IIts scent is subtly seductive, of fresh cooked rice, almonds and toast. In Southeast and South Asia, the long, narrow leaves are wrapped around meats, cooked in curries, cooked with rice, or steeped in water to make a bright green extract for flavoring drinks and sweets. Given how well pandan grows in Hawai’i (the plant is related to the hala tree), it’s surprising how little known it is on the islands, outside of South Asian communities. -East. But that changes: Taste it with these sweets and a cocktail.
1. Lod xong from Olay’s Laotian Thai cuisine
These pandan squiggles bathed in coconut cream and palm sugar syrup taste like salted caramel pudding.
$4.95, 66 N. Hotel St., (808) 536-5300, www.olaysthaihawaii.com, @olays_thai_lao_kitchen
SEE ALSO: Chinatown’s best hidden backyard is a Thai-Lao gem
2. Pandan buko ice cream from Magnolia Ice Cream & Treats
The aroma of Pandan, singing towards coconut, is accentuated in pandan buko ice cream from Magnolia (buko is Tagalog for “young coconut”). Try it on the halo halo instead of the standard ube.
$3.99 per ball, multiple locations, magnoliatreats.com, @magnoliaicecreamtreats
SEE ALSO: My 8 Favorite Filipino Foods on O’ahu Right Now
3. The Daiquiri from The Pig and the Lady
Inspired by ube pandan ice cream, this cocktail combines lime, Okinawan sweet potato-infused Kō Hana rum and pandan simple syrup.
$12, 83 N. King St., (808) 585-8255, thepigandthelady.com, @pigandthelady
4. Wallflour Bake Shop Pandan Donut
A luscious pandan cream fills an airy brioche beignet; its scent hits you as soon as you open the pastry box.
$5, wallflourbakeshop.com, @wallflourbakeshop
SEE ALSO: Honolulu’s new Wallflour Bake Shop combines ancient grains and local fruits
5. Che ba mau by Pho Que Huong
In this dessert drink, like a Vietnamese halo, crushed ice and coconut milk are layered with pandan jelly and three types of beans (mung beans, kidney beans and black-eyed peas).
$6, 1160 Maunakea St., (808) 528-3663