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The Epitome of Local Flair

Columns Order of the Day

July 2, 2011

Story By: Dining Out Team |

With a uniquely decorated interior, variety of menu items and revamped daily specials, Sam Choy’s Breakfast, Lunch & Crab offers a dining experience that’s unlike any other, according to general manager Jeffrey Gaspar.

  • Julius Borje holding the Crab & Shrimp Louie Salad
  • Crab & Shrimp Louie Salad ($23.95)
  • "Before Captain Cook" Poke ($14.95)
  • Macadamia Nut Crusted Chicken ($19.95)
  • General manager Jeffrey Gaspar with the "Before Capt. Cook" Poke.
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“The uniqueness of the interior or the structure of the restaurant (makes us different),” Gaspar says. “We have a boat that’s inside the restaurant — Sam used it for fishing before. Also, Sam’s cuisine (makes us different) — his food has that local flair. What he’s done is incorporate that local flair style into his menu.”

The local flair that’s infused into Choy’s cooking truly captures the essence of the eatery and caters to island residents.

“The mission or vision for the restaurant is to portray the Aloha spirit with great food and service,” he says. “The food is good for the local style cuisine, which incorporates families. It’s a family-type environment restaurant.”

With that in mind, it’s no wonder that some of the most popular dishes on the restaurant’s breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner menus have a distinct local flavor. Among the most requested appetizers Golden Fried Calamari ($10.95), Sam’s Original Fried Poke ($10.95) — wok-seared marinated island fish with furikake — and Steamed Manila Clams ($13.95), served in a ginger miso pesto broth. Lunch favorites include Fried Poke Salad ($14.95) — mixed greens and somen noodles covered with Sam’s famous fried poke — and “Da Hilo Original” Loco Moco ($12.95), a local-style homemade hamburger patty served with rice and topped with sauteed onions, two farm fresh eggs and Sam’s brown gravy. Popular dinner entrees include Kalbi Marinated Butterfish ($29.95); Crab & Shrimp Louie Salad ($23.95), featuring Nalo greens, somen noodles, egg, cucumber and tomato topped with crab and shrimp salad as well as king crab; and the Crab meat Stuffed Island Fish ($27.95), which is baked with Choy’s famous shiitake mushroom cream sauce.

Instead of having a signature dish, Choy’s shiitake mushroom cream sauce is the eatery’s signature sauce, according to Gaspar.

“He’s (Choy’s) known for his shiitake mushroom cream sauce,” he says. “He’ll use it on a couple of his dishes on the menu, such as the Macadamia Nut Crusted Chicken ($19.95), and people love it.”

The restaurant also is known for its desserts, which have their own menu.

“We do our own in-house desserts,” Gaspar says. “Everybody always heads toward the banana bread pudding, pineapple cheesecake or key lime pie.”

Throughout his career at Sam Choy’s, Gaspar has seen the menu change periodically. Several of the newest menu items include the “Before Capt. Cook” Poke ($14.95) — marinated ahi with limu kohu, green onions, Hawaiian salt and inamona — which was just added about a month ago. Seafood Skewers ($24.95) — scallops, shrimp, island fish and assorted vegetables atop a rice pilaf — and Ribeye Steak ($27.95) also are newcomers to the menu.

The restaurant also has recently revamped its daily specials. In addition to the Monday-Friday “Early Bird” special (7-7:30 a.m.) — $3.99 for an assortment of fruits, eggs or fried rice and eggs — the restaurant presents its customers with a new lineup of evening specials.

“Monday is ‘Two Pound Snow Crab Night’; you get two pounds for $25.95,” Gaspar explains, listing a few of the specials. “Wednesday is ‘Prime Rib Night,’ and that’s an 18-ounce prime rib for $19.95. Friday is ‘Aloha Friday’ with the Hawaiian plate and live entertainment from 6 to 9 p.m.”

Besides these daily specials, July brings additional promotions because of the restaurant’s 14-year anniversary. From July 1 to 31, all guests who dine at Sam Choy’s for three meal periods — breakfast/brunch, lunch and dinner — will earn a $20 passport certificate, which can be used before Sept. 30. The restaurant also continues to have a daily Happy Hour from 5 to 6:30 p.m., during which customers can order $3 pint beers and full-price appetizers are 50 percent off.

In terms of upcoming changes, the restaurant is looking to expand this fall with the opening of the “Aloha Beer Garden.”

“There’s going to be an addition to the restaurant; it’s like an expansion,” Gaspar says. “It (the Aloha Beer Garden) will be more of a lounge type bar atmosphere with pupus. We are our own brewery and we do have a brew master.”

Sam Choy’s Breakfast, Lunch & Crab

  • Where
    • 580 North Nimitz Highway
    • Honolulu, HI 96817
  • Call
    • (808) 545-7979
  • Hours
    • 7 a.m. – 2 p.m., 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.
    • Monday – Thursday
    • 7 a.m. – 2 p.m., 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.
    • Fridays
    • 8 a.m. – 3 p.m., 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.
    • Saturdays
    • 8 a.m. – 3 p.m., 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.
    • Sundays
  • Website