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Sunday, February 7, 2016

THE HOTBED OF ASIAN CUISINE IN HONOLULU

Last week I walked into Downtown Honolulu and had lunch at The Pig and the Lady, a progressive Vietnamese fusion restaurant.  As this is the day when Chinatown most celebrates the New Year, I yesterday strolled downhill and had lunch at Honolulu Maganize's Best New Restaurant for 2016:  Livestock Tavern (left).  I guess there must have been only a very few new restaurants, for while everything went fine, I was still a bit disappointed.  Honolulu Magazine titled it's review:  Modern American Comfort Food and Killer Cocktails.


On the corner of Smith and King, Lucky Belly is across the street, a sister property of Dusty Grable and Jesse Cruz (Cruz to the left).    Both are modern, creative and comfortable, the eating establishments, that is.  Livestock Tavern was previously Amy's Place, a dive bar with a certain smell.  Unlike a growing swarm of restaurants with chefs that come from Marvro's, Alan Wong's and the like, which adjust upscale cuisine, these two restaurants start with comfort food and dress it up.


Livestock Tavern was about a third full.  There must have been a dozen staffers, so the service was quick and friendly.  But something was missing.  Maybe it did have an aura of a cowboy bar restaurant in the Wild West.    I had a belly pork sandwich with a beer.    Okay.

This historically exciting and still somewhat seedy chunk of Honolulu, actually, is becoming a critical mass assemblage of interesting and outstanding restaurants. Within a three minute walk of each other, we now have in addition to Livestock Tavern, from the 2016 Hale 'Aina Awards list.
  • Ray's Cafe (Best Hole in the Wall Bronze).
  • Grondin  (Best Business Lunch Finalist)--in this photo you can see Livestock Tavern to the right, with Lucky Belly down the road on the left.
  • Murphy's Bar and Grill (Best Business Lunch Finalist)
Best of all, they're all open for lunch on Saturday, in addition to other days, and dinner, of course.

Another photo travelogue of my walk through the Chinatown Cultural Plaza and back home to 15 Craigside:


I noticed the flag of Taiwan paired with that of the USA.  I never previously gave any thought to the politics of those areas, but I've been to Taiwan a dozen times, and similarly to various parts of China, and the Chinatown Cultural Plaza does have the smell of Taiwan.  Chinatowns around the world have distinctive odors, and many of them have rather unpleasant smells.  Just a block away from this Plaza is Chinatown Honolulu, and the prevailing whiff is that of urine.


I was born in the year of the Dragon (next:  2024), and was tempted to bring this home.  2016 is the year of the Monkey:


Royal Kitchen is where we all go to get Chow Fun, manapua (bow) and the assortment of Chinese snacks:


The bottom photo shows the traditional Chinese New Year cake, Nian Gao, only pronounced gao in Hawaii.  On the way home I saw at the Soto Mission on Nuuanu Avenue my first Gold Tree blooming this year:


Sure, this is Super Bowl Sunday, and as I click this posting on, I'll be off to a party using Uber.  However, tomorrow is:
Kung Hee (or Gung Hei) means congratulations, while Fat Choy evokes prosperity.  Happy New Year in Mandarin is Xiannian Kuaile (新年快乐), while in Cantonese it is gung ho san hei.  So, Congratulations and Prosperity tomorrow on your New Year of the Monkey (Houzi or 猴子 )

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