Osoyami Bar & Grill Means Oh So Yummy—Is It?

From deep-fried Sriracha cheese balls to sliders, Osoyami is serving up bar/comfort food.

We have a theory. It essentially states that, of all the bars in the world, local Hawai‘i dive bars make the best food. Years of testing have taken us to bars all around the world, where we’ve eaten great food and washed it down with equally great drink and, after all that work (and it is work, people—don’t judge), our conclusion supports our theory 100 percent. It’s science. We don’t question science.


Deep Fried Kim chee with sriracha Ranch Sauce.
Photos: Kawehi Haug

With visions of our favorite bar foods in our too-clear heads (nothing a gin and tonic can’t fix), we headed to Osoyami Bar & Grill. We were in search of this city’s next great local bar, or at least one to add to the ranks. Would the deep-fried Sriracha cheese balls and the battered and fried kim chee that we’d heard so much about come in higher on our list than Side Street Inn’s fried pork chops? Or 8 Fat Fat 8’s crispy gau gee? Or Home Bar’s fried saimin?


Because we can never have too many go-to bars, we walked in on a late Sunday afternoon, knowing that things would go one of two ways: We would find a place where we like the food, are OK with the vibe and would go back on a semi-frequent basis when all of our other spots are too crowded (Think Ryan’s or Dave & Buster’s), or we would find a place that would become one of the places. What we found was a little of both.


Osoyami—a sort of Japanese-ish homonym of the words “oh so yummy”—opened a few months ago, and we’re already pretty solidly convinced that it’ll be in our top five before too long. The vibe is great. Great service. Friendly staff. Not fancy, but not ultra divey. Perfect, really. Add to that the full bar, and Osoyami is well on its way to being on the spectrum of ideal local bars.


Its menu, though not quite on par with everything else it has going for it, is promising. The thing we love most about local bar food is that it takes local comfort food and gives it the typical American bar food treatment that requires that everything must be battered or fried or some other kind of greasy. That everything be served in large portions that can be eaten family-style with fingers (chopsticks, to us). That everything must be salty and savory. And everything goes well with beer. To that end, Osoyami totally gets it, with its menu of dishes including kim chee fries, deep fried kim chee and fried balls of Sriracha-laced cheese. We love the idea of it all, we just wish the fried kim chee tasted more like kim chee and that the Sriracha cheese balls tasted more like Sriracha and cheese. The sauteed kim chee that tops the fries is too sweet for us and overpowers the nacho cheese sauce, both in presence and in flavor. But, with every dish, we taste serious potential for greatness, and it’s not all that far off.


Blue Cheese Slider 


Osoyami’s thing is sliders, which we love. An entire menu of sliders makes a perfect menu, as far as we’re concerned, and these ones are made with Big Island grass-fed beef, which gives them a great, earthy, ultra-beefy flavor. We like our patties on the rare side, but we can overlook the well-done sliders, especially when they’re smothered in blue cheese and beer-braised onions and served with garlic fries that, instead of merely being tossed in jarred minced garlic, are a bit more understated, making them really edible. A little restraint is welcome when eating garlic fries in large groups. The Loco Moco slider is also good. Next time, we’ll get it with bacon.


The sliders menu goes from rich and creamy, with a burger version of eggs Benedict, cloaked in hollandaise sauce, to the spicy, with the Hot-N-Crispy, topped with grilled serrano chilies, to a lighter, fresh option, the Greek-inspired tapenade slider. For $7 or $9 (depending on which sliders you order), we got two sliders and a mountain of french fries, making Osoyami a great cheap-eats option, too. Everything on the food menu is under $10. For the extra cheap: During the daily happy hour from 6 to 7 p.m. (even weekends), get a slider and fries for $5. Wash it down with the super mellow Lychee Cooler cocktail for $3 and get in and out for about $10.


Osoyami Bar & Grill, 1820 Algaroba St., open daily from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m., sliders $7 to $9, sides $5 to $8, signature cocktails $5 to $10, beer $4 to $6, 200-0514


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