WWII was a scandalous time for the Red Light District of Honolulu's infamous Chinatown. Though the area is now best known for its strong drinks, those tumultuous years turned the district into a destination for "boogie houses" and practitioners of the world's oldest profession. The guides at Honolulu Exposed lead 75-minute walking tours that explore the debauchery of that era. Groups depart from the historic Hawaii Theatre, then weave through the neighborhood's surrounding streets. Guides spin a rich narrative of the district's past, and attendees should be warned: they may hear occasional profanity, but that's par for the course considering the subject matter.
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.
According to psychologists, the color red makes people hungry. So it's no wonder that Rakuen Lounge’s combination of vibrant, crimson tabletops and artistically plated sushi consistently incites stomach rumbles. Here, the chefs design their quirky specialty rolls with organic ingredients and a knowing wink: their caterpillar roll arrives adorned with jewel-toned red eyes and micro greens doubling as antennae, creating a presentation that was oohed and ahhed over by Non Stop Honolulu’s Tracy Chan. Bartenders congregate in the center of the dining room at a square-shaped bar where they shake up signature martinis with sake and yuzu, fresh fruit juices, and other seasonal ingredients procured from local vendors rather than intergalactic grocery store chains.
Taking its name from the Hawaiian word for "adopt", Hanai Tours helps visitors become better acquainted with the people, food, and culture of Honolulu. Over the past 10 years, founder [Ed Korybski] http://www.hanaitours.com/about.html) has promoted Honolulu's Chinatown by producing street festivals, setting up commemorative plaques, and rehabilitating the facades of historical buildings. Today, he and his guides lead curious tourists through the beloved neighborhood, taking them through pub crawls and restaurant samplings that allow them to taste some of the local specialties and ethnic dishes. A dessert tour, for example, might include a stop at Mauankea Marketplace and a taste of homemade mango ice cream or Chinese candies, while a tour of Pau Hana?once known as Chinatown's red light district?might focus on area nightlife destinations and samples of wine and sake. Regardless of the food served, each tour also includes interesting historical facts and stories enhanced by digital photographs and video.