Friday, August 22, 2008

12th Ave Grill (8/21/08)

Last night, I took Ryan to 12th Ave Grill in Kaimuki (Google Map) to celebrate him finishing his Master's degree in Electrical Engineering. (Whoo hoo, go Ryan!) I'd been to the restaurant once before back when it first opened, but I couldn't really remember what I'd thought of it then. Ryan had never been before.

Ryan decided he wanted a Washington wine due to his impending move to Seattle. We ordered the 2005 Waterbrook Columbia Valley Melange. Our server said it was one of her favorite wines, and Ryan and I both liked it a lot. (By the way, you can bring your own wine, but there's a $15 corkage fee.)

They gave us two types of bread. Both were quite yummy.

We started with the Big Island heirloom tomato salad. I'd never had heirloom tomatoes before, but I've been hearing good things about them, so I really wanted to try this salad. It was quite tasty. It had the tomatoes, of course, plus mozzarella, arugula, anchovies, capers, and crispy onion rings. The dressing was an extra virgin olive oil and balsamic reduction. I kind of wish there had been more tomatoes, though. It's called a tomato salad, after all.

For his entree, Ryan got the kim chee steak, which is what 12th Ave Grill is famous for (at least, it's the dish that's most often mentioned when people talk about the restaurant). It was a flank steak that had been marinated in kim chee sauce. It came with some red bell pepper and onion, Big Island bok choy, and steamed rice. Ryan loved it. I tried some and it was very tasty. It didn't taste like kim chee, but it was a little sweet, a little tangy, with a bit of a spicy kick. Strangely, although the kim chee steak is so well-known, 12th Ave Grill no longer has it on their menu. It just happened to be one of the specials last night. So if you're planning to go to 12th Ave Grill for the kim chee steak, make sure to ask if it's going to be available on the night you go.

My entree was the Big Island ribeye steak. It had been rubbed with BBQ spices (according to the menu...I don't know exactly what spices those are) and then grilled. It came with "warm potato salad" (basically, seasoned chunks of potato and some little pieces of bacon), spinach, crispy onion rings (same as the tomato salad), and Hamakua woodear, which is a fungus most often used in Asian cooking (and incidentally, one of the only funguses I actually eat). It was really good. Ryan and I both asked for our steaks to be done medium, and they were cooked perfectly. Yum!

Finally, we had the brownie sundae for dessert. It came with vanilla gelato, strawberries in a port reduction, chocolate sauce, and these awesome little sheets of crystallized caramel or something (we couldn't tell exactly what they were, but they were delicious). The brownie itself wasn't that special (the ones Ryan makes are way better), but the dessert overall was very enjoyable.

Overall, it was a very positive dining experience. The wait staff is friendly and efficient. The restaurant was quite busy when we were there, but despite the small size of the dining area, it didn't feel crowded or cramped. It was a bit noisy, but not annoyingly so. I'd definitely go back, and Ryan said he was sad that he hadn't tried this place out sooner. Oh well. Perhaps we'll just have to stop by the next time we're back in Hawaii.


Ryan said...

That kim-chee steak was A-W-E-S-O-M-E! That's right, all caps. Actually, everything was pretty great. Not much bad to say

I wasn't quite as impressed with the heirlooms as Lianne, I think I prefer regular ol'vine growns. The salad itself was pretty good, could have used a little more dressing though.

Really enjoyed the wine (probably why Lianne and I polished off the bottle) gonna have to look into that label more when we get to Washington.

We'll definitely be heading back to 12th Ave when we visit.

Mike Ni said...

Looks ono. I haven't been back in awhile. I'll need to check it out soon...hope no more long lines or wait.

Shakezilla said...

I wanna check out that kim chee steak myself now.

Lianne said...

The tomato salad was definitely the low point of the meal (although it was still pretty good). I'd like to try heirloom tomatoes by themselves (I'll eat raw tomatoes with just a little bit of salt) so I can really see what the flavor is like.

Michael, didn't I go to 12th Ave Grill with you? It was so long ago, though, and I don't really remember anything about our visit. As for the long lines/wait, they do take reservations. We made a reservation and we didn't have to wait at all when we got there, even though we were a few minutes early.

Chris, the kim chee steak is really good and something I've never seen at any other restaurant. I'm a little perplexed about why they took it off the menu. Ryan said maybe the chef got tired of cooking it all the time, haha.