LEEWARD OAHU NEWCOMER

With a menu boasting soul-filled comfort foods like- Micah G’s 2lb sizzling Hamburger Steak ($23), Ma’s Beef Short Rib Luau ($26), and Spicy Garlic Butter Shrimp and Clams ($28)- Moani Island Bistro and Bar is a local food lover’s dream. Moani’s family-style mains and live island music make Kapolei’s newest buzz the place to bring all your ohana and friends for a night of onolicous grinds. A proudly local vibe, bold blue walls, and minimalist decor, Moani takes island nightlife to another level.

PUPUS

Moani Island Bistro and Bar Char Siu Pork belly
Char Siu Pork Belly Skewers ($14)

We begin our birthday celebration with three pupu plates. Moani’s pupu menu features an assortment of local favorites like Pipikaula ($16) and Pupule Poke ($18), and for spicy fans – Pele’s Prawns (with LAVA sauce!). Our first item arrives, melt-in-your-mouth heavenly pork belly! Delicious umami sweet sauce coat the Char Siu Pork Belly Skewers ($14) along with drizzles of garlic aioli. The skewers come with a refreshing side of pickled vegetables. The Spicy Ahi Tartar ($18) seems more like a poke dish to me, but I’m not well-versed in tartar. Regardless the fish is fresh, flavorful, and luxuriously topped with tobiko. To finish our pupu trio, we have the Pork Hash Sliders ($15). Nestled between soft, steamed bao buns and topped with namasu and slaw the moist pork hash burger is a fun twist to the staple dumping.

Moani Island Bistro and Bar spicy ahi tartare
Spicy Ahi Tartar ($18)
Moani Island Bistro and Bar pork hash sliders
Pork Hash Sliders ($15)

FAMILY STYLE PLATES

Moani Island Bistro and Bar is the kind of place you want to bring a big group so that you can order as many family-style dishes as possible and taste all delicious variety of food. For our party of four, we order three of the eight dishes. A few times we see the Fried Whole Fish (MKT price) come out and decide we definitely need to bring a bigger group next time to try that beautiful dish.

Moani Island Bistro and Bar Beef short rib
Ma's Beef Short Rib Luau ($26)

I love how Moani creates modern, elevated takes on Hawai’i favorites dishes while keeping it local grind style. You feel like you get one kanack attack but at the same time you still fancy! Our first main arrives and we swoon over the chunks of braised, boneless short ribs alongside stewed luau leaves in Ma’s Beef Short Rib Luau ($26). Poi, lomi tomato, and a bottle of chili pepper water complete this glorious bowl of Hawaiian comfort food at its finest.

Moani Island Bistro and Bar Kiawe smoked ribeye
Kiawe Smoked 16oz Ribeye ($32)

We splurge (it’s our birthday, okay?) on the Kiawe Smoked 16oz Ribeye ($32) and it is worth every bite. Perfectly medium-rare (our request), served with tender garlic butter mushrooms. Sliced to perfection with teriyaki glaze, I keep going back to this dish.

Moani Island Bistro and Bar spicy garlic butter shrimp
Spicy Garlic Butter Shrimp and Clams ($28)

Perfectly seasoned with smoked paprika and lemon, the Spicy Garlic Butter Shrimp and Clams ($28) definitely satisfy my seafood boil cravings. Thinking about this creamy, umami-rich sauce makes my mouth water! We use the hunks of bread to soak up all that heavenly broth. A seafood lovers paradise!!

LUNCH

I also stopped by to try their lunch menu and while they don’t offer family-style mains during lunch, there is plenty to choose from. 

Ka Polo or The Bowl has the largest variety on their lunch menu. We try the Hawaiian Style Ahi Poke ($16) and Karaage chicken ($14) bowls.

I eat poke on the regular from Foodland, Taniokas, but I rarely order poke at a restaurant. Moani’s Poke bowl is outstanding. Decadent, with rich inamona soy and spicy mayo, sprinkled with bubu arare. You can use two squeezable tubes to add chili pepper water or a shoyu glaze. Although this was not a family-style plate, the lunch portions are very generous. Easily shareable, but go ahead and order more plates to try all that Moani has to offer. The chicken was cooked just right, plenty crispy on the outside while being juicy and flavorful on the inside. 

Moani Island Bistro and Bar serves their burgers and sandwiches with a side of fries, tempura onion rings, mac salad, or house greens. if you’re tempted to try more, a side of onion rings is only $4 and mac salad only $3. You’ll find familiar favorites like the “MIBB” Teri burger ($12) and a Garlic Butter Ahi Sandwich ($14), and also some unique offerings like their steamed Pork Hash Burger ($14) and for veggie lovers, a Portobello Mushroom sandwich ($11).

FINAL THOUGHTS

With so many chain restaurants around our rapidly developing second city of O’ahu, Moani Island Bistro and Bar is a breath of fresh air. Innovative menu, intentional community with live music and events, and of course- the food that keeps you coming back again and again.

Next time you find yourself on this side of the island, stop over at Moani- plenty of aloha and eating here feels like coming home.

Moani Island Bistro & Bar
Ka Makana Ali’i Mall
91-5431 Kapolei Parkway
Kapolei, HI 96707
Ph: 808-670-2638
www.themoanihawaii.com