Local Hawaii ingredients used with an international flair
Sunday, August 05, 2007
Waiting for the next Epic
I was glad to read Nadine Kam's review Chapter 2 adds little to Epic tale in today's Star-Bulletin. She confirmed our suspicions and saved us a bundle of money.
We were sitting in Little Village reading the Epic menu last week. In fact, after leaving the wine tasting at HASR that evening, we had debated trying Epic but decided to go for something familiar and comfortable instead--and so found ourselves at Little Village. They had Epic menus at the front desk (both restaurants are owned by the Chans) so we grabbed one and while waiting for our order to arrive we pondered our decision not to go there that evening.
The reviews we had read, although favorable, had put us off both the idea of going there and led us to question our trust for the reviewers. But we were hoping for some excuse to try the place ourselves. You never know. Eating is a better test than reading about a restaurant. So we were perusing the menu wondering what we might order if we were there.
A couple of things told us that we had made the right decision and that we would probably skip Epic altogether. First, the dishes seemed rather pretentiously priced. If the chef were already a recognized superstar it would be another thing. The clincher was imagining the combination of ingredients described as arriving on the same plate.
We have some respect for how traditional dishes are served in their country of origin. There's a reason why some treatments have persevered over the centuries: they work. Unagi (eel), for example, is served in certain ways in Japan because they work and have survived the test of time. Of course, innovation and experimentation are important too. The combinations we saw on the Epic menu didn't look like they would survive a couple of months, much less a few centuries. Nor does serving a shrimp on an upside down martini glass (see Nadine Kam's review) get any points in my book unless the dish is otherwise superb. It's a non-sequitur, an obstacle to the enjoyment of the food. And Nadine observed that the poke underneath this gimmick was of poor quality. The rest of her review was similarly critical.
Form doesn't replace substance. Epic seems to be, well, an overstatement.
So thanks again to Nadine Kam for her straight-talking review.
I can hardly wait for either Epic-3 or for whatever will replace it in that prime spot in Chinatown, just a short distance away from the Hawaii Theater.
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