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The Pineapple Room

We recently had the amazing good fortune to be in Honolulu on Father's Day. Father's Day is not a particularly Hawaiian holiday, but it is celebrated there, and as far as we are concerned there is no place better to get into the spirit of the holiday than at the Pineapple Room in the Ala Moana Macy's.

That's right, the Macy's. The Pineapple Room is run by Alan Wong, one of the great chefs of modern Hawaii, and a former pupil of Andre Soltner at Lutece in New York. We had one of his excellent Hawaiian style dinners there earlier in the week, but it was his Father's Day brunch that embodied the full spirit of the new wave luau.

What did we like?

We liked everything. We liked the pineapple barbequed baby beef back ribs. We liked the tempura shrimp on a stick. We liked the pan roasted duck breast, smoky and sweet, with a sweet potato puree and mushroom sauce. These and a few other dishes were prepared to order, though most others were served buffet style. We liked the kalua pig hash based eggs benedict with its fantastic lomi tomato relish. We liked the seafood chili with shrimp and wasabi potato salad. How is that for mixing two fiery cuisines. In fact, we liked every thing with kalua pig, that is, pig cooked luau style wrapped in ti leaves or banana leaves.

In the above paragraph, change liked to loved.

There were a number of dishes based on kalua pig, including a kalua pig caesar salad, poi cups with kalua pig, that actually made us want more poi, miniature lau lau with taro leaves, all wrapped in ti leaves, and, of course, some kalua pig, with just a slightly sweet sauce.

It was all some kind of fantasy luau, with wonderful Hawaiian and Hawaiian fusion dishes, perfectly prepared in delicious variations. The butterfish, arctic char, was rich and crisply cooked with saki. The lomi salmon and ahi tuna sashimi were fresh and brilliant. Did we mention the poke? We loved it.

Then came the desserts. We had been dining for hours, but we just could not leave without trying a few. We settled on their version of strawberry shortcake, with sturdy, buttery short cake biscuits with strawberries, and skip the whipped cream. We also had some lilikoi stuffed malasadas. It isn't Hawaii with some of these local jelly donuts. We even tried the chocolate coconut malasadas, and loved them.

We aren't sure of who the pastry chef was that day, but he or she clearly loved dad. Since we were in Hawaii, we also went for the coconut custard cake, with a real custard and real coconut, and we split a coconut macaroon. The dessert for our dessert was the tapioca pudding with mango, blackberries, strawberries and a scoop of passion fruit ice cream. It made us wish more chefs had discovered tapioca. We'd order dessert more often.

We left sated. We had eaten all the luau we could handle. Even the excellent luau at the Kona Village on the big island was put in the shade.

So, what does this all have to do with Father's Day. Well, fathers like to eat. Uh, fathers like barbequed food - after all, grilling is a traditional dad thing to do. Let's be honest, it has to do with celebrating, and there is nothing like a great meal to help one celebrate.

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