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.
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