Order an expensive Burgundy to go with it.
Of course, side dishes are extra. While you are indulging yourself, get an order of the Kula sweet corn, served cut off the cob, because who'd expect you to eat with your fingers here. Don't miss the truffled cheese "Spuddies," which are sort of upscale Tater Tots.
At least, there's no need to order dessert: A vast billow of cotton candy, sometimes green, sometimes red, arrives at the end of the meal.
John Heckathorn has been writing restaurant reviews for HONOLULU Magazine since 1984. In 2007, he won a bronze medal from the City and Regional Magazine Association for his food writing.