Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Arancino at the Kahala's holiday decadence

Nadine Kam photos
Dessert of tiramisu alla fragola, housemade strawberry tiramisu encased in thin sheets of white chocolate colored red for the holidays, is as pretty as any gift you'll receive. With dots of fruit purées and finished with silver powder.

To celebrate the holidays, Arancino at The Kahala will be offering an exceptional Buon Natale 2015 menu created by executive chef Daisuke Hamamoto.

The seven-course meal runs $150 per person excluding tax and tip, and will be offered four days only, on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Years Day. Wine/liqueur pairings will be offered for an additional $30 per person.

If coming close to the holidays your mood has been more of the “bah humbug” variety lately, this meal will definitely lift your spirits again.

I was lucky to have had a preview of the menu. Upon sampling the second course alone, the Sturia caviar over Kauai shrimp, a male dinner companion let out a hoot, as if reaching the summit of a roller coaster and knowing what comes next, and his giggling like a school girl said it all. I could eat buckets of that dish.

Each dish was greeted by a moment of reverie in appreciation of its precise execution and combination of classic, decadent ingredients, including many of our favorites all in one dish: A5 wagyu, black truffles, foie gras, maitake, truffled mashed potatoes. Even so, it could have been over-the-top heavy, but in chef Hamamoto’s hands, the combination was calibrated to perfection.

Depending on when you are able to go, it could be considered a lovely finale for 2015, or a delicious start to 2016.
Arancino at The Kahala is at 5000 Kahala Ave. Call (808) 380-4400 for reservations.

Starter of a duck foie gras terrine topped with kumquat compote over brioche.

The luxury of Sturia caviar over sweet Kauai shrimp. Pure ecstasy! And, topped with gold leaf.

The caviar comes with a prosecco or Stolichnaya Elite vodka on ice option. Because the sweetness of the Prosecco is in competition with the dish, the Stoli is the better option.

A centerpiece of porcini arancini surrounded by petite short rib cuts over a sangiovese reduction. Pairing: Chianti Superiore, Antinori Santa Cristina, Toscana, Italy.

More taste of heaven with a first course of a creamy egg yolk and fontina ravioli, butter sauce and slivers of black winter truffles. Very difficult to make and keep the liquid yolk center. Pairing: Gavi Bianco, La Scolca, Piemonte, Italy.

Next up was a seafood course of scampi al forno, a baked Icelandic shrimp, sweet and lobster-like, split in half and accented with Hokkaido uni. Pairing: Greco di Tufo, Mastroberardino, from Campania, Italy.

A closer look at the scampi.

A5 Miyazaki tenderloin arrived as the meat course, topped with foie gras, sauce Perigueux, earthy maitake mushroom that was crisped on the outside and still tender inside. The works served over truffled mashed potatoes. Basically, everything decadent on a single plate! Pairing: Pinot Noir, Chalone, Monterey, California.

As if all of the above were not enough, there is a $30 per person option to have chef Hamamoto come out of the kitchen to personally blanket your steak with shaved black winter truffle.

You can also go off menu to cocktails such as the Arancino, in the background, comprising Skyy Blood Orange Vodka, Combier Liqueur D'Orange, Funkin passionfruit purée and cherry juice ($11). In the foreground is the Baci Rossi, a mix of Dimmi di Milano liqueur, Funkin strawberry purée and sour mix, topped with rosemary ($13).

Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage is in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

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