Taste the Tropics at Hula’s Bar & Grill
By KIM ANDERSON - email@example.com
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Honolulu, Hawaii, is 4,270 miles from Biloxi. Hula’s Bar & Grill is just up Interstate 10 in the Diamondhead Yacht Club, if you’re in the mood for a little of the laid-back, grass-skirt island life without committing to a $1,200 airline ticket.
Hula’s, run by the Silver Slipper Casino, was the brainchild of Slipper COO and General Manager John Ferrucci’s wife, Bridget. The previous restaurant at the DYC, Pier House, “never got off the ground the way we’d hoped it would,” said David Pipkin, the Slipper’s food and beverage director. With Hula’s, “we’re shooting for a broader market, and we’ve made it more fun.”
Starting in April, Pipkin said, Hula’s is planning Sunday events such as a luau-style pig roast with shrimp boil and cookouts, in conjunction with weekly classic-car and bike shows.
The Big Island Chicken Sandwich has some surprises inside its Hawaiian sweet-roll bun.
Hula’s opened Jan. 29, after a five-day extreme makeover that doubled the bar space and added six televisions -- including an enormous, 8-foot projection screen that adds to the ambiance with its nonstop vistas, towering waterfalls and breathtaking land-and-seascapes of the Hawaiian islands. Presumably the screen can show sporting events, as well.
As for the menu makeover, “we kept the best of what we had at Pier House -- pasta, burgers -- and streamlined the rest of the menu,” Pipkin said. Big sellers so far are the teriyaki beef skewers ($7.95) and smoked tuna dip ($6.95).
The menu has some interesting offerings along the Hawaiian theme. The clever-name winner is the Hula Hoops ($5.95) -- known to mainlanders as onion rings. The Hula Burger ($8.95) and Big Island Chicken Sandwich ($7.95) are served on Hawaiian rolls, a bold choice. Of course there’s seafood, and po-boys filled with shrimp, catfish, chicken ($8.95) or oysters ($10.95). And the pasta dish you’re served is of your own devising, from among three pasta and three sauce choices, and one or all of mushrooms, chicken, shrimp, meatballs and Italian sausage.
The Hula Hoops were an irresistible temptation, and when they arrived heaped in a polished aluminum flat-bottomed boat shaped bowl, with ketchup in a separate space at the transom, we were hooked.
We each got our own little dinghy to eat them from -- too cute. And the thick-cut rings were fried to crunchy on the outside, with meltingly tender translucent onion inside. Delish.
The Big Island Chicken Sandwich had some surprises inside. Its Hawaiian-roll bun itself was dense, yeasty and sweet -- a meal in itself, except it also housed a lightly seasoned grilled chicken breast, two slices of tangy, juicy, grilled pineapple, and a dollop of cole slaw.
The big bun happily absorbed all the juices, and was nearly a dessert by the end.
Sandwiches and po-boys come with a choice of steak fries, sweet potato fries, cole slaw or tropical fruit. The sweet potato fries were a perfect accompaniment to the chicken sandwich -- a touch of breading and just the right crunch.
So get your fill of island fare, or kick up your fun quotient with umbrella-topped cocktails to the plink of ukuleles and the plaintive tones of a steel guitar, and never have to leave the mainland.