Saturday, September 17, 2016

Review: Bar 35, Honolulu HI

In 49 states, "Hawaiian pizza" implies pie topped with ham and pineapple. But in Hawaii, a state blessed with deep and varied culture, what other pies stand out? What do the locals eat?
"Veggelicous" - from
I found a well-written article about the best pizza on the island of Oahu, and narrowed my choices down to those in Honolulu. Not surprisingly, none are in the tourist-heavy Waikiki area. With three colleagues, I set out for Bar 35 in Downtown Honolulu.
Exterior of Bar 35 on N. Hotel St
Bar 35 in on narrow Hotel Street in the Chinatown district. A narrow front leads into a deep space, with a large bar and dining area in front. Toward the back there are two semi-private rooms with cozy seating and bead curtains. Further back is a large patio area.

On this Thursday evening visit, we opted for one of the back rooms because the main dining area was full with patrons.
Front room
The pizzas, which give a slight nod to Roman-style al taglio pie, come in regular (personal) size and large. We ordered a mix of four personal pizzas to share, each one began with a base of tomato sauce and mozzarella

  • Veggelicious, with zucchini, olives, mushrooms, basil, and sesame oil 
  • Deep Forest, with prosciutto, mushrooms, and EVOO
  • Sweet Bangkok, with Chinese sausage, chili sauce, and cilantro
  • Simple Pleasure, with basil and EVOO

Bar 35, despite its pizza reputation, is bar first and pizzeria second. There was a great variety of "happy hour" (until 9pm) drink bargains, including a wonderful beer selection and $5 drafts. We all drank beer, from a simple Belgian style blonde to a rich bottled stout, and the selections were terrific.
Sweet Bangkok
Each pizza was built on a very thin, almost cracker-like crust. The closest comparison I would make is Jules Thin Crust, another pizza that shares the thin crust, elongated oval shape, and exotic gourmet toppings. Is it pizza, is it flatbread? Labels not that important!
Simple Pleasure
My choice was the Sweet Bangkok, and it was a pie where the unusual toppings and flavors clicked very well. I might change it only by adding a spicy element. I rarely choose a veggie topped pie, but the Veggelicious was a success. The vegetable toppings were applied in proportions that did not overwhelm the thin and somewhat delicate crust.
Underside of the crust
The most complex flavors were found on the Deep Forest pie, where the cured meat and the mushrooms supplied the maximum umami. The Simple Pleasure pizza (we'd call it "plain" on the mainland) offered the best chance to savor the crust, which was a little crisp, a little chewy, and flavorful on its own.
John with our server
In the final analysis, Bar 35 is a great space with a hip crowd, wonderful drinks, and very good pizza to go with those drinks. I'm not sure what it would require to elevate this from excellent to destination pizza; perhaps reduce the sauce, cheese, and toppings load to let that crust shine a bit more.
Any visitor to Honolulu should grab the chance to get out of the tourist area of Waikiki and see a bit more of Hawaii as the locals live. Bar 35 is a great choice to drink in the vibe of the local bar scene, have superb beer at bargain prices, and eat some very good pizza while you're doing it. 

Bar 35 Honolulu Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

1 comment:

  1. Some of the greatest pizzas are served in bars. Maybe someday this place will kick up their pizza a little and make it a great one.