Some degree of Hawaiian food has undoubtedly landed in Montreal with the advent of poke (raw fish bowls) last year — and now a more thorough take on cuisine from the Pacific island chain is coming to the Village in the form of Kamehameha Snack-Bar.
It’s coming from Dan Pham and Phong Thach, the duo behind Vietnamese street food spot-slash-bar Le Red Tiger, also in the Village.
Pham tells Eater that he has a family connection to Hawaii — his mom’s side of the family all live there — and since he’s snacked on poke well before it made the leap to North America, he’s less interested in sticking to the food trend and being only a poke place.
“My family still lives there, I’m still in contact with them, asking them questions.”
Nor will Kamehameha rely on other tropes synonymous with Hawaii.
“When you think of Hawaii you think of the tiki bar, but Hawaii is not that clichéd. So we’re doing it in a modern way.”
The snack bar is set to be more of a daytime or early evening spot, with lunch and light meals, and a focus on healthy options.
When I want to eat outside in the Village there’s no place you can eat healthy food and healthy stuff...as a surfer, we like to eat healthy.”
Those options will include smoothie bowls, açai bowls, in addition to some poke (some of which are pictured below). It’ll be vegetarian and vegan friendly, as Pham expects fish to be the only meat on the menu.
Kamehameha is drawing some inspiration from the island of Oahu’s North Shore, seen by many as the surfing capital of the world — Pham says he’s drawing particular inspiration from Ted’s Bakery, a decades-old spot right nearby. That means the sweeter side of the menu will include Haupia pie, a chocolate-based staple, cream pies, and more.
There will also be an ice cream counter set up in time for the summer, featuring Hawaiian-style shaved ice with tropical flavours like taro and macadamia.
The space is to be designed by Guillaume Ménard (Joverse, Red Tiger) — but don’t expect well-worn Polynesian icons or fake palm trees.
“The aesthetic for the place is going to be more influenced by Wes Anderson, but zen at the same time. We don’t want to be clichéd with bamboo and surfboards.”
Pham says he’s hoping to open up in April in a former depanneur on Sainte-Catherine — right in time for the street’s annual Aires Libres pedestrianization. Eater will keep you updated closer to the opening.