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On the Menu

Welcome to Fabulous Champs

By Ali Resich Photos By Anthony Consillio
July 5, 2015

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If you just can’t wait for your next trip to Las Vegas, you’re in luck because Kaimuki’s newest business venture is bringing all of the excitement of the Ninth Island right here to Hawaii in a fun and legal adult-centric venue.

Champs is Honolulu’s brand-new sports bar located in the space formerly occupied by WZ Family Entertainment Center on Waialae Avenue, and it’s outfitted with an arcade that caters to patrons who are 21 and older.

“Think Vegas — you can play games at the same time as you watch a football game and get outstanding food and drinks, so it’s really integrative,” says general manager Rod Ueno.

To kick off the new operation, Champs has teamed up with JJ Luangkhot, restaurateur, head chef and owner of nearby JJ Bistro & French Pastry, to offer a menu centered on island-style pupus for patrons to enjoy while soaking up all the fun.

“It’s very exciting,” says Luangkhot of the collaboration. “Rod asked us to help out on the food side (of the operation), and we’re happy to do it.”

Ueno adds that the chef has created “a specially designed menu for us, and it really builds on Chef JJ’s background, so a lot of Southeast Asian influences to it, but it’s completely different than what you can get at his restaurant.”

While there is a handful of lunch options such as croissant sandwiches and salads, the main star of this culinary journey is scrumptious bar food. Patrons may enjoy Duck Confit Lumpia, featuring slow-cooked meat in a crispy wrapper with sweet chili plum sauce on the side, as well as local-style Beef or Chicken Satay.

For seafood lovers, Seared Ahi hits the spot with fresh fish seasoned with Japanese spice shichimi alongside cucumber noodle salad and lemon sesame soy dressing. Oysters also have a spot on the menu, served fresh with ponzu sauce or baked in Asian Style Rockefeller with sauteed spinach, Shiitake mushrooms and homemade sesame aioli.

Be sure to snag these bites as soon as you can, as the venue plans to rotate its bar menu regularly. And what better to pair with these appetizers than refreshing drinks? Champs offers a fully stocked bar comprised of 50 bottles of domestic and craft beers. It also emphasizes brown-hued libations, with more than 20 varieties of bourbons, as well as whiskeys, scotches and more.

“We have a whole series of craft cocktails that we’ll be adding to the menu as well,” says Ueno, noting that A1 Bloody Mary ($10) and Watermelon Soju ($9) are beverage highlights.

With plans to further expand Champs, Ueno ensures there’s plenty to look forward to. “We want to provide entertainment to people — be it getting good drinks, having some food with them or playing games.”

Champs Sports Grill

3457 Waialae Ave., Kaimuki (Between Ninth and 10th avenues)
Daily, noon to 2 a.m. All ages from noon to 6 p.m., but minors must be accompanied by someone 21 or over; Strictly 21 and over after 6 p.m.