Been to Pa’ina SF (200/366)

“One laughs when joyous, sulks when angry, is at peace with the world when the stomach is satisfied.”
~ Hawaiian proverb


Tonight, Nick and I went to the Kabuki Theater to see Spiderman.  We were all set to eat dinner at one of the ramen places Nick likes in Japantown, but when we neared the theater, we noticed the restaurant next door was open (it’s been through several reincarnations over the years, and was closed for a good amount of time before this).  Pa’ina – a Hawaiian-themed restaurant!  Good.  The last one was Hawaiian-themed as well, and there have been several Hawaiian restaurants in the City that we’ve lost (sadly) over the years.  I was glad another one took the last one’s place.  We had to try it.

Pa’ina is the ancient Hawaiian word for party, feast, or lu’au (the more familiar word today).  Great name for this place!  When we went inside, we noticed Pa’ina was not like any other Hawaiian restaurant we’d been to.

This place has sleek, modern design, and looks more like a young, hip lounge than the typical warm, homey Hawaiian food place I’m used to – it was a bit of a shock, but I realize that’s exactly what they’re going for – apparently that “traditional” warm, homey, slightly kitschy “luau” theme wasn’t working here in this somewhat newly trending area of town (the Kabuki has been here for ages, but was purchased by the Sundance corporation a little while ago and underwent a huge change in the look and feel, and some other new development has also brought a little more attention to Japantown recently).  If they could pull off decent Hawaiian food and most important feeling of Aloha, even with more of a modern, “loungey” feel, I’d be happy.  And their stage area for live performances is pretty cool – the occasional treat of live Hawaiian music is the mark of a good Hawaiian restaurant (to me), and usually they have to give up dining space and create a makeshift little performance area when they get people in – Pa’ina’s dedicated  stage is a good thing.

We happened to be there during their “Happy Hour” which they have every day they’re open, and it actually lasts for several hours, which I love.  They have special prices on all their appetizers, plus their wine, beer, and specialty cocktails.  One of the things I LOVED about this place (and their Happy Hour) is that they have 12 different beers on tap, including some from Kona Brewing Company.  The fact that they have these on tap at Pa’ina is great.  The fact that they’re on the Happy Hour specials list is AWESOME.

With so many good looking things on the menu (and the abundance of time we had before our movie), we decided to order a bunch of stuff.  We went with the “Oh My Gyoza!” the “Tiki Torches” (Kalua pig & cabbage spring rolls served with a pineapple hoisin barbeque sauce), and the “1/2 Order Combo Mussels & Clams” from the $5 Happy Hour menu.  Then we also added an order of their Spicy Ahi Poke and an order of Kimchee Fried Rice.  They also serve complimentary edamame, which is of course great with beer, among other things.

Everything was great.  The food came super fast, and as you can see, it was beautiful.  It was delicious – the Tiki Torches did not skimp on the kalua pig, the mussels, clams, and ahi were super fresh, and though I do like my kimchee fried rice a bit spicer, this had good flavor, and I’m sure I can ask for a bit more spice next time.

I really, really like this place.  The service is super friendly and attentive, and I feel like they did get the all-important feeling of Aloha right.  I cannot wait to come back here again!  Maika’i!


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