An Old Friend At Ward Warehouse

Nobody can deny that Honolulu is a city that loves a new kid on the block. Any restaurant that opens, regardless of cuisine or culture, is besieged by those eager to be the first to taste and tell.

That’s OK for the first month or so. But what about after a year or two, once the blogging has slowed and the newspaper reviews have been done?

And what happens after 20 years, when the customers are changing and a new generation is eating out?


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Kincaid’s pan-fried hamachi. Jo McGarry photos

And after 30 years or more, we can count on one hand the number of restaurants still running and still in their original location.

In the restaurant business, there ought to be awards for just staying alive.

Kincaid’s, a restaurant at Ward Warehouse that’s been there since the brick-and-mortar went up more than 30 years ago, is one of those places. It’s also one that is not on my radar. It’s been years since I’ve walked through the doors, sat at the long bar or looked out from the dining room across to the ocean. I don’t know why, really. The parking is plentiful, the view across the water of Kewalo Basin is stunning, the bar is beautiful and what the lunch menu lacks in creativity it makes up for in comfort and speed of execution, which is important when you only have an hour to eat.

And while Kincaid’s serves kind of American fish-and-chop-house dishes that you might easily be able to guess at without even looking at a menu (iceberg lettuce wedge, turkey club, chophouse burger, clam chowder …)

I had completely forgotten that it offers a wide selection of seafood-inspired dishes: spicy ahi tacos, prawn cocktail, ahi poke, calamari, scallops, lobster tails, steamed Manila clams, Dungeness crab cakes, Maine lobster served in a variety of ways, and even a pretty good seafood etoufee.

At lunch there’s a selection of fresh fish (I had hamachi pan-fried with a dusting of seasoned bread crumbs that managed to stay moist atop a bed of bok choy), and dozens of choices including soups, salads, sandwiches and pasta. There’s rock saltroasted prime rib and a selection of steaks all prepared in a kind of easy, comforting, nonthreatening style.

Daily from 4 to 7 p.m. you can choose from an extensive happy hour menu that includes small plates, tasting samplers and great pau hana cocktail pairings such as char-grilled teriyaki tenderloin, fried calamari, French dip sliders, smoked salmon, baked oysters, poke and baked Brie. With happy hour pricing and a selection of drink specials for under $5, Kincaid’s offers all the elements of a perfect pau hana place to hang: great view, varied pupu menu, comfortable bar and reasonable pricing. Like many restaurants in Honolulu, the wine list needs a complete shakeup, but I’ve a feeling that decision is made more on a corporate level rather than a creative one.

And while the menu doesn’t change often enough to encourage frequent visits by those who like to see a chef show off his talents, there’s enough to attract those who want a taste of American standards with a Pacific Rim flair served in an unpretentious environment.

It’s easy to get caught up in new openings, trendy spots and the latest reviews, but sometimes it’s nice to celebrate those who’ve been around a while.

Happy eating!

Kincaid’s Fish Chop and Steak House Restaurant
Ward Warehouse
1050 Ala Moana Blvd.