First look: The revamped Hukilau Honolulu

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After the sudden closure of Bethel Street Tap Room in January, it was uncertain if Kawehi Haug and Kim Potter would embark on another restaurant concept in downtown. As of today they’re back, showing off their cooking chops at a revamped Hukilau Honolulu in the basement of the Executive Centre.

Parking is in the Executive Centre parking garage off Bishop St. Come down the parking elevators for the lobby floor or take the escalators down from Bishop or Hotel Streets.

Parking is in the Executive Centre garage off Bishop Street. Take the parking elevators to the lobby floor or if you’re walking in, take the escalators down from Bishop or Hotel streets.

Haug and Potter have pared down the longtime restaurant and bar’s previously extensive menu into four main sections: burgers and sandwiches, soups and bakes, salads, and mixed plates. And as a nod to Tap Room fans, they’ve brought back haogie favorites like the Italian stallion, Big Bird, Americano and caprese sandwiches.

The Italian stallion ($12, comes with fries) is stuffed with meaty goodness and is a filling and satisfying lunch option. Photo by Thomas Obungen

The Italian stallion ($12, comes with fries) is stuffed with meaty goodness. – Photo by Thomas Obungen

The new team moved in earlier this month. We work in the building, so we could see the space evolving, starting with a Let Them Eat Cupcakes Express window opening at the front (the cupcakery on Beretania is the pair’s other venture). Nitro coffee fans can get their daily fix here along with cupcakes, house-made marshmallows, pies, yogurts and saimin.

A remodel of the dining room replaced the sports memorabilia with more flat-screen TVs and ambient lighting. Reconfigured seating now includes a newly finished stammtisch-style communal table.

 

A photo posted by sheldon (@mistahlo) on

The new Hukilau Honolulu serves lunch and dinner including two daily specials: a hearty, comforting umeke bowl and a mixed plate with meat, two scoops rice, mac salad, sides and dessert.

Today's mix plate was a hamburger steak piled high with grilled onions, gravy, mac salad and rice. The plate lunch also included two sides and sweet cookie butter wontons.

Our mix plate was a hamburger steak piled high with grilled onions, gravy, mac salad and rice. This came with two sides and sweet cookie butter wontons.

We also got to taste the pasta bake ($11), a comforting skillet of cheddar, jack, mozzarella and gouda cheeses tossed with macaroni and baked to golden brown perfection.

The crumb topping crisps up nicely and adds a nice texture to the skillet.

The crumb topping crisps up nicely and adds a nice texture.

There’s a ton of rich history and family recipes in the dishes. One of the standouts is the hearty Portuguese bean soup that’s thick like a chili. It’s based on an old family recipe from kitchen worker Sheldon Lo.

It's starting to cool off and rainy season is coming. The Hukilau Portuguese bean soup is perfect for the Hawaii winter days ahead of us.

The Portuguese bean soup is perfect for the Hawaii winter days ahead of us.

If you’re looking for a simple lunch, the grilled cheese sandwich with fries ($8) and tomato bisque (add $2) is a nostalgic combo made with cheddar, jack, mozzarella and gouda, all melted to perfection.

Look at that melt.

Look at that melt.

Our favorite salad is the cold ginger chicken salad ($11) with juicy slices of chicken, local greens and a sesame-ginger vinaigrette.

The chicken is the star of the show. Juicy, tender and flavorful.

The chicken is the star of the show. Juicy, tender and flavorful.

Hukilau has a full bar that includes 10 beers on draft, including craft brews, as well as a cocktail program. Try the Plum Press ($6) if you like your cocktails sweet and the French 75 if you like them dry. And if you’re wondering about the famous Bethel Street Tap Room pickles, they’re served alongside a shot of Jameson. Cheers.

The new Hukilau Honolulu opens today, Nov. 29. We’ll be back for the comfort food and the desserts.

Hukilau Honolulu
Executive Centre
1088 Bishop St.
523-3460
dahukilau.com/honolulu
Restaurant: Monday-Friday 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Let Them Eat Cupcakes Express: 8 a.m.-3 p.m.