My sister and I stumbled upon Suzume one night and were surprised to find the tastes of our Hawaiian past. The eight-month-old restaurant is one of my favorite recent discoveries, with its poke sushi, rice bowls and ramen noodles on the menu. Chef Michael Briones, a Momofuku Noodle Bar alum, hails from Hawaii and showcases his true aloha spirit by precisely melding unexpected flavors like tomato miso ramen with short rib tataki. Briones calls the food “Hawaiian mall food,” referencing the food court at Shirokiya in the Ala Moana shopping mall, but he is being modest. While reminiscent of the diverse variety available at Shirokiya, his food is on a higher level, delivering what seems like simple comfort food with complex preparations and dynamic use of ingredients. Everything on the menu is ono (delicious) but I must highlight the Hawaiian-style fried chicken rice bowl. Organic Springer Mountain Farms chicken thighs are marinated overnight in an apple juice, soy sauce, coriander, black pepper, onion and water, dredged in rice flour, corn starch and panko, then fried until the skin is perfectly crispy, chicken katsu-style. It’s currently served with a refreshing heirloom tomato and fennel salad and macaroni salad — no Hawaiian meal is complete without mac salad, and this one stands out with the added touch of diced pineapples, pineapple pickling juice and Kewpie mayonnaise. (Briones also uses a pineapple glaze in his Spam musubi.). The intimacy in both the size of the restaurant and in the care of the food preparation makes this neighborhood joint a great escape when you can’t make it all the way to Hawaii.