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Monday, October 20, 2008

Bonsai's Grand Opening


Looking down from the second level at Bonsai Restaurant & Lounge.

Photos: Christine Hitt

I visited Bonsai for its grand opening last Saturday, October 18, 2008 at Restaurant Row and I was impressed. 

Bonsai Restaurant & Lounge feels as if you’re walking through a funhouse maze—in a good way—as you meander around from room to room, not really knowing what to expect as you turn the corners.


The first floor bar.

 

When you first walk in, it is unclear which direction to go because you immediately see that there are multiple rooms sectioned on multiple levels, which can be overwhelming.  We decided to head straight to the bar and ordered our usual—a Screwdriver and a Tequila Sunrise.  The drinks were strong, but that’s how we like them.  

We took our drinks and headed to the stairway that leads to a second level with another full bar, tables and lots of people.  The second floor overlooks the first, which gives the bar an open yet, still intimate, feeling.  The view from the balcony also allows people to spy on what is going on down below, so you don’t feel like you’re missing anything.






VIP tables at Bonsai on the second level.

   
The "basement," with dance floor .

 



Passing this second floor bar, you enter into a separate area, which is strictly tables—a VIP section.  It is pretty quiet, with about four to five tables around the room, with people sitting, drinking and talking.  In the back of this room, there is another stairwell—somewhat hidden—that leads down.  Don’t mistake it for “employees only.”  Head down this enclosed stairway and you’ll enter a small room that has the dance floor, which I dubbed as “the basement."  The dance floor is set lower than the first floor, with a few more tables and also houses the DJ booth.  Since most people come to Bonsai for the lounge experience, the amount of space for the dance floor works and is only a couple steps up to the first floor, which takes you back around to where you began.

Bonsai, overall, is a very cool spot.  It has a different lounge experience from what I’ve seen anywhere else; and, the multiple levels with the balcony are fun. The same music is piped throughout the place and is a good mix of top 40 songs, and some popular ’80s tunes. 

 

I’m excited to see if with the addition of Ocean Club reopening, if Restaurant Row will be as happening a place as it used to be.  Everyone that I talk to is hopeful.  The more bars and nightlife alternatives added into Restaurant Row, the more they will each help the other out.  Unlike restaurants, with clubs and bars, people tend to hop around, and if there isn’t anything else to hop around to at Restaurant Row, people may not tend to take that “special trip” there. Time will tell what happens to Restaurant Row, but thus far, Bonsai Restaurant & Lounge has given it a great start to a new beginning.


Having fun at Bonsai's.


 

Posted on Monday, October 20, 2008 in Permalink

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About This Column

This Kamehameha Schools and UH graduate manages the website for HONOLULU. In her free time she researches Hawaiian genealogy, when she’s not out and about or taking care of her 5-year-old son. She blogs about Honolulu bars, Hawaii nightlife and entertainment.



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