We’re so excited to have a review of Disney’s Aulani Resort’s premier restaurant just a few days after its opening! Mark Hickson is a Disney fan, a former Disney Imagineer, and a Hawai’i resident and food blogger (among many other things). We’re honored to share this article with our readers. Thanks, Mark!
So the resort has been open for five days now and I thought it would be the perfect time to dine in the resort’s signature restaurant, ‘AMA ‘AMA. The restaurant is named after the tasty mullet fish ʻamaʻama that us locals enjoy.
The setting is an open air thatched roof fishing shack and a minimalist fishing factory with concrete pillars and a large fish holding tanks complete with pipeline and spigot. Of all the beautiful facilities at Aulani Resort this place’s theme is the only one that doesn’t work.
Our reservations were for 5:30pm and my wife and I were seated directly. Unfortunately since it is an open air dining area (no walls), the sun was low enough to shine in so it was very bright and hot at our table. In retrospect I would wait until sunset to be seated.
Take a look at the official ‘AMA ‘AMA menus below:
For drinks I ordered a Pineapple Papaya Cosmo. It was fun, tropical and fresh with a light foam on top. Good enough to order a second, which I did! My wife’s coffee was bitter and tasted like it was re-heated in the microwave. Seriously, we live in Hawai’i and are accustomed to having great local coffee. This was not it.
Our waiter Kevin was wonderful! He was a delight to talk to and really helped make the evening. My wife ordered Island Field Greens with a Papaya Seed Vinaigrette salad and the Paniolo Rack of Lamb (medium-well), with Island Fruit and Poha Berry Chutney. Feeling dehydrated from heat she ordered a Lemonade that has a slight taste of ginger and was very refreshing.
She found the Salad “ordinary” and only ate half. Her Lamb was not a “Rack,” but three bone-in chops that were burnt on the outside and undercooked on the inside. The wine sauce (not described in the menu) had not been reduced properly and exhibited an alcohol taste.
I ordered the Hamukua Mushroom Tart with Baby Arugula, Coriander Crème Fraiche and Parmesan. My entrée was Grilled Keahole Lobster with Lemon Grass Sauce, and Korean Pancake. To complement my meal I ordered a S.A. Prum Essence Riesling.
The Mushroom Tart was delightful. It has an unexpected savory sweetness that was very satisfying. My Lobster, although small, was perfect. The small veggies were pickled Japanese Sunomono style and the “Korean Pancake” was very much like a crab cake. There was also a tempura Shiso leaf for a fresh flavor contrast. The star was the Lobster that was cooked to perfection and melted in my mouth.
Wow! How could our two meals be so far apart? After five days they should have worked out all the kinks with the new kitchen staff. Was Chef Patrick Callarec in the kitchen last night? Maybe not.
So we finished with dessert. I had the Coconut Panna Cotta with chilled Passion Fruit broth and Green Tea Tuile while my wife had the Hawaiian Chocolate Cake with K’au Coffee Cream and Caramel Chard. Both were great! We ended our evening being serenaded by two musicians singing traditional Hawaiian songs. That was very nice.
O.K. so here is the bottom line. At $198.00 before tax and tip the ‘AMA ‘AMA is not every night fare. The quality of the food preparation needs to be improved and frankly the restaurant does not feel Hawaiian. All-in-all we will not be rushing back any time soon for dinner.
About the author:
Mark has dined at some really great… and not-so-great eateries across America and around the world. An accomplished cook of Italian, French and American cuisine, he is known for keeping bellies full and people laughing and wanting more. A former Walt Disney Imagineer and resident of Oahu, he conceived the landmark kitchenware store and celebrity chef theater “Cucina Bella.” His reviews are real-world and not influenced by mass media, hype, or other reviewers. Mark is a recipient of the international gastronomic society “Chainedes Rotisseurs” Presentation Plate by the Maui Bailliage in 2008.