Hungry hoards seeking house-made comfort food visit Paul's Poppers for chicken katsu with house-made gravy, Portuguese sausage breakfast plates, and, on Aunty Lani's Fresh Bread Mondays, oven-fresh loaves. Diners also swarm the restaurant for?you guessed it?poppers. They're wontonlike fried dumplings whose crispy, flaky exterior hides a host of ingredients. The Original bursts with pork, jalapeno, and melted cheddar, while the Caprese clasps tomato, basil, and mozzarella. Poppers come as single-serving combos?say, eight with a side of kimchi fried rice?or in quantities of up to 75 to feed a party or a friend who only eats things in quantities of 75.
The folks at Pau Hana Lounge, perched in a second-story space on the banks of Kapalama Canal, know how to party. When they're not hosting raucous hula competitions, their floors bounce during parties backed by DJ-curated tunes or live local music. The cooks excite tastebuds with Hawaiian favorites such as kalua pork and lomi salmon, along with barbecued meats, curries, and burgers between grilled croissants. And the bartenders keep the party going with beer and cocktails.
The pastry chefs at Regal Bakery work hard to never stop surprising their customers, whether with bold new donut flavors, such as rocky road, berryblast, and green tea, or brand new foodie trends. Hot on the trail of the cronut craze, they created their own version of a croissant-donut and even experimented with bite-sized croissant morsels, dubbed “crototts,” which can be dipped in chocolate sauce, azuki bean crème anglaise, or bronze to put atop crotott-eating trophies. According to a profile of the bakery in the “Dining Out” section of the Star Advertiser, Regal Bakery stocks more than 20 donut flavors at a time and revives popular flavors from their past on Throwback Wednesdays.
Shogunai Tacos's oversized kitchen-on-wheels cruises around Honolulu to quell hunger pains with its eclectic array of globally-inspired tacos. Chef Kamal Jemmari whisks his customers around the world with his panoply of dishes, all served in the form of tacos. Melted cheddar cheese with pastrami and Japanese-inspired ginger- and shoyu-marinated pork create unique taco hybrids, and tender lamb, kalamata olives, and feta cheese soak in tzatziki sauce on the Greek taco. The chef's internationally infused take on the Mexican staple has attracted media attention, with favorable reviews from KTV4 and articles on the owners' love of Japanese cuisine. Jemmari ramps up his production with the catering menu, eschewing tortillas altogether in favor of expansive, multi-course Moroccan dinners.
When Antonio “Trigo” Da Silva moved to Hawaii in 2007, he found a community of people who wanted to learn more about their own Portuguese heritage. That’s why he opened Adega Portuguesa Restaurant in Chinatown. There, visitors can sample traditional dishes such as Portuguese-style bean soup, Northern Portuguese–style codfish, or bitoque—a dish made by crowning a new york strip steak with brown gravy and a fried egg.
On Fridays and Saturdays, the eatery’s cooks also prepare Brazilian dishes such as feijoada, a medley of black beans, beef, pork, sausage, and bacon stewed with farofa and sliced orange. Beer, cocktails, and imported wines wash back each bite. In addition to tasting traditional foods, guests can dance to live Portuguese music or learn the native tongue in Portuguese language classes.
The selection of Japanese-infused dishes at Violet's Grill is expansive. Chefs can stir-fry veggies and meats, and their creative endeavors include pig?s-feet soup and a plateful of string beans and Spam. Ahi katsu, shrimp tempura, and chicken teriyaki also stand out on the menu.