Sherman's Food Adventures: Honolulu Cafe

Honolulu Cafe

That's it, 4 losses in a row. This is becoming sad. I guess our once powerhouse of a hockey team has withered away into mediocrity. Time to sign some free agents! Get rid of the goalie... er... Wait, scratch that. Anyways, only 3 of us were wanting to go for eats tonight (or should I say morning). You see, these 10:30pm games are not exactly the ideal situation for eating afterwards. There are still some places we haven't been to that are open; but for some reason or another, we made our way back to Honolulu Cafe. It was either that or Gold Train Express next door. Milhouse shuddered and chimed in his opposition to that idea.

Open until 1:00am on Friday, Honolulu Cafe is a Hong Kong-style cafe, which serves up Chinese food, Hong Kong style-Western food, and other variations of other ethnic foods such as curry. The late night menu is a bit different from the regular menu as it has slightly smaller portions; yet it includes a drink of your choice such as Ovaltine, Horlicks, pop, iced tea etc... There is also a set meal that you can choose either 2 ($11.95) or 3 ($14.95) items which is served sizzling on a hot plate. The meal also includes choice of soup, garlic toast, a side of spaghetti or rice, choice of sauce and a choice of drink. For some reason or another, I love these types of meals. Sure, most of the items only have a passing resemblance to what you would find at a non-Asian restaurant; but I don't mind it (especially if there is beef tongue!) I chose the 2 items meal, settling on the Chicken Steak & 5oz Ribeye Steak. I got my Borscht first and if you ever had this at a HK-style cafe before, you'll know that it is not borscht. Rather, it is tomato soup (no beets) with a bit of tang. This was no different in this case, in fact, it was too tangy. The dish itself included fries and vegetables as well. Usually, when we find "steak" at most Chinese restaurants, it is merely a piece of crappy meat tenderized the heck out of with baking soda. In this case, I was happy that it was not. Rather, the meat had the texture of meat and it was cooked perfectly. The chicken steak (a deboned leg) was tender and juicy. Another shocker came in the form of barely cooked cauliflower and carrots (no mushy veggies!). I asked for black pepper sauce and it wasn't really all that peppery. And considering that I had a side of spaghetti as well, there wasn't enough sauce to go around.

If that wasn't enough, I also had the Salted Fish and Chicken Fried Rice (this is an acquired taste) . For $6.50, I thought the dish was a good value. There was lots of tender strips of chicken in the rice and I thought it tasted pretty good. Lots of salted fish too. The rice itself had a nice dry and chewy texture. Fried rice should be slightly dry, where you can differentiate each grain of rice while you eat it. This is the result of high wok temperature (wok hay) and the use of day-old rice. But one thing I couldn't let go was the amount of oil used. The rice glistened like the forehead of a pubescent male teenager. Milhouse surprisingly bypassed the salted fish & chicken fried rice (his favourite) and tried out the Malaysian Seafood Fried Rice. I sampled it and there was good flavour, not spicy; but definitely well-seasoned. Lots of shrimp, squid and imitation crab meat nestled within the rice as well. What I said about my fried rice applies to this one too. Good; but too much grease. Apu had the Satay Beef Instant Noodles. Yes, that is not a typo, he really did have instant noodles. Apparently he likes the texture over rice noodles. He liked how flavourful it was (and a bit spicy), as well as the barely cooked noodles.

The food in general at Honolulu, whether it be lunch, dinner or late night, is decent. If you don't expect gourmet food, then you'll be satisfied, especially at the price you pay. Service is efficient and as good as it gets in a restaurant like this. However, I was a bit grossed out by the condition of the restaurant itself. The dining room looks disheveled and the walls really need a cleaning. But other than that, Honolulu Cafe is a decent place to have a quick, inexpensive meal.

The Good:
- Good value
- Food is acceptable for the price
- Efficient, if not sparse service

The Bad:
- Restaurant is in need of cleaning
- Food is greasy
- Parking lot is only good for really narrow cars

Honolulu Cafe
3340 Kingsway
Vancouver, B.C.
(604) 438-8632

Honolulu Cafe (Kingsway) on Urbanspoon

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