If you like to try new things with a Hawaiian twist than Hula Dog just might hit the spot. Hula Dog has been in business for over 14 years though they’ve just recently moved a food truck into this new spot in Haleiwa.
Hula Dog’s menu is pretty simple. First, you choose your bread: white, wheat or bacon taro. Then you choose the type of hot dog you would like: polish sausage or veggie. Next, you choose one of their four garlic lemon secret sauces: mild, spicy jalapeno, hot chili pepper or hot-hot habanero. After that, you choose your relish: mango, papaya, star fruit, pineapple, banana or coconut. Finally, you can top it off with either lilikoi or guava mustard.
I asked the lady working the food truck what she recommended. She suggested the bacon taro bread with polish sausage, mango relish and the lilikoi mustard. That sounded pretty good so I gave it a shot. When I asked what was in the sausage, she told me it was a mix of chicken, pork and beef. After I placed my order it only took a couple of minutes and my Hula Dog was ready to eat.
The bacon taro bread was very nice. It had a light sweet taste to it and went really well with the dog, relish and mustard. It was actually fairly filling for a hot dog. The bread really gives this dog some weight to it and I doubt many people could eat more than two of these in a single sitting. The price is a little steep, at just around $7.00 after tax, but if you’re craving something different or really like to try a hot dog with a twist then it’s worth it.
Overall, I liked what I tried at Hula Dog. It was packed with flavor and the unique twist on the bun made it very easy to eat. I can see ordering this again when I’m in the area. There are only a few Hula Dog locations out there so if you are near one give it a try. Hula Dog also serves shave ice, lemonade and hula fruity pops in case you want a little dessert or something to drink with your meal.
If you want to stop by and give Hula dog a try, their hours of operation are from 11:00am to 5:30pm Sunday through Thursday and from 11:00am to 6:30pm on Friday and Saturday.
Here are some photos from my visit to the Hula Dog Food Truck
Maps to Hula Dog Oahu Locations
Located in the Giovanni’s Food Truck Court in Haleiwa, The Snow Factory is the only shave ice truck in the immediate area. They have two locations on Maui with on more on the way, five on Oahu and one on the Big Island. Of the five on Oahu, I went to the one located in Haleiwa. Depending on which store you visit, the reviews may vary based on their overall customer service and final product.
The Snow Factory I visited has 15 different flavor options to choose from. They only offer two sizes, small ($4.25)and large ($5.50). For each size, you can get up to two flavors and of course, like almost every shave ice truck, you can add ice cream, which at the Snow Factory is $1.00 extra.
There are 10 different toppings to choose from. The Snow Factory has 5 of them priced at 50 cents each and the other 5 at 75 cents each. For 50 cents each, you can choose condensed milk (snow cap), caramel syrup, chocolate syrup, li hing mui, and mochi balls. The add-ons of 75 cents each are lychee, mango, passion fruit, strawberry pops and azuki beans.
I asked what the most popular flavors were and the owner told me mango passion and honeydew were his two best sellers. I then chose honeydew with caramel syrup, condensed milk, lychee pop and mochi balls. Basically, the one that was in the picture. With all these add-ons, this put my order at about $7.75.
The shave ice at Snow Factory might be the finest, flakiest shave ice I have tried so far on Oahu. They actually differentiate their product from traditional shave ice by calling it snow ice. This is not just a play on words as their process of making it is not the same as other traditional shave ice trucks. Their snow ice is fully flavored because the ice itself is made with fruit and fruit juices mixed with milk and then frozen. Once frozen, they then shave it and serve it to the customers. The Snow Factory like to refer to their product as frozen cotton candy.
The snow ice is very flakey, soft and smooth. The only real problem I had was the honeydew flavor. It just did not hit the spot, for me. The add-ons, you can get at almost any other good shave ice store so to me, the flavor of the ice (or in their instance, snow ice) is the glue. Which is why, it’s unfortunate this treat fell flat for me as I did not really care for the honeydew flavor. Even though I love mango and looking back, I probably should have ordered that one. I just thought honeydew seemed kind of unique to the Snow Factory which was why I gave that a try instead. Sometimes you get lucky and sometimes you don’t.
Overall, the quality of the shave ice itself was very good. The honeydew flavor was the only thing I was not a fan of. All in all this chalks up more to personal preference than anything else so I would not really try to discourage anyone from trying a snow ice from the Snow Factory.
The Snow Factory’s Yelp reviews for its location in Haleiwa only has a total of eight reviews. Five reviewers gave it five stars while three gave it four stars. By this small sampling of reviews, it is evident people do like the Snow Factory so give them
Here are some photos from my visit to the Snow Factory in Haleiwa
Map to the Snow Factory
One of the more unique food trucks on the island of Oahu is at Tsue’s Farm located near the Historic Haleiwa Town on Joseph P. Leong Highway or Highway 83. Tsue’s Farm sits on a couple acres of land where they have farm animals to pet and feed. They have plenty of seating, all outdoors, but there are several benches and chairs under some large trees which provide you with some shade while you sit and enjoy your meal.
It would be very easy for most people to drive right by Tsue’s Farm as they have a small sign on a mini trailer that lets you know to turn in, but it would still be pretty easy to miss if you were not paying attention. So if you want to stop by, be on the lookout for their sign and bring the little ones if you got ’em because they’re sure to love the space to run around and pet some of the animals. Though their banner has pictures of several animals, at the time of my visit, they only had ducks and rabbits.
The menu at their blue food truck is pretty basic. They serve three of the most popular shrimp plates on Oahu, the classic Garlic Shrimp , Spicy Shrimp and Coconut Shrimp. You can also choose Teriyaki Chicken, Kalua Pork with Cabbage, Noodles and Veggies stir fry and a Garden Salad. The prices for these items are not listed on the menu but I believe, the Garlic shrimp plate I ordered was $13, which came with 8 pieces of shrimp, rice, salad and two slices of pineapple.
The shrimp at Tsue’s Farm were nicely butterflied, seasoned very well and cooked perfectly. These were fairly large shrimp, maybe about 21 to 25 count. The garlic was fresh and added a lot of flavor to the shrimp. The pineapple was nice and sweet and the salad, which consisted of some mixed greens, was also pretty good.
Tsue’s Farm also offers shave ice further back, by the Anahulu river. It is reasonably priced at $3 for a fairly large serving. They have 17 flavors to choose from. I ordered my usual, Rainbow, a combination of Strawberry, Blue Hawaii and Pineapple to compare it with others I have had. It was pretty good, the flavors were nice but not too sweet. The serving size is large enough for two (perhaps one, with a pretty big sweet tooth). If you’re not up for shave ice, they do have a nice selection of island style sherbet you can try. I chose the Mango Wango. It was very tasty and only cost $2.00. You do get a better bang for your buck with the shave ice but of the two, I’d probably choose the sherbet unless I was super thirsty.
Another nice thing about Tsue’s Farm, you can purchase fresh papayas straight off their small papaya trees for a $1.00 each. It doesn’t get better or fresher than that.
Tsue’s Farm’s best feature has to be their beautiful scenery. It is a relaxed atmosphere and overall, this is just a real nice place to go visit and enjoy some good food while taking in nature’s the view. The staff are pretty friendly, whether it be at the food truck, shave ice stand or their kayak and SUP instructors. You, your friends or family should enjoy your time here.
If you want to rent a kayak or a stand up paddle board (SUP) to go on the river, it costs $20 a head for either and includes one hour with an instructor. From what I was told, the river is where you’ll most likely see some turtles.
Tsue’s Farm has 30 SUP boards, 5 Single Kayaks and 3 Double Kayaks available for rent. The three young men photographed here, next to the shave ice stand, are some of the instructors who work at Tsue’s Farm. If you are in a group of 9 or less and interested in SUP or kayaking, 1 instructor is assigned to work with your group. Those in groups of 10 or more have at least 2-3 instructors assigned to your group.
Tsue’s Farm is only a few months old but with all they have to offer, it shouldn’t be long before they become a fairly popular destination on the North Shore of Oahu.
If you are looking to stop by Tsue’s Farm, they are open from 11:00am to 5:00pm, 7 days a week.
Here are some photos from my visit to Tsues Farm:
Map to Tsues Farm
Zanes Simply Shrimp is located in the Giovani’s Food Truck court in Haleiwa on the North Shore of Oahu. The style of food at Zanes Simply Shrimp features mostly fried food with a few island classics thrown in for good measure.
The menu at Zanes Simply Shrimp consists of 14 items, 7 of which feature shrimp and 2 are side orders. The prices range from $6.00 for the Maui sweet onion rings up to $19.00 for the sample platter. Most of their plates, however, are $13.00 to $15.00. They even offer a deep fried twinky for $5.00 if you want to throw caution to the wind. Not that it may taste bad as one of the reviews on Yelp actually referred to it as “orgazmic”, but it certainly can’t be the healthiest choice for a snack.
Since I personally try to keep my fried food intake to a minimum, I was left with just a few options, the fish or shrimp tacos or the garlic butter shrimp. With a name like Zanes Simply Shrimp, I had to go with the garlic butter shrimp plate. Besides, I’ve been on a mission to find the best garlic shrimp on the island so I couldn’t pass up their version.
Unfortunately, Zanes Simply Shrimp version was a bit of a letdown. First, the shrimp were pretty small, not popcorn size or anything like that but definitely one of the smallest size I’ve seen on any shrimp plate on the island so far. As noted in my other reviews, I do prefer when the shrimp is butterflied because the flavor soaks into the shrimp better. Thankfully, there was plenty of garlic sauce so I was able to dip the shrimp in that to get some of the flavor back once I peeled away the shell.
The amount of shrimp per plate at Zanes Simply Shrimp goes by overall weight so the amount of shrimp can fluctuate depending the size of the shrimp. I was told the average amount of shrimp was about 10 shrimp per plate. My shrimp that day was on the smaller side so my plate had 12 shrimp on it. This order also includes the usual salad and just one scoop of rice. Nothing really stood out on this plate as exceptional or even really good for that matter.
Overall, the shrimp plate was a disappointment, but to be fair, this place is clearly a fried food joint. They’ve also clearly put a lot of weight behind their “famous” fish n chips plate, which I did not try. So I believe I did not try their best dish but from what I did taste during my visit, it was nothing special.
Their overall Yelp rating sits at about 3.5 stars. Clearly, some people have really liked their food and from what I could tell, the tacos and fish n chips were the ones with the most positive reviews. As for the service at Zanes Simply Shrimp, I thought it was fine. I did read a few reviews where customers had a bad experiences when it came to the service and attitude. However, that was not the case during my visit. Both people working in the truck that day were nice to me.
Zanes Simply Shrimp does not have their hours of operation posted on their truck nor are their hours listed on their Yelp page. They also do not have a website either. I would venture to say a good time to visit them, should you want to give them a try, is from 11:00am to 5:00pm since this is close to the norm for the other food trucks in the area.
Here are some photos of my visit to Zanes Simply Shrimp
Map to Zanes Simply Shrimp
The Okina Cafe is the perfect example of when a real passion for food and friendly customer service are at its best. I have tried food from all over the island of Oahu and from all over the world for that matter and I can say Okina Cafe with Danny and Donna at the helm have a very bright future ahead of them. The quality of their food is second to none and they show their customers true Aloha while serving them. I have rarely seen a business that operates at this level so early in its tenure.
For some perspective, of the 8 food trucks parked in the Giovanni’s Food Truck Lot in Haleiwa, Okina Cafe may just be the best food truck in the area for overall quality of food and service and that’s saying something. There are some very good food trucks in the area, including Dat Cajun Guy and of course Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck. For those that don’t know, Dat Cajun Guy’s Yelp reviews has 96% of their rating at 4 or 5 stars. Okina Cafe, in its short tenure, has already earned 28 reviews on Yelp with 27 of them being 4 and 5 star ratings and only one 3 star rating. That is pretty impressive for only being in business for just a few months.
The menu at Okina Cafe features fresh Ahi Poke bowls and Acai bowls for only $10. They also have a wide variety of drinks from iced teas to lemonade to smoothies and of course fresh young coconuts.
Danny said he’d personally recommend trying the sweet and spicy Poke bowl so that was the one I ordered. Normally, I tend to like the more traditional spicy ahi poke bowls so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised. It was one of the best ahi bowls I have ever had on the island.
First off, I have tried some of the best ahi on Oahu, including Ono Seafood in Honolulu. The quality of Okina Cafe’s ahi was just as good if not better than any I have had on the island. There was not a single chunk of ahi that was tough, chewy or stringy. Each piece had perfect texture and taste. The sweet and spicy seasoning is unique to Okina Cafe and is the first I’ve tasted of this flavor profile.
The Okina Cafe also serves its poke bowls shoyu style, mama spicy and wasabi hot. I am not sure if I would want to go too spicy but I am curious as to how the other bowls would taste. These poke bowls come with Jasmine rice, roasted seaweed, fried wontons and onions.
After enjoying my sweet and spicy ahi bowl, it was time for dessert. I had to try the Acai bowl and this particular one came with bananas, blueberries, strawberries and granola along with a nice drizzle of honey. What makes the acai bowl at Okina Cafe taste so good is that they don’t dilute the acai itself with ice. You are getting 100% acai with all its flavor and not some diluted mixed blend of ice to add volume. The fruit that came with the bowl was all very fresh and ripe. Some places charge you extra for some of the fruits like the strawberries or blueberries. Okina Cafe gives you all three, with every bowl. Their acai bowl is so good, when I visited them a few weeks later, I couldn’t pass it up and ordered it again.
Now to their beverages. Danny recommended the Haleiwa smoothie that comes with pineapple, mango, peach and strawberry. This is a decent size smoothie which you can get with boba (Tapioca pearls) if you’d like. There is a reason this is the number one selling drink at the Okina Cafe. It is very refreshing and to me, the peach is what really makes this drink stand out. You can get pineapple and strawberry pretty much everywhere but peach is something you don’t see very often. I also had one of their young coconuts as well as their coconut water. All three beverages were very, very good. Danny even cut the coconut open after I was done with it so I could enjoy eating the coconut meat. It was excellent.
Overall, I couldn’t have been happier than I was with the food and service from Okina Cafe. Danny and Donna really have a good thing going and if they keep providing food and drinks of this quality along with their friendly, professional service, Okina Cafe may end up being one of the more popular food trucks on the island. It is that good. Don’t take my word for it, read the other reviews and you will see Okina Cafe is definitely worth a visit.
If you would like to visit Okina Cafe, they are open from 10:30pm to 5:00pm, seven days a week.
Here are some photos from my visit to Okina Cafe
Map to Okina Cafe
Of the handful of unique local places to eat in Wiamanalo, Ono Steaks and Shrimp Shack is one of the best. You can find it just a little off the main road (Kalanianaole or Highway 72) but be careful because if you’re not paying attention you could drive right by it.
Ono Steaks and Shrimp Shack has a pretty large menu that serves both breakfast and lunch plates. Their shrimp plates are on the lower end of the price spectrum. You get 7 pieces for $8.75. For some perspective, I went to Tita’s Grill in Kahuku and their shrimp plate was $13 for 8 shrimp. So in essence that one extra shrimp costs you $4.25 in a basic price comparison. Does that mean that both dishes are the same quality? No, but it does give you an idea of the value for your dollar eating at Ono Steaks and Shrimp Shack.
All the prices are pretty reasonable, ranging from just $4.75 for the hamburgers up to $11.25 for the fresh Ono. The combo plates or double size orders range from $14.00 up to $17.50 for the Ono with garlic shrimp or steak.
I have only visited Ono Steaks and Shrimp Shack on a couple of occasions and with every visit I have had, the service was very friendly and the food was very good. I have tried their Ahi Fuikake and their 7 piece garlic shrimp combo plate with Kalbi beef. The other choices accompanying this 7 piece garlic shrimp plate are Teriyaki Chiken, BBQ Pulled Pork, Roast Pork or Kalua Pork.
The shrimp at Ono Steaks and Shrimp Shack were cooked perfectly. When you bit into them, they were very plump and had a nice texture. The only slight issue I had was, there seemed to be a mildly vinegary taste in the garlic sauce. I don’t know how else to describe it. I tend to prefer my garlic shrimp to be on the savory side, without any sort of twist on it. That being said, the shrimp was very good. The vinegary taste was only on the very bottom of the plate so it did not ruin the meal by any means. This may have just been an aberration.
The real highlight for me was the Kalbi beef. It was cut into little perfectly cooked tender strips that were very easy to eat. They weren’t too fatty like a few others I have had on the island. Cutting them this way gave the meat more surface area, allowing the seasoning to really coat the meat well. I felt this method made the kalbi beef taste even better than if it was served as large pieces or thicker strips of meat.
This plate also comes with a small salad consisting of lettuce, some slivers of carrot and purple cabbage. It was your typical salad you’d find served at most places. Nothing extraordinary, just a nice little salad.
Overall, I really like the food and the service at Ono Steaks and Shrimp Shack. The staff is always friendly. There’s usually not a very long wait for your food and the prices are very reasonable. Their portions are also decently sized. Another nice bonus, they also provide both indoor and outdoor seating. The view may not be spectacular but it’s always nice to have the option of eating inside or out.
The reviews for Ono Steaks and Shrimp Shack are also very good. Only 3 reviews on Yelp out of 118 gave Ono Steaks and Shrimp Shack a 1 or 2 star rating. So basically, only 2.5% of those who have eaten there didn’t enjoy the food or service. Whereas, 86% rated their experience at Ono Steaks and Shrimp Shack with a 4 or 5 star rating. This is a very good track record for any business.
If you are looking to stop by Ono Steaks and Shrimp Shack, their hours are 8:00am to 8:00pm, seven days a week.
Here are some photos from my visit to Ono Steaks and Shrimp Shack
Map to Ono Steaks and Shrimp Shack
There are many establishments you can go to on Oahu and be welcomed with true Aloha. Unfortunately, Sweet Home Waimanalo is where Aloha goes to die. The staff was decent; however, the owner is someone you do not want to deal with at all during your visit there. She is unfriendly and rude. If you’re looking to enjoy your meal go somewhere else but if you must eat there, don’t go anywhere near the white food truck where she is. The truck is parked to the right of the brick and mortar building that used to be a gas station.
At the bottom of this review, you will read Yelp quotes from other customers that have had the same experience while eating at Sweet Home Waimanalo so you’ll know I’m not the only one who had this type of experience there. You really have to read these comments and reviews to believe them. I’m not kidding. I thought my personal experience was bad eating there. Just wait until you read some of the experiences from other previous patrons, many of them saying they will never come back just like I will never be back.
I first heard of this place through Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on the Food Network so I wanted to give it a try. I must have driven by this place a hundred times and didn’t even know it was there. The signage for this place is very poor. The only place where I saw the name of this establishment was on the little white food truck where the size of the letters was as small as the numbers you’d see on residential mailboxes. No one could possibly see that this is Sweet Home Waimanalo when you’re driving by at 30 miles an hour. Perhaps, in the end, this is a good thing.
Now, to their food. I always remain objective when reviewing an establishment, regardless of the attitude of the owner. Even though the owner ruined the overall experience, I did enjoy most of what I ordered. However, I didn’t care much at all for the beef brisket (if it really can be called that). Anyone who has ever had a great brisket before will know just by looking at the photo that this is not a brisket that will taste good.
The signature dish from Sweet Home Wiamanalo is the Tofu Black Bean Burger. It comes with local baby romaine lettuce, roma tomato and red onion with a roasted pepper vegan aioli. You cannot get this dish anywhere else on the island. It costs $10, which on this island is a little high, but this is not just a beef patty we are talking about either. It is quite a unique burger and it did taste very good.
I also ordered their combo plate which costs $15.25 for two mains and three sides. My mains were the Waimanalo Herb-Citrus Chicken and Beef Brisket. Their other two mains were the pulled BBQ pork and the Kalua Pork. The locally grown Okinawan sweet potato with mango chutney automatically comes with this combo plate so you get to choose two more sides. I chose the bok choy slaw and the locally grown corn on the cob.
The chicken was quite good. It was fully cooked, tender and juicy. However, the beef brisket was one of the worst I have ever had. It was tough, chewy, fatty and not very flavorful. You can tell by the color, it just doesn’t look right. I am not sure how they prepared the brisket but this main needs to be scrapped from the menu or completely redeveloped from the ground up. Unfortunately, the Okinawan sweet potato missed the mark for my taste. The bok choy slaw was average. The corn on the cob was the best of the sides I tried that day.
Finally we come to the Tropical Treasure Smoothie. This was probably one of the better smoothies I have had on the island. It consists of pitaya, strawberry, blueberry, banana and apple juice. It was a very unique taste. All the ingredients went well together and it was very good.
Overall, the food had its ups and downs. However, the attitude of the owner was enough to make me never support their business again or recommend this place to anyone I know. If I am going to spend my money or encourage anyone to spend their money at a place, I want it to be a place that has at least some Aloha.
Normally, this would be where I’d mention the hours of operation and include links to the businesses’ website and Yelp page, but not this time. Out of 80+ places I have visited and reviewed on the island of Oahu, this is the only place I’ll blur out the image of the building and not link to their Yelp page or website. I will never do anything to promote anyone who doesn’t appreciate their customers and treats them so rudely. Instead, I will put links and a map to Ono Steaks and Shrimp Shack which is just down the street from Sweet Home Waimanalo where they know how to treat a customer and appreciates your business. Their food is also quite good and have very positive reviews on yelp.
I have only eaten at Ono Steaks and Shrimp Shack a couple of times but I have not been disappointed with what I’ve ordered so far and appreciate their friendly customer service. So if you are in the area, give them a shot instead of someone that treats you like you are a burden, when you are supporting their business.
In the interest of full disclosure, I have no connection or personally know anyone who works at or owns Ono Steaks and Shrimp Shack. I paid for my food there just like I paid for my food when I visited Sweet Home Waimanalo. People like to say around here, “Support local businesses”, but I like to say, “support local businesses that provide good service”.
When I got home after trying the food and meeting the owner from Sweet Home Wiamanalo, I went on Yelp to see what some of the other reviews had to say about their experiences and clearly I was not alone. Here are some quotes from other reviewers on Yelp that completely backed up my own personal experience while eating at Sweet Home Wiamanalo:
“The last two visits have been nothing but disappointing. The first of the two instances began with our order of 5 entrees. Two of them we asked to add grilled fish to the salad. We phoned in the order and had confirmation of the correct order before hanging up the phone. After paying for the order and walking out the door, we noticed the added fish was missing. We went back to the pick up window only to be met by the owner who said “what is it now?” Not the best way to greet a customer. We explained our situation and she looked at our receipt. She said in a very rude tone, ” you didn’t pay for it so that’s why it’s not on there.” We indicated that it was repeated back in our order, so whoever rang it up must have missed it. Despite the error not being ours, we paid for the fish anyhow.”
“The second instance involved a pick up order in which they forgot two salads completely. We didn’t realize it until we got home, 40 minutes away. We called immediately and were told we would receive a refund the next time we stopped in. We just had to bring our receipt. So, we showed up a week later and again was spoken to in a very rude manner by the owner that there was no message left regarding our situation. She also indicated it was our job to check our order. Not sure what kind of business she is running where the customer has to verify their orders before leaving. Again she was very rude indicating she would do it this one time, but never again.”
“Overall the food has declined over the last two years and the service is absolutely horrendous. Clearly they have no competition in that area and DDD has put them on the map. Business must be that good that you can treat your patrons like crap. After being a huge fan of his place and having nothing but two back to back instances with the owner, I won’t be returning. The owner and the staff do not give any gratitude for your business or have any remorse when they make a mistake. I’m all about supporting local business with quality food, but not when you are treated so poorly.”
“If you advertise that you close at 7 but always stop taking orders at 6:30, why don’t you change your store hours? We always come here for the Acai bowl. This evening I arrived at 6:20. There were 4 other customers in front of me. As the 2nd customer began his order, someone on a speaker phone abruptly barked “that’s the last order” to the girl behind the counter taking the order. The girl replied, “we have 3 more people in line, but I closed the door.” The person on the phone made some type of negative comment about having to take more orders and it was only 6:30! The customers in front of me looked at each other as if to say WTH because we could all hear her! There were 2 girls behind the counter. One of the girls made/mixed the drinks. She never said a word to the customers, no eye contact and didn’t even mutter a thank you. Here’s a tip to the owner, teach your employees to acknowledge the customers, give eye contact, smile, say thank you for waiting, thank you for coming or just plain thank you! It’s called Customer Service 101. As one of the last customers picked up his food from the truck(this is the guy who heard the voice on the speaker phone saying she didn’t want to take anymore orders) I overheard HIM apologizing to the woman behind the counter for making her work late!! It wasn’t 7pm yet. Customers should not feel like they are an interruption to your business, customers are the reason you have a business.”
“I like the set up of this place, clean & simple but one thing that made me not enjoy my food is the bad service!!
The young lady that took my order was nice enough to tell us their popular items in the menu but this other girl who made my PITAYA bowl had a bad attitude. It was my first time so I wanted to try something new but when I found out I order a smoothie instead of the PITAYA I humbly asked if they can make the one i like. The cashier was ok but the other girl was throwing a fit like she didn’t want to be there. I even apologize to her but she gave me a cold shoulder…what the B****! if I wasn’t hungry I would’ve just walk away.”
” I will support local farmers & local organic stores but I will definitely never come back to this place!!! Spending $50 here was not worth it!!”
Clint Kent M.
“The manager came in to the counter from the back door (she was asking for which girl at the register could work what days) and asked the girls working, “How do you spell haole?” Two very Caucasian people were at the register ordering and had no idea what she meant and neither girl working gave a reply. I was disgusted and would have left if my girlfriend didn’t choose to eat there and was leaving tomorrow. Very rude and unprofessional for such a highly recommended establishment.”
“We can’t really say if the food was good or not since we waited for 45 minutes and never received it. After the 45 minutes we asked for a refund and the staff was rude and not helpful so we asked to speak to the management and we can see why the staff was rude now. They tried to refuse us a refund but finally did. They were also out of anything pork at 1200 on a Saturday which was why we came in the first place.”
“Owner was pretty rude because she was busy and couldn’t see our number we ate in car because it was day after it was on diners drive ins and dives. Being in the service industry if you can’t handle the business take a break no reason to be rude to anyone let alone locals in the time since we were there already told 4 locals don’t bother even if food was ok islands to small to get attitude”
“First off, we didn’t feel the Aloha-hospitality wafting from across the counter when we walked in. Didn’t expect hugs or kisses or nothin but a simple look up with a “Hi” would’ve worked.”
“The brisket was cut all wrong – like strips of bacon and tasted like they sat under a heat lamp for a few DAYS. Yes, a few DAYS. I had to wrestle with it to get a bite. I think it even slapped me once.”
“The service was confusingly poor. It was like we were on some sort of hidden camera show and they were just pretending to be outrageously dense.”
“I have a severe allergy to gluten and cannot eat any wheat products. I asked if I could have the chicken salad wrap, just without the wrap. Just put the same amount of chicken salad on a plate and give me a fork. Simple, right? The cashier had to leave the room and consult with the kitchen to see if this would be possible. She came back and said that it WAS possible, but it would be a “side” sized portion. But I want it for lunch, so maybe you could give me the REGULAR portion? Again, she had to leave to consult with someone. She came back with another employee who claimed to have the same allergy that I have. She said she eats the chicken salad wrapped in lettuce and maybe I’d like that? Perfect, do it, that sounds great. Now they BOTH go to the kitchen to explain THAT to someone else… but apparently the cook believes it impossible. Ultimately they charged me AN EXTRA $1.50 above the price of the regular wrap to put a scoop of chicken salad ON TOP OF a lettuce leaf that was not large enough to wrap around the chicken. What the hell?”
“I am glad someone made their restaurant dream in Waimanalo, but something just isn’t right about this place, and I wont return. I want local healthy food but for some reason this place has a weird energy”
“the brisket sucked. Brisket should be trimmed and smoked, ESPECIALLY if you’re trying to make it healthier. This was boiled with fat and then sliced so my brisket pieces were mostly fat with a half centimeter of meat per slice.”
As you can see, I’m not the only one who didn’t enjoy my experience at Sweet Home Waimanalo. You can see for yourself that other people have had similar issues with this place of business just looking at the yelp reviews. Bad experiences like this are normally few and far between. I would say, of all the small business owners that I have met over the years, at least 95% are very nice and professional. Sweet Home Waimanalo’s owner and management style is not the rule, but the exception to that rule. So unfortunate.
Here are some photos from my visit to Sweet Home Waimanalo
Map to Ono Steaks and Shrimp Shack
There are very few places as universally loved on Yelp as Uncle Clays House of Pure Aloha. Only Dat Cajun Guy and Uncle Clays have an overall full 5 star rating on Yelp with at least 300+ reviews. At the time of this review, Uncle Clays had a total of 432 reviews with 411 of them at 4 or 5 stars. This is an incredible 95% of customers who are extremely happy with the product and the atmosphere Uncle Clays provides. Just to give you an idea of how few people are unhappy with their visit to Uncle Clays, only 6 people out of 432 reviews on Yelp gave a 1 or a 2 star rating. This means that just 1.4% of people that visited Uncle Clays did not enjoy their experience there.. This kind of customer satisfaction is almost unheard of.
For those of you that may think the word “Aloha” just means hello and good bye in Hawaiian, this is not the case. Aloha also means affection, peace and compassion. To show aloha is treat others in a friendly and affectionate manner. This is the real premise behind Uncle Clays House of Pure Aloha. When you visit there and Clay is working, he greets you and converses with you a bit, getting to know you. He will even introduce you to other customers and tell you a bit about them and vice versa. It is really a unique place to visit. If you are a real introvert or very shy this may not be the place for you. For most, the friendly, relaxed atmosphere Clay has created at his shop should be quite an enjoyable experience. This is all great but….
Can he also deliver on his shave ice? Absolutely, he does! Uncle Clays has its own all natural homemade syrups and lots of different add-ons to choose from. The base prices for the shave ice start at $2.50 for the mini, $3.75 for the regular and $4.75 for the large. As for the add-ons, you can get fresh fruit toppings, ice cream, sauces and even homemade Mochi and Azuki Beans. All these elements are what elevates the shave ice flavors over some of the others on the island.
Uncle Clays only has about 10 different syrups but here, it is not about quantity, it is about quality. I ordered the large bowl and for my add-ons, I had strawberry, mango and guava syrups with Tahitian vanilla ice cream, mochi, strawberries, pineapple and dream sauce. All this, brought the price to a little under $10, but it was worth it. The flavors were not just sugary sweet, they actually tasted like the flavors listed.
I have tried many of the best shave ice on the island, from Matsumoto’s to Waiola Shave Ice to Island Snow and the one thing that Uncle Clays gives you that the others don’t is an indoor, air conditioned area to enjoy your shave ice. As many of you know, trying to eat shave ice outside, in the heat, can be a race with the devil. The ice melts very fast outside in the mid day heat. You want to eat your shave ice not drink it. So being able to sit inside in a nice air conditioned environment is a huge plus, for me. They do offer two benches for outdoor seating if you’d rather sit outside and enjoy your shave ice.
Overall, like almost everyone else who has tried Uncle Clays shave ice, I really enjoyed it. I liked all the flavors, the add-ons and the Tahitian vanilla ice cream as well as the atmosphere. Most of the highest rated shave ice shops are pretty far from each other so going to one shop over the other more than likely has to do with proximity than anything else. So if you’re near the Hawaii Kai area, between Diamond Head and Hanauma Bay, and want a great shave ice treat, Uncle Clays is the place to go. Even if you’re not in this immediate area, it’s worth the trip if you love a good shave ice.
If you want to visit Uncle Clays House of Pure Aloha, it is open from 11:00am to 6:00pm, Monday through Thursday and 10:30am to 8:00pm, Friday through Sunday.
Here are some photos from my visit to Uncle Clays House of Pure aloha
Map to Uncle Clays House of Pure aloha
One of the least publicized but highest quality foods I have discovered on the Island of Oahu has to be Nozawas Corn. At first glance, this food stand does not look like much but it has some of the best tasting corn on the planet. It’s a pretty big statement, I know, but if you’re ever in the area and try it, you’ll definitely see what I mean.
I was driving in Kahuku, near the big three shrimp trucks: Giovanni’s, Romy’s and Fumi’s. I noticed across the street from Fumi’s, a tiny little corn stand: Nozawas Corn, which I would have to guess at least 98% of those driving by would probably just keep driving without even thinking twice about it. However, since I’m doing articles on different places to eat on the North Shore, I had to try everything, within reason. Hence, I stopped by Nozawas Corn.
A nice little lady was talking on the phone, after which, I asked how sweet the corn was. Sure the sign read “Sweet Corn” but I more or less just wanted to see how she would respond. She says to me, “you can eat it raw, right off the cob”. I thought “sure, ok, who wouldn’t say that about their product”. I bought a bag and had I known how true her words were or had I tried a bite right then and there, I would have purchased several bags instead of just one.
The Nozawas Corn stand is also one of those places where, when it’s gone, it’s gone. I have no idea how much inventory they had at the beginning of the day but when I drove by (around 1:00pm), there were only 6 bags left. She also had 9 remaining lilikoi and one huge avocado. I think the bags of corn had 9 small ears in them and sold for $5 a bag. The ends of the corn are chopped off and each ear averages about 5 inches in length. I am not sure why they chop the ends off but each ear must be missing at least 20% to 40% off of the top. This isn’t a big deal really, seeing as how each ear of corn costs just over 50 cents apiece.
I placed my bag of corn in my cooler and when I get home I remembered her words so I tried it raw, right of the cob. The corn was very sweet. It was like biting into a piece of fruit. A picture is great but in this instance, a photo doesn’t do it justice. At first glance, these look like almost every other ear of corn you have ever seen but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
I think we all have had a variety of corn over the years where we’ve boiled, grilled and baked them. Still, even some of the best ears of corn need butter, salt and pepper to make them taste their best. These are the exception. Over the next few days, I ate these small ears of corn raw, right of the cob with nothing on them. No salt. No pepper. No butter. Nothing!
They were so good, I had to see what others thought of them so I handed a couple out for some friends to try and they could not believe how fresh and tasty these ears of corn were. We ate them as they were. I never would have imagined that corn would be so good right from the ground to your mouth. One reason why is, they are picked the same day they’re sold. So other than going on the property, picking them yourself and eating it right then, this is about as fresh as it can get.
The corn itself is almost white in color as opposed to what most of us would think is the best, a nice rich yellow color. I don’t know the specific type of corn this is or where else you can get this corn but when I stop by her stand again, I’ll be sure to ask her. I don’t know if they sell to grocery stores or markets or anything like that but if you ever get a chance to try them for yourself, Nozawas Corn is way too good to pass up.
I did a Google search for Nozawas Corn and found only a few results. Here is a link to one of the few articles I found on Nozawas Corn here. Hence, only a small number online know about this so if a local or someone like me hasn’t spread the word, it is understandable why so many could just drive right by it. To be honest, I never once saw their stand because my attention was always on the other side of the road where all the shrimp trucks are.
If you want to visit Nozawas Corn, they are right across from the blue Fumi’s Shrimp Truck building. Unfortunately, they have no hours of operation. Nozawas Corn may not always open so you just have to be a little lucky to come by at the right time if you are not a local. On the days they are open, I would imagine that unless it’s during peak harvesting season, they will most likely be sold out by early to mid-afternoon. If you get a chance to try their corn, let me know if you thought it was as good as advertised in this article. I don’t want people to think I am exaggerating here.
Here are some photos from my visit to the Nozawas Corn Food Stand in Kahuku
Since there is literally almost no online information like a website or yelp page I will post another link here about Nozawas Corn here so you can read a little more about this corn from another source.
Map to the the Nozawas Corn Food Stand
If you are visiting the Original Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck in Kahuku and would like a great cup of coffee, Aloha Espresso offers a variety of iced, hot and blended drinks to choose from. The prices are pretty reasonable, with some of their small sizes for only $2.50 and some of the large drinks, like the Iced Caramel Macciatto, for $5.50.
For starters, I love the look of this Coffee stand. It is very clean and welcoming with nice easy to read banners and menus. Sometimes this is often overlooked by owners of food trucks. I believe a nice clean and attractive stand is almost half the battle as this will bring consumers in to try your product. Once they’re in the door, it’s all about the taste and Aloha Espresso has the best of both worlds.
I asked Jim what his most popular drink was and he said, the Iced Caramel Macchiatto. Judging by the photo alone, it looked amazing so it was an easy choice. The Iced Caramel Macchiatto consists of Espresso, Chocolate, Caramel, Milk and Whipped Cream. As you can probably guess, these flavors went very well together and tasted very, very good.
What stood out the most was the actual coffee flavor. Aloha Espresso only uses the dark, French roasted whole Arabica beans mixed with local Kona coffee beans. You can tell from the first sip, this is good quality coffee. It was very rich and smooth without some of the bitterness that coffee sometimes comes with if it is not prepared properly. This does not mean that it did not taste like coffee but rather, the flavor of the espresso was extremely smooth. I have also tried Aloha Espresso’s classic Iced Latte which consists of Espresso, Milk and a flavor shot. This was also very good.
Overall, I enjoyed both drinks and though I am not an avid coffee drinker, I thought both the Macchiatto and the latte had very nice flavor and really hit the spot on a hot summer day.
If you want to visit Aloha Espresso, their hours are from 11:00am to 6:00pm, seven days a week.
As I mentioned above an in previous reviews, I am not an avid coffee drinker so I just want to make full disclosure when reviewing a niche like this. There are people that are extremely into their coffee, cigars, scotch, etc. Though I am not one who needs or loves his daily fix of coffee, it does not mean I don’t enjoy a good cup of cappuccino or latte from time to time. Avid coffee lovers may have a different opinion than mine but good is good and I really enjoyed the coffee from Aloha Espresso.
Here are some photos of my visit to the Aloha Espresso Coffee Stand
Map to Aloha Espresso