Afterthoughts – Amazing Mai Tai at Alan Wong’s Amasia, Maui / Hawaii
On our way biking down the 10,000ft Haleakala Volcano, one of our guides (who, incidentally, is also a foodie) mentioned that the one restaurant he is itching to try is Amasia in the Grand Wailea Hotel. Well, that caught my attention, and after a little research, I was convinced that we needed to have dinner there that night.
Amasia officially opened it’s doors in April 2012, and is the brainchild of renowned chef Alan Wong, who was honoured with the prestigious James Beard Chef of the Year Award for the Pacific Northwest region. Alan also owns and operates two critically acclaimed restaurants in Oahu, one of which is President Obama’s favourite. Well, if the President gives his seal of approval, then I must try this amazing new restaurant!
Walking into Amasia is like escaping into a picturesque dream of Asia, complete with rock garden, gently gurgling stream into a koi pond, and a low wooden venue reminiscent of the elegant tea houses of Kyoto. The menu encompasses many elements of tastes drawn from all major Asian cuisines, although Japanese influence reigns supreme here. After our “American” sushi experience at Sushi Sansei, in which there were too much sauces and deep frying and not enough content, we were looking for an authentic take on sushi to cleanse our palate.
We started our meal with a pot of cleansing green tea, and the most delicious Mai Tai I’ve ever tasted (thus far). The Mai Tai was made with all local ingredients from the island of Maui, such as fresh pineapple juice, sugar cane, and the most incredible macadamia nut liquor.
Amazing Mai Tai, and I’m not even a sweet cocktails kind-of-girl!
We started our dinner with some spicy ahi tuna rolls, rolled in crisp panko. The crunchy panko added interesting texture contrast and the scallions almost made the roll taste like negitoro. The chilli packed quite a punch and complimented the fresh ahi well. We liked this dish, although we are not big fans of excessive seasoning when it comes to raw seafood.
Following this, we tried the crispy seared buns filled with shredded duck in hoisin sauce. This was delicious, although not a standout. It made me miss the soup-filled yet crispy seared buns (生煎包) that are so famous in Shanghai.
We are big fans of sushi, and we just had to try the selection here at Amasia. All of the content of the decadent platter were superb, but the star was the tamago, which was of the same caliber as those found in top Tokyo restaurants. It almost tasted like sweet sponge cake, and one of the signs of a good Japanese restaurant is in its tamago. Biting into the cakey tamago flooded me with memories of dining at Kyubei and Jiro in Tokyo.
I spied this item in a little side column on Amasia’s seasonal menu, and the waiter was a bit hesitant to explain what it is, as the sound of fish collar and cheek might be off-putting to more North American palates. But for an Asian foodie, it sounded perfect! To me, the best part of a fish is its collar and cheeks, as it has the most flavourful and succulent meat. The perfectly grilled fish was by far the star of the night. It was ginormous and we devoured the buttery white fish in minutes. Opaque cubes of marinated daikon made a great accompaniment to the rich fish.
We were too stuffed for dessert, but the tables next to us had this beautifully crafted coconut ice-cream that came in a round chocolate ball, and looked just like an actual coconut. And because we were in America, each ball was about the size of a softball and could feed a party of 3 at least. Perhaps this will be a challenge to tackle for next time!
Verdict: Amazing Amasia! We had a great time here – refined decor, incredibly fresh and locally sourced ingredients, and great service. Sometimes, fusion cuisine can come across as trying to hard, but Alan Wong’s attempt is a winner. And what a better place to showcase fusion cuisine with a distinct Asian edge than in Hawaii, where so much of the local culture is intermixed with an Asian heritage. I will definitely be back for another tasting – the Mai Tai alone would have guaranteed a return visit.
3850 Wailea Alanui
The Grand Wailea Hotel
Tel: 808 891 3954