There are many ways to eat, drink and be merry on Fat Tuesday next week, and we can thank Christians for this day of culinary debauchery.
This feasting free-for-all marks the start of Lent, a 40-day period of self- denial before Easter, when centuries ago Christians started the practice of abstaining from eating all animal products, from meat to eggs and dairy.
Without refrigeration, families had to use up all the eggs and dairy in their pantries ahead of Ash Wednesday, resulting in a baking frenzy that led to today’s tradition of celebrating Fat Tuesday with heaping plates of pancakes, malasadas or cake.
Due to marketing genius over time, the pancake has become the day’s must-have food. Between new breakfast spots and old favorite haunts, there’s no shortage of places to get your fill of pancakes, day or night. Here are a few places where, Christian or not, you can start Fat Tuesday. How you end your day is a whole other story.
>> Arancino di Mare: Among new additions to the Italian restaurant’s breakfast menu is a pizza oven pancake ($11.95). Chef Daisuke Hamamoto’s take on the Dutch Baby has a more custardy, mochi- like consistency than a typical pancake. It emerges bubbling hot from the oven and is topped with oozy butter. As if all this richness were not enough, it comes with a trio of sauces: lilikoi, mixed berry and Earl Grey syrup with a touch of bergamot and lemon. All are lovely, but the Earl Grey is my fave. In the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort, 2552 Kalakaua Ave.; 931-6273.
>> Basalt: Gotta admit, when chef Keith Kong introduced his stack of black charcoal buttermilk pancakes ($16) two years ago, the concept was scary. We’ve since seen pancakes in just about every color, so why not black? There is logic behind it: Activated charcoal is said to be a great detoxifier. Whether the food-grade, coconut-based charcoal actually works to absorb toxins and heavy metals doesn’t matter when the resulting pancakes taste good and — with finishing touches of strawberry guava sauce, whipped cream and berries — look great on anyone’s social feed. At Duke’s Lane Market, 2255 Kuhio Ave., 923-5689.
>> Bills: Australian chef, restaurateur and author Bill Granger is known for a healthful take on contemporary cuisine, but many flock to his restaurants around the world for his ricotta pancakes ($21). They start off light and fluffy, with tangy ricotta to cut the sugar of accompanying maple syrup and honeycomb butter. Always in demand, these pancakes are on the menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner. At 280 Beachwalk Ave., Waikiki; 922-1500.
>> Cloud Nine Cafe: Whipped egg whites give this tea cafe’s souffle pancakes a light, fluffy, cloud-like nature. Get them with butter and maple syrup ($10.99), or topped with cream and fruit. Given the Taiwan milk tea craze, it’s no surprise there’s a version featuring brown sugar cream ($11.49) topped with boba pearls (although what looked like boba on top of a strawberry sauce turned out to be blueberries). Another favorite is the souffle pancakes with a sauce of salted cream cheese and sprinkling of macadamia nuts ($12.49). At Market City Shopping Center, 2919 Kapiolani Blvd.; 739-9988.
>> Dean & Deluca Hawaii: A favorite brunch specialty at the second-floor Artisan Loft is a short stack of souffle-style pancakes ($18) beautifully presented in a small cast-iron pot with layers of ohia lehua honey mascarpone and wild berry minute jam, finished with Iberico prosciutto salt and seasonal fruit. It’s best to scoop up every layer with each bite. Available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. At Ritz-Carlton Waikiki, 383 Kalaimoku St.; 729-9720.
>> IHOP: It’s hard to beat free, and it’s been IHOP’s tradition for 14 years to offer one free short stack of buttermilk pancakes per guest on National Pancake Day, which coincides with Fat Tuesday. In return, IHOP hopes guests will make a donation to Children’s Miracle Network, Shriners Hospital for Children or the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Runs from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., or while supplies last. Oahu locations: 2211 Kuhio Ave. in Waikiki (921-2400), 1850 Ala Moana Blvd. (949-4467) and 98-1254 Kaahumanu St. in Pearl City (486-4467).
>> Moena Cafe: Even if you head to this Koko Marina Cafe on a slow weekday when you think everyone’s at work, there’s still going to be a line for breakfast and lunch fare, particularly the 12-inch pancakes, in flavors from cinnamon roll to banana Chantilly (one for $10, two for $13). The most visually stunning are the strawberry and milk pancakes (one for $12, two for $15), dressed with light strawberry whipped cream, fresh strawberries and sprinkling of chopped pistachios. It’s every bit as yummy as it looks. At 7192 Kalanianaole Highway; 888-7716.
>> Moke’s Bread & Breakfast: Fill up on Moke’s divine lilikoi pancakes ($8.95 for two, $9.95 three) at two locations. The signature pancakes are highlighted by a pour of creamy, mellow lilikoi sauce. When other fruits are in season you may find other tropical flavors, such as a delicious summertime mango sauce, the pancakes finished with a dusting of li hing salt to balance the sweetness. At 1127 11th Ave. in Kaimuki (367-0571), and 27 Hoolai St. in Kailua (261-5565). Note: Start your celebration a day or two ahead because Moke’s is closed on Tuesdays.
>> Yogurstory: This eatery opened as a frozen yogurt shop in 2010, but has since become better known for its vivid purple ube pancakes ($12). The batter incorporates Okinawan sweet potatoes, while the purple sauce comprises mountain yams, Okinawan sweet potatoes, coconut milk, condensed milk, butter and sugar, true to the indulgent spirit of Mardi Gras. If the color purple doesn’t appeal, try the strawberry shortcake pancakes ($12) or Lehua Sweet Bread French toast ($9) with Kailua and Tahitian vanilla bean brown butter. At 815 Keeaumoku St.; 942-0505.
>> MAC 24/7: This Waikiki restaurant quickly became known for its stack of 14-inch, buttermilk pancakes that can take three to four people to finish. Out of this legend came the MAC Daddy Pancake Challenge, in which a lone contestant is challenged to eat three of the pancakes, weighing in at 5 pounds, in 90 minutes. Winners receive a T-shirt, a photo on the restaurant’s Wall of Fame and website, and get the $25 pancakes free. Outside the challenge, gluten-free mochi pancakes with a pleasantly chewy consistency, and red velvet pancakes with chocolate chips, bourbon glaze and lemon cream cheese icing, are worth trying. At Hilton Waikiki Beach, 2500 Kuhio Ave.; call 921-5564.
>> Royal Hawaiian resort: The hotel’s “Pink Palace” nickname is a marketer’s dream and few can resist the Surf Lanai’s signature Pink Palace pancakes ($20). These guava- raspberry shortcakes owe their color to beet powder, and they come with balsamic strawberry relish, coconut cream, fresh berries and a sprinkling of toasted coconut. Create the magic at home with a mix sold at the Royal Hawaiian Bakery. At 2259 Kalakaua Ave.; 923-7311. Also, a sister property, the Moana Surfrider, currently serves mango pancakes ($23) at The Veranda.
Nadine Kam’s restaurant reviews are conducted anonymously and paid for by the Star-Advertiser. Reach her at email@example.com.