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GoGo’s Get to know the real Hawaii through its delicious mashup of global influences

GoGo’s

2040 Park Ave., Detroit, MI 48226
  • Neighborhood: Downtown
  • Price Level:   
  • Vegetarian Options
  • Cards Accepted
  • Hours: Mon-Thu: 11AM - 12PM
    Fri: 11AM - 2AM
    Sat: 12PM - 2AM
    Sun: 11AM - 12AM

Tags: downtown, hawaiian, park-bar, plate-lunch, spam-musubi

Hawaiian food is the ultimate fusion cuisine.

Dishes like kalua pork, fish wrapped in taro leaves, lomi lomi salmon and mashed taro root (poi) are probably some of the first that come to mind when you think of Hawaii. But those are primarily luau dishes, ones you’d have for a special occasion. Day-to-day meals on this stunning island paradise are often a weird, delicious mashup of fresh, healthy ingredients and gut-busting indulgences, inspired by recipes from China, Japan, Portugal, Korea and the Philippines. It’s one of the most unique regional cuisines you’ll find anywhere in the world.

You don’t have to fly all the way to the South Pacific to try these eclectic eats. Tucked inside the Park Bar (the spot formerly home to Bucharest Grill) downtown, GoGo’s brings the aloha spirit right to your plate.

It’s not luau food; it’s real Hawaiian. And it’s actually much lighter and fresher than we might make it sound. This is a great spot to grab lunch to-go or linger over Happy Hour cocktails and grub.

If you want to experience real Hawaiian food, one thing you need to get familiar with is the plate lunch. The plate lunch was born from the Japanese bento box. But they don’t really look anything like bentos, with their tidy little nibbles of raw fish, pickled veggies or panda-shaped rice balls. Like true Americans, the Hawaiians took the concept of bento and riffed it into a more decadent comfort food, with big heaps of noodle salad and a hearty portion of protein.

Loco Moco is a good introduction to the plate lunch, and it’s one that GoGo’s does very well. The name sounds like it could be a crazy tropical mess of exotic spices, but actually, you’ll probably recognize all the ingredients. To make Loco Moco you take a hamburger patty, smother it with brown gravy, then top it off with a fried egg. It’s halfway between a brunch burger and salisbury steak.

Rounding out the plate lunch entrees are garlic butter shrimp, beef teriyaki, or shoyu chicken seasoned with garlic and ginger. A side of macaroni salad and steamed white rice is customary. You could also swap out the rice for GoGo’s green salad (see, there are healthy options!). Ask for it with the lemon poppyseed dressing.

Spam musubi is another classic Hawaiian dish that you really have to taste for yourself to understand. Folks in Hawaii have had a love affair with this canned meat since World War II. The Spam is grilled, nestled over a block of white rice, then wrapped with a strip of nori (dried seaweed). At first glance, it looks like a giant piece of sushi topped with a slice of Spam instead of raw fish. At first taste, it has a salty ham-like flavor with umami notes from the nori. Eat it with your hands if you want to look like you know what you’re doing.

Manapua is a Chinese-inspired dish that looks a bit like a handwich-sized dumpling from the outside. The delicate steamed bun is stuffed with savory spiced pork.

Gogo’s signature holo dogs get their name from the Hawaiian phrase for “adventure” or “on the run, “ appropriate given the joyride they take your taste buds on. You can build your own holo dog – or choose your own adventure, if you will – from a selection of sausages, mustards, relishes and chilies. They toast the inside of the bun, so it doesn’t get soggy when you start slathering on the sauces, and the outside stays soft and bouncy.

On Fridays, GoGo’s adds poke, a raw fish salad, to the menu. The offerings change regularly and include options like sushi grade tuna tossed with cucumber, sesame, hijiki (dried seaweed) and black tobiko (a flying fish roe).

The Park Bar has developed a menu tiki-inspired cocktails to pair with GoGo’s Hawaiian fare. The Maui Mule gets an infusion of pineapple. Mango A-Go-Go pairs a mango rum with orange juice, lime juice and citrus soda. The Honolulu Blueberry mixes blueberry- and basil-infused tequila with lime juice and organic agave.


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