The Key to My Heart

Columns Ono, You Know

June 7, 2015

Story By: Ali Resich | Photos by: Lawrence Tabudlo

They’re petite, yellow-green and pack quite a citrusy punch. I’m not talking about the regular limes you find in grocery stores; what I’m bringing to your attention are the citrus-fruit world’s juicy little jewels known as key limes — commonly found in the Florida Keys — because we have them to thank for one of the most classic desserts you’ll find in the cook book: key lime pie.

This sweet treat may be the official state pie of Florida (I kid you not), but its spryness has made its way into countless hearts across the country — it really is as American as apple pie.

For yours truly, key lime pie always has held a special place in my heart, simply because it’s my dad’s favorite dessert. He loves everything about it, from its firm custard texture, to its perfect mixture of sweet and tart flavors. And then, of course, he can’t get enough of the dreamy meringue topping that adorns many traditional preparations of the pie.

So Dad, Father’s Day is coming early this year, as I’ve found some downright remarkable key lime pies to show you. And readers, I hope you’ll absolutely agree.


The summery spirit of key lime pie goes hand in hand with Hawaii’s tropical glow. This blissfully light treat is ideal for satisfying your sweet tooth without feeling weighed down, especially if you’re enjoying an ocean-side bite at Azure Restaurant within The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort.

Chef de cuisine Shaymus Alwin concurs, and that’s why he’s created an island-inspired key lime pie even dessert-skeptics can’t resist. “For me, I’m not a huge dessert person, but if there’s something light and refreshing at the end of a meal, then I can definitely make some room for that,” he says.

Enter Maui Pineapple Key Lime ($10), an artfully deconstructed version of the classic that bursts with key lime custard illuminated by dehydrated local pineapple. The tart flavors are perfectly balanced by creamy vanilla gelato, while pavlova meringue brings a sweet crunch to the dish. It all comes together in one exhilarating burst of juicy compressed and macerated pineapple with mint simple syrup for a bite that feels just like cool trade winds on a hot Hawaiian day.

This truly unique representation of key lime pie falls in line with Alwin’s ability to innovate in the kitchen. His experience — which includes entering the industry at the age of 15 and becoming a sous chef at The Bistro at Century Center by age 24 — comes across in the dish’s complex layering of flavors. For a taste of this and other upscale menu items that put locally sourced ingredients in the spotlight, visit Azure evenings from 5:30 to 9 p.m.

Azure Restaurant
The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort
2259 Kalakaua Ave.

Morton’s The Steakhouse

A classic Key Lime Pie ($13.50) from Morton's The Steakhouse.

A classic Key Lime Pie ($13.50) from Morton’s The Steakhouse.

While I love to try avant-garde flavors, the purist in me always will yearn for tried-and-true comfort foods at the end of the day. So when searching for a traditional taste of key lime pie, I found the memory-stirring, authentic treat I longed for at none other than Morton’s The Steakhouse.

The restaurant is known for its commitment to excellence as not only one of the best steak houses, but also as one of the best restaurants, period. You’ll find pristinely aged USDA Prime beef throughout the menu, and this dedication to superior quality extends to every part of its menu, including its desserts.

When it comes to Key Lime Pie ($13.50), it was Chris Rook, corporate chef for Morton’s The Steakhouse, who initially decided this all-American staple deserved a spot on the menu. His homemade-style creation features pasteurized egg yolks (the ingredient that gives key lime pie its distinct color), real lime juice, sugar and last but not least, sweetened condensed milk — a must in traditional recipes.

This custard-like interior is pure heaven when paired with its graham cracker crust and a dollop of fresh whipped cream.

“People are really passionate about their key lime pie,” shares general manager Zyron Schoniwitz, who notes that the nostalgic menu item often reminds patrons of their grandmothers’ homemade recipes. “I’ve come to appreciate the richness of it, the creaminess, and the intense flavors. It’s really a delightful dessert.”

Schoniwitz also highlights the quality and consistency of the dish as key reasons it has remained a core dessert item at Morton’s for many years. “Our guest expectations are very high and we aim to exceed them.

Morton’s The Steakhouse
Ala Moana Center
1450 Ala Moana Blvd.

Ilima Awards
Hawaii's Best