Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: Mahina & Sun’s

Restaurant Insider

May 21, 2023

Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: ANTHONY CONSILLIO


The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club is more than a popular boutique hotel in Waikiki, it’s also home to the award-winning restaurant Mahina & Sun’s and a night market called Sip and Shop that highlights local businesses every first and third Thursday of the month.

Mahina & Sun’s has become a destination for local musicians. Mahina Lounge Live is where popular artists can share their beautiful music every night of the week. What also makes Thursdays special is Kelly Boy DeLima, lead singer of Kapena, who performs every Thursday, rain or shine, starting at 6:30 p.m.

I was able to have dinner with the master entertainer before his set. We ordered some of his favorite items from chef Erik Leong’s kitchen and some libations from bar czar Christian Taibi, as we talked about his journey, career and why Thursdays are just right for him.

Fish and Chips ($14 happy hour; $18 regular)

AL: You have been playing music for 35 years. Did you grow up playing music?

KD: I worked as a Waikiki beach boy, teaching surf lessons and helping with the canoes. I would give my ukulele to a lot of the beach boys, and they would play all these songs. I would say that was my training grounds. I really learned music from the beach and in the back roads with my friends here in Waikiki.

When I got to Kaimuki High School, I met Mr. Kaneda, he was our mele ohana teacher. There was a talent show called Brown Bags to Stardom, which was the biggest high school music event, kind of like an American Idol for Hawaii. I entered and represented Kaimuki High School and we won! We then competed at the Waikiki Shell and never looked back.

Chicken Wings ($12 happy hour; $14 regular)

Although we didn’t win at the Waikiki Shell, it really catapulted our career. We’re the longest going group and are still going.

I think now is the pinnacle of my life. I have three generations that perform in Kapena — me, my children and now my grandson plays with us. So, I think when you talk about different times in life, I got to say that now has to be some of the best times.

AL: You’re very well known and loved by many, and Thursdays are your jam. Why is Mahina & Sun’s important to you?

KD: I really love Lady Lynn (Lynette Eastman), the general manager, and the staff here. When all the hotels were closed and the pandemic was in full effect, this was the only hotel that hired entertainers, so my loyalty is here.

For me, this place is like a throwback to old school Waikiki. Its vintage. People come in here and they flip out at this place; it’s just really cool.

Pork Chop ($36)

AL: What are your favorite dishes here?

KD: Chef Erik makes a mean Pork Chop ($36) that comes with luau leaves on the bottom with coconut milk and lomi tomato vinaigrette.

Its ono.

I also love the Chicken Wings ($12 happy hour, $14 regular). You can order it spicy and it’s served with ranch. They are nice and crunchy.

Margherita Pizza ($19)

The pizzas are very good and easy to snack on when your shopping and listening to music. The Margherita Pizza ($19) has a thin crust with red sauce, mozzarella and basil.

Bar czar Christian made us the Santa Poco ($16) with a plethora of flavors. It’s a pre-Prohibition classic cocktail made with Casamigos tequila. And, the Green Raja ($16), which is an elevated gimlet enhanced with spices, is really good.

Green Raja ($16) and Santa Poco ($16)

AL: Iam Tongi has a chance to be the next American Idol, the Brown Bag to Stardom of today. Anything you want to share with him?

KD: He is doing fabulous and sings from his heart, which is why America and all the judges love him.

I haven’t watched American Idol for several years. I used to be really into it. But, man, he’s revitalizing it again.

His story has so much heart. That’s what local people are — what you see is what you get, we’re not putting on an act or anything.

412 Lewers St, Honolulu, HI 96815

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