This Polynesian paradise, or “the greatest place in the history of the world” per Anthony Bourdain, is the perfect combination of kitsch and upscale dining. Not only can you get a ridiculously large, sugary and potent drink — preferably aflame — but you can also get contemporary takes on Asian and Polynesian cuisine while dining alongside a pool, periodic rain showers and a live band on a floating stage.
When it comes to strong drinks, this is the place. The Pineapple Royale, a huge portion of aged rum, brandy and fresh pineapple juice served in a hollowed out pineapple, is dangerously good (and fun!). You could easily share this with someone, and you might want to just to split the $17 cost. The Singapore Sling ain’t no slouch, either, with Tanqueray gin, Cointreau, cherry Heering, fresh lemon and pineapple juices, Angostura bitters, and a Benedictine mist.
The Quintessential “Pu Pu” Platter, with BBQ Kona pork ribs, shiitake egg rolls, chicken skewers, and coconut prawns, is a good bet, and the restaurant’s inventiveness comes out in dishes such as the Forbidden Blend Fried Rice, which features forbidden black, white jasmine, Bhutanese red and jade pearl bamboo rices.
The well-known Huli Huli Chicken — boneless fire-roasted chicken, grilled pineapple, red onions, sweet peppers and scallions — was too sweet for my taste, but it was cooked nicely.
Check out Bourdain and Chef Chris Cosentino’s visit to the Tonga Room for “The Layover” to see some of the tiki drinks and the rain storm in action.
Note: This meal was hosted.