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Sunday, March 15, 2015

CHEF CHAI

CHEF CHAI
HONOLULU, HAWAII

CHEF CHAI
1009 KAPIOLANI BLVD
HONOLULU, HI  96814
808-585-0011
HOURS:  Daily 4:00 PM - 11:00 PM

Chef Chai's delivered on every level.  Ambiance, service and food were all excellent.  This was probably one of the best meals we have enjoyed in Honolulu during the past year.  The restaurant is located on the ground floor level of the Pacifica building on Kapiolani.  Parking is limited so we went with the valet service for $5.  As we entered the restaurant I noticed a very nice outdoor seating area fronting the entrance.  We would have opted to sit outside but it was a bit cool and windy on this night.  The hostess greeted and seated us in about three seconds as we had made a reservation using the Chef Chai website.  As we passed the bar to enter the main dining room we saw Chef Chai himself sitting at the bar.  Chef Chai walked past our table several times during the meal looking tense and never stopped to say hello or talk with any of his guests.  Not a very personable guy we thought.  I took a moment to take in the beauty of the restaurant design.  Loved the use of glass, light and warm colors.  Pretty upscale for Hawaii with what seemed to be an older crowd with many celebrating special occasions.  Noticed that people dressed up a bit here but there were guys in shorts and t-shirts as well.  This is what I love about Hawaii.  You do not have to dress up to enjoy a nice dinner out.  We had a great waiter who explained menu items and a little about himself during the meal.  Started with a complimentary plate of Chicken Sate, Asian Flat Bread and a mixture of cucumber, mint, carrot and cilantro that was delicious.  We started with the Alaskan King Crab Cakes ($18) served with a Roasted Garlic Aioli and fresh Mango Tomato Salsa.  Wow.....one bite and I was a fan of these cakes.  Made with nice pieces of Alaskan King Crab and not a bunch of fillers.  The Mango Tomato Salsa was perfect and brought this dish to another level.  Entire table loved this dish.  Next up were the Fresh Ahi Tartar in Mini Waffle Cones ($15).  The cones were filled with Avocado and then topped with fresh bright red raw Ahi Tuna.  Awesome!  After the Crab Cakes and Ahi Tartar we said that we would come back again and just order plates of appetizers as both of these dishes were home runs.  Next up though was the Stuffed Baked Quail with Portobello Mushroom, Sun Dried Tomato and Foie Gras ($19).  This dish was wrapped in a Potato crust that was delicious and served with some really good mashed Sweet Potatoes.  My daughter raved about the taste of this dish when she got a bite of the Foie Gras.  Again the entire table gave this dish the thumbs up and again we said we were coming back for more appetizers.  I ordered the Naked Shrimp Salad ($12) because I tried it at event that Chef Chai cooked for and loved it.  This is an amazing salad if you like Shrimp and the portion is really enough for two.  The Shrimp is served with a Lemongrass Garlic Dressing, fresh Mango, Cucumber, Tomato, Cilantro and Watercress.  All so fresh and crazy delicious.  This is one of those dishes that I would go back for again and again.  My Wife ordered the Poached Pear and Rainbow Vegetable Salad ($12) with
Raspberry Guava Vinaigrette.  Served with Cauliflower, Cucumber, Goat Cheese and Candied Walnuts.  My Wife loved the vegetables and Candied Walnuts but said the Pear was not cooked.  She was right.  The Pear was hard as a rock.  Totally undercooked and pretty much uneatable.  She cut me a piece and I agreed that it was not very appetizing and very hard.  Over 3/4 of the Pear was left on the plate.  This was the only miss of the night at Chai's and quickly forgot about.  My Daughter tried the Roasted Butternut Squash and Lobster Bisque ($10) with a Seafood Dumpling.  She absolutely loved the Bisque and finished the entire bowl.  At this point we were all happy, full and raving about the food at Chai's.  But wait, we still had entrees coming.  The Crispy Whole Fish with Chili Ginger Sauce ($38) came to the table looking at us.  Pretty cool presentation with the entire fish standing up on the plate.  The fish was fried but the bright white meat inside was actually pretty moist and tasty.
The Steamed Coconut Milk Ginger Brown Rice served with the fish was probably the best Brown Rice I have ever tasted.  I enjoyed the Pacific Rim Cioppino ($35) served in a creamy Coconut Broth with Zucchini Linguine.  I had to fish for the Linguine but found it deep under the broth that tasted almost like a Curry.  The fish in this dish was Opakapaka and it was cooked to perfection.  So moist and delicious.  Rings of Calamari and some large Prawns made this a great seafood dish that I would order again.   We were all so full that we agreed to pass on dessert.  That is until we saw the Chocolate Crunch Bar ($9) on the menu and ordered one for the table.  Despite being full and taking home a large bag of leftovers from our dinner we happily finished off the Chocolate Crunch Bar in minutes.  It was the perfect ending to a pretty perfect meal at Chai's.  This was an incredible dinner that pleased the entire family.  A bit expensive yes, but worth it.  If you place your dinner order before 5:00 PM here you can enjoy a Three Course Meal for $40.  That includes Appetizer, Entree and Dessert.  Great deal for the money.  I am going to return to Chai's soon and if it delivers like this night on all levels it will be a Taste of Hawaii Favorite!

CHEF CHAI RESTAURANT IN THE PACIFICA BUILDING ON KAPIOLANI BOULEVARD
THAT'S CHEF CHAI SITTING AT THE BAR
THIS BEAUTIFUL FLOWER ARRANGEMENT IS REAL AND SO BEAUTIFUL.
IMPRESSED ME AS SOON AS I WALKED IN THE DOOR
CHEF CHAI'S MAIN DINING ROOM
MAIN DINING ROOM OPENS TO PRIVATE DINING AREA IN BACK
LOVED THE LIGHTING AND DETAILS AT CHAI'S
GLASS WALL IS STUNNING
THE REFLECTION OF THE GLASS AND LIGHTS IN THE WINDOWS WAS BEAUTIFUL
WINE GLASS CHANDELIERS
REALLY LIKE THIS USE OF WINE GLASSES.  THE WAITER SAID IT WAS FUN TO CLEAN
EARLY BIRD DINNER AND HAPPY HOUR MENU
CHEF CHAI STARTERS
ENTREES
SPECIAL TASTING MENU
CHICKEN SATE WITH THAI PEANUT SAUCE, CUCUMBER SALAD AND ASIAN FLAT BREAD
ALASKAN KING CRAB CAKES WITH MANGO TOMATO SALSA
DELICIOUS CRAB CAKES WITH LARGE CHUNKS OF ALASKAN KING CRAB
FRESH AHI TARTAR IN MINI WAFFLE CONES
CONES ARE FILLED WITH AVOCADO AND TOPPED WITH FRESH AHI TUNA
STUFFED BAKED QUAIL WITH PORTOBELLO MUSHROOMS, SUN DRIED TOMATO AND FOIE GRAS
NAKED SHRIMP SALAD WITH LEMONGRASS DRESSING IS MY FAVORITE
BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND LOBSTER BISQUE
POACHED PEAR AND RAINBOW VEGETABLES
CRISPY WHOLE FISH
PACIFIC RIM CIOPPINO 
PERFECT ENDINGS TO AN ALMOST PERFECT MEAL
CHOCOLATE CRUNCH BAR

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