Winter just got a little warmer in downtown Montreal. With the arrival of Kamehameha Snack Bar on Rue Sainte-Catherine in the city’s Village district, locals can now enjoy a taste of summer all year round.
Designed by local outfit Atelier Mainor, the modern snack bar, which opened its doors in June, has become an instant hit, attracting Montrealers and international travellers alike with its sunny interiors and delicious Hawaiian cuisine—a rarity throughout the country. Named after Hawaii’s first king, the island-inspired restaurant’s laid-back atmosphere evokes that of a 1970s tropical resort.
“From a conceptual standpoint, I tried to imagine how the restaurant would look if it were in, say, Hawaii or Japan. I wanted something that would look tropical…” says the studio’s principal designer and founder Guillaume Ménard. Keen to avoid stale, tiki clichés, Ménard looked to iconic American film director Wes Anderson for inspiration. “I’m really drawn to his work, his use of colour and patterns. He really knows how to create a mood,” says Ménard. “I want to create an experience, I want people to feel something when they walk into a room. In the case of Kamehameha, they needed to be mind-blown not just by food, but also by the experience of being in the space.”
Named after Hawaii’s first king, the island-inspired restaurant’s laid-back atmosphere evokes that of a 1970s tropical resort.
Though unquestionably kitsch, Kamehameha’s retro-chic interior is not cheesy. Instead, Ménard artfully balances nostalgia with novelty, making the old feel fun, cool, and contemporary. Measuring 1,000 square feet with seating for 25, the interior is set against a monochromatic palette of peachy pinks. Vintage rattan furniture, revamped with a new coat of pink paint and upholstery, offers patrons a cozy place to perch, while custom-made art deco–inspired brass lighting give the bistro a modernist edge. Two bars made entirely of solid rose marble supply additional seating options and an extra boost of colour, while foliage fills every corner, adding to the restaurant’s tropical vivacity.
And then, there is the menu. Choose from a selection of healthy poke bowls and açai and fruit smoothies, or homemade Japanese soft ice cream—it’s made in-house daily, and served in fish-shaped waffles, a classic and very photogenic Japanese snack. Presented on traditional sometsuke porcelain ware, poke bowls emerge from the kitchen like miniature works of art, while rows of Spam musubi, a Hawaiian snack consisting of a block of rice topped with seasoned, grilled Spam and wrapped in nori, appear elegantly displayed on silver platters. Order in or take it to-go—though, with interiors like these, you should probably sit and stay a while.
Kamehameha Snack Bar, 1190 St Catherine St E, Montreal, QC H2L 2G7.
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