Wings, Quesadillas and a Maserati: Artizen’s New Happy Hour

Welcome to Honolulu’s quirkiest budget happy hour.


Artizen Happy Hour Credit Thomas Obungen 10

Photo: Thomas Obungen


It’s not the strangest thing in the world to find a happy hour inside a car dealership, but it’s up there. Artizen by MW shares a space with Velocity in the luxe Symphony Honolulu condo tower, but the food comes from upscale MW Restaurant upstairs, and despite the address, most of the six happy hour dishes are $6. So hello, chicken wings, boiled peanuts and Maseratis!


Artizen Happy Hour Beverages Credit Thomas Obungen

The happy hour lineup: wines by the glass are $8, beers are $4. Photo: Thomas Obungen


We show up on Tuesday, Day Two of happy hour, and order all six dishes. We also confirm rumors of a 2 to 5 p.m. happy hour at MW—which is not on its website, but which we liked at the old MW on Makaloa Street. That puts two happy hours at this corner of Ward and Kapiolani: the one upstairs, which is limited to the bar and has crab cakes and cocktails, and the one spread out on our table, which has neither. Finally, when we go up to pay, we find out chef-owners Michelle Karr-Ueoka and Wade Ueoka have comped the food bill.


So what are we eating in the company of Jaguars and Ferraris? Here’s a look.


SEE ALSO: MW Restaurant Reopens Today at a New Location in Kaka‘ako Across From the Blaisdell Center


Artizen Happy Hour Chicken Wing Credit Thomas Obungen 05

Photo: Thomas Obungen


Happy hour is a lot more brown than we expect, but then again, this is the first time Artizen’s even doing happy hour. You might recall it started out as a casual-chic Downtown café with counter service, which it still is here if you minus the cars. Glasses of Beaujolais ($8) and Honolulu Beerworks Kewalos cream ale ($4) aside, there is a huge dissonance in plunging your paws into a pile of Shake and Bake chicken wings ($6) when you’re sitting next to a red Maserati—but you should. The wings’ delicate, crunchy crust comes from crushed Corn Flakes; it protects a tender, juicy interior. A total steal, especially with Ludovico Farms chicken.


Artizen Happy Hour Pork Quesadilla Credit Thomas Obungen 07

Photo: Thomas Obungen


Quesadillas this week (there’s a weekly quesadilla, $6) are stuffed with smoky pulled Mountain View Farms pork and provolone and cheddar cheeses. Super-thin tortillas are grilled to just crispy—could be crispier, actually—for a warm, floppy, flavorful pūpū.


SEE ALSO: 2020 Hale ‘Aina Award Winners: Michelle Karr-Ueoka and Wade Ueoka of MW Restaurant Win Hawai‘i’s Restaurateurs of the Year


Artizen Happy Hour Fried Baby Tako Credit Thomas Obungen 04

Photo: Thomas Obungen


The surprise hit of the fried baby tako ($9), which is pretty much like local-style tempura, is the wasabi koji dipping sauce. It’s not cheap tubes of green-dyed fake wasabi that flavor it, but the sweeter, more nuanced real thing. You could dip your skinny yukari fries ($6), sprinkled with salty dried shiso flakes, in this, but the fries come with their own shiso dip with a hint of honey.


SEE ALSO: New Daily Happy Hour at Merriman’s Honolulu Offers Deep-Fried Shrimp, Poke, Taro Hummus and Signature Cocktails


Artizen Happy Hour Kimchee Poke Credit Thomas Obungen 08

Photo: Thomas Obungen


Kim chee poke ($10 today) is market price, cubes of fresh ‘ahi sweetened by a spicy-salty sauce with crunchy daikon and bubu arare. A total beer chaser. So are the boiled peanuts, a generous bowl of chilled jumbo peanuts in the shell ($6) which taste like … boiled peanuts. This is what you get at the point in your happy hour when you’re just downing the beers and reliving all your carport pau hanas and Monday Night Football games.


SEE ALSO: Local Comfort: The Perfect Boiled Peanuts


Artizen Happy Hour Peanuts Beer Credit Thomas Obungen 02

Photo: Thomas Obungen


Pau hana—I mean happy hour—at Artizen is local-style chill. If you sit outside on the patio along Ward Avenue, or you sit inside facing mauka, you‘ll forget you’re in a car showroom. See below.


Artizen Interior Credit Thomas Obungen 01 1

Photo: Thomas Obungen


Two more things: This is a weekday pau hana from 4 to 7 p.m., and there’s self-parking on the ground floor of Symphony (enter from Kapiolani Boulevard) until 5 p.m., when valets for MW and Artizen arrive. The signs imply that valet service starts at 4, but don’t be like us, crawling through the structure with other confused drivers, just park if it’s before 5.


Happy hour Monday to Friday from 4 to 7 p.m., 888 Kapiolani Blvd., (808) 524-0499,, @artizenbymw