Super Dining On The North Shore

Jo McGarry
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Friday - July 14, 2006
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It’s worth the drive to Hukilau Cafe
It’s worth the drive to Hukilau Cafe

I took some time to check out food happenings on the North Shore last week, and headed to Ola, Fred and Cheryl DeAngelo’s stunning beachside restaurant at Turtle Bay. It’s one of very few true destination restaurants on Oahu.

“We have regular customers who drive all the way from Hawaii Kai for dinner,” says Fred with a grin.

And guests who venture to spend the weekend at the resort find themselves coming back meal after meal.

“We had a group of 13 people who came for dinner last weekend, then came back again the next night because they enjoyed it so much,” says Fred.

Can’t say I blame them. The food is outstanding and the view couldn’t be better.

One of the things that’s noticeably changed here in the past few years is the proliferation of shrimp trucks and shacks, all boasting “the best” shrimp on the Island. Years ago there was just the original shrimp farm and then Giovanni’s. The increase in competition seems to have done nothing to diminish the popularity of Giovanni’s though, as the line outside his shrimp truck in Kahuku is as long as ever. But there are a half dozen or more shrimp shacks to choose from, including Blue Water Shrimp, Fumi’s, Kahuku Shrimp and Seafood and Famous Kahuku Shrimp. Who’s got the best shrimp? Well, according to the results of last year’s “Battle of the North Shore Shrimp Trucks”

it’s Macky’s Shrimp and Seafood. They’re located about a half mile before the entrance to the hotel (coming from Haleiwa) and they proudly announce their victory with a hand-painted sign that tells customers they are the winners of the “shrimp truck batter” (sic).

And if you take a food trip up this way anytime soon, then the one place you have to stop is the unbelievably good, utterly charming and thoroughly unpretentious Hukilau Café. It’s a little off the beaten track (turn right off Kamehameha Highway as you enter Laie from Kahuku and then veer left around the roundabout onto Wahinepee Street. Hukilau Café is on the corner, in an area where residents must thank the food gods daily for blessing them so.

Hukilau Café was originally Sam’s Place - Sam Choy’s first restaurant before he hit the big time, and he speaks fondly of it.

“I love that place,” he says with a huge smile. “They do such a great job out there.”

Breakfast is the main meal of the day here - and what a thoroughly enjoyable repast it is. The sweet bread French toast is legendary among devotees of the café, but other dishes are just as good. There’s some excellent corned beef hash, lots of eggs - and a beef stew omelette that local residents rave about. Pancakes and breakfast sandwiches - including a delightfully “non-P.C.” cholesterol-packed Spam and egg sandwich - are a wonderful departure from Waikiki’s pricey, mega breakfast buffets.

Breakfast ends at 10 a.m. and lunch is served until 2 p.m. There are just the kind of plate lunches, burgers and sandwiches that you’d expect way up here in the country (generous portions, inexpensive pricing and large scoops of mac salad and rice) and there’s an enjoyable camaraderie between wait staff and customers.

And while the food is worth the wait (there’s often a line on weekends for breakfast), the experience is worth even more. Friendly, fun and completely charming, the lack of decent tables and chairs or fancy décor does nothing but add to the sensational experience. It makes me wonder why, in a city that boasts some of the greatest food in America, we have such a dearth of fabulous breakfast joints in Honolulu. Until someone from Laie decides they want to venture into the big city and open up a “Hukilau Hana Hou,” then those in search of an outstanding breakfast should buckle up and enjoy the ride.

Hukilau Café 55-662 Wahinepee St. Laie 293-8616

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