The Pineapple Room (Honolulu, HI)

(Update:The Pineapple Room closed in July 2017, but several of Alan Wong’s other restaurants remain open)

For our last meal in Hawaii, we decided to check out Alan Wong’s The Pineapple Room. Alan Wong is one of of several Hawaiian Chefs (along with Sam Choy, Roy Yamaguchi, Peter Merriman, and Bev Gannon, amongst others) that have worked for the last few decades to establish “Hawaiian” as a proper cuisine type. For all my discussion of local Hawaiian food, such as the Loco Moco, the Spam Musubi, and the Plate Lunch, there’s also a lot going on in Hawaiian cuisine in the fine dining sector.

One of the places that’s often recommended is Alan Wong’s restaurant, called simply “Alan Wong’s Restaurant”, but our itinerary didn’t have the time, and we didn’t have the stomach space, to visit there. But Alan Wong also runs a lesser known restaurant, The Pineapple Room, which is nicely hidden away inside Ala Moana Mall. Specifically, inside the Women’s department in the Macy’s. It’s also fairly easy to get reservations there, and you also have a pretty good chance of getting a walk-in seat. So on our way to the airport (after a pleasant hike up to Koko Crater), we stopped at Ala Moana for some light shopping and one last meal.

We started off with a pair of one of Alan Wong’s signature drinks, the Plantation Iced Tea. It’s basically a tropical iced tea served with fresh pineapple juice, rum, and a housemade macadamia and ginger syrup. Served up in a mason jar, this is one of those sorts of cocktails I’m going to have to try and recreate, since it was both bold and refreshing.

For my main course, I was tempted to go for another of his signature dishes: a high-rent version of Loco Moco, but having just had one from Zippy’s for lunch, I decided to change it up a bit and try their Jidori Chicken. This was a pleasant dish: roasted chicken served with a pleasant soy glaze with some vegetables in a shiitake miso broth, with a bunch of somen gnocchi. I was particularly impressed with this dish: the chicken itself was a very nicely flavorful bird, and adding in a soy glaze and the nice miso broth gave it a nice, rich flavor. The gnocchi? Good gnocchi are one of my favorite foods, and these somen gnocchi didn’t disappoint: they were pleasant little crisped pockets of somen dough that were just starting to absorb the miso broth. Overall, a wonderful dish.

Carol did well with her choice as well, the Kiawe-grilled Ahi Tuna. This was basically a slab of really high quality ahi, nicely marinated, and then just lightly seared on each side with just enough kiawe to give it a mesquite-like taste. Add in some Lomi tomatoes and a nice little vinaigrette salad, and this was a light but pleasing appetizer.

For dessert, we opted to split a fairly simple item: the “chocolate pudding”. But this was no regular chocolate pudding, instead, it was a confection of rich and silky pudding made with David Murdock’s Private Estate 70% Chocolate… the same chocolate we had seen harvested up in Waialua a week earlier. Simple, but quite delicious.

Overall, we loved The Pineapple Room. The food was excellent, and did a great job showcasing Hawaiian cuisine in both technique and ingredients. And while the mall location is somewhat odd, it did make for a fairly quiet and accessible dinner on the way to the airport. I wouldn’t hesitate to come back and try the breakfast or lunch menues.

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