Ala Moana Eats: The Pineapple Room

In celebration of Diner P’s birthday, a few Fridays ago our gang headed on over to Macy’s in Ala Moana Center for lunch at Chef Alan Wong’s The Pineapple Room.

The best place to park if your main goal is only to eat here, is head up to the third level from the ramp entering off Atkinson on the Diamond Head end of the center…

For those of you old enough to remember (like me), notice the architectural elements of the exterior are still intact from Macy’s former incarnation as Liberty House. The windows to the left with the green curtains is where the Pineapple Room is located. There’s an entrance to the Pineapple Room from this side of the parking lot.

Straight ahead is Macy’s third level departments.

Here’s the front area of The Pineapple Room’s dining room…

Notice across the room towards the back that the kitchen is open. Here’s a view looking towards the front from where we were seated by the window in the back corner…

The decor and mood comes across as being elegant yet casual, and fitting for anyone dressed for the occasion of shopping in the center.

Here’s how the tables are set…

Well, let’s take a look at the menu…

Notice the signature items have a pineapple icon to the left of it.

Like yours truly, Diner E originally wanted to try one of the burgers here, but at the last minute changed his mind and opted instead for the Kim Chee Reuben…


The Pineapple Room – Kim Chee Reuben Sandwich, $15.75

The Kim Chee Reuben Sandwich is served with “Asian Saerkraut” (Kim Chee) on toasted Rye Bread, Pastrami and Swiss Cheese.

Diner C decided to try the “Mac Garlic” Chicken Sandwich…


The Pineapple Room – “Mac Garlic” Chicken Sandwich, $14.50

This is described on the menu as “Garlic Chicken Sandwich, Furikake Macaroni Salad”. Come to find out, the Furikake Macaroni Salad isn’t a side dish, but actually incorporated into the sandwich.

In keeping with his religious faith, Diner A only eats fish on Fridays during the the season of Lent, so on this occasion decided to try the Tempura Battered Fresh Island Mahimahi Sandwich…


The Pineapple Room – Tempura Battered Fresh Island Mahimahi Sandwich, $16.75

This is served on a Hoagie Roll with Caper Mayonnaise and Tsuyu (Tempura) Dipping Sauce (in dark bowl on the side).

Diner AC decided try Chef Wong’s take on the classic Loco Moco…


The Pineapple Room – The “Loco Moco”, $18.50

This is described as such: “Kiawe grilled Maui Cattle Company Hamburger Patty on Fried Rice with two Peterson Farm Eggs any style and Veal Jus. Here’s the Veal Jus…

Still riding high on burger fever, I decided to try the signature Pineapple Burger…


The Pineapple Room – “Pineapple Room Burger”, $14.00

This is described as, “Kiawe grilled Maui Cattle Company with Onion Rings, Bacon, Cheddar Cheese and Avocado Salsa”.

The meals here come with a complimentary basket of Focaccia Bread along with a Chilipepper-infused Aioli Butter…


The Pineapple Room – (complimentary) Focaccia bread with Chilipepper-infused Aioli Butter


The Pineapple Room – (complimentary) Focaccia bread with Chilipepper-infused Aioli Butter

How was it, you ask?

Let’s start where we last left off with my “Pineapple Room Burger”. What first must be pointed out is that they’re now using beef from the North Shore Cattle Company (seen at KCC Farmers’ Market), contrary to what’s stated on the menu. Looking at how it’s described, I was skeptical – especially with the bacon in it – and was more determined to order the “Old Fashioned Burger”, as that has my all-time favorite burger pal, mushrooms in it. Yet our server threw such a good sales pitch on the signature “Pineapple Room Burger”, that I decided to give that one shot instead. Besides, two years ago the Honolulu Advertiser listed the one as one of Oahu’s “Burger Kings”, so it did have some fame to back it up.

Notice how tall it stands when it arrives on the plate, and its construction isn’t even complete yet. You see the lettuce, tomato and slice of onion has yet to top it off to make it complete. Let’s take a look under the hood…


The “Pineapple Room Burger” uncovered

Starting from the bottom, we have a thick, nicely seared North Shore Cattle Company beef patty, followed by some bacon, a slice of Cheddar Cheese, two MASSIVE battered onion rings incapsulating a big dollop of Avocado Salsa, or simply said, GUAC’.

To that, I must still add the onion, tomato and green leaf lettuce…


The “Pineapple Room Burger”, adding more height with veggies

“TIM!———-BERRRRRRRRRRR!”. Nah, just kidding, it didn’t fall over, but we were all a little concerned it would. lol

Now that we’ve got a 350 cubic inch V-8 with dual-quad carbs, NOS injection system and Dual-Drive Blower bolted on, it’s time to close the hood and go racing…


The “Pineapple Room Burger” competes with the Burj Dubai as the world’s tallest man-made structure

You think I can cut this in half? Let’s try…


The “Pineapple Room Burger” cross-cut view

With a some “mooshing” and “squooshing” the top downward, I was succesfully able to slowly saw away at it using that otherwise inadequate butterknife. From now on when I order burgers, I’ll make sure to request a steak knife. Kudos to The Counter for providing steak knives by default.

Doneness-wise, it was right around medium. I would have preferred it a tad less cooked through in the middle, but this should be fine. Opening my mouth wider than I’ve ever done since my last visit to the dentist, I took a bite to savor what this was all about. As I suspected, it didn’t work for me. Nope. I mean it’s a great burger, quality wise, with the parts that make up its sum, top shelf stuff. Yet, still, the bacon and the onion rings totally stole the show, masking the flavor of that otherwise excellent juicy, char-grilled beef burger patty. Sure, if I didn’t like it, I could have removed those things, but then, what’s the point of ordering this burger to begin with? Really though, there’s just way too much going on here, where after a few bites, you don’t know whether you’re eating a burger or a taco. Ya’ know? After finishing half of it, I’ll just say I’m glad I tried it, but next time I’ll go for the “Old Fashioned Burger” with the ‘shrooms in it.

What’s rather odd is that Chef Wong didn’t decide to jazz up the popular Teriyaki Burger with PINEAPPLE in it when brainstorming what he would put together to be honored with the name “Pineapple Room Burger”. That’s the first thing that would have come to mind if I were the chef.

The sandwiches and burgers come with your choice of fries, macaroni/potato salad or garlic mash potatoes. I asked if mine could be substituted with the Furikake Mac’ Salad, to which was no problem. Until my order came, which they messed up my order and gave the wasabi mac’ sal’ instead. But it was good!The bite from it permeated into the mayo’, adding some kick as you ate it. Wasabi Mac is certainly a keeper.

Making things right, our server apologized and soon brought me a separate bowl of the Furikake Mac’ Salad…


The Pineapple Room – Furikake Macaroni Salad

Just one major problem with this, at least on this particular day/order… the macaroni was UNDERCOOKED, needing to have been boiled at least another 5 minutes or so to reach the proper al dente doneness. Word to the cook: ALWAY TASTE-TEST YOUR PASTA! Always taste whatever it is you cook! I don’t care if it makes you fat, taste it first! As Sam Choy says, “Never trust a skinny chef.” lol

As for the Furikake in it, other than the macaroni being undercooked, I throught it married with the mayo’ and mac flavor quite well! Everyone at the table had a bite, and they were all put-off by the undercooked pasta, but I personally could see the light at the end of this elbow macaroni tunnel, tasting potential with this. Yeah, definitely… this Furikake Mac’ can work. It’s got potential. Others also noted there was too much Furikake in it, but not me. I’m the type that jus’ geeve’ ‘em wit’ da’ Furikake. Give me a bowl of popcorn, and I’ll pour da’ whole bottle ovah da’ stuff. lol

Rounding up my “Pineapple Room Burger”, along with all the sides, I’ll give an overall rating of 1 SPAM Musubi. I’m almost positive had I ordered the “Old Fashioned Burger”, my rating would have been much higher.

Moving on to Diner E’s Kim Chee Reuben, nope. It didn’t work for him. Just like the “Pineapple Room Burger”, this sandwich was another mismatch of ingredients. While the pepper/garlic/vinegar-based Ko Chu Jang-flavored Kim Chee marries perfectly with Korean style shoyu/sugar/sesame/ginger/garlic-marinaded Kal Bi, for some reason, it clashes with the Coriander-based seasoning of the salty corned beef.

Here’s a cut-away view of his sandwich…


The Pineapple Room – Kim Chee Reuben

That said, he gives the Kim Chee Reuben 1 SPAM Musubi.

His opinion reminds me of the one I had when trying the Kim Chee Hot Dog at the Korean Festival a few years ago…


Honolulu Korean Jayceez Kim Chee Hot Dog (using a Sinai Kosher Hot Dog)

Moving along to Diner C’s “Mac Garlic” Chicken Sandwich, again, another mismatched combination of ingredients. What was the Chef thinking by putting the mac salad IN the sandwich?…


“Garlic Mac” Chicken Sandwich

It’s made up of pieces of fried garlic chicken with the Furikake Macaroni salad on that. She said the garlic chicken was tender and moist inside, but the (undercooked) furikake mac salad on it took it into “weird” territory, if that’s the best way to describe it. That said, she gives her “Garlic Mac” Chicken Sandwich a rating of 2 SPAM Musubi.

Then we have local girl Diner AC, who got her groove on with the Loco Moco…

While I like to maintain my “girlish figure”, she does too, so she opted for the brown rice (high in fiber nutrients) vs. white or fried rice. She said the North Shore Cattle Company beef patty was EXCELLENT, while her two over-easy eggs were done perfectly. The only improvement it could benefit from is the Veal Jus-based brown gravy. I tried a small spoonful of it myself and must say, it was bland. I was expecting it to be deep, rich and savory, but instead it was almost characterless. Wassup wit’ dat? If I could just take that Boursin Mushroom Gravy from the Prince Court and pour it over this Loco Moco, OMG! That would so RULE!

All in all, Diner AC rather enjoyed her “Loco Moco” ala Chef Alan Wong, giving it a 3-SPAM Musubi rating.

Last but not least, we have Diner A with his Tembura Battered Island Fresh Mahimahi Sandwich, which he LOVED. He said it was one of the best fish sandwiches he’s had in recent memory. The best part about it was the brilliant idea of providing Tsuyu (Tempura) Dipping Sauce to go along with it, giving an asian spin on the classic French Dip sandwich. To round it up, he easily gives The Pineapple Room’s Tempura Battered Island Fresh Mahimahi Sandwich a 4-SPAM Musubi rating. Ding-ding, we got a winnah!

Diner A’s Mahimahi tempura sandwich was SOOO ono, he once again polished his plate…


**Burp**

As for the service, it was slow, taking over 45 minutes for our order to arrive. Our server was very friendly and decently-knowledgeable about the menu, but considering the circumstances (the place was only about 80% capacity with what looked like a full staff) not as attentive as he should have/could have been. Especially towards the latter half of our visit, when we waited and waited for him to return so we could order dessert. We ended up asking for the check, to which he apologetically returned, while also bring a take-out dish of complimentary birthday ice cream…


The Pineapple Room – Chocolate & Haupia Ice Cream with Fresh Fruits

Our server pointed out that this is a special dessert not listed on the menu, which they only give to guests celebrating a birthday (Diner P) or anniversary. Other than it being ROCK-HARD frozen in an almost petrified state, it was absolutely delicious. I’d buy this if they sold it in the supermarket, that’s for sure. 4-SPAM Musubi for the birthday Chocolate & Haupia Ice Cream.

Since there was such a long wait for our order, and our table was near the kitchen service counter, I got a couple shots of the gorgeous-looking desserts rolling out…

DANG!!!!! (<—a term evolved from the Chinese for “WOW!!!!” or “OMG!!!” lol) Hold on for a second while I go fix myself a bowl of ice cream. Doesn’t that look AWESOME?!! How cool is the flower-like chocolate swirls in the sauce on that last plate above? Sweet!

Here’s the dessert menu so you can pick and choose which one you’ll order if/when you visit The Pineapple Room…


The Pineapple Room Desserts and Coffee Menu

Speaking of culinary arts, and art in general, here’s a few other notable decor elements in the restaurant…

There’s a caption sign at the bottom left that I didn’t notice while there, but next time I have lunch here (which I will), I’ll find out what it expplains about this painting. That guy looks so familiar, yet I can’t figure out who it is. Do you know? If so, leave a comment. Mahalo.

In closing, we had a hit with the Tempura-batttered Mahimahi Sandwich and the Chocolate and Haupia Ice Cream Dessert, while regardless of the gravy, a favorable Loco Moco, and the rest being a miss for the most part. The ambiance is elegant, yet comfortably-casual and relaxed, yet the service, while being friendly, was notably slow.

Adding up all our scores and averaging it out, without taking service (or price for that matter) into consideration, we land at a 3-SPAM Musubi rating for The Pineapple Room on this visit.

The Pineapple Room by Alan Wong
Macy’s Ala Moana Shopping Center
Honolulu, Hawaii
tel. 945-6573
site: www.AlanWongs.com/Pineroom

The Tasty Island Rating:

Related Links:
Alan Wong’s offers a true taste of Hawaii – Kam Family Blog
The Pineapple Room – Champuru.net
Lunch at the Pineapple Room – The Tasty Island
Nalani’s Birthday at Washington Place – The Tasty Island
Burger Kings – The Honolulu Advertiser


Comments

Ala Moana Eats: The Pineapple Room — 15 Comments

  1. I really think it’s STUPID to have burgers that you cannot get you mouth around! REALLY STUPID! Just gimme the teri burger from W&M or Rainbow’s.

  2. Nate, I totally hear you on that sentiment.

    After some “mooshing and squooshing” this Pineapple Room Burger down, I was able to fit it in my mouth from bun top to bottom, but it took some effort!

    If you think the Pineapple Room Burger’s height is crazy, check out the “Quadruple Bypass Burger” from Heart Attack Grill in Arizona…
    http://www.heartattackgrill.com

    Insane!

    The best local style “slider” burgers was at the former Kenny’s Burger House in the Kam Shopping Center in Kalihi. Them 10 cent grilled Teri burgers were the best! You could eat a whole one in like two or three big bites. Best of all, it was kept simple, with just teri sauce on the patty and a little bit of grilled onions on top, IIRC.

    Check out the sliders at the new Shack Waikiki. Excellent. You get three for $11 including fries, with one of them topped with swiss ‘n shrooms! If you prefer teri sauce, they can hook you up with that as well.

  3. Pomai, all these years I never knew Loco Moco was from Japanese culture. In Japan their diners serve hamburger with egg on top and rice and Demiglace sauce. Do you know anywhere that serve Omrice ( rice omelette). Watch Lunch Queen JDrama it had Katsu sandwiches also.

    I like Pineapple Room own ice cream desserts is my best part of the meal.

  4. Representing the pake contingent, I have to say that those are pretty hefty prices for lunch! At those prices I expect quicker service and at least for the pasta in my mac salad to be cooked properly. And how come there’s no mac salad with the loco moco?

    I must admit that all your photos look mouth-watering, especially the desserts. I remember eating there when it was Liberty House and that was always a treat.

  5. Jenny, I totally agree. For an $18 Loco Moco, at the very LEAST, it should include Mac Salad. And a mac salad that’s cooked properly too.

    The Liberty House Mushroom Burger was DA’ BEST!

    Bill, looks like that’s the guy. Mahalo!

    Do you work for Hawaii Ocean Technologies? The Oceansphere™ structure is a thing of beauty. This is a very promising science and I’m totally for it.

    The Kona Kampachi is delicious. The Ocean House in Waikiki serves a great dish using this fish. IIRC, the new Safeway on Kapahulu was selling Kona Kampachi in whole fish form or fillet cuts.

  6. Amy, you lost me on how Loco Moco is from “Japanese Culture”, unless you consider it that just because local Japanese are credited to have invented it. As far as I’m concerned, regardless who’s credited to have invented it, the Loco Moco is unique to HAWAII, not Japan.

    I see “omrice” is actually spelled “omurice“.

    Reader Erica answered your query in the Kalua Pig and Cabbage:
    “Pomai, on last entry Amy ask of omrice and where. Bistro A Un at 1960 Kapiolani Blvd at McCully Shopping Mall. Their omrice with katsu is around 8.75 or so. Got other specials popular in Japan.

  7. I’d most be interested in the kim chee reuben but I guess the execution leaves something to be desired.

    Pretty cool that they use tempura dip for the mahi sandwich. I don’t think you could get that anywhere else.

  8. We had somen salad with calamari and the garlic chicken mac salad sandwich a couple of weeks ago. We actually thought both were very delicious!

  9. I wonder if they changed the loco moco in the last year??? When I got it the fried rice was full of fried rice goodness: bits of char siu and little vegetables, etc. It was just about the best part of the dish. There was enough rice to make the dish pretty filling. I told my Mom that she had to order it the next time she went. The picture looks like it’s just some brown rice.

  10. Oops, just saw the part where your friend ordered it with brown rice only. Well, that made y’all miss out. The fried rice added a huge depth of flavor to the dish. The meat in it, I think was the key. It was some of the BEST fried rice I ever had. The veal gravy just sort of blends the whole dish together between the fried rice and the hamburger.

  11. I was gonna say, I see the Macy’s sign and thought “no, that’s Liberty House”. I guess it’s like how some of us still say Holiday Mart even though that hasn’t been there for decades. Food looks really ono, especially that brownie, and the loco moco? Man.

  12. Hi Pomai,

    Yep, that’s me the Oceansphere guy.

    Glad you like the concept. Keep your fingers crossed that we will get our permits. There are a lot of “anti superferry” types out to get us, but we will prevail. What’s wrong with trying to feed a world hungry for fish in an environmentally friendly way?

    Mahalo,

    Bill

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