Words and Photos by: Vina Cristobal
I love little hole-in-the-wall restaurants (who doesn’t?). So of course, Urban Bistro was on my list of underground eateries.
Upon arrival, Peter (Cheng) and I were initially skeptical of the location. During the evening time, Keeaumoku can be a hub for dangerous situations, so typically, it would’ve been best to avoid the general area. But I appreciated the secrecy of Urban Bistro, a literal hole in the wall on the corner of Keeaumoku and Sheridan.
When we entered, servers donned in black attire greeted us. Instead of shifting their attention to creating dishes (and washing them), chefs looked up to smile and wave at us as we made our way to the table. We were perched near the “URBAN” sign, with each letter stylized in marquee font, sans the LED lights.
Behind us was a backdrop of a brick house-filled alleyway, which looked more UK than NYC. Posters that duplicated subway signs were perched on the wall alongside every booth.
But aside from the hipster-urban ambiance, the restaurant dishes turned the tables on traditional favorites, such as pizza and shrimp scampi (which is what we ended up ordering). The style of ordering was a bit different from other restaurants; each dish was assigned a different letter and number (for example, E1 could be the name of an entree or P1 could indicate a certain pizza). Instead of ordering food from the waiter, guests would write down the alphanumeric code of the meals they wanted on a sheet of paper (conveniently located on the table). The waiter would then pick up the small sheet and give it to the chefs, who would prepare the meals; they weren’t too much of a wait.
The J.O.B. pizza is what we started off with. A small, personal-pan sized pizza with six slices was laid out on a square dish. The pizza was covered in jalapeño peppers, onion slices and bacon bits – the three main components that make up the pizza’s name. The sauce and crust added flavor to the unlikely delectable combination.
Shortly after, the shrimp scampi dish, which was drizzled in garlic sauce and accompanied with fried rice drenched in corn bits, arrived at our table. Although the taste of the rice could have been a bit better, the shrimp was cooked to a crisp perfection.
At the end of the meal, waiters offered their customers the bill and a survey to write about their experiences. This adds to the customer service factor that Urban Bistro is promoting — they acknowledge that not every eatery is perfect on its first few days or weeks of opening, and the value of the customer is very important. Although there’s some things that could be improved, there’s a lot of potential in what Urban Bistro has to offer.
I’ve always believed in giving the new kid on the block a chance – restaurants included.
Rating: 4/5 stars
808 Sheridan St., Honolulu, HI 96814
Parking: $2.00 valet parking for the first two hours, or you can try your luck and park for free at Wal-Mart across the street.