Monday, October 15, 2012

Alan Wong’s Amasia (Maui)

photo: Maui Magazine

 Located on the grounds of the scenic Grand Wailea Hotel on the South Shore, Amasia is the newest Alan Wong’s restaurant to hit the Pacific.  With all the buzz and popularity garnered from his Honolulu fare it’s about time that Wong expand his talent among the other islands in the likes of his competitors (and friends) of Roy’s and Merriman’s. 

In short, the best thing Amasia has going for it—a notable Ice Shave.  Note, this is not Shave Ice, but Ice Shave.  The difference? Alan Wong doesn't lather shaved ice with pineapple flavored syrup...he shaves an actual iced pineapple.  The secret?  He soaks the Maui Gold pineapple overnight in sweet syrup, freezes it solid, and shaves it paper thin upon your order request.  The pineapple ice falls delicately over a foundation of haupia pana cotta splashed with a pool of lilikoi sauce which adds a nice sparkle of tartness that offsets the sweetness of the fruit.

Other than this highlight, Amasia  does not rank as the “go-to” place on Maui.  It is exciting for locals to have a new ‘upscale’ restaurant on the island, but it’s not a place that I would clamor to rush to or put on my tourist list.  For those with extra time and cash on hand, however, it can be a dining experience that is memorable—either by the overpriced menu (expect to spend $300 for two for an entrée, dessert, drink and shared appetizer)—or for a few other notable reasons such as the unique floor plan that allows for several themed seating areas—private tatami rooms, robata grill, koi pond area, and so on.  Note that the modern lounge sitting room and Asian tea room are donned by harsh sunlight and humidity, and that other areas can be too dark or noisy for some.  

The menu is slightly disappointing, but then again, I’m not the biggest Alan Wong fan in Honolulu.  I have always enjoyed my dining experiences but his menu and dishes aren't as interesting or unique as I always hope it to be.  I’ve feel like his Honolulu dishes can take it up a notch, and I certainly feel the same way at Amasia.  He tries to be fresh and creative on Maui and I appreciate this, but the only difference I really see between his Oahu and Maui locations is the price.  Amasia entrees run around $60-85/pp, nearly double that of his Honolulu menu.  In fact, I ordered a small foil pocket of vegetables and fish--off the menu from the robata bar--and nearly had a heart attack when it was billed at $80.  Of course, I was also charged for my bowl of rice (definitely not your two scoops plate lunch kind of a place), an appetizer and the pineapple ice shave.  Account for tip and a drink and I would’ve had to wash dishes for my meal had I not planned ahead. 

There are other fine dining options on the island, and my suggestion is to try one of these alternate options.  Amasia has potential but is generally overpriced and unenthusiastically lacking in what it offers.  Then again, I went to Amasia shortly after it’s grand opening, so the menu and seating options may have improved since my visit. The service by the way, was excellent.  (Please offer your own recent comments on Amasia.)

{This post is dedicated to my poor uncle who is stuck in Maui without car keys.  Hang in there, eh?  On the bright side of things, a long walk is said to be good for the soul.}

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