Saturday February 9, 2013 five friends and I went to Vintage Cave Honolulu for an extravagant experience. This covert “man cave” has been all the talk ever since its opening a couple months ago. The allure: an uber fine dining restaurant dreamed up 20 years ago by Japanese real estate investor Takeshi Sekiguchi, a talented risk taking young chef named Christopher Kajioka, a secret location in the basement of Ala Moana Center, $50,000 memberships, and amazing prix fixe menu at a stiff price of $295 per person.
After reading all the obscure articles and blog posts on the Vintage Cave, heading to dinner that night I was extremely excited, nervous, and frankly intimidated. So how was it? I have got to say this place is not for the weary and is meant for the privileged and wealthy. Reservations are mandatory and pre-paying for the $295 prix fixe menu is required. If that doesn’t scare you off then the dark brick decor, low lights, cold air, and multi-million dollar art collection might?
Yes the decor and feel of the “restaurant” (I put restaurant in quotes because I felt like I was in a old French Villa rather than at a restaurant) was dark and intimidating, but the service and staff was far from that. We were all warmly welcomed and had the 10-star treatment by our own personal butler, hostess, beverage manager, and full service staff.
Upon arrival, we had a 10 minute tour of the Vintage Cave’s art collection (which was Sekiguchi’s own private collection), bar/lounge, dining area, and a private room with even more surprises. Here are some photos of the restaurant (even the restroom).
Now let’s talk food. This dinner was like no other I had ever experienced and to me it was more like a show than dining. To say Chef Kajioka is creative would be a huge understatement. I can see why critics call him crazy and risky. The four courses totaling 24 offerings were delicious melodies of world class ingredients with off the wall presentations and was really just a cluster fuck of genius.
Some of my favorites through out this elaborate 4 1/2 hour dinner was the Vanilla Bean Macaron Caviar, Russian Uni Ham Filled Black Truffle, Kona Abalone Nori Mushroom, and a plate of Petits Fours that blew my mind. Even though the portions are small, by the end of the meal all 6 of us were full and satisfied. I really loved the plays on the sweet and savory food in one dish.
The wine and alcohol at Vintage Cave was stellar. For example their vodka choices ranged from typical Grey Goose to Tito’s Texas, to Czechoslovakian. The wine list was also equally impressive, and you could get really great wines by the glass. I have to praise them for bypassing Young’s Market and bringing in custom orders of hand picked liquor.
Overall, I really liked Vintage Cave and would go back. This dining experience is NOT for everyone and can only be appreciated by those with open minds and fat wallets. In my opinion, it’s not going out to dinner, but participating in a fine art show and culinary adventure. I would love to get into the brain of Chef Kajioka and see what he was thinking when he created some of these dishes! Take a look at photos of all the food we tried that night…