Posts tagged ‘restaurants’

July 25, 2011

Pahoa digs series: Ning’s Thai Cuisine serves curry, memories

Aromatic spices of cooking curry tickles my nose; a pleasant Thai melody fills my ears with ambient noise. Taken on a journey across the years by the familiar atmosphere, I rest assured that Ning’s Thai Cuisine will give me a delicious dinner that will make my taste buds tingle.

My table orders a slew of different curries: green, red and pineapple. We also order both sticky rice and brown rice. A real likeable aspect of Ning’s is being able to try many different dishes; everyone receives separate plates.

The pillow of rice goes onto the plate, followed by a heaping of vegetable-filled curry. The sauce absorbs into the rice like a sponge, but the rice remains just right, with a certain amount of softness and chew. The smooth coconut milk in the sauce marriages perfectly with the blend of spices.

If there is one thing you learn from reading this article, it is to not pass up the curries if you visit Pahoa town. To do so would be a crime ending in non-delicious demise. The curries are the highlight of the menu.

Don’t forget to order a Thai Iced Tea, which is described by the menu as “a sweet and creamy orange tint drink.” The blaringly orange beverage is a thick, sweetened black tea topped with coconut milk or cream.

Star anise, crushed tamarind and cardamom are occasionally added to Thai iced tea, according to

Ning’s Thai Cuisine is a choice dining spot for locals, and tourists who drop by aren’t quick to forget their experience.

“I had it [Thai food] in Wisconsin, and I had it in Illinoi

s and in Kona, but one thing I can say certainly is that Ning’s surpassed all of them,” says Austin Cole, a visiting University of Minnesota Twin Cities student.

“If you’re taking someone on a date, [the prices] are all good,” adds Cole.

Asked about the atmosphere of the restaurant, he answers and laughs, “the atmosphere… I would say it was casual… But I think everything in Hawaii seems casual coming from a straight-laced Wisconsin kid.”

Not counting desserts or beverages, the menu consists of 45 different dishes: appetizers, soups, curries, entrées, seafood, rice and noodles. Ning’s has it all: sweet or savory, mild, medium or hot. And, believe it or not, nothing costs more than $13.95 on their printed menu. There are so many options, but they all share the same outcome: tasty food and pure satisfaction.

Come in before 4:30 p.m. to partake in the super lunch deal: one of three entrées and a choice of rice for $8.95 with tofu, chicken, beef, or pork; or $10.95 for shrimp, scallops, or squid. The deal entrées change daily. The dinner deals aren’t too bad either: $14.95 for an entrée with rice.

Pumpkin curry makes a cameo appearance from time to time on the specials menu, though not listed on the print menu. Curious foodies can try this delightfully creamy dish at the Maku’u Farmer’s Market, where Ning’s sells several varieties of curry on Sunday mornings.

A webpage is the closest Ning’s Thai Cuisine has to an official website, where they have a neat four and a half stars based off of 37 reviews. It’s definitely an ode to the exceptional food served at the restaurant.

As the day dims to night, the strand of festive, albeit unseasonal, Christmas bulbs flicker punctuated every few feet by a dead bulb, and I think to myself in a state of taste-induced bliss: Yep, it’s just as good as I remember it.

Ning’s Thai Cuisine is open Monday through Saturday 12pm to 9pm and Sundays 5pm to 9pm.

This is volume 2 in the Pahoa digs series. Interested in reading the previous installments? Pay a visit to or for the full series.

March 7, 2011

Hula Grill Proves to be an Early Morning Gem

Paniolo Omelet: avocado, ham, tomato, poblano pepper, jack cheese with chipotle salsa

Early birds searching for their most important meal of the day may want to hit up the Hula Grill in Waikiki.

Strolling down the streets of Waikiki, it is easy to become distracted by the great people-watching and miss certain shops or restaurants. Hula Grill is easy to find, situated up a flight of stairs in the back of the Outrigger Waikiki, but also easy to pass right by when distracted by the diversity of tourists. Keep your eyes peeled for the sign though; a 91% recommendation rating on TripAdvisor proves this is a restaurant worth checking out.

Our party of three had no problem being seated in under five minutes; a nice and welcomed change from the 20 minute wait times of other popular, safe and familiar mainland restaurant chains. The waiter was very pleasant and energetic, especially for the time of day that we came in, just before 7 in the morning.

This restaurant really boasts a fantastic location. The ocean-front view was excellent: turquoise water surrounding surfers, colorful beach towels and big sun umbrellas lined up on the shining white sands, the sunbathers not yet overcooked by the sun’s rays.

Instead of the typical stale syrup smell that plagues most breakfast joints, the open-air dining room allowed fresh, salty morning air to flow through.

Unfortunately, food with a beautiful view is often accompanied by a not-so-beautiful price tag. Not true in the case of Hula Grill. The breakfast menu prices range from a modest $3.50 to $11.75.

The menu wasn’t extensive – just two pages – but a wide variety of choices means there will be something to please exceedingly picky taste buds. Carb-lover who just can’t fuel up without carbs in the morning? Try the traditional buttermilk pancakes or, to truly play up the Hawaiian atmosphere, banana and mac nut pancakes. Protein-fiend? A variety of omelets can satiate the most carnivorous of cravings.

Oatmeal topped with fresh mango.
e oatmeal had a fantastic texture, unlike instant oatmeal that turns to mush in your mouth.

North Shore Veggie Omelet: tomato, spinach, mushroom, zucchini, Maui onion – Couldn’t wait to dig in, the omelet had already been sliced in half by the time I got around to taking a photo of it.

The coffee was hot and fresh, the omelets, accompanied by a choice of  homestyle potatoes or rice and toast, had the perfect amount of gooey melty cheese oozing out, and the veggies inside were grilled to perfection. Combined with the fast and chipper service, reasonable prices and ease of location, what more could be asked for in a breakfast?

The Hula Grill is open Monday through Saturday 6:30am  to 10:45am for Breakfast, Sunday 9am to 2pm for Brunch, and daily 4:45pm – 10pm for dinner. Reservations can be booked over the phone or on their website.

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