Created by local indie rocker Josh86 and his business partner, Serena Hashimoto, as a comfy, stylish diner to lounge about, the Downbeat Diner & Lounge attracts famished lunch munchers and night owls with a vegan-friendly menu of American classics. Patrons can sprawl out in the funky-patterned booths before downing the American burger, which is topped with cheddar and doused in house sauce ($7.50). Those who wake up late can still snack on the breakfast menu all day, filling bellies with the Loco Moco, a gravy- and egg-slathered burger or veggie patty ($7). Like the vegetarian superheroes of the 1930s, every menu item has its vegan foil—even dairified desserts such as the milkshake ($5) and meaty meals such as the bacon, lettuce, avocado, and tomato sandwich ($7.50).
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 specialty rolls with organic ingredients and a whimsical touch: their Mr. Miyagi roll arrives with soy-sauce footprints drawn beside it, a presentation style that was oohed and ahhed over by Non Stop Honolulu?s Tracy Chan. The chefs also fold fresh fish, including sashimi-grade ahi, into don-don rice bowls.
Rakuen's 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 stores. They also fill glasses with sake or send full bottles of it or shochu out to tables.
Glenn Chu’s earliest memories of cooking are of watching his Chinese grandmother pluck veggies from her garden in Manoa, fire up a wood-burning stove, and stir-fry the pickings in an oversized wok. While studying and working on the mainland, he learned Western cooking methods, honing his skills to a level that earned one of his recipes publication in Bon Appétit. He draws together this experience to influence his work as Executive Chef of INDIGO, where the blend of Asian, French, and Mediterranean styles is evident in the goat cheese won ton appetizer, the wasabi soy and sun-dried tomatoes on ahi steak, and the sautéed eggplant and pineapple chutney on spicy shrimp. The dining room presents accents of crimson red and high ceilings, while outdoor spaces welcome vacationing demigods.
One of Hawaii’s most expansive block parties delivers thunderous beats and intoxicating rhythms from more than two dozen musical acts sprawled across three venues. After checking in at Gordon Biersch, Groupon holders can bop between three Aloha Tower alehouses, sampling sonic entertainment at harborside spots such as Don Ho’s and The Waterfront. Tunesmiths drum out reggae and island rhythms from the plateau of four stages, while DJs spin house, hip-hop, and disco remixes of Ezra Pound’s The Cantos. Join Positive Motion for a celebratory spin at their CD-release party or float away on the eddies of Tribal Seeds' beguiling reggae-infused roots rock.
Hawaii Opera Theatre was established in 1960, but the islands' connection to opera dates back nearly a century earlier. In the 1850s, Queen Emma was said to have sung Verdi, while her husband King Kamehameha IV acted as a stage manager. More recently, Queen Liliuokalani may have composed an opera herself. Today, the nonprofit Hawaii Opera Theatre continues this rich musical tradition as the only professional opera company on the islands. Its productions?which have included La Boh?me, Romeo & Juliet, and Aida?feature local singers alongside international stars who have performed at major opera houses and in front of their own framed portraits of Pavarotti.
The glow of flat-screen TVs and projectors dances in blues and whites off leather furnishings and acres of hardwood and brushed aluminum. At Nocturna Lounge, sharply dressed guests gain confidence as they belt karaoke classics and headbang over faux drum kits during games of Rock Band. The sprawling karaoke list includes time-tested numbers such as "You?ve Lost that Lovin' Feelin'," new songs from artists including Cee Lo Green, and obscure numbers from films including Team America: World Police. The melodies drift through an open lounge and four private suites, which shelter visitors during songs or rounds of Xbox games such as Call of Duty and Street Fighter, in which martial artists battle evil cobblestones. Customers even vie for prizes against members of Team Nocturna. In between each bout, barkeepers decant imported beers and specialty cocktails behind the icy silhouettes of a forest of bottles.