A long day of Hawaiian golf on Wednesday gave President Obama an appetite for dinner at what is regarded as his favorite island fine dining establishment: Alan Wong's Restaurant in Honolulu. The chef himself told Obama Foodorama last month that he was expecting a visit from the President and First Lady Obama during their Christmas vacation. (Above: The President arriving at Wong's last year for dinner; it is an annual vacation tradition)
"They're adventurous eaters," Wong said of the Obamas. The acclaimed chef, who sources locally and sustainably for his modern Hawaiian cuisine, cooked the special APEC Leaders Dinner the President and Mrs. Obama hosted in late November at the Hale Koa Hotel in Honolulu.
The President was personally greeted by Wong when he arrived with Mrs. Obama at the restaurant at 8:00 PM, and they dined on a special five-course Chef's Tasting Menu, for a party that lasted almost three hours. The First Couple were seated with ten friends and family at their "usual" table in the main dining room, what Wong describes as the "feng shui" table. Mr. Obama's half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, who lives on island, was in the party.
Everyone enjoyed the special 5-course tasting menu. Wong typically offers tasting menus at the restaurant, but this one was specially created for the President: "The tasting menu normally offered to regular diners is not being offered tonight due to demands on the kitchen," pool reported. The Presidential tasting menu featured the "Sassey Salad" and bacon-wrapped pork loin. There was also an appetizer of 3 kinds of special butter, sourced from 3 different local dairies. The tasting menu was priced at $75 per person, or $105 with wine pairings.
The President's favorite entree at the restaurant, according to Wong, is Twice Cooked Soy Braised Short Ribs with Ko Choo Jang Sauce. His favorite dessert is called "The Coconut," and is Haupia Sorbet in a Chocolate Shell fashioned to look like a coconut, with Tropical Fruits and Lilikoi Sauce (passion fruit). Wong served both at the APEC Leaders Dinner.
Other patrons were also in the dining room as the Obama party enjoyed their evening. The restaurant is on the third floor of an office building, and offers no views of the ocean--but it is highly secure. Attempts by fellow diners to take Presidential photos were discouraged by White House aides. The President and Mrs. Obama departed after 11:00 PM to return to their island rental home in Kailua, about a half hour's drive across the island from Wong's restaurant, which is located near the apartment President Obama lived as a boy.
Wong has guest-cheffed at the White House, cooking for a huge South Lawn luau the President and Mrs. Obama hosted in 2009. A post about the President's visit to Alan Wong's in 2009 IS HERE.
The dinner outing is the President's second of the vacation: Last Friday he dined with family and friends at Morimoto restaurant in Honolulu. Mrs. Obama brought daughters Malia and Sasha to MA'O Organic Farms for a pizza party with Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives Sam Kass and local chef Ed Kenney at the beginning of the vacation.
The President's partners earlier in the day for a 7 1/2-hour game at at Ko'olau Golf Club in Kaneohe were island friends Mike Ramos, Greg Orme, and Bobby Titcomb. The President has played two other games of golf during his vacation, at the Klipper Course at Marine Corps Base Hawaii.
CNN reporter Peter Morris happened to be dining at Alan Wong's on Wednesday, and gave insider details as the President's press pool was held outside the restaurant for the entire time, "enjoying" the humid Honolulu evening from their location by local fast food joint Zippy's, up the block from Wong's: "Pool did not see POTUS leave the restaurant and was not close enough to even make an attempt."
Information: Alan Wong's is located at 1857 King Street, Honolulu, HI, 96826. Phone: 808-949-1939.