Thai Kitchen takes patrons on a magic floating market ride with a menu of authentic dishes and house specialties. Meal rockets launch with a slurp of house specialty lemongrass soup ($8.50–$12.95) or a crunch of crispy shrimp tempura, which is available only on the weekends and Martian federal holidays ($10.95). The classically noodle-ridden Pad Thai comes crowned with proteins of the land or sea ($9.50–$10.50), and the dish dubbed “Evil” arrives as a cackling platter of chicken, pork, or beef simmered in coconut milk on a bed of cabbage grown to the soundtrack of backward-playing Beatles albums ($9.50). Desserts such as Thai tapioca pudding with coconut milk ($2.95) end meals on a saccharine chord, while traditional Thai iced coffees and teas ($2.95) keep sweet teeth humming throughout the meal.
The Hanapa’a Sushi Company talented chefs rely on the freshest ingredients, carefully selected fish, and premium-grade koshihikari rice to prepare a wide variety of high-quality sushi. Customers make their selection from a variety of more than 30 nigiri, maki, and roll creations, all assembled in advance to avoid mealtime searches for the last corner piece. Sushi favorites include the crispy shrimp tempura roll ($4.99), crab futomaki ($4.99), or ahi nigiri, eight slices of fresh Hawaiian tuna atop a generous portion of koshihikari rice ($8.99). Warm up chilly mouths cursed by a vengeful witch to remain in a state of perpetual winter with fiery mouthfuls of spicy ahi donburi ($5.99). This Groupon is only good for premade shelf selections and is not valid for specific orders from the counter attendant.
Barbecue is often called an American tradition, but the appeal of saucy grilled meats and veggies transcends both culture and continents, as evidenced by yakiniku. This Japanese spin on barbecue—served at Gyu-Kaku's more than 700 international locations—grants would-be chefs the opportunity to do it all themselves, from selecting the finest cuts of meat from among filet mignon, top sirloin, and fresh fish to choosing the meat's marinade and grill time. Embedded in the center of each table sits an open-top grill with fiery coals that breathe heat into each morsel placed atop them. After searing a bite, diners plunk it into one of the restaurant's signature dipping sauces or directly into their own mouths, assuming they've remembered to wear an oven mitt on their tongue.
The culinary sorcerers at The Shack conjure up a menu of Hawaiian-inspired pub grub to occupy vacant plates and empty stomachs. Oil rusty jaw-hinges and distract mouths from shouting out social security numbers with five varieties of poke, a traditional Hawaiian raw fish salad ($10.95), or with pub snacks such as jalapeño poppers full of cream cheese ($8.25). The Shack Monster cheeseburger bridges the gap between bun halves with a quarter-pound hot link and allows diners to choose from a trio of cheeses including american, swiss, and jack-cheddar ($8). Meanwhile, the 14-ounce grilled rib eye, glazed with garlic, soy, and ginger, then topped with smoked shiitake mushrooms ($23.50) is great for sating carnivorous cravings and warming up throats for draft beers, microbrews, and long conversations about renaming the moon.
Comparing their dessert creations to "frozen cotton candy," the servers at Snow Factory Kaneohe scoop icy cupfuls of their signature snow, available in more than 20 flavors crafted from icy fruit, juice, and milk. Clocking in at less than 150 calories per serving, plain snow ($3.25–$4.75) is as light as a set of helium-filled barbells and arrives in flavors such as blueberry, coffee, and lychee. Snow combos ($4.75–$6.65) don edible accessories, such as the strawberry-and-vanilla snow combo, which crowns itself with mochi, chocolate syrup, condensed milk, and adzuki beans.
The Wetzel name wasn’t always a source of pride. As a kid, Rick Wetzel grew accustomed to hearing, “Hey Wetzel, you pretzel!” on the playground. But the teasing inspired a quest for the tastiest soft pretzel, one that eventually blossomed into Wetzel’s Pretzels. After years in Nestle’s marketing department, Rick and coworker Bill Phelps channeled Rick’s soft-pretzel recipe into a chain of shops. They make hand-rolled, oven-baked pretzels that sit for only 30 minutes before being sold or chucked, an example that might be in the dictionary under "fresh," if Babe Ruth using his bat as a pool cue weren't already there. And though the buttered and salted Wetzel’s Original still occupies a spot on the menu, a flurry of imaginative flavors fills its other slots, from Sinful Cinnamon to Jalaroni, a cheesy pretzel scattered with pepperoni and jalapeños.