My family is usually gone during the Christmas holidays so I often have the opportunity to dine out with friends. This year, we decided to enjoy a Christmas dinner at Tokyo Tokyo at the Kahala Resort and Hotel.
Known as a "fine dining" Japanese restaurant, I was a bit excited to make the journey here. We encountered quite a few bumps in the road between making reservations up until the actual dinner, and maybe they were a sign of what was to come.
We tried for a while to get reservations for dinner here using the email at the hotel's website (three emails to the hotel went unanswered) and calls to the restaurant directly (2 voice messages left with no return call). All the while, we remained upbeat and hopeful that we would get a reservation. About two weeks before Christmas, a call to the restaurant was answered and we were able to get a reservation for 8:45 pm (!!!).
Upon arriving at the restaurant at 8:40 pm, we were told that our table was not ready yet and that we could wait in the hotel's lobby. We sat, and waited.... and waited.... and waited. In all, it was 25 minutes before the hostess came to the hotel's lobby to escort us to our table. Once seated, at a table right next to the restaurant's entrance (probably the worst seat in the place), it was another 15 minutes before our server made an appearance at our table.
Before going any further, here is the menu, with accompanying photos, for that evening's dinner.
Special Christmas Menu
1st course (Appetizers)
Grilled white fish finished with saikyo miso cream sauce and garnished with ikura.
Japanese style onion soup with compliments of chicken and mozzarella cheese.
Succulent duck breast simmered in dashi broth to a perfect medium and finished with a red wine and shoyu reduction sauce, atop a mound of bacon and foie gras mashed potatoes.
2nd course (Sashimi)
The freshest sashimi in Hawaii including: Blue fin, kaware wrapped in Atlantic salmon, Shima aji, and boton ebi, all served under the warm glow of a daikon votive.
3rd course (Black Angus Beef)
Certified Black Angus Ishiyaki
The finest certified Black Angus rib-eye medallions cooked on your own heated lava stone at the table.
Certified Black Angus Shabu Shabu
Served with an assortment of vegetables and inaniwa udon. Comes with a pot of Dashi soup broth.
Moscato di Asti sorbet with diced oranges and peach.
4th course (Sushi)
Includes: Blue fin zuke finished with sesame seeds, white fish, yellowtail and American Kobe beef finished with red chili ponzu sauce and garnished with fine julienne daikon and green onion. Comes with a petite torotaku sushi roll.
Chef's symphony of sweet Japanese delicacies featuring a butter cream Kona coffee "bouche d' Noël".
Cost: $98.00 per person
While the events leading up to the actual meal were disappointing, what I found even more odd, is that we were given a table right near the restaurant's entrance. We were shoved into a corner near an artificial Christmas tree. The tables in this area were very close together, so much so, that our server couldn't even sqeeze into the space between the two without us moving our table closer to the Christmas tree!
I'm not going to go over every dish that we were served because this dinner doesn't really deserve all of that attention. What I will do is mention the highpoints, which aren't many, and give a quick summary of everything else.
The simmered duck breast was the highlight of the trio of appetizers. It was indeed succulent, tender and perfectly cooked -- the center of duck breast was a beautiful pink blush. The foie gras mashed potatoes were pure indulgence. Earthy, creamy and smoky, I could have eaten an entire bowl of these potatoes and left feeling satisfied.
With the second course, the sashimi, we thought the restaurant would redeem itself. Not so. With a plateful of mediocre offerings, the only standout, on a plate that also included boton ebi and a tiny mouthful of uni, was the ootoro. This ultra-fatty piece of tuna had a smooth texture with a creamy, almost buttery, flavor. Sublime.
I would have enjoyed the third, or beef, course more if I had been given a choice. Like the diner sitting at the next table, I had made up my mind to have the shabu shabu prior to coming here. When I asked for it, I was told that it wasn't available and that the menu had changed. Well, why wasn't I told this when they called to confirm my reservation the day before?
The intermezzo, or sorbet, made with
Moscato di Asti, was really bitter. When asked if this contained alcohol (I'm allergic), I was told it was made of grapes (duh, grapes = wine?). By the way, when did canned fruits become part of a gourmet meal?
The sushi "platter" left much to be desired. There were no standouts here and I was really annoyed with the Kobe (Wagyu) beef sushi which I felt was cut too thick and was not marbled well enough. It didn't help that it took me 5 minutes to chew through the entire piece of beef.
By the time dessert showed up, more than 2 hours later, I was more tired than full. I'm not sure how a strawberry purée topped with a cream cheese ice cream would be considered a "Japanese delicacy", but I didn't find anything here satisfying.
The pacing of the meal was extremely slow. Many times, we would be waiting 15 or more minutes between courses. They did serve an excellent green tea throughout the meal and I must say that my cup was never empty, or that the tea was never cold (they continuously replaced the cup with a fresh one). The waitstaff was knowledgeable and more than willing to answer questions, but overall, this experience was disappointing. I'm not sure that I'll want to come back here again.
Kahala Hotel and Resort
5000 Kahala Avenue