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Thursday, August 26, 2010

PHO 777 RESTAURANT

PHO 777 RESTAURANT
HONOLULU, HAWAII


Enjoyed a nice business lunch at Pho 777 at the McCully Shopping Center in Honolulu. We started with the Crispy Spring Rolls ($6.99 for 6). These rolls lacked flavor and were not one of my favorites. We also shared the House Special Vietnamese Sandwich ($5.75). This was great. The bread was warm and fresh. Liked the meats and vegetables that topped the sandwich. We all enjoyed a bowl of Pho. I had the Pho with Rare Steak and Well Done Flank. This was pretty good pho. The small bowl was around $6 and the large bowl is $8. Not a bad value for a very filling meal. Pho 777 has a very large menu of Vietnamese food. I would go back again for the Pho and Vietnamese Sandwich. Will also try some of the other menu items.































Saturday, August 21, 2010

MAILE'S THAI BISTRO - HAWAII KAI, HAWAII

MAILE'S THAI BISTRO
HAWAII KAI TOWNE CENTER, HAWAII

I have known the owner of Maile's Thai Bistro for around 15 years. Met her at Mekong Restaurant and Paesano's in Manoa many moons ago. Always beautiful, friendly and professional with her customers. Back in those days, Maile ran the front of the house or was a waitress. Today Maile owns her own restaurant - and let me tell you it is fantastic. This is an instant Taste of Hawaii Favorite. While the restaurant has been open for about a year, we have never gone and I don't know why. Last night Shirley was craving Thai food so Maile's was our first choice. We entered to find a beautiful bistro setting coupled with a packed bar with wide screen t.v. We were greeted by hostesses with large genuine smiles. They quickly checked our reservation and seated us at a table near the bar that also allowed me a view of the busy kitchen. Maile herself came to the table to greet the family and catch up on old times. She is the ultimate host. Truly makes you feel special to be in her establishment. After Maile left, some appetizers began to show up out of nowhere. First there was a puffed noodle with fresh herbs and a light chili sauce. Then came the Calamari. Lighted breaded and delicious. Perfectly cooked and plump pieces of squid served with a Thai red chili sauce. This dish was so good that Keli said it was like having a birthday. After the Calamari came a small round dish of golden french fries. Little sticks of flavor that were laced with Thai spices. This was a huge hit and every french fry was devoured within minutes. After all that came our original order. Spring Rolls ($9.90). Golden deep fried spring rolls stuffed with mushrooms, carrots, long rice, ground pork and spices. Served with slices of fresh cucumber, mint leaves, lettuce and house sweet and sour sauce. This is a huge portion with six good size rolls. You place the rolls in a wrap of lettuce, add some cucumber, sweet chili sauce and hot sauce. This makes a Thai Spring Roll Burrito that will have you coming back time and time again. Perfectly cooked spring rolls that are not mushy or overcooked. We followed the Spring Rolls with the Thai Rice Noodles with Bean Sprouts (Pad Thai). Served with Chicken for ($10.90). Again a huge portion that easily feeds 3-4 people. I loved the Pad Thai. Probably one of the best in the city. Noodles were cooked perfectly and lots of flavor and spice. Next came the Seafood Mixed Vegetable (Pad Pak Hom Mid). This dish was ($15.90). A combination of fresh ocean shrimp, scallop, and calamari sauteed with broth, young corn, cabbage, long bean, straw mushroom and a house special sauce. First of all the seafood was cooked perfectly with the scallops being moist and not tough. The fresh local vegetables and sauce were delicious. Serve this over the Thai Sticky Rice and you have a new favorite. There are so many good looking dishes on the menu here. I can't wait to go back and try them all. This is a great place to eat. The staff is courteous, professional and just plain nice. Smiles all over the place. What a great feeling to dine in this atmosphere for a change. TASTE OF HAWAII FAVORITE.
Click below to see updated post on Maile's Thai Bistro
MAILE'S THAI BISTRO, HAWAII KAI















































































































Thursday, August 19, 2010

TIP TOP CAFE - KAUAI

TIP TOP TIP TO CAFE
LIHUE, KAUAI


Enjoyed a nice breakfast at the local hot spot in Lihue, Kauai. Tip Top is part hotel, part bakery and part cafe. Interesting place for sure. The fried rice, eggs and portuguese sausage breakfast was excellent. Other specialties are the Loco Moco and a dish that is served with a can of Vienna Sausage.























KALAHEO CAFE & COFFEE COMPANY

KALAHEO CAFE AND COFFEE COMPANY
KALAHEO, HAWAII (KAUAI)



My best customer on Kauai is located across the street from a great spot called Kalaheo Cafe. We enjoyed a great lunch there this week. When you enter the restaurant you take a menu, grab a table and then place your order at the counter. The friendly staff then brings your food to your table. I enjoyed a Tuna Sandwich with Cheddar Cheese on wheat bread ($6.90). My customer had an Angus Burger ($10.95) and my co-worker had the Pesto Chicken Sandwich ($11.25). While the prices are a bit high, the food is good and you can't beat the atmosphere of this local hang out.





Sunday, August 15, 2010

TACO BELL CANTINA STYLE TACOS

TACO BELL
CANTINA STYLE TACOS



When I saw the commercial for Taco Bell Cantina Style Tacos, I thought to myself here we go again with some tasteless mainland junk. I tried them today and was quite surprised as they were GREAT! I tried the Carne Asada, Chicken and Carnitas. Each one is served with two tortillas, wedge of lime and topped with onion and cilantro. Simple and delicious. These tacos come close to capturing the street taco taste in Mexico. The combination of meats with the onion and cilantro is the perfect combination for a taco. I only ate one of the two tortillas served with each taco and had no problem with the tacos breaking apart. It is pretty sad when the best tacos in Hawaii can now be found at Taco Bell. They did it with simple, fresh ingredients and no flash. If they can come up with a nice sauce for these babies it would be great. These are really good and I cannot wait to get some more. You can get (3) tacos and a large drink for $7.50.




I LIKED THE TACO BELL CANTINA TACOS











































RUM FIRE - SHERATON WAIKIKI

RUM FIRE - SHERATON WAIKIKI
HONOLULU, HAWAII

We enjoyed an absolutely beautiful sunset at Rum Fire last night. Scored a great seat with umbrella directly on the water overlooking Diamond Head and Waikiki Beach. Throw in the new Infinity Pool to the right and you have "paradise". The Sheraton Waikiki has invested millions in water features, new bars and restaurants. The new Infinity Pool is spectacular. The larger family pool with slides, waterfalls and direct access to the ocean is also impressive. Sitting between the Infinity Pool and the Family Pool is a huge indoor/outdoor bar called Rum Fire. There seems always to be very good live local music playing here. The place is always packed around sunset. We go for the Happy Hour where you can enjoy small plates for a pretty good price. On this visit we enjoyed the Chipotle BBQ Babyback Ribs ($6). They were really good with a smokey bbq flavor and lots of sauce. The Edamame ($4) is served with a slightly spicy sauce and comes with a more spicy sauce on the side. The Jerked Seasoned Chicken Wings ($6) were just so so. Basic chicken wing. The most expensive item was the Fresh Fish Taco ($10). Two small mahi mahi tacos served up with a little cabbage and chipotle sauce. The grilled tortilla was good and the tacos were o.k. Worth $5 each? No. We also tried the North Shore Baby Romaine Ceasar Salad ($7). A nice salad with two fresh anchovies. You can enjoy
draft beers for $3 and house wines for $5 during happy hour which runs from 4:00 to 6:00 pm.

This is a fantastic place to take an out of town guest or the family for a people watching afternoon in Waikiki.












































































Friday, August 13, 2010

COCONUT GRILL - HILO

COCONUT GRILL
HILO, HAWAII

Located directly across from Hilo Bay in the Hilo Seaside Hotel is a great little spot for lunch. My customer who has lived in Hilo all his life recommended the place and I am glad he did. I enjoyed a nice Ahi Tuna Wrap served with large cut fries. The fish was fresh but the sandwich had a little too much sauce. Other than that, it was good. My customer enjoyed the soup and salad bar which looked pretty good too.

COCONUT GRILL IN HILO
AHI TUNA WRAP

EAT CATERING AND CAFE

EAT CATERING AND CAFE
HONOLULU, HAWAII


A rep friend of mine recommended we try Eat and the Gentry Center on Nimitz Highway. I am glad he did. Lunch here was excellent and I cannot wait to return. I started with the soup of the day ($3.95 cup). It was a lentil and sausage with vegetables. This was good but really greasy as you can see from the photo. I followed up the soup with the Gyro ($6.95). The Gyro is listed as a speciality. The sandwich has shaved lamb in a grilled pita with cucumber, lettuce, tomato and garlic yogurt sauce. It was good but not as good as the ones you eat at Aloha Stadium after about 7 beers. Eat's menu includes Sandwiches, Burgers, Salads, Panini and Pasta. The prices are reasonable. Looking forward to returning here.

EAT CAFE IN THE GENTRY DESIGN CENTER
LENTIL SOUP
GYRO

SIDE STREET INN - KAPAHULU

SIDE STREET INN - KAPAHULU
HONOLULU, HAWAII

When one of my favorite grind spots announced that they were opening a new location on Kapahulu Avenue, I was skeptical on how they would duplicate the charm and great food at a second location. The original Side Street Inn rocks with great food and service. The second Side Street does not compare. The staff is unfriendly and seemingly uncaring. There is absolutely no feeling to the new upscale decor that is totally different than the original joint. We went to Side Street for what we think is the best Fried Rice on the planet. Unfortunately, the photo above of the rice was not taken by me. We did not get any Fried Rice even after waiting for about 1 hour. Our first two dishes were served promptly. A Spinach Salad covered in bacon bits, egg, sliced onion, cheese and balsamic dressing. Absolutely delicious. The best Spinach Salad in Hawaii. Even Keli loved it and she doesn't like spinach. Our second dish was the Kalua Pork with pineapple served on a bun with bbq sauce. These are very good and filling. I can only eat one. The dish is served with three. We enjoyed these two dishes and patiently waited for our Fried Rice.  After 45 minutes I asked the waitress if the rice was coming. She said yes. Another 5 minutes pass and she returns. I ask will it be another 10 or 15 minutes and she says probably 10 or 15 minutes but she was not sure. With that I asked for the check. Waited another five minutes and then was given our check with a quick "sorry about that". Nothing more. They did not care one bit. To make things worse, they ding you for $5 just to park your car here. Add a tip and you spend $7 before you enter the door and don't get served your Fried Rice. Couple in the elevator that takes a year to move one floor and the staff that thinks they are doing you a favor to eat here and you have a mess. I don't ever want to return. Will go to the original Side Street the next time I want Fried Rice.

HAWAII'S BEST SPINACH SALAD
KALUA PORK BUNS
HAWAII'S BEST FRIED RICE


Sunday, August 8, 2010

QUINN'S ALMOST BY THE SEA - KAILUA, KONA

QUINN'S ALMOST BY THE SEA
KAILUA KONA, HI

We dined at Quinn's in Kona and enjoyed one of the best fish sandwiches ever with some customers. While Quinn's is famous for their Fish n' Chips, I wanted a little less fried food on this day. My customers recommended the Fresh Catch Ono Sandwich served Deluxe style. The deluxe adds huge slices of avocado, lettuce, tomato and onion to the sandwich. The sandwich is huge and delicious. Probably one of the best I have ever tasted. The Fresh Fish Sandwich was served with a large salad. Wonderful lunch with great customers. Doesn't get much better in Kona. Wish the picture I took would have come out. I got too close and it is blurry.


BONGO BENS - KAILUA, KONA HAWAII

BONGO BENS
KAILUA KONA, HI

When a friend and customer that lives in Kona suggested that we meet for breakfast at Bongo Bens, I thought he was crazy. What the heck is Bongo Bens I thought to myself. Well I found out that Bongo Bens is a great place for breakfast and lunch. In a two day period we hosted contractors three times at this Kona eatery. The first time I tried the Huevos Rancheros. Grilled tortillas, covered in refried beans, Two eggs any style, cheese, Ranchero sauce, Sour Cream and salsa, served with choice of Home fries, Grits or Rice. This was a delicious breakfast that hit the spot. Only complaint is that the huge scoops of avacado and sour creme are way too much for this dish. My client and co-worker enjoyed the omelets and said they were great. The second time back I tried the breakfast burrito. Two Island fresh eggs scrambled with, cheese, onions, ham, and Salsa, wrapped in a flour tortilla. This was good but not as good as the Huevos Rancheros. Our third visit was for lunch with customers. On this occasion I tried the fresh fish sandwich. This thing was the bomb. A huge piece of fresh Mahi Mahi grilled and served on a fresh bun with lettuce, tomato and onion. I threw on a bit of tarter sauce and enjoyed one of the best fish sandwiches ever. The portion was huge so I only finished half. I highly recommend Bongo Bens if you visit Kona and want an inexpensive breakfast or lunch. They are also open for dinner.



BONGO BENS ISLAND CAFE

BONGO BENS HUEVOS RANCHEROS
BREAKFAST BURRITO
GREAT FISH SANDWICH

Saturday, August 7, 2010

V LOUNGE PIZZA - HONOLULU, HAWAII

V LOUNGE
HONOLULU, HI


After meeting the owners of the V Lounge on the golf course today, I just had to drop in and try their pizza. I have read numerous reviews in local magazines and newspapers that said this was some of the best pizza in Hawaii. The owners were very nice on the course and explained to me that they use the best ingredients imported from Italy and make their own mozzarella cheese. We ventured down to Kona street across from Ala Moana Center and found a nice little bar with very friendly employees. We were in before 7:00 pm so the crowd was small. Mostly older couples eating pizza and a large party doing the same. The waitress and bartender were very friendly and provided excellent service with smiles all around. We tried two pizzas. The Margarita and the Supreme. Both were around $15 each. I loved the Margarita. Fresh basil, cheese and sauce on a light crust. The pizzas are cooked in a Kiawe wood oven and come out with a nice char on the crust. Only complaint is that it was a little greasy in the middle. The Supreme had cheese, onions, mushrooms, prosciutto and a sunny side up egg in the middle. The mushrooms were fresh and flavorful. The egg added a different dimension to the pizza and I liked it. The V Lounge only serves pizza. Nothing else on the food side. It is mostly a bar that is opened to 4:00 am. I will return again because the pizza is good and the staff seemed really to appreciate that we were there. Hope this place does well.

THIS GIRL LOVES V LOUNGE PIZZA
GREAT PIZZA AT V LOUNGE

Sunday, August 1, 2010

LE GUIGNOL FRENCH RESTAURANT

LE GUIGNOL FRENCH RESTAURANT
HONOLULU, HI

After a delicious lunch at Le Guignol, I decided to go back to try dinner with our good friends Tom and Arlene. We arrived around 6:00 pm on Saturday and found that a very good jazz band was playing on the lanai. They were not too loud and added a nice touch to the dinner. One good thing about Le Guignol is that you can bring your own beer and wine. There is a $5.00 per bottle corkage fee for wine. Most everyone in the restaurant had bottles and bottles of wine on their tables. Of course some locals enjoyed some cold Heineken's too. Let me begin by saying the staff here is very friendly and courteous. They really made us feel welcome. You don't feel this at too many places anymore. The owner is the only cook according to his wife who is the waitress. Add a very helpful hostess that also helps serve the food and you have the most efficient 3 person staff in Honolulu. These people know how to do their jobs well. With the restaurant full by 6:30, they calmly got all the appetizers, salads and entrees out within a reasonable time. Never sweating, running or rushing. Just cool and calm. My hats off to the wife who is pregnant and taking care of each table like it was her only one. The cook was gracious enough to come out and say hi after the rush was over. I really like these people. Hard working, nice and professional. The food however did not live up to the service. Really wish it would have because I love this little place already. We started with an order of Escargot.  The snails were served with garlic and butter. Pretty tasteless. Needs more garlic. The Foie Gras was a tiny portion but full of rich silky flavor especially when you enjoy it with the sauce served. We also tried a Bone Marrow appetizer which looked good but again was tasteless. The dish was served with a spoon full of salt. Believe me you need the salt to add any flavor. I started with a tomato salad ($6). Served in a Martini glass was simply cherry tomatoes, bleu cheese crumbles and some honey dressing. This dish needed some red onion and fresh herbs.  This would make it way better. The House Salads looked a bit bland ($4.50). Two people at are table tried the Rack of Lamb ($29.95 half rack). While a half rack, this is a huge portion of lamb on the bone. Keli said it was delicious, but the adults thought it to be bland. I tried the filet of beef with bleu cheese ($27.95). The steak was cooked to perfection, tasted good but lacked any real big flavor. The Salmon ($23.95) looked good and my friend finished every last bite and said it was good. The Tiger Prawn Pasta ($23.95) looked like a mess and tasted worse according to Shirley. I loved the Chocolate Mousse ($5.95) and our guests liked the Sorbet ($4.95). This was a great evening at Le Guignol. Really like the atmosphere and service. Cannot say enough good about the staff. Truly amazing. Only wish the food would have been as good.
UPDATE:  THIS RESTAURANT HAS CLOSED




LOVED THE LAMB