Circle of Choy's


POSTED: Friday, June 19, 2009

Much has changed over the dozen years since Sam Choy opened his namesake restaurant and microbrewery in Iwilei.





        » When: 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday

» Where: Sam Choy's, 580 N. Nimitz Hwy.


» Cost: $100 ($60 tax-dedecutible)


» Call: 973-5683, ext. 240




When Sam Choy's Breakfast, Lunch & Crab made its debut in 1997, the iconic local chef owned and operated two other restaurants on Oahu and the Big Island.

His Diamond Head location closed in 2008 after 13 years in business, with the Iwilei location dropping the “;Breakfast, Lunch & Crab”; and assuming the Sam Choy's name. His Big Island restaurant was shuttered in 2005 following the death of his mother.

Choy himself has changed as well—he's lost more than 150 pounds in the last three years after doctors warned that his sugar levels were “;out of control.”; He also spends the majority of his time on the road these days, conducting cooking classes and championing the Aloha Spirit amongst former residents and potential tourists.

“;I've always promoted Hawaii and kept it in the forefront,”; Choy said last week while preparing for a trip to Cleveland, Ohio. “;When we go out on the road, there's no strings attached. ... Whatever we can do to help people come to our beautiful state is a win-win (situation) for us.”;

Next week, Choy will return to Oahu to celebrate the 12th anniversary of his Nimitz Highway location. Wednesday's fundraiser will benefit the Ronald McDonald House of Hawaii and will feature dishes by Sam Choy's executive chef Aurelio Garcia, a mojito bar, beer samplings and live music.

“;I thought it would work,”; said Choy of the Breakfast, Lunch & Crab concept. “;That was more my style ... a little more laid back, a come-as-you-are kind of feeling.

“;It was more in line with my personality and my upbringing ... kind of just rolling back to the days when you went to a restaurant and felt welcome.”;

Along with its nautical theme, the remaining Sam Choy's also houses the Big Aloha Brewery, one of the two remaining establishments on Oahu that brews its own beer on-site (Aloha Tower Marketplace's Gordon Biersch is the other). According to Choy, it's all about making customers feel comfortable while dining.

“;People come here and they leave happy,”; he said. “;It's not like going Vegas where people show up and then leave punching the walls, wondering where their money went.”;

In addition to the food and drink, the fundraiser will feature performances by Laga Savea, Sean Tiwanak and Willie K. Stand-up comedian Augie Tulba will host.

“;Willie and I, we have so much fun together,”; Choy said. “;He's grown up a lot and come full-circle.

“;I don't know about his opera stuff, but that bugga is talented!”;

And what does Choy plan to order, once he's back on Oahu?

“;The stew omelet, or the stew and rice,”; he said. “;That, or fried poke.”;