Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: The Social HonoluluRestaurant Insider
August 6, 2023
Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: ANNE LEE
Anne Lee speaks with The Social Honolulu owner HUCK “ALPHA” KIM |
Huck “Alpha” Kim is the food maker, owner, jet setter and janitor at The Social Honolulu. In 2012, he collaborated with a few other partners to open the gastropub DASH (each letter represents the owners’ names). In 2014, he took sole ownership and established The Social Honolulu at its original location in McCully.
The first time I went to the current location, I was pleasantly surprised. There is ample parking, lots of seating and a lively bar area toward the back of the restaurant. What impressed me most, though, was the menu. Everything is made to order and there are a lot of options. The Social Honolulu is traditionally known for its great bar food and cocktails (like the B.O.B. — if you know, you know), but the mixed crowd of business professionals, families, and people young and old say otherwise. There is something for everyone here at The Social Honolulu.
AL: Can you tell me your journey and how The Social Honolulu became what it is today?
HK: I was bored on a lunch break and looked at the help wanted section and saw that Kapalama Lounge was looking for bartenders. I took on the position and ownership, and transformed it into The Remedy Sports Bar.
With owning a bar, I knew that good food was important, and I had never worked in a kitchen before. We couldn’t find a chef, so we asked our friend Grant Kawasaki, who was a local celebrity chef on a TV show called Hawaiian Grown Kitchen, to help us. I owe everything I learned about cooking and running a kitchen to him. Unfortunately, he passed away due to COVID in July 2021. He was one of a kind and taught me everything I know. That’s why not only are we known for great cocktails and drinks, but our food, too.
AL: What items did you create for us to try?
HK: For the Lup Chong Basa ($26), we sear and grill a basa fillet, top it with ginger sauce, lup chong, mayo tsukudani aioli, soy vinaigrette, cilantro and sautéed vegetables.
The Chef’s Rib-eye ($39) is one of our top sellers. Its USDA Choice steak with sautéed onions and mushrooms, orange beurre blanc sauce and fried shallots.
We also wanted to have some healthier lighter options for our guests. The Tofu Salad ($19) is lettuce, tofu, cucumbers, harizuke, tomatoes, onions, carrots, wonton strips, kizami nori and yuzu soy vinaigrette.
Whenever I see a bao bun item on the menu, I always order it, so we have the Grilled Sous Vide Pork Belly Bao Sliders ($14) featuring pork belly, Huck’s daikon kimchi and steamed bao buns.
We are bringing back one of our OG dishes, the Salmon Crudo ($26). It’s cured salmon sashimi, tsukudani aioli, thinly sliced onions, tobiko and jalapeño masago.
AL: Do you offer catering or options for large parties?
HK: We can have private parties, from graduations to baby luau. Usually, we like to hold these events on Sundays since we are closed, except during football season when we open at 7 a.m. (Those interested can contact Meghan at 808-892-1112 or email@example.com.)
AL: Anything else you want to share? HK: This is a place where we want our guests to feel comfortable. We have guests that come from work in aloha shirts, shorts and slippers, and on the weekends, we have girls dressed to the nines, going out but not to a club. We even have had some famous people come through our doors as they feel comfortable in the easy, chill environment.
Since I’m a father, we will do our best to accommodate orders for kids, as I know how picky their palates can be. Fatherhood has made me a softer version — Huck 2.0.
We want to thank all our friends and customers that have been patient and supportive as we have come a long way. Having this job gave me the opportunity to meet great people over the years, some have become my best friends and some have become staff. I don’t think I will get bored anytime soon.