If you had a Hawaiian-inspired restaurant in south suburban Savage on your 2021 restaurant bingo card, I’d like to have a look into your crystal ball.
Because Pau Hana is a true delight. From the Ikeda brothers who run Lake & Irving in Uptown Minneapolis, you’ll find pupus, mocos, and Haupia pie.
It’s impossible not to take a photo of the poke stack, with a tower of cubed and shockingly crimson red ahi tuna layered with guacamole and fried wontons. The smoked wings are solid; we enjoyed the not-too-sweet sweet soy sauce with shaved green onions and lime. Don’t miss the loco moco dishes. We enjoyed the one with beef patties and coconut shrimp on top of a generous mound of sushi rice in a Japanese green curry.
The menu here is a bit disjointed, as those Hawaiian flavors are served along with pizzas and some classic Lake & Irving dishes. The Pau Hana burger is identical to the Uptown version—yes, it’s one of the best in town—but why not at least offer it with a thick grilled slice of pineapple or a coconut slaw?
There are doses of Hawaii on the pizza menu, such as a macadamia-nut pesto on one pizza and Hawaiian chili-pepper honey on another. We liked the Show You with shoyu-braised short rib and pickled red onion, served with miso corn cream and confit garlic. Perhaps it’s a nod to the suburban audience and a fear the restaurant might struggle with an all-Hawaiian menu, so the brothers threw in some pizzas and some burgers.
The cocktails here are terrific. There’s a perfectly balanced mai tai, a lively drink called Playa Del Sol—with cachaça, rhum blanc, mango, and matcha—along with one of the best bourbon selections in the suburbs.
Service was very friendly and polished, too, which was impressive for such a new restaurant. In Hawaiian, “pau hana” means “finished work,” a slang for happy hour. And we found much to be happy about here: new flavors and restaurateurs willing to invest in the adventure and expanding palates of an underserved part of our community.
14435 State Highway 13, Savage, 952-447-1322, pauhanamn.com