Tuesday, January 15, 2013


It's not enough these days to open a regular old restaurant in a regular old permanent space.  You've got to have a secret password or a secret menu or a pop-up tribute to Willy Wonka's three course meal chewing gum to really make a splash. 

Hogo (a new rum-focused bar from the Passenger's Tom and Derek Brown) has thrown its hat into the ring by offering Temporary Works - a diner-like restaurant hidden at the back of the bar.  To get there, walk through Hogo's main (dark and moody) bar space to the brightly-lit back room where you can grab one of the seats at the counter.

Temporary Works will feature a rotating selection of chefs and cuisine.  Through the end of January, you can take a culinary trip to Hawaii courtesy of chef Javier Duran's dishes.  Citing a lack of Hawaiian food in the District, Duran devised a short menu of Hawaiian classics including SPAM musubi and mixed plate.

After ordering a couple of very stiff glasses of rum punch, B and I ordered dinner.  I chose the mixed plate with a burger topped with a fried egg and gravy.  Unable to decide between the beef and pork gravies, they gave me a little of both.  The burger/egg/gravy combo seems like it was drawn up by someone suffering a major hangover, but it was delicious for the clear-headed as well.  The steamed rice and macaroni salad (typical mixed plate sides) were also as good as we remember from our Hawaiian-food loving days in L.A.

B made short work of the kahlua pork short ribs with cabbage and gave the macaroni two thumbs up (surprising for a guy who normally steers clear of mayo-based salads).

If you want to get your Hawaiian fix, get to Hogo before the end of the month.  Starting February 1, the menu changes to Jewish soul food.  While we're not quite cool enough to be on the cutting edge of the hipster trends, we are happy to reap the benefits of having this rotating restaurant in our neighborhood. 

Second Thoughts From B

I'm guessing that more than a few of you are reading this right now and thinking, "what is Hawaiian food?"  Even with a Hawaiian foodie President, the island's cuisine is known mostly as a stereotype or joke (I'm looking at you SPAM).  In other words, Chef Duran was spot on when he identified it as an under-appreciated cuisine.  Perhaps there is a reason that every TV cooking competition these days includes a Hawaiian.

Growing up 3,000 miles closer to Hawaii, I'm guessing that my experiences with Hawaiian food is slightly more extensive than the average Washingtonian, but it is still embarrassingly minimal.  J and I enjoyed the bounty of Ono Hawaiian BBQ as poor students in LA, but that was more for the enormous portions than anything else.  It is also like saying we know Mexican food by going to Chipotle.

As people who like to explore the culinary scene in DC and abroad, it is rare that we get to explore flavors that are completely different.  Usually it is a modern spin on something or the fusing of two disparate cuisines or traditional fare done with fancy techniques and local ingredients.  Sure, Hawaiian food is strongly influenced by Japanese and European staples, but it is also unique.  And that is rare in these parts, so check it out while it lasts.
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