2850 Paa Street
Honolulu, HI 96819
Phone: 808 833 3728
Ask chef Alan Ballesteros of Henry Louis to describe his food and he
pauses for a moment before saying “ International, local, Pacific Rim,
Italian… whatever’s out there.” That’s not to say that the food at this
popular Mapunapuna restaurant and bar is confused – more that it has
wide appeal and a very adventurous chef. Alan, who grew up cooking and
learned his trade through some of the city’s best known restaurants,
like Byron II and owner of Henry Louis, Ron Locar, are passionate about
their food. “I come up with ideas when I travel and go to different
restaurants, “ says Ron “ and I pass them onto Alan who works on them.”
The result is an ever-changing menu that regulars can’t get enough of
and one that’s a real surprise to those who stop by the bar expecting
just a few pupu and beer. “We have a ‘Cheer’s like atmosphere,
here,” says Ron, “where people know who you are– and want to know
about you if you’re new. But we’re also really proud of our food.”
The menu changes every six months or so, and there are weekly
specials that rotate depending on seasonal availability of items such
as fish and vegetables.
But it’s the ribs, ‘the best suckin’ ribs in Hawaii’ that are the
big draw for customers old and new. I’d heard so much about them and
heard that the restaurant claimed they have the best in Honolulu that I
drove out one morning to go check out their claim.
“ We go through abut 140lbs or more of ribs each week, “ says Alan
to give me an idea of how popular the fall-off-the-bone meat really is.
The secret? Well, as in the tradition of all great restaurants, Henry
Louis isn’t telling. Alan says the secret is in the sauce, which
is “a cross between an Asian and Texan base.” The base is more shoyu
influenced and there’s a gratifying lack of the sugary sweetness
that sometimes comes from over use of tomato sauce. They’re sweet for
sure, but there’s definitely a hint of something more – and they truly
do fall off the bone. Served with a plate of potatoes and veggies, it’s
a huge portion to get through on your own – but there are always
customers willing to try.
The atmosphere at Henry Louis is formed largely by the layout of the
bar/restaurant. At one end of the old building, there’s the bar (with a
sports theme) and at the other, the main restaurant – a collection of
tables and booths that offer both privacy and a good view of the
The old Henry Louis was taken over by Ron and his partner in 1993
and they’ve been putting out good food ever since. Ron, who was a
regular customer for years, remembers how his involvement came about.
“Anson Kaneshiro, who worked at Henry Louis, called me one night to
tell me that the bar had been sold and I remember thinking ‘gee, too
bad, I always wanted to own that place’.” He got his opportunity soon
after however, and now spends his time working with Alan on menu
suggestions and keeping the customers coming back for more.
Daily specials include some of Alan’s favorite dishes, and the
regular menu includes soup, salads (one with a killer bleu cheese
dressing) and entrées that feature local favorites such as a Hawaiian
Plate ($12.95), Teriyaki chicken ($12.95) Prime Rib ($17.95) seafood
selections and of course, the best suckin’ ribs in Hawaii.
An extensive pupu menu is available all day and features poke,
sashimi, oysters, fried saimin, and dozens of hot entrees. The local
lunch crowd in Mapunapuna and a host of nighttime regulars already know
the value of the food and the friendship they find at Henry Louis, but
for those who’ve never been, Ron describes his place. “We’re a
friendly place – where everybody knows everyone else.” And where debate
about the ribs is always a topic of conversation. Want to see if they
really are the best suckin’ ribs in Hawaii? Check out Henry Louis and
be the judge.