Going Big On American Food 24-7

Jo McGarry
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Friday - December 15, 2006
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MAC 24-7 executive chef Ray Dasalla with some of the restaurant’s outsized portions
MAC 24-7 executive chef Ray Dasalla with
some of the restaurant’s outsized portions

I can’t remember the last time I ate in a restaurant after midnight. These days I fall asleep almost as soon as our children do, and my restaurant visits are mostly done during day and early evening hours. But I still remember many nights in our pre-parenting days heading off to a diner at 3 in the morning hungry for breakfast.

But 24-hour restaurants are few and far between in Honolulu. Wailana Coffee House and Liliha Bakery are the two that come first to mind, along with Eggs ‘n’ Things in Waikiki.

Now you can add another to your list. MAC 24-7 opened appropriately enough at midnight last Friday, and a couple hundred guests enjoyed a taste of the varied menu into the early hours of the morning. The 21st century diner is located in the new Hilton Waikiki Prince Kuhio hotel; the MAC stands for modern American cooking, the 24-7? Well, hopefully, that’s obvious.

I stopped by last week to take a look at the menu and décor and was quite impressed. There’s an up-market diner feel to the large dining room, with garden views, floor-to-ceiling windows and a cool color scheme that manages to make orange, purple and silver look perfect together. There’s a 68-foot-long bar where guests can watch sports on 50-foot plasma TV screens while they decide on breakfast, lunch or dinner.

“We’re definitely offering comfort food,” says director of restaurants Marina Jones, “but what people are going to find is that everything from the menu to the décor to the service has been very creatively designed and thoughtfully put together.”

What that means is there are recognizable dishes on the menu (saimin, pancakes and cupcakes) that look nothing like the ones you’re used to.

Feel like a pancake? You’d better be hungry. MAC 24-7’s stacks are 14 inches in diameter and about 8 inches high.

“They’re the size of a cocktail tray,” says Marina.

Indeed they are.

In fact they’re so big they are probably going to seem quite grotesque to anyone with a normal appetite. I couldn’t face eating one if you paid me - and I do get paid to eat such things. I had a sample of the Elvis (three giant pancakes stuffed with bacon and peanut butter) and can think of nothing I’d like less for breakfast. There are some giant-sized cupcakes too, so big they seem like something Alice would find on her breakfast table in Wonderland. I’m sure, however, that most people will love them.

The sumo-sized saimin is truly a bowl of soup fit for someone with a gargantuan appetite and certainly could feed two or three people, so bring a friend. The menu has been well-designed, and features everything from root beer floats to traditional breakfast, a Japanese breakfast, soups, salads, pasta and some terrific sandwiches.

Value is exceptional. There are just a couple of menu items more than $20 (lobster pot pie, New York steak and seared ahi) but everything else is between $7 and $13. I didn’t try the sweet and smokey pulled pork sandwich with cheese ($12), but I will next time I go.

There’s free valet parking , so MAC 24-7 is an easy destination, free from the usual parking woes of Waikiki.

Although it somehow has the look of a chain restaurant, the concept and design are entirely unique to Hawaii and the Hilton Prince Kuhio. Anyone who’s looking for comfort food at a reasonable price, hot saimin on a rainy day, breakfast anytime or a hot fudge banana split at 2 a.m. should find what they’re looking for at MAC 24-7.

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