Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Hy's Steakhouse

Parents coming to visit is the best.  You get to go places that your state-government salary will not otherwise permit.  The other night my dad took me to Hy's Steak House, one of the best-known steakhouses in Hawaii, which is located in the heart of Waikiki (2440 Kuhio Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815 - map here). The only way I can properly describe this place is to say that it was the best steakhouse - in food, service, and ambience - I have ever been to.  Now, because I know people who will challenge that bold assertion, let me assure you I have been to plenty of steakhouses.  I have been to the original Morton's in Chicago (as well as the second Morton's in Chicago on Rush St.).  I have been to Ruth's Chris in Annapolis and Chicago.  I have been to Hyde Park in Columbus, OH.  I have been to the Chart House in Annapolis, Kobe Steak in Honolulu, the Palm in Washington, DC, and even the Hotel DuPont in Wilmington, Delaware.  None of these come even remotely close.  Fortunately, I can provide an accurate comparison because I always order the same thing.

Originally part of the Canadian-owned chain, Hy's offers superb cuisine which has a mixtures of American, European, Hawaiian and Pacific influences. Hy's Main Room and Broiler Room resemble an old English mansion and possess all the ambience of a private scotch/cigar club. The Main Room looks like a library, with walls of old books and framed art, a lighted ceiling of authentic circa 1905 Tiffany stained glass, dark mahogany paneling, ornately carved wood moldings and heavy brass chandeliers.  The centerpiece of the Broiler Room is a custom-made, brass and copper caldron which serves as an open hearth for the house specialties broiled over native Hawaiian kiawe wood. The hearth is enclosed by glass in an ornate gazebo, where the chef and grills the steaks to perfection.  I ordered the filet and alaskan king crab legs.  The 7-oz filet seriously melted in my mouth while the huge pile of pre-cut crab legs were (almost) more than I could eat.  We also ordered escargot, which came in 6 individual portions covered in garlic, cheese, and butter sauce.  It was a delicious heart-attack waiting to happen!

Traditions that have disappeared in other fine dining restaurants are maintained at Hy's. Tuxedoed waiters still expertly prepare Caesar Salad, carve Chateaubriand for two and flambè delicious desserts (like Bananas Foster and Cherries Jubilee) tableside.  The service is probably what stood out to me the most.  We had reservations for 8:30pm, but got hungry/thirsty around 6-6:30.  We figured we would just hang out at the bar and drink until our table was ready.  As soon as we walked in, we were greeted by a very friendly hostess.  We explained our situation and she immediately asked if we wanted to wait or take the first available table.  We were seated immediately with no problem.  All the waiters and waitresses were friendly and knowledgeable.  It was clear that our waiter had tried everything on the menu as he had no trouble describing the items we had questions about.  For dessert we had the Strawberry Flambe (I absolutely, more than anything on this earth, hate Bananas.  I will gag if I smell them, so we did not get the Bananas Foster, even though the waiter recommended it as the best dessert).  The Strawberry Flambe was still awesome.

I waddled home.

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