We were at Koko Marina next to Zippys just peering in at around 10 am when an employee poked her head through the door and offered us a menu. For that alone, Sophie's Gourmet Hawaiian Pizzeria can give itself a plus one.
We came back later that day, around 11:30 am and found the restaurant surprisingly empty. We had expected a large crowd of the curious, you know -- those kama'aina that give the new restaurant on the block a try early on. It was a good thing we got there early because the wide variety of unique ingredients had us slowly mulling our many choices. Unlike your usual pizza restaurants, Sophie's has much more than pepperoni and olives. While you can still get those mainstays, Sophie's also offers Bulgogi, Char Siu, Thai Curry Chicken and much more. Like cilantro? Sophie's has it. Don't like it? Well, the good news is that it's your pizza. Each selection is a 12" pizza meant for one to two people, and so priced. A three topping pizza is $10.95 and a five topping pizza is $12.95. The chef selections with a wide variety of complementary garnishes are also $12,95.
After ordering, we waited around five minutes as our pizzas cooked. Just about the same time, the restaurant started filling up.
A word of warning, we have picky pizza eaters in our household. A word of relief, everyone in our lunch party loved their choice. The traditional pizza eaters liked their pepperoni and sausage combos. The gourmet eaters loved their picks, replete with char siu, curry chicken, jalapeno, macadamia cream sauce, just to name a few.
When we were partway through our meal, one of the owners, John, stopped by to ask how we liked our meal. He seemed delighted to be the new entrepreneur on the block and also seemed delighted that he -- a Hawaii Kai resident -- had nearly no commute to his new venture. He also asked how we liked our curry chicken. The two of us who had chosen it as a topping agreed that it was very tasty. John then proceeded to proudly tell us how he prepares it a day in advance to allow the marinade to soak through. Admittedly, the curry chicken was very good -- it probably could have been a gourmet dish by itself.
I would unreservedly recommend this new restaurant to anyone. I have only two constructive suggestions to make -- all in the name of selfishness, as I would be thrilled to see this locally owned venture thrive and continue to expand.
1. Continue to be generous with with your portions and toppings. Sophie's main competitor is Pieology, a mainland chain-restaurant with an Aina Haina location. While it bears mentioning that Pieology's pizzas are quite a bit smaller than Sophie's (10.5 inches versus 12 inches) and rather ordinary, Pieology advertises it's all the toppings you choose. Sophie's, on the other hand, has topping limits but in our visit was generous with portions. I hope Sophie's recognizes the value in continuing the practice.
2. Sophie's really needs to change their drink policy to include refills. Koko Marina has a mixed customer base, including mainland visitors. It is common practice to provide refills for soda machine purchases. The cost of limiting refills over what is probably just a couple dimes of soda isn't worth losing a customer or getting a poor review from one. If you need to charge a bit more for soda so that you can include refills, do that instead.
Finally, my plea to neighbors: With a location just a few doors from the already successful Moena Cafe, I predict that Sophie's will also succeed. However, just to be sure, I'm asking all Hawaii Kai residents to give it a try at least once It's a high quality meal at a price reasonable enough to have a few times each month. Seating is available, either indoors in air conditioning, or outside overlooking the marina and boats. It's not your ordinary pizza; it's more of a gourmet dining experience at a pizza price.
Warehouse clubs offer great bargains, but only if you can take advantage of the quantity. This article highlights the preservation of peeled garlic.
You've seen the bag of garlic at Costco and Sam's Club. It's fresh, it's peeled, and it comes in a whopping three pound bag. Most of us can't use it fresh all at once, but if you prepare it in a food processor, add some salt and oil and freeze it, it will keep for six months or more and be more flavorful and useful than fresh.
First, wash the garlic in a colander. Pat dry. Then, place half of it in a large food processor and add a few tablespoons of oil and a teaspoon of salt. Pulse to desired size. Scoop the contents into a gallon Ziploc bag. Repeat with the second half of of garlic. Place in the same Ziploc.
Put the contents in the freezer and check on it in 3-4 hours. Gently break up frozen chunks and place back in the freezer. Repeat one more time. The mixture will keep for at least six months. Your frozen garlic can be used as you would use fresh garlic with the added benefit that it doesn't burn as easily when stir frying. Personally, I think the flavor is better than fresh because of the addition of salt and oil and because the chopping action releases more intense flavor.
June 9, 2016 Downed power line cuts electricity from Kaimuki through Aina Haina during evening rush hour. [KHON]
June 6, 2016 Duc Ong, a physics teacher at Kaiser High in Hawaii Kai, is among the 24 teachers selected to attend Data Camp in Fermilab in Batavia, Illinois. Data Camp is designed to be an introductory workshop for both new and veteran teachers of physics and physical science to learn about particle physics and high energy physics. [UH Manoa]
June 5, 2016 Police arrest three after an armed fight at Sandy Beach. [Hawaii News Now]
June 4, 2016 Niu Valley finally gets its playground [KHON2 Video on YouTube]
June 4, 2016 Hiker Airlifted from Makapuu Tidepools [Star-Advertiser]
June 3, 2016 Hawea heiau and Keawawa wetland are targets of attempted theft [Hawaii News Now]
June 2, 2016 When Hawaii Kai resident Hunter Long drops in at the X-Games in Austin this weekend, she won't only become the first female skateboarder from Hawaii to ever do so, she will be the contest's first skater from Hawaii, period. [Hawaii News Now]
May 31, 2016 Hawaii-based hamburger chain Teddy’s Bigger Burgers will part with its 1950s-inspired diner design and switch its name to Teddy’s Steak Burgers, owners confirmed with PBN this week. [PBN]
The chefs from Kale's Deli, formerly at Hawaii Kai Shopping Center, are now cooking for Juicy Brew in Hale Pawaa (1401 S. Beretania) and Kaimuki (Waialae and 8th). The menu is mostly Vegan and they are highlighting local ingredients. [Facebook]
June 3, 2016
On May 16, 2016 a Permitted Interaction Group of the Honolulu Charter Commission recommended that the Charter Commission place on the general election ballot the following question: “Should the City increase citizen participation in the decision of government though the use of electronic communication, such as television, Internet, and email, and eliminate the Neighborhood Board System?’
The Charter Commission will be considering this recommendation at their meeting on View the agenda here: AGENDA
If you had previously submitted testimony ahead of the May 26 Charter Commission meeting that was cancelled, your testimony was kept and will be provided to the Charter Commissioners for their consideration. You do not need to resubmit it.
Testimony may be submitted online. Testimony may also be emailed. Please be sure to indicate you are testifying on agenda item four (IV).
June is here, and summer is in full swing. Here are a few bargain events in or near Hawaii Kai this month:
Every Tuesday and Wednesday, Regal Theatres offers one dollar ($1) movie matinees for the kids. The Regal Theatre nearest to Hawaii Kai is at Windward Mall, but they also have other locations such as Dole Cannery. [Summertime 2016 Dollar Movie Schedule for Regal Theatres]
Every Wednesday and Thursday Consolidated Theatres offers one dollar ($1) movie matinees for the kids. The nearest Consolidated Theatre offering this special is at Koko Marina, right here in Hawaii Kai. Tickets can be purchased in advance at the window and there is no extra service charge if you stop by in person. Please note that not all Consolidated Theatres are offering this special. Kahala Mall is excluded and the next nearest theater with the special is at Ward. [2016 Summer movies for $1 at Consolidated Theatres - Koko Marina]
The Wildest Show in Town is back at the Honolulu Zoo. Every Wednesday from June 8 - August 10, the Zoo is holding an evening music concert. Admission is $3 and includes sightseeing in the park from 4:30 until the concert end. Bring your own picnic or buy one on site. [Schedule of Entertainers for the Wildest Show in Town 2016]
The Hawaii State Library system kicks off its summer reading program on June 5. Children bringing in their list of read books receive prizes and rewards for their effort.
The Hawaii State Library also hosts a number of events for the month at the Hawaii Kai, Aina Haina and Kaimuki libraries. Check their website for details. Some of this month's events include storytelling, yoga, jazz and a harmonica concert.
This month also features the Friends of the Library used booksale at McKinley High School. Give to a worthy charity while enjoying the benefit of previously enjoyed reading material. Sales begin June 18 and continue for nine more days.
Saturday June 25th features the 3rd Annual Mini Maker Faire at Iolani School. The event is modeled after other DIY maker movement fairs held across the country. Admission is free.
For details on these events and more, please check out this site's home page for calendar updates.
Grand opening of Niu Valley Playground set for June 4. [Facebook]
5/31/2016 Sophie's Gourmet make-your-own pizza has opened at Koko Marina in Hawaii Kai. [Honolulu Magazine]
5/27/2016 Horse enthusiasts have plan to save Koko Crater Stables [Hawaii News Now]
"The city is still exploring options and has not made a final decision on Koko Crater Stables," said Parks and Recreation Deputy Director Michele Nekota. [Star-Advertiser] >
5/25/2016 After a nearly yearlong investigation, the city prosecutor's office has declined to file criminal charges in the death of a 54-year-old ophthalmologist who was hit by two cars during an early morning jog on Kalanianaole Highway near Wailupe Beach Park. [Star-Advertiser] >