The family celebrated Ev’s Mom’s birthday with a dinner at Mud Hen Water on Waialae Avenue. We are/were big fans of Ed Kenney’s other restaruants – Town, Kaimuki Superette, and the former Downtown – so we were excited to see what Mud Hen Water had to offer.
Mud Hen Water’s menu was separated into 6 categories – snacks, vegetables, fish, meat, noodles/rice/poi, and dessert. The dishes are served tapas style and Mud Hen Water uses local ingredients whenever possible. For our family of 5 (and Connor) we decided to order a handful of snacks and a few dishes from each category except for dessert (we decided to eat gelato at Via Gelato) to share family style.
After we ordered, the server brought us the amuse bouche, which were tiny cubes of salty cheese with olive oil. It was okay, but nothing to write home about.
Our first appetizer of the night was the Yaki o Pa’i ‘ai – Shoyu Sugar, nori, sesame ($10). This dish came with two pieces (approximately 1.5 inches by 2.5 inches) of pa’i ‘ai grilled on with teriyaki sauce, sprinkled with sesame seeds, and placed on a sheet of nori. I thought this was an original and creative preparation for pa’i ‘ai. Reminded me of the grilled mochi that we buy at Da Ala Cart.
The second snack we ordered was the Shinsato Dry Chorizo – potato chips, bitter chocolate, olive oil ($7). This dish came with a total of 5 thin slices of Chorizo on each on a potato chip. Now, I am a big fan of cured meats and I give this restaurant major props for making their own sausage, however, I thought that $7 for this “dish” was absolutely ridiculous. I didn’t find this dish particularly unique or the preparation that hard – it’s a slice of chorizo onto of a potato chip. And the $7 price bothered me for some reason.
The third snack was the Lup Cheong Madelines – miso whipped lard ($8). This dish was disappointing. The madelines were a little bland and didn’t taste like lup cheong and I really didn’t think the whipped miso lard brought anything to the dish.
The last of our snacks was this salted Walu Croquette – potato, aburage, mayonnaise ($5). I admit that this dish didn’t look like much but I liked this one the best of all the snacks. Too bad no one else agreed with me. I thought it was a tasty, fried, flaky fish patty. Yum!Our first dish from the vegetable section was the Crudite – koena hummus, meyer lemon, kukui nut lavosh ($9). The hummus was made with koena, which we were told was some left over part of the taro root. Overall, the dish was fine but I prefer the taste of real hummus over the taro made hummus.
The section dish from the vegetable section was the Tilapia Skin Salad – silken tofu, Maui onion, bittermelon, palm heart, crispy shallot, yuzu ($14). I thought the salad had a nice mix of items, textures, and tastes that blended well together. I don’t care for bittermelon that much, but overall, the salad tasty and I would get this again.
In the fish category, we chose the Grilled He’e – lu’au leaf, inamona dukkah ($16), which was Mud Hen Water’s version of squid luau. I thought the He’e (octopus) was slightly too charred for my taste, but at least it was tender. The lu’au portion of he pretty good too.
On the recommendation by one of Ev’s coworkers, we selected the Grilled Beef Stew – kalo, carrots, celery, gravy all over ($21) as our meat dish. This dish was good but not spectacular. Each of the vegetables are nicely grilled, but I didn’t think that it elevated the dish that much more than a good, local beef stew plate lunch.
The second meat dish we ordered was the Smoke Meat Carbonara – bucatini, sugar snaps, pea shoots, parmigiano ($14). This was probably my favorite dish of the night because I love Carbonara and the salty, creaminess of the sauce went well with the smoked meat.
Our final dish of the night was the Multi-Grain Risotto – oxtail, boiled peanut, chung choy, Chinese parsley ($16). I know that risotto shouldn’t be over cooked, the dish was too crunchy for my liking. I think I would have liked the dish if it were slightly more cooked.
Overall, I was a little disappointed with Mud Hen Water. The food was ok but it didn’t justify the higher prices and small portion sizes. While I’ll probably give Mud Hen Water another chance down the line, I would much rather eat at Town for now.