Thursday, January 03, 2013

Repeat Eats: President Obama, First Lady Dine At Alan Wong's Restaurant In Honolulu

First day back in Hawaii:  Golf, bill signings, and a celebratory dinner at the acclaimed chef's flagship restaurant, a Presidential favorite...
President Obama on Wednesday night marked the start of the second half of his Hawaiian vacation with a three-hour dinner at one of his favorite island restaurants, Alan Wong's on King Street in Honolulu.  Joined by First Lady Michelle Obama and an unidentified group of friends, during his first dining excursion of 2013, the President enjoyed the chef's local and sustainably sourced regional Hawaiian cuisine after arriving on island before 5:00 AM and then spending the day playing golf with pals at the Kaneohe Klipper Course on the Marine Base located close to his vacation compound in Kailu. (Above, the President with a new friend while playing golf)

Wednesday's dinner was the seventh time the Eater in Chief has dined at Wong's while on a vacation in Hawaii.  It was a celebration:  Before motorcading in a light drizzle into Honolulu for the 7:20 PM feast, President Obama signed the landmark 'fiscal cliff' tax legislation passed by Congress on New Year's Day, using an autopen. "We received the bill late this afternoon, and it was immediately processed," a senior White House official said.  "A copy was delivered to the President for review. He then directed the bill be signed by autopen."

Security was tight on the busy King Street as the President and Mrs. Obama arrived, with locals tweeting about the Presidential presence and noting snipers on rooftops and street closures.  Wong's is located on the third floor of a downtown office building in the same neighborhood as the apartment complex where the President spent his teen years.  As he dined in the chic gourmet haven, the President's press pool was held far from the action, across the street in a less upscale restaurant.

The internationally acclaimed Wong is one of President Obama's favorite chefs, and says he loves to cook for his most famous fans: Both Obamas are "adventurous eaters," Wong told Obama Foodorama.  He was the guest chef at the White House in 2009 for the Luau-themed Congressional Picnic (recipes are here), and also cooked a lavish feast for the President's important APEC Leaders Dinner in Honolulu in 2011.

The President's favorite entree at his restaurant, said Wong, is Twice Cooked Soy Braised Short Ribs with Ko Choo Jang Sauce.  His favorite dessert is called "The Coconut," and is Haupia Sorbet in a Chocolate Shell fashioned to look like a coconut, with Tropical Fruits and Lilikoi Sauce (passion fruit).  No menu was released for Wednesday's dinner.  Wong created a special 5-course Chef's Tasting Menu for the Obamas when they visited last year.

Last September, Wong was invited to be an inaugural member of the American Chef Corps, the group of prominent toques who are serving as tasty ambassadors for the State Department's Diplomatic Culinary Partnership.  Along with the White House chefs, Masaharu Morimoto is also a member:  The President and Mrs. Obama dined at his eponymous Honolulu restaurant this year during the first part of their Hawaiian vacation.  That dinner was also a repeat visit for the First Couple.

The President and his party departed Wong's restaurant at 10:20 PM, and were back at his rental compound in Kailua at 10:50 PM.  He began the day with an hour-long 6:15 AM workout at the Marine Base, and then returned to play golf at 10:30 AM with Hawaii friends Marty Nesbitt, Bobby Titcomb and Allison Davis, according to a White House official.

In between, the White House said, the President also spoke by phone with the outraged Governors of New York and New Jersey, Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie, who were incensed that Congress had failed to take up a multi-billion dollar Hurricane Sandy aid package.  The newly sworn-in 113th Congress will now vote on the measure on Friday.  The President also signed a bill authorizing defense spending for 2013, but did so without the use of the autopen.  The legislation was sent to Hawaii over the weekend, according to the White House.

President Obama has no public events scheduled for the duration of his stay in Hawaii, which will last through Jan. 5, according to the White House.  He will return to Washington on Jan. 6.

Information: Alan Wong's is located at 1857 King Street, Honolulu, HI, 96826. Phone: 808-949-1939.

*Top photo by KHON/Hawaii; Wong photo courtesy of Alan Wong, by Michael Gilbert