A ‘Taste Of The Imperial’ At Orchids Jo
Wednesday - October 13, 2010
What would you pay for a near-perfect dinner with flawless service and the impression that you were dining at the edge of the world?
How about $65? That’s the cost of a special menu celebrating a collaboration between The Imperial Hotel, Tokyo, and our own world-renowned Halekulani.
The “Taste of Imperial” menu is offered at Orchids until the end of October, and I went for dinner after a phone conversation with Halekulani executive chef Vikram Garg.
“The spinach is absolutely perfect. And you’ve got to try the mustard dressing with the seafood,” he says in the joyous manner that’s become a signature part of his culinary style, alongside Halekulani’s Table One (the city’s most unique dining experience) and his handmade chocolates.
“Every dish has a story,” says Garg, “and you have to try all the cocktails. They’re fabulous. “
I didn’t actually try all the cocktails, but I did sip a sensationally well-balanced “Tinkerbell” (an original watercolor of the world’s best-loved fairy sits in the Old Imperial Bar in Tokyo), and I admit to having slightly more than a sip of a gorgeous gin-based “Mount Fuji,” created in 1924 as the first cocktail in Japan.
To give an idea of the grandness of The Imperial and its culinary history, the Tokyo landmark has 13 different dining options, including the city’s finest French restaurant (Les Saisons) and the relatively casual, completely contemporary Parkside Diner.
Guest chef Takeshi Miyakozawa and chef de cuisine Eiichi Ohura bring dishes from their Parkside Diner to oceanside Orchids, using local Hawaii ingredients along the way.
One of the appetizers on the “Taste of Imperial” menu is a seemingly simple seafood salad that bursts with briny, ocean flavors in almost every bite. I noticed tiny strands of sea asparagus that gave the salad fantastic texture, and I asked Orchids’ chef de cuisine Darryl Fujita if it was our own Kahuku-grown variety. Fujita has been tasked with searching for ingredients for the chefs’ menu, and has done an admirable job of incorporating locally grown produce wherever he can.
“The chefs hadn’t tried our sea asparagus,” says Fujita. “They wanted mugwort, but I thought this would work better.”
He’s right. The chefs loved it, and the appetizer is beautifully balanced. In fact, the entire experience is a delight, from the three-course menu to the ocean-side setting of the restaurant - which I find to be even more breathtaking after sunset - attentive, detailed service, an unpretentious wine list and truly wonderful food.
Try the sea bass topped with a shiitake mushroom reduction and served with the most perfect onion reduction. The Tokyo chefs’ preparation requires six hours of slow roasting, and the result is an intensely sweet onion flavor that’s almost impossible to replicate without complete devotion to detail and hours spent in a hot kitchen.
The Imperial Hotel chefs have left the Islands, but their menu remains until Oct. 30. If you're due for a treat or a special evening out, I'd absolutely recommend experiencing the partnership between two of the world's most-storied hotels. At $65, it's a small taste of utter luxury.
For Halekulani dining reservations, call 923-2311 or go to halekulani.com.
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