The first time I heard about Waimanalo Country Farms was when I visited the Kailua Farmers Market, held every Thursday evening from 5:00pm to 7:30pm. Waimanalo Country Farms was pretty easy to spot as out of the 50 or so stands there, because they had the longest line to get their Nalo Made Lemonade. Seeing a line that long for lemonade was enough to make me want to give it a shot and it was definitely worth the wait. They have some of the best tasting lemonade on the island.
When I placed my order for the mango pineapple lemonade, I had a chance to talk to Shawn, who is one of the owners. She was very friendly and helpful filling me in on their farm and how they got started making lemonade a few years ago. She also invited me out to their farm, Waimanalo Country Farms, for their 4th Annual Fall Harvest Festival and Pumpkin Patch. She said our little one would love it as they have all sorts of activities for them. They’ve been opening their farm to the public during the whole month of October for the past 4 years for Halloween. We were glad she told us about this as we are always looking for new and different places on the island to bring our little one.
Waimanalo Country Farms have a nice selection of pumpkins to choose from and you pick them right from the ground (pumpkins range from $2 to $18, based on size). Other activities for you and the little ones include a hay ride (which takes about 15-20 minutes) to tour the farm. They also have a cute little cow train ride for very small children, a sunflower maze, a keiki (kids) park where your little ones can get their face painted and a pumpkin shot where you can shoot a pumpkin into the air and see if you can get it through the tire to win a prize.
Another nice thing about visiting Waimanalo Country Farms is that they have all sorts of animals like turtles, geese, pigs, chickens, lambs and even a donkey to pet and feed. My daughter loved the animals. It was fun to watch her get up close to some of the animals that she has never seen in person before.
You’ll also enjoy some great local food and drinks. Of course you’ll be able to try their popular Nalo Made Lemonade. A cup is only $3.00 and a jar is just $5.00. If you want to add a flavor to the lemonade, it is $.50 extra for the cup and only $1 extra for the jar. They have five flavors to choose from: Original, Li-Hing, Strawberry, Mango and Pineapple. Another great thing about Nalo Made Lemonade, you can create your own combo out of the different flavors. Of all the lemonade drinks I have tried on the island of Oahu, my personal favorite is the Nalo Made Strawberry Li-Hing Lemonade. It has the right mix of sweet and sour and the Li-Hing powder gives it the perfect balance of flavors.
As far as the food you can find there, they serve corn chowder ($3), chili frank ($5), chili dog ($4), chili and rice ($3), Spam Musubi ($2), hamburger ($3), steak plate ($7), hot dog ($2)and pumpkin Pie ($2). Other items featured is the fresh picked Waimanalo corn, cooked corn, corn bread, homemade fudge, country sweet tea and even shave ice. They also offer Coke, Diet Coke and Pepsi for just a buck. There is also a country market stand where you can buy some local farm grown fruits and vegetables. Of course there is a covered eating area with plenty of seating to keep you cool and out of the sun.
Overall, my family and I had a great time on our visit to Waimanalo Country Farms. The staff was very friendly and helpful and were nice to pretty much everyone I saw them interact with. This may not seem like much, but a friendly and helpful staff really adds to the overall experience.
My daughter had a lot of fun and we plan on taking her back one more time so she can enjoy playing with the animals and take a ride on the little cow train. Even as adults, my wife and I really enjoyed the beautiful scenery, the food and the events. So if you have kids, this is a good place to bring them to have a little fun in some new surroundings.
Also, while there, you can also purchase some really unique and beautiful images from around the Hawaiian islands by photographers, Spencer and Chase Lum. Being a photographer myself, I was really impressed with their beautiful images from around the Hawaiian islands.
If you want to stop by and visit Waimanalo Country Farms, remember that the Halloween events are only on the weekends from 9:00am to 5:00pm during the month of October.
If you cannot make it to the Waimanalo Country Farms for the Halloween events, and you want to try their famous Nalo Made Lemonade, they are at the Kailua farmers market every Thursday night from 5:00pm to 7:30pm. You might want to get there early because the lines for their lemonade can get pretty long.
Here are some photos from my visit to Waimanalo Country Farms
Map to Wiamanalo Country Farms
Of the three restaurants famous for their breakfast in the Kailua area, Boots and Kimos has more Yelp reviews than Cinnamon’s and Moke’s Bread and Breakfast combined. As for any company, the worst case scenario is not having enough business. Fortunately, for Boots and Kimos this does not seem to be the case. However, they are running into another problem with too much business. They don’t seem to be able to handle the volume of business they are receiving either, especially in the relatively small store they are currently in and with customer wait times of up to two hours if not more. Reservations are not allowed and cash payment is the only form of currency accepted. For all these reasons, I shall address their food last as I feel consumers should be aware of what they are getting into when they choose to eat at Boots and Kimos.
As I mentioned above, reservations are not allowed so if you show up be prepared to wait a while before you are seated and wait some more before your order is ready. Any restaurant with a good reputation is going to have some sort of wait time, but many high profile restaurants will also take reservations to offset this. As popular as Boots and Kimos seem to be, they could address this issue by moving to a place that would hold a much bigger capacity, which would also allow for customer reservations and larger seating arrangements. They have only been in this new location for about 4 years, but they have clearly outgrown it already.
Just to give you an idea of how my first and only visit to Boots and Kimos went, I got there right around noon on a Tuesday. There were already a lot of people waiting outside to be seated. When I walked inside, there was also a line to put your name on the wait list. When I asked how long it would be, the manager taking down names said it would be over an hour before my party of two could be seated. I was not in a huge hurry so I went ahead and put my name on the list then walked back outside to look over their menu posted there. After waiting about 20 minutes or so, I did not see a lot of people leaving the restaurant so I went back to place my order to go. When reviewing a restaurant, I would never order to go; however, in this instance I made an exception. I ordered their famous blueberry macadamia nut pancakes.
Shortly after I placed my order, I overheard one of the managers telling the staff to let any customer coming in know that they’d no longer be seating any new walk-ins so all those orders must be placed to go. This was right around 12:30pm. However, their doors don’t close till 2:00pm (2:30pm on Saturdays and Sundays). I don’t care how good the food is at any good restaurant, it’s still always best to eat it there while it’s hot and fresh than having to take it to go. As most food, especially pancakes covered in syrup sauce, does not travel well. Nine times out of ten, it’s better to just come back another day. When I heard this, I asked the manager if this was the norm. She said they sometimes make this announcement as early as noon. Needless to say, I was pretty shocked to find out this was a daily issue.
I did not take an exact count of the number of tables available for seating but I am guessing there were about 18 to 22 tables. I can understand why Boots and Kimos has not moved to another location as they’ve only been at this one for about 4 years. They have a nice setup with a high ceiling that’s very decked out with all sorts of memorabilia. They even have a little makeshift hut where you pay for your meal. I really like the location and the overall look and feel of Boots and Kimos. It is almost setup like a breakfast sports bar. However, if the size was able to fit the demand, I would not change a thing about it. But as it stands, it’s just not cutting it for the amount of people who dine there on a daily basis. If they have no plans to move to a bigger location, they really need to look into getting the place next door when and if it becomes available.
Also, as I mentioned earlier, this is a cash only establishment. So if you’re dining in and you didn’t bring enough cash to pay for your meal you will have to go to an ATM. This is not a small food truck where you’d expect cash only payment, this is a full sized restaurant. Due to the sheer volume of business and the fact that they are in a restaurant setting, it is shocking that they do not accept other forms of payment like credit or debit cards. If you look on Yelp, you will see where customers literally had to send someone in their party to get cash in order to pay for their meal.
Now that these three glaring issues have been addressed so that you the consumer will be informed instead of shocked when you choose to dine at Boots and Kimos, it’s time to get to their food. As I could never eat a full order of pancakes, I normally only order one plus their most popular entree, which I did at Cinnamon’s and Moke’s Bread and Breakfast. Unfortunately, Boots and Kimos did not allow for this and as I wanted to review their most popular pancake, I had no choice but to order the full order. Though, they did allow for an order of two pancakes for just $1 off (full order is $10.99 for three pancakes), it just made more sense to order the full order since I wasn’t saving that much for an order of two pancakes. Both Cinnamon’s and Moke’s one pancake order is around $3.50. Cinnamon’s two pancakes order is $6.50; Moke’s two pancakes order is $7.50. Boots and Kimos is by far the most expensive.
Since Boots and Kimos did not allow a single pancake order , I decided to skip the rib plate I was going to get because I knew the pancakes would completely wipe me out. Unfortunately, this review will not include any other item besides the pitaya smoothie I ordered to go with my pancakes.
The pancakes are pretty sizeable with a decent amount of fresh blueberries throughout each pancake. The macadamia nut sauce was sweet and went nicely with the pancakes. This was overall a very good dish. Here lies the problem though; no matter how good a pancake is, there is a pretty quick threshold where you just don’t want any more. Like the late comedian, Mitch Hedberg said, “As a comedian, you have to start the show strong and you have to end the show strong. Those are the two key elements. You can’t be like pancakes…all exciting at first, but then by the end, you’re sick of ’em.” One pancake was pretty much my threshold so it’s unfortunate I wasn’t able to order just one, even though they were very good. The pitaya smoothie was also pretty good; however, compared to others I’ve had on the island, it was about average in overall taste.
Boots and Kimos, at the time of this review, had 1,618 total Yelp reviews. About 20%, roughly 1 in 5 people, weren’t happy with their dining experience and rated them 1 or 2 stars. I read most of the 1 star reviews to get an idea of why they didn’t enjoy their time there.
Clearly, the wait time was a huge issue and unless the food you are serving is Michelin star quality and even then, a long wait time is going to have a negative impact on anyone’s dining enjoyment. Another thing people weren’t happy about was their customer service, which was either very poor and or very rude. I must say though, during my visit, everyone I dealt with was pretty nice and friendly. One lady even gave my little girl a lollypop. However, there are way too many complaints regarding the treatment by the staff and or management to customers to disregard it so clearly this has been an ongoing issue at Boots and Kimos.
Overall, there are a lot of things I like about Boots and Kimos. Unfortunately, the extremely long wait time and fairly high prices in comparison to the other two breakfast places nearby make it hard to recommend this establishment, especially when you can go to Cinnamon’s or Moke’s Bread and Breakfast, less than a mile away and get just as good a meal if not better for equal or less money than Boots and Kimos.
When it comes to their signature dish, the Macadamia Nut Pancakes, as good as it may be, it is hard to justify waiting an hour or two to try them. The Guava Chiffon pancakes at Cinnamon’s and the Lilikoi Pancakes at Mokes Bread and Breakfast are just as good if not better than Boots and Kimos and cost a lot less. You’ll also be able to order just one pancake alongside another entree so that way you don’t tire of the pancakes so quickly and still have room for a main breakfast dish.
Something is going to have to change at Boots and Kimos because waiting an hour or two is going to sour a lot of people on the overall experience there. Also, when you have a restaurant that is basically maxed out on a daily basis, tempers may flare up a little on both sides of the fence. Though this isn’t the desired result, it sure is the right mix to get both the customers and the staff agitated with one another. While this may not happen all the time, just one visit and you will see this situation is not optimal for the staff or the customers.
Probably the most disturbing thing I’ve read by numerous reviews on Yelp is they that people would come in, give their names to the hostess but see people coming in after them getting seated before them. Since reservations are not allowed at Boots and Kimos, this should never happen. From what it sounds like, there seems to be some sort of agreement between one or several tour companies where their tourists are allegedly seated before some of the other waiting patrons. I did not see this first hand but many reviews are stating this same story. I cannot personally verify these statements but If this is true, that is a pretty shady business practice.
I read one review where they said they waited over two and a half hours. I don’t care how patient you are, this is just unacceptable for any restaurant to have their customers wait that long to be seated. Also keep in mind, if you are a tourist, you probably have a limited amount of time on your vacation and this island is not a cheap place to visit. Do you really want that time spent taking up to three hours to eat a meal when you could be doing something else besides waiting to be seated? It is one thing to wind down the evening with a long extended meal like a luau and kill a few hours that way but to start your day this way will put a damper on your events for that day.
Though Boots and Kimos are open from 7:00am to 2:00pm Monday through Friday and from 7:00am to 2:30pm on Saturdays and Sundays, keep in mind, most days they could stop seating at around 12:30pm to 1:00pm. After reading this article, you should be prepared for a long wait or order your food to go. Don’t forget to bring cash or you’ll be driving around looking for an ATM once you’ve finished your meal.
Here are some photos from my visit to Boots and Kimos
Map to Boots and Kimos
Kahuku Farms is a place I have wanted to stop by on many occasions, however, every time I drove by, it seemed like it was always around 4:00pm and they were going to be closing soon. Which is why I finally made it a point to stop by Kahuku Farms and Cafe around noon to make sure I would be able to see all they had to offer.
Even though this appears to be like other food stands or food trucks on the island, Kahuku Farms and Cafe is actually more of a farm with a cafe. Informational posts are spread throughout the cafe to help promote the farm and educate people on local fruits and vegetables. They also offer two tours of their establishment. A Grand tour, which is from Friday through Sunday at 2pm and a Smoothie tour from Wednesday through Monday at 1pm. We’ll get to their tours a little bit later.
Now, let’s talk about their food. The menu at Kahuku Farms and Cafe mostly consists of iced drinks, smoothies, coffees and other farm goodies. They do also offer three main dishes: 1. Grilled veggie salad with house lilikoi balsamic dressing, 2. Grilled veggie panini sandwich (half order with side salad available for this option) and 3. Farm pizza with side salad. The prices on the menu are actually pretty reasonable. The drinks range from $2.00 for hot coffee up to $4.75 for smoothies. The meals range from $7.75 for half a Panini with side salad up to $9.50 for the Grilled Veggie Panini Sandwich.
Though all three dishes sounded appealing, I love a good Panini. So I had to try that one even though I am not a vegan or vegetarian. Don’t get me wrong, I like eating my vegetables but I also like a good cut of meat on my Panini as well, especially when it’s going to cost almost $10 for it. I am glad I tried it because Kahuku Farms and Cafe really shined with the cooking of their eggplant. No bitter taste at all. The eggplant, bell pepper and zucchini were all seasoned and grilled to perfection.
Even as good as the Panini was, it doesn’t hold a candle to the Grilled Banana Bread. It was suggested to me by one of the local tour guides who was there when I was placing my order. The tour guide made it seem like she was getting into a 12-step program to stop eating it because it was that good. Needless to say, I tried it and she was right. This was a very good dish. Even as I sit here writing about it, over a week later, I am sensing a little craving for it. Thankfully, it is clear across the island from me, which helps to resist the urge….for now.
Of course you can’t leave out the beverage. I tried the plantation with lilikoi and a scoop of sorbet for $1.25 more. It also comes with a little fresh mint leaves for some extra flavor. On this hot and sunny day, this drink did not last long and it really hit the spot.
As I mentioned above, Kahuku Farms and Cafe offers two types of tours. The grand tour, which takes about an hour, costs $22 for adults and $15 for children between the ages of 5 to 12, kids 4 and under are free. During this tour, you will get to sample the farm fruits. The Smoothie tour, which takes about half an hour, costs $12 for adults and $10 for children between the ages of 5 to 12, kids 4 and under are free. A complimentary fresh fruit papaya smoothie is provided with this tour.
Overall, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Kahuku Farms and Cafe but after finally being able to visit there, I am very happy I stopped by. In my opinion, this is one of the best places to stop by if you are hungry. The food is very good and the atmosphere is also very enjoyable.
Kahuku Farms sits on 125 acres of land, 5 of which is dedicated to the public for the tours and the cafe. If you are interested in learning more about what they do and what they’re all about, give them a visit and take one of their tours.
There is no question, I will be coming back for their Grilled Veggie Panini as well as their Grilled Banana Bread. This is one of the few places I have reviewed where I will make it a point to have the same thing again instead of ordering something different. It was that good!
If you would like to visit Kahuku Farms and Cafe, their hours operation are from 11:00am to 4:00pm, six days a week (closed on Tuesdays). I am not sure if the tour times above are set in stone so just in case they are liable to change, it is best to still give them a quick call to make sure the tour times have not changed since this article was published. Kahuku Farms and Cafe can be reached at 808-628-0639.
Here are some photos from my visit to Kahuku Farms
Map to Kahuku Farms
Just like Nozawas Fresh Kahuku Corn is one of the best places on the island to buy your corn, Big Mamas tropical Fruit is one of the best places on the island to get your bananas. This is a fruit stand that most tourists will never see because it is way out by Laie and the main stop in that area is the Polynesian Cultural Center and most people will get there by taking a tour bus, but if you have your own car or are a local this is the best place on the island to buy bananas.
There are a lot of good fruit stands on Oahu to purchase fresh picked fruit but Big Mamas Tropical Fruit also specializes in a variety of fresh cut bananas right off the tree. Eva, the owner of Big Mamas Tropical Fruit, is a very nice woman who will gladly tell you about the different types of bananas as well as what they are best used for. She also sells pineapples, coconuts, mangos, avocados and lilikois.
From my conversations with Eva, she sells seven different types of bananas but at the time of my visit, there were only five varieties to choose from. If you go to the pictures below, you will see what they look like. From left to right, the bananas’ names are as follows: 1. the ice cream banana, 2. the cooking banana, 3. the apple banana, 4. the Hopa banana and 5. the store banana (reason being, these are the ones you typically find at grocery stores).
There is no real set pricing for the bananas. She may charge you one price one day and then a different price the next for the same bananas. Don’t get me wrong when I say there is no set prices. This is not a bad thing because she has always given me more than my money’s worth on every visit I have had at her fruit stand. She is just somewhat flexible depending on the amount she has for sale on any given day.
At Big Mamas Tropical Fruit, they measure bananas by the term, “Hand of Bananas”. Basically, this means that each banana is like a finger and a small bunch is like a hand with many fingers. So a hand might have somewhere between 15 to 20 bananas on it but the entire bunch may have as many as 200 fingers on it. These full bunches are extremely heavy and can weigh anywhere from 80 to 130 pounds.
All the bananas are pretty cheap, with the exception of the Hopa banana. I only bought one of those just to try it since I’ve never had it before. I normally purchase her ice cream or apple bananas. The one Hopa banana cost me $2 whereas the others typically cost me about $5 for a couple of hands. She did inform me that the Hopa banana has a very special place in the Hawaiian culture and they prefer to eat them green, not yellow.
I would say that most people will probably like the ice cream, apple and regular bananas. The cooking banana and the Hopa Banana may be hit or miss. For me, I didn’t care too much for the Hopa or the cooking bananas. Though I must say, I ate the cooking banana as it was instead of cooking it and I ate the Hopa banana when the peel turned yellow so I’m sure that figures into the equation of why I wasn’t a fan of either.
Overall, I always like to stop by Big Mamas Tropical Fruit to get a few hands of bananas when I’m driving to the North Shore and have always received more than my money’s worth. Unfortunately, if you Google Big Mamas Tropical Fruit, there is virtually no online information for this fruit stand. You won’t be able to find it on Yelp either. This is about as old school as you can get. So it seems, all the locals, I’m sure, know about Big Mamas Tropical Fruit Stand and perhaps a handful of drive by tourists have really visited this almost invisible place to get some fresh fruit and some of the best bananas on the island.
I don’t know their exact location or their hours of operation but below is a map of my best guess to the location and I would think their hours are probably from 11:00am to 5:00pm, seven days a week.
Here are some photos from my visit to Big Mamas Tropical Fruit
There is no website or yelp page for Big Mamas Tropical Fruit and I do not know exactly where it is on the map, but I put a map to my best guess where this fruit stand is below.
Mexican food is few and far in between on the island of Oahu. So when I was driving through Haleiwa and spotted Killer Tacos, I had to give them a try. Killer Tacos isn’t a food truck but a classic restaurant format where they provide both indoor and outdoor seating.
The menu at Killer Tacos consists of burritos, salads, nachos, a cheese quesadilla and of course tacos. The prices are very reasonable. The burritos run from just $5.99 to $6.99 and the Pupus start at just $3.99 for the cheese quesadilla up to $7.99 for the killer taco salad. The tacos are also fairly inexpensive, starting at $2.19 for the hard taco up to $2.99 for the fish taco.
I love a good burrito but on this visit, I was in the mood to try a couple of tacos. Fish tacos seem to be quite popular on Oahu so I ordered the fish taco and the pulled pork taco as well. The wait was very short and within a couple of minutes, I was already eating. The staff was friendly and helpful. They were happy to tell me about the menu and what the most popular items were and what they recommended.
The first taco I tried was the pulled pork which included cheese, lettuce and salsa. The one thing that drives me crazy about eating a hard taco is having the shell completely fall apart with the first bite. I was pleasantly surprised when this did not happen. The shell stayed intact from the first bite to the last. Of all the components of a hard taco, the part that is lacking the most is quite often the shell but not at Killer Tacos. Everything about this pulled pork taco was nicely balanced and tasted great.
Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for the “super tasty” fish taco. This was a bit of a disappointment for me. The ratio of the Alaskan Cod to the cheese and shredded cabbage was way off. The fish taco seemed like 80% shredded cabbage, about 15% Alaskan Cod and 5% cheese, salsa and sauce. I did like the salsa and spicy cream sauce that came with it. It’s just unfortunate that there was so much shredded cabbage, I had to pull most of it out just to taste the small amounts of fish that was buried in the soft taco. I understand that Alaskan Cod is not the cheapest thing in the world but masking its quantity under a pile of shredded cabbage will give this fish taco a really bad name as it should be called a cabbage taco.
Overall, I was both happy and disappointed with Killer Tacos. One taco was great while the other was not. The staff and my overall experience was a pretty good one. I just think they need to work on the ratio of the fish taco and if they have to raise the price a little to allow for more fish then maybe they should do just that. I don’t know exactly when the price would be too much for a fish taco, but I would rather them charge a little more and make a real killer fish taco than an average one for 50 cents less.
The reviews on Yelp are pretty mixed for this establishment. Some have complained about the staff being rude, which I did not experience during my visit. The three people that were working when I stopped by were all pretty nice but maybe I got lucky or they improved the staff since those reviews.
One thing you don’t want to see from Yelp’s stats is more 1, 2, 3 and 4 star ratings than 5 star ratings. Killer Tacos has 136 total Yelp reviews, 58 are 4 and 5 star reviews while 44 are1 and 2 star reviews. Only 17 people on Yelp gave them a 5 star rating. On the other end of the spectrum, 24 people gave them a 1 star rating; those reviews are absolutely scathing. This is a clear warning sign for any customer looking online for a place to eat. However, I would say my own overall personal experience at Killer Tacos was somewhere right in the middle since one taco was good but the other was not and the service was fine to me.
If you want to give Killer Tacos a try, their hours of operation are from 10:00am to 8:00pm, seven days a week.
Here are some photos from my visit to Killer Tacos
Map to Killer Tacos
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
There are a few places in Kailua to get a great breakfast and Moke’s Bread and Breakfast is definitely one of them. Since 1999, Moke’s Bread and Breakfast has been serving both locals and tourists alike. For 15 years, they have been delivering a great breakfast with the spirit of Aloha which explains why they are one of the best places to eat on the windward side of Oahu. FYI, Moke’s is pronounced as follows “Mo-Keys”.
From what I know, there are 3 famous pancakes on the island of Oahu and they are all in Kailua on the windward side of Oahu. Cinnamon’s has the Guava Chiffon Pancake, Boots and Kimo has the Macadamia Nut Pancake and Moke’s Bread and Breakfast has the Lilikoi Pancake. I have tried them all and it’s no wonder they are all famous. They are all extremely very good.
Due to its popularity, I knew I had to try the Lilikoi pancakes but I also wanted to try something else as well. They have a lot of appealing options and the one that was recommended to me by my server was the Mokapu stuffed hash browns. This dish consists of Portuguese sausage, mushrooms, green onions and cheddar cheese wrapped in a beautifully cooked hash brown. I don’t think I’ve ever tried stuffed hash browns before. I’m happy to say this dish was just as much of a highlight of my breakfast as the famous Lilikoi pancakes were and that’s saying something.
The Lilikoi pancakes have their reputation for a good reason. They are light and fluffy and cooked to a nice golden brown color. The balance of the Lilikoi cream sauce, whipped cream and pancakes were perfect. There wasn’t too much or too little of any component. The Lilikoi cream sauce really is something you should try once. It is very unique to the Hawaiian islands and Mokey’s Bread and Breakfast.
It is hard to believe but for me, the Mokapu stuffed hash browns was the dish I could see coming back for more in the near future. Hash browns are not that complicated by nature, but this method of stuffing them with Portuguese sausage, mushrooms, green onions and cheddar cheese was a brilliant idea. Normally you just douse your hash browns with some ketchup and call it a day. However, for the most part, I did not use any ketchup for these stuffed hash browns. They had plenty of flavor and the best part was, they were not lacking on any ingredients. Almost every bite had several ingredients in it, making the ketchup an unnecessary part of these hash browns.
Overall, I was very happy with the service and the food. The prices are pretty reasonable for this part of the island. Most of their dishes are priced between $6.00 for the grilled cheese up to $14.00 for the large Loco Moco plates. Many of their main dishes fall in the $9.00 to $11.00 range. Considering the quality of food you are getting in the part of town you’re in, their prices are pretty fair.
Another thing I really like about Moke’s Bread and Breakfast, they allow you to order just one pancake if you’d like. When I went to Boots and Kimo, just recently, they did not allow for this. You either got their normal order of three huge pancakes for $11.00 or you could order two for $10.00. The price comparison between these two places is night and day.
I like pancakes just like most of you but whenever I think of pancakes, I think of this quote by the late great Mitch Hedberg, “As a comedian, you have to start the show strong and you have to end the show strong. Those are the two key elements. You can’t be like pancakes…all exciting at first, but then by the end you’re sick of ’em.”
I don’t know how many people can eat three huge pancakes and still eat or enjoy anything else they order from the menu that day. Pancakes will wipe you out if you have too much of them. This is why I really like that Moke’s Bread and Breakfast allows you to just order one if you like. It was just the right amount for me for this breakfast. My review for Boots and Kimo will be up soon. If you would like to see my full review of Cinnamon’s, please click on this link here.
Moke’s Bread and Breakfast is closed on Tuesdays. Just keep this in mind so you don’t get all geared up for some great food just to show up when they’re cleaning the building for the next week’s worth of business. Other than that, they are open from 6:30am to 2:00pm, six days a week.
Here are some photos from my visit to Mokes Bread and Breakfast
Map to Mokes Bread and Breakfast