Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Pineapple Room by Alan Wong @ 1450 Ala Moana Boulevard Honolulu, HI

The first stop on the culinary journey, I decided to try out a local celebrity chef's restaurant the Pineapple Room by Alan Wong.

The famous and most prolific chef to have emerged from Hawaii is Chef Roy Yamaguchi of the Roy's.  Not to be outdone, Chef Alan Wong has a just as big of an international name with the love of hawaii locals; with numerous accolades, he has captured the essence of Hawaiian regional cuisine with a contemporary twist and has received numerous prestigious awards including a top ten ranking in the fifty best restaurants in America.

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The Pineapple Room restaurant is located on in the Macy's department store in Ala Moana Shopping Center, a great location for shopping and then grabbing a gourmet bite-PR has the elegance of it's more upscale brother in terms of culinary flair, but in a casual atmosphere and fare.  It's a pretty noncommittal to eat here, and you get an understanding of what Alan Wong offers in terms of fresh local ingredients and various Asian cuisines- I definitely like his style.

I wanted to start off with something light, so we ordered the Hamakua Springs Tomato + Watermelon Salad + Li Hing Mui Vinagrette. With Cucumber + Mint, this is probably the freshest, tastiest produce I've ever had; those cherry tomatoes were so ripe and sweet they were just like fruit, (I know they're classified as fruit...) but they were really that sweet and easy to pop in your mouth.  And the dressing was excellent, I have never had anything like it before, made from dried salty Plum, it had a very sweet and slightly tangy taste, but worked intimately with the Watermelon and the fresh sprigs of Mint.  A memorable dish for sure, I would even come back just for this Salad.

Intrigued by the unique combination, I ordered the Kim Chee Reuben:  Pastrami, Swiss Cheese, thousand Island Dressing with 'Asian' Slaw in rye Bread.  The Kim Chee Slaw added a highlight flavor to this old favorite of mine, it wasn't super hot at all, in fact the tanginess was more predominate, with a touch of sweet crunch.  It had a high level of sophistication that I wasn't expecting.  The Pastrami was also delectable, as good as any NY deli, and I love the buttery Rye  toasted to perfect golden hue.

The second sandwich ordered: The Kalhua Pig 'BLT' on an Onion Bun with a side of Caesar.  Another Hawaiian take on a classic, the Kalhua Pig has stolen the show-the aromatic smokiness pervades eery cell of pulled, shredded pork and is so glorious, I forgot all about the BLT component...  I kid, the Bacon added a that greasy delicious fat that I crave while the Tomato adds a sweet juice that cools all that oil.  Perfect and ideal this is what a sandwich should taste like!!!

And at last for dessert, Michelle's Waialua Chocolate Candy Bar: Macadamia Nut Praline Crunch, Hawaiian Salt Caramel, Chocolate Ganache with a side of Triple Chocolate Cookies.   Just the explanation is enough to make you full, but in reality, it was relatively light.  The overflow of chocolate components were not as overpowering as one might think, and for a town that loves it sweet n savory, their desserts are relatively (I say, relatively) clean.

The Pineapple Room was a great find; if I'm at the Ala Moana center, I will definitely be trotting back for a Salad and Sandwich.

Pineapple Room on UrbanspoonRatings (Out of Five Stars)
Food:           5
Ambience:   3.75
Service:       4