While my girlfriend and I were in Honolulu we wanted to go on a fine dining trip somewhere. We had originally thought of going to Alan Wong's, a generally highly regarded restaurant in Honolulu. The reviews of Alan Wong's were mixed amongst friends that had been there. Some said it was great, others said it was meh. I'm sure some amount of it was based on personal tastes of Hawaiian flavors. We ended up going with Sushi Sasabune after deciding we wanted a sushi fix instead.
girlfriend and I were looking to grab dinner near our hotel in Waikiki
one evening but everything was packed and had long lines. So I went to
my good friend Opentable and the first restaurant listed was The
Pineapple Room by Alan Wong, a more casual offshoot of the flagship Alan
Wong restaurant. So we figured ... why not. Getting there in 15
minutes is better than waiting an hour for a table in Waikiki.
restaurant is very casual and the most casual restaurant that I've
reviewed on my blog. The restaurant is inside the Macy's at the Ala
Moana mall. Yes,
inside the Macy's.
I'm only writing about it because it
happened to have a small four course tasting on the menu and there were
enough ingredients I had to look up, I figured it'd be interesting to
1) Ho farms tomato and watermelon salad w/ Hawaii island dairy goat cheese, ume dressing
off, a light salad with a ume sauce. I didn't know what ume was, but
it's a plum. The dressing was a bit sour, which is simply the flavor of
ume (which once you're in Hawaii long enough, you'll see on a lot of
menus and as snacks and flavoring for shaved ice). Interesting, but not
my particularly taste.
2) Sizzling "hapa" poke - w/ garlic aoili, bubu arare, chirashi musubi
the name of this dish confused me. I know "hapa" is a slang word used
to describe a person of mixed ethnicity. I guess the "hapa" here is the
fact that the poke (tuna) is half cooked on this sizzling plate.
chirashi musubi also confused me. Definitions online say that "musubi"
is a ball of rice with meat on top (which is what I was most familiar
with, such as with "spam musubi") and "chirashi" is typically raw fish
on rice. I'm not sure what this means, because there's clearly no meat
on top of the rice. Perhaps it's mixed into the rice ... I have no
Anyways, I thought this was a good dish, everything was quite tasty. My favorite of the four courses.
3) Hoisin sriracha glazed short ribs w/ Prawn, choi sum, tobanjan sauce, big island goat cheese
ribs were really soft and there was a kick to the dish. However, I
felt that the all of the flavors together didn't really mix well
though. Hoisin, sriracha, and tobanjan ... not the mix I typically
think of with ribs. This also came with a bowl of rice (your choice of
white or brown), which I didn't take a picture of.
4) Waiaula old fashioned chocolate pudding w/ David murdock's private estate 70% chocolate
The dessert of chocolate pudding was good, but I couldn't finish it. It was quite rich.
Keeping in mind that this is the far more casual restaurant compared to Alan Wong's flagship, I'm sort of glad I chose Sushi Sasabune instead of going to Alan Wong's. It's not necessarily a knock on the restaurant itself, but there were Hawaiian flavors that weren't flavors I was familiar with. If it's an indication of what would be at Alan Wong's, I might have left Alan Wong's not too happy. Those more familiar with Hawaiian flavors or tastes may not be caught off guard as much as I was.
I will say, the tasting menu is a pretty good deal for $49 before tax & tip. A lot of the entrees were in the $30-$40 range already, so that's an extra three courses for not much more.
UPDATE: The Pineapple Room closed in July 2017.
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