Friday, January 30, 2009

Hawaii Revisited - Four Seasons Pahui'a

When we last visited the Big Island 3 years ago we were greatly impressed by the restaurants in the top end resorts, especially the Fairmont Orchid. It was clear someone overseeing that food operation was a superb executive chef with very high standards. Unfortunately, when we returned this month the Fairmont food had reverted to the standard Hawaiian mediocrity. We therefore ventured down to the
Four Seasons - which was good but not great on our last visit - to try the food at the transporting oceanfront Pahui'a Restaurant.

Cindy and I first went down to the Pahui'a for a dinner. We had a nice table overlooking the nicely lighted surf and perused the menu. The ala carte menu looked very inviting but we opted for the evening multi-course offering. I decided on the wine pairing as well. Our waitress offered to share the wine between the two of us - but Cindy is not really enjoying wine lately so I suggested she just share out the first offering - champagne - she poured two FULL galsses of Louis Roederer which was a really nice touch. The champagne was accompanied by very nice house made bread and crackers along with a trio of spreads - a truffle butter, a organic butter, and a fresh cheese - delicious.

Our first course which was a "Lobster Benedict" - a blini with the most tender butter poached lobster, a quail egg, and a nice dollop of caviar with a island orange Bernaise - fabulous.
The second course was a Kona Coffer infused Duck Breast salad on Waimea Frissse-Baby Field Greens with a ginger vinaigrette. The wine paring was a very nice Spanish white Albarino from Finca de Arantei - a wonderful salad with a wonderful wine to match.

The third course was a fresh grilled island fish - Kampachi (moonfish) served over a Dungeness Crab, Bacon, Potato hash with a Truffle (very subtle - a true sign of greatness) Butter Sauce. This dish was accompanied by a Napa Valley Chardonnay from Far Niente - this meal just kept getting better.

The final course was a Coconut Duo - a light subtle coconut Tapioca over and Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with a small Financier "Cake" topped with a Coconut Lime Sorbet. Dessert was accompanied by a sweet Muscat from Chateau de Jau. A perfect end to a perfect meal.

I jokingly asked our waitress if the Executive Chef had ever worked at the Fairmont Orchid and she said not that she knew of - but on doing a little research online the next day I discoverd that Executive Chef James Babian had, in fact, been the Executive Chef at the Fairmont 3 years a go when we were there last. It goes to prove that you can tell the great chefs whether they personally cook your food or not. If you ever get a chance to eat in this man's restaurants - DO IT.

This meal was so good that Amy, Jeff, Lyla, Cindy and I returned the next day for Brunch - It was superior in every way, for every dish than any other brunch we have enjoyed anywhere in Hawaii - an exact match to the Fairmont Orchid Brunch we had about 5 times 3 years ago when we visited the Big Island - and frankly - a big decison maker in our desire to return to the island.

Our final visit was another dinner enjoyed by myself, Jeff, and Amy - Cindy volunteered to babysit Lyla - dinner is past Lyla's bedtime! We ordered off the ala carte menu this time and enjoyed wines by the glass. The appetizers were transporting experiences that I will definitely attempt to replicate here on Vashon. I had a Duck Wrap with a tamarind sauce that was really great. Amy had a Dungeness Crab "cake" which was really a warm crab tower - beautiful and delicate - a winner - Jeff opted for the BBQ Pork (and island thing) Steamed Bun - really yummy and beautiful. I then enjoyed a whole Lobster with a cream dipping sauce - not as tender as my previous offering with Cindy but very good. Jeff had a local island Fish dish with a soy based sauce that was a huge portion and very tasty. Amy has a grilled Kampachi which was excellent.

The kids finished with a super warm chocolate melting cake with a lilikoi sauce - I had a taste Yum!
We all loved this restaurant - James Babian - you are a master!

Pahu I'a on Urbanspoon

Beach House on Urbanspoon


Randy Caparoso: said...

Very nice, Miranda... I'm from Hawaii, and miss it, so I appreciate you giving me a taste of it in your words. Please visit my blogs on, or my daily organic wine/food column on

If your group of fabulous foodies should need an extra hand, I'd love to share recipes and food/wine thoughts...



Miranda said...

Hi Randy,

Glad to hear you enjoyed the post about Pahui'a!

I checked out your blog and wine column - they look fabulous! We'll definitely link to the blog from ours (always glad to share great new sites with our readers!).

Definitely stay in touch!