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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, December 22, 2006

THE NIGHT STUFF
In a year of enjoyable pub crawls, these were tops

By Derek Paiva
Advertiser Entertainment Writer

Patrons groove to Greed Decade tunes spun at NextDoor's Wednesday-night Acid Wash weekly.

Advertiser library photos

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Paisley Hosaka mixes up something tasty at Slammers.

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Ginai performs for The Dragon Upstairs guests.

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2007 worries me.

See, this week I'm offering props to five favorite venues and events I checked out for Night Stuff columns in 2006 a list I had a surprisingly difficult time putting together.

The good news? It was tough to choose among so many thoroughly enjoyable outings not because our town's offerings were so awful.

The bad? With the new year almost upon us, I'm finding a recent dip in new regular events and venues ripe for potential Night Stuff review.

Are one-off guest-DJ and club events the new low-risk panacea for promoters combating the indifference of ever-fickle nightcrawlers to stuff not new? Are open-all-week lounges and bars such as Pearl, O-sake and Bar 35 increasingly too risky and expensive an investment in our mostly-in-bed-by-10-on-weeknights metropolis?

We'll see.

These were my favorite five Night Stuff visits of 2006.

ACID WASH

Where: NextDoor, 43 N. Hotel St., 548-6398

When: 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Wednesdays

What we said then: "Refreshingly irony-free (and) music-focused ... late night love-in for '80s music fans ... who don't need a theme-party atmosphere of Greed Decade fashions, accessories or John Hughes flicks silently screening as context."

And now: It's awesome, totally awesome to see the casual, come-as-you-are weekly garnering a loyal following and even larger crowd of '80s-conceived club kids grooving to New Romantic, Second British Invasion, goth/industrial, pop, rock and hip-hop sets.

EASTSIDE GRILL

Where: Puck's Alley, 1035 University Ave., 952-6555

When: 11 a.m.-1:30 a.m. daily except Wednesdays; 2 p.m.-1:30 a.m. Wednesdays

What we said then: "Distinctly local-style, friendly, come-as-you-are kind of comfort. ... Every conceivable example of local-style bar grinds ... Prices were affordable; and portions generous."

And now: I'm still trying to work my way through Eastside's three pupu menus without being tempted to repeat order items I now love "da unique" teriyaki steak, beer-battered zucchini slices, garlic passion sizzling-platter pupu steaks.

HANKS CAFE HONOLULU/THE DRAGON UPSTAIRS

Where: 1038 Nu'uanu Ave., 526-1410/526-1411

When: Hanks, 1 p.m.-2 a.m. daily; Dragon, 6 p.m.-midnight/2 a.m., Thursdays-Sundays

What we said then: About Hanks: "Singing the "Bam! Bam! Bum!" chorus of "Sweet Caroline" with Hanks regulars, I feel at home." About The Dragon Upstairs: "Imaginative interior decor. ... An intimate, stand-alone Chinatown lounge ... featuring a live fusion of Hawaiian and jazz musical styles."

And now: Tuesday night cover band BBC (the self-described "two British blokes and one Chicano") still do killer acoustic takes of The Beatles' "A Day in the Life" and Pink Floyd's "Brain Damage" if asked nicely, at Hanks. Upstairs at the Dragon on Fridays, jazz and pop standards from vocalist Ginai and pianist/multi-instrumentalist Pierre Grill match up fabulously with the loft's cozy, retro-cool Chinese kitsch decor.

PEARL

Where: Ho'okipa Terrace, third level, Ala Moana Center, 944-8000

When: 5 p.m.-4 a.m. Fridays-Saturdays; 5 p.m.-2 a.m. Sundays, Tuesdays-Thursdays; closed Mondays

What we said then: "Inventive fruit-, herb- and spice-infused cocktails crafted by Las Vegas-based mixologist Francesco Lafranconi ... One of the best mojitos in town has to be Pearl's pineapple version."

And now: I'm still a sucker for Lafranconi's fun, tasty and creative fresh cocktail creations and Pearl's generous wine pours. Check out the restaurant/nightclub's more loungy early-evening hours service is more personable, the crowd smaller and the downtempo world-beat a sweet soundtrack for noshing and imbibing.

SLAMMERS BAR & GRILL

Where: 1683 Kalakaua Ave., 946-4209

When: 2 p.m.-2 a.m. Mondays-Saturdays; 7 a.m.-2 a.m. Sundays

What we said then: "Casual-lounge-meets-sports-bar-type feel. ... A diversity of local-style bar grinds and selections from an actual in-house sushi bar ... made for some tough decisions. ... Service was beyond-attentive wonderful."

And now: I still fight off weekly at-work cravings for Slammers' poke roll (tender sweet-and-shoyu-salty 'ahi, ogo, kaiware sprouts, Maui onion and green onion wrapped in rice and nori), furikake garlic chicken and udon fried noodles with bacon, kama-boko and garlic chives.

HONOR ROLL 2006

Skyline at the Hanohano Room, Ryan's Grill's Beerfest, Two at Palomino, Soul Clap at thirtynine-hotel, O-sake Sushi Bar & Lounge and 9th Ave. Rock House.

Reach Derek Paiva at dpaiva@honoluluadvertiser.com.