I have a group of friends who primarily — if not exclusively — eat at restaurants with a BYOB policy.
And they don’t care that much about the food, either.
But one of the women in the group does — and she wanted to scout out a new Burmese restaurant in Moiliili before booking it for an upcoming group dinner.
(Yes, it’s BYOB.)
It’s called Dagon, a new eatery highlighting the flavorful food of Burma in the space vacated by 4Kings Kitchen on King Street near Spices and Kokua Market.
To be honest, I didn’t know much about Burmese cuisine. (Turns out, not many Americans have experienced it, either.) But I quickly learned about the rich, savory/salty flavors it’s known for, the influences from southeast Asia and an interesting array of ingredients like ngapi, fermented fish or shrimp paste, and the fruit da nyin thee. (The now-closed Lemongrass Cafe in downtown Honolulu was the only other Burmese restaurant I had tried before. And I still couldn’t properly explain it.)
And let me just say, Myanmar just might be my new favorite cuisine.
Here’s what our evening looked like:
Dagon is in the space vacated by 4Kings Kitchen in Moiliili. There’s parking down a small side street/alley next to the restaurant. It’s small but quaint inside, and the artwork on the walls really adds to the ambiance.
The green tea salad, shown at the top of the page, is one of the restaurant’s most popular dishes. It combines chopped lettuce, peanuts, toasted sesame seeds, green and yellow split peas, deep-fried garlic chips, tomatoes and sunflower seeds topped with a paste made from fermented tea leaves imported directly from Burma. The salad is then mixed together table side. Simply delicious.
Here’s the platha, an Indian-style multi-layered bread that was both crispy and soft. It’s served with a pumpkin curry — either with meat or vegetarian. I swear, I could have eaten this whole plate as my meal.
Here’s the mango chicken, a fairly safe dish for those hesitant to try Burmese food. It came with a savory-sweet — not spicy — sauce and onions, carrots, bell peppers and cilantro. Great over rice.
This is the shrimp and eggplant dish with a red sauce that wasn’t spicy at all. The restaurant also has a pumpkin shrimp stew that we almost got but opted for this instead.
Here’s the garlic noodles dish made with wide noodles and topped with crispy bites of chicken. The garlic was not overpowering, though it might have been too subtle for garlic lovers.
Burmese cuisine is riddled with noodle dishes, and here’s another one with chunks of meat, broccoli and bell peppers in a not-so-spicy curry sauce.
We tried the fried rice that’s made with a bean that takes two days to prepare. This dish would probably be the most familiar to local palettes with its soy and garlic base, onions, carrots and edamame.
And here’s the Indian-Burmese rice, worth trying. It a Jasmine-style rice with cardamon and cinnamon topped with slices of tomatoes and cucumbers, nuts and raisins. So interesting and different.
In all, we had a great meal with flavorful dishes that cost about $12 per person. (Gotta love BYOB!)
The only downsides are parking and limited dining space. By the time we had left at 7 p.m., there were already about five people waiting for tables outside.
My suggestion: make reservations, get there early for parking and bring a nice moscato. You won’t leave disappointed — or hungry.
Dagon, 2671 S. King St. in Moiliili near Spices. Hours: 5-10 p.m. Wednesdays through Mondays, closed Tuesdays. Phone: (808) 947-0088.
Great read! Adding this place on my #bucketlist.
CAT: Aaaiiiyyyaaahhh! Fuud Pix! Tenks! Right in my neighborhood. I had a hunch the 4 Kings was going to fold, needed a wild card like guud fuud and service to last.
Thanks again for letting us know a great place to try during the holidays! I will try before UH volleyball tonight.
Hey Cat…do you or your friends have a current list of Honolulu restaurants with a BYOB policy? I’m like your friends who seek out the BYOB eateries.
I just found some good BYOB restaurant lists on UrbanSpoon and Yelp! No need to bother your friends!
Didn’t they have anything spicy? That pumpkin curry I’ll bet it be great with a little kick.