Monday, January 04, 2010

Chef Mavro
1969 South King Street
Honolulu, HI 96826
(808) 944-4714
Restaurant website

There are a few restaurants in Hawaii that come to mind when you want to celebrate a special occasion: Roy’s, Hoku’s, Alan Wong’s, and Chef Mavro. Hoku’s is our family’s usual spot for fancy dinners, but for this celebration, we wanted to try something new. I couldn’t get a table before 8:30 pm (on a Tuesday!) at Alan Wong’s, so we ended up at Mavro. They were very accommodating, easily being able to move our reservation back 20 minutes when I called to let them know we were running late.

Of course, people have different standards of fine dining in Hawaii. We overheard an entertaining conversation at the table next to us:

“For fine dining in Hawaii, we have Costco. But then for super fine dining, there’s 7 restaurants that can be considered fine dining.”

I’m still curious which his seven restaurants are.

Mavro only offers a set menu; you can choose the 4 course ($78) or 6 course option. The menu lists the suggested 4 or 6-course option, but they are flexible and let you pick items from the 6-course, even if you are only ordering the 4-course meal. So it’s very “design your own meal.” Between the 4 of us at dinner, we tried practically every dish available.

A complimentary amuse-bouche: a creamy soup with pickled grapes

Maitake mushrooms with watercress and an unidentified veggie (the white shavings that look like a parmesan cheese-green papaya according to the menu) in a lemongrass dressing

Their version of a miso cod

Provencale catch of the day – with capers and olives – note the thyme foam on the top

Deconstructed lobster paella

Wagyu shortribs (left), fried chickpea mash (middle) and wagyu steak (right)

Palate cleanser – honeydew in a champagne jelly

Dessert – lilikoi butter filled malasadas with coconut pineapple ice cream

Having just had a similar special occasion meal at Daniel Boulud’s Maison Boulud in Beijing’s spectacular Legation Quarter, I can say this meal was even superior in terms of food, but the setting (doesn’t look like Mavro has renovated since the restaurant opened over 10 years ago) and service couldn’t quite compare to Boulud’s staff. Was interesting to note that there were only male wait staff working that night – very curious if that is a standard practice or just happened the night we were there.

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