Sweet Home Cafe

Posted on | Monday, May 16, 2011 | 1 Comment

Sweet Home Cafe is a Taiwanese hot pot style eatery located in downtown Honolulu near the University of Hawaii. We have heard much hype from Yelp and local newspapers and decided to see for ourselves if this place lived up to its reputation.  Hot pot consists of a simmering metal pot of stock at the center of the dining table. While the hot pot is kept simmering, ingredients are placed into the pot and are cooked at the table.

We have also heard that Sweet Home Cafe can get packed so we went early to get seated quickly.

At the door there is a sign in sheet and we were instructed by the host that there is a strict 90 minute time limit once you are seated. We could live with that since our daughter usually can't sit in one spot for too long after she eats. At around 5 pm on a Saturday we waited for about 10 minutes to be seated.

The inside the Sweet Home Cafe resembles a small home and we could tell instantly why there is always a wait- this place is tiny. 

There is wide array of different flavored broths to choose from. We choose the spicy seafood for us and the regular chicken for our daughter.

In addition to the fresh vegetables, diners can choose Sweet Home Cafe's homemade sauces. We tried the cold ginger sauce and spicy garlic. Muy deliciouso! that's Hawaiian  for delicious in case you didn't know.

Diners can choose which fresh vegetables they wish to add to their broth from the refrigerator. The staff brings our your choice of thinly shaved beef, chicken, pork, or lamb. We picked up some shitake mushrooms, butternut squash, and sweet potato leafy greens.

Each plate is color coded and a set price.

Fish ball and Tripe. A Taiwanese favorite.

A panoramic sweep of the restaurant.

At the end of the meal the staff brings out a free Taiwanese shave ice desert. They added some fresh tropical fruit, tapioca, and chewy mochi to polish of a delicious meal.

Ours came out loaded with tapioca, passion fruit, and coffee mochi. Words cant describe how Delicious this concoction was. They could open a business and just sell these alone and be quite successful.

My wife also known as the "Taiwanese boss" said this place was ok, but she is very critical of Taiwanese food outside of her homeland. My daughter and I  thought it was great and the staff did a great job going out of their way to make sure we were content. At one point my daughter dropped her cup of water on the floor and the waiter still kept a positive attitude. Had to knock off a pineapple though because this place is too small. They should buy out another restaurant in the center they are at and expand to feed the willing masses.

if you are in the mood to try something new or ethnic and don't mind a little wait, Sweet Home Cafe is where its at.

 We give Home Sweet Cafe give 4 out of five pineapples.

Sweet Home Cafe:
2334 S King St
Honolulu, HI 96826
(808) 947-3707

Buca de Beppo Honolulu

Posted on | Monday, May 9, 2011 | No Comments

Buca de Beppo is an Italian franchise with locations all over the mainland. This is the only Bucca de Beppo in Hawaii.

Bepos is very kid friendly with your choice of booster seat or high chair. They even supply kids with a coloring book and some crayons.

Like most Italian restaurants, Bucca de Bepo's gives customers an endless supply of fresh baked bread with olive oil and optional balsamic vinegar.

The meals are served family style where a small order  feeds 3 and a large 5-6.  There were 4 people and one toddler in our party.  We started with a small order of anti pasta salad, an order of calamari, and shared the baked ziti along with an order of Veal Saltimbocca layered with fresh sage and prosciutto, topped with artichoke hearts, lemon butter sauce and capers.

The salad was full a delicious variety of diced pepperoni, red onions, pepperoncini peppers, cucumbers, provolone, feta and Gorgonzola cheeses, tossed with fresh lettuce blend in an Italian vinaigrette. I assure you this salad will satisfy even the most die hard Olive Garden fans. The calamari was a little spicy and even included chopped banana peppers, which believe it or not, added a considerable amount of flavor to the dish.

As you can see from the photo above, the veal didn't last long.

After the meal we were offered a tour of the kitchen. This was new to us so we jumped at the opportunity.  The kitchen was literately spotless and the meals they were pumping out looked consistent.

Bucca de Bepo's gets an A for atmosphere. There was plenty of nostalgic photos and decor our daughter found very entertaining. Bepos came through with a great all around family experience and is highly recommended if the family is craving Italian.

For being family friendly, conviently located next to Ward Theaters, and quite delicious, we Rate Buca de Beppo 4 pineapples. 

The address for Bepo's is 1030 Auahi Street, Bay 1, Honolulu - (808) 591-0800
call ahead for reservations as it gets busy on weekends.

Jade Dynasty Seafood Restaurant


This past weekend, our family was shopping at the Ala Moana Mall and decided to try out Jade Dynasty Seafood Restaurant. The sign advertised dim sum, which we all enjoy, so we went to check it out. Its located on the 4th floor next to Island Burgers and California Pizza Kitchen.

Out side the restaurant they have some live abalone, Maine Lobster, and Dungouness crab on display for curious on lookers.

The main entrance seemed extravagant enough to warrant the claim of "affordable elegance."

We were excited to try out as everything we ordered looked good on the menu. The plate ware looked like it came from Ross, and seemed out of place for this kind of place.

My wife is from Taiwan so she naturally orders unique things like this Minced beef soup w/ barley. She also ordered a crab and shrimp souffle style dish with broccoli.

The soup reminded me of gruel and was barely edible. As for the Souffle: it tasted like an egg white omelet with crab and shrimp. The broccoli was good at least.

I played it safe with the BBQ meat combination for $12.95. This dish came with charsiu pork, pressed duck, cucumbers, and some kind of wet noodle concoction.  

The  duck was very good. Unfortunately, for this combo the duck was the pinnacle for the following reasons:

1.The char siu was tough and overcooked. That is blasphemy in Honolulu where the bar is set very high. Try the Char Siu House in Chinatown and you will see what I mean.

2. Wet noodle concoction was unnecessary and unwelcome.

3. cucumbers could use some culinary prep work to at least present themselves as appealing.

Verdict: 2 pineapples which is being very generous. For authentic Chinese food we will stick to Chinatown. To be fair this place is advertised heavily  for their dim sum. Perhaps by some miracle their dim sum may bring us back to give it a try, but even then I am sure Chinatown is better and cheaper.

Bangkok Chef

Posted on | Tuesday, May 3, 2011 | 1 Comment

Bangkok Chef is a specializes in Thai food and has locations off  Nuuanu, Nimitz, and Monoa Street. We stopped at the Nimitz highway location for lunch.

The restaurant is new, clean, hip, and had plenty of high chairs for toddlers.

The menu was very reasonably priced and offered all the typical Thai favorites. I had the Panang pork curry and my wife shared the basil chicken with our daughter. Both meals were only $6.25 each and we added an order of Summer rolls for $4.50.

 Everything we ordered that day was delicious and served fairly quickly. The basil and vegetables they used were very fresh. Summer roll was also fresh delicious with the peanut sauce.  Highly recommended for cheap and delicious Thai food if your family is in the area.

Bangkok Chef
900 N. Nimitz Highway
Honolulu, Hawaii  96817 Tel. (808) 536-8570

 4 out of 5 pineapples for value and flavor.

Goma Tei Ramen

Posted on | Friday, April 29, 2011 | No Comments

The other night we were craving some Ramen, so we went to Goma Tei located at the Ala Moana Mall facing Ala moana Blvd in Waikiki.

This restaurant offers high chairs, very kid friendly, and is conveniently located in one of the biggest outdoor malls in the World.

My wife ordered the Tonkatsu Shoyu Ramen, which consists of a soy based broth, wheat noodles, chicken katsu and spinach. Since she was sharing with our daughter, we added boiled eggs

     I ordered the side of chicken curry rice for only 2.95$. Thankfully,  it tasted better then it looked.

Our daughter loved the noodle soup!

    We also ordered a side of Gyoza, handmade dumplings pan fried with a vinegar soy sauce.
I could tell they were made from scratch, unlike some places that just toss some premade frozen Gyozas in the fryer.
Here is a snapshot of the menu.

Our total bill was only $21.48. Not bad considering the quality of food and location.

Our family experience at Goma Tei was great. We went on a Thursday evening, it wasn't that crowded, and the service was great. The only complaint we noted was that the Ramen was really salty, possibly due to  MSG they add.  If your family likes noodle soup, we highly recommend you give this place a shot.

3 out 5 pineapples

Shrimp Shack

Posted on | Monday, April 25, 2011 | 1 Comment

The Shrimp Shack is one of many popular shrimp trucks that specialize in selling local farm raised shrimp cooked up and served plate lunch style. 

The majority of the shrimp trucks are located at the North Shore, but they can be found almost anywhere since most of them are mobile. The Shrimp Shack has been featured in the Travel Channel's Beach Eats series and won a people's choice award.

As you can see the menu is quite extensive and features an array of different local foods with some unexpected items such as crab legs.  There are picnic tables to the right of the truck for seating making this as casual as gets eatery.  

We had the spicy shrimp and the pan fried garlic shrimp plates. We also tried the guava tropical juice and the 100% Kona Coffee float with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The shrimp plates and the floats were just OK. There is a huge selection of Shrimp trucks on the island so I guess we are a little spoiled.

 I will say this about the Shrimp Shack. The service was friendly, it is cheaper/tastier then Giovanni's Shrimp Truck, and the location next to a beautiful beach is an added bonus. Our families' favorite shrimp truck is hands down Big Wave Shrimp in Haleiwa Town, North Shore. We have tried a dozen and they still have the edge in my honest opinion.

However, that shouldn't stop your family from stopping by the Shrimp Shack for a snack if you are in the area.

We rate the Shrimp Shack 3 out 5 pineapples

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