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Field Guide: ‘Aiea Heights Dr.

From old-school diners to new-wave bowling, this area is worth a stop.


1 Roy Sakuma Studio
‘Ukulele master Roy Sakuma opened his first studio in 1974, with eight students. Over the past 33 years he has opened three more studios, including this ‘Aiea location in 1975, to accommodate students from across the island. Sakuma has 25 instructors and a roster of students so large that he’s stopped counting. “This is what I want to do for the rest of my life,” Sakuma says. “When I’m teaching, it’s not even work for me.” For lessons, locations and hours, visit www.roysakuma.net. ‘Aiea Commercial Center, 99-205 Moanalua Road, second floor, 487-6010.

2 Dirty Lickins’
You think you’re tough? Try the FITH (Fire in the Hole) sauce at Dirty Lickins’. Owner Ron Lee says he never recommends the sauce, which is so hot it once burned the skin on his arm, but, if customers are up for the challenge, he’ll pour the peppery glaze over some freshly fried wings. Ranging from mild to volcanic, his honey mustard, BBQ and teriyaki sauces have also won him some fans. Since opening four years ago, the wing shop has sold more than a million wings. ‘Aiea Shopping Center, 99-115 ‘Aiea Heights Drive, third floor, 486-8500.

3 Glamour Girl
Johnalyn Gomes says she and her three sisters, Johnine, Johnette and Johnelle, had always dreamed of opening their own business and, in July of last year, they did just that, with Glamour Girl. Their diva and princess parties for girls, ages 4 to 12, include a dress up and photo session, pedicure, lunch and a fashion show. The two-hour parties are conducted on weekends and Wednesdays. ‘Aiea Shopping Center, first floor, 488-3233.

4 ‘Aiea Bowl
Just as the bowling alley recently had a makeover, the bowlers themselves have too. Though ‘Aiea Bowl still caters to leagues, a new, hipster crowd has descended. Moonlight Mondays start at 9:30 p.m.—a night of cosmic bowling complete with yummy pupu from the new Alley Restaurant Bar and Grill, prize giveaways and a DJ. Promoter Rick Rock targets the 26- to 40-year-old crowd with music from the ’80s and ’90s. “It’s nightlife for the established professional,” he says. Call ahead to reserve a lane—the event has a following. ‘Aiea Shopping Center, third floor, 488-6854.

5 Bakery Kapi‘olani
Bakery Kapi‘olani is not a throwback to the good ol’ diner; it is a good ol’ diner. It is a place where you can grab a stool at the cozy counter and talk story with your waitress while she sizzles your bacon on a flat griddle. When brothers Ray and Rene Vargas took over ownership more than a year ago, they made a commitment to keep everything the same, including recipes customers have loved since 1969. A steady flow of dedicated customers—some who’ve been dining there every day for 30 or 40 years—stop in for breakfast, an apricot pie or the famous bread pudding. ‘Aiea Shopping Center, first floor, 488-1888.

Don’t Miss: Take a quick drive up ‘Aiea Heights Drive to Keaiwa Heiau State Park and the ‘Aiea Loop Trail. Keep an eye out during the 4.5 mile hike for the wreckage of what is said to be a Japanese fighter plane shot down during the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.
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Honolulu Magazine May 2019
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