Happy Hour at Chart House (Honolulu, HI)


After an exhausting day of sipping iced mochas at Starbucks and going to the movies, we decided to unwind by taking advantage of happy hour at Chart House lounge, where we’d last gone in 2009. The popularity of the bar—or maybe it’s the terrific view of the marina and the setting sun from almost any vantage point—is reflected in all the ‘Reserved’ tables against the windows. It also helps to have a good selection of pupus to go along with the specially priced alcoholic beverages, including a popular drink called Guy Tai, presumably named after the bartender whose special mai tai is made with two kinds of rum and served in a 16-ounce glass. Pupus (appetizers) include fish & chips, oyster shooters, ahi limu poke, ahi wontons, spinach salad, escargot, pork chops, fried rice (with or without kimchi), edamame and pasta with shrimp and scallop scampi. Their unique offering is what is called Kimmi’s firecracker unroll, basically a sushi that hasn’t been rolled, flat rice piled with spicy poke, onion and shredded nori.

We decided on three other pupu items: fried calamari (crispy but chewy, served with horseradish chili sauce, light on squid flavor, ☆☆½), Caesar salad (plentiful, nice dressing, ☆☆½) and garlic chicken (thigh pieces richly sauced with garlicky teriyaki flavors, attached skin supremely crispy, sprinkled with white and black sesame seeds, ☆☆☆½). The lychee martini was insipid (☆☆), but it was easy to see why Guy Tai is so well-liked though it was a bit heavy on the fruit juices (☆☆☆).

Caesar salad

Garlic chicken

Fried calamari

It was a very pleasant way to spend the hour just before sunset.

Chart House Waikiki
1765 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96815
(808) 941-6669

Marukame Udon (Honolulu, HI)


The concept of customizing udon to suit your personal preference is not new. In my neck of the woods, U:Don in Seattle’s University District has been offering it for several years. Marukame Udon made a big splash in Waikiki when it opened in 2011, a udonya that copies the cafeteria-style service that made it so popular in Japan. Every time I went past the restaurant last year, there was a line of customers outside. Today was no exception when we decided to have lunch, about two dozen people ahead of us, but the line moved quickly. If every seat is occupied, the staff will thoughtfully not let any more diners inside so no one will be looking for a place to sit. In typical Japanese fashion, there are plastic replicas of the food behind the storefront to help you decide what to order. There are also large pictures above the service area, not in immediate view. The menu should be facing customers as they first enter.

marukame

You place your order when you pick up a tray, which you slide along a ribbed counter along the service area. You can choose either a small or large portion. I chose the ontama style in which a soft-boiled egg is cracked over the noodles and served in hot broth. You can also order the broth on the side, either hot (kamaage) or cold (zaru), beef served on top (niku), a lighter broth (kake), concentrated broth (bukkake), or curry. When you pick up your bowl at the end of the line, you’re given the choice of having it garnished with sliced green onions and bits of crispy tempura batter.

marukame udon

Your final choices are one or more tempura (charged by the piece) and musubi (inari, Spam or umeboshi). The tempura includes shrimp, calamari, chicken (karaage) and vegetables (asparagus, sweet potato, pumpkin, mushroom). I picked shrimp and karaage and Spam and umeboshi musubi.

The shrimp are large with a nice, crispy batter. The chicken pieces are also large, chicken thighs with the same batter. Wrapped in cellophane, the musubi were still hot. and quite good.

The rich dashi broth was somewhat salty, otherwise a fine version. I don’t know how the best udon is made, but it seems the mass production at Marukame (as well as U:Don) compromises the noodle’s texture, not as chewy as the finest I’ve had, which even includes frozen ones I can get at any Japanese supermarket. Still, the udon is good. The entire bowl rates ☆☆☆.

Marukame Udon
2310 Kuhio Ave
Honolulu, HI 96815
808.931.6000

Fried Rice at Eggs ’n Things (Honolulu, HI)


During every trip to Honolulu, my wife and I have breakfast at Eggs ’n Things, an excuse to eat their Portuguese sausage with eggs and two scoops of rice. My wife ordered it (this time, she substituted home fried potatoes for the rice, which turned out to be a bad idea), while the Island Style Fried Rice & Eggs caught my eye. When the plate was set before me, all I could think of was Mauna Loa, it was that big and sprawling.

It was more than bulk that was impressive. The fried rice was quite good (☆☆☆½), a kitchen sink of diced Portuguese sausage, ham, kamaboko (fish cake), bok choy, bean sprouts, julienned carrots, mushrooms, celery and green onions. More than that, the rice was savory and avoided the mushiness that I’ve encountered more than once on this trip. To be honest, all I could manage was less than a fourth of it, the rest taken away to be eaten by both of us for another breakfast at the condo. If it weren’t for its sheer size, the rice would be something to order again. But then, we could think of it as future breakfasts.