Side Street Inn: The Island’s Comfort Food Hub
1225 Hopaka St., Honolulu, HI
Side Street Inn is just that: it’s a neighbourhood restaurant literally on a side street, you have to walk into an alleyway to get to the restaurant. I don’t think we would have found it if no one told us exactly where it was. A friend had recommended Side Street Inn, and we thought it was the perfect casual restaurant to eat at after a day of running around in the mud on Kualoa Ranch on the Lost tour.
The strange thing about the Side Street Inn was that it is a very casual family friendly restaurant, but there is valet parking offered. This may be because it is impossible to find parking on the side street where the restaurant is located. We ended up parking in a nearby lot where an Eggs n’ Things and convenience store is located.
Side Street Inn is the winner of multiple restaurant awards from Honolulu Magazine’s Best Restaurant Award to Ilima Awards for Critics’ Choice and best cocktails. As soon as we walked in, I was reminded of homey, fusion family restaurants back home. The dimly lit dining room featured comfy booths and round tables, TVs were playing sports games and the place smelled like home cooking. This is a place where I can totally picture myself hanging out, grabbing comfort food dinners or having beers while watching the game. Side Street Inn seems like the kind of place where everyone knows your name, sort of like the Cheers bar but with excellent food and valet parking!
The menu is a mix of Hawaiian dishes, Asian and Western cuisine. We decided to order the signature fried rice with lap cheong. They call Chinese sausages lap cheong here, just like how it’s pronounced in Cantonese, it’s quite comforting actually, thins the line a little bit more between western cuisine and Asian food. The lap cheong here tastes different for sure, it’s much fattier, the fried rice in general is a bit more greasy than we’re used to. But greasy in a good way, the kind that you crave for a midnight snack. Side Street Inn would be the perfect stop after a late night of clubbing. They do have a late night menu just for night owls too. I can tell the salty, homey lap cheong fried rice would be the perfect hangover food.
For something traditionally Hawaiian, we ordered Kulua pig sliders that were served on fluffy steamed buns. The barbecued pig was tender, smoky and flavourful, a great compliment to the salty fried rice. The best part was that thick slice of juicy and sweet pineapple wedged under all that tender pork. I’ll never get enough of the fatty and juicy barbecue pig on the island. It must be something in the water, but the pork in Hawaii is so delicious.
Lastly, we shared a sizzling plate of Kal Bi, Korean short ribs over some kim chee. The dish smelled phenomenal as it was brought to our table. The huge chunks of meat were cooked perfectly, seared on the outside and still juicy and moist on the inside.
We loved eating at Side Street Inn, the service was excellent and the food quality was exceptional. This place is definitely worth another visit.