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Hanohano Hou!

Old-school dining and service with an ageless view

If you're a Hawaii history buff, I'd recommend a visit to the Sheraton Waikiki's Hanohano Room. It sits on the 30th floor of the massive hotel and has the Island's best view of Waikiki, maybe the best view, period. There isn't anything outwardly historical about the restaurant. But no matter how you dress it up, it's an artifact of recent Hawaii history.

SURF AND SURF: The Hanohano Room's Salmon-wrapped Scallops are subtly flavored and perfectly cooked. photo: Jimmy Forrest

For one thing, the place is huge, big enough for a sunken bar, a raised cocktail area, a stage and a roomy dance floor. Also, while today's kitchens are open, showcasing their rock-star chefs, the Hanohano Room's is hidden away in a far corner the room. Then there is just the fact that it's sitting on the top of a building with 1,852 rooms. It's a great example of 1970s brute-force tourism: Build the biggest hotel that you can on the best stretch of beach available and get the most fabulous view possible, no matter what.

The Hanohano Room's menu is a little retro, too. It features mostly seafood and a collection of meats such as Colorado Reserve Rack of Lamb ($42), Prime Rib ($27 to $34) and a Cote du Beouf, ribeye to you and me ($78 for two). As you can see, the prices aren't old school.

We started our meal off with Sake Poached Shrimp Cocktail ($13), sweet shrimp poached in a sake court bouillon and served with a horseradish cocktail sauce. The shrimp were large and plump, but my palate wasn't sophisticated enough to taste the sake marinade. However, I tasted all of the Pacific Blue Crab Gratin ($16). Our second appetizer featured crab blended with Maui onion and topped with Parmesan cheese and served with slices of Alpine baguette. It was rich, simple and delicious. No fillers here, just luscious, creamy crab.

Hanohano Room

• Sheraton Waikiki
• 2255 Kalakaua Ave.
• 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
• Live entertainment,
8:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.
• 922-4422

Unfortunately, in addition to the crab and cheese, we found a hair baked into the dish. We were more disappointed than grossed out, but the wait staff made up for the mistake by apologizing profusely and bringing us a brand-new and presumably hairless appetizer.

For my entrée, I ordered one of the specials, Salmon-wrapped Scallops ($35). The dish featured two salmon steaks, split, then wrapped around two very large scallops. The filets were sprinkled with seasoned breadcrumbs and served atop a bed of shredded carrot and zucchini, which in turn were surrounded by a velvety cream sauce.

Both the fish and shellfish were cooked perfectly—firm on the outside, tender on the inside. The wrapped filet was also subtly flavored and blended well with the slightly sweet sauce. My wife was less impressed with her Petite Filet Mignon and Tristan Lobster Tail Combination ($51). The lobster was juicy and meaty, but the filet was very petite and not very flavorful.

Our waiter insisted that we should try the restaurant's signature dessert, Strawberry Sabayon ($9), which has been on the Hanohano Room's menu from the very beginning. It would be on the house, he explained.

The dessert turned out to be our favorite dish of the evening. It featured strawberries, a wafer and vanilla ice cream swimming in a sweet and incredibly light sabayon sauce. It was accompanied by a couple of dark chocolate sticks. The dish was the perfect balance of tartness and sweetness, fruitiness and creaminess, crunchiness and softness. It quickly became apparent why the dessert was never taken off the menu. Like the spectacular view beyond, it was timeless.

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