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“Joining the chorus: Great food, host - and Viet too!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Duc's Bistro

Duc's Bistro
1188 Maunakea St, Honolulu, Oahu, HI 96817-5134 (Downtown Honolulu)
808-531-6325
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Ranked #63 of 1,940 Restaurants in Honolulu
Cuisines: French
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Restaurant details
Good for: Romance, Doing business, Special occasions, Entertaining clients
Dining options: Dinner, Reservations
Neighborhood: Downtown Honolulu
New York
Top Contributor
156 reviews 156 reviews
55 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 24 cities Reviews in 24 cities
122 helpful votes 122 helpful votes
“Joining the chorus: Great food, host - and Viet too!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 23, 2013

What a delightful find - Vietnamese/French, not Chinese, despite being in the heart of Honolulu's Chinatown. The host was Duc himself, I learned, as he spoke about his many years here on this block, as well as his past in Vietnam. Though listed as French, it is truly a mix of Vietnamese and French.

Lovely setting, with music and artwork, a large back room where 'regulars' gather at tables or the large bar, serene and well-appointed amid the chaos of small storefronts in Honolulu's Chinatown.

Duc himself was most gracious, and sincere (as in passionately so) about his 'bistro' being his long-time love, along with his customers. "I need love", he said, adding that of course we all do, and delving into some philosophy as he demonstrated how to make the best of spring rolls - which I'll never look at the same. He brought all the condiments, including lettuce leaf, and gave a lesson on the best way to eat them.

A bit pricey on the French dishes, compared with the Vietnamese - appetizers, at least - and the spring rolls were quite plentiful so I wasn't so hungry any more! But I tried a duck dish (French style), which was terrific, wonderfully and lovingly prepared. Duc clearly wanted me to enjoy every drop, and even came back with a cold drink (non-alcoholic) to try, a refreshing mixture of club soda, lime juice, and ginger. Though it was a bit early for dinner when I arrived (from nearby Iolani Palace), there were a few obvious regulars at the bar, chatting about life. Lovely decor, ambience, and I can see why it's so well recommended. But it's not just French, Duc and chef cook up some mighty fine (and authentic) Vietnamese cuisine as well as some solid French dishes. Total price about $30 pp with appetizer, wine, main course, and free wisdom from Duc.

  • Visited August 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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60 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    40
    13
    5
    2
    0
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Maui
Top Contributor
55 reviews 55 reviews
37 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
27 helpful votes 27 helpful votes
“Amazingly tasty food elegantly prepared and presented!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 19, 2013

We started with the Madame Vu house cocktail. We opted for the vodka version although they offer it with gin or rum as well. We asked Duc to order for us, gluten free please. What followed was green papaya salad like I've never had it before, Mahi in miso shoyu and truffle oil, steak marinated in a wonderful garlic based sauce, lamb chops that had us literally licking the bones, veal spring rolls, long beans and a special martini shot with jalapeño infused vodka. We also shared the taro tapioca- it comes warm! We finished it off with snifters of cognac. The ambiance is warm, tasteful and inviting. Duc and his wife were engaging and lovely and the service was easy and on top of it without being intrusive. As soon as you step in the door off of busy Maunakea street, the world melts away. No wonder they've been there for years!

  • Visited August 2013
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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Baltimore, Maryland
Senior Contributor
43 reviews 43 reviews
21 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
54 helpful votes 54 helpful votes
“Doesn't Get Much Better Than This”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 24, 2013

We actually found out about this wonderful place by chance while dining at BLT Steak. The couple next to us were locals and they highly recommended Duc's so we decided to give it a try and were so glad we did. First off, we both had the Madam Vu cocktail, which you can get with your choice of vodka, gin, or rum. It was so good we had two! We also tried the lobster bisque and Vietnamese spring rolls. Both were outstanding. Next we had the prawns curry, steak and green beans. The steak was cooked to perfection and was delicious, as we're the prawns. Green beans were yummy, too. I tried the tapioca for dessert and it was excellent. My husband had the creme brûlée which was great. The coffee was the best I have had in Honolulu. All in all, an extremely tasty meal.

I can't stop here, though. It would not be a complete review if I did not mention the attention and superb service we received from the owners themselves. Duc talked with us about how much he loves cooking and helped us make some of our choices. It was so clear that he really loves what he does. Mingh Na Vu also spoke with us about the food and menu items and could not have been more friendly. I think she also goes by "Christine". We liked it so much we decided to cancel a reservation we had elsewhere for dinner on Thursday and went back tonight. Duc greeted us with the same welcome as the first time and immediately thanked us for coming again. We had almost the same items as before but this time we tried the fire roasted eggplant, which was fabulous. Also tried the curried vegetables and they were outstanding. Dessert was fresh mangos and vanilla ice cream for me and chocolate cake for my husband. Both were big hits with us. Our only regret is that we cannot stay here long enough to go a few more times.

This is French/Vietnamese dining you will enjoy for sure. It is in Chinatown and will take some effort to find but with a GPS, no problem. Worth the trip! Do yourself a favor and cancel at least one of your dinner reservations so you can experience this wonderful restaurant. Thursday night the place was packed with "regulars" and they all seemed to be enjoying their meals. There was even live entertainment which was a guitarist and a woman who sang and did hula dancing. It was a nice touch!

  • Visited May 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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Tryon, North Carolina
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
3 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
22 helpful votes 22 helpful votes
“Spring rolls, crab cakes and duck breast a la grand marnier”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 28, 2013

Four of us had lunch at Duc's Bistro on March 4, 2013. The spring rolls had a rice-paper thin covering. You could almost see through them. In addition to their visual appeal, they were delicious. The accompanying peanut sauce was one big Wow!; it was so good. Ditto for the fresh, sliced shrimp. Duc is a delightful, engaging, friendly host. He said spring rolls were his signature dish. For the table, we also had foie gras with cranberry sauce and toast, excellent. One member of our group drank the "Madame Vu" cocktail, upon Duc's recommendation, a mix of rum, ginger, sugar cane and clove. Very good, packing a wallop, making it more suitable for the evening, if you wanted to get anything done after lunch. Every dish was excellent. My wife had the duck breast with Grand Marnier sauce. I couldn't help but temporarily abandon my chicken curry, as good as it was, for a bite. And well worth the detour, i might add. Joyce, my wife, said it was the best duck breast she has had. She is a tough critic, too, but a fair one. All enjoyed the meal. Duc served real-deal saffron rice with the curry. I can't remember when i last ate any. Dessert topped off a helluva lunch. The creme brulee was first class as was the ginger walnut tart, Duc's favorite. The flan ranked with the best egg custard i have ever eaten. Not too sweet, rich egg taste, thick, creamy. Yum! I checked out the bar area toward the back of the restaurant. Cozy, warm, an urbane, sophisticated feel - whatever that means - making it a good stop for a cocktail to begin an evening. Duc's a character, an old-time restaurateur, a hard-working success story. He alone is worth the visit.

  • Visited March 2013
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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Jackson, Michigan
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
4 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“april wonderful”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 9, 2013

Charming bistro in the center of Chinatown. FRENCH VIETNAMESE. Owner on hand with much attention to service. Wonderful food loved the spring rolls, duck pate, lobster bisque, salad were exceptional. Lovely cheesecake. Ordered the chicken curry but would order the lamb dish or shrimp. A little on the expensive side $70,00 for lunch but worth every dollar spent.

An easy 10 minute bus ride from waikaki number 2.

  • Visited April 2013
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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