Michael Mina’s The Street is Reinventing Food Courts

This “gourmet gathering place” at the International Market Place with 13 restaurant concepts opens Friday.
A peek inside The Street, A Michael Mina Social House, opening Friday at the International Market Place.
Photos: Catherine Toth Fox


Food courts have long been the food oasis at crowded shopping malls, offering weary shoppers fast-food fare, Chinese takeout and chain-style desserts.


Well, James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Mina is hoping to change that perception.


On Friday, he opens his latest restaurant concept called The Street, A Michael Mina Social House on the ground floor of the International Market Place. It spans 6,900 square feet facing Kūhiō Avenue with 13 different chef-driven restaurant concepts ranging from homey Italian food to inventive poke.


This is one of two The Street concepts for Mina, who opened Stripsteak Waikīkī in the third-floor Grand Lānai last year. His second is slated to open on the newly reimagined Beverly Center in Los Angeles—also developed by Taubman Centers, which redid the International Market Place—in 2018. (That gourmet food hall will be located on the eighth floor with panoramic views of the Hollywood Hills and downtown L.A. and feature 15 to 18 different restaurants and a rooftop bar.)


SEE ALSO: First Look: Stripsteak Waikīkī


We walked through The Street last week with chef David Varley, who has been overseeing this project, as chefs trained their new staffs and offered samples of what will be on the menu starting Friday.


On the ground floor opposite Kona Coffee Purveyors is another coffee shop, the L.A.-based Lamill Coffee. It’s billed as an artisanal coffee bar using hand-picked ingredients. “As if there weren’t enough coffee shops on this corner,” Varley joked. Lamill, though, will serve savory toasts, an array of doughnuts, slushies and “fun things that are different from what’s being served next door,” he added. “They will complement each other.”


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The space was designed to look like a cohesive urban neighborhood, Varley explained. Even the concrete floor was made to look weather-worn, with cracks and shadows of trees cast from lights above. The restaurant concepts are situated around a large, communal dining area that seats about 175 patrons. “The idea is that you feel like you’re walking through a little town,” Varley said.


The floor of The Street is made to look like, well, a street.


Adam’s Nana Lu is the concept of chef Adam Sobel, who worked as the executive chef of Bourbon Steak, a Mina-backed restaurant at the Four Seasons Washington, D.C. and now helms Cow Hollow’s Mina Test Kitchen, overseeing pop-ups in San Francisco. (He was named Thrillist’s San Francisco Chef of the Year in 2016. Don’t confuse him with the vegan chef-owner with the same name of The Cinnamon Snail food truck. Different guy.) Nana Lu—named after Sobel’s grandmother—will focus on authentic and soulful Italian cooking.


Varley himself is opening Maui Onion Burger, his take on a casual burger joint using local ingredients, including, of course, sweet Maui onions. He’s even come up with his own recipe for sweet-potato rolls that will be baked by La Tour Bakehouse exclusively for this restaurant.


A familiar name to the restaurant lineup is Michelle Karr-Ueoka, the celebrated and beloved pastry chef and co-owner of MW Restaurant and Artizen by MW. She’s developed an elevated dessert bar called Aloha Ice, her take on shave ice. And, if you’ve ever had Karr-Ueoka’s desserts, you know this won’t be your typical shave ice.


SEE ALSO: Meet the Creative Genius Behind Some of the Best Desserts in Honolulu


“Usually, shave ice is ice that’s shaved [and topped] with a sugar syrup. Ours will be blocks of fruit or flavors that are shaved,” Karr-Ueoka said. “It’s very similar to our concept at MW; the only difference is that at Aloha Ice, it will be shaved with a shave-ice machine [and not by hand].”


Flavors include strawberry, haupia-tapioca, Tokachi-azuki beans, li-hing strawberry, strawberry-yuzu and strawberry-hibicus. She’s also planning some creative frozen treats such as an Asian mojito (lime and mint tapioca with lime kanten, lime sorbet, pineapple and watermelon salad, mochi ice cream and shaved virgin mojito ice) and a chocolate sundae (bananas, strawberries, mochi ice cream, shaved chocolate ice, aerated vanilla and either a brownie or a cookie). She will also be selling her popular cookies at this location.


Chef Gerald Chin, executive chef at Stripsteak in Las Vegas, is opening Kai Poke, with a menu featuring his interpretation of the dish using locally sourced seafood. We sampled a playful Thai-influenced ceviche of sorts, with cubed nairagi (Pacific striped marlin) and hijiki fish, coconut milk, fresh mint and basil, Thai fish sauce and cilantro. The Baja poke is Chin’s nod to the California-style fish taco with a chipotle aioli, ancho chili powder and sweet corn. His tasty Spicy Seoul featured Ōra salmon with kim chee, spicy pickled cucumbers and sesame seeds. “You can eat a bowl of [Chin’s poke] and never get bored,” Varley said.


Kai Poke serves a variety of inventive poke dishes—including this korean-inspired one—using local ingredients.


In addition, Mina is opening Little Lafa, a Mediterranean kitchen with cuisine from his upbringing; chef and author Ayesha Curry (wife of NBA star Stephen Curry) is behind International Smoke, which serves lighter takes on barbecue dishes inspired by exotic places; and chef Ken Tominaga, who earned a cultlike following when he opened Hana Japanese Restaurant in a small strip mall in California and now heads Mina’s Pabu in San Francisco, brings The Ramen Bar, a noodle stand that blends modern and traditional Tokyo-style ramen.


(Kai Poke, International Smoke, The Noodle Bar and Lamill Coffee will also be opening in Mina’s The Street in the Beverly Center next year.)


Also in The Street will be Beer, a beer garden and wine bar featuring locally brewed suds; Indie Girl, a wellness bar with smoothies, fresh juices and kombucha on tap by Hale‘iwa Bowls’ Sam Custin; The Myna Bird, a tiki bar paying homage to Don the Beachcomber; Mindful Greens, a concept that focuses on healthy eating (that’s all we got); and The Street Chocolate Bar, a boutique chocolate shop showcasing Hawai‘i-made chocolates.


The Street will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with select vendors extending their hours for late-night events.


Unique to The Street will be something called The Street Party Pass, where, for $37, you can sample a variety of dishes—some exclusive to pass-holders—from any of the restaurant stalls.


“[The Street] is very much inspired by the local community and the idea of bringing people together through the universal language of great food, great people and fun times,” Mina said.


2330 Kālakaua Ave., thestreetsocialhouse.com