Our Picks for the Weekend
Find health, community at Chinatown Potluck
A free community-based festival, geared to exemplify the rich cultural diversity in Chinatown, will commence on Monday.
The Chinatown Potluck marks the grand opening of a campaign called "Healthy-Bound Chinatown," intended to raise awareness of the importance of a nutritious and balanced diet in sustaining a prosperous and healthy life. Delectable cultural dishes with a healthy twist will be provided, as well as entertainment and live music.
Community residents are welcome to bring their own dishes and, more importantly, their opinions, on various current issues in the neighborhood, to share at the potluck. Seats will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
It all happens from 5 to 8 p.m. at Kukui Tower, 35 N. Kukui St.
Planning participants include the Hawai'i Arts Alliance, EAH Nonprofit Housing Corporation, Kalihi-Palama Health Center, Weed and Seed, the Pacific Gateway Center, and the restaurant and business owners and representatives of residents at Kukui Tower and Kekaulike Housing. Call 203-9509.
Faith Rivera to give free church performance
You're probably familiar with the voice of Faith Rivera if you saw "Forgetting Sarah Marshall." On the soundtrack, she's the one singing a Hawaiian-language version of "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" with the Coconutz (aka Daniel Ho and friends).
Now based in Los Angeles, the Kauai-born singer-songwriter returns to the islands for a special Friday concert at Unity Church of Hawaii. The concert will feature songs from her latest album, "Maluhia," described on her CD Baby Web page as "Madonna's energy meets Shakira's grooviness meets KT Tunstall/Melissa Etheridge's organic folk-rock. Hip shakin' rhythms, eclectic pop/R&B/world arrangements, 'contagious songs' and a positive message for listeners of all ages."
Rivera is also a 2003 Daytime Emmy award-winner for Outstanding Original Song as featured on NBC's soap "Passions."
The concert starts at 7 p.m. at the chapel, and while admission is free, donations will be accepted. Call 735-4436 or visit unityhawaii.org.
Robotic-themed event paves way for Pixar film
The Children's Discovery Center has a special event this weekend in anticipation of the upcoming Disney/Pixar movie "WALL-E." Since the movie's story is about a robot's comic adventure as he chases his dream-girl robot across the galaxy, the center will have robot-themed demonstrations and activities, including a "build-a-bot" event, a robofest, the Junior First LEGO League, and robot demonstrations by students from Palisades and Kanoelani elementary schools.
The first 100 attendees will receive a movie poster from "WALL-E," which opens in theaters nationwide on June 27.
The center will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. General admission is $8, $6.75 for children 2 to 17, $5 senior citizens, and free to children under 2. Call 524-5437.
Makaha Sons' bash takes a walk to the 'Waterfront'
This year, the 6th edition of the Makaha Sons' "Take a Walk in the Country" is being called "the Waterfront Bash." Being "in the country" will have only a figurative meaning, as the concert takes place at Aloha Tower Marketplace in the area formerly known as Kapono's/Events at the Tower.
As always, Moon and the Koko brothers offer the best in traditional Hawaiian music and dance, this time around featuring The Hawaiian Connection, Na Iwaiwa, dancer (and Jerome's daughter) Kealo Koko and some of the top hula halau from Oahu, including Hokulani De Rego's Halau Hula 'O Hokulani, Chinky Mahoe's Halau Hula 'O Kawaili'ula, Kaleo Trinidad's Ka Leo 'O Laka I Kahikina O Ka La and Ellen Castillo's Puka'ikapuaokalani Hula Halau.
Tickets are $30. Call 282-3303 or visit makahasons.com.
Banana Leaf Cafe
McCully Shopping Center / 946-3338
You might say the owners of Banana Leaf Cafe swapped one noodle for another when they opened the Italian-style pasta cafe in McCully Shopping Center, having started with five Sumo Ramen shops. The venture could have gone far awry.
Luckily, they got it mostly right and the result is a restaurant worth trying.
Banana Leaf Cafe is cozy and clean, with a vibe of casual elegance. With Chinese waitstaff, I assumed Chinese ownership, which turned out to be correct. Not that we're supposed to notice. Maybe that's politically incorrect, but I find places of origin and training do have a way of making themselves known in the balance of flavors on the plate, which is not necessarily wrong. It just is.
The only two times I detected the Chinese influence were in the chicken and mushroom risotto ($10.95), in which the mushrooms were not porcini, but dehydrated and reconstituted shiitake; and tails left on the shrimp topping a thin-crust seafood pizza ($10.95) also featuring chopped clams, mussels and calamari.
The risottos ($9.95) are made with a light cream sauce that doesn't leave you feeling as bloated as those filled with cheese at other restaurants.
To start, try the eggplant Parmesan ($6.95) of Italian eggplant, perfectly baked so it's neither too chewy nor too limp, served with a mellow marinara, mozzarella and a sprinkling of Parmesan.
I really like the marinara sauce here because it is so mellow, when so many other restaurants serve tomato sauces that are off-kilter, whether too sour, sugary or salty.
The combination of garlic, olive oil and pasta in the chicken and anchovy spaghettini ($10.95) is so seductive, I ended up eating only the pasta, leaving most of the chicken behind. It's not that the chicken wasn't good. I just didn't want to fill up to a point where I couldn't eat anymore pasta.
Open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. Costs about $25 for two.
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