What was Instagram made for, really, if not to ogle the dish-by-dish procession of tasting menu meals that you can’t afford? Once you see one immaculately plated specimen show up in your feed, and then another, and another after that, it’s hard to look away—suddenly you’re pulled into the narrative, wondering how chef is going to follow that aged duck, or what could possibly top the extravagance of a caviar-and-truffle macaron. It’s like food-porn Pay-Per-View, which you can enjoy for free while shoveling takeout mapo tofu into your face at home.
That’s the experience we had on Tuesday night when Complex editor-in-chief Noah Callahan-Bever shared his epic 20-plus course meal at Vintage Cave, a new high-roller Honolulu restaurant helmed by chef Chris Kajioka, a 29-year-old CIA grad who has put in stints at Per Se and the Willows Inn. The subterranean culinary hideaway, which boasts a billion dollars worth of art (including an 18-piece series of original Picassos) and wine stored in ancient Greek amphorae, is currently open to the public with a $295 tasting menu until it becomes fully members-only later this year (entrance fees will apparently start at $5,000 and climb toward $500,000).
You may be thinking—quite rightly—what the hell is the deal with this place? To answer that, check out this profile in Honolulu Magazine, in which investor Takeshi Sekiguchi talks a lot about how “crazy” he is, and explains why he has ponied up $20 million to create such an elaborate stage for a relatively unproven chef.
It will definitely be interesting to see what happens with this project—not only if it can bring some fine-dining cred to Hawaii, but also if it inspires other patronage-style projects in which wealthy investors give chefs the freedom to do whatever the hell they want, removed from the usual nickel-and-diming of the restaurant industry.
But I digess—we were talking about dope food photos on Instagram, right? Click through the gallery above to see the $295 tasting menu unfold (there are a few off-menu surprises in there as well).