When you walk into Hana Hou in the Haiku Cannery Mall, through the wood fence that surrounds the outdoor area and past the demure exterior facade, you’ll see some of the most popular local dining options around.
Generally when I go to restaurants I sit at the bar because there’s usually no wait, you can get drinks pretty much immediately and you can usually get the full menu during regular hours. And when my friend and I got to Hana Hou recently, I felt a strong urge after walking in to make a sharp right turn and head towards the sushi bar.
See, most customers pass the sushi bar on the right and take-out window on the left and just keep walking straight through the outdoor seating for a more traditional Hawaiian dining experience. But this time, my friend and I decided to dine outside. We weren’t disappointed.
Once we got the menu, we had more difficult decisions ahead of us. The curry shrimp was appealing but I ultimately went with the grilled teriyaki mahi burger ($7.95). My friend was enticed by the curry chicken plate, but opted for the kalua pork and cabbage plate, which was also $7.95.
Since we were dining on the early side, they prepared our food really quickly and served it to us piping hot. My mahi burger arrived slathered in a layer of melted cheddar cheese and served on a toasted onion bun. On the side were several slices of fresh lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, lemon and a serving of caper tartar sauce. The large portion of fish was juicy and tender and tasted even better with a squeeze of lemon and some tartar sauce.
The kalua pork and cabbage plate came with a large scoop of rice and macaroni salad. It was also served with a slice of pineapple and piece of haupia. My friend, who knows kalua pork, raved that this was the best kalua pork and cabbage he ever had.
There were hearty chunks of pork mixed into the shreds of meat that had already broken apart. The meat was mixed with large pieces and small shreds of tender but still crisp cabbage. What’s more, the dish wasn’t swimming in oil as you so often find with kalua pork and cabbage. The mac salad and haupia were also quite tasty but he said he’d sacrifice them both for another serving of the pork and cabbage.
After finishing our main courses we decided to split an order of chocolate lava cake. This was actually our easiest decision of the day.
The warm chocolate cake was served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, several dollops of whipped cream and a few splashes of raspberry sauce. The gooey warm chocolate center and the cool creamy ice cream were a perfectly sweet end to our meal. MTW