Pau Hana Patrol: Great pupu, prices at Moana Terrace
BY ELIZABETH KIESZKOWSKI / firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m not hard to please when it comes to Pau Hana Patrol — all I really want to do is get a decent beer or cocktail, grab a bite and see some smiling faces.
And, oh yeah, save a buck or two.
Third floor, oceanside, Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort, 2552 Kalakaua Ave.
On those counts, Moana Terrace exceeds expectations. It hits all of those marks and also boasts a stellar ocean view that is almost guaranteed to lower your blood pressure and light up some pleasure circuits.
You’ll feel it as soon as you set foot onto the site of the Waikiki Beach Marriott’s open-air, casual watering hole.
The Marriott refurbished the Moana Terrace this year, and that adds to the experience. The restaurant had been coasting on its location — a prime spot looking out directly over Kuhio Beach, combining great Waikiki people-watching with palm trees and surf in front of your nose — but it had a discernibly faded feel.
On this visit I could see that the hotel’s owners had taken account of time’s passing and put some thought into improving the feng shui.
Now the Moana Terrace has a pleasant range of cocktail-lounge seating, with a mix of tables and low chairs for kicking back with a drink. It’s added a raised fire feature between the bar and stage, lined with lava rocks inside a frame of glass. Guests can sit around the fire, which gives the space a glow after the sun sets.
There’s not a lot of fanciness going on here, and that’s just fine. It’s good to have a place where you needn’t feel self-conscious about that rumpled aloha shirt — hey, you’ve been shlepping all day. But there are gestures that elevate the experience, and you won’t feel out of place in a chic sundress, either.
Appreciated: The bar has added a couple of “Skinni Cocktails” to the menu, offering a chance to balance out the bar food on the menu. Drinks can be made with fresh fruits and juices. And the bar food is simple, low-key and tasty.
Meanwhile, the Moana Terrace has kept the good stuff from its past: live music and relatively cheap drinks and pupu.
I appreciated the use of kalua pig in the nachos I ordered, at happy-hour prices. They were addicting — and filling. My girlfriend and I ordered nachos and chicken wings — also a happy-hour special — and could not finish it all off. We certainly tried, though.
There are more options, including lighter fare on a menu that has been reworked by executive chef Miles Togikawa. “Fit for You” dishes include fish tacos and fruit salad. Other offerings include salad with seared ahi and sliders with kalua pork and mango barbecue sauce. During happy hour, choose an entree and any appetizer will be half-price.
From 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., Moana Terrace offers a range of music, but in this realm I’m still a traditionalist. Try stop by on Sunday for traditional Hawaiian slack key from George Kuo, Martin Pahinui and Aaron Mahi, or Thursday for Hawaiian music from the Keawe Ohana & Friends.
Make sure you get there in time to order during happy hour, 4 to 6 p.m. every day. Watching the sun set at your feet is a priceless bonus.