Looking for an elegant dinner with over-the-top dishes, a great view, and excellent service in central Waikiki? Be sure to check Azure. Located off the lobby of the majestic Royal Hawaiian Hotel, Azure has a fabulous beachfront location adjacent to the outdoor Mai Tai Bar. It is important to note, however, that the restaurant validates valet parking for 4 hours. So valet is free, so long as you leave within 4 hours. This is important, because the Royal Hawaiian's parking structure is shared with the Sheraton Waikiki, which is a FAR walk from the hotel.
Anyway, back to Azure! If you can, request an outdoor seat for beautiful views of the Waikiki strip and Diamond Head. There's an awning over the outdoor seating, so don't worry about rain ruining your night. The only downfall of sitting outside, though, is the random hotel guest walking through the outdoor dining area trying to find something else in the hotel. Apparently the hotel's outdoor areas aren't partitioned off from the rest of the property, but it wasn't a big issue when we dined here. The staff even handled this issue very nicely, which is another point. The service here was amazing! I can't speak for all the staff, but our server, Brent, was simply the best! He was very proactive, very informative, and gave us the impression that he just couldn't do enough for us. Definitely made a great experience even better.
So great experience and ambiance, but how about the food? The food was incredible! The restaurant specializes in seafood, and offers a Pier 38 menu that changes based upon what available at the Pier 38 fish auction. Besides the Pier 38 menu, Azure also offers an ala carte menu with seafoods and meats, as well as a tasting menu, a nice wine list, and a list of GREAT mixed drinks from their award winning mixologist! But what did we eat? We both decided to go with the ala care menu. That night, I was determined to try the menu items a friend of mine recommended, but first we were served lavosh with a clam dip after ordering. This was followed by a bread basket that contained a white bread, an olive bread, a slightly sour baguette with flax seed in it, and some of my wife's favorite spiced lavosh.
For my appetizer, I ordered one of the dishes Azure is best known for around local foodies. Ironically, it isn't seafood, but was still amazing. For my appetizer, I had the "Kiawe Smoke" Petite Hawaii Rancher Butter Poached Filet & Foie Gras with sauce supreme, black truffle, and madeira ($29).
The "Kiawe Smoked" comes from kiawe wood smoked being blown under the cloche prior to service. The cloche is then lifted in front of you to reveal the beautiful medium-rare petite filet served on a crostini floating in pureed potatoes with a black truffle madeira sauce, a piece of seared foie gras, and some nice arugula. As good as my appetizer was, my wife's was even better. It was an Earth Hour special called Green Eggs & Ham ($16). Basically, it was a salad lyonnaise with house made Proscuitto, a soft boiled egg, and an amazing black truffle sauce!
For our entrees, I decided to order the Azure Ocean Risotto ($49), again on my friend's recommendation. This risotto was flavored with a sofritto and saffron, and contained Keahole lobster (half tail), shrimp, clams, scallop, Haumakua tomato, basil, sugar peas, and Kahuku sea asparagus. This dish was delicious and extremely rich, though the tomatoes helped to cut the richness. This dish paired well with a BEX Riesling ($10), though if you wish, they do also offer a drier Riesling to pair with this dish. Of course you could order whatever you want too! As good as my dish was, I have to admit my wife's dish was even better! Which makes sense because she ordered my favorite fish. She ordered off the Pier 38 menu, selecting the Simply High-Heat Roasted with white wine, fresh herbs, caper-lemon butter sauce, with two choices of sides (Market Price). The fish in question was Onaga, which is also known as Hawaiian Red/Ruby Snapper. This fish has a beautiful, clean, sweet flesh that begs for simple preparations.
For her sides, my wife chose the Molokai purple sweet potato Naked Cow Dairy butter & red thai spices, and the lemon grass & kaffir lime jasmine rice. If your wondering about her drink, she ordered the Fresh Raspberry Essence Collins ($11) with fresh raspberries, fresh pressed lemon, white cane sugar, and botanicals of Bombay Sapphire with effervescence. It was a very refreshing cocktail, and I don't care for raspberry.
Because my entree was so rich, I couldn't handle a normal dessert. Thus, I ordered the Hibiscus and Tahitian Lime Sorbet ($8). This was a very refreshing, and very tasty sorbet. In fact, it was the best sorbet I've ever had! My wife, on the other hand, chose the Waialua Flourless Chocolate Cake with ruby port ganache and sauce raspberry ($11). This was good, incredibly rich, but nothing special. To accompany our desserts, we also ordered Jade Leaf Green Tea.
This was an incredible dining experience with great food, great service, and great views. Azure easily takes its place as one of my favorite fine dining restaurants. We will definitely be back in the future and would recommend it to anyone looking for a great dining experience and/or looking for great seafood.
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