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  • Writer's pictureNathanael Bueno

Bowling and bites at The Alley: an Aiea Bowl review

The spirit of a bowling alley truly comes to life when a restaurant lies behind it to nourish its customers. The Alley’s time worn atmosphere was something admirable that suggested a memorable experience about to be made. Part of the Ka Mana’o team went to indulge in its retro charm and the cuisine that The Alley has to offer. Walking into Aiea Bowl felt like entering a spaceship. An automatic door in the front that led to a dimly lit, retro style bowling alley saturated in the cosmic aesthetic.

We had arrived just before the lunch rush so we were seated immediately. For our meal, we ordered the oxtail soup, boneless marinated kalbi plate, The Alley Burger, and the tasty chicken plate. It wasn’t too long before our food had arrived, but it allowed enough time to sit and chat with our team. Sometimes it’s nice to have conversations with friends with the sounds of thuds and pins falling echoing from the alley. It elevates the immersion of the bowling alley’s atmosphere. Definitely my top recommendation for dates if you’re going out with someone insufferable and want to tune out for just a bit. 

The oxtail soup came just a few minutes after placing our order and the team was surprised by the speed and quality of the service. The aroma of the soup wafted around the table and enticed us to immediately dive in. It came with their “Mom’s ponzu sauce” which added a new tangy taste profile and elevated the ordinary oxtail soup. Taking our first bite had us taken aback as the blend of spices thrilled our taste buds and the oxtail so tender that it melted in our mouths inspiring more and more bites. The soup was just gone in just about the same time it took to arrive at our table.

Our photographer, Kainoa, ordered The Alley Burger, which came with an interesting style of cut fries that I haven’t seen before. It was thinly cut and fried to the right kind of crispy in the way that fries should be. Between a fluffy brioche bun, the patty was blended with onions and, though not a fan of onions, he offered to share with the rest of the table. 

The two plates our team ordered were the kalbi and tasty chicken. The plates came with the perfect texture of rice and macaroni salad. The kalbi tasted both sweet and savory as the meat was wonderfully infused with teriyaki sauce. Whoever came up with the idea that local platters should typically come with rice and macaroni salad was so right. It really belongs there. The tasty chicken plate we had was battered in their “Alley Tasty Sauce” and fried to perfection. The outside was golden and crispy, which made every bite such a flavorful crunch that could heal taste buds. The flavors were truly addictive and it helps that the portion sizes were big enough to go back for thirds. 

Aiea Bowl is the perfect place to destroy a few plates, and then later, destroy your friends at a game of bowling. However, after having horribly lost our round of bowling, I found that the real winner was the experience itself. This place was so full of amazing food and opened up a fun opportunity for bonding and getting to know people. This place was just right up our alley.

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