Writer

Doraku

Doraku

I just got married in Hawaii.

I’m probably going to mention it a few more times; I’m kinda excited. It’s like leveling up to the next stage of life and I got to fight a hurricane to do it. How many other people get to fight a hurricane to get married? Breanne Fultz – builder of this website – and I tied the knot on Break Neck Beach in what was left of the hurricane after we beat it.

Welcome to the next level, indeed.

But, yes, that does mean that I was in Hawaii for a couple weeks and we lucked out on stuff to do. Bree and I are both fond of craft fairs and farmer’s markets and we got there just in time for a big one, a massive convention hall turned into a show floor for all manner of cool stuff. We skipped breakfast to get there early, skipped lunch to stake our claim, and by the time we got out we were famished and locked in downtown Honolulu.

where’s the closest place to eat?” said me. “I’m famished.”

Should we stick in downtown Honolulu?” asked Bree.

Well, we are kinda locked here,” I answered. “What’s nearby?”

Bree checked the interwebs and we found a place with good reviews that was a few blocks away, so we started walking there. From a block away it looked closed, but the restaurant next to it looked open and live, and as we walked past it I turned to Bree.

We should just eat here,” quoth me.

Maybe,” she said, “I still wanna check out this other place.”

We went next door and found that the place was open, just mostly empty. The patrons looked at us with glassy eyes, and it occurred to me that we were the youngest people there by decades. The decor reeked of the extravagant decadence of bygone eras. We were seated but not before we got a chance to look at some plates on other tables, small little scraps of nothing artfully arranged and costing infants and limbs.

We looked at one another at our table, feeling ourselves sized up by management. I think they were wondering if we could afford to eat there. Bree thought they were sizing us up for darker purposes.

You wanna go next door?” she asked.

I nodded.

We left.

It felt like leaving a tomb, the Hawaii air less dreary and heavy than the trap we had just escaped. Live music wafted over from a place I kept called Dothraki.

It’s Doraku,” Bree said, smiling and rolling her eyes as we entered.

Welcome to Doraku,” the greeter said. “For two?”

We were seated, settled, presented with menus. We’d gotten there just in time for happy hour and our server was quick to point that out, laughing along with us and setting us at ease. He got us drinks and chatted a bit, answering questions and making suggestions – flavors that paired well with one another once he’d gotten a general sense of our palettes.

You need to know this because there is no better value in Honolulu for happy hour eating. From four to six every evening, you can eat like a god for maybe twenty bucks.

Three dollars will get you edamame steamed with Hawaiian salt, a good palette cleanser and snack to get the evening moving. Their ahi poke and tuna tataki are criminally good, but it’s their ginger chicken karage that will have you wondering what sort of heaven you have wandered into – it’s delicious and not even the best thing on the menu. 

You might think that would be the lobster tempura, which melts into a golden-tasting perfection the moment it touches your tongue, but you would be wrong. You might even think of the garlic chili wings, which all by themselves are proof of some sort of loving deity.

And yet you would be wrong again.

The best thing on the menu is the impossibly good crispy Brussel sprouts, which are so good we ended up getting another order of them for dessert. How does that even happen?

Brussel sprouts a maligned vegetable simply because so few people know how to cook them; they just end up broiled or steamed, a process which turns them from food and into a sick sort of penance. I’ve got a handful of good sprout recipes and whip them out for people I love, but these? These left my recipes in the dust, wondering how anyone could ever want to eat anything else.

Mingled with chilis, onions, candied walnuts, and a sweet mint underlay, you’ll wonder why anyone ever chooses to eat anything else. It’s not on the happy hour menu but that shouldn’t stop you from getting them – it’s the best food you’ll ever eat for $9.95.

We had an awesome time.

We’ve gotta bring everyone back here.”

No argument.”

We took note of the address, grabbed a business card, and left… only to run into another location the next day, this one right on the strip in Waikiki. So we gathered our players and pulled them down the strip, all those brave souls that had come out to join us on our Hawaiian elopement.

Where are we going?” my best man asked. 

Dothraki.”

Like… the horse people?” 

“The Khals wish they ate as well as we’re about to.”

“It’s not Dothraki,” Bree grumbled. “He means Doraku.” The two of them shared a look. 

We wanted to celebrate our friends and family for coming to join us and could think of no better and no more immediate way of doing so than taking them here. It was a wise decision; everyone ended up raving about it as hard as we did.

To wit: everyone snuck back at least once for more food. Bree and I were on Oahu for thirteen nights, and three of them were spent at Doraku. Our last night on the island was spent rewarding ourselves for an adventure well-handled, and I can think of no better place where we could have eaten.

10/10, would go again. Awesome service, incredible value, and in the name of whatever god you believe in you need to try their Brussel sprouts. You can check out their menu and locations for yourself by clicking here



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