The Dish on Bali
Don’t let the name fool you—this Hilton Hawaiian Village gem is more Pacific than Southeast Asian.
If the farm-to-table movement is something you consider an evolution in dining and not merely a trend, you’re in good company. Just ask Matt Alleshouse, chef de cuisine at Bali Steak & Seafood—the Hilton Hawaiian Village’s oceanfront, fine dining restaurant. Alleshouse may hail from the desert state of Arizona, but in just a little over a year’s time, the seasoned chef has quickly adapted to the island way of life, as noticeably represented by the menu at Bali. A proud locavore to say the least, Alleshouse and his team have made it a point to source island-grown goods for at least 80 percent of the offerings found on Bali’s bill of fare. The hunt for these local ingredients has not been in vain. Alleshouse reveals, “I went on this Big Island farm ‘tour’ and visited eight farms around the island. With a real effort to make [the fare at Bali] more localized, we’ve now built a relationship with each of these farmers.”
Photos courtesy of Bali Steak & Seafood
Diners get to benefit from Allehouse’s closely cultivated relationships through the restaurant’s distinctive dishes. The menu has certainly deviated from the original Indonesian flavors it initially had long ago, and has been replaced with items reflective of its name—steak and seafood, along with a selection of starters and salads to serve as preludes to the main entrees. Regular appetizers include Kona abalone poke with kukui nut soy vinaigrette, and sauteed escargots with Hamakua mushrooms and homemade bacon. But Alleshouse is constantly experimenting with different flavors, and if you’re lucky, you may be privy to a future favorite. An impromptu salad such as his baby romaine served with papaya-seed dressing and goat cheese, or seared diver scallops with Kahuku corn, apple-banana sweet potato puree and Hamakua mushrooms in a lemon beurre blanc, might be on the list of evening specials.
But if you truly want to experience how Alleshouse combines tastes and textures, from starter to sweet ending, try the four-course Chef’s Tasting Menu, which is based on what ingredients are in season (also available with wine pairings).
Again, being a steak and seafood establishment, Bali does have several standout items in the surf and turf department. The signature prime bone-in, rib-eye is tender and juicy. And with your pick of five different sauces— bearnaise, red wine, green peppercorn, whole grain mustard aioli and horse-radish cream—as well as additional sides to complement your steak, there’s enough to keep your palate pleased and appetite pleasantly satiated. Personally, the rib-eye is already flavorful enough to be eaten on its own without the additional condiments available.
Another notable meat entree is the lamb chops accompanied with ratatouille, asparagus and rosemary and rock-salt-infused roasted garlic. Succulent with a subtle gamey flavor, this particular lamb serving was juicier than the typical cut, since the rib bone was left whole with more fat surrounding the meat still intact.
When it comes to seafood, Bali has several options to choose from. The Bali Seafood Medley—butter and Thai basil-seared island fish, scallops, shrimp and lobster with a potato puree, Maui onions and a splash of tarragon sauce—may be the perennial go-to entree for seafood lovers, but the mahimahi is also a great choice.
A generous pan-roasted filet is placed on top of sweet corn kernels, homemade Hamakua tomato “consomme” vinaigrette and Big Island mushrooms. Served with a side of grilled lemon, the mild-flavored fish is slightly sweet and marries well with the dish’s components.
For dessert, chocolate fans should try the sinfully rich Waialua Estates chocolate-coffee tart with berry jam and coffee brittle. But if you’re more inclined toward fruit, the pineapple tart with macadamia-nut ice cream is definitely the sweet treat to indulge on. The dessert is comprised of fresh pineapple slices baked into a chewy, yet flaky, nut-crusted puff pastry, topped with fresh strawberries and blueberries. An original take on baking with the ubiquitous Hawaiian fruit, the tart has just the right amount of sweetness and tartness, which are both tempered by the smooth ice cream. As an added bonus, Bali also gets innovative with its truffle offering. Where most fine-dine venues present diners with a homemade version of the decadent delight, Bali’s final chocolate offering comes in the form of freshly baked chocolate truffle cookies over a bed of toasted coconut, served in a mini cast-iron skillet. Whimsical and unexpected, the cookies add just the right finishing touch to an already impressive meal.
Bali Steak & Seafood
Hilton Hawaiian Village
2005 Kalia Road [D:4 Waikiki Map]