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open mind, empty stomach

travel, food, and fun

Despite what this blog may lead you to believe, I have a day job.  Since getting back to Hawaii in January, I have been working a normal M-F (usually) 8-5ish gig – followed by a 5 a.m. wakeup each Saturday to help with a venture at our most popular farmers’ market.  I did the same before this trip and the one before it, and also get to play food with my friends when they pop up – and absolutely love it.

Even if I didn’t have the privilege of being a very small part of something so amazing, today’s long-awaited opening of the brick and mortar would have been a huge deal to me.  The story behind the Pig and the Lady could have been taken from a Hollywood script and the food is innovative, brilliant and delicious.

They have received significant recognition and acclaim, most recently #1 in HONOLULU Magazine’s 100 Best Dishes and the Hale Aina Gold Award for Best Vietnamese Restaurant, before having a physical location.  Despite all of this, what makes PTL special are the people behind it.

Work hard, play hard has never been better exemplified.  The Le family (and their team) work their asses off.  I could not continue to function on what little sleep they get, and have been getting for years now.  The lack of sleep may contribute to them being hilarious as individuals, and especially together, but it is not the only reason.  For all of the early mornings and late nights of grueling work, they are fun, happy, light-hearted, and truly love what they do.

Today’s soft opening of their restaurant was both a celebration and a culmination of all of the above: the story, the food and the people behind both.  The restaurant itself, located in walking distance from my day job at 83 N. King St. in Honolulu’s Chinatown, has the best-designed interior I have seen in the state.  It feels like you’re walking into a restaurant in San Francisco, Seattle or somewhere else where people value the aesthetics of a restaurant as much as the food itself.  The front of the house and kitchen had faces both familiar and new to me, and those that I know are among the best in the industry.

The food was, as always, phenomenal.  There were some new dishes and some I had enjoyed before and everything was on point and perfectly executed.  The cocktails were on par with the food and the beer list extremely impressive.

A number of friends, family, industry people and lovers of food were at the invite-only event and it was a big lovefest.  I’m grateful to have been among those lucky enough to attend and am looking forward to many great meals to come.

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