Thursday Oxtail Soup Specials at The Mermaid Bar and Wailana Coffee House

Oxtail soup at The Mermaid Bar

Thursday is oxtail soup day. Regulars at Wailana Coffee House know this, but the better kept secret is the oxtail soup at The Mermaid Bar in Neiman Marcus. It's not even listed on the menu—you just have to know to ask for it on Thursdays.

And, it turns out, Honolulu’s most upscale department store serves one of the best oxtail soups on the island. It's also the most refined in presentation, perhaps not so surprising of a Neiman Marcus eatery. What really sets it apart, though, is the broth—as clear as consommé, a clean distillation of beef. Three medium-sized, tender oxtails are buried under bok choy, sliced shiitake mushrooms and peanuts. By 11:30, The Mermaid Bar is full, and half the tables have oxtail soup on them. If there were ever an antidote to shopping stress, this would be it.

Note: The Mermaid Bar is a lunch-only spot, open 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and the oxtail soup can run out by noon.

$12, The Mermaid Bar inside Neiman Marcus, 951-8887

Oxtail soup at Wailana Coffee House

What about Wailana Coffee House’s Thursday oxtail soup special? It is, in a word, massive. It’s only after trying Wailana's that I vanity-sized The Mermaid Bar's oxtail pieces down to a "medium."

"Oh my god, I hope you can finish this," my server says as she sets down my bowl; it seems to be the heaviest thing she’s carried all day, weighed down with three extra-large oxtail pieces, plus some extra meaty bits. It’s dressed up with cilantro, mustard cabbage and choy sum. The broth, while simmered with Chinese red dates, lacks oxtail soup’s characteristic anise flavor and is rather thin in taste. But, with all that meat, the broth takes second place anyways.

Wailana makes 50 bowls on Thursdays; it tends to sell out around 8 p.m.

$11.25, Wailana Coffee House, 1860 Ala Moana Blvd, 955-1764