I was recently invited to dine at Ocean Hai at the Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach. The upscale restaurant located amidst tourists and beach-goers stands out as one of the more high end places to dine on Clearwater Beach. Head Chef John Capponi (previously of On Swann) and his kitchen staff carefully prepare Asian-inspired dishes that add a fine dining twist to the dishes you’ve come to know and love. The Asian-fusion cuisine combines flavors from many different regions and even includes a separate sushi menu.
When arriving at the hotel, you instantly notice the beach across the street and the giant pool area located next to the restaurant adds to the scene. On this particular Friday night, local musician Aubrey Wollet was playing poolside. It was the perfect setting to order their signature cocktail the Maui Mule, a twist on the Moscow Mule, made with vodka, ginger beer + hibiscus flower. The cocktail was delightfully refreshing and served in a fun pineapple cup making it a unique must-try drink. Plus, it’s HUGE!
With the beach as the backdrop one thing you don’t want to miss is the sunset. As a St. Pete native, I admit I don’t get out to the beach as much as I should and this sunset made me seriously rethink that decision.
Starters at Ocean Hai
One of the highlights of the dining room is the floor to ceiling windows and open-concept kitchen giving off that beautiful aesthetic both inside and out. At the table, I notice the Sushi menu first so we decide a roll will be the first appetizer. We chose the Yamada Roll – the inside filled with Sweet Chili Blue Crab and then topped with Yellowtail Tuna, fresh lemon zest, creamy white sauce and fried onions giving it a good crunch. A perfect way to begin the meal!
Since I have an affinity for hot food and drinks, I order the Asian Chicken Soup. The Chinese egg noodles swim in a bowl of flavorful ginger-soy broth accompanied by bok choy and enoki mushrooms. I was surprised how large the portion size was considering it was listed under ‘Beginnings’. The plus side is it’s a very shareable dish.
Entrees at Ocean Hai
As my entree, I spring for the Chilean Sea Bass which is extremely fresh and light topped with a fermented black bean sauce. This is a fish I’ve typically ordered on special occasions so it’s often a memorable and this was no exception. The subtle flavors of the bok choy and rice went well with the black bean sauce and nicely grilled sea bass.
The Lobster Fried Rice includes a sunny-side up egg atop a mound of saffron rice. This dish is beautifully presented, you’re guaranteed to pull out your smart phone and share it on your social media platform of choice.
The Beef Short Ribs are served with a celery root puree, fresh farm veggies and flash fried brussels sprouts. While the presentation didn’t wow me, I couldn’t stop taking bites of this one.
Dessert at Ocean Hai
Up until this night, I had yet to try a poached pear and let me tell you it was a treat. Similar in look and consistency of an apple baked in an apple pie but crunchier, these pear slices were the perfect addition to the caramel flan in Asian Poached Pear dessert. The mascarpone cheese added creaminess without being too sweet and candied ginger was the perfect spiced bite.
The Chocolate Mousse was baked in the cutest tart, topped with fresh fruit and served with fresh whipped cream. The bamboo stick looks almost too real to eat but rest assured after some investigating, we figured out it was indeed an edible stick of white chocolate.
The dining experience at Ocean Hai at the Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach was a great foodie experience shared amongst like-minded friends with a relaxed, yet upscale vibe.. Next time you’re in the mood for Asian-fusion or just a lovely dinner with a view, remember Ocean Hai has both.
Please note: The meals featured in this post were compliments of Chef Capponi and Ocean Hai at the Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach in exchange for writing this blog post and featuring their photos on Best Food Tampa. All opinions are my own and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Chef Capponi or Ocean Hai at the Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach.
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