Our first night in Honolulu, my husband, Paul, and I were jet lagged, but wanted to acclimate ourselves to the local time zone quickly by staying up as late as possible. Our stategy was booking late dinner. Being less than willing to drive anywhere, we placed a dinner reservation at Azure located at our hotel, the Royal Hawaiian. It wasn’t a hard to decision to make, since it’s one of the finest restaurants in Honolulu.
When making your dinner reservation at Azure, ask for an outside table, so you can enjoy the view of Waikiki beach. Since our reservation for 8 p.m. was made just a few hours before, we were seated inside, which was also lovely, especially when the gorgeous blond hostess walked by. (Well, for Paul. I was too busy trying to figure out if she was six feet tall without her heels on.)
If you arrive early, take time to stroll around the Royal Hawaiian for a little window shopping. Or you can enjoy a drink at the Mai Tai bar outside, as we did several nights later.
The hardest choice of the evening was to pick a wine. We love reds, but knew we should have something lighter that would go with seafood. Our waiter recommended a chilled Crios de Susana Balbo Rose of Malbec 2011, which was the perfect wine to wean off the heavy reds we’re used to drinking.
Then, what to order? Seafood, of course! I knew I wanted the Braised Kona Abalone small plate with charred Brussels sprouts, red wine, Parmesan, and duck fat pasta. It had been years since I’d eaten abalone and I was excited to try it again, as I told our waiter. He said that all the abalone in Hawaii is farm-raised and small. Very different from the wild-harvest abalone I had eaten as a teen in California in the late ‘70s.
Paul wanted to order Azure Chilled Seafood Plate of oysters, giant prawns, king crab, Kona lobster, abalone, Hawaiian ahi sashimi, served on ice with horseradish with vodka sauce and soy-wasabi sauce – and so did I. So, we decided to share our dishes and ordered the Sake Steamed Manila Clams with Enoki mushrooms, chilies, smoked pork belly, and Meyer lemon gremolata from the Small Plate Menu. For our final dish, Paul chose the opah, a fish we never see on the mainland, from Azure’s Local Seafood Menu.
To finish off our meal, we enjoyed a few more glasses of the Crios Malbec (we had finished the bottle), along with a serving of Waialua Flourless Chocolate Cake with ruby port-chocolate ganache and raspberry sauce.
It was a magnificent way to start our time in Hawaii.Azure Restaurant