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Jul 25, 2009 07:37 AM

Alan Wong or La Mer (one night in Oahu)

My husband to be and I will have our first honeymoon night in Oahu before heading off to Kauai. Price is no object, we just want an amazing tasting menu with wine pairings. I know La Mer and Alan Wong are extremely different, but which one? Or, any other suggestions for a meal to impress 2 new yorkers with experienced palettes who love to eat...

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  1. Are you in it for the food or the atmosphere?

    La Mer is in a great setting. But if it's all about the food, Alan Wong's is a no-brainer. More innovative, more regional, and more laid back - your husband won't need to pack a sport coat.

    1 Reply
    1. re: alanbarnes

      Thanks, just what we needed to hear. My husband (to be) will most definitely not be bringing a sports coat! Alan Wong's it is :)

    2. We had dinner at La Mer last week. They relax their dress code during the summer, and "a collard shirt" is the requirement for men. Asking for a table with a view will provide a lovely one, but I agree with alanbarnes, the food at Alan Wong's overall is better (though some attempts at modernity can be irritating e.g., "foie gras foam" is just liver- flavored grit). Some like to sit at the counter, but I find it no particular advantage.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Joebob

        To us, the draw of the counter is that first, one is emersed in the flow of the restaurant, plus one has the opportunity to talk to the line. Next, one often gets extra "treats," as they come out of the kitchen.

        While I love the dining room, the counter is "where the action is." Now, were I hosting, or wanting a romantic settting, I'd opt for the dining room.

        Since I am a hedonist, a ChowHound, and seldom host in Hawai`i, I go for the counter, and never look back. We have never been let down.


      2. This board is filled with my recs. for Chef Wong's, but for the ultimate experinece, considering you criteria, I think I'd give the nod to Chef Granier and La Mer. I'd not ask for the oceanside table, but for one overlooking the House Without a Key, in the courtyard below. You will not have a total view, but the music form the courtyard/pool area will be memorable.

        Now, last trip I had issues with sommelier Randy Ching, but on a good night, he should do a very good job in regards to the wine.

        Though I love AW's, and have gone there on all but two visits, since he opened, I'd put La Mer at the top of this particular list.


        PS - either way, you will not go wrong.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Bill Hunt

          I wonder if there isn't a difference between the way well-heeled couples and plebes like my wife and I are treated at La Mer. My wife wasn't in the mood to drink, so she asked for plain water to drink. It was proffered from a tepid caraffe and no ice was offered. To my mind, in Honolulu in July ice should at least be offered in a really classy restaurant. Also, I made the mistake of ordering a glass of rose with my fish and pork main dish. I got a $15 glass of crap. A really classy restaurant should be able to offer good wine values at all price levels IMO, like Alan Wong's does.

          1. re: Joebob

            Not just you. I recall the tepid water from La Mer. Perhaps they're trying to recreate that european feel. My wife's German grandparents were amazed that I could drink water so cold with so much ice in it.

            1. re: Joebob

              I presume your wife asked exactly for that, plain water, meaning she didn't want evian or perrier or something. What I think they herd is plain water, not ice water, or water with lemon, or.... I've seen the same thing at other restaurants where a friend of mine always asks for plain water. I would find it hard to believe that they would not have brought ice water if it were requested - but who knows.

              1. re: KaimukiMan

                They definitely were pushing the bottled waters, probably at as high a mark-up as for the wine.

                1. re: Joebob

                  No doubt on that comment! One of my favorite experiences with this whole pushing of bottle water was at Spago Beverly Hills. The server asked would we like (names a few waters) and then ends it with or we have "Beverly Hills Finest." I thought that was a fun way to approach it! I've never been to La Mer probably never going to go but
                  interesting to read all of your comments!

              2. re: Joebob

                I cannot say. I have always had reservations for months in advance, and do always wear a blazer. As we're into our wines, we normally do the "sommelier's pairing," though last time were very disappointed in this aspect. Sommelier, Randy, was NOT on his game that night, and it showed badly.

                OTOH, we have never had anything but stellar from AW's, King St., and also do the "sommelier's pairings," at the Chef's Counter.

                Different experiences. So far, AW is 100%, since they first opened, and La Mer is about 90%, since Chef Granier took over the helm. Still, they are different experiences.



            2. I second the AW recommendation. I was there a few weeks back and we splurged by ordering the 7-course tasting menu with wine pairing. It was a serious treat! They were actually 45 minutes late seating us, despite the fact that we had a reservation. However, we were graciously compensated with free drinks at the bar and three additional appetizers on top of our tasting menu. Needless to say, we sampled a broad array of dishes and I am not exaggerating when I say that everything was excellent. It's obvious that a lot of thought goes into each dish and that they celebrate local ingredients. One of the best dining experiences I've had. Aloha.

              1. Your humble UES Mayor residing in NYC but originally from Oahu has this suggestion. Stay an extra night and do both! or fly in one nite from outer island spend the day on Oahu then do dinner and fly back to whatever island you will be staying at. You will have gone that distance from NY so why not!

                1 Reply
                1. re: UES Mayor

                  flying interisland is not the walk-in-the-park it used to be. Hawaiian Airlines only has 3 flights to Kona after 7pm (7:05, 7:46, 9:40) and getting reservations can be difficult. To Kauai it's either 6:50, 7:59, or 9:45.