Dining at the bowling alley
Friday - May 23, 2008
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Apparently it’s never too early to know what you want to do in life. At the tender age of 6, Gregg Uyeda wrote in a school project that he wanted to own a bowling alley.
“My brother and I kind of grew up in a bowling alley,“says Aiea Bowl co-owner Glenn, laughing. “It’s amazing that Gregg’s wish came true.”
Today the brothers are owners of Aiea Bowl, known to bowling fans - and to a growing number of foodies - as one of the best dining secrets on the island. Initially, the Uyeda brothers thought the bowling alley might cover the restaurant’s high food costs and small profit margins, but had no idea that a takeout window, bakery, casual restaurant and catering department would quickly make The Alley a destination all its own.
Cosmic bowling might be fun, but the food is reason enough to visit.
“We have people who come just to eat, and we have people who come just to bowl,” says Glenn. “Whatever they do is fine with us.”
Mostly, though, even the dedicated league bowlers are getting the message that the food at their local bowling alley is getting lots of attention.“The biggest problem we have right now,” says Glenn,“is finding enough parking for the customers who want to come eat.”
It’s worth checking the schedule before you descend on the rooftop parking lot; if there’s a league playing (on Friday mornings, for example) you’ll be hard-pressed to find a spot.
“Our regular customers already know to come early for breakfast or late for lunch to avoid some of the rush,” says Glenn.
First-timers to The Alley might want to go for some of the most popular dishes, although in truth, everything is good.
“The Tasty Chicken is about 40 percent of our entire business,“says Glenn of the supremely tender bites. “We spent a long time in the kitchen with my mom and with Chef Shane to get the recipe exactly right.”
Family recipes played an important role in building the menu,along with the experience brought by KCC grads and talented chefs Shane Masutani and Tiffani Luke.
“We call my mom the ‘Kitchen Mama,’” says Glenn.“She’s been a big part of developing the recipes, and I knew that Shane and Tiffani were the people we needed to build our reputation.“So convinced was Glenn that he persuaded Shane to leave a promising job in Las Vegas to return to Hawaii. Together, this unassuming and talented team has done an outstanding job of creating a menu that works on every level - dishes are visually appealing (I like the fact that you can order smaller portions in bowls), inexpensive (their excellent “handmade"burger is just $5.25; pan-seared furikake ahi over rice in a bowl with salad is $6.95) and a balance of local style with a gourmet edge.
Signature dishes include Spicy Shrimp ($11.95), Teriyaki Beef Steak ($8.95), Mahimahi Alley Style ($8.50) and Loco Moco ($9.95). Plates come with choice of brown or white rice,macaroni salad or spring greens.Burgers,salads and pizza also are on the menu, and there’s a late-night pupu menu,too.
But it’s at the bakery you’ll most likely be surprised. Creations like a heavenly Lemon Drop Crunch Cake,Five-layer Chocolate Cake and Pumpkin Crunch are a match for any fine-dining desserts in town. The Alley Restaurant Bar and Grill Aiea Shopping Center third floor 99-115 Aiea Heights Drive www.aieabowl.com Catering: 693-5125 Restaurant: 486-3499
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