1200 Ala Moana Blvd.
Phone number (808) 777-3589
Unpopular opinion: For the longest time, I felt wildly uncomfortable eating at The Pig & The Lady. It took quite some time for me to discover what I absolutely loved (the Pho French Dip), and it felt just a little too hipster for me.
What really turned me into a convert was eating at its weekly pop-up at Honolulu Farmers Market at Neal S. Blaisdell Center. Here, the atmosphere felt less stuffy. I liked getting my sandwich in a little box or on a tray, and then finding a seat at a communal table or on the grass. I felt less closed in and more in tune with what I was eating.
So when The Pig & The Lady announced the opening of its sister restaurant Piggy Smalls — Best. Name. Ever. — I felt genuinely enthused. After biding my time, waiting for the mad rush to die down, I finally decided to pay the place a visit last week, and it did not disappoint.
Though, fun fact: I totally forgot to bring some Lactaid with me, so my options sadly were a bit limited.
However, it did force me to sample the Vegan Pho, which I think I may like more than the regular version. Loaded with vegetables such as tomatoes and enoki mushrooms, it was surprisingly flavorful and rich even sans beef. Fried shallots and other aromatics helped to round out the dish, but what I really enjoyed was the ginger I tasted with every bite.
I indulged in the entire bowl while slowly sipping at a Guava Shrub. What is that, you ask? I’d describe it as a citrus soda, only the fresh guava used in it sometimes also made it taste tart — almost like ume. It wasn’t my favorite and I’d make it a point to try something different the next time I stop by, but hey, live and learn.
Joining me that day was Metro staff writer Paige Takeya, who ordered the Pho-Strami — something I had my eye on as well. Served alongside a pho broth, the sandwich was packed with thick slices of beef pastrami, Sriracha onions and pickled mustard seeds.
“The Pho-Strami captures the best smoky, tender flavors of beef with the sour notes of pastrami,” says Paige. “The result is decadent but still recognizably banh mi. I definitely prefer it to their traditional sandwich.”
Fooling ourselves into thinking we had room for dessert, we both got a Salted Chocolate Cookie. It felt a little ridiculous biting into a $3 cookie, but it was maybe worth it. Buttery and soft, it nicely married salty and sweet flavors, and the chocolate chips were gooey.
It was at this point that I decided I liked Piggy Smalls — more than I like The Pig & The Lady (though eating at its farmers market booths still trumps going to either location, for me at least). There’s just something about Piggy Smalls that feels more approachable, which kind of is how younger siblings tend to be.
ARRIVE EARLY There was a small line already forming by the time we arrived 10 minutes before Piggy Smalls opened for lunch