night Life / No, I have not been stalking the pastry chef that totally reminds me of a local Justin Timberlake. Travis Inouye drew me to Ka on Wednesdays at 5pm to gobble up his $5 pizzas during happy hour. Kimchee on a pizza is good; Travis bringing the pizzas personally while tossing his funny/sexy/confidant/Justin Timberlake-ish banter is even better. I’m not lecherous. He’s an amazing chef (who happens to be ridiculously good looking). I eat. I swoon.
So anyway, after finishing up a meeting in Waikiki and wondering where to grab food before the madness of downtown on the first First Friday of the year, I received a text from him. He was texting ME. “We’re doing a soft opening at my new spot tonight. It’s on Nimitz by Best Buy and Party City, bring a friend if you want.” I made it there from Waikiki during rush hour so fast that it was pretty much a teleport. The place is called Le Tour Café and it’s the brainchild of the folks who brought us Ba-le, so you can bet that they do a mean meatball bahn mi. They also make the best croque–monseiur tartin I’ve ever bitten into, and macaroons that brought tears to my eyes, they were so soft and delicious. It’s officially open now. Go. If for nothing else, go for the kalua pig with lomi tomatoes flatbread, a la Trav.
Since Le Tour was close to Le Downtown, I decided to do First Friday. Not my first choice but I figured I might as well start 2011 shuffling along the streets with the few thousand people that made it what it is today. Without them, I’m not sure anyone down there would be as successful as they are and able to provide the rest of us with the off-night craziness we’ve come to love and appreciate so much. Hotel Street was buzzing with two new venues between Nuuanu Avenue and Smith Street, and there was a bright pink Christmas tree outside PYNK. Paul Shih almost has Lotus Downtown ready and it fits in beautifully. His neighbors are just as welcoming. They are interested to see how Hotel Street will be looking with the cross breeding. After all, this is Hawaii. I love the idea of the hipsters from The Manifest, the business professionals from Bar35, the indie kids from Nextdoor and the arty music intellectuals from thirtyninehotel piling into Downbeat Diner after last call like it’s the new New Wave. The seats are just far enough apart that spontaneous dance sessions could break out. I hope it happens.
After First Friday, came the F*ck First Friday event at The Mercury Bar on Saturday. To see so many people there and at Nextdoor for the too-amazing-for-words ALT/AIR CD release on a night following a First Friday tells me there is enough room for everyone in our big little Chinatown.
Does anyone realize what the year of the Golden Rabbit means, by the way? I looked it up. It means that for once, it may seem possible for us to be carefree and happy without too many annoyances. I’ll take that.