Desserts at The Pineapple Room by Alan Wong
Left: Waialua chocolate pudding; right: pineapple fritters
Alan Wong's cinched a Hale Aina gold for Best Desserts on Sunday, and I think it's about time. Pastry chef Michelle Karr-Ueoka could have won with her pineapple shave ice alone, a tart and sweet, creamy and cold dessert made not with sugar syrup and ice but with frozen pineapple shaved by hand over a base of vanilla panna cotta, tapioca and haupia sorbet. Karr-Ueoka takes this shave ice around the food and wine festival circuit and it's on the menu at Alan Wong's.
But Alan Wong's isn't such an easy place to grab just dessert—better is Wong's more casual outpost, The Pineapple Room, where Karr-Ueoka is currently overhauling the dessert menu. In true Alan Wong fashion, the sweets here are just like that shave ice: island favorites and comfort classics spun for finer dining. There's even chocolate pudding on the menu…chocolate pudding! I've never seen chocolate pudding in a restaurant—chocolate mousse, pot de creme, maybe, but not straight up chocolate pudding. How much can you glam up the Jell-O pudding cup to make it Alan Wong-worthy, and yet still retain its sweat pants comfort? Karr-Ueoka answered our question with a goblet of smooth, just rich enough Waialua chocolate pudding topped with a thin layer of dark chocolate mirror glaze. A dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle of chocolate bits crowned this perfect and simple dessert.
"Michelle's Waialua Chocolate Candy Bar"
For more chocolate indulgence, order "Michelle's Waialua Chocolate Candy Bar," her answer to the Snicker's bar—sticky, thick and fudgy with layers of macadamia nut praline crunch, Hawaiian salt caramel and chocolate ganache.
The pineapple fritters arrive spilling out of a Chinese takeout box. Light, crisp batter encases a nugget of pineapple, each little round so delightful that the side of caramel seems almost superfluous. Almost.
Karr-Ueoka plans on more gourmet riffs on childhood favorites for The Pineapple Room's dessert menu. I'll be waiting, like a child for Christmas Day.
Desserts $7.50, The Pineapple Room by Alan Wong, 1450 Ala Moana Blvd., 945-6573