Category Archives: Uncle Bo’s

Uncle Bo’s. Where the Locals Go

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Chef and Co-owner “Uncle” Bo Pathammavong

On any given night on Kapahulu Avenue just outside of downtown  Waikiki, hungry diners mill around in front of Uncle Bo’s restaurant.  When asked why they hang around for a table when there are plenty of available eateries in the area, they simply reply that Uncle Bo’s is worth the wait.

Uncle Bo’s has been dishing out lip smacking foods for 10 years now in Honolulu. It’s been popular with repeat local guests and visitors alike.

When asked about its popularity, co-owner Ho Suk Lee says, “I think locals love coming to Uncle Bo’s because they know where to find value. They know at Uncle Bo’s they will share a fun experience with ono (delicious) food and great drinks!”

A must try is the Boca Rota as a pupu (appetizer) to start. The Boca Rota is perfectly toasted cheesy garlic bread topped with sliced prime rib and sautéed mushrooms.  Bo’s has a long list of pupus, each one seemingly more appetizing than the last. Gather family and friends to make a meal of sampling appetizers for a flavorful dinner.

For those who prefer entrées to small plates, try the Baked Opah Mauna Kea. Lee describes the dish as “Opah that’s baked in our secret sauce topped with wok-fried shrimp. It’s a bit spicy but savory, tender and decadent at the same time. It’s been on our menu from Day One and we love it when our guests come back for it again and again.” To end on a sweet note, order Bo’s famous Hobos, taro beignets covered in powdered sugar and served with vanilla ice cream. These are decadence at its very best.

All of this gourmet food is served in an unassuming building with an inviting interior and a well-stocked, full bar. Various wine bottles adorn one bar wall, while an undersea mural covers another wall.

Avoid waiting for a table by making a reservation in advance or arriving early. You can also head out to its second location in Haleiwa on Oahu’s North Shore.

Boca Rota appetizer
Boca Rota appetizer

Uncle Bo’s

Spicy Baked Opah Mauna Kea. Fresh island fish baked in a garlic chili aioli, topped with a parmesan panko crust and served with two pieces of wok-fried garlic shrimp.
Spicy Baked Opah Mauna Kea. Fresh island fish baked in a garlic chili aioli, topped with a parmesan panko crust and served with two pieces of wok-fried garlic shrimp.

While Uncle Bo’s isn’t located in what many would consider Waikiki proper, it’s where the local foodies love to eat. Every dish is someone’s favorite, from the seafood delights like the Thai-Style Steamer Clams and the Spicy Baked Opah Mauna Kea to their most popular dish, the Bota Rota, an amped-up garlic cheese bread with prime rib and mushrooms. The full flavor of each dish is a sure winner, and even for residents, the meal itself is a vacation from the norm. You’ll feel the urge to force your dining companions to try whatever you’re having and, luckily, the dishes are designed for sharing family style. It’s a great family or date night dining experience, paired with well-made drinks, family-size portions, flavorful seafood and outstanding service.

Uncle Bo’s

Chef-owner “Uncle” Bo Pathammavong
Chef-owner “Uncle” Bo Pathammavong

Uncle Bo’s, a worthwhile few-minutes drive from Waikiki, is one of Oahu’s favorite spots for local eats. Heck, we’ll just say it: Uncle Bo’s is legendary among residents. Chef-owner “Uncle” Bo Pathammavong features Laos and Thai influenced cuisine with generous portions and a fusion of tastes from around the world. From the size of the plates to its family-run practice, everything about this local gem says “fine group dining”—even placing as a finalist in the Hale ‘Aina Awards for Best Restaurant for Large Groups. And why wouldn’t they? With extravagantly mouth-watering and shareable plates like the Ali‘i Feast, which includes garlic rib-eye steak, prime rib slices, shrimp scampi, kalua pig and ahi poke, Uncle Bo’s is an instant favorite across the board. Even the standard fare, like the omakase (Japanese for “I’ll leave it to you”) Chef’s Choice, is the perfect shareable dish to satisfy even the pickiest of family and friends.

Baked Opah Mauna Ke
Baked Opah Mauna Ke

ON THE BLOCK: Uncle Bo’s

ON THE BLOCK

Q&A with Chef-Owner Bo Pathammavong of Uncle Bo’s

Photography by Amber Schoniwitz

Along bustling Kapahulu Avenue, there’s a small, unassuming yellow building that’s home to one of Oahu’s favorite hidden gems, Uncle Bo’s. Boasting an eclectic menu packed-full of local favorites, we wanted to sit down and “talk-story” with the man behind the menu, Chef-owner “Uncle” Bo Pathammavong.

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WM: This winter, we explored the concept of “comfort food” quite a bit and how it has shaped different chefs and their menus. Can you give us some insight about what comfort food means to you?

UB: It’s such a universal concept that regardless of where you’re from, you can appreciate comfort food! Whether you’re brought up on mac and cheese, chicken soup, or Hamachi sashimi, we all have those certain triggers that bring us a wonderful sense of well being and nostalgia. For me, it’s a great big hot bowl of pho, which is basically a hot broth made from soup bones, various spices, herbs, combined with rice noodles and assorted local veggies. I grew up in Laos and lived in a refugee camp in Thailand before I became a U.S. citizen as a teenager. Most people think pho is purely a Vietnamese dish, but it’s very popular throughout Southeast Asia. As a child my mother would make us pho almost daily… and I hated it growing up. I guess knowing we were eating pho because we had to (it’s relatively inexpensive to make), instead of because we wanted to, made me unappreciative of my mother’s hard work. But as the years passed by and my culinary world expanded, I have come to deeply appreciate the simplicity of a dish that culturally was so important to so many people. It provided warmth and sustenance to my family during the hardships of enduring our refugee camp, and now every time I have a bowl of pho, I enjoy every slurp!

WM: You’ve told us that the “S.O.S.” is one of your favorite comfort dishes at Uncle Bo’s. We’ve heard a few rumors about where the name comes from, but can you tell us what it really stands for?

UB: S.O.S. stands for “Soup Or Stew.” Our guests often ask, “Is this a soup or stew?” and our answer is simply that it’s a little bit of both… It’s thicker and more hearty than a soup, but still soothing, rich and comforting.

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WM: What’s the inspiration behind the dish?

UB: I was in New Orleans for a layover and had an opportunity to try some fantastic Cajun cooking. I loved the different spices and aromas; so unique, yet flavorful and delicious. So when I got back home, I decided to play around with some recipes to recreate some of the fun unique flavors from New Orleans, but with my own spin. What we came up with is the “S.O.S.!!!” It’s loaded with lots of seafood; chunks of lobster meat, shrimp, crab, scallop, and fresh clams. It’s a combination of savory, velvety, and decadent all in one. If you’re a seafood lover like me, THIS is your dish!

WM: What is your personal, hands-down, favorite dish on the menu?

UB: Hands down my favorite dish is our Thai Steamer Clams… It’s what put Uncle Bo’s onto the map! We use a whole pound of fresh sweet Manila clams sautéed with choy sum and tomatoes. It’s one of the original dishes that we had on our menu 8 years ago when we opened Uncle Bo’s on Kapahulu Avenue, and to this day it is still one of our most popular dishes.

WM: Uncle Bo’s is eight years in, congratulations! What new things can we look forward to in the near future? 

UB: We are incredibly excited to announce the future opening of Uncle Bo’s Haleiwa in the beautiful north shore of Oahu! We are hoping to open within the next few months. The grand opening date hasn’t been set yet, so until then you can always check us out right here at the original Uncle Bo’s on Kapahualu!

 

UNCLE BO’S

559 Kapahulu Ave.   |   808.735.8311

 

 

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