Indulge in an All-New Bali ExperienceColumns Foodie Fare
March 16, 2014
Story By: Christina O Connor | Photos by: Rachel Breit
This past September, Bali Steak & Seafood briefly closed its doors, and when it re-opened in late December, it emerged as something that longtime patrons may not even recognize — in a good way. Now, with new decor and a revamped menu, Bali is back with innovative new features, without ditching its dedication to quality service and ingredients.
“There are a lot of new dishes, and we are always looking at where we can progress to next,” says chef de cuisine JJ Reinhart.
The menu is stocked with premium meats and fresh local seafood. If you don’t know where to begin, Bali Seafood Platter for Two ($85) might be a good starting point. The appetizer platter features ahi poke, king crab, jumbo shrimp, abalone sea asparagus salad and Kona kampachi crudo — all complemented with your choice of sauce: mango cocktail, citrus ponzu and Bali mustard.
“This dish highlights some of the best that we can get in seafood,” he says.
Reinhart also recommends The Wedge ($14), which features baby iceberg lettuce, house-cured bacon, hard-boiled eggs and shaved Maui onions — all drizzled with roasted tomato dressing.
“I actually make the bacon myself in-house,” he explains. “It’s cured with Maui sugar, Kona sea salt, some local herbs, and then I am smoking it with kiawe wood.”
For a new take on a classic (Reinhart loves to reinterpret classic favorites), try Ahi Tuna Chateaubriand Au Poivre For Two ($55 per person).
“Classically, a chateaubriand is a meat dish,” Rein-hart explains. “But the idea with this is instead of using beef, we are using our locally caught ahi. “We use the center of the loin and we are cutting a 20-ounce steak out of it.”
The ahi is seasoned with Kona sea salt and a fish stock-based pink pepper-corn sauce.
In keeping with Bali’s philosophy to have positive change be a constant, the restaurant has already come up with a few new items since its re-opening: One of them being Diver Scallops ($18), which features ginger rice porridge, Hamakua mushroom ragout and seared scallops, topped with green onions, hearts of palm and celery, and finished with sesame chili oil.
Even with all the changes in recent months, Bali has long been known for its premium meats — and that certainly is something diners can still find. Take, for instance, Delmonico ($58), an 18-ounce, 22-day aged prime bone-in ribeye. The steak can be served with a variety of sauces, including the Bali steak sauce as pictured, which is a rich concoction inspired by vinegar reduction and features a range of herbs. All steaks also are served with a roasted bulb of garlic and rosemary.
“We source some of the best meat that we can possibly get,” Rein-hart says. “That is definitely a highlight.”
On the Side
As chef de cuisine JJ Reinhart tells it, Bali Steak & Seafood currently is “in the process of changing from what Bali used to be to what Bali is going to become.”
With his past experience, Reinhart seems like just the chef to take Bali into the future. After being a traveling trumpet player — and winning both a Tony Award and an Emmy Award for his performances — he looked for a new challenge by entering culinary school.
During his time as a student, he landed an internship at the Playboy Mansion. The gig turned into a full-time job, and Reinhart served as chef de cuisine at the mansion for several years. The structure of the Playboy Mansion really pushed Reinhart to exercise his creativity. Because they often were preparing food for the same guests, Reinhart would have to create new items constantly.
But Reinhart wanted to be where his food could be accessible to the public. In 2010, he moved to the Islands to work at Morimoto Waikiki, which was followed up with a stint at Sansei Seafood Restaurant and Sushi Bar.
If you haven’t been to Bali recently, you’re in for a big surprise as soon as you walk in. The dining room now has a modern, chic atmosphere complete with new furniture and plate settings. The dining room also strikes a balance of being inviting and comfortable, while still maintaining its upscale vibe. To top it off, Bali has an unparalleled view.
The transformation also extends to the cuisine, which Reinhart says has become more creative and refreshing.
“We’re trying to present the Balinese feel, as well as the Hawaiian feel to bring a unique flavor to the menu, while utilizing as many local products as possible,” he explains.
Contact Christina O’Connor at email@example.com
Bali Steak & Seafood
Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort, Rainbow Tower
2005 Kalia Road
Tuesday-Saturday, 5-9 p.m.