Pūpū, Tapas, and Izakaya May Not Be for Me

Pūpū style

I’ve eaten at my fair share of restaurants over the past 26 years (I still gag at that age), especially as sharing meals together is one of my family’s and my favorite joint activities! We used to spend every Saturday morning at Like Like Drive Inn which is devastatingly closed forever—I may never recover—and we have favorite restaurants and/or dining spots in each of our most-visited/loved cities like Waco, San Francisco, Boston, etc. My ideal dining experiences are at places with warm atmospheres, great service, and absolutely delicious foods, and my Hawaiʻi best friends and I have been to countless of these locations! We also love going out to eat together and we’re not afraid of trying new places that sound delicious. We had a Galentine’s celebration at Kenko-Ya in Kāneʻohe, which is one of my favorites, and we often went to Cinnamon’s or Yogurstory for fantastic brunches pre-pandemic. Our most recent two group dinners have been to restaurants that serve food pūpū, tapa, and izakaya style, which are fabulous, but can be incredibly expensive! I’m making more money now that I ever have—even when I worked four jobs simultaneously my first two years post-college grad—and I’ve somehow become even cheaper! As much as I loved the individual dishes we tried at our last two dinners, spending a $10+ for 6-7 one-inch cubes of fried ulu or $20 for a few pieces of bite-sized crab cakes (which were both delectable) is a bit too extravagant for me to continue trying. Pūpū are delightful to share in the form of garlic edamame, tako, poke, and boiled peanuts at a family or friend gathering, but I don’t love the style of eating in restaurants. Especially in a group setting where we all want to consume enough to feel full and fully enjoy the tastes and textures of each item, it’s difficult to get a good grasp on the dishes when the portions are set for one bite each! I wonder if there’s a better way to order to ensure we’re all satiated and satisfied after eating at these types of food places? Are we doing this wrong? I’d love to try restaurants like these if the portions are great enough for everyone—otherwise, I’ll stick to my fancy Cheesecake Factory for special occasions!