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Vintage Cave Club: An Outstanding Dining Experience

 Vintage Cave Club entrance

A culinary experience that was unlike any other I’ve had.  

I was fortunate enough to eat at Vintage Cave Club with my family, an exclusive, high-end restaurant featuring cuisine prepared by elite chefs that is regarded as one of the best in Hawaii. Their slogan says it all: Hideaway Guest House For Oenophiles & Connoisseurs.

Opened in 2012 by Japanese real estate billionaire Takeshi Sekiguchi, club members who would pay an annual fee in the thousands would go there to dine. It’s since been opened to the public (there are still club members), and has been dined at by President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, amongst other notable figures and celebrities. 

The first points worth noting are its location and exterior, as pictured up top. It’s located in the darkest, least visited parking lot area of Ala Moana Shopping Center. Inconspicuously tucked between the pillars and parking stalls is its dimly lit red brick facade with a single black, metal door.

This is where the experience begins. 

The Vintage Cave Club experience

Ringing the buzzer, the host answers on the intercom before opening the door to greet you. Walking through the cellar-like foyer, a vibe that is consistent throughout, you get on an elevator that leads to the restaurant.

 Main dining area of Vintage Cave Club, with art by Ardon Mordecai and Pablo Picasso decorating the walls

Main dining area of Vintage Cave Club, with art by Ardon Mordecai and Pablo Picasso decorating the walls

The restaurant space is dimly lit and spacious, decorated with art like "Les Deux Femmes Nues" by Pablo Picasso, a Baccarat crystalware collection and a lot more.

Besides the central dining space, there are a couple of small, semi-private nooks - one of which where we ate in, private dining rooms and a sushi counter. There's also a wine cellar stocked with the most exclusive wines, a locker room for club members to store their expensive bottles, and a bar with a selection that includes a 50 year old Macallan - $6,000 for a small pour.

 Dining nook where the Obamas dined

Dining nook where the Obamas dined

 Bar room

Bar room

 Private lockers for club members

Private lockers for club members

Our menu was the French Japonais Prix Fixe, a 10-12 course menu featuring Takanokuni Wagyu. While we got a deal, the course is priced at $300 per person, with tax, service charge and tip separate.

Each dish was brought to us one by one, and the service was impressive throughout the evening. A few servers would come out together and in synchronized fashion, place the dish in front of each of us at the same time. Our lead server was very professional, not at all stiff, and personable in the perfect amount.

French Japonais Prix Fixe

Here's everything that was served. One thing worthy of noting is that while the food itself was nicely arranged, the dishes they each were served on were art pieces in their own right, making the presentation that much more amazing.

 Abalone with abalone liver and yuzu ponzu jelly

Abalone with abalone liver and yuzu ponzu jelly

 A5 Takanokuni Wagyu with miso pickled cream cheese and wasabi

A5 Takanokuni Wagyu with miso pickled cream cheese and wasabi

 Siberian caviar on ahi (tuna) tartare, basil powder and toast w/ 24k gold leaf

Siberian caviar on ahi (tuna) tartare, basil powder and toast w/ 24k gold leaf

 Uni chawanmushi (Japanese steamed custard-like flan)

Uni chawanmushi (Japanese steamed custard-like flan)

 Sashimi (3 types) over seaweed salad, amaebi (sweet shrimp) jelly and wasabi foam with a mini garden salad and miso sesame paste

Sashimi (3 types) over seaweed salad, amaebi (sweet shrimp) jelly and wasabi foam with a mini garden salad and miso sesame paste

 Consommé soup with A5 Takanokuni Wagyu and prosciutto, shiitake mushroom, daikon (Japanese radish) and Tokyo negi (green onion) foam

Consommé soup with A5 Takanokuni Wagyu and prosciutto, shiitake mushroom, daikon (Japanese radish) and Tokyo negi (green onion) foam

 Served with the soup: Miso bread, sesame charcoal bread, ricotta cheese in olive oil, red wine salt

Served with the soup: Miso bread, sesame charcoal bread, ricotta cheese in olive oil, red wine salt

 Onaga (long-tail red snapper) in white wine sauce, tomato (?), ikura, saffron tuile

Onaga (long-tail red snapper) in white wine sauce, tomato (?), ikura, saffron tuile

 Yuzu sorbet

Yuzu sorbet

 Hitsumabushi unagi and A5 Takanokuni Wagyu on crispy risotto in red wine sauce

Hitsumabushi unagi and A5 Takanokuni Wagyu on crispy risotto in red wine sauce

 Ribeye and Filet A5 Takanokuni Wagyu in miso vinegar sauce, with black truffle in sherry sauce

Ribeye and Filet A5 Takanokuni Wagyu in miso vinegar sauce, with black truffle in sherry sauce

 (Not included in the Prix Fixe) 29 year old aged peaberry Kona coffee - Smooth tasting, reminiscent of Kopi Luwak

(Not included in the Prix Fixe) 29 year old aged peaberry Kona coffee - Smooth tasting, reminiscent of Kopi Luwak

 Served with the coffee: Sugar jelly

Served with the coffee: Sugar jelly

 Corn chowder and corn gelato with crystallized soy powder

Corn chowder and corn gelato with crystallized soy powder

The meal was just about perfect in every way, and everyone finished just the right amount of full. Would I have taken more if it were an all-you-can-eat buffet? Sure. But it wasn't that kind of dinner. Everyone finished satisfied. 

After the meal, our server offered to take us around on a tour of the restaurant, explaining its history, approach, wine and art collection. She guided us back in the elevator and walked us out, concluding our experience at the Vintage Cave Club.

A dinner with my family that I won't forget.

 

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