We went on our usual July vacation this year. During our stay, we played tourist and visited the new Waikiki Beach Walk area. We liked the food at two of the restaurants: Holokai Grill and Giovanni Pastrami.
Holokai Grill serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Although we thought about coming for the breakfast buffet, we ended up having lunch, instead. I had the sizzling Paniolo beef platter with onions, mushrooms, and potatoes. The beef was slightly undercooked but since the platter was burning hot, I just pressed some of the meat against it and all was well. That said, the beef, which I think is supposed to be ribeye, was not particularly marbled nor tender. At the time, I wondered if they hadn’t substituted another cut since it looked a lot like a New York strip steak. I dunno. Still, we will probably try Holokai Grill again next year.
Giovanni Pastrami reminds me more of a sports bar than an Italian deli (is there such a thing as an Italian Deli?). As you would expect in a place that mixes deli favorites with pizza, its menu is varied. SHMBO had the pastrami and I had the BBQ beef brisket. The brisket was very tender and reminded me of a place where I used to get such sandwiches while a college student in California. It brought back good memories and tasted great, as long as you like BBQ sauce all over your beef. Otherwise, try the pastrami.
Unfortunately, the service at both restaurants was terrible. Each waiter disappeared once the food came to the table. We had to track people down to get our drinks refilled and the check. Neither waiter bothered to ask if the food was prepared to our taste or if we needed anything.
Perhaps this is a reflection of our high employment rate and the difficulty in finding good help. (But you would think that with the closing of so many other restaurants, wait help would be easy to find.) Whichever the reason, I wonder how long each will stay in business if they don’t put into action good service.
On the other hand, we also visited an old favorite located in Ala Moana Center called Alan Wong‘s Pineapple Room. I can’t emphasize enough how much we enjoyed both the food and the service at the Pineapple Room. It’s located in Macy’s on the third floor, mauka side [facing the mountains]. Here, both the food and service was done the way it should be. Our waitress was the most polite person I have ever met. One example: when it was time for the check, she asked our permission to bring it to us!
In addition, either the restaurant uses a system to let waiters know when the food is ready or our waitress knew how long each dish would take to prepare because, from where we were seated, we could see the food as it came out and she got ours within seconds of it hitting the ready area of the open, display type kitchen.
As to the food, I had that old time comfort food favorite – meat loaf. But this version had Wong’s patented Pacific-Asian fusion blend of flavors infused into it. I’m no food critic, so I couldn’t tell you what ingredients are used, other than very good tasting beef, but you won’t find a better meat loaf this side of your favorite grandmother’s kitchen.