If you think about it, finding a place like Duc’s Bistro in the heart of Honolulu Chinatown is kind of strange. If you think about it some more, perhaps it’s not so strange. Duc’s Bistro is an elegant French fine dining restaurant, run by a Vietnamese couple, using fresh local Hawaiian flavors, on a grimy street of Chinatown. If you don’t know what you were looking for, the restaurant’s store front is easy to miss, particularly because they achieve their clientele mostly through word of mouth. This restaurant concept that can only be described as local Asian fusion, which is something that is pretty characteristic of the mixing pot demographic in Hawaii. Duc’s Bistro, in particular, strives to “cultivate the idea of combining the unique dishes of Vietnamese cuisine with the lush and fresh ingredients of Hawaii.” In this case Duc’s Bistro has a menu concept that is Vietnamese French cuisine infused with Aloha.
Duc’s Bistro Restaurant Front – Definitely a place that can be easily overlooked among the vendors and shops on Maunakea St. In Chinatown
Once you walk into Duc Bistro, you can see that it’s a nice restaurant with a pretty classy French Bistro atmosphere.
Duc’s Bistro Restaurant Inside – The general atmosphere inside looks clean and classy; characteristic of a French bistro
Duc’s Bistro Restaurant Inside- The bar and tables inside look nice, clean, and seems to be able to accommodate a large crowd
Feeling a bit ambitious, I went ahead and ordered a typical salad, main, and dessert spread for myself. True to my instincts, the food is as much of a fusion as their restaurant concept. Just take a look at the various items on their menu!
Duc’s Bistro Main Menu – One can see from the menu that the prices are definitely not cheap. What they call family-style is also not synonymous with a larger portion. The menu items are fused with Vietnamese dishes (such as egg rolls), French dishes, and Hawaii Asian fusion style dishes
Duc’s Bistro Drink Menu – The drink menu is filled with the standard cocktails as well as fusion cocktails that are typical of Hawaii
Duc’s Bistro Dessert Menu – The dessert menu has various Vietnamese and French inspired desserts, cheesecake, post-dinner drinks, coffee. It’s really a mishmash of Vietnamese, French, Hawaiian fusion, as previously mentioned
For my meal, I actually decided to go off-menu and went with their specials: a venison tartare and steamed onaga, a local fish also known as a long-tailed red snapper.
Venison Tartar with Toasted Points – Tender bits of chilled venison mixed into a mayo sauce comprising of diced tomatoes, onions, and smashed capers. This mix makes a good spread on top of the triangles of crispy, toasted white bread. A side of additional diced tomatoes, onions and capers is provided to provide a dry contrast or just to increase the flavor of the venison tartar mix
Steamed Onaga Special – The Onaga is steamed Chinese-style with a sauce composed of ginger, soy sauce, truffle oil, and olive oil .The sauce was truly rich, fragrant and delicious. The onaga is a tender red snapper, and has an extremely tender, springy bite. This is served over steamed saffron rice.
Garlic String Beans – The string bean is stir-fried with fragrant garlic and olive oil. I have to say that Hawaii does the garlic sauce right; the garlic is cooked in oil first and allowed to get crisp and fragrant before adding the string bean.
Tapioca Dessert – Tapioca mixed with sweet sticky rice and simmered with Hawaiian apple banana. Finally, it is topped with fresh coconut cream and almond shavings. This dessert is very sweet and creamy. It’s a Southeastern Asia inspired dessert with a fusion of desserts such as tapioca pudding, Vietnamese sweet banana coconut soup, and Thai sticky rice with coconut cream sauce. Overall it was very good.
Kona Coffee – Finally, Kona coffee was taken to just complete the meal after a sweet dessert.
Overall, I enjoyed my meal. It was relatively pricey, but I had a good time enjoying the atmosphere as well as the concept of a bistro with such a diverse Vietnamese-French-Hawaiian fusion menu.
It’s honestly pretty incredible that they have been around for over 23 years! You can check out their website here: http://www.ducsbistro.com/