So... It probably looks like I eat out every night, which is not entirely true. I do enjoy a good meal and what makes a meal even better is the ambience, the company and the entertainment if they have it. I was invited to visit Stage Restaurant for their monthly Acoustic Soul Fusion dinner last night and it was AMAZING! If you haven't been to Stage before it's one of the best restaurants in Honolulu. You may not hear about it as much as some of the notable names in town, but the cuisine is always a fabulous combination of textures, flavors and freshness. It's an experience for all the senses with the unique art, street views, extensive wine and cocktail selections and live music.
Each month, the restaurant showcases some really unique special events, wine dinners and the like. This dinner was by far the most fun, entertaining, delicious and memorable I've had in a few months. The 4-course dinner prepared by Executive Chef Ron de Guzman (formerly of Alan Wong's, Sam Choy's and the Top of Waikiki) was a nice highlight of local ingredients, surf & turf and a fantastic dessert by Pastry Chef Cainan Sabey (also formerly with Alan Wong's where we worked together and traveled to Japan together in 2005). I will dive into the tasting menu below.
What really made this dinner a slam dunk was the entertainment. With a name like Acoustic Soul Fusion my mouth was watering and my ears were ringing with excitement. Guests this month were 14 year-old ukulele prodigy Aidan James and award-winning soul sister Yoza. Aidan performed first, then Yoza did a couple of songs, then the pair performed together which was fantastic. Aidan's grasp as a looperist and ability to beat box with his ukulele and other technological advancements made it sound like they had a full band in tow. Yoza's deep soulful voice and experience on stage put you right at ease and in complete aw of her passion and talents. For me dinner and a show is the perfect pairing. The music was uplifting, motivating, enticing and the food was delicious, well seasoned and perfectly cooked. I left with a huge smile on my face and a bounce in my step because the night overall was just perfect!
Here's a look at the meal:
Duo of Kamuela Tomato - one au naturel and the other fried, lemongrass marinated tomato with smoked goat cheese, basil, mint and torn croutons. This was wonderful. I love goat cheese and tomatoes so I was in heaven. Natural or fried the flavors were pronounced and complimented by the creamy goat cheese and fried basil.
Tempura Shrimp Fritters with Big Island Heart of Palm, sweet and sour lilikoi sauce and caper remoulade. The shrimp was nice and tempura had a great texture. I loved the lilikoi sauce, I wished it came with a puddle of that sauce for dipping. The remoulade was too heavy and there was a lot of it. I found myself dabbing the shrimp on the plate to remove the excess. But overall good flavor and texture.
Surf & Turf - the grilled beef and pan roasted opah was lovely. The beef was tender, perfectly seasoned. The opah was nicely cooked, with a little moisture in the middle then a nice crust on the outside. The true highlight for me was the accompaniment. The mixture of sauces and vegetables was outstanding. Kahuku sweet corn, Honshimeji mushrooms, Okinawan sweet potato with crispy gobo and crunchy lotus root with the soy reduction and chili butter sauce was phenomenal. You had sweet, creamy, buttery, crunchy, meaty all in one! Loved it!!!
Sweet Ending - Lemon yuzu cake with salted caramel crunch served with creamy honey ice cream and blackberry elderflower foam. As you can imagine the entire table was pretty full by this end. But we all still managed to want to lick the plate on this gem. The cake was dense but light, the ice cream perfectly creamy and slightly sweet, morsels of caramel crunch added texture and the blackberry foam a little acid, delightful!
The dinner was superb and the entertainment amazing! As you can see the entertainers were positioned in the middle of the dinning room fronting the open kitchen. It was intimate, soothing, relaxing yet exciting at the same time and the service was on point!
This dinner is only $60 which includes the entertainment and all 4+ courses, add $35 supplemental charge is you opt to do wine pairings as well. This would be a great treat for a date night, special occasion, night out, or just a place to enjoy a fabulous meal and wonderful entertainment. The next Acoustic Soul Fusion is set for October 15th featuring Starr Kalahiki.
Click here for their website and events calendar: http://stagerestauranthawaii.com/stage-events
Also, if you haven't heard they feature an Amuse Wine Bar outside the restaurant which has amazing wines by the ounce and wonderful pupus. They also showcase live entertainment and on Wednesdays offer a special discount for wine cards and Tuesday - Friday $5 happy hour.