21 thoughts on “restaurants mmxx

  1. Sura Hawaii Korean Restaurant (across from the Hawai’i Convention Center)

    This is a Korean bbq–i.e., yakiniku–all-you-can-eat restaurant. $27. The options are limited, but I really enjoyed two of the meats–premium brisket and pork jowl. The beef tongue was also good. I also really liked the tofu soup, with a kim chee broth–maybe the best I’ve had (which I guess isn’t saying much).

    I’d go here again.

  2. Betty’s Burgers (Where Greek Corner used to be)

    Quick comments:

    The burgers were solid, although they mistakenly cooked mind well-done. I think they would have been a lot better cooked at medium. I really liked the buns, which were from Liliha. The regular burgers are about $5, which is good for a quarter pound burger.

    The quantity of the large fries were disappointing. The fries were of the thicker shoe-string variety.

    The strawberry shake was good, and cheaper than other places.

    Oh, we got the spicy (with jalapeno and siracha mayo–although Larri couldn’t taste the mayo), and mushroom–guac. I’m not sure the mushroom-guac adds much. These were about $8. I’d forgo the $2-$3 and get the deluxe instead.

    1. I went to Betty’s several weeks ago. They didn’t have what I wanted, which was basically a double cheeseburger, but not deluxe. So they rang it up as a regular cheeseburger with an extra patty. Just saying this so you know it can be done. I think I paid just under seven bucks or thereabouts.

      The burger tasted like what my stovetop burgers taste like when I make them at home, which is to say very meaty, not sauced in any way, with just a strong ground beef flavor, which I love. I’d say Betty’s is not as salty as mine, and I cook mine with a lot of fresh chopped onions.

      But texture-wise and flavor-wise, it’s pretty much the same thing. I liked it a lot. The fries are great — probably my favorite fries at a burger joint, nice and potatoey.

      I like that they had TouchTunes (I’ve been wanting to try it out — I played Iron Maiden’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” and they immediately dropped the volume to barely audible). I didn’t like that it’s almost too warm in there. I don’t mind being warm, but I don’t wanna eat a hamburger when I’m warm, unless I’m outdoors.

      I’ll definitely go back again and probably order the same thing.

    1. I’ve been to BIC and Kabana. At BIC I only had the burrito. It was pretty darn good. At Kabana, it’s good too, but kind of small. I think I can eat like 8 of those. I would recommend both though.

      1. The chances of me trying those places isn’t great, unless they’re both open on the weekends. But since you recommend both, I might put in the effort to try them.

    2. Alejandro’s is in my hood but I’ve still never been there.
      I’ve been to Serge’s, but not for tacos. Same for Encore.

      I’ve had my eye on OMG, especially since they opened in that spot at the corner of Waialae and St. Louis Heights.

      Tacos at Magarita’s (across the street from my office) are good, but I don’t remember them being especially good.

      I thought the burrito at Taco Kabana was pretty hefty, but I would recommend ordering it with no lettuce (and maybe no tomato). There’s too much distracting stuff in there. Haven’t tried the tacos.

      However, as I’ve said multiple times, no ethnic cuisine is more polarizing in this town than Mexican food. It’s kind of silly to ask people for their opinions, because no matter what they say, you’re probably going to disagree. I mean “you” as in whoever you are.

      1. However, as I’ve said multiple times, no ethnic cuisine is more polarizing in this town than Mexican food.

        I haven’t talked to a lot of people about this topic, but I want to say the consensus is that the majority of the best Mexican food in Hawai’i is OK, or little more than OK–and the differences between these restaurants aren’t that significant.

        For example, I like Serg’s, but if someone said the food wasn’t really great, I wouldn’t really argue with them. Even though I like the food, I don’t think it’s super exceptional, too.

  3. Feast

    This is Jon Matsubara’s restaurant in Manoa. They’re only serving burgers, sandwiches, and one or two plate lunches now. We tried,

    Double cheeseburger with bacon
    Lobster roll
    Philly cheesesteak

    I hate to say it, but they weren’t that good. In fact, the burger might be one of the worst I’ve eaten, especially for a place like this. The patty was mushy and not seasoned well; it was bland.

    The lobster roll and cheesesteaks were just OK.

    1. The lobster roll is an Instagram darling these past several weeks. My coworker tried the Philly and said it was tasty but too gristly. She said the lobster roll was good but probably not for that price.

    2. Yeah, the lobster roll was pricey–a little over $21 dollars. I thought the one we had in Chinatown was tastier, for what it’s worth.

    1. I should specify by saying that I ordered the pastrami with just cheese and mustard (extra meat). It was not good. I liked the other sandwiches I got a lot better.

      But the pastrami isn’t good enough to be the star of a sandwich–in my opinion.

  4. Cheng-du Taste

    We finally tried this place. Here’s what we had:

    braised pork hock
    A pork shank braised in a thick sauce that is not exactly sweet, but…something to that effect. Don said it was hard to describe, and I agree. It was OK.

    boiled fish in pickled cabbage and chili soup
    If you’re familiar with sweet and sour pork with cabbage, this kinda reminded me of that, minus the sweet taste. The broth is clear, and I think this had the szehuan pepper in it, because there was a slight tingly on the lips, although it was pretty mild, so maybe it didn’t. This was OK.

    cheng-du fried rice
    This had no meat in it, but bits of egg, sesame seed, maybe seedweed. This kinda reminded me of a Japanese dish. It was OK as well.

    won ton in red chili sauce
    The won tons were nothing special, but nothing bad either. I really liked the sauce, though, for some reason. In my experience, these red chili sauces in Northern Chinese restaurants can taste similar. This is one of the best ones I’ve eaten.

    shredded potato and green pepper
    Don said this one might not be as good as takeout, and maybe he’s right. I don’t think this was crunchy as it would have been if we ate it at the restaurant. This was OK as well.

    Overall, the food was fine, but nothing really wowed me. I’m a little curious to see what it would be like to eat the restaurant, but I don’t think I’d go again, unless it was in the restaurant and it was with someone who knew what to order. (The menu can be intimidating to me, and if the wait staff can’t speak English well, that’s another deterrent.)

    By the way, none of dishes were really spicy hot. Larri was disappointed by this. (I think the guy on the phone knew we weren’t Chinese, so he probably told chef #3 to tone it down for the gweilo.

    1. I’m not super surprised that you thought most of the items were just okay, but I would have thought you would have liked the braised shank. That’s a good if not great dish in terms of taste, in my opinion.

      But in general in terms of flavor, I can see that locals will think it’s mild versus the Cantonese restaurants here if you get dishes that are not super spicy.

    2. There’s a good chance that the food would have tasted better if we ate there. For one thing, the food was closer to room temperature when we got home. Having said that, I’m wondering if I’m just not a big fan of pork shank. The various pork shank always look appealing, but almost every one doesn’t taste as good as it looks. I think the quality of the meat, the seasoning, and even the texture (it can be a little tough) make the meat not as good. That’s my guess anyway. The sauce looked good on this, but it was a little disappointing, too.

      By the way, Don, did the one you order come with a bone? This one did. There was even two–the shank and the socket it fit into.

      1. Every time I got the shank only had one big piece. I know what you mean by tough, but the one at Chengdu never was tough. I would say at worse it would be equal to a turkey drumstick. Which compared to other brown meat on the turkey is tough, but not as tough as beef can be.

    3. I cut the meat off the bone, like carving a roast beef or turkey. It was kind of a chore, far from fall off the bone tender. That’s not really a deal breaker, though. I think I don’t really care for pork shank, which is weird to say, because it looks and sounds good.

    4. I had leftovers. The pork shank sauce was better than I remembered. My guess is that it’s a combination of a red chili sauce and maybe…tomato based(?) sauce that is sweetened. It seems unlikely that the sauce is tomato based, though, and I would say there’s a mild hint of it.

      The fish soup broth was better than I remembered, too.

      Oh, I forgot that I also add the lamb on toothpicks dish. I really liked this one. I’m not as big a fan of lamb as Don, but something I love the lamb/cumin combination. (This was not better than the cumin lamb at the Szechuan place downtown. That dish is probably among my favorite dishes I’ve eaten. The sad thing is that I don’t know how to order it. I went back and tried and I got a lamb stew with tripe.)

  5. El Jalisiense (Food truck, Waikele–outlet mall side)

    You know how the best Mexican restaurants are about the same on O’ahu, not bad, but not exceptional? This implies that the ones that aren’t the best can be pretty bad. I hate to say, but that kind of applies to the food we had at El Jalisciense–particularly the enchiladas, which were dry and not very tasty.

    We also had a carne torta and carne asada fries. The carne asada was salty, and the fries were kinda soggy. If it weren’t for the saltiness, the torta would have been decent. We also had a cheese quesadilla, which was OK. Really, if the food wasn’t so salty, it would have been OK, but a notch below better places.

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