Our Picks for the Weekend
Hawaiian Hut hosts qualifying event for HawaiiSlam finals
The fifth annual HawaiiSlam spoken-word season continues at the popular First Thursdays monthly event next week at the Hawaiian Hut, always hosted by Kealoha. The night's top two poets will qualify for the HawaiiSlam finals in April that will determine the team that will represent the state at this year's National Poetry Slam in Madison, Wis.
February's featured poet will be Tshaka Menelik Imhotep Campbell, above. Originally from London and of Jamaican descent, Campbell considers himself "a reincarnated West African Griot," and is a highly seasoned writer and performer. He was a member of the 2004 Nuyorican slam team, '05's San Francisco slam team, and the 2006-07 Hollywood slam team, and just last year, a grand slam champion himself.
Doors open at 7:45 p.m., with admission at $3 before 8:30 p.m., and $5 afterwards. For more info, call 387-9664 or check out HawaiiSlam.com.
First Friday gets in spirit of Chinese New Year with lion dances and art
Kung Hee Fat Choy! First Friday downtown is kicking off with lion dances, in honor of the upcoming Chinese New Year. And in the spirit of the Year of the Rat, the ARTS at Marks Garage will feature art by residents, businesses and friends of Chinatown.
Elsewhere, California's Los Jaichackers make their Hawaii premiere with the experimental audio-video performance of "Double Grooves and Dirty Menudo" at thirtyninehotel. The usual array of performance artists at the Ong King Arts Center will be augmented by the multimedia digital work of Michael Romano. And "Winter Swells -- North Shore 2007" by photographer Clark Little opens at the Chinatown Boardroom.
Many other galleries will be eagerly awaiting your visits Friday starting at 5 p.m. Gallery walk maps are available online at www.artsatmarks.com.
Ska band the Toasters performing two shows with local favorites
Inheritors of the British 2-Tone sound, ska rockers the Toasters return to Honolulu for a couple of shows Friday and Saturday nights at Anna Bannana's and NextDoor, respectively.
Founder Robert "Bucket" Hingley continues to lead the longest active ska band in the U.S. Last year, the band celebrated its 25th year of existence with the release of their latest album "One More Bullet," featuring such skankin' tracks as "Where's the Freedom," "Night Train to Moscow" and a remake of a 20-year-old tune, "Run Rudy Run Redux."
Local faves Pimpbot and Golfcart Rebellion will open for the band at Anna's, and the mighty Go Jimmy Go at NextDoor. The Anna's gig is an all-ages show starting at 8 p.m., with NextDoor only allowing in those 18 and over. Cover for both shows are $15, with presale tickets available at 808shows.com.
For more info, call 330-5016 or 220-4941.
327 Keawe St. / 566-6999
My co-workers and I were very happy to discover Ploi Thai across Keawe Street from the soon-to-be-gone Comp USA. At the new restaurant, plate lunches can be had for $8 and sit-down prix fixe meals of an appetizer, entree and starch choice, for $12. Entree choices vary every day, but run the gamut of curries to a black pepper chicken stir-fry heavier on garlic than black pepper.
Lunch time is booming here, so this restaurant does have what it takes to survive in a spot that has been difficult for several restaurants that have come and gone over a three- or four-year period.
The food -- an attempt to elevate the Thai restaurant above that of a typical mom-and-pop restaurant -- is a fusion of Thai, Laotian and a hint of Japanese and is often very good, but I experienced many a V8 moment, as in, for the money, I could have had ... (uh, $19.95 lamb chops from the Fat Greek). Although chef Olay Somsanith's cuisine is a cut above the norm, to most people a curry is a curry is a curry, which is $12 to $18 here.
One standout is the curry shrimp saute ($18), with a mellow yellow curry sauce stirred with scrambled egg that gives it a nice thick, velvety texture. An oyster crepe ($18) also makes for good comfort food, with a generous helping of pan-fried oysters, bean sprouts and shallots topping the egg crepe.
Many people also like the Ploi Thai Fried Chicken ($15) which doesn't have the crispy surface one would expect. It's instead, basted with Thai herbs, smooth and caramelized to a deep mahogany color while remaining moist inside, a plus any day.
Open 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays, and 5 to 9:30 p.m. daily. Costs about $20 to $25 for two for lunch; dinner about $40 to $60 for two.
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