Dinner at Salt in Honolulu.

While on Kauai, my wife and I met Doug Kokol who is the charcuterie chef at Salt in Honolulu. Doug and the executive chef received Hawaii Rising Star chef awards recently. We decided to cancel our reservations at Roy's and reschedule the location of dinner with Haggis and his wife at Salt. Salt is a tapas style restaurant although they do have full meal items. Corkage was $20. Doug and executive chef Quinten Frye came out to greet us and discuss this new restaurant. During our dinner, they sent out 2 duck in asian 5 spice plates and later a smoked raw ahi dish as a thank you for visiting. Besides these dishes, we ordered plates of blistered Shishito peppers with Hawaiian sea salt, ox tail empanandas with a raisin chutney, flash fried oysters with a pineapple relish and a charcuterie board (there may have been another plate or 2 but I can't recall). Loved this restaurant and would highly recommend it. Here are my notes from the wines that evening:

  • NV Maurice Vesselle Champagne Grand Cru Brut Cuvée Réservée - France, Champagne, Montagne de Reims, Champagne
    Drank at the Haggis home before we left for dinner. No formal notes. 91 points.

  • 2008 Domaine Thierry Laffay Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons - France, Burgundy, Chablis, Chablis 1er Cru
    This paired surprisingly well with the grilled Shishito peppers with Hawaiian sea salt. 2nd time I have had this wine with similar notes. Crisp, clean and very lively. Warmed up a little too much over the course of the evening. My score is for the right temperature. 93 points.

  • 2008 Rivers-Marie Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
    Ruby red color. Not decanted. Wonderful nose filled with eucalyptus. Round texture and not over the top. Notes of black cherry, smoke and some sweet red fruit. Paired very well with the Asian 5 spice duck course and oxtail empenadas. 91-92 points.

  • 2007 Stefania Cabernet Sauvignon Chaine d' Or Vineyard - USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
    Opened by Haggis at his home after we returned from dinner. I have a bottle of this but have not tried it yet. Not decanted but would likely improve with air. A round, medium bodied wine. Old world in style and slightly vegetal. Notes of green pepper, herbs and plums. 89 points. (89 pts.)

  • 2005 Dobogo Tokaji Aszú 6 Puttonyos - Hungary, Hegyalja, Tokaji
    Opened by Haggis and brought back by his wife from a trip to Budapest. I had the 1997 vintage of this wine 7 years ago and thought the 2005 was slightly better. Drank this with chocolate. Very young but showed nice apricot, orange marmalade and candied lemon notes. Could have used a bit more acidity to push it higher. Give this time. 92 points.

Original Post
A little tardy posting here, as I left for China the next day and have been on the road pretty much since then. Anyway, this was my first time at Salt, and would probably never have gone had not Vino Me suggested it. The dining experience is informal. The restaurant has two levels: bar and some tables downstairs and a few tables in the upper level. The place is small, but open. As VM says, we were treated exceedingly well, thanks in part to his encounter with Doug in Kauai.

I have little to add to VM's notes. They are spot on with respect to the food and the wines.

The only thing I differ on is the Stefania. I thought it was luscious and fragrant and score it in the 90-91 range. There was still some in the bottle the following day, which was much more open after almost 24 hr.

If anyone is in Honolulu, you really should consider going to Salt. Some websites (and their own, too, I think) say they do not take reservations. However, they do. My only major complaint is that the corkage is high ($20, if I recall), even for HI. Alan Wong charges that, but he has an extensive wine list (ok, that's another rant for another thread!).

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