Hula Hut - Hawaiian/Filipino in Benicia (Long)
Hi all - I kind of accidently stumbled onto this place on the border of Benicia/Vallejo a few weeks back pulling into a Shell Station to grab a soda. It's in a mini-mall that's really easy to ignore because of its location (most cars speed by this place in the abrupt transition between I-780 West and Columbus Parkway).
The interior is thematically decorated, though I could see how one might think it was just a bit TOO much - thatch chairs, tiki faces, faux palm/tropical plants, etc. They had these what looked somewhat like flat-screen TV's with Hawaiian island scenes on the walls which were nice to look at; however, the one next to me emitted the sounds of breaking waves and the like which grew somewhat annoying since I wanted to listen to the Hawaiian music playing in the background.
The menu mainly focuses on Hawaiian dishes; however, there are some Filipino items on the regular menu (the chefs are a married couple, one Hawaiian and the other Filipino.) Interested in trying a multitude of items at once, I ordered the Island BBQ Feast Combo, described as a plate of BBQ chicken, pork sticks, beef and spam marinated in their special sauce.
The forementioned items came out on a big dish along with scoops of rice (2 total) and macaroni salad, the typical plate lunch style combo. The macaroni salad was unique - it had a touch of pineapple in the mixture and used vermicelli instead of macaroni.
The meats turned out to be pretty tender, especially compared to what you'd find at the local chain Hawaiian plate lunch places (L&L, Hawaiian Drive Inn). The chicken especially seemed to benefit the most from the marinading and was particularly good. They did top the meat with some of the marinade sauce - thankfully it wasn't overpowering, but it really didn't add much to the taste of the various meats beyond what was already added in the marinade process.
Pretty much all the menu choices are closed out with the dessert of the day, which this day was guava cake. This was pretty darn delicious - a white cake with one guava and one custard filling layer, topped with a whipped cream icing and even more guava. The waitress informed me that they do specialize in cakes and do have a small bakery inside - I didn't check out the bakery, but I definitely wouldn't mind ordering one of their guava cakes for a birthday celebration in the future
The Filipino items served every day include bangus, palabok, pancit (canton, bihon, or sotanghon), and adobo (chicken or pork). Items like sinigang, pinakbet, and dinuguan are served on weekends. All items on the menu are priced at $10 and under, save for the Ultimate Hula Combo (Kaibi ribs, chicken katsu, and lumpia Shanghai with special sauces.)
Every month they have have a luau live show with hula dancers and the like (reservations are required; however, there's no show this month because the dancers are preparing for a competition up in Reno.)
This seems a nice enough place to take a family and/or friends who are willing to ruin a diet for a night. The food is definitely a step up from those Hawaiian plate lunch chain places that I had mentioned ealier. The place seemed to be getting a steady stream of business from customers of all types when I was there, so maybe word is spreading around.
They do have a website, but it's either not finished yet or needs some reworking - some links don't work and some of the text is obscured because of the formatting.
Hula Hut Island Food & Cake Shop
2032-34 Columbus Parkway
M, W, Th: 11 - 9:30 pm
Tu: 11 - 5 pm
F, Sa: 10 am - 10:30 pm
Su: 12 noon - 9:30 pm
I've been to this place a few times now and its always been very good all around, both with the Pilipino & Hawaiian dishes. Very good portions, I really like good portions. Really.
Also on a minor note, while I didn't exactly grow up with ube, I am very familiar with it...and have never liked it. It literally is the only food that "tastes" "purple." I'm not sure what I mean by that...only that the taste doesn't remind me of anything else. That being said, I actually liked their ube cake! O.k., it was probably the sweetened ube-colored filling, but that still counts as an "ube cake...
Really cool find and post. It sounded so outrageous I had to stop by today since I was in Vallejo.
It is really a nice place. It is a big step up, decor-wise from the other Hawaiian restuarants. Probably only Ono Grill in Half Moon Bay is close.
I really wanted a piece of that Guava cake before startig my diet, but alas, it wasn't ready yet.
Those prices are really a deal since they include dessert.
The bakery had some nice light looking cakes and now I'm sorry I didn't just get a piece of the ube cake which was a pretty lavandar whipped cream layer cake.
They also have two computers that can be used for free in front of the restuarant. Really nice people. While waiting for my shave ice, I was asking about the little mini cupcakes and they gave me one for free. It was a nice little macaroon. They also had guava jellies and a few other Hawaiian goods in the little bakery.
The shave ice was good. It has been ten years since I've been to Hawaii, so cant say how it stacks up, but on a hot day it was fun and refreshing. Got the rainbow with the cherry being the best flavor.
Very cool you can attened a luau with hula dancers in Benicia (Sept 11). They even have poi.
Those moving pictures are popular in Salvadorian restuarants. The sound effects can be annoying, like you said.
When I read your post and you mentioned they had spam marinated in their special sauce, had to check it out.
All the links in the site seem to be workig. Don't know how big they are, but the party platters seemj inexpensive.
They just opened in May 2005.
Thanks again. Great Chowhounding.
I just checked out the website again - it seems to be working just fine, but I used MS Explorer instead of Firefox (which is what I use at home.) I'm gonna' check that out once I get home and see if that might be why I got the "weirded out" version of the website.
I forgot about the Hawaiian Shaved Ice - I haven't had that in quite awhile myself (there was this place in Old Sacto I frequented when I was going to school in that area) and when another blazer of a day hits, that sounds like the perfect relief.