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Wicker Park's Mahalo Shares Menu Highlights, Aims for Memorial Day Debut

By Alisa Hauser | May 6, 2016 9:23am
 Featured items at Mahalo, which is aiming to open on Memorial Day if everything goes as planned.
Mahalo Menu Sneak Peek
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WICKER PARK —  New Hawaiian eatery Mahalo aims to open on Memorial Day with a neighborhood meet-and-greet pig roast luau on its rooftop patio, owner Brad Parker told members of a Wicker Park community group earlier this week.

"Memorial Day on Monday is the goal we are trying for, it's not a hard date," Parker said after the meeting on Wednesday.

Located at 1501 N. Milwaukee Ave., on the northwest corner of Honore Street and Milwaukee Avenue, across from Rick Bayless' Xoco and Volumes Bookcafe, a new book store, Mahalo replaces the shuttered Bom Bolla.

"Designed to create a modern, Hawaiian surf shack feel," the first floor bar and dining area will have a beachy vibe with painted teal wood floors and handmade white wood benches, Parker said.

Construction to transform the former Spanish cava bar into Mahalo began in late March. The exterior facade of the 1880s-era vintage building that was saved from the wrecking ball in 2014 was painted white last week.

Mahalo, which offers a 2,500 square-foot bar and dining room along with a 50-seat rooftop patio, will be the third restaurant that Parker, 32, has opened in less than a year following two River North spots. 

Last August, Parker's company, Parker Restaurant Group, opened The Hampton Social, an East Coast lifestyle-themed seafood restaurant, and in December, The Bassment, a live music lounge.

The exterior of Mahalo, 1501 N. Milwaukee Ave. [DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser]

On the weekends, Mahalo will feature a brunch with Spam and egg sandwiches, braised short ribs and coconut cream-stuffed Hawaiian Bread French Toast, among other dishes.

Highlights from Mahalo's lunch and dinner menu include pupu, poke, yakitori, salad and large plates conceived by Philippine-born, Hawaiian-raised Executive Chef Carlos Dalisay, who will serve an "entertaining menu of Polynesian-Asian fusion cuisine served with a modern flair," according to a news release that announced Ryan Wombacher as the venture's corporate chef partner.

Dalisey, who moved to Chicago in 2006 and has worked at Primehouse, Union Sushi and Tavernita, spent the first part of his career cooking in Hawaii at various restaurants specializing in Vietnamese and Thai cuisine including Sansei Seafood Restaurant and Sushi Bar in Waikiki under the direction of acclaimed chef Dave “D.K.” Kodama, Parker said.

The drink menu will include Mai Tai cocktails made with rum and tropical fruit juices and beer and wine.

Check out some menu highlights featuring traditional Hawaiian dishes:

A pupu platter is a tray of small meat and seafood designed for sharing.  Maho's pupu options include Spam meatballs (pork, beef, Spam, special spices, sweet chili glaze); chicken katsu sushi sliders (crispy coconut chicken, sticky rice bun, pickled red onion, avocado) and three "classic island style variations" of shrimp.

Mahalo's poke, a raw fish salad served as an appetizer, will include tuna (soy, macadamia nuts, nori, tobiko, finger peppers), tofu (soy glaze, mountain vegetable salad, cucumbers, tomatoes) and tako or octupus (miso chili sauce, cherry tomatoes, Napa cabbage).

Yakitori, or skewers, will offer teriyaki glazed short ribs, sweet chili mahi mahi with pineapple miso glazed sea bass with mango salsa.

Large Plates include "Loco Moco" (two beef patties, American cheese, shiitake gravy, fried egg), Kalua Platter (shredded pork shoulder, Hawaiian BBQ, crispy onions) and Huli Huli Chicken Platter (charcoal roasted Amish chicken, sea salt, togarashi, banana glaze).

Salad highlights include “Huihui” Cobb (kahuku corn, grilled chicken, pipikaula, avocado, charred Maui onion dressing) and green papaya (cashews, chili dressing, cilantro, shrimp).

For updates, follow Mahalo on Facebook Twitter, @MahaloChicago or its website.

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