Hittin’ the Sauce


Published:

Hawai'i residents have long loved Chai's Island Bistro, an indoor-outdoor café known for its tasty Pacific Rim cuisine and relaxed atmosphere. The restaurant works just as well for a downtown business lunch as it does for a romantic evening for two.
Clubgoers fill the dance floor at “The Sauce,” the weekly late-night scene at Chai’s. Photos: Rae Huo

But turn off the lights, add an outdoor bar and bring in two DJs-one throwing down hip hop inside, another spinning mellow, electronic stuff outside-and you've got a scene called "The Sauce." Since owner Chai Chaowasaree launched the Friday event in July, it's become the hottest late-night spot in Honolulu.

The club scene is a somewhat familiar bag to Chaowasaree, who lured night owls to his restaurant a few years back with the short-lived "Red Carpet" parties. This summer, his youthful wait staff convinced Chaowasaree to give it one more shot. He agreed, partnering with promoter Blaise Sato of Architechs Hawai'i, which has blessed Honolulu with such hip affairs as "Feng Shui" at the Hyatt Regency Waikïkï.

"When we started 'The Sauce' in July, I thought we'd do about 200 people a night, but it turned out to be 600 to 870," Chaowasaree says. "It's amazing. A lot of restaurants don't even do that in a week."

From 10 to 11 p.m., you can sample free püpü from the outdoor satay bar. onsider it a light dinner, or a buffer for your stomach, especially if you're about to indulge in some high-quality libations. Want to break a sweat? Go ahead and groove to the likes of Nelly and Kanye West inside. Rather just chill? Hang out at Chai's expanded outdoor area, bobbing your head to the ambient, deep electronic goodness that fills the night air.

You'll probably see Chaowasaree there. Not reveling, of course, just greeting guests, filling drink orders and clearing dishes, as he's known to do the rest of the week. "When I was younger, I used to go out to the club every night," Chaowasaree says. "But if I do that now and go to work the next day, I'll pay for it."

What the heck. It's a small price for a great time.

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