short chronicle of a friend's visit
A friend was in town from the mainland for the last week, so we have been enjoying a variety of dining. Here’s a short rundown of a few of the places we ate:
Zippy’s: Good basic food. Not great, not gourmet. There are a couple of things I avoid at zippy’s (why can’t they learn to do chicken katsu?), but all in all I’ve had few bad meals at zippy’s. This time friend had the chicken and chili combo, two of their best sellers on one plate. I got the fresh corned beef and cabbage special. BTW zippy’s specials are on a 6 day cycle <http://www.zippys.com/menu/daily-spec...>
Nico’s: Never disappoints. I was worried when they quadrupled in size early this year, but they managed to keep their quality at the same level at least so far, and their prices are reasonable. Friend got the special that day, Panko Crusted Ahi, I had the classic Furikake Crusted Ahi, and we shared with each other. Both very good, the Panko crusted had a fairly mild wassabi aoli sauce.
Utage: We were going to go to Sugoi’s but they were closed that day (odd) and we looked at Young’s fish market but Hawaiian food just looked too heavy that day. We ended up at Utage for japanese/okinawan food. He got the chicken katsu, I got the grilled garlic ahi. Utage isn’t cheap, but its not overpriced either. I really like the shoyu pork and the Nakami (pork belly) but again those sounded too heavy that day.
Sam Choy’s BLC: This used to be one of my favorite places to take people because the fish preparations were so good and the other food was great too. This time was a bit of a disappointment. We ended up with crab cakes because apparently they don’t do the ahi cakes any more. They only had one fresh fish that day, mahimahi. Not exactly my favorite. We both got that as fish and chips. In fairness I have to say it was very well prepared, the batter was not too heavy not oily, and wonderfully crisp. It complimented the mahimahi very nicely. And the crab cakes were very good as well. In spite of a large group (12 or so) being seated near us just after we arrived we still got good service. Still the menu selections were a bit of a letdown.
Sugoi’s: We eventually made it to Sugoi’s. He had the garlic ahi, I had the spicy garlic chicken. We both got the regular size plate, I only ate half my mac salad (but it was good) The large plates easily make two meals. My friend totally cleaned his plate. I think it’s a good thing Sugoi’s isn’t open for dinner. It’s hard to make it over there at lunchtime for me, if it were open after 3pm I think I would be eating there too often. I still have to try one of their bento plates.
Luibueno’s: He wanted to spend some time up on the north shore so we ended up in Haleiwa at the end of the day on Saturday. A lot to choose from for such a small town, but he wanted a Margarita. I had forgotten how good the margarita’s are at Luibueno’s. I don’t know if they are the best on Oahu, but they are certainly a contender. The chips and salsa were great, and we started with an order of ceviche. a perfect balance of fish, lime juice, and just enough diced cucumber and tomato to make it interesting, not to take away the flavor of the fish. Friend got the fisherman’s catch taco (that day mahimahi) and I got the burrito with blackened ahi. His was very good, mine was excellent. Friend says it was the best meal of the trip. We ordered both as an entree, the rice and beans were also very very good.
Ryan’s: Another friend had a birthday and wanted to do something slightly nostalgic. Back in the day Ryan’s was one of the most happening places in town, the place everyone was going to. Then of course it went downhill, and the last time I was there (maybe 5 years ago) I swore I wouldn’t go back. A couple of people mentioned that it had gotten better so . . . There were 4 of us, we only had to wait a few minutes for a table - but there was a wait (we had reservations), but it seemed like a good sign. Our waiter was great, our food came out relatively quickly and was well prepared. They make a point that all the food is prepared fresh on premises, even the desserts are made in house. All in all a good meal, not the best I had that week, but still pretty good.
Waioli Tea Room: Had a small function to go to, I think there were 20 of us. The food was quite good, and the two servers assigned to our private room took good care of us. It was a buffet line, salad, rice, noodles, katsu, fish. All nicely prepared and tasty. Not sure what the fish was, but it was pretty good. Someplace I should make a point of going to more often, a part of old Hawaii. Some of the old timer’s in our group noted that it had changed so much (“when were you last here Helen?” reply: “that was when my husband’s nephew graduated, but was it high school or college?... I guess it was in the early 70’s....) but they all enjoyed the food.