Saturday, September 8, 2007

Birthday dinner at Kai

For my birthday dinner yesterday, we went to Kai, at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort. The resort is located on the Gila River Indian Community in Chandler, and Kai's cuisine is heavily influenced by Native American food and culture. The restaurant has won many awards in the short time it has been open, including a 2007 AAA Five Diamond Award (one of only four in Arizona). All of the reviews I've read have been very, very positive (I have yet to read a negative comment about the place) and I was really excited to try it.

At the entrance to the restaurant, two hosts immediately greeted us by name and led us to our table. As we walked to our table, all of the employees we passed greeted us (and bowed their heads). We were seated at a window-side table and attendants placed napkins on our laps. The shades were drawn as the setting sun was directly facing the window. The dining room was very peaceful and serene, with very soft Native American music in the background.

Our main server arrived and gave us very informative background of the restaurant. He presented us with menus (w/ hand drawn Native American art on the cover). Here a picture of one of the menus:
Kai - menu w/ hand drawn cover art
Service throughout the meal was provided by two servers. We were offered a choice of sparkling or non-sparkling water. We opted for non-sparkling, which is Voss water served w/ a choice of key lime, orange, or lemon slices.

For our meal we choose the following items (very descriptive menu names, by the way):
  • Three Sisters Composition ("Venison Carpaccio, Sweet Corn Panna Cotta, Pickled Heirloom Squash, Tumbleweed of Micro Greens & Four Corners Golden Beans")
  • Slow Braised Lobster Tail ("Butter Basted Lobster Tail, Lobster Coral, Avocado Mousse, Tear Drop Tomato Salsa on Third Generation Fry Bread")
  • Grilled Tenderloin of Buffalo from the Cheyenne River Tribe ("Smoked Corn Puree, Barbeque Scarlet Runner Beans, Saguaro Blossom Syrup, Cholla Buds & Cool Weather Mushrooms")
  • Oven Roasted Colorado Rack of Lamb ("Pecan-crusted Lamb Rack with Native Seed Search Mole, Cornbread Pudding with Exotic Mushrooms & Asparagus")
Patty left for the restroom and one of the servers collected her napkin and replaced it with a fresh one. When she came back, an attendant again seated her and placed the napkin in her lap.

Our first dish was an amuse-guele. I can't remember the exact description but it was like the best pea soup ever.
Kai - amuse-guele
We were each given a plate with three types of bread. Two "traditional" type breads and one flat bread. All of the breads were great but we both loved the flat bread.
Kai - bread plate w/ olive oil
Next up were our appetizers.

The Three Sisters Composition was our least favorite item of the evening. I really liked the panna cotta but the dish didn't "wow" me overall.
Kai - Three Sisters Composition
By mistake, we were sent an order of the "Dried Mango & Sandalwood Dusted Lion's Paw Baja Scallops". We notified our server that we never ordered this (we had ordered the lobster tail). He apologized profusely and said that he had pressed the wrong key and that we could enjoy the scallops and he would re-order the lobster tail. The scallops were awesome. Two very large perfectly cooked scallops.
Kai - Scallops
The lobster appetizer was brought out shortly thereafter. It was very good, though I thought the fry bread may have masked the full flavor of the lobster.
Kai - Lobster Tail
Prior to the arrival of our entrees, we were each given an intermezzo of pomegranate sorbet. It was very light and refreshing.
Kai - Intermezzo of Pomegranate Sorbet
About this time, the sun had gone down and they had opened the shades. We had a fantastic view of the resort pool and surrounding mountains.
Kai - view of sunset
Our entrees arrived and we were immediately surprised at how large they were. Maybe too large? They could have been half the size and we would have been very happy (even paying the same price). From the pictures, you really can't tell how big the portions were.

The Buffalo Tenderloin was great. Very tender and flavorful. It wasn't the best steak I've ever had, but it was up there.
Kai - Buffalo Tenderloin
The Rack of Lamb was my favorite item of the night. It was incredibly tender. The best ever. Zinc Bistro used to have a great rack of lamb but they no longer have it on their menu. In any case, Kai's lamb was even better than Zinc Bistro's.
Kai - Rack of Lamb
After our plates were cleared, we were presented with warm towels infused with lavender, to freshen up. A very nice touch!

For my birthday, we were given a complimentary dessert. It was a really good (and very rich) chocolate mousse. Here's a very dark picture:
Kai - complimentary dessert
We were also given four truffles. Two mocha and two hazelnut. The mocha truffles were a bit too sweet. The hazelnut truffles were very good. Sorry - no picture as it was too dark.

I ordered a Green Passion Fruit Tea. The tea set was really nice and the tea was quite good. It was Japanese sencha with hints of ginseng, marigold flowers, and passion fruit. Again, no picture as it was too dark.

BTW, throughout the evening we could hear multiple "oohs and "aahs" coming from our neighboring tables. I also overheard both tables thank the servers for an "incredible experience".

As we left the restaurant, we were again thanked by our server and various employees (our server and the host thanked us by name). I don't think I've ever heard my name mentioned so many times!

After handing the valet attendant our claim ticket, he handed us two chilled bottles of Voss water and left to retrieve our car. In other reviews, I've heard that the water, along w/ chocolates, and a handwritten thank-you note from your server, are placed on the dash of your car. We didn't get a thank-you note and any chocolates. Perhaps they don't give the chocolates during the summer months? In any case, it wasn't a big deal but I was kind of curious about that. If I hadn't read about it before (the water, note, and chocolates), I would have still been very impressed by the water alone.

I highly, highly recommend Kai. The outstanding food and service make for an incredible dining experience. We were blown away by the level of service (it was the best ever, by far) and the food was some of the best we've had. Kudos to the staff at Kai for a job (very) well done!


Anonymous said...

Nice!!! We would like to try it too!


Jay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jay said...

Wow, that food looks amazing. Keep up the restaurant reviews, I love them!