Forty Carrots Gives You a Very Good Reason to Shop After Work
The Bloomingdale’s café launched a happy hour menu with affordable small plates and $7 cocktails.
These Hāmākua mushroom tartines are one of several new dishes on the happy hour menu at Forty Carrots.
Photos: Catherine Toth Fox
At 3 p.m., the place was empty.
That’s not necessarily good for Forty Carrots, the signature café in the luxe Bloomingdale’s at Ala Moana Center. But it is good for me, since I was there to partake in the new happy hour, which runs from 3 to 6 p.m.
SEE ALSO: You Can Only Try This Exclusive Local Menu at Forty Carrots in Honolulu
Launched a couple of weeks ago, the happy hour menu features small plates—which aren’t too small—for $6 and a variety of cocktails for $7. Two kinds of wine—a classy pinot grigio and a nice cab—are $6, a glass of sangria is $7, a pitcher of sangria is $20 and a curated flight of sake is $20. To lure your male counterpart, beer—Maui Brewing’s Bikini Blonde Lager, Heineken, Coors Light—is $4.50.
On my visit, a few shoppers stopped by for frozen yogurt or cups of coffee, pouring over their smartphones. Lots of room to spread out. Lots of (covered!) parking outside. Do I really want to tell everyone about this menu?
I do—because I want it to stick around.
The menu was designed by chef Jon Matsubara, who has included some of his personal recipes.
The grilled garlic shrimp ($6), for example, is something he’s made since high school. He would marinate shrimp in a mixture of garlic, oil and cilantro, then cook them on the hibachi. “Whenever I make it, everybody loves it,” Matsubara says, adding that every restaurant he’s worked at has had this dish, in some form, on the menu. Here, the shrimp is a lot fancier, served on slices of toasted ciabatta (baked by La Tour Bakehouse) and prettied with microgreens and thin slices of radish. The four pieces are finished with basil oil.
The garlic shrimp is a recipe Matsubara has used since he was in high school.
Served on a gorgeous piece of wood, the mushroom tartine ($6) features delicately cooked Hāmākua mushrooms on bread grilled in escargot butter—smoky, garlicky and buttery—and topped with crunchy radish slices. You get three per order, but these little open-faced apps pack a lot into one bite.
The kicker, though, is what Matsubara calls “umami mayo,” a special concoction (using Best Foods mayo as the base) that takes an ordinary sandwich to another flavor level. He slathers this on the tartine, as well as in the kālua pork sliders ($6). “Honestly, it’s one of my favorite things,” he says. “You can put it on everything.”
The sliders are a particularly good match for the salty, creamy umami mayo. The smoky pork is piled on a sweet roll and melted smoked gouda cheese and served with a side of lomi-style kim chee, which I promptly put right into the sandwich.
The kālua pork sliders are taken to next flavor level with something called umami mayo.
Inside this kālua pork quesadilla are crunchy chicharrones.
Finally, the local pau hana menu staple: kālua pork quesadilla ($6). For some crunch, Matsubara added house-made chicharrones inside. Reminiscent of a Double Crunch Wrap from Taco Bell—but better. Total hangover food.
Good thing the drinks are cheap, too.
Forty Carrots, Bloomingdale’s, 1450 Ala Moana Blvd., (808) 800-3638.
READ MORE STORIES BY CATHERINE TOTH FOX