Fabulous Smoked Pork And Wings

Jo McGarry
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Wednesday - May 27, 2009
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Buffalo boys Eric Richter and Tomas Arano

I stopped by Kanpai last week on the way to see Mamma Mia!, and then had to force myself to leave the fabulous pupu to go to the show. Here’s one restaurant that isn’t suffering recession woes.

The kitchen is in the more-than-capable hands of a few Alan Wong alumni, notably Neil Nakasone, who’ve done a remarkable job of attracting a young, vibrant, after-work crowd that obviously comes as much for the food as for the ambience. Kanpai is casual and unpretentious, and serves up the kind of local food that started years ago at Side Street Inn and is currently in vogue. The bar/grill is on Ward Avenue, the site formerly occupied by Dixie Grill and then for a brief time by Tio’s.

Try the signature loco moco, the kim chee rib eye and the poke. I had some incredible smoked pork that was crisp and salty and served with sautéed onions.

Someone from the kitchen brought it over, and my friend Vick and I devoured the fatty, crisp, smoky pork, right down to the last morsel. It’s absolutely one of the most perfect pairings with beer I’ve ever had, and if it’s not on the menu, it should be…

Something I wish was on the menu at any restaurant in town is Jeanne Vanna’s North Shore Farms version of a pizza. The only place you can be assured of a fresh slice is at the Hawaii Farm Bureau Farmer’s Markets Saturday mornings at KCC and Thursday evenings in Kailua. It’s the most gorgeous dish and takes pizza, which has gone through many gourmet incarnations in recent years, to a whole new level. The base is foccacia-like, the mozzarella cheese and basil pesto are homemade, and the heirloom tomatoes are grown on Vanna’s North Shore farm. If you haven’t yet tried it, you should make a point of getting to one of the farmers markets sometime this summer ... For those complaining that the market is getting a little too busy - more than 5,000 people attend each Saturday morning gathering in the parking lot at KCC - there’s good news. A weeknight city farmer’s market run by Hawaii Farm Bureau is scheduled to begin June 3 from 4 to 7 p.m. most weeks at Blaisdell Exhibition Hall. Some dates might see the market move to Thomas Square, but either way it’s wonderful news - farmer’s market right in the middle of the city. Now that’s what I call good food news ...

It’s never too early on this island to start thinking about football season, and I’ve a feeling one of the most-popular tailgating items this year will be hot wings from newly opened Buffalo Boy’s Hoagies. With a hometown reputation riding on their wings, owners Eric Richter and Tomas Arano have made sure that everything about their new South King Street store is right. “Buffalo wings are crisper than most people are used to,” says Richter of the wings dipped in hot sauce and served with bleu cheese and carrots. Richter came to Honolulu after spending the past 10 years helping his uncle open eight of nine Jim’s Steak Out stores in Buffalo, N.Y. , where the wings and hoagies have something of a cult-like following.

“The time was right to do something on our own,” says Richter of his move to Honolulu. Hot wings are available by the bucket (10 for $7.99, 50 for $29.69). When tailgating begins, the Buffalo boys had better be ready for some busy Saturdays ...

Happy eating!


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