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June 02, 2007



Great post and I totally agree. People in Hawaii are seriously lacking in adventure with regards to dining. Most locals would rather spend $25 on a crap all-you-can-eat buffet because they can stuff their face with as much food as they want, even though the food tastes like sh*t. Look at all the people that you know who goes to Vegas, then comes back RAVING about the buffet at "whatever-hotel" is soooo ono! How many locals does anyone know that has gone to Vegas, and returned raving about the food at Joel Robuchon at the MGM, Alex at the Wynn, or Michael Mina at the Bellagio? Out of all the peolpe I know of, only a one or two besides me. How many people do you know that have gone to another popular destination for Hawaii people (SF) and have raved about eating at Gary Danko, Jardiniere, or Fleur de Lys?

And the supposed "top" restaurants in Hawaii don't help. Take Alan Wongs for example. Except for a few items, that menu has not changed since I think ever. I can see leaving some signature items like the Ginger crusted Onaga on there, but some of the stuff (like the penne pasta) isn't even that good! I haven't gone there since I think 2000 because the food just isn't very innovative. It was back in the mid to late 90's but not anymore. Like you said, the only places doing any sort of culinary innovation is Stage and Chef Mavro's two restaurants.

Also, part of the problem is the local mentality, that food is mostly viewed upon as being sustenance and value. Creativity is out the window. Specialty ingredients is out the window. As long as it has shoyu, ginger, hoisin, etc. it sounds appealing and local people will order it because they're familiar with those tastes.


Hey Rza, thanks for your thoughtful feedback. And you're absolutely right; the people I know who've gone to Sonoma ate at BURGER JOINTS, never once bothering to try COPIA or Thomas Keller's Bouchon. I spent a night in Alan Wong's kitchen to observe and absorb, and when I tasted the sauce for that penne dish, it was merely mediocre.

And yes, locals always ooh and aah at anything with hoisin and ginger, rarely something "different" like porcini mushrooms or duck confit. *sigh*

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