Dining: East Side Story
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Also good was the crispy, wok-fired moi. There just was one detail amiss. The server did warn us that the moi was “big enough for two.” Derek ordered it anyway. “This isn’t for two,” he said when he saw it. He proceeded to demolish every bite, no problem. It wasn’t much more moi than you get when you order the similar dish at Marbella. However, at Marbella, it costs about $25 and at BluWater it cost $40. The only way it really seemed “for two” was that it was double the price of most entrees. The server should have mentioned that small fact, since fish was designated “market price” on the menu.
Didn’t bother the boys, however, who proceeded on to dessert. Standard stuff, but they were delighted. A classic banana split with chocolate sauce and, as we used to say as kids, whipped cream and a cherry on top. There was lilikoi creme brulee with diced fruit, a melting chocolate cake with ice cream, all fine. The only real innovation was banana blintzes, the warm blintzes (think small crepe) wrapped around chocolate ganache and sliced bananas, the whole thing was sauced with swirls of rum caramel. Oh, yeah.
Dinner for four ran me $300, with a tip for the ever-patient waitress, Diane, whom the boys tried to convince to come drinking with us after. I managed to keep the bill down by ordering prosecco, the reasonably priced Italian sparkler, which actually worked well with the wide range of flavors we ordered. It was a bargain at $17 a bottle.
Niu Valley Shopping Center, 5730 Kalanianaole Highway. 373-7990
Dinner nightly except Tues., 5:30-9 p.m. Free parking, major credit cards
There are now two Bistros in Honolulu. That’s going to give rise to a decade or so of confusion, as there used to be when there were two Michel’s.
There’s The Bistro, the newish, old-school restaurant at Century Center. Then there’s Le Bistro, in the Niu Valley Shopping Center. It’s next to Swiss Haus. When Martin and Jeanne Wyss ran that restaurant as the Swiss Inn, the restaurant next door never prospered. However, the Swiss Haus has let the restaurant slip in ways Wyss would never have allowed. And next door, Le Bistro is booming.
When it opened in 2001, Le Bistro earned a rep as a pretty good little neighborhood restaurant. I’ve got news for you. Since then, it has elevated itself onto the short list of first-rate Honolulu restaurants.
Chef/owner Alan Takasaki is a serious foodie, the kind of guy who spent his formative years wandering from restaurant to restaurant on the Mainland and in Europe, learning to cook. He’s the kind of guy who will shut down his restaurant for a week and take himself and some of his staff to eat at the best restaurants in San Francisco, just for inspiration.
Needless to say, his staff is young, enthusiastic, the kind of servers who are just delighted to be bringing plates out of the kitchen.
That’s because the plates are loaded with tasty stuff. Takasaki’s entrees are direct, solid fare—a tender rack of lamb, chicken breasts in bacon and mushrooms, a rib eye steak in Roquefort butter. It’s before and after the entrees, however, that he really shines.