Chef Roberto Los Baños and his talented staff combine fresh ingredients of the islands in delectable ways.

The stroll from our room to the restaurant was accompanied by the eerie "hoooo" of conch shells and the rhythm of island drums heralding the sunset. Around us torches were being lit throughout the grounds of the Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort and Spa.

We selected a fine table next to floor-to-ceiling open windows, which gave the entire restaurant a delicious open-air feel. The setting was at the same time elegant and beach casual. White tablecloths, candlelight and fresh roses mingled with music so low you could hear the rustling of tropical vegetation and surf. Outside our window tiki torches flickered on the beach.

Ranulfo, our waiter, perfectly reflects the international flavor of Hawaii. A Spanish man from Ecuador, he answered all our questions about the menu with true aloha spirit.


A signature appetizer is the
Trio of Island Ahi.

For an appetizer, we couldn't resist the signature dish, a Trio of Fresh Island Ahi that included an ahi avocado cake, ahi lemongrass trap and sashimi. There's also a Bali by the Sea Sampler of crispy prawns, seared scallops, beet salad and ahi avocado cake. The Chilled Bali Shellfish Bowl contains lobster, shrimp, oysters, scallops and crab claws with the chef Roberto Los Baños' special Maxim sauce.

There are two featured soups: Island Bouillabaisse, a savory seafood stew of shrimp, scallops and the fresh catch; and Ginger Maui Onion Soup finished with coconut milk and fresh Basil. The Roast Beet and Goat Cheese Salad with macadamia nuts, dried pineapple, banylus vinegar, olive oil and champagne dressing is creatively satisfying. Other salad choices are Crispy Island Greens with Chilled Asparagus; Baby Romaine & Chilled Shrimp; and the Bali Salad, a delightful combination of manoa lettuce with nalo farm greens, hearts of palm, papaya and avocado, finished with champagne dressing.

Fish and Shellfish entrées include Grilled Mahi Mahi; Scallion Crusted Ahi; Sautéed Jumbo Prawns; and Bounty of Seafood, an array of scallops, shrimp, lobster, and island fish in a saffron sauce with Duchess Potatoes. For the heart-conscious, there's a Grilled Pacific Northwest Salmon with ginger scallion pesto and jasmine rice lau lau. Ranulfo recommended the signature dish, Sautéed Island Opakapa, a pink snapper sautéed with crusted macadamia nuts and cilantro, served with a sweet potato moussiline, asparagus, baby carrots and kaffir lime sauce. It was as mouth-watering as Ranulfo said it would be.


The Seared Island Chicken Breast
is served with French beans, wild rice
croquette and a Madeira Sauce.


Ranulfo recommends the signature dish,
Sautéed Island Opakapa, a pink snapper
sautéed with crusted macadamia nuts and cilantro, served with a sweet potato
moussiline, asparagus, baby carrots and kaffir lime sauce.


Chef Roberto's entrée specialties include Roasted Duck Breast, Seared Island Chicken Breast; Roast Rack of Sonoma Lamb; Grilled Black Angus Filet Mignon; and for the heart conscious, Angel Hair Pasta served with a tomato sauce and waimanalo asparagus tips with parmesan.

Ranulfo says it's not uncommon to serve up to 150 dinners a night during the week, a tribute to the culinary flair of chef Roberto Los Baños. Chef Roberto was born and raised in Mokuleia on Oahu, and grew up in Pearl City, where he lives with his family today. He joined the Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa three years ago. His staff of four includes one lead cook who has been with the Village for 30 years. As one of Hawaii's up-and-coming local chefs, Roberto Los Baños has been featured on several local cooking and morning TV shows. Depending on what ingredients are fresh locally, he changes the Bali by the Sea menu four to five times a year.


Chef Roberto's desserts are spectacular: Fresh Strawberry Champagne Soup in Tuile Cup; Hawaiian Vintage Chocolate Soufflé Cake; Mango and Rhubarb Tart with Tahitian vanilla sauce; Charlotte Montmartre, a sour cream cheesecake with fresh raspberries; and The Koa Box, a caramel macadamia nut and Kona coffee mousse. There are also assorted ice creams and tropical sorbets. Tonight he featured additionally a Coconut Crème Brulée and The Bali Chocolate Volcano, which arrived mounted on dry ice in such a dramatic way that it appeared to be steaming.


The Bali Chocolate Volcano
arrived mounted on dry ice in
such a dramatic way that it
appeared to be steaming.

Bali by the Sea is located on the mezzanine level of the Rainbow Tower at the Hawaiian Village Beach Resort and Spa in Waikiki. The one-way streets of Waikiki are often void of parking in the evening, but you won't have that problem with complimentary valet and self-parking for the restaurant.

Dining everywhere in the Village is casual resort attire, but discretion prevailed and we were glad we dressed for the evening. In seafood, macadamia nut and chocolate overwhelm we wondered afterwards what could be a more memorable dining experience than oceanside Pacific Rim dining at Hilton's Bali by the Sea.

Feature and most photos by Carolyn Proctor, Las Vegas Jetsetters Magazine Correspondent.

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