The menu had sat on my coffee table since last Thursday; I couldn’t shake the anticipation of trying this new and exciting restaurant. I had honestly never had Hawaiian cuisine, but I was eager to try. My housemate, boyfriend, his little brother and I all went on Monday afternoon and had a delightful brunch, trying a wide range of menu options from appetizers to breakfast to full-on dinner.
Let’s start with the appetizers: SPAM sliders and poutine fries. My housemate got the SPAM slider: a Hawaiian roll split in half then layered with a slice of SPAM and an egg over easy served with a side of greens dressed in a mango vinaigrette. Although the simplicity can be unappealing because one might think, “I could just make this at home,” the flavors still shined. The roll was toasted with butter, giving it that rich texture, and the egg, once bitten, oozed a thick yellow yolk that was perfect for sopping up with the bread like a sauce. Moving on to the poutine fries, I saw these on the menu and thought I was going to thoroughly enjoy them, yet I was a little underwhelmed and the fries were over-seasoned. The ratio, I felt, was a little off. For those of you unaware of what this creation is, fries are covered in melted cheese and then topped with a curry gravy. While I love all those things separately, I was not a fan of the combo; it felt like a copout. The cheese did not mesh with the curry, which was overly seasoned and seemed to mask any sort of other flavor that could have been reprised from the dish. The fries also came with two different dipping sauces, both conflicting against the aggressive curry flavor. A little balance and a lighter hand would go a long way for this side dish.
Breakfast was a delight and is served all day. My boyfriend enjoyed a nice breakfast rice bowl with Loco Moco beef, which I can only describe because I am unfamiliar with its concept as a Hawaiian version of meatloaf. The dish was placed atop a large pile of coconut rice, the beef patty smothered in a brown gravy and then topped with a fried egg. Filling and unique in flavor, it was a good way to start the day and will keep your stomach satisfied throughout your busy schedule.
I, myself, had the French toast which normally isn’t my favorite thing, but this was a special treat. The French toast was made with Hawaiian bread soaked in a maple and pineapple syrup then coated in freshly shaved coconut and covered in a simple icing. My oh my, was this sweet and delectable. I thoroughly enjoyed the dish, and the price was very affordable. It was sweet enough to be a desert and light and airy enough to escape the guilt of stuffing all that sugar into your body.
For the main course, a simple classic was given to an eight-year-old kid as the ultimate test of passable cuisine. Just the plain Cali beef burger with cheese and an order of fries, and it passed the test. The plate was licked clean, and not a single complaint was heard; if that doesn’t say something for the likeability of the dish, then I’m not sure what does. However basic the dish was, it’s nice to know that the menu has something comforting for those diners less adventurous who still want to enjoy the lush environment of HiWi.
Speaking of the atmosphere, the charming outdoor dining area was littered with pineapple décor and palm trees that made the chilly January day feel like May in the tropics. Overall, I was satisfied with the restaurant — a few real delightful dishes and a few that could either be improved creatively or adjusted. I see a bright future for the new resident on Pardall.