Dinner service starts at about 7:30 PM so when i arrived at my table with my two friends we already had food in front of us to share with each other. One bowl was filled with Do Chua, Traditional Pickled Vegetables. I've only seen it with Carrots and Daikon but this also had Cucumbers and Green Beans. In the other bowl was something like a Shrimp Chip. I've had Shrimp Chips Chinese style and these Shrimp Chip like things from Vietnamese restaurants and the difference is that the Chinese Version melts in your mouth as you eat it and the Vietnamese version is crunchy. Chef Le's version is basically a combination of both. As you put the chip in your mouth, it starts to melt on your lips but is still crunchy as you eat it. Extremely fascinating and wonderful!
After a quick word from Martha Cheng and Chef Le, we began with our dinner! Now keep in mind this was my first "Multi-Course" Dinner. We started our five course journey with the first dish; Kajiki Sashimi with Picked Asian Pear, Toasted Rice Puff, Banana Blossom Salad and a Kaffir Lime Sauce. First off the dish looks amazing. Beautifully presented being very simple yet elegant. The first thing I tasted was the Kaffir Lime sauce. COMPLETELY OUT OF THIS WORLD. It was bad actually, bad that my mouth started to salivate and I drooled a little bit. My friend laughed that it happened but i was excited and happy! I dove in the dish getting the perfect bite of everything. Every item on the plate spoke for themselves and nothing overpowered anything. The dish even had some crispy bits of Galangal and that added a nice bite to the dish. From the first bite i had on this dish, I knew this dinner was going to be awesome.
Our second course came out soon after. It was a Slow Poached Egg, Stuffed Tomatoes, Shimeji Mushrooms, Toasted Baguette and a Maggi Jus. They went over that the Poached Egg was Poached for over an hour so it would have velvety whites and a creamy yolk. The Stuffed Tomato made me feel like i was eating a "Spring Roll Tomato" since the filling of it tasted like that of a Spring Roll. The Local Watercress from Kaimuki was great. I've never really had local watercress before and i really enjoyed this one. And of course the main star of the dish was the Slow Poached Egg. It added creaminess and body to the dish. It made it all rich and it was great to slobber up with the toasted baguette. I was glad that the waiter brought out more baguettes for us to eat it with cause if not i would've licked my plate!
The Third Course was the course my friends were extremely excited for. It was a Duo of Pork featuring Crispy Confit of Pork Belly, Grilled Pork Sausage, Pressed Vermicelli Noodles and a Lemongrass Pork Jus. My favorite part of this dish was the sausage, hands down. The Sausage exploded with flavor. And when you ate with the Vermicelli and some of the vegetables it was just a perfect bite. The Sauce was a great compliment to everything adding that nice touch of Lemongrass. Personally i would rather have more Sausage then have the Pork Belly but both were great. My only complaint if any was the the Crispy Skin of the Belly was too Crispy. Other then that this dish was great.
For the Fourth Course, Chef Le brought his mom out and explained that this dish was taken from her book and was as traditional Vietnamese as you can get. Before we even go the food, you could smell the aroma of the broth and it was lovely. Broth, Noodles, Chicken, Shrimp, Fish and Crispy Pork Fat was all that was in the bowl in front of me and it was incredible. Chef Le's Mom also walked around the room dropping spoonfulls of homemade Garlic Chili into our bowls if we desired and of course i said yes! It added another layer of flavor in this bowl of goodness and i wanted more. I slurped down the entire bowl and even all the broth because it was so good! I even made the comment that i wanted another bowl and i'd pay 10 dollars for it! AHH so good.
Now, the last course, the dessert, THE THING I WAS WAITING FOR THE MOST!! Now first off i'm definitely not a sweets guy, i don't order dessert a lot so for me to be extremely excited for this, its amazing. Coconut Pandan Toast, Lychee, Basil Seeds, Thai Basil, Vanilla Ice Cream, Coconut Powder all served with Vietnamese Coffee. Basically Chef Le's play on Coffee and Toast. Since i know most people don't know what Pandan is it's basically the South Eastern Asian Version of Vanilla (As Chef Le would put it). So let's see...this dish was the best dish of the meal. The Perfect Bite? Getting that bit of toast with Pandan, Ice Cream, Coconut powder and the Lilikoi Basil Seeed Sauce with the Thai Basil Leaf, instant freaking Narnia. That's all i'm going to say about it. If you want to know what it taste like, It's to late! Sadly they don't have anymore seatings for this menu. I honestly don't know how to explain this dish except that it's beautiful. Just simply Beautiful. You could taste every component in it and the Thai Basil just lingers in your mouth almost like a palate cleanser after you swallow was just incredible. It almost brought me to tears because it was so good.
This was the Best meal of my life, Hands Down. I plan on returning to them beginning of August to eat Menu Three. Trust me when i say this, Andrew Le will be Hawaii's Next Big Thing. The Creativity and Techniques he brings to the table are incredible. Watch for him. Traditional Vietnamese, Modern Twist. If that's what you want, Reserve your Table Now.
Did i mention it was only $55 : )