I originally heard about the Side Street Inn
while thumbing through a back issue of Bon
Appetit magazine. A person had written the magazine asking for the
recipe of Side Street’s spicy wings. I was intrigued by the recipe and
also thought the restaurant sounded very interesting, so I had no other
option but to check it out. That was 5 years ago, and I’m still a huge
fan of Side Street.
During this visit to Side Street I was
accompanied by two friends who recently moved to Oahu from the mainland.
As we pulled up to the restaurant, I
found myself apologizing for the gloomy exterior – overflowing
garbage cans, air conditioners and pipes bolted to the front
of the building and various businesses of questionable character
– but I assured my friends that this was going to be an evening of great
food and maybe some fun (Side Street
has many karaoke regulars).
As we arrived, several people were milling
about the street and among the parked cars directly in front the entrance
– something that would appall the patrons of Alan Wong’s or Roy’s
– but these people appeared content hanging out in the street awaiting
We opted to stand around the bar and have a
drink while awaiting our table. After a few minutes, Earl the bartender
pointed out that there were some stools available at the bar and we
decided to have our meal there.
Being a Side Street aficionado, my
companions let me do the ordering. All the items on the menu are served
family style, with many cut up pupu style for your convenience in sharing.
The 12oz. New York Steak ($16.00) arrived perfectly rare on a sizzling
skillet loaded with sautéed onions and mushrooms. If you’re like me and
need your cow still mooing, I suggest that you order it this way and let
others in your group continue cooking the slices of beef on the hot
skillet – in no time the steak will be cooked to their liking.
Next came the Pan Fried Island Pork Chops
($15.00). The only thing I can say: I hope this is what pork chops taste
like in heaven! Delightfully seasoned and fried to perfection, they were
crisp yet moist on the inside.
The Misoyaki Chicken ($9.00) is marinated
boneless chicken char-broiled in the chef’s Miso sauce. It’s as moist
and tender a piece of chicken as you can imagine – the slightly salty
and tangy flavor of the sauce expertly complements the char-broiled meat.
This dish is accompanied by a side salad with thousand-island dressing.
As for the famous Spicy Wings… This is a
total misnomer. The spicy wings ($9.00) while delicious, have no apparent
spiciness at all (the magazine alluded to this as well). But for those of
us who love the wings, we don’t care what they call them, as long as
they keep serving them. They are heavily battered with a coating that
turns perfectly crunchy and bonds with the skin of the chicken. Once
cooked, they are tossed in what appears to be a shoyu based, very lightly
sweet sauce and garnished with chopped green onions. These wings are
loaded with flavor; and even give the traditional Buffalo Wings ($9.00) a
run for your money.
Speaking of Buffalo Wings, we ordered the
Buffalo Fries ($6.00). These potato wedges look like steak fries from the
‘80s, but after that, they have no similarities to those dried-out
spuds. I’m at a total loss as to how the crunchiness prevails through
the moist buffalo sauce – it must be some kind of culinary magic.
We also ordered the Fried Rice ($8.75), which arrived in a mountain of steaming seasoned rice brimming with vegetables, kamaboko, and smoked pork. This dish is large enough to take home leftovers. The extensive menu at the Street Side covers a wide range of culinary styles with an emphasis on fresh quality food, prepared simply and deftly.
Side Street Inn