What is a gastropub? These days, I’m not too sure. Early on, though, when a pub went from just serving beer to serving fanciful takes on traditional dishes, they were said to have morphed into a gastropub. Nowadays, the term gastropub is synonymous with establishments that serve high-end beer along with creatively thought out dishes. Whether they started out as just a pub…well, that’s no longer a requirement. Enter The Brilliant Ox, the latest gastropub to hit Oahu, in the old Pearl Ultra Lounge space in Ala Moana Center.
Local celebrity chef, Alan Wong, recently announced that he would be closing his famed lunch spot, The Pineapple Room. Opened in 1999 inside of the then Liberty House (now Macy’s), the popular eatery was a casual taste of Wong’s fine dining sensibility. As for a reason for the closing, Wong went on to say that “The dining landscape has changed, and we’ve amicably decided with Macy’s to move on from this concept.” With this closure, Wong’s fans now have just two options: the original namesake Honolulu location and the newish Shanghai, China location.
All-you-can-eat bread & pastry, good coffee, lovely ambience, and notoriously long wait times. These were all things that I had either heard or read about before I stepped into Cafe Lani, one of the restaurant offerings in Ala Moana Center’s new Ewa Wing. But what would my actual experience be like?
Move over frozen yogurt, the next cool thing has arrived to the islands. Nitrogenie, located in the brand new Ewa Wing of Ala Moana Center, is the first made-to-order liquid nitrogen ice cream shop to hit Hawaii. Earlier this week I had the chance to chill (the icy puns continue) with Nitrogenie co-founder, Todd Farr, and taste some of their unique offerings.
Lucy’s Lab Creamery is a brand new hole-in-the-wall on Kamakee Street, just down the road from McKinley High School and next to Harry’s Cafe. The bright blue, walls offer a visual escape from the Lab’s drab and dated neighbors. It’s almost as if Lucy’s Lab was plucked from either the hipster friendly Kakaako or the rejuvenated Kaimuki and dropped in the middle of nowhere.
I’ve never seen Ala Moana Beach park so packed with people. News reports mentioned that more than 40,000 people converged on Ala Moana Beach Park for the 14th annual Memorial Day lantern floating. The event, which is officiated by Shinnyo-en and presented by the Na Lei Aloha Foundation, started in 1999 as a way to remember and honor those who have died in service to their country. And the significance of the lanterns?