Five Questions with Encore Saloon

Five Questions with Danny Kaaialii, Owner of Encore Saloon

Gathered and photographed by Andrea Lee

Since October 2016, Encore Saloon on North Hotel Street has offered a mezcal specialty bar and Mexican-inspired food. Danny Kaaialii, formerly of Cocina in Kakaʻako, is the man behind it.

What drew you to Chinatown?

The old architecture, the character, the history. Chinatown is unique to Hawaiʻi. It’s a special place. I came for the community too, and its concepts. Smaller, independent business owners are offering a different take here compared to the rest of the island.

What are your customers like?

People who work downtown, the young professionals of the financial district, the law offices. Some tourists. At nighttime, we get the people who are going out, younger people in their 20s.

What is your favorite thing about Chinatown?

The community here is great. There are a lot of young, savvy business people here, doing what I’m doing--acting on the way we see a vision. That’s cool to be a part of.

Your least favorite?

There are issues with crime and homelessness. A lot of people need help here and they can’t get it. They have mental issues, but don’t have the resources. It’s not necessarily Chinatown’s responsibility, it’s a bigger responsibility for the state.

If Chinatown were a drink, what would it be?

A beer and a shot.

Five Questions with Sunflower Cafe

Five Questions with Yu Fang Liu, Co-Owner of Sunflower Cafe

Gathered and photographed by Andrea Lee

Eight years ago, Yu Fang Liu, the former owner of Mei Sum Dim Sum, opened Sunflower Cafe on Maunakea Street. Since then, the restaurant has served dim sum favorites, Hong Kong-style dishes, and the best homemade soy milk.

How has Chinatown changed in the time you’ve been here?

Now there’s more competition from other restaurants, more homeless, more crime and theft, young criminals targeting the elderly… But it is cleaner than before. The streets get cleaned more often.

What are your customers like?

All kinds—local, American, Chinese, Japanese. People come here to eat because the price is better and the food is genuine Hong Kong style. We have lots of regulars.

What is your average day like?

I do the waitressing, so I do everything, the bad and fun.

What is your favorite thing about Chinatown?

My friends are here, most of the people I know are here.

If Chinatown were a dim sum, what kind would it be?

It would be the beef balls. We make it with dried orange skin inside, for a more authentic taste.

Ten Questions with Citizen Salon

jaime malapit.jpg


Text and photo by Nicole Furtado

1. What is your favorite thing about Chinatown?

The small business community we have here, and the way we all support each other.

2. What's the most common haircut?

Long layers are the most common request in any salon. The new look from LA and New York, however, is “done-undone.” It’s very loose, understated, and has a very bohemian and lackadaisical style to it. 

3. What's the craziest color you've had to do?

ALL OF THEM ON ONE PERSON. We’re talking gold, pink, and orange, you name it. The application and balance of it was very important.

4. If Chinatown was a haircut, what would it be?

The color would be Oscar the Grouch green, with a shaved-side undercut, and just completely disheveled but fancy at the same time.

5. How has Chinatown changed since you've worked here?

I started working in Chinatown at another salon in 2001 or 2002. You’d see drug deals and prostitution happening out front. Nowadays it’s a lot more polished, yet Chinatown still maintains a sense of creativity, youth, and fun. I see the future of Chinatown being inundated with corporate businesses making it more commercial; us small business owners are going to have to fight for our businesses.

6. Where's your go-to for shopping in Chinatown?

I LOVE Roberta Oaks and she’s a client here at Citizen. I go there for clothing like aloha T’s.

7. What are your customers like?

The idea behind Citizen Salon is that everybody's welcome. We’re located in between downtown and Chinatown, so we get lawyers and other professionals. At the same time, we get to do haircuts like crazy purple hair with a punk rock look. Our mix of clients is vast and diverse.

8. Describe Chinatown in five words or less.

 Raw, real, rough, refined, and a little ridiculous.

9. If Chinatown were a drink, what would it be?

It would be spilt on the floor.  

10. Where do you like to go out in Chinatown?

I went to Encore Saloon recently and I loved it.


Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with These Four Bars and a Block Party

What makes a pub Irish? Our writer asked this question only to be met with derision. Apparently it is an attitude, an Irish flag hanging on the wall, the sound of live Celtic rock and breaking glass, and/or the cloud of cigarette smoke that still lingers in the air. You name it—ideally with something starting in “Mc”or “Oʻ”—and St. Patrick bless you, it is done. Below, meet the four Irish pubs that call Honolulu’s urban core home.

Text by Harrison Patino

O’Toole’s Irish Pub

With its old brick walls adorned in Red Sox memorabilia, O’Toole’s Irish Pub wouldn't look too out of place in the streets of Boston. And yet, at the corner of Nu‘uanu Avenue and Marin Street, O’toole’s has been a Chinatown staple for decades.

Known for its rich history just as much as its rich selection of whiskeys, O’Toole’s is nearly as old as the neighborhood that houses it. Built with brick used as ballast from incoming merchant ships in the 1890s O’Tooles was originally a warehouse and stable for the Foster’s Boatbuilding Company before the skyscrapers and six-lane highways sprang up.

Now, O’Toole’s is just as much a center for Irish culture as it is a classic neighborhood bar. The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick—Hawai’i’s largest Irish cultural group—convene at the bar’s connected meeting hall, while in the bar, live music plays nearly every day of the month to the accompaniment of Irish beers on tap and healthy selection of Irish whiskey.

The bar itself is owned and operated by veteran Honolulu barman Bill Comerford, who also owns and operates Anna O’Briens, Kelley O’Neil’s, and the Irish Rose Saloon. Comerford is staunch in his belief that Irish drinking culture is right at home with the aloha spirit, noting the emphasis on hospitality that the two share.

As for the prevalence of Irish bars in the Chinatown neighborhood alone, Comerford doesn’t think this is anything too out of the ordinary. “You’ll find the Irish operating bars everywhere. Comerford jokes. “Everywhere in the world, you can go to Moscow, you can go to China, you can go to Japan, and you’re going to find Irish bars. It’s just what we do, and we do ʻem better than anyone else.”

O’Tooles is located at 902 Nuuanu Ave.


Murphy’s Bar and Grill

If O’Tooles is the working-class neighborhood joint, Murphy’s is the businessman’s bar, or at least it looks that way. Boasting stained glass, antique beer advertisements, whiskey posters, and various bits of collectible Irish ephemera, the place feels like stepping into a bustling uptown bar from the ʻ30s or ʻ40s.

Built in 1890 as the Royal Saloon—and of the same brick ballast as O’Toole’s, across the street—the building possessed one of the original six liquor licenses on the island and has been either a bar or restaurant for the entirety of its existence. The place even withstood the great fire of 1900 that decimated the rest of Chinatown.

While Murphy’s is a great place to grab a drink, it also boasts a menu of classic bar food and traditional Irish meals like shepherd's pie and corned beef and cabbage, all the better when washed down with a pint of Guinness.

The building is also said to be haunted, but Don Murphy, the bar’s namesake and owner since 1987, doesn’t lend any credence to these rumors. As far as he’s concerned, Murphy’s is just a neighborhood spot that’s been doing the same thing for years. 

Murphy’s is located at 2 Merchant St.



JJ Dolan’s, a dimly lit neighborhood staple, has been serving up cold beer and New York style pizza for the better part of a decade. And while there is no JJ Dolan, co-owners John Joseph “JJ” Niebuhr and Danny Dolan are Chinatown through and through.

The bar came to be when Dolan, the manager of O’Toole’s at the time, and Niebuhr, who worked at Murphy’s barbacking and making pizza (when it was still on the menu), decided to team up and start an Irish bar of their own. After all, “Every town needs an Irish bar,” as Dolan puts it. “Or a few of ʻem.”

As it turns out, pizza and beer make a good couple. Since 2008, JJ Dolan’s has been warmly received by Chinatown regulars, especially when St. Patrick’s Day rolls around, though beyond changing all the taps to Irish beer, they don’t do much in preparation. And as far as Dolan is concerned, they don’t need to. “We just clear everything out and get ready for the madness.”

JJ Dolan’s is located at 1147 Bethel St.


Ferguson’s Irish Pub

Before Ferguson’s was the beloved Irish pub it is today, it was The Clubhouse, a zany neighborhood bar with a parrot that hung around the rafters. When John Ferguson bought the downtown Honolulu property in 2000, he cleaned the place up, got rid of the parrot, and turned it into Ferguson’s Irish Pub.

When Ferguson passed away in 2011, his good friends and fellow barmen Don Murphy, Danny Dolan, and JJ Niebuhr took it upon themselves to keep the bar running as he would’ve wanted. As a result, the bar, housed on the ground floor of the stately Dillingham Transportation Building, was remodeled and revamped. What stands now is a classy, upscale establishment with a beautiful, fully stocked bar and a spacious courtyard area—a labor of love and a fitting tribute to the bar’s namesake.

Ferguson’s is located at 729 Bishop St.


The 29th Annual St Patrick’s Day Block Party takes place at “Honolulu’s Irish Corner,” aka Nuuanu Avenue and Merchant Street, on Thursday, March 17 starting at 6 p.m. Live music by Doolin Rakes and Pirahna Brothers. For more information, visit




Five Questions with Hound & Quail


Naz Kawakami. Shop Dude.

1. What is your favorite thing about Chinatown?

The grime.

2. And your least favorite?

The grime.

3. If you could describe a "normal" day at work, what does that consist of?

Shooing away crackheads from my parking stall, seeing several of my friends throughout the day, giving up trying to figure out what that smell is, being thankful to work at a place as unique as Hound & Quail.

4. What places in Chinatown are your go-to for shopping? Food/drink?

Clothes shopping, probably the Salvation Army. Everything else I need is probably best bartered for in some small street stand type store. Gotta get those deals. Food & drink, I'm either at Proof Public House or the Lucky Belly Window. All about that Lucky Belly Window.

5. If Chinatown could be encapsulated in a drink, what would that drink be?

Probably a mixture of beer, rum, some CapriSun and a Chinese herbal garnish.

Five Questions with The Manifest


Alisha Mahone. Coffee Manager

1. What is your favorite thing about Chinatown?

I feel like for me, it's cool to see my peer group and people from my generation in a work/business environment and a community setting.

2. And your least favorite?

I hate seeing the desperation around town. Seeing so many people not doing well is sad to see, and it's sad to see us not doing more malama-ing our external community.

3. If you could describe a "normal" day at work, what does that consist of?

Walking around town, saying hi to everyone familiar, making sure I'm careful not to jaywalk so I don't get a fat ticket, seeing young professionals walking around before I start my day.

4. What places in Chinatown are your go-to for shopping? Food/drink?

Ginger13. I looooove Ginger13. Owens&Co. In4mation. For food though, Fort Street Mall has the best bet. It's the most diverse foods at college kid prices.

5. If Chinatown could be encapsulated in a drink, what would that drink be?

Water. Chinatown would be water. Cuz it's the real-real. Just itself.

Five Questions with Lin's Lei Shop



Gathered by Hannah Broderick, photo by Rachel Halemanu

Describe your customers, any surprises?

Over 90 percent of our customers are local people. We get the occasional tourist who just got married or just wants to buy a simple lei as a novelty item or the "Hawaii" thing. Its surprising to get customers from all over the island, people from Windward side, Waianae, Laie, its humbling that our customers drive so far just to buy lei from us. 

How has Chinatown changed in the time you've been here?

A total turn around, I like the hipster/ art movement, along with the recent trendy eateries popping up all over Chinatown, it's great!

 Where is your favorite place to get lunch in Chinatown?

There are lots. Maguro Brothers for something good, fast, and cheap; Lucky Belly and Scratch both have good food; and Maria Bonita for Mexican food. 

Describe Chinatown in five words or less.

Chinatown is a melting pot of the Pacific, so many different ethnicities that work and eat in a small area of Honolulu.

If Chinatown were an ice cream flavor, what would it be?


Five Questions With Cindy's Lei and Flower Shoppe



Gathered by Kaycee Macaraeg, photo by Rachel Halemanu

What drew you to Chinatown? 

The current business location originally started off in Chinatown as a barbershop business run by first generation, grandfather Fook Shing Lau, for many years. A couple of Hawaiian lei sellers were stringing and selling leis nearby on the sidewalk on the same street. One of the children, second generation, thought why not join them. Two sisters and my grandmother made leis and corsages.

About that time the customer base was locals, along with the arrival of the Lurline and the Matson ships that were sailing into the Honolulu Harbor. Thus, the beginning of the lei business for the Lau family in Chinatown.  It never dawned on the family to this day to change location. Vendors, airport, and the post office were also easily accessible. Three generations of family lived in Chinatown at least one point in their lives. Now, no family lives in Chinatown anymore.   

How do you feel about the homeless population in Chinatown?  

It’s sad that visitors have to see the homeless have such a blatant presence on the sidewalks. These homeless are someone’s child, parent, sibling, relative … A lot of them are not well and prefer to be free of rules/counseling/professional services however adequate/inadequate they may be. Many think it’s dangerous here but not really.  

Where is your favorite place to get lunch in Chinatown?  

Maguro Brothers, Happy Garden.

Describe Chinatown in 5 words or less. 

The far side of town.

If Chinatown were an ice cream flavor, what would it be? 

 Li hing mui.

Five Questions With Pegge Hopper Gallery



Collected by Hannah Broderick, image by Rachel Halemanu

How has being in Chinatown influenced your business? 

After setbacks, it's great to see how people still want to come, visit, and open businesses. Whatever it is that keeps the Chinatown allure, I can't help but have a hopeful spirit, glass is half full outlook.

Describe your customers, any surprises?   

A mixed bag, I love how people come in and take time to look at the paintings. It is very reassuring.

Where is your favorite place to get lunch in Chinatown?

Slice of pizza from JJ Dolan’s, cabbage slaw salad from Red Pepper on Fort Street Mall, and tabouleh from Kan Zaman. 

Describe Chinatown in five words or less. 

Romantic, sentimental, brick and mortar, unraveling.  

If Chinatown were an ice cream flavor, what would it be?  

Salty lemon with ginger.



Five Questions With Tin Can Mailman


Collected by Hannah Broderick, photographed by Maxfield Terrell Smith

What drew you to Chinatown?

It was the history, the old buildings, the coral curbs, and the hidden gardens. I also really liked the seediness of the 1970s that still lingers. I thought there would be lady-boys and evil dragon lady madams that ruled with an iron fist and wore too much eye make-up. It looked, on the surface, to be a hip, modern community.

How has being in Chinatown influenced your business?

Being in Chinatown has been a double-edged sword. My location has gotten me noticed by movie industry people, the publishing community, and commercial advertising producers, all of which has helped my business to flourish. On the other hand, this location has gotten me noticed by the criminal element of Chinatown who bring in a menagerie of things to sell me, some of which have led to altercations in the store.

Describe your customers, any surprises?         

My customers are Japanese, European, and Australian visitors, set/movie people, interior decorators, locals, and mainland visitors.

 How do you feel about the homeless population in Chinatown?

I feel equal parts profound sadness and anger toward the homeless in Chinatown. It's heartbreaking to see people sleeping in doorways, saving cardboard for beds, and storing all of their possessions in a cart. However, it also frustrates me to no end. It makes me really angry when I have to wake somebody out of a drug-fueled stupor to open my door. The ice heads that congregate at the bus stops and the guys that sit and drink all day in doorways scare away visitors. 

Imagine you're a young girl from Japan taking the bus to my store. You get off at Hotel Street across from Long's, and are immediately greeted by a congregation of drug users and trash. Traveling further down Hotel you encounter a screaming lady sitting in her own feces. Cross the street to the trash-filled park, a pathway of people that haven't bathed for a week, and a man peeing in the bushes. Walk past the transients living alongside the tattoo parlor whose belongings cover the sidewalk. Cross the street and pass the older woman passed out in her wheelchair. Meander through the cloud of marijuana smoke outside one of the bars where street people sometimes wait for a freebie. Finally you’ve arrived at the Tin Can Mailman—where someone is passed out in a pile of vomit. See you next time.

What do you think can/should be done about the homeless in Chinatown?

There have got to be better solutions to address this dire problem then what is currently being done. I wish I had better city planning skills, but I simply don't. The first part of the problem is a lack of accountability on the part of the homeless, as well as a lack of follow-through on the part of the police. There are very few consequences for inappropriate behavior and the homeless people understand that. Regardless of the crime—drug use, shoplifting, jaywalking, public drunkenness, loitering, they know nothing (no arrests, no tickets). It is really hard to get in trouble in Chinatown. The answer is not a stronger police presence, but an effective one.

Another major part of the problem is the addicts. These addicts are living on the street because nothing else matters but their addiction. A seemingly easy way to fix this would be to get rid of the dealers. The dealers aren't homeless and they are more than happy to take anyone's money for their product. Get rid of the dealers and their customers will follow.

These are just two things that I believe would make a huge difference towards mitigating this tragedy. This issue and its solution is relevant to everyone living in Hawaii, as every lost visitor negatively impacts our economy. There's no reason why Chinatown can't be a bigger part of the visitor industry. We've got wonderful restaurants, homemade ice cream, artisan chocolate, specialty boutiques, and even a candy store.

If Chinatown were an ice cream flavor, which would it be?

Rocky Road, because while it has some bumps, there’s also nuts and marshmallows to look forward to. 


ROC With Me

Text by: Jeff Mull 

After a yearlong build out, the ROC center in Chinatown has finally come together and is now accepting tenants. Housed in an old noodle factory on Nuuanu Avenue (c’mon now, it doesn’t get any more quintessential Chinatown than that) the ROC center—aka Real Office Center—is a collaborative and private workspace offeringstartups and small businesses a place to work and grow without spending a ton on rent. The brainchild of Ron McElroy, the Chinatown ROC center is the sixth of its kind in the US and the first in Hawaii.

 ROC Grand Opening. CEO Ron McElroy and family participating in a Hawaiian blessing ceremony. (Photo: Grace Cruz)

ROC Grand Opening. CEO Ron McElroy and family participating in a Hawaiian blessing ceremony. (Photo: Grace Cruz)

The building, which takes up half a block on Hotel and Nuuanu, perches over Chinatown and Downtown, and is going to be a boon for the neighborhood. The office spaces, which range from small to large, are move-in ready and come furnished, with wifi, printing, and use of conference room. 

“Finally, the opportunity to put ROC on the ground in the heart of the Hawaii start up scene is becoming reality,” said Ron McElroy. “Hawaii is no different than other markets we have entered and all the crucial pieces exist: entrepreneurs, incubation, acceleration, capital, technology development, motivation…There just needs to be a cohesive gathering of the fragmented pieces under one consistently fostering roof. We are here for the entrepreneurs plain and simple. Whatever helps create an environment to properly seed, nurture and accelerate the growth of meaningful companies, that will be the driving force behind every move that ROC will make….I’m excited to get started.”

 Photo: Grace Cruz

Photo: Grace Cruz

After meandering through the spaces myself recently, I was left with the feeling that this could be a huge step forward for Chinatown. A flurry of new businessines in our historical section of the city is going to be good for all of us. It means more customers in our stores, more patrons in our restaurants, and a new chapter for the city.

From a design standpoint, the ROC center feels like a perfect mix of hip professionalism. There’s even a courtyard ideal for mixers, which they’re planning on hosting regularly. And while a handful of businesses have already set up shop in the offices, there’s still plenty of room for new business who dig Chinatown’s vibe and want to be spitting distance from Downtown. Rents are currently ranging from $800 for a small two- to three- person officeto $3K if your business needs a larger suite. 

However, there’s more to ROC than just offices. In line with the growing retail and restaurant scene that’s taken root in Chinatown, the bottom floor of the building will be home to three new restaurants. The build out for these future hot spots won’t be finished until summer, but we’ve heard that there’s a certain bangin’ Mexican restaurant that rhymes with Cocina (okay, it’s actually Cocina according to PBN) that’s looking into the spot. So there will also be tacos. Sound like something you can get behind? Yeah, us too.

For all inquiries, hit up Becky Beattie at



I said "Hey Babe, take a Walk on the Wild Side..."

National Walk on the Wild Side: A Family-Friendly Event Celebrating and Discovering Downtown Honolulu From Fort Street Mall to Kekaulike Mall April 11, 2015, 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

A Family-Friendly Event Celebrating and Discovering Downtown Honolulu From Fort Street Mall to Kekaulike Mal

Celebrate national “Walk on the Wild Side” day, Saturday, April 11, 2015 throughout Downtown-Chinatown. “Walk on the Wild Side” is a National Kidney Foundation initiative drawing attention to the health benefits of walking. The Honolulu celebration blends healthy walking with an exploration of both old and new in the Arts District and Chinatown. A number of activities will be hosted throughout a seven-block area between Fort Street Mall and Kekaulike Mall. Event highlights include:

⋅    Welcome messages by Mayor Caldwell, director of Department of Transportation Services, Mike Formby and Glenn Hayashida, President of Kidney Foundation of Hawaii, Noon at Fort Street Mall.

⋅    National Kidney Foundation Health Fair, with free pedometers, pens, pencils and bags (while supplies last) at Fort Street Mall.

⋅    “Walk on the Wild Side” mystery walk, taking you to five different locations throughout the area. Clues to various destinations given along the way.

⋅    Art & Flea Urban Marketplace at Fort Street Mall.⋅    Musical entertainment at four different stages: o    Fort Street Mall Main Stage: With 101.9 DJ Kevin Jones as host and music by Desert

Sea, Red Light Challenge, Reproach and Erika Elona o    Keakauilike Mall Stage: Featuring Zach Manzano, Adam Bradley, Josh Sharp and the

Artis Family Band o    Chinatown Courtyard at the Menonca Building: Featuring Terry, Nate Hatico,

Michael Chung, Brian Chang and Allstar Jam. o Manifest Stage: with Zach Manzano and Adam Bradley

⋅    Arts and Kitch, an art sale, at Arts at Marks Garage.

⋅    Holistic Health Fair, with a number of spiritual treats at Louis Pohl Gallery and Bar 35.

⋅    Hands-on art project at HiSAM (Hawaii State Art Museum).

⋅    Art exhibits by the artists at the Chinatown Courtyard and Artists’ Lofts (Mendonca Building).

⋅    Show by the Cut Collective, a group of three local fashion designers at Ginger 13.

⋅    Live drawing class at Manifest

⋅    Show your “Walk on the Wild Side” map for discounts at the following merchants:

  • Art Treasures – 20% discount
  • Bar 35 – Special Saturday hours, open at 11AM, holisitic fair, happy hour prices
  • ARTS at Marks Garage – Free interactive papermaking by Roping the Moon Studio with Maggie McCain glass, Aloha Pops and other vendors out front on “the Great Lawn”
  • Barrio Vintage – Sidewalk sale starting at 11AM
  • Cake Envy – Free beverage with the purchase of a slice of cheesecake
  • Downbeat Diner – 10% off all food and drink for participants
  • The Fix – Special Saturday hours, opening at 11AM. Free French fries with purchase of wings, ribs, or specialty burgers
  • Ginger 13 – Clothing trunk show featuring local designers Alison Izu, Ten Tomorrow by Summer Shiigi and Rumi Murakami; store-wide 20% off sale; and refreshments
  • La Muse – 10% off regular priced merchandise
  • Louis Pohl Gallery – 10% discount and free gift
  • Manifest – Free Americano coffee or iced to Walk on the Wild Side participants
  • Owens and Co. – 15% off regularly-priced merchandise
  • Pegge Hopper Gallery – Solitaire Solutions with Lynda Hess. Lynda guides you through the game of solitaire to find a positive outlook, an alternative perspective, and perhaps a new way of interpreting a problem. Oil Paintings by Lynda will also be on display, along with new landscape paintings by Pegge Hopper.  Nurture your mind, body and spirit! Free gift.
  • Proof – $3 slices of house-made pizza and $5 rosemary-infused gin Ricky's
  • Roberta Oaks – 10% discount
  • Soul de Cuba – Refreshing Cuba Libre cocktails (Rum and Coke with lime), just $4
  • Tin Can Mail Man – 20% discount

The event is free and registration packets, a complimentary pedometer, reusable bags along with a map of the area’s treats and surprises will be available at Fort Street Mall, starting at 11 am

Event sponsors include, City and County of Honolulu, National Kidney Foundation Hawaii Chapter, Arts District Merchants’ Association, Fort Street Mall Business Improvement District Association, the American Society of Young Musicians, Hawaii Chapter and the Creative Arts Experience.

Pedestrian and Parking Awareness

What can one buy for $130?

With the State of Hawaii's climbing need for money to support its endless projects to keep paradise in check, and in addition to keeping our tourists touring and our taxpayers paying, it is only law enforcement's duty to issue citations. In recent times, however, the public complains of tickets being issued for what seem to be the least severe of offenses.

Traffic and parking is not a cakewalk here in Downtown-Chinatown. All too often do people come back to their cars only to see a gut-wrenching yellow slip of paper tucked under a windshield wiper. Or one may be so unfortunate as to be pulled over and cited for a rolling stop, and in the case of Hotel Street, for driving at all.

 Hotel Street. Only HPD, buses, emergency vehicles, and bicycles are allowed. Previously closed off for First Friday and block party events for pedestrians. Not the case anymore. (Photo: Grace Cruz)

Hotel Street. Only HPD, buses, emergency vehicles, and bicycles are allowed. Previously closed off for First Friday and block party events for pedestrians. Not the case anymore. (Photo: Grace Cruz)

The vague and sporadic signage that indicate when-and-when-not-to-park are not exactly the easiest puzzles to decipher either. And people in the morning rush to get to work will begrudgingly pay a hefty $12+ fee for a spot in a parking garage, just to escape the unforgiving watch of the meter maid.

In addition to this copious enforcement of parking rules, jaywalking seems to have broadened as a term, with offenses such as merely walking outside the designated crosswalk lines or standing in the road as cause for citationThis has only been exacerbated with First Friday's Hotel Street road closure no longer in affect, leaving patrons, residents, and Chinatown workers hit with the $130 fine(though comparatively, this is not as horrific as the $250 jaywalking stubs one might be given in Los Angeles and New York City).

Naturally, these crackdowns exist to benefit the people. In 2014, Dangerous by Design, a report released by the National Complete Streets Coalition highlighted that between 2003-2012, a national epidemic of pedestrian deaths reached over 47,000 fatalities. In more than 60% of the cases, speed was a factor. The reason for such a number is that many roads were not designed for anything besides high-speed traffic. The NCSC says that pedestrian deaths are preventable through better policy, design, practice, and regulation. And with America's oldest Chinatown (ours!) home to a dense population of 5,350 per square mile, regulate they do.

Here is a guide for some parking tips and a few violations commonly cited.

 - Parking in the same metered stall in Downtown-Chinatown is good for one hour.  Because of a time sensor, the car has to be moved before more money can be added.
 - Downtown-Chinatown has three municipal parking lots (I think correct, I can't thnk of more than three...), offering the best parking rates.  Most are $3 after 5 p.m. on the weekdays. All day on weekends is just $3 as well.  The catch is that you need to retrieve your car before midnight or will be locked in overnight.
 - Another great parking resource is a mobile app called BestParking which tells you where and how much parking will cost depending on arrival and how long you stay parked.
 - The best place to catch a cab (or Lyft or Uber) downtown is anywhere alone Merchant Street.
Parking in most yellow painted loading zone areas is free after 4 p.m.  Check the signs for restrictions as the rules vary from street to street.
 - Meter parking is free after 5:30 p.m., on Sundays, and state holidays.
 - Regular cars are not allowed on Hotel Street at anytime.  Only buses, emergency vehicles and bicycles are allowed.  One would be cited for a moving violation if caught.

- Pedestrians may step into a marked crosswalk ONLY when the white walking man is showing on the traffic light.  If the red hand is blinking, you may not enter the crosswalk as it will be considered a jaywalking offense. 

- It is illegal to cross or stand in the street outside of a marked crosswalk and is also considered a jaywalking offense.

- Jaywalking tickets are $130.
 - 52 bus rides
 - 8 lunches (at $15 ea)
 - 13 matinee movies
 - Over 100 candy bars
 - A hot date

- Plenty of new slippers


Chinese New Year Run-Down


The Year of the Ram is nearly here. On February 19, it will be time to post that Long’s child-sized holographic poster featuring that horned and hoofed majesty on a mountaintop on the window of your store or office, down that rice cake, and stock up on oranges. While the Chinese New Year officially begins on the third Thursday in February, organizations in Chinatown are getting to the party early. Below, find times, dates, and locations for goings-on in the area:

The Chinatown Open House on Friday February 13, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. This includes lion dances and firecrackers, and is hosted by The Chinese Chamber of Commerce. The open house is happening at the Chinese Chamber of Commerce and throughout the Chinatown District from Nuuanu Avenue to River Street to King Street and Pauahi Street.

The entire two-day celebration (5 to 10 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday) at the Chinatown Cultural Plaza that features food vendors, arts and crafts booths, and entertainment. Food vendors serve up an assortment of Chinese favorites that are believed to bring good luck, prosperity, and long life, including gin doi, gau, and jook. Expect lion dances, performances by local musical groups, and martial arts and weapons demonstrations.

The Chinese New Year’s Parade starts around 3:30 p.m. Saturday February 14. It will start at Richards and Hotel, will proceed along Hotel and end at River Street.

Night in Chinatown, put on by The Chinatown Merchants Association, will take place following the parade on Saturday, February 14 from 6 to 10 p.m. There are five stages of entertainment, merchants, and of course, lots of food. Find it on Maunakea Avenue Smith, and Pauahi Streets.

Note: If you want to come to Chinatown for a reason unrelated to kicking off a grand ol' new year, expect limited parking and a bit of a walk--various streets in the neighborhood will be closed from 5:30 p.m. on Friday night (King, Pauahi, Hotel, Nuuanu) to 11:30 p.m. on Saturday (Pauahi, Smith, Maunakea, and Hotel). Get the specifics here.

All That Matters: A Zine Workshop

Q&A with Ara FEDUCIA, the creative behind zine workshop "aLL THAT MATTERS."

Text by Rachel Halemanu

Ara Feducia is a talented creative who moved to Hawai’i at the age of 17. She is the creative director for Nella Media Group, a design and typography lecturer at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, and a Redbull Mr. X for Redbull Music Academy. Her passion for the arts and the youth of Hawai’i will be put to use tomorrow, when she is hosting a zine workshop for all ages.

What is the meaning behind “All That Matters?” 

It’s a literal title. These are things that matter to me. I don’t think there’s much focus on the humanities programs here in the islands, and I think that we’re still kind of recovering from learning how to deal with No Child Left Behind. I don’t think the program induces critical thinking in youth. The humanities are the gateway drug to an intelligent human and I find that to be really important.

How did you come up with the idea to start a zine workshop? 

The first zine workshop that I did was for Girl Fest Hawai’i directed by Kathryn Xian. When I moved here, I lived close to Jelly’s and back then we had to go there to buy CD’s and vinyl. The people there were a part of the punk counter-culture, so I was always surrounded by it. People were making flyers and throwing parties and zines were a part of that dialogue. There was a time where the woman from Revolution Books was always on the UH Manoa campus trying to sell her newspapers. That area, that free-speech area, doesn’t even exist anymore. That’s interesting to me. Freedom of speech is a big deal to me and it’s a crucial part of the zine culture.

What is the process behind organizing these workshops? 

It’s a bit easier for me to organize an event like this because I have already established a relationship with venues and other people in the community. For example, I’m in the art department at UH so it’s easier to invite art students and faculty. When I was younger it seemed like I was always inspired by what people were making, KTUH, Jelly's Music, Radio Free Hawaii and musicians like Jason Miller (Hawaiian Express Records,) Otto and Josh86 were huge influencers. I always wonder if my generation is inspiring the next group of young people the same way. So that’s why I started organizing these zine workshops. All we’re doing is providing models and tools for people.

The website for this workshop states that they are “geared towards youth activation through the arts and culture.” Why is this important to you?

I think that the youth have more of a peer perspective on important topics because, in my opinion, they’re not tainted with politics and contexts. Young people can see it for what it is. I like asking young people, “What do you think? What does this make you feel? Has anyone ever asked you these questions? Do you know that this will affect you?” I think it’s because of that peer perspective. It’s more of a naïve perspective. Another thing is that culture is constantly in flux. It’s always a mix between unofficial, which is what the youth is doing, and the official, what older people are doing. In the end, it’s about mentorship and someone showing you a different perspective. I can empower them by showing them how to produce their own goods and they can make some money. They could decide to use that money to carry them to the next project. Art school doesn’t teach us sustainability, so I’m kind of trying to blend different worlds of academia and consumerism and activism. Like these are your resources, use them. There’s no right way or wrong way. Ultimately, if you’re not thinking about what young people are thinking about, then you’re not thinking about the future. We'll just end up with a generation of uneducated narcissists.

What do you want people to get out of this workshop?

I want them to know that they have a voice. They can say whatever they want to and they can have an opinion about something and it’s nobody’s business. A zine is a tool for you to say that. You can do whatever you want and it doesn’t matter. It’s your right. And you can Xerox your zine and share it.

In what ways has this workshop impacted you?

I only think these workshops are successful if people come to it. If they weren’t coming, I wouldn’t do it. The last one was successful and that motivated me to plan another one immediately. People think this is important.

What are some long-term goals for this project?

I hope it results in more funding for the arts. I want to be more proactive about change on the legislative level. To encourage politicians to create bills and tax incentives for small businesses like Nella Media Group and Mark’s Garage, and all the shops and restaurants especially in Chinatown. Tax incentives for artists, musicians and small business owners could be a great incentive for young people and help with Hawaii's high cost of living. Hopefully we can build change.

What are you most excited about for this workshop?

I’m excited to see new faces and families coming through. I’m excited to hear the question, “What is a zine?” Like, oh man, that’s cool. They haven’t heard of it before. And they’re going to say, “Wow there’s been this huge zine culture that has existed since the late ’70s.” It’s what our freaking parents were doing!

How can people find out more about it?

Ideally through word of mouth, but also through the website,

Chinatown Sport

9-Man by Ursula Liang - Chinatown Now

Image courtesy of 9-Man, text by Kaycee Macaraeg

Ursula Liang’s documentary 9-Man, showing at HIFF, explores the culture and complexity of a sport played on the streets of Chinatowns.

For some, Chinatown offers independent businesses and a local scene.  For others, it is all about the food, friends, and family.  For Ursula Liang, Chinatown is about the community, culture, and sense of belonging, all of which is presented in her film being featured at the Hawaii International Film Festival.

Liang’s documentary film 9-Man introduces the daring, fast-paced, and capricious sport, which is similar to volleyball except with nine players on each team instead of six, starting with its origins in the 1930s in Chinatowns across the United States.  It was during this time that the Chinese Exclusion Act restricted Chinese Americans from interacting with other ethnicities and left them feeling isolated.  Nine-man was intense, quick, and dirty (quite literally, you could trash-talk your opponents) and was instrumental in providing these men with a place of solidarity—something especially sought during a time when they were segregated from society. For the documentary, Liang explores the current nine-man community, looking into those who continue to play the game, new rules that have been enacted, and how it continues to define what it means to be Chinese in the U.S.

Liang is the director, producer, cinematographer, and writer of the film—which she describes as incredibly fun yet difficult—and it comes as no surprise at how personal and meaningful this project is to her.  Liang grew up in the suburbs of Boston; she is part Chinese (her father is Chinese-American) and her brother was a “nine-man.”  Noticing the lack of Asian-American athletes being publicly recognized, as well as the fact that the history and cultural background of the street-ball game was largely unknown even to scholarly circles or was dismissed as pastime, Liang resolved to get the voices and stories of Chinese-American men and nine-man players heard.  “The story is about what community means, what Chinese American means,” says Liang.  Exploring broader themes of inclusion and exclusion, she also found that 9-Man appealed to other outlier communities, who could relate to the film in terms of their own experiences as well.

Not a stranger to print, having worked a worldly career in journalism, Liang was drawn to making 9-Man a documentary.  “I worked in print for a very long time, and I learned print is not the future of journalism,” she says, pointing instead to multimedia and other forms of progressive media. The making of the film had its ups and downs.  When asked about any difficulties, Liang replies, “From a production standpoint: the heat,” comparing the process of production to the street-ball sport itself.  Interviews also proved to be challenging.  Liang had young interviewees writing back on Facebook instead of calling or emailing; with her oldest interviewee, a 90-year-old pioneer, Liang had to deal with his hearing aid affecting the equipment. He would get annoyed if he was asked to repeat himself—but Liang is quick to reassure that “you’ll fall in love with him.” 

“I think it’s really important to open your eyes,” says Liang. “There is another level of understanding when you know a community very well.  Don’t be afraid to tell stories that don’t seem mainstream.  … I want people to see Asian Americans in a different way.  Some are tall, some are short, some have Boston accents, some are sensitive, some have different parents.”  Far from the preconceptions that American audiences may have of Asian Americans due to Hollywood films, she wants her audience to see “the diversity of Asian Americans.”

The documentary 9-Man will be featured in the Hawaii International Film Festival on November 5 at 5:45 p.m. in Dole Cannery F. Liang will be in attendance during the screening. For more information, visit

To learn more about the documentary, visit