Restaurant Review
Pinky's Pupu Bar & Grill

By: Kevin McQuarrie
Oahu Island News

During our last visit to Pinky’s Pupu Bar & Grill we had a dining experience that was less than acceptable in the categories of food and service. You may be wondering then, why we would return. In an effort to have us give the restaurant another try, we were given a $20 gift certificate to be used at a future visit. The future is now.  So on this night we would give Pinky’s a second try.

When we arrived, Greg showed us to our table and told us if we needed anything he would be there to assist us – our night was already looking brighter than the last visit. Pinky’s is a very family-friendly kind of restaurant with the décor of a casual beach-type boathouse. Yet if you were a little dressed up you would not feel out of place.

Our server for the evening was Misty, who was very thorough in explaining the night’s pupu and dinner specials. The pupu special was the regular order of Coconut Crust Calamari for a reduced price of $3.95 ($6.95/reg) and the night’s dinner special was an 8oz. Prime Rib Steak with a side of calamari and a choice of starch ($18.95).

We ordered soft drinks and the calamari special for starters. After a long weekend, we decided to stay clear of the bar, but it did appear that many others in the restaurant were enjoying tropical drinks and cold beer. The draft beer and the tropical drinks are served in huge frosty goblets. Pinky’s has a very good selection of wines and liquor and several varieties of beer on tap.

The menu has a wide range of options – from the local favorites of Kalua Pig or Beer Can Chicken to the old stand-by of hamburgers and salads. The appetizer menu is long, and you’re welcome to make a meal out of any of the items listed as appetizers. Pinky’s also has an entire section of fresh sushi-style appetizers.

Our calamari appetizer, served in strips, arrived soon after we ordered it and it was fresh, hot and piled high on the plate. The coconut was not at all overpowering and it was just enough to give the calamari a slightly sweet bite. The sauce was a ginger plum sauce, which made the overall taste just a bit too sweet for my liking.

For my entrée I chose the Fish Taco Platter ($7.95) and my dining companion ordered the Tomato Basil Pasta with added chicken ($12.95). Once again, our food arrived soon after being ordered. My Fish Tacos came with a large scoop of white rice and a side dish of Lomilomi Salmon. There was also a black bean corn salsa in a little side cup adorning my plate. The tacos had coleslaw inside the flour tortilla along with the fish (mahimahi) and the coleslaw definitely overwhelmed the flavor of the fish. This was a bit disappointing because I had had this same dish on a previous visit and it was much more flavorful. The side dish of Lomilomi was very good and made a nice accompaniment to the tacos and rice.

My companion’s chicken and pasta entrée consisted of spaghetti-style pasta and chicken in a cream-based tomato sauce with ample fresh chunks of tomato; fresh grated Parmesan cheese topped the dish.  Basil was a prominent flavor in this dish and it fused nicely with the pasta and chicken. This portion size was more than ample and was quite a filling dinner.

We asked to read the dessert menu when we were finished, and even though we were fully satisfied, we thought we might be able to squeeze in a little of the sweet stuff. The dessert choices included a few ice cream pie dishes, sorbet, but we decided to go for the Strawberry Shortcake ($4.95). When it arrived, I was having second thoughts as it was piled-high and served in a huge goblet, similar to ones used at the bar. Layers of pound cake, strawberry sauce, soft vanilla ice cream with a topping of whipped cream abounded! My companion and I knew we were going to be rolling ourselves to the car after this delightful treat. It was delicious and completely over the top, but isn’t that how all desserts should be?

So despite our prior troubled visit, the service was undeniably better this time around, and the food was well improved. The atmosphere is friendly and the food is reasonably priced, which is exactly what you expect from your neighborhood bar & grill.

Pinky’s Pupu Bar & Grill
970 N. Kalaheo Ave
Kailua, HI 96734

Monday – Saturday:
Pupu Bar 4:00pm to 10:00pm
Dining Room 5:00pm to 10:00pm

Sunday: 9:00am to 10:00pm
Brunch / Pupus / Dinner

Phone: 254-6255