7 Ways to Celebrate National Grilled-Cheese Sandwich Day
Here are our favorite melty, cheesy sammies.
The grilled stinky cheese sandwich, left, from The Tchin Tchin! Bar and the decadent STARTER with foie gras and kālua pig with a chilled tomato soup from Alan Wong’s Honolulu are two ways to celebrate National Grilled Cheese Day today.
Photos: Steve Czerniak, Alan Wong’s Honolulu
It’s a comfort-food standard, and local restaurants have recognized the power and versatility of a really good grilled-cheese sandwich.
I have a soft spot for these gooey, melty sammies, and I can barely resist ordering one when I see it on the menu. Everything about them—the buttery grilled bread, the pull-apart cheese, the warm feeling I get whenever I sink my teeth into one—soothes my hungry soul.
In honor of National Grilled Cheese Day today, here are our favorite grilled-cheese sandwiches in Honolulu:
1. Grilled Stinky Cheese Sandwich
The Tchin Tchin! Bar
Listed with urchin panna cotta, American caviar and Champagne-battered lobster among the small places at The Tchin Tchin! Bar is the less sophisticated dish of grilled stinky cheese sandwiches. But this is no modest pūpū. This version is upgraded with the slightly pungent Taleggio cheese—that your mom would never use—and a sweet onion marmalade with a side of house-made pickled veggies. Share only if you want to.
2. ROASTED MUSHROOM GRILLED CHEESE
The Nook Neighborhood Bistro
My go-to at The Nook Neighborhood Bistro was always the Asian pear grilled cheese, an interesting combo of melted cheeses, thinly sliced Asian pears and caramelized onions. That sandwich has recently been replaced by a tasty mushroom version. This has cheddar, fontina and smoked Gouda cheeses—perfectly melted—with roasted ali‘i mushrooms, caramelized onions, bacon and mushroom au jus on a crunchy baguette.
3. GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICH
Kissaten Coffee Bar
Nothing goes better with a grilled-cheese sandwich than a warm bowl of tomato bisque—and Kissaten Coffee Bar does both well. Its grilled cheese is stuffed with pull-apart cheddar and Gouda cheeses with the added bonus of bacon and slices of crunchy Fuji apple. The creamy soup ($5.75) is the perfect partner, topped with Parmesan cheese and basil oil.
4. SOUP AND SANDWICH
Alan Wong’s Honolulu
This decadent dish is now only found on the tasting menu at Alan Wong’s Honolulu. Though, if you’re in the know—and now you are!—you can also order it á la carte at dinner. This popular starter—it had been on the dinner menu when the restaurant first opened—features a chilled vine-ripened local tomato soup elegantly served in a wine glass with a sumptuous grilled sandwich stuffed with local mozzarella cheese, foie gras and kālua pig atop a Parmesan crisp. The foie gras isn’t overly rich and the smoky pork balances the slightly sweet soup. It’s taking the simple grilled-cheese-and-tomato-soup combo to the next level.
5. SAY CHEESE
The hot-pressed grilled-cheese sandwich at EAT Honolulu can be customized.
Photo: Courtesy of EAT Honolulu
This hot-pressed grilled-cheese sandwich at EAT Honolulu is great as is: two slices of locally made sourdough bread with American, cheddar, provolone and Swiss cheeses. But there’s the option to upgrade your sammie by adding sliced avocado ($1.89), local tomato slices ($1.25), white truffle salt (99 cents), a local egg ($1.29) or—my favorite—EAT’s famous sugar-spice bacon ($1.25 per slice). Just when you thought it couldn’t get better.
6. DOUBLE DECKER GRILLED CHEESE
Skip the pancakes and get the double-decker grilled-cheese sandwich at MAC 24/7.
Photo: Courtesy of MAC 24/7
This Waikīkī spot may be best known for its huge pancakes and all-day breakfast menu, but don’t miss the double-decked grilled-cheese sandwich, with cheddar and Swiss cheeses, a tomato-basil dipping sauce—really a 2-ounce portion of its popular soup—and a side of crispy sidewinder fries. Best part? The restaurant is open 24 hours, so you can get your fix anytime.
7. GOURMET GRILLED CHEESE PANINI
Most grilled-cheese sandwiches use just a single kind of cheese, maybe two. But Fendu Boulangerie serves a panini with—count them—five different cheeses: fresh mozzarella, Vermont cheddar, Gouda, Parmigiano-Reggiano and pecorino, all melted between two slices of freshly baked country bread. It’s only served after 11 a.m.
$10.75 for an 8-inch sandwich, $16.75 for a 14-inch sandwich, Mānoa Marketplace, 2752 Woodlawn Dr., #5-119, 808-988-4310