Welcome back DFB Reporter James Armstrong. Today, we get to peek at his Hawaiian dinner at ‘Ama ‘Ama at Disney’s Aulani Resort in Hawaii!
Let’s go back to Hawaii once again for dinner — this time at Aulani’s upscale restaurant ‘Ama ‘Ama.
This seaside open air restaurant is the perfect romantic venue for any special occasion. ‘Ama ‘Ama has a perfect view of Hawaii’s famous sunsets!
And listening to the sound of the waves from the nearby lagoon while savoring your meal is a memorable experience.
The decor of the restaurant itself was rather minimalist to emphasize the natural beauty of the surroundings.
‘Ama ‘Ama is named after a type of mullet fish native to Hawai’i, also known as striped mullet. The restaurant itself is meant to look like a fishing shack from the 1890’s.
The tables are setup to emphasize panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean no matter where you sit, but I recommend requesting a table closest to the open air windows for the maximum effect.
The menu is designed to use fresh locally grown produce, sustainably caught fresh fish, and house made desserts. The cuisine is considered Hawaiian and Asian with some European influences.
After ordering drinks, crusty sourdough bread was delivered to our table. It is served with two different kinds of Hawaiian Sea Salt — Pink Hawaiian and Black Lava. The black lava salt had a smokey taste to it while the pink sea salt almost had a floral taste.
After the bread, we started the meal with some appetizers. First up, we chose the Big Eye Tuna Poke with Rice Chips and Avocado Mousse. This was a gourmet twist on a common Hawaiian appetizer poke. We tried poke at several places on the island including Aulani’s Buffet restaurant Makahiki, a luau, and several local places. This had to be one of the best.
The Tuna was fresh and flavorful and the Avocado Mousse added a nice richness that complimented the acidity of the lime juice in the poke. The rice cracker on top added a little crunch to contrast to an otherwise buttery texture of the poke.
We also got the Crispy Singaporean Pepper Shrimp with Green Papaya Salad and Thai Ketchup. This dish sounded like it was going to be something interesting and exotic but ended up just being fried shrimp with papaya on top.
The shrimp was average and the Thai ketchup tasted like ketchup with a little chili paste added. When I think Asian food I imagine bold flavors and this didn’t seem to deliver. Don’t get me wrong it was good, but considering the cost ($18) and what seemed like a lot of potential in the ingredients, it could have been more interesting.
For our main course, I had the Island Seafood Thai Curry served with Japanese Eggplant and Choi Sum (Chinese Flowering Cabbage) served with Jasmine Rice. This was cooked in a parchment packet that was opened and served tableside.
The seafood featured was Ono (moonfish), Scallops, and Shrimp. For veggies, it had Japanese eggplant, tomatoes, green beans, and Choi Sum. Choi Sum is similar in taste and texture to Bok Choy, but the leaves are similar in texture to a spinach when cooked. The curry was a yellow curry that had a slight spiciness but nothing too intense. It was a “water” based curry (as opposed to a coconut milk curry), therefore it is less “creamy” with stronger flavors of turmeric, cumin powder, and other similar spices. It was a nice blend that paired well with the seafood.
On the side, I also tried the Asparagus Gratin. This was a cheesy mixture with a crispy breadcrumb crust. It was on the mushy side like it had been overcooked or cooked earlier and reheated. It was also a little bland for my taste. It needed some salt and I am not sure what type of cheese was used. It was just a creamy blend of cheese with no distinct flavor.
Finally, for dessert I tried the Chocolate with Aloha. This was a flourless kokoleka (Hawaiian for chocolate) molten cake with Mamaki tea syrup, vanilla bean ice cream, and vanilla bean créme fraiche. It also happens to be gluten free!
The actual molten cake was very rich and dense (like Makahiki’s lava cake it was flourless). I was not a big fan of Makahiki’s version, but this one actually had a strong chocolate flavor and richness. It was also nicely complemented by the creaminess of ice cream, the slight tartness of the créme fraiche, and the freshness added by the raspberries.
Below the ice cream (left part) were some shavings of bittersweet chocolate. I believe the tea syrup can be seen slightly under the cake, but whatever flavor it was supposed to add was too mild to be noticed over the strong flavor of the chocolate cake and créme fraiche.
The perfect ending to any dinner here is a quiet walk on the beach with your loved ones. Lucky for you, the beach is only about twenty-five feet away. Also make sure to check sunset times (usually published in the daily newsletter put out by Aulani) to time your meal to enjoy the ideal scenery!
Is Aulani and its restaurants on your bucket list? Let us know your thoughts on these dishes from ‘Ama ‘Ama!