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Diary of a Travel Guide Junkie: Alan Wong is a Rock Star January 10, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in Food, Travel.

Hands down, two of the best meals we ate in Honolulu came from restaurants owned by Alan Wong.

After a visit to Pearl Harbor, we were frantically trying to decide where to have lunch. Frommer’s rated The Pineapple Room very highly, so I called and was able to get a reservation. Ok, so before foody purists slaughter me, I will go ahead and tell you that The Pineapple Room is located inside of Macy’s department store at Ala Moana Center. However, Frommer’s rarely lets me down and with two stars we bravely decided to give it a try. We started with beverages: Plantation Iced Tea, a nice combination of tea and pineapple juice. Delicious. They brought out bread and a roasted red pepper aioli instead of butter…yum. For entrees, I ordered the kalua pig BLT (as recommended by Frommer’s) and Casey had the Pineapple Room Burger. I have never had a more delicious sandwich in my life. Casey’s burger was equally delicious piled high with an onion ring and avocado salsa. Now for dessert. I went with an unexpected option only because the lady next to me ordered it and it looked scrumptious: Haupia Tapioca “Halo Halo”. It was basically tapioca layered with fresh fruit (apple bananas, pineapple, hawaiian sweet corn, azuki beans, strawberries, mangoes) and topped with coconut shaved ice. A very refreshing dessert. Casey on the other hand went with a less healthy option: Peanut Butter Sesame Crunch. It was a fancy hawaiian peanut butter cup and was quite tasty.

With this meal being so awesome, we thought how can we leave Hawaii without trying his signature restaurant, Alan Wong’s Hawaii. We made a reservation for Saturday night. We decided to walk from our hotel which ended up being further than anticipated and also through a neighborhood with very few pedestrians. We turned onto King Street and began looking for the building. We happened upon the address which was a plain building with nothing but a shoebox-sized lobby and an elevator. Casey looks at me and says, “This better be good.” He presses the button for the third floor and the elevator doors opened to an unexpected and pleasant surprise…it was a beautifully laid out restaurant with an amazing view of the kitchen. We cozy-ed up to the bar while we waited for our table. The signature drink is a pineapple martini called the Big Bully Martini. They basically take Skyy Vodka and infuse it with pineapple for a few days. The drink is served straight up with a skewer of pineapples. I’m normally not a fan of martinis, but this was a pineapple party in my mouth! We decided to skip appetizers in order to save room for dessert. We both ordered from their specials menu which changes daily. I opted for the pan roasted moi served with sauteed lobster, potato gnocchi, hamakua mushrooms, and lobster truffle sauce. I have NEVER eaten anything so wonderful in my entire life! Had there been more privacy I would’ve totally licked the plate!! Casey went with the kona coffee crusted striploin served over goat cheese mashed potatoes with a foie gras bubble, mini garlic burger, and vegetable gratin. His steak was cooked to perfection and how can you go wrong with goat cheese and potatoes! We then gazed at the coffee and dessert menu in awe. At most restaurants if you want a cup of coffee, you say “I’d like a cup of coffee.” Not at Alan Wong’s. His menu features all locally grown coffee from the various islands of Hawaii….at least six different varieties. We went with Chef Wong’s current favorite, Rusty’s Hawaiian. It’s a 100% Ka’u coffee grown and roasted by Lorie Obra on the Big Island in Pahala. All of the coffees at Alan Wong’s are brewed and served in a french press. I’ve never smelled, much less tasted, anything so decadent. WOW! We actually purchased a 1 lb bag to bring home with us despite the outrageous price tag! Not much could top the coffee in our minds (and mouths), but we decided to order the chocolate sampler for dessert. It was more than we could eat. It came with chocolate espresso beans, chocolate creme brulee, chocolate mousse, chocolate crunch ice cream, some type of chocolate gel (a specialty from Japan), and a chocolate crunch bar. To end it all, they provide you with a caramel and chocolate covered macadamia nut dusted in powder sugar. It was the macadamia nut that broke the camel’s back!

Stick a fork in me cuz I’m done.



1. Andrew Ventura - January 11, 2008

That’s my aunt’s coffee!!! Her coffee definitely turned me from an occasional drinker to ‘withdrawal symptons’ sufferer. If you knew how the coffee got into the bag, with her personal touch, you may be able to justify that price! We don’t even bat an eye when we order our re-supplies. All who know my aunt are very glad you like her coffee. Spread the word!

2. Great Food & Rusty's Hawaiian - January 11, 2008

OK. My mouth is watering now! The next time I am in Hawaii, I will definitely eat at one of Alan Wong’s restaurants! As for the coffee, Rusty’s Hawaiian Ka’u is not new to us. We buy it by the five pound bag and have Lorie ship it to us here on the east coast. We drink nothing else at home. I will have to drag out my French press though and try that. We grind Rusty’s Hawaiian for each pot we make and always get compliments and questions about the coffee from our guests. The aroma alone when we grind it is incredible… Like no other!

3. smooregasbord - January 11, 2008

I know that the Rusty’s Hawaiian website is not working. Can someone tell me how to restock once our supply is depleted? Can I just email Lorie directly?

4. Great Food & Rusty's Hawaiian - January 11, 2008

Try these from the internet:
Rusty’s Hawaiian: (808) 928-8916; lorie_o@earthlink.net

5. Doug - January 12, 2008

Thanks for sharing these great thoughts. I’m bookmarking this for future reference. Some of these I already do, so the point resonated most strongly with me. Keep feeding the creativity.
I am currently on holiday so, for this reason, I’ve nothing better to do than surf the web for travel ideas, lie around and update my blog. Well, more or less anyway
Doug C

6. Lorie Obra - January 13, 2008

That’s my coffee, RUSTY’S HAWAIIAN!!! It is grown here in a little town of Pahala in the Big Island of Hawaii. I grow, process, roast, package and sell. I roast only when I get the order to keep the freshness and high quality.

Web site is not up yet but you can contact me at lorie_o@earthlink.net or (808) 928-8916. I ship coffee all over.


Lorie Obra
P.O.BOX 845
PAHALA, HI 96777
(808) 928-8916

7. No Shame in Addiction « smooregasbord: life’s daily buffet - June 27, 2008

[…] last time I mentioned coffee with this much adoration was when we took our trip to Hawaii in January. Lorie Obra’s […]

8. Randy - May 24, 2009

Excellent food at Alan Wongs. Thanks for the advice.
Rusty coffee is average but smooth with an astringent aftertaste.
It is subpar compared to Ethiopians or Panamanians if you want a
comparison. I would suggest another coffee on the menu next time. Yes I cup professionally on the mainland..

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