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Half-price half-hour at Sansei Waikiki: Join the herd!

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Half-price half-hour at Sansei Waikiki: Join the herd!

Joebob | Feb 25, 2008 05:00 PM

We got out of the Movie Museum about 4:30 Sunday, so we decided to do the cheap food deal at Sansei. We got to the Marriott about 4:45 and, because my wife is in a wheelchair, the greeter said he would keep the car in the driveway for the low price of $12 while we ate(!). We got in line behind the dozen earlier birds and took out our reading material. We were let in about 5:20. Our waitress, who was very informative though a little slow, explained that things might not arrive au point because the whole restaurant was suddenly, immediately full. No problem, we could understand that. The water glasses were plastic, the table cloth under more plastic, and the diners were wildly varied. As informal as they said it would be. The restaurant was attractively decorated, but not beautiful. The piped-in Hawaiian music plus crowd noise made it somewhat too loud.

Some things are not half-price: the tasting/omakazi menu and a few other dishes e.g., the foie gras roll, and the booze. Seems fair to me. The tasting menu was tempting. Even at $75 for two, it seemed like a good deal for big, hungry people.

I got a (5oz) glass of 2002 Wehelener Sonnenuhr for $7.95. It got better throughout the meal, so I suspect they opened the bottle when it was ordered.

The Asian Shrimp Cake with crispy Chinese noodles and Ginger-Lime Chilli Butter and Cilantro Pesto was good, not great. Mine was a little overfried. When cutting the cake, the noodles had a tendency to fly off the plate, but the sauces were very good, though not as abundant as I would have liked. The Lobster and Crab Ravioli came al dente and contained no filler that I could detect, but I couldn't detect the truffles in the butter sauce either, though it was tasty anyway. I liked the Shrimp Dynamite best. More than a dozen small tempura shrimp tossed in a delicious garlic masago aioli and unagi glaze with visually appealing black sesame seeds. However, there was a deep-fried won ton interposed between the shrimp and a bed of greens (baby, organic, OF COURSE) that did nothing for the dish. It interfered with enjoying the crust on the shrimp, thus being superfluous. The greens would have been fine if the hot shrimp wilted them a bit, and the sauces would have been good dripping down, but were blocked by the won ton. Next came the grilled ahi with a few haricots vert and very small carrots. The fish (about 6oz)could not have been better: as high quality as the most expensive purchased at Tamashiros. The waitress said the chef would prefer to cook it rare, which was my preference anyway, and it was cooked perfectly. Then we finished with Sansei's Hot Granny Smith Apple Tart. Disappointing because we couldn't taste the apples. They were sliced too thinly and were overwhelmed by the high-quality vanilla ice cream and the caramel sauce. It really was a pity because the pastry itself was very light and flakey. It would have been great with some apple taste!

A 17% service fee is added to half-price meals (and parties of six or more) and I thought it was handled very well. A red stamp in the tip portion of the credit card receipt announced the fact to minimize the possibility of tipping twice. The bill was $53.60 for two appetizers, one entree, wine and tip. Seemed a pretty good deal to me because we stuck with the signature dishes. For comparison, it makes Roy's in Ko Olina seem a little tired.

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