BETTY SHIMABUKURO / BETTY@STARBULLETIN.COM
Alan Wong's Ziploc Luau, top, and Seafood Luau, Stylized Version, are the same dish, plated two ways: a no-nonsense version in a cup, and restaurant-style on a pretty plate.
Hawaiian fare, with flair
If Alan Wong has his way -- and he's the boss, so why wouldn't he -- the dish he's preparing for the seventh anniversary of his Pineapple Room restaurant will be served in a plastic sandwich bag tucked in a paper bowl, the tapa-print kind.
'New Wave Luau II'
7th anniversary party: 5:30-8:30 p.m. Sept. 24
Place: Pineapple Room, third floor, Macy's Ala Moana Center
Tickets: $125, to benefit Hawaii's Plantation Village
It will be called Ziploc Luau.
But he's been getting advice that the dish is too "goofy looking," so he's come up with an upscale alternate presentation -- all the ingredients lined up on a long, white plate -- to be called Seafood Luau, Stylized Version.
By Sept. 24, presumably, he'll have made up his mind. That's the day of his "New Wave Luau II," which involves chefs from all the Wong restaurants presenting traditional Hawaiian dishes in contemporary style.
This bag-in-a-bowl dish was inspired by the beef luau served at Leong's Hawaiian Cafe, a dish of beef, luau leaf, water and salt, simmered until done. Then Wong took out the beef and added shrimp, scallops, lobster, clams, calamari and po'opa'a (local rock cod).
Why? "I thought if you poach seafood in that broth, would be good."
And what happened to the beef? "I ate 'em."
And what's the point of the Ziploc? It's a play on the concept of sous-vide, a French cooking technique of cooking in airtight bags over low heat to preserve flavors, which reminds Wong of the long, slow cooking of beef luau.
The chef's theme events are a mixture of inspiration and innovation, and he tends to pile on the research. For this event, Wong called on several kupuna, among them Nalani Olds, Claire Hughes, Danny Kaleikini and Palani Vaughan, who could explain Hawaiian food in the context of their family traditions.
Wong says this knowledge grounds him, then bolsters creativity.
Danny Akaka Jr., director of cultural affairs at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows, will stock the I'a Maka Bar (raw fish) from the resort's fishponds. His emphasis will be shoreline or reef fish such as enenue and uhu, seasoned only with the basics: limu, sea salt and kukui nuts.
Nothing else will be as stripped down, however.
Guest chefs Elmer Guzman of the Poke Shop and Randall Ishizu of JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa will contribute Bambucha Poke and Opihi, and Smoked Pipikaula New York Steak, respectively.
Also on the menu: Ulu (breadfruit) Crabcake, Kalua Pig and Foie Gras "En Terrine," Deep-Fried Crispy Taro stuffed with Chopped Suey Kalua Pig Cabbage.
Well, you get the idea.
All the net proceeds from the event will go to Hawaii's Plantation Village in Waipahu, to build a Hawaiian hale in the taro patch.