ALAN WONG’S HONOLULU
1857 S. King St.
Phone number (808) 949-1939
It all began when my now-fiancé proposed to me right before New Year’s Eve. With the holiday season in full swing, we never did get around to celebrating. So months later, I booked us a table at Alan Wong’s Honolulu on the exact date we’ll be getting married next year.
Finally, a couple of weeks ago, the day of our dinner arrived, and someone called to confirm the reservation. She asked if either of us had any dietary restrictions, so I took the opportunity to inform her of my recent battles with dairy.
Thinking nothing of it, we arrived later that night and took a seat at our table. Not soon after, our waiter greeted us and mentioned that they were aware I couldn’t eat dairy. After agreeing to substitute one of the appetizers from the menu tasting that we chose to go with, our waiter left to put in our orders.
For the rest of the night, every time a new dish was brought to the table, the server would confirm with me, before I could even ask, that it didn’t contain dairy.
It was the best dining experience of my life.
It is the only restaurant — and I am not exaggerating — that I have ever been to, that has genuinely cared I couldn’t eat dairy. Usually, I just get some unconfident response from a waiter who thinks there’s no dairy in a dish. Here, I was absolutely certain I could enjoy everything.
Then, of course, there’s the food itself. You might sit there and hem and haw over whether the menu tasting is worth it. I wouldn’t blame you. We opted for the wine pairing to go along with it, which came out to $134 a person ($89 for just the food).
But my god, it is worth it. It’s a lot to eat with five courses, and here, I’ll break it all down for you.
1. “Pinakbet.” It all begins with Alan Wong’s
interpretation of this Filipino classic. I was skeptical at first — the version my fiancé’s grandmother makes is solid, and nothing ever beats homemade. Yet this deconstructed version — with kalua pig mung bean cake, lentil salad, pickled red onion and marungay pure — had the same homey flavors I’ve grown familiar with. It was salty, smoky and just a little sour, and my only wish is that there had been more of it to eat.
2. Keahole Lobster and Shrimp Lasagna. This
is the one dish the restaurant substituted for me. I instead got the Seafood Cakes, made with lobster, shrimp and crab, topped with a caper mayo sauce and Japanese-style relish. It was soft, succulent and the caper mayo and relish really melded nicely with the seafood. (P.S. I did sneak in one bite of the lasagna, which was rich and creamy.)
3. Ginger Crusted Onaga. The menu marks this
dish as one of the restaurant’s most popular, and I can see why. Every bite is light, probably thanks to its ginger crust, and the miso sesame vinaigrette is not so rich that it overwhelms everything. Also be on the lookout for mushrooms and corn (my favorite).
4. Twice Cooked Short Rib. This might have been my favorite of the night, if only because it takes a lot for me to love any red meat dish. The short ribs were so tender that a knife was unnecessary and I could feel it melting away in my mouth. Plus, a gochujang (Korean chili paste) sauce added some heat and elevated the overall flavor of the dish. (Sadly, at this point, I couldn’t finish it all.)
5. The Coconut. Ah, The Coconut. If you haven’t yet gone to Alan Wong’s, you probably have at least seen a photo of this dessert pop up online — haupia sorbet served in a chocolate shell, made to look like half a coconut. My fiancé and I had a mini version of it, though I would hardly say it looked very small — as much as I savored every bite, I couldn’t finish it. It was light and most importantly dairy-free, and also was the right dessert to end what was an incredibly large meal. (They also brought out a complimentary congratulatory sorbet, which was appreciated.)
It really was a great meal in a laidback, relaxed environment. As my fiancé puts it, “It was the best meal of my life, and the most expensive, but totally worth it.”
Now to convince him to make a reservation for my birthday…
PARKING Easy breezy (valet only)
ATTIRE Don’t go crazy and feel like you have to dress up
SIGNATURES ON OUR CONGRATULATORY MENU At least 10
WHAT I’D LIKE TO TRY NEXT “Da Bag”