Pau Hana Patrol: Off the Wall offers flavorful pupu
BY STEFANIE NAKASONE / firstname.lastname@example.org
Good things come to those who wait. That’s the golden rule at Off the Wall Restaurant, Bar and Catering at Pearl Kai Shopping Center.
OFF THE WALL
Pearl Kai Shopping Center
The menu stresses quality over speed. On both the cover and inside, “Thank You for Your Patience!” is printed in big white letters on a bold red background. But during happy hour, not only will you get great drinks and food as promised, you’ll get it pretty quickly.
Specializing in Asian/local fusion cuisine, Off the Wall is a wonderful little spot in a strip mall on Kamehameha Highway across from Pearlridge Shopping Center. It offers happy hour Tuesdays through Sundays.
Only a couple of parties were at the restaurant when I visited around 5 p.m. on a Tuesday. And while my friends and I were prepared to wait, our drinks and food started to arrive at a steady pace less than 10 minutes after we ordered.
Off the Wall offered happy-hour specials on beer, wine and sake during my visit. As a special in January and February, the restaurant’s dozen or so sakes, by the 3-ounce glass, are half-off. With most selections normally costing around $12, that’s a huge savings. Each sake is also marked with an SMV (Sake Meter Value), which tells you whether it’s more dry or sweet.
Happy-hour specials also include $6 house wines and $1 discounts on beer. Sounds simple enough, until you see the large selection of beers displayed high up against the left wall. My friend spied one of his favorite beers — Hitachino Nest Red Ale — and was pleasantly surprised that it was only $7.
I tried a delicious strawberry-flavored chu-hai, made with shochu and soda. While it wasn’t discounted, the drink was served in a tall glass and was well worth the price ($7).
The restaurant’s style is simple, clean and modern, reminiscent of a Japanese ramen joint. And sure, this place serves great ramen and soba, but it also offers a ton of shareable choices perfect for pau hana gatherings.
The dishes are inventive and diverse, and include vegetarian options including eggplant, tofu and natto.
My friends enjoyed Thai-pan curry fries ($8), french fries smothered with a Japanese-Thai curry blend. The curry tasted like that served at Curry House, and that’s not a bad thing.
We also enjoyed garlic fried pork chops ($12), generously seasoned with the restaurant’s secret garlic mix, and mochiko-style fish bites ($9), made with basa, a Southeastern catfish, marinated in a mixture of Thai rice flour, soy sauce, sugar and mirin.
The dish I was most excited to try was what I consider an ultimate Okinawan treat: shoyu pork andagi ($3 each).
This pork-stuffed Okinawan donut is deep-fried and topped with a shoyu pork sauce, and garnished with pickled ginger and green onion.
As the menu claims, the andagi very well might be the best in Hawaii — perfectly crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, with just enough sweetness. I found the shoyu pork, while flavorful, to be a bit dry, perhaps because of the surrounding dough, but I’d order it again because I loved the flavors.
Next time, I’ll also try the dessert andagi, which is stuffed with chocolate.
There will definitely be a next time, too, if only to sample the restaurant’s new offerings.
Since my visit to Off the Wall, the restaurant has rolled out a new happy-hour menu for the New Year; it takes effect this month.
Drink specials include discounted beer and sake samplers for $13 and saketinis for $5. In addition to its regular menu, there will be dishes only offered during happy hour, including ahi tacos.