Pau Hana Patrol: M is for martinis

Feb. 19, 2015 | 0 Comments In the Star-Advertiser Friday Print Edition
The Kazan Lava Roll, a California Roll topped with Lobster Dynamite. (Kat Wade / Special to the Star-Advertiser)

The Kazan Lava Roll, a California Roll topped with Lobster Dynamite. (Kat Wade / Special to the Star-Advertiser)

BY STEVEN MARK / smark@staradvertiser.com

M Nightlife, in the Waterfront Plaza fronting Ala Moana Boulevard, has that cool, chic atmosphere that one might expect from an elegant nightclub. But how does that translate as a place to stop for a brief stopover after work?

M NIGHTLIFE

Waterfront Plaza, 500 Ala Moana Blvd.

(808) 529-0100
http://mnlhnl.com

Happy Hour:
4:30-8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday
» Signature cocktails, $6
» Grey Goose cocktails, $5
» Beers, $3 import beers, $4
» Fetzer red and white wine, $5
» Shoestring or Sweet Potato Fries, Cajun Asian Calamari, California Roll, Spicy Tuna Roll: $5
» Kalbi Pupu Style,” Tuna and Avocado Tower, Kazan Lava Roll: $8

Very well, thank you, especially with a convenient location, excellent drinks, and extensive menu of tasty items, all appealingly presented.

THE EXPERIENCE

M Nightlife is, after all, a nightclub, with a large floor for dancing, private parties of up to 600 and other events. It’s a cavernous space, decked out industrial-tech style, with a pitch-black ceiling that reveals the braces and supports of the lighting and sound systems, set against silver and white furnishings and an earthy gray dance floor. One would suppose that blinged-out dance couples would make for quite a flashy scene there.

The dance floor is set off from the bars — there are three of them — not by space or by a division, but by level. Two of the three bars are on slightly elevated platforms, made of beautiful hardwood flooring. It’s kind of a Japanese design concept — step up a level and you’re in a different space. At any rate, there’s something cozy about wood, so unless you’re really rarin’ to cut loose after work, you’re most likely just want to cozy up in the mod furnishings there.

There’s also a patio space for those who prefer the outdoors, but Ala Moana Boulevard is no picnic at rush hour. It’s more relaxing and quieter inside.

THE DRINKS

There’s a nice selection of signature cocktails on the menu, ranging from a cool-sounding Cucumber Collins for those hot days to a sweet Passion Play, based on Skyy passion fruit vodka.

Anime-inspired balls of wasabi make for an arty and delectable sushi plate during happy hour at M Nightlife. (Kat Wade / Special to the Star-Advertiser)

Anime-inspired balls of wasabi make for an arty and delectable sushi plate during happy hour at M Nightlife. (Kat Wade / Special to the Star-Advertiser)

Bartender Brion Zablan prepared one of the more popular happy hour drinks, the Sparkling Lychee Sangria, a mix of Cruzan mango rum, sparkling wine, lychee liqueur, pineapple juice and cranberry juice. It went in easy, deepened to the luscious lychee flavor, then eased off as it went down for a very nice feel.

I also had the Pear Martini, made with Grey Goose La Poire. The Anjou Pear-flavored vodka blended nicely with the Saint-Germaine liqueur and pear juice for a smooth finish. I wouldn’t normally finish off two cocktails, but I enjoyed the last drops of both the Sangria and the Pear Martini. It’s $6 at happy hour, but other Grey Goose cocktails are $5 during happy hour.

M also offers beer at $3 and $4 and Fetzer house wines at $5 a glass for happy hour.

THE FOOD

It’s important to say first that the food we had was excellent, but you might hear more about chef Jon Tamashiro’s way with wasabi. He’s gained a following with his ability to sculpt the spicy Japanese condiment into whimsical figures like Hello Kitty or Winnie-the-Pooh. People send in suggestions, and then he’ll create the figure and post it on Instagram for all to enjoy. If you’re in town, he might even create it for you.

That’s all fun, but eating his food provides real enjoyment as well. There’s a nice selection of $5 and $8 happy hour items. Two of us had the Tuna and Avocado Tower ($8), which made us feel both satiated and healthy because of the greens that helped support the structure. Also delicious was a Kazan Lava Roll, a California Roll adorned with lobster gratings, with Thai chili adding a spicy touch.

The $5 fries, topped with garlic and butter, proved to be a palate-pleasing side dish to it all.

From the regular menu, the Ribeye Nigiri ($12), topped with a poached egg, was somehow rich in flavor but not too filling in the stomach. With the rib-eye grilled to rare perfection, it all seemed to melt in with the mushrooms and onions grilled, with just a bit of chewy texture.

THE VERDICT

Sure, go to M Nightlife for a nighttime party. I’m sure it’s spectacular and cool, a happenin’ place to be. But drop in at happy hour too, for a relaxing drink and some great food amid the mod decor. You’ll enjoy that just as much.

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