Sunday, August 28, 2011

Waikiki Review of Two Eateries, Pane & Vino and Siam Square

Waikiki, photo by Miss Rogue

Waikiki Restaurants on Lewers Street, on the backside of Waikiki, offer visitors an alternative to the usual Hawaiian tourist traps. For happy hour or dinner, stroll down to the corner of Kuhio Avenue and Lewers Street. On the second story above an ABC Store are Siam Square for Thai food and Pane & Vino for Italian fare.

Waikiki Travel to the Pane & Vino Wine Bar

Pane & Vino is a dimly lit, funky Italian wine bar that customers either love or hate, run by a Japanese bartender named Masa Fumi. He is a friendly host that sorely aims to please with his well chosen wines and sign on the wall, "In Vino Veritas." The wine bar has been around since 2005, built in an old style sugar shack with a metallic counter, exuding an industrial look with cozy seating.

Oddly, the wine menu doesn't go into detail with the names of vineyards and years, but the Pinot Grigio and Prosecco, Italy's version of sparkling wine, won't disappoint. They also serve Grappa, a strong aperitif made from the grapes of Gran Cru vineyards in Tuscany. This liqueur is easy on the palette, then settles with a strong warm afterglow. The bar has a great, though limited, collection of Italian wines, and if guests don't want to drink a bottle, the house wines are satisfying. The Chianti smells like cherry with a hint of vanilla and the Pinot Noir tastes like ripened fruit with a smooth texture.
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As for food, Pane & Vino offer classic antipasti with large portions that two can share, like their tasty insalata di mare, a seafood salad. Bruschetta and crostini antipasti, lamb and several pasta dishes are also on the menu. Their three desserts are tiramisu, chocolate mousse and cheesecake.

Waikiki Restaurant for Thai Food

Siam Square, next to Pane & Vino in Waikiki, offers genuine Thai cuisine for the adventurous palate. The servers are on "Hawaii time," meaning they don't pay too much attention to promptness, but if a customer is enjoying a leisurely vacation, he might not mind. The atmosphere is bright and casual, with a television on the wall showing Thailand travelogues.

The food is definitely worth the wait. The waitress asks which type of meat is desired or if vegetarian is preferred, and then the level of heat or spiciness: mild, medium or hot. Their most popular salad, Green Papaya Salad, is delicious and the bowls of soup are so huge they should be shared. Other favorites are beef satay, summer rolls with shrimp, pad thai and thai iced tea.

For anyone tired of ukelele music and flower-shirted waiters, Siam Square and Pane & Vino would be a great change of pace. And the prices are reasonable considering it's Waikiki. If coming by car instead of walking, park in the street nearby for free or use the muni parking lot nearby.
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