Oahu - 3660 On the Rise & Hau Tree Lanai review
Just got back from a weeklong trip to Oahu. My husband and I planned to have one really nice dinner out. Alan Wong's was out of our budget so I scoured this board for a less expensive option. Based on the recs, we decided on 3660 on the Rise. At first the service was spotty - we were not given a wine menu by the hostess and our waiter took a very long time to come over and take our order. After we ordered, however, it was incredibly attentive. We really enjoyed our meal there - the ahi katsu was the single best thing I ate on the vacation and we're still talking about it. Our main courses (hangar steak and butterfish) were perfectly cooked and had great flavors! The portions were a little large and the wine pours were almost twice as large as a regular glass (but who can complain about too much food really?)
Later that week, we decided to splurge on a second special meal so we headed to Hau Tree Lanai. Yes, it was fun to eat on the beach, and yes the view was beautiful, but I was incredibly under-whelmed by the food there. I'm actually kind of shocked that it is recommnded on chowhound. The menu wants to be high-end and fancy but the meals just aren't as good as they sound. I had the avocado crab crusted mahimahi, which was completely forgettable. It's not that this place is bad or that you shouldn't go there, you should just know that you are paying for the view, not for the quality of the entrees. The cost was slightly less than 3660 but the food was not nearly as good. I would have been seriously disappointed if we had chosen it for our one nice meal out. As it was, I was glad to have the good food at 3660 and the beautiful view at Hau Tree Lanai.
Totally unrelated, we also really enjoyed the Kaka'ako Kitchen. I thought their miso lemon salad dressing was even better than the one at 3660.
I like both restaurants but for different reasons. I agree that the food at 3660 is better, but mainly because it's more innovative. What I've eaten at the Hau Tree Lanai (fish) has always tasted good.
> ... 3660 on the Rise. ... our waiter took a very long time to come over and take our order.
Yes, in general they are slow. One has to accept it. People talk about the slow pace of the islands, but it's not like that everywhere: 3660 is slower than others.
> the ahi katsu was the single best thing I ate on the vacation
That and the tempura catfish are my two favorite dishes there.
> (but who can complain about too much food really?)
I do, because I hate coming out of a restaurant feeling like a stuffed turkey. That's why I don't like the 5- and 7-course meals. But 3660 offers something only a handful of restaurants have thought of offering: Optional smaller portion entrees. Unfortunately, they do not offer this options with every entree, but it's a start, and I think that it needs to be advertised.
> ... Hau Tree Lanai. ...yes the view was beautiful,
It's even better in the October-March time of the year, when the sun sets on the water in front of Waikiki, instead of behind the Kapolei hills as it happens now.
> ... I was incredibly under-whelmed by the food there
I have not been there since last winter, but their fish (basically all they offer) has always been competently prepared. To me, dining is a complete experience and I recommend different restaurants for different reasons. The Hau Tree Lanai strong point is obviously the setting and the food only needs to be "good enough" to make it "attractive enough to recommend".
On the other hand, the 3660 setting is more run-of-the-mill (no, that does not mean that it's bad either) so the food has to be better (and it is) to make it "attractive enough to recommend".
At least, that's my view. If I say all this is because I have some extra time to spare (grin) and because I think it's important to read why a reviewer likes or dislikes a place and compare that to what is important to oneself in evaluating a restaurant.
I, too, hate to leave a large quantity of food on my plate - it’s obviously a return to my mother’s admonition on the “starving children in China.” Still, a well-structured tasting menu should not have quantities, that are in excess. I’ve had two-course menus, that were over the top (and have reported in an unfavorable light) on these. I’ve had 15-course tasting menus, that were just right. The number of courses, should be heavily weighed by the chef, regarding quantity. Especially in a resort venue, one does not often have the ability to “heat up the left-overs.”
Personally, I like to eat all of each course, and not feel stuffed. I am not a big fan of “doggie bags,” even if I am at home. At the same time, I am not adverse to left-overs, but from MY kitchen.
>because I think it's important to read why a reviewer likes or dislikes a place and compare that to what is important to oneself in evaluating a restaurant.
Yes, I completely agree! We liked the atmosphere, the view, and the service at Hau Tree. The food was just not up to what I normally think of as chow standards, especially in an area like Honolulu with a lot of choices.
Also, about the large portions at 3660. I think the taro rolls at the beginning really put the whole meal over the edge. I've never done a tasting menu before where they bring out a bunch of rolls at the beginning. It was weird.
Mahalo for the reviews.
We have been fans of 3660 on the Rise for many years, and miss it, when we cannot fit it in. One has to always remember, that they are on "Island time," so some things might seem a bit slow to a Mainlander, especially if they live in a fast-paced spot. It always takes my wife about 3 full days, to relax.
Sorry about Hau Tree Lanai. Over the years, it has always served up good food in a great location. It has seemed to become more crowded, over the year, but the food has always been good for us. Now, it's been a few years, and a few trips, so things could well have changed.
Just down the street, Michel's at the Colony Surf always gets good reviews. Our trip was much less, than this. I chalk this up to hitting on the wrong evening, especially as a wedding party was getting all of the attention, from waitstaff and the kitchen. I question how our meal could be so poor, and most others have a glowing report. This stuff happens.
re: Bill Hunt
Excellent point about adjusting to "island time." I had not thought of it that way... Right now we live on on an island in the Puget Sound and we always comment that the restaurants here have the worst service because the servers are so casual and slooooow. However, we have pretty much gotten used to it and now we consider it part of the charm!! I imagine it's much the same in Hawaii!
Interestingly, the service at Hau Tree was excellent and they did have a sommelier on hand.
Yes, but the food needed to be really good, as well. Afterall, that is why you were there. In our past trips, it has been so, but some recent CH posts have indicated that things might not be as good, as our last trip.
That is a wonderful thing about CH. If YOU cannot dine someplace, all of the time, there are "brothers and sisters," who can, and then report.
Based on our previous trips, I'd do them again, but it will not be until '09. I'd hate to loose an "old friend," but restaurants DO change.
Thanks for the report and the clarification. Let us all hope that you just got a night, that the chef was not feeling well...