MAKERS & TASTERS KEWALO
1011 Ala Moana Blvd. Honolulu
Phone number (808) 772-3020
Despite crowds and long lines, I’ve always thoroughly enjoyed Eat The Street and Honolulu Night Market. It’s where I discovered mini donuts for the first time from Pop Pop Do-nuts, and Sweet Revenge’s assortment of pies.
So I was excited to learn that Street Grindz founders Poni and Brandon Askew, who run those two events, were working on another communal concept: Makers & Tasters Kewalo.
It opened at the end of August and much like Eat The Street and Honolulu Night Market, Makers & Tasters brings in rotating vendors. Naturally, I had to check it out.
Located where Fisherman’s Wharf used to be, it’s not far from noisy Ala Moana Boulevard. I fully acknowledge that what I am about to say is cliche, but I don’t care: I honestly felt transported to some other place.
Lights strung above tables added charm. Hawaiian music playing softly in the background reminded me of where I was and felt soothing. And the only sound I recall hearing the evening I stopped in came from my boyfriend, who couldn’t stop raving about his food. (I’m also told that on Fridays, Makers & Tasters offers prime seating for Hilton’s fireworks show.)
There were, that Tuesday evening, a handful of vendors to choose from, all offering something different.
From La Roux Hawaii, which promised flavors from New Orleans, I sampled Creole Spaghetti. It occurred to me after ordering that I ought to have gone for something more authentic, a little less normal. But they were sold out of almost everything and after a long day, I was drawn to the simplicity of the dish. It was your basic spaghetti with red sauce and ground beef, but it reminded me of the way my mom prepares it, which was, well, comforting.
Then, from Aunty Nee’s Kitchen, I tried Pastele for the first time. It was — wow. It’s a richly flavored, slightly oily item made with pork, olives and a dough primarily consisting of green bananas.
It’s one of those homestyle dishes that seems deceptively simple, but I’m sure takes a lot of time and careful preparation. It was my favorite of the evening, and really, without my boyfriend ordering it, I probably would have never given it a thought, so I’m glad he did.
Another item I’d return for: Carne Asada Fries from I Love Tacos Hawaii. It had all the usual toppings — cheese, cabbage, steak and pulled pork, among them — and was indulgent and satisfying.
It was an exciting experience — one that combined the fun from Eat The Street of discovering new food, but in a much more mellow atmosphere. If I hadn’t had such an early morning the next day, I certainly would have headed straight for Matt Choy and Derek Stevens’ bar, Ten Eleven.
But all of it only serves as motivation to return sometime very, very, very soon.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CHECK OUT OUR SEPT. 30 FEATURE STORY AT METROHNL.COM.
When the new wing of Ala Moana Center opens Nov. 12, I plan on spending my entire weekend there. Not only because there will be a host of new retail stores, but also more food, too.
Adding to the growing list is 40 Carrots, a New York-based frozen yogurt truck that also will have an accompanying spot within Bloomingdale’s Ala Moana. There, local chef Jon Matsubara is overseeing a menu that promises a “chef-driven upscale interpretation of local Hawaiian cuisine.”
Count me in.
For now, you can sample 40 Carrots’ yogurt as the truck makes several stops around the island through the end of November.
Keep up with 40 Carrots by following them on Twitter @fortycarrots.