Diem 99 Cafe serves up a wide variety of dishes, desserts, and drinks. The authentic menu's variegated farescape offers vermicelli, or cold noodle, dishes in varieties like garlic chicken and barbecue pork ($7.25 each), as well as noodle-naysaying rice plates such as the baked short rib and lemon grass mahi mahi ($7.25 each). Vegetarian options are boundless at Diem 99, creating a vast playground of meatlessly delectable obstacles for hungry mouths, such as the lemon grass tofu ($6.97) and tofu curry ($7.25). Cap off a complete, authentic meal with a large banana tapioca ($2.00) and a cup of hot green tea ($1.25) . Ample free parking makes dine-in easy, but feel free to take out for a noodle night in.
Olay’s food is never far from reach—in addition to its tidy restaurant on Iwaena Street, its mobile kitchen sets up shop throughout the week at community centers and local high schools. The menu covers nearly as much ground as its employees do; options range from classics, such as pad thai and beef pho, to more exotic entrees of whole deep-fried snapper in a tangy chili sauce. Curries are Olay's specialty—particularly the peanut, red, and green varieties—as is thai Loco Moco, a heap of minced meat stir-fried with veggies and capped with an over-easy egg. Many patrons stick around for the mango sticky-rice dessert, which ends meals more sweetly than a chair that hugs you goodbye.
Meander through Paddle Board's kitchen, and you'll find ingredients such as unbleached flour, vine-ripened tomatoes, and flavorful spices. The chefs fold these ingredients into crispy pizzas, showering thin crusts in cheese, pepperoni, and sausage. In addition to pizzas, they douse juicy wings in hot or mild sauce with ranch on the side, and bake soft breadsticks served with garlic butter and parmesan cheese or topped with cinnamon.
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 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.