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Food & Dining // Table Talk
Jo McGarry

The Isles’ Finest Dining Rooms, Views

All dining rooms are not created equal. Some reflect the outstanding beauty of Hawaii more than others, and it only takes a trip to our Neighbor Islands and restaurants like Capische (Hotel Waialea), Pahuia (Four Seasons, Hualalai) or Canoe House (Mauna Lani) to realize that a room with a view in Hawaii is enough to rival any dining room on the planet. I’m particularly reminded of this watching the sun set over the Pacific Ocean from the Kamuela Provision Company at the Hilton Waikoloa Beach Resort. Sipping cocktails on the outside lanai, watching the sun set feels like sitting on the edge of the world. Little wonder that in summer the restaurant is always booked at 6 p.m., just in time for leisurely drinks and a lingering sunset.

On Oahu we have more than our share of stunning dining rooms. Michel’s, with its unrivaled beachfront view, and beautiful Azure at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel with its Moroccan-inspired décor and private dining cabanas on the sand are among the most gorgeous places to spend a summer evening. And Beachhouse at the Moana is surely one of the city’s most glamorous and charming rooms. White linen tablecloths and curtains, original window panes and a stunningly simple décor gives the impression of a billionaire’s beach house, but the restaurant remains casual enough to enjoy steaks and fresh island fish in a charming environment.

And while it’s hard to beat the view from Orchids or La Mer, the real treat in the dining rooms at the prestigious Halekulani Hotel is tasting the latest culinary creations of executive chef Vikram Garg, whose attention to detail – in garnishing a dish of fresh onaga with tiny edible flowers or the merest hint of calamansi – is exquisite. This talented chef’s food, more than almost any other, is enough to draw attention away from the stunning ocean views and onto the plate …

I was completely taken aback a couple of weeks ago when I tried to make a last-minute reservation at another beautiful dining room -Hoku’s at Kahala Resort. Despite the price, this Sunday morning ritual is so popular that guests are lined up before the dining room doors open, and book weeks in advance. The view from the dining room is, of course, spectacular, but I suspect that the extraordinary view of lobster tails on an all-you can-eat buffet has much to do with keeping business brisk. We might still be in a recession, but when it comes to lobster, king crab, oysters, shrimp, sashimi, sushi, prime rib, rack of lamb and miso butterfish, it seems that this dining room with a view has a captive audience. Hoku’s Sunday Brunch runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Make reservations in advance and bring a large appetite.

Happy eating!

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