Hawaii Edition: Uncle Bo’s Pupu Bar

On our trip to Hawaii, my cousin, who lives on the island of Oahu, took us around to several local places for dinner. One of those places was Uncle Bo’s Pupu Bar. Uncle Bo’s is one of those places that get super popular during dinnertime so you’re better off making reservations ahead of time. If not, your wait can get up to an hour during prime eating hours. Our wait, when we walked in at around 6:30pm, was around 45minutes.

Once we were seated, we looked over the menu, which consists of appetizers/tapas called pupus and main entrees, which come with a variety of sides. We opted to order a combination of both to share. Our party of five ordered quite a few dishes, some very good and some mediocre.

First up was the Spicy Uncle Bo’s Dynamite Shrimp, which featured wok-fried in a garlic chili aioli and topped with a Parmesan panko crust. The despite the name, the shrimp wasn’t very spicy at all. I liked this dish because it was big enough to share but not too much at the same time. The panko crust was light and not too heavy at all.

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Next up was my favorite of the night – the Boca-Rota, or garlic cheesy-bread with sliced prime-rib, sautéed mushrooms and mozzarella cheese in the middle. You take a piece of garlic bread, put some of the middle filling onto it and dig in! The combination was very delicious! The cheese did not make the bread oily at all and the mushrooms + prime-rib combo made a great topping for the bread.

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We also ordered Thai-Style Steamer Clams, which is one pound of Manila clams simmered in a mild chili, garlic and oyster sauce. The bowl looks big but don’t be fooled – the serving size isn’t that large. It’s enough for everyone to have about 2-3 pieces and sample the dish but it’s definitely not enough to fill you up. The clams were only mildly spicy.

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We wanted to try their pastas so we opted for Uncle Bo’s Seafood Catch, which features clams, scallops, shrimp and fish with a creamy tomato linguine. The linguine was cooked al dente and the seafood was very fresh. The portion is pretty big so it’s definitely enough to share!

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Less notable additions to our meal was the Hawaiian Pizza, which I thought was pretty mediocre. I feel that I can get it anywhere – the cheese tasted like prepackaged shredded cheese. I also didn’t like the Pork Belly pupu, which was very dry and did not have the fatty pork belly taste that we all love. I would say skip these two and order something else!

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The service was pretty attentive. Our waitress did give us some bad advice about how many dishes to order – perhaps she overestimated our stomach sizes? Either way, I enjoyed my meal at Uncle Bo’s – but next time we’ll definitely know to make reservations ahead of time!

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