Our table at Hoku's wasn't ready, so we decided to sit at the chef's counter. About 5 seats & only those closest to center could see much. Neither counter has exactly stellar views of the goings on, but both are still much more fun than sitting at a table. At Hoku's, the chefs were friendly & the service very good. Fiji water from bottles as table water - I like that!! Sadly, the food lacked something. Didn't eat a lot - had the Heirloom Tomato & Burrata salad - 2 tomato types/slices were great, other 2 not ripe yet. Burrata had gone to that grainy, as opposed to creamy, inside state - still tasted good, but was over it's sell-by date texture-wise. Nice dressing - ok dish. Foie Gras - boooring - on a soggy taro (I think) brioche, with unripe (as opposed to green) mango chutney - ripe mangoes would have helped. Foie gras didn't have all that much taste & wasn't seared too well - definitely would not order again. Husband had the shrimp dish, which was basically deep fried shrimp on a bed of veggies - was ok, but nothing to write home about. Prices were super-high - $94 for a Rack of Wisconsin lamb a la carte (well, looked like a pile of the umbiqutious mashed potatoes underneath, but that's it) for 2, $20 for my little foie gras. Perhaps we ordered the wrong stuff, but was hoping for a whole lot more excitement.
Contrasting, had an excellent dinner at AW's the next night. Chef's counter (of course!). I did the tasting menu - stand-outs (as always) were the cold 2 color tomato soup served in a martini glass with sandwich - grilled kalua pork & foie gras - light on the foie, but still delicious! Poki-pines crispy on the outside, cool creamy avocado & ahi hiding within. Ginger crusted Onaga delicious - love those Hamuka 'shrooms! Highlight was the butter poached Kona Lobster - just about 3 bites, but each heaven. By the time we got to the Kalbi shortribs, I couldn't eat anymore, but they were delicious for lunch the next day! Well, saved a bit of room for dessert - I loved the Haupia Tapioca with fresh fruit & hubby loved the Chocolate crunch bars. He ordered a la carte - cold crab with avocado on crispy noodles - yumm!! & the Rib Steak, two ways - had enough to bring home for 2 sandwiches the next dat. All in all, a great meal, great service & nice to be reminded what a wonderful meal with no slip-ups really can be.