Wiki Wiki Sandbar blends Polynesian and Southern cuisine
By Jessica Cobb | Current Staff Writer
The much anticipated moment is here… Folly Beach’s new addition to the restaurant scene, Wiki Wiki Sandbar, is finally open.
Since construction first began more than a year ago, the space has garnered much attention. Many locals scratched their heads, wondering what would become of the prime real estate spot that once held two separate residences built in the 1940s — one of which was lifted and moved to where it now lives on West Indian Avenue. Privacy fences went up around the street-to-street lot in 2016, and it remained under construction until just recently.
Wiki Wiki quietly opened their doors to diners on Wednesday, Dec. 12 through a social media post on Facebook’s I Love Folly Beach page, stating that they wanted “to give locals the very first look inside” before opening publicly.
Wiki Wiki co-owner Karalee Fallert is the culinary visionary behind Taco Boy, The Park Cafe, The Royal American, Closed for Business, Monza, and others. She spent years researching the cuisine and cocktail history of Hawaii, and soon realized the similarities between the Polynesian and Southern kitchen techniques. The low and slow method of cooking meats and sides, blue-plate style specials, and fruity cocktails on balmy evenings are just a few.
Then of course there is the pineapple: even though it is native to Hawaii and not South Carolina, there’s an extensive history of this “welcome fruit” in the Lowcountry. The city of Charleston has a long-standing relationship with this symbol of hospitality and there are many different stories that prove it. Hopefully the next time you hear one, you’ll be sitting at one of Wiki Wiki’s many decks overlooking the ocean, sipping on a Pineapple Dole Whip.
The 6,500-square-foot building boasts three floors, four dining rooms, and a rooftop tiki bar with a view that will rival any on Folly Beach. The restaurant is full of unique local art, bright walls and wood features, eclectic lighting, and an all-around layout that keeps your head on a swivel.
If you sit at the bar, you’ll watch the bartenders decked out in colorful Hawaiian Aloha shirts stir and shake some fun cocktails, including the classics Daiquiri and Mai Tai. Another soon-to-be favorite is the Pineapple Incident, which is the adult version of the Dole Whip with just the right amount of Jamaican rum.
For all the non-drinkers out there, they also offer fruity Hawaiian Sun canned juices and local Cannonborough Craft’s delicious ginger beer.
Now, about that menu … Make sure you arrive at Wiki Wiki with an appetite. The PuPu Platter alone is enough to for 3-4 people to get started on, full of char sui ribs, coconut shrimp, fried spam sticks, bacon-wrapped pineapple, egg rolls, and five spiced wings. It’s served with a plate of sweet and spicy dipping sauces that complement all items on the plate, and just make sure to snag one of everything before anyone goes back for seconds.
If you are a fan of Moules Frites, don’t sleep on this dish. Once the mussels are all gone (which they will be), the Thai coconut broth will make you want to pick the bowl up and slurp away, and don’t be shy about it because it’s a compliment to the chef!
A lighter option to choose from are the multiple styles of fresh seafood poke bowls, with palate pleasing accoutrements.
Another noticeable attribute to this eclectic menu is the amount of vegetarian inclusions. Even though I personally don’t limit my intake to a vegetarian type diet, I do appreciate and love the interesting options such as the tofu katsu, the beet and macadamia nut poke, and the fresh looking edamame hummus. I’m very excited to enjoy multiple return visits to continue to explore this rare and refreshing menu.
Partners Fallert and April Bennett have found a niche on Folly Beach with this concept, and along with executive chef Jason Dupree and beverage director Roderick Groetzinger it seems like they are definitely on to something.
Jessica Cobb is a Folly Beach resident with years of culinary experience tucked into her apron pocket. Classically trained chef and owner of local catering company, Some Like it Hot, she joins the Folly Current as a contributing writer to the Food and Dining section in hopes of sparking new interest, cravings, and insight from our eclectic bunch of restaurants.