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A funky restaurant in downtown Honolulu
Sometimes we find great locations by ourselves and other times, they find us. I think today we had a mix of both. I had read somewhere prior to coming to Oahu, (obviously very quickly as I didn’t write too much detail) about a place in Chinatown called the Lucky Belly. That’s all I had, a scribbled name on a piece of paper. No address, no other defining details as to how we might find this restaurant.
As we were walking through the market areas of Chinatown, all of a sudden the sign Lucky Belly loomed large in front of us, from a seemingly non-descript building. In the middle of one of the poorest areas of Chinatown, where graffiti on buildings is worn like a badge of honour, sits this new and modern restaurant, with an equally new and modern chef and menu.
Lucky Belly actually sits in amongst a growing number of newly renovated and modernised bars and restaurants, in what is fast becoming a gentrification project in the area. We were greeted in a matter of seconds when we entered this funky restaurant, brimming with diners, and the service didn’t wane from that moment on. More “bar” than “food”, it didn’t detract one bit from the menu.
The food was terrific, and it was incredibly difficult for us to make a choice. I could have eaten at least four of the offerings straight up. When I questioned an item on the menu, the waiter took me up to the chef so he could show me what the food I had inquired about was like. Now that’s service.
We chose the daily special of the Bento Box, which was served in a square bowl that I can only best describe as a small vanity basin. It had a number of different inclusions contained within, including shrimp and mushroom gyoza, green salad with a stunning ginger vinaigrette, braised short rib and edamame and ginger fried rice.
The Lucky Belly is also known for ramen so a massive serving of ‘Belly Bowl’ came our way, brimming with pork belly, bacon and sausage, egg, wakame, sesame seeds, ginger and green onions, all floating in a complex broth.
The Lucky Belly also serves up Downtown prices, a good notch below those observed in Waikiki. We washed all of this down with Peroni and Asahi (no jasmine tea for these fair travellers!)
This little piece of Japanese inspiration in Chinatown is welcoming and I suspect will fast become the place to go, if it hasn’t already.