The best meal from my trip to Honolulu last spring was at The Pig & the Lady. The Astronomer and I found Chef Andrew Le and Mama Le’s brand of Vietnamese-inflected island fare awesomely creative and delicious; we couldn’t wait to visit again on our next trip to Oahu.
Although my schedule was jam-packed with work commitments on my most recent return to the islands, I had to make time for another meal at this fabulous establishment.
I rounded up two hearty eaters (Hi, Thien and Kris) and we Uber’d to the restaurant for lunch. The space was packed considering it was a weekday, but we managed to squeeze in at the tail end of the lunch hour.
Thien sipped on Papa Le’s Iced Coffee ($4), while Kris handled the Cobra Commander ($11). The former was plenty strong yet sweet, while the latter was spiked with avocado mezcal and pink-grapefruit liqueur and chilled with Sriracha ice.
We shared four dishes and two breads between the three of us, which turned out to be plenty (and then some).
The kitchen was thoughtful enough to slice our Porchetta Banh Mi ($13) in thirds and provide three portions of the accompanying “Hue-style beef broth.” Layered in between the crusty French bread were slices of crispy pork belly, house sambal, shoyu pickled cucumbers, and smoked onion. The expertly constructed banh mi was a savory powerhouse, especially dipped in the broth.
Next up was the beautifully composed Hoi An Chicken Salad ($12) with poached chicken, cabbage, cilantro, fried shallots, and fish sauce vinaigrette. As much as I love stuffing myself silly on local grindz, this bright salad offered a fresh change of pace.
The table’s favorite dish was the Ikura and Pickled Ogo Donburi ($14), a comforting bowl full of chicken fat rice, charred green onion, fried shallots, and fried chicken skin crumbles. The best bites included vibrant pops of salmon eggs.
On the noodle soup front, we had to try the Bun Bo Hue ($14), which included pork belly, brisket, calamansi, satay, banana blossom, rau ram, and ong choy. Though the broth was properly funky, it veered toward too salty. Otherwise, this was a very solid rendition.
This is the first Vietnamese restaurant stateside that I’ve encountered that offers banh pate so ($3.50) as a noodle soup accompaniment. [Sidebar: One of Mama Le’s favorite Saigon restaurants offers banh pate so as a side dish. She insisted that The Astronomer and I dine there when we met her back in 2011.]
The “Vietnamese Pate Chaud” here was classic, with a puff pastry shell and fish sauce-flavored ground pork filling.
The Everything Biscuit ($3.50) was everything, really. Covered in “everything” spices and topped with melted cheddar, the biscuit was awesomely buttery and flaky.
We loved this little biscuit so much! I mean, look at those layers.
You bet your boots my next trip to Honolulu will include another visit to The Pig & the Lady. It’s a gem.
The Pig and the Lady
83 North King Street
Honolulu, HI 96817