Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Lucky Belly

Lucky Belly is located in Chinatown at the corner of Smith and N Hotel St. in Honolulu, Hawaii. One of my friends suggested this place, and we met up on a late November day.

I'll admit, it's been a while since I've had real ramen. No way that anyone should count that dry packaged stuff college kids probably have in their dorm rooms by the boxful.

The interior at Lucky Belly has a neat, upscale bar feel. Wood everywhere. The bar area looks damn cool, but we sat at a table this time. The menu is basically Asian fusion.

(November 2012)
We had a couple of appetizers to pass the time. I liked the Roasted Beet and Spicy Greens ($9). Three layers of thinly sliced beets with goat cheese (pink from more beet infusion) in between each layer. The fresh beets and creamy goat cheese provided great texture contrasts. The slight bite from the greens balanced well with the candied pumpkin seeds on top.

Roasted Beet & Spicy Greens
(Lucky Belly)

The Pork Belly Bao ($7) was also pretty good. Loved the presentation: three bao lined up with a line of sake hoisin sauce in front. Extremely tender pork belly and pickled cucumbers inside a light bun.

Pork Belly Bao
(Lucky Belly)

The Belly Bowl ($12) stuck out at me because a couple pieces of pork belly, smoked bacon, and sausage are added to what would otherwise be the Lucky Bowl ($8). I felt the sausage was the best of the three because it possessed that clean smoky taste and had the great snap from the natural casing. While the belly and bacon were also good, it just seemed to have more fat than actual meat. Yeah, it's not the leanest part of the pig anyway, right?

Belly Bowl
(Lucky Belly)

Soft steamed egg
The spoon for our ramen
Delicious broth. Light in color, with a silky (almost buttery) feel to it. Great job on the noodles, still a bit al dente. Even the steamed egg (looks like a hard-boiled egg, but with a runny yolk) is awesome.

Our ramen came in large bowls, perhaps only filled 1/3 of the way. Personally, I'd either prefer smaller bowls (and the same portion size) or add more food and charge a bit more. Felt too much like I was panning for gold in a pond at the bottom of a narrow circular crater.

Even if you're not in the mood for ramen, I've heard great reviews on the other entrees, namely the Ku Chu Jung Braised Brisket Tartine ($10).

We had a friendly server. The place fills up for lunch, and a noticeable waitlist formed towards the end of our meal (roughly noon or so).

With my friend, Christine
First time we've seen each other in person in about 18 years (damn)
While the prices may result in my wallet having a minor heart attack, I'd certainly come back. 7.5/10

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