24 Perfect Pupu
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9. MU-SHU ROLLS
Little Village, 1113 Smith St., 545-3008.
The Mu-Shu Rolls at Little Village aren’t just a delicious pupu, they’re a performance piece. Servers bring out the dish’s components—a vegetable-heavy stir fry of pork or chicken, a small stack of crêpes and a dish of hoisin sauce—and skillfully construct the rolls right at the table. The result is so addictive that it’s always a struggle not to order seconds and make a meal out of them, but follow them up with the sizzling black cod entrée, and you’ll enjoy one of Honolulu’s most dramatic meals. Another mark of a true crowd-pleaser: the mu-shu rolls taste just as good in their vegetarian incarnation. $8.50 for four rolls. Sunday through Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to midnight. www.littlevillagehawaii.com.
10. SPICY WON TONS
Panya Bistro, Ala Moana Center, 1450 Ala Moana Blvd., 946-6388.
The Spicy Won Tons at Panya Bistro remind us of a pint-size, ponytailed karate champion. This petite little pupu ($7.95) sits in its curvaceous dish, all pretty and unassuming, then the flavors whirl around and pow! hit you with a flying kick. The house-made chili oil lends the pork and shrimp filling in the won tons plenty of heat, while the sesame-seed, green onion and dried red pepper topping give crunch and texture. We’re down for the count and smitten. Monday to Saturday, 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sunday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Shokudo's Lobster Dynamite
Photo courtesy of Shokudo
11. LOBSTER DYNAMITE
Shokudo, 1585 Kapiolani Blvd., 941-3701.
The past Hale Aina Award winner debuted a new menu in June. Among the fresh items in the appetizer section, we recommend the Lobster Dynamite ($9.95), shell-free lobster meat and fresh vegetables baked in a rich, creamy “dynamite” sauce, which, as any frequenter of the town’s izakaya will tell you, may be the best use anyone has ever found for mayonnaise. Also unexpected and interesting is the Mochi Cheese Gratin, $6.95, mochi baked under mozzarella in a light soy dashi broth, topped with green onion and nori. “It’s like a mochi fondue,” said our tablemate. After Aug. 4, Sunday through Thursday, 11:30 to 1 a.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11:30 to 2 a.m., www.shokudojapanese.com.
12. GRILLED EGGPLANT ON THE HALF
Spices, 2671-D S. King St., 949-2679
In Aristophanes’ creation myth, Zeus split two creatures who had four arms and four legs into two separate people, forcing them to wander in search of their other half. The Grilled Eggplant on the Half ($9.95) will make you feel like you’re whole again—this is eggplant love. The divided eggplants are grilled to perfection, making the shell lightly crispy while turning the insides into a soft, tangy delight. They are seeped in a chili sauce and finally sprinkled with red onion, dried shallots, and mint confetti, to end your bite with a little kick. Tuesday through Friday, lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Tuesday through Saturday, dinner from 5:30 to 10 p.m. and Sunday 5 to 9 p.m., spiceshawaii.com.