Date Archives November 2013

Pineapple Room, Hawaii

Furikake Crusted New Zealand, All Natural Ora King Salmon on Ochazuke Risotto. 

Located inside Macy’s at the Ala Moana Shopping Centre, the Pineapple Room is Alan Wong’s casual dining counterpart to his fine dining restaurant on South King Street. Not having dined at either, I was  originally a bit reserved about all the reputation surrounding both restaurants, especially when I read that the Pineapple Room is borne of a chef at Alan Wong’s expressing a wish to run his own restaurant.

I ordered the Tasting Menu – I always find that the best option if you don’t know what to order.


Ho Farms Tomato and Watermelon Salad, with Hawaii Island Dairy Goat Cheese and Li Hing Mui Dressing

Miso Garlic Butter Fish (Black Cod) with Curry Kabocha Potato Salad, Karashi (Japanese Mustard)  and Gobo (Burlock Roots)

Braised Beef Short Ribs and “Taegu” Shrimp, with MAO Farms baby vegetables

Walalua Chocolate Candy Bar, with Macadamia Nut Praline Crunch, Hawaiian Salt Caramel, Chocolate Ganache, Triple Chocolate “Brownie” Cookies

The food was excellent – the butter fish was divine and the watermelon salad was amazing in its simplicity and elegance. And did I mention the melt-in-your-mouth short rib? – but what really blew me away was the service. If you don’t know already, I really like asking questions, and the service staff not only answered every question I had about the food, they even brought out the sous chef to talk to me about the menu and its development. I had particular questions about the Sea Asparagus – which taste kind of sea salty and capery – and they even sent out a note at the end of the dinner with alternate names so that I could find out more information if I was interested.

The Pinapple room provided me with not only a great dinner, but a fantastic dining experience. Definitely one worth repeating if I was in Hawaii again. Yes, you can get more affordable food on the islands, but this is a place to treat your family and yourself to a nice dinner out. With a true passion for food clearly evident in every member of the staff, this is a dining destination for eager foodies.

Leonard’s Bakery, Hawaii


You’re walking down Hawaii’s eat street – Kapahulu Avenue – after a full dinner. The night life is bustling, and people are spilling onto the street. At the end of the road, a neon sign beckons you, like the neon signs of Vegas calls to gamblers in the wee hours of the night.

“Come,” it says, “I have doughnuts.”


Malasadas, to be more exact, are a Portuguese dessert that consists of deep fried balls of yeast dough that are then coated in sugar. Variations – which are the spice of life – include different coatings (Original, Cinnamon and Li Hing – which is the flavour of Chinese dried plums), and fillings like Custard, Haupia (Coconut) and Dobash (Chocolate).


You can hardly go wrong with deep fried balls of dough, and Leonard’s Bakery is all kinds of right. They take your order, and deep fry them on demand, so you always get hot Malasadas. A crispy toasty ball of goodness is encrusted with sugar, and gives me the kind of high that rivals the memories of being a kid. I also love the filled Malasadas, which add a velvety custard-based filling to this deep fried cloud of decadence. If you’re in Hawaii, do try their flavour of the month – I had macademia whilst I was there, and while it didn’t taste overwhelmingly like macadamias, it was still a delicious creamy filling.


Random Notes from Hawaii


I went to Hawaii recently! And while I’ve got a lot of photos to process, and posts to write, I thought that I might start with all the random things that I thought was interesting in Hawaii.

Spam sushi anyone?


SPAM is HUGE in Hawaii. Apparently, the people of Hawaii consume more SPAM per person than anywhere else in the US. Even on the shelves in the local grocery store, there are more varieties of SPAM than I’ve ever seen anywhere else. Musubi (pictured above) is an example of the omnipresent SPAM, mixed with the distinct Japanese influence from migrants after the war. A slice of SPAM is fried, coated in a terriyaki sauce, and placed on top of a shaped handful of sushi rice, secured with a piece of nori (seaweed).

I would suggest you give it a go if you visit Hawaii for the cultural aspect. It didn’t exactly rock my world in terms of flavour combination or innovation, but it’s still pretty cool and good fun. And surprisingly filling too, though for a complete meal I would suggest supplementing with some fruit/veg. 😉

In my late night prowling of grocery stores – they need more 24hr grocery stores around here! – I also found this!


These sugar cane stirrers are about as unprocessed a form of cane sugar you can get, I think. I’m sure that it would be great to sweeten your coffee or tea – they remind me of the Persian rock sugar stirrers that you can get – I bought some because I thought it would be cool to use as a sweetener/decorative item for a cocktail. The original thought was that I’d use it to sweeten a Caprioska, but I haven’t opened the packet yet. Given that Hawaii used to be known for its sugarcane plantations, these are not as common as I would’ve thought, but you can still get them in grocery and convinience stores.

Also in the grocery store – have I mentioned how much I love Foodland? – are their selection of ready-to-eat items. 


My favourite breakfast while I was there was a simple half of a ripe papaya, with a squeeze of lime over the top. Simple but satisfying.

Poké is another ready to eat item from the grocery store, and I’ve developed a mild addiction to it. I’ve been back in Sydney for about a week now, and I’m still suffering from withdrawals.

From left: Tako poké, spicy ahi poké

Poké, from my understanding, is raw cubes of fish (or pieces of seafood), in a variety of marinades. Common ingredients in the marinade include garlic, ginger, shoyu, green onions. Spicy poké commonly uses kochujang, a korean chilli paste. Limu poké uses limu, which is the Hawaiin word for seaweed.

The most common fish I’ve seen used is ahi, which is tuna. Tako (Octopus) and salmon poké are also widely found.

If snacking on tub after tub of raw fish is a bit much for you, you can also get poké bowls, which are bowls of rice topped with poké. At about $5 a pop, those bowls became my go-to lunch options. There are also other pre-packed rice bowls with other toppings. 


$6.95!! I don’t think I’d necessarily get a bowl with that much ikura that cheap in Sydney. Like I said, I’m suffering withdrawals big time.

And if you’re feeling the heat after a satisfying lunch, then try to drop by Waiola for a Hawaiin shaved ice. Delicious and refreshing, it’s basically finely shaved ice that melt like snowflakes on your tongue, covered in syrup. I got a banana and lime one – green and gold! – but you can get a whole variety of flavours, with various toppings like pearl and mochi.


The biggest thing that I’ve found is that the people of Hawaii are just so nice and hospitable. Every local that I’ve asked has happily told me their recommendations for foodie destinations, and even what their favourite dish on the menu is.

I miss Hawaii already. =(

Waitan, Haymarket

Peking duck was a dish that was developed for royalty in ancient China, and once you know the process that goes into making it, you’ll understand why it was a royal dish. Chef’s used to blow air – yes, mouth to duck – into the duck to separate the skin from the meat, before par cooking it in a master stock, drying it for 24hrs, glazing it, then roasting it in a brick oven. It’s not a recipe I would really attempt at home – I keep wanting to but am still daunted by the task – which is where places like Waitan come in for my Peking Duck fix.

Waitan is decked out in the opulent style of ancient China. One room actually features booths styled like the lazing areas of the rich during opium times. Prints featuring chubby women – chubbiness used to be associated with wealth, and so beauty – smoking opium pipes adorn the walls, transporting you to a romanticised version of old money during a past time.


But as much as I like interior design, we all know that my tummy will always lead me to the food. And lead me it has.


Waitan features open kitchens – for the more voyeuristic of us – and built near the back of the establishment is a hung oven for Peking duck. Flames leap as browning succulent ducks shamelessly parade in front of you, seducing the hungry diner.

But with all these theatrics, how does it taste? On launch night, Waitan served up canapé versions of their best dishes for us to sample. Peking duck pancake was of course one of them, together with fresh offerings from the oyster bar, wagyu beef steamed buns, prawn spring rolls, and prawn skewers with a Singapore chilli crab sauce.




And to finish the night, there was a black sesame cheesecake.

The food was executed in a classy way, but I’m not sure whether it really hit the spot for me. I’m very impressed that they actually built a Peking Duck oven, and am equally impressed with the 10 million dollar fit out. But is it food that you can’t get any where else in Chinatown? Perhaps not, especially with the accompanying price tag. But it’s definitely a place where you would wine and dine someone you’d like to impress, and is offering very decent food with extremely lush surroundings.

If you’re more business minded, then there are also private rooms upstairs from the main restaurant with a huge selection of fine wines.

Note: Tammi of Insatiable Munchies and her dining partner dined as guests of Waitan and Hill+Knowlton Strategies

We ate at:

405 Sussex St, Haymarket New South Wales 2000
(02) 9212 7999

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Shakshuka my way (Eggs and baked beans)

It’s Sunday morning, and despite your best efforts to sleep in, your stomach starts rumbling. You have a dream. A dream that magically, with minimal effort, you can have an enjoyable brunch with an oozing egg, hearty beans, but also looks like you’ve slaved over a hot stove.

Well, you don’t have to look too far.
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House of Crabs, Redfern


Oh crab, oh how you lay, with your legs crossed coyly, smothered in cajun sauce. I want to romance you, seduce you, connect with you…


House of Crabs is the new hot place in town, with its unabashed obsession with seafood – particularly shellfish and crustaceans. The moment you step in, you’re thrust into gluttony and kitsch, and a LOT of fun. A HUGE crab greets you as you come up the stairs, and the little red booths and marine themed decor encourage you to let loose and have a chuckle.


The boil is what you ome here for, and the idea is simple: pick a type of seafood, and pick a sauce. There are snacks to help make it a meal and add to the experience, and while it might be tempting to think that these are but mere side-kicks, genuine thought has been put in to make them delicious and interesting.


The Redfern Prawn Roll came highly recommended, and didn’t disappoint. A soft, glazed, sweet bun was filled with succulent prawn and juicy mango – a celebration of summer. A creamy mayo bound it all together, and the lettuce kept it light and refreshing. The bun conveniently soaked up all the juice, and did a great job of holding together what could otherwise be a very messy meal.


The BBQ Octopus taco didn’t do as great a job of holding together, but was delicious and juicy nonetheless. Tender slices of octopus held the barest hint of a bite, and the fine slices of jalapeño and tangy dressing gave it a lot of sass. This was a messy one, but I’m not sure that you’d order a taco to be demure.


In the spirit of gluttony and excess, we also ordered the Lobster Fries. Shoe string fries were topped with lobster gravy, salty bacon bits and melted cheese. While the lobster gravy didn’t taste as strongly of crustacean as I would’ve liked, it was a very tasty dish, and addictive even when cold. I did much prefer it with the addition of the tangy hot sauce that was at the table, but I do like my chilli.


The Buffalo Cucumbers ($5) were – I think – meant to be buffalo wings, but with cucumbers. Lightly pickled slices of cucumbers were covered in a blue cheese sauce, and mixed with peanuts. This particular snack wasn’t quite as impressive as the others, but were refreshing and a good accompaniment. As far as pickled veggies go, I much preferred the jerk cucumber I had at Queenies, but that might be more because I like my food with a bit of a kick.


And for the main event, we chose Snow Crab with Cajun Sauce ($34 for 500g). In case you were wondering what 500g meant, we got pretty much a whole crab for it. You were encouraged to dump the crab out into the centre of the paper lined table, and just dig in. Gloves were provided if you wanted to be polite, but I gave up within the first 2 seconds because I love licking the sauce off my fingers. The cajun sauce had a slight hint of spice and a whole lot of attitude, and left me wondering whether I should buy home a tub to have with bread. Speaking of which, all the boil orders come with bread, for you to soak up those yummy juices in the bottom of the bag. DELISH.


The only dessert was the Nepolitan Ice Cream Waffle Sandwich with raspberry and almonds, and it was HUGE. This is definitely a dessert to share, and I was pleasantly surprised. I usually wouldn’t touch Nepolitan ice cream with a ten foot pole – because I just end up finishing all the chocolate anyway – but the tart raspberry coulis convinced me otherwise. A satisfying end to the meal.

In all, there were things that I wished that were stand out to me that I wish there were more of – extra sauce for the crab and extra raspberry for the dessert – but I had a really good time at the House of Crabs. The staff were really friendly, and the food was fast and delicious. The bill ended up slightly on the steep side – $107 between the two of us, including 1 beer – but we also ordered heaps of food. We walked away satisfied, but not stuffed, and were just left with memories of a really good night.

Great for a Friday night out with your friends, and a fantastic place to have a good food, some drinks, and more than a few laughs.

We ate at:

House of Crabs
(02) 9699 3177
305 Cleveland Street
Redfern, NSW 2016
Upstairs at The Norfolk Hotel

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