Where do I begin with this one?… Most locals are familiar with Side Street Inn, or at least have heard about it. It started off as a bar on a side street just Ewa of Ala Moana Shopping Center. This bar was a place that served cold drinks, and hot pupu style bar foods by owner and Chef Colin Nishida. Some of their more famous patrons included many of the local chefs like Alan Wong and Russell Siu. As word spread about Side Street Inn more and more people started to show up, and it snowballed from there. They were so successful that they were able to open a second location in Downtown Honolulu. This incarnation of Side Street Inn was dubbed Fort Street Bar and Grill because of its location at the end of Fort Street Mall in the Topa Tower. My friends and I had become regulars at the Fort Street Bar.
Unfortunately the Fort Street location had to close down due to the lease expiring, but luckily the new Kapahulu location of Side Street Inn was preparing to open. Most of the staff from Fort Street Bar moved over to Kapahulu to open the restaurant which has been named Side Street Inn on Da Strip, while the others transferred over to the original Ala Moana location.
Side Street Inn on Da Strip is located in the Prudential building on the corner of Kapahulu Ave. and Date St. Across from Starbucks and Snorkel Bob’s. There is ample parking in the adjacent park and pay lot as well as street parking along Kapahulu Ave. There is also valet service under the building (enter from Kapahulu Ave.). Once you come into the building from either the front entrance, or the elevator from the valet parking area, you can’t miss the place.
The grand opening of Side Street Inn on Da Strip was on Sunday July 25, 2010. The feel of the new establishment is a more upscale sort than the original location near Ala Moana, and the Fort Street location was.
The rear of the restaurant can be divided into two separate party rooms for large private parties and gathering. As of right now they do not have any karaoke equipment in there, but hopefully they will move some in after the opening rush dies down a little.
Just from the decor of the restaurant one wouldn’t be surprised to be served a fancy fine dining meal there instead of the bar food that made Side Street Inn famous. All of the menu items from the original location are on there as well as some new entree style dishes.
It wouldn’t be Side Street Inn without the famous fried rice. The thing that makes this fried rice different from others is that they use hon dashi instead of oyster sauce for a unique flavor. The blend of char siu, bacon, peas, carrots and green onions makes for a simple yet very delicious fried rice dish. The perfect accompaniment to any pupu style meats.
Another flagship item is the pan fried pork chops. The moist and tender pieces of pork are seasoned and flowered before getting pan-fried in, what I was told, cotton seed oil.
Because of the grand opening we were treated to a complimentary dish of the Spicy Fried Chicken. Pieces of succulent crispy fried boneless chicken dipped in a spicy Korean style sauce, and accompanied with some mixed greens. This dish is another that we would always order at Fort Street. It was really nice that the restaurant gave it to us on the house!
Another dish we ordered was the Sizzling Ribeye. Now this is always a flashy dish to order because as it’s being delivered to the table the steak is still sizzling and smoking on the hot metal plate that it comes on. The aroma of cooking beef and onions fills the air and heads turn to see where all that sizzling goodness is coming from.
The Smoked Island Pork is another of my personal favorites. The piece of pork is salted and smoked, then cut into very thin strips before being served. The meat is flavorful and salty. The perfect thing to have with either a musubi, or a nice tall glass of beer.
Another dish we tried was the Misoyaki Chicken. As you can imagine from the name this chicken was prepared by soaking in a miso based sauce and then grilling. The chicken was very tender and not dry at all. The flavor was an excellent blend of the miso sauce and the char from grilling.
No trip to a local bar is complete without a dish of Ahi Poke. The pieces of fish are always firm and never overly fishy tasting. The sauce that the ahi is tossed with has a nice flavor that matches the ahi and onions well, and the raw onions add a refreshing twist to the whole dish.
One of my favorite drinks to order when I am at Side Street Inn is the Tanquerey Rangpur and Tonic.
Side Street Inn also has their very own beer from Rogue Brewery. It is called the Side Street Ale. This beer is a slightly sweet ale. It’s a change of pace from my usual domestic lite beers, but it is still a winner!
So far I have never had any dish from Side Street Inn, or Fort Street Bar that I ever didn’t like. Chef Colin has created winner after winner with all of his dishes coming out of the Side Street Inn kitchen, and he is continuing to spread the Side Street style now through his new Kapahulu restaurant location. Side Street Inn on Da Strip is open every day from 3:00pm to midnight. Go check it out, and enjoy the food and friends at Side Street Inn on Da Strip.