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

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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.




Cinco De Mayo Block Party 2017

Hawaii's Hispanic Community celebrates Cinco De Mayo with a Celebration Block Party event on First Friday. After 10 years, this free event is coming back to Chinatown where it all began. The Block Party starts at 6 p.m. until 10 p.m. and continues throughout the nightclubs and bars of Chinatown till 2 a.m.




Party in the Streets on St. Patrick's Day in Chinatown

Thousands of miles away from where it all started, Hawai'i might be the place where you least expect such a celebration for St. Patrick's Day. In the center of downtown Honolulu are four iconic Irish bars, perfect for a bar crawl, along with live music and a block party beginning at 6 p.m. Don't forget to wear your green! For more details on the event, click here

CHINATOWNNOW St. Patricks Day Block Party