Here’s to Sam’s Dishes, Coming Beer Garden

Features Inside Feature

February 27, 2011

Story By: Dining Out Team |

It may not come as news to most regarding the work being done made along Nimitz Highway in Honolulu’s busy industrial district of Iwilei. But for fans of Sam Choy’s Breakfast, Lunch & Crab, learning that the popular local family restaurant is being upgraded may come as a bit of a surprise.

  • 1-pound Bumbucha Alaskan King Crab Legs ($37)
  • Luau Benedict ($11.95)
  • Crabmeat Stuffed Island Fish ($28.95)
  • Banana Lumpia ($7)
  • Ahi Salad ($17.95)
  • Onolicious Rack of Ribs ($29.95)
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“We are expanding,” says executive chef Aurelio Garcia. “We’re all excited about it.”

Slated to open in late summer 2011 right next door to Sam Choy’s BLC is Aloha Beer Garden, which will showcase the ales and beers brewed fresh on-site by master brewmaster David Campbell.

“We’re the only local microbrewery on Oahu,” says Gary Manago, director of operations for Aloha Beer Company, parent company of Aloha Beer Garden and Sam Choy’s Big Aloha Brewery. “We have a good product with the beers that we brew, and Dave Campbell has been with us since we opened in 1997.”

Garcia is currently formulating a menu of island-inspired pupus to complement the brews. So far he’s thinking of crab spring rolls, soft-shell crab and guava-roasted duck with Greek cheese and grapes.

“It’s safe to say it’s going to be completely different,” Manago adds. “We’ll also be using the beers in the cooking preparation. Like the Ehu Ale, the chef uses quite a bit of that (beer batter, poaching, sauces).”

Things over at Sam Choy’s BLC are getting a bit of a lift, too. From the food choices to interior design, Manago says they are purposefully revamping the restaurant to go along with the new Big Aloha venture.

“I think with the additional venture it’s forced us to look inward so that we make sure both ventures go well. We know there’s going to be a lot of excitement about the beer garden, and we want to make sure this doesn’t get left behind,” he explains. “It’s a renewed focus on the food, the service, the ambiance, what the guest is experiencing.

“Basically what chef has been doing is getting back to where we were when we first opened 14 years ago. You’re going to see a lot more local products being incorporated into the new menu that will be coming up.”

Some new dishes include the Luau Benedict ($11.95). Available on the lunch menu, this ono treat also is perfect for a late breakfast. The kalua pork is made in house from Sam’s own original recipe and layered between a toasted English muffin, sauteed spinach and poached egg, and topped with a large spoonful of fresh hollandaise sauce.

“People love it,” Garcia notes.

But as the saying goes, you can’t mess with a good thing. Several of Sam Choy’s personal favorites and signature dishes will remain on the menu, like the Onolicious Rack of Ribs ($29.95), Crabmeat Stuffed Island Fish ($28.95), Ahi Salad ($17.95) and the 1-pound Bumbucha Alaskan King Crab Legs ($37).

“We try to get the biggest crab here in the islands,” Garcia says, citing that they have a crab on their logo for good reason.

Other tasty morsels from the deep include Whole Dungeness Crab ($37), 1-pound Snow Crab Clusters ($25), Seared Jumbo Shrimp ($24.95) and Pake Seafood Paella ($24.95), a mix of clams, shrimp, scallops, island fish, chicken and lup cheong served in a ginger-pesto sauce.

“We also have New York Steak ($25.95), Grilled Lamb Chops ($27) and Macadamia Nut-Crusted Chicken ($19.95),” Garcia adds. “And the Banana Lumpia ($7) is Sam’s favorite dessert. It is made with bananas wrapped in rice paper and served a la mode with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce.”

All entrees are served with dinner rolls, sauteed vegetables and choice of steamed white rice, brown rice, french fries or Sam’s original Kapakahi Mashed Potatoes, a creamy, kicked-up blend of potatoes, garlic, spinach and corn.

Sam Choy’s Breakfast, Lunch and Crab is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with private banquet seating available for up to 150 guests.

There also is a Monthly Brewer’s Dinner held on the third Thursday of every month in the private dining room to educate patrons on food and beer pairings. Garcia prepares different items for the five-course menu each month to help bring out the subtle nuances of the beer, which folks can see go through the distillation process on group tours planned to start this summer.

“We’re very flexible, we have so much to offer,” Garcia adds. “There’s so many things going on in a day, we get so many kinds of menu (items) to choose from.

“Right now we have the momentum, we can feel it,” he adds. “We have a lot of repeat guest and a lot of good comments, so that’s a good sign.”

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
  • Notes
    • A Sunday Breakfast Brunch is available from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Happy Hour runs 5-6:30 p.m. daily.

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