Saturday, December 31, 2011

Side Street Inn

I concluded my whirlwind eating marathon in Hawaii with a trip to Side Street Inn, a restaurant with two locations on Oahu. There is the original location on Hopaka (in Honolulu, near Ala Moana) and the newest one "On Da Strip" on Kapahulu Ave. For this visit, I went to the Kapahulu location.

Menu (December 2011)

Side Street Inn was featured on Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations" and on Adam Richman's "Man v. Food Nation." Bourdain went to the one on Hopaka, while Richman hit up Kapahulu. Side Street is a restaurant/bar that opens in the afternoon (sometime around 2 or 3) and closes in the wee hours of the morning. I find the newer Kapahulu place as brighter, with better overall ambiance than the one on Hopaka.

The place wasn't too crowded as I walked in a bit after 5 p.m. in early December. I ordered their signature Side Street Inn fried rice ($12 + $1 takeout fee). The rice includes bacon, Portuguese sausage, char siu, green onions, peas, carrots, and other seasonings blended with white rice.

Side Street Inn's Famous Fried Rice!
I'm with Richman on this's just some of the best fried rice I've ever had. That smoky meat essence amplifies the savoriness and envelops each bite, so damn addicting. The rice takes on a dirty-rice color, adding to the appeal.

I wanted to get their famous pork chops to go, but got told that the Kapahulu location doesn't allow takeout orders on the pork chops...WTF? When I asked for an explanation, they basically said it was a manager's decision to ensure there would be enough pork chops for the dine-in patrons. my opinion, that's not a valid reason. If those pork chops -- again, a signature menu item -- are that popular, get more pork chops! If they sell (practically guaranteed), then there should be no danger of wasted food costs.

As a note, other popular menu items include the Bone-In Kalbi (market price, usually around $22) and the Pulehu Short Ribs (market price, usually around $25). Some of the menu items take a longer wait time (such as the pork chops), but they should be worth the wait!

The ladies that I talked with were very professional -- model employees. The fried rice, as stated above, was great. However, the issue with the pork chops left a stinging, bittersweet experience. While I like Side Street Inn overall, I vehemently disagree with the decision to limit pork chop orders to dine-in patrons (hopefully that will change in the future). 6.25/10

That's a wrap on 2011 food reviews, folks! 468 reviews posted in about six and a half months, and 500 reviews written overall (32 reviews have yet to be posted). Happy New Year!

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