Amazing Fare, As Far As The Eye Can ‘Sea’Ono, You Know
February 18, 2018
Story By: Ali Resich | Photos by: MARK GALACGAC
Life is a series of choices — many of which can be difficult to make — but deciding what to eat shouldn’t be one of them.
That’s why the culinary gods knew exactly what they were doing when they created surf and turf dishes, thereby eliminating the need to ever decide between one’s cravings for red meat or seafood.
This classic combo already has been inducted into the Americana hall of fame, with its definitive pairing of juicy steak and some kind of crustacean magic, be it lobster, prawns or shrimp. Here at Dining Out, though, we’re always on the lookout for delicious twists on traditional dishes, so we’ve set out to find more unique ways to indulge in surf and turf. And the selections coming right up are sure to leave you questioning whether you’ll ever be able to go back to basics.
MINA’S IN THE HOUSE
One of the newest ventures to reel in island patrons is Mina’s Fish House, the Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina dining venue that renowned chef Michael Mina recently took over. The world-class eatery is the latest Hawaii project spearheaded by the Egypt-born chef, who also is behind Strip Steak restaurant and The Street food hall in Waikiki’s International Market Place.
Set poolside, overlooking Ko Olina’s shimmering lagoons, Mina’s Fish House takes unbelievably fresh catches from Hawaiian waters and transforms them into the sophisticated and sublimely balanced masterpieces the Michelin-star chef is known for. Dedicated to sustainability, the eatery also is rooted in utilizing island flavors and preparations that are true to Hawaii’s culture.
“Something we take great pride in is our line-to-table philosophy,” says executive chef Garrick Mendoza, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. “Here in Hawaii, we have an abundance of seafood, and we work directly with local fishermen, so we have the guy that’s manning the boat and throwing the lines out coming in the back door (of the restaurant) to bring in the catch of the day.”
To dive into this menu, be sure to start with Grilled Yellowfin Tuna & Seared Foie Gras ($57), the eatery’s unique take on surf and turf.
“This is a Michael Mina classic,” says Mendoza. “It’s been on his menu all over the country, even at his flagship restaurant in San Francisco, Michael Mina.”
The entree comes alive with tender yellowfin tuna that’s perfectly seared around the edges yet maintains its fresh, raw interior. The lean catch is accented with the pure luxury of rich foie gras, whose silky texture is complemented with that of royal trumpet mushrooms. A beautiful pinot noir reduction ties all the flavors together, while buttery Swiss chard and the earthy crispness of black truffle potato cake round out this absolutely dreamy meal.
From there, you’ll be ready to try other seafood and Prime-grade steak options available, seeing as the menu is, in one sense, an ode to surf-and-turf perfection.
FILIPINO-STYLE SURF AND TURF
Most cultures have their own take on meat-and-seafood combos, and if you venture to the Philippines, you’ll find that rather than having surf and turf on one plate, it’s more common to see big, family-style feasts being shared among loved ones, complete with a plethora of dishes from both land and sea to choose from.
You can customize your very own Filipino feast at Max’s of Manila, which has been pleasing multiple generations of hungry patrons with authentic eats since the international dining chain started as a humble cafe in Quezon City, Philippines, in the 1940s. For more than 10 years now, Max’s has been catering to diners in Hawaii as well, with its first location opening in Waipahu in 2006, followed by an Iwilei branch that debuted in 2010.
When it comes to adding some surf-and-turf action to your meal, make things juicier with a succulent Filipino Bistek ($11.25). General manager Maly San Luis explains that the dish heats up with thinly sliced sirloin beef sauteed with onions in a citrus-shoyu sauce and finished with gravy.
As for the seafood selections, you can’t go wrong with Daing na Bangus ($15.25), a boneless milkfish whose name, daing, refers to the process of marinating the fish in a delicious vinegar-and-garlic mixture.
“It’s a very traditional Filipino dish,” confirms San Luis.
The tender catch is butterflied for easy indulging, then deep-fried with a crispy crust. Don’t hesitate to dip each morsel into the garlic dip on the side, which accentuates the marinade flavors.
That’s not all when it comes to seafood sensations at Max’s. San Luis reminds guests that in honor of lent, the eatery is highlighting a number of its most popular seafood selections. Order the tangy, tamarind-based sinigang soup, prepared with your choice of shrimp or milkfish, or fill up on Fish Fillet with Black Bean Sauce, another tempting favorite.