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Local Filipino Restaurants


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#1 skchai

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Posted 03 April 2004 - 02:31 AM

I've always wondered why there aren't more Filipino restaurants, particularly plate lunch places, in Hawai`i. Not only are Filipinos one of Hawai`i's largest and fastest-growing ethnic groups, they also have a long restaurant tradition that includes the "turo-turo" concept, which is quite consistent with the fast food n' rice mentality that so many local people find appealing. Yet Filipino or Filipino-style restaurants have not spread throughout the state like Japanese, Hawaiian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, or Korean-style restaurants. There is no Filipino version of L&L, Yummy's, or Ba-Le. After reading SobaAddict70's thread in the Cooking Forum, I thought we might discuss it here specifically with regards to Hawai`i.

What are your favorite Filipino restaurants? What do you think about Elena's and Gold Coin? What are some of the others that aren't well-known? What are your favorite Filipino restaurant dishes, and is there anything that could be called Filipino-Hawaiian food?

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#2 rlivings

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Posted 03 April 2004 - 11:27 PM

Hmm, I've only really eaten at golden coin and that was to try the chicken empanadas which I thought were tasty. I've tried great pork adobo from some place in the waipahu area (not sure where since the boss at work told someone to pickup food to eat).

#3 herbacidal

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Posted 04 April 2004 - 12:27 AM

they also have a long restaurant tradition that includes the "turo-turo" concept, which is quite consistent with the fast food n' rice mentality that so many local people find appealing.

Can you give more background?

It was my understanding that the reason why Filipino restaurants were
not more widespread in the US was because of their lack of a restaurant tradition.
Herb aka "herbacidal"

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#4 skchai

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Posted 05 April 2004 - 03:07 PM

Turo-turo ("point-point" in Tagalog) is the indigenous fast food concept of the urban Philippines. It usually involves a cafeteria-style serving setup, with customers taking their choice of entrees to go with rice, unless they are eating a noodle entree such as pancit.

The issue of why there are not more Filipino restaurants in the U.S. is addressed in Soba's thread; I'm wondering more specifically whey there haven't been more attempts to create an local-style Filipino plate lunch here in Hawai`i based upon the turo-turo.

P.S. I haven't checked out Elena's or Golden Coin recently - want to see if there is anything on the menu which can reasonably be labeled "Hawaiian-style" Filipino.

rlivings, you're lucky you work close to Waipahu and all the places there (for non-Oahuans: Waipahu is the center of the Oahu Filipino community). Just wonder why they haven't spread out to the rest of the island. . .

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#5 Norio

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Posted 06 April 2004 - 12:05 AM

No Goldilocks in Hawaii?

#6 skchai

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Posted 06 April 2004 - 06:23 AM

Surprisingly, no Goldilocks.
For other readers: Goldilocks is a large chain of combination bakery and restaurants in the Philippines with outposts in California.

Norio, is the setup for the Goldilocks in California turo-turo (cafeteria) style, or more like a typical U.S. fast food place? What are their best dishes?

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#7 Norio

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Posted 07 April 2004 - 01:31 AM

Norio, is the setup for the Goldilocks in California turo-turo (cafeteria) style, or more like a typical U.S. fast food place?  What are their best dishes?

It is cafeteria-style (at least the one here in Sacramento is). I've only eaten there once. The lumpiang shanghai was a little disappointing, but the bbq pork was not bad. The bakery has a pretty good macapuno cake.

#8 AuntieNellieKulolo

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Posted 01 July 2004 - 09:58 AM

No Jollibee's either?
I've been curious to try this place, see there's one in San Jose so might try it when I'm in the Bay Area next month.

Does Jo-nis still exist? They used to be at the Ala Moana food court years ago.

#9 skchai

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Posted 01 July 2004 - 07:21 PM

Welcome to eGullet, AuntieNellieKulolo! Hope to hear more from you.

No Jollibee's in Hawai`i as of yet. The Jo-ni's in Ala Moana unfortunately closed down, as did another location in Kalihi. Don't know if there still might be another location in existence.

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#10 reid

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Posted 14 August 2004 - 05:18 PM

The New Cafe Dalisay on Maunakea Street is pretty good, though I think many are hesitant to go there because of all the illegal activity that takes place in front and inside of the shop.

There was also Alessandra's Filipino Food (I think that was the name of it) in Cunha's Alley, but that closed down when they started doing the renovations on the lobby of the Pioneer Plaza building.

On Fort Street Mall, there are two Filipino food restaurants. Alyssandra's and Nayong which are right across the way from each other. Nayong used to be located on Hotel Street. I think there is either a Chinese or Vietnamese restaurant there now.

#11 rlivings

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Posted 15 August 2004 - 09:05 PM

The Diners in Pearl City (in the shopping complex with Good Year sorry I forget the name) has good filipino food my co-workers say.

#12 Kapuliperson

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Posted 31 August 2004 - 08:28 PM

:) Neat. While I haven't been to the mentioned "Gold Coin/Elena's" restaurants either, I can say that it is kinda disappointing that there aren't many Filipino restaurants in Hawaii or around the US. On a side note, when I went to CA a few years ago before the PI, I was ecstatic to find a Goldilocks shop although everything was so expensive. Worth it, I'd say. Who knows, maybe when I get back to Hawaii I'll open a Filipino restaurant myself... or even just a "Pinay deli"

#13 skchai

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Posted 01 September 2004 - 12:25 PM

Welcome to the forum, Kapuliperson. I take it from your monicker that you are a displaced kama`aina of pinoy/pinay ancestry? Tell us a little more about yourself when you have the time.

My experience is that the Filipino turoturo-type places are totally concentrated within those areas that have become de facto enclaves, such as Waipahu and Kalihi/Palama. This is itself surprising since Honolulu has a much more checkerboard or complete mixture pattern of residency among ethnic groups. Korean plate lunches have over the past twenty years jumped out of that are found all over town. Hopefully the same will happen for Filipino places over the new years.

One of bright spots arising from Wal-Mart's invasion of the long-vacant Ke`eaumoku superblock is that a Golden Coin is going to move into one of the "satellite" street-facing spots that will surround the main building. No need to drive out towards Ewa side any more for us city folks. . .

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#14 glossyp

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Posted 02 September 2004 - 12:00 PM

As a haole who loves good filipino food and one who has enjoyed it in homes and restaurants from the Philippines and around Asia, the local restaurant I like the best is Thelma's. Golden Coin is the runner-up.
"Eat it up, wear it out, make it do or do without." TMJ Jr. R.I.P.

#15 PakePorkChop

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Posted 06 September 2004 - 06:00 PM

Aloha, SK!

Don't forget that there is a Golden Coin in Kalihi and on Liliha Street near the original L & L Drive-in. Both chains tell of a wonderful ethnic mix both in Asia and Hawaii.

The present L & L chain, including the growing L & L Hawaiian Barbecue group on the continental US of A, is a collaboration between the Hong Kong-born Johnson Kam and Eddie Flores. Eddie's familly obviously has roots in the Phillipines.

The Golden Coin chain in Hawaii is driven by the Uy family, Chinese in the Phillipines. The Liliha location is a master stroke in marketing research. In addition to a growing residential market in the Liliha area, there are also the Filipino work centers at Maluhia, St. Francis, and Kuakini hospitals, as well as the Rehabilitation Center of the Pacific and other health and medical facilities scattered throughout the area. Sheer genius, in my opinion!

For an air of authenticilty, I recommend the food stands in the Maunakea Marketplace. Good food at great prices, and you get to see Chinatown in its fullness. For an inexpensive guided walking tour, call the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, 533-3181.

#16 skchai

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Posted 07 September 2004 - 02:02 AM

Isos! I did not even know that there was a Golden Coin in Liliha - I have been trying to plan a side trip to the N. King St. location for quite a while but there is something much closer! Didn't notice it last time I was in the Liliha area.

The Liliha-Kuakini corner has always been one of the great spots for finding classic local grinds - in addition to the aforementioned, there's Liliha Bakery, Masu's Massive plate lunches, and Jane's Fountain for great saimin.

. . .

O.K. I just went to the Golden Coin website and realized that the address for the Liliha branch is the same as for Jane's Fountain. Does it mean that Jane's Fountain has closed down? Or has it relocated?

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#17 Kapuliperson

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Posted 09 September 2004 - 07:41 PM

Welcome to the forum, Kapuliperson.  I take it from your monicker that you are a displaced kama`aina of pinoy/pinay ancestry?  Tell us a little more about yourself when you have the time. 
Hopefully the same will happen for Filipino places over the new years.


aba, tama ka diyan! :) I was born in Hawaii and raised in HI to two "hapas" if I may- both of them half Pinoy. I'm in the PI right now, but still very much in touch with HI and the goings on there, and am missing HI very much although I like it here in the PI as well. And yes, I wish the same thing for the Filipino places there.

#18 skchai

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Posted 10 September 2004 - 04:45 PM

Thanks Kapuliperson! Are you in Manila or elsewhere? When you have time, maybe you could tell us about the kinds of Filipino food that you find at restaurants there but that we're missing here in Honolulu.

Sun-Ki Chai
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#19 jess mebane

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Posted 10 September 2004 - 05:42 PM

word. I'm a fiend for the filipino cuisine, so any info would be really outstanding.

#20 Kapuliperson

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Posted 11 September 2004 - 10:31 PM

Thanks Kapuliperson!  Are you in Manila or elsewhere?  When you have time,  maybe you could tell us about the kinds of Filipino food that you find at restaurants there but that we're missing here in Honolulu.

View Post



I've just got a little time right now, but I will tell you a bit of what I've found in Manila, Cavite, Dagupan, and Baguio.

Of course, Manila has almost all the types of Filipino foods you could possibly think of from the very popular "boneless bangus" or "R-Lapid's Chicharon" to very good bibinkas, majablancas, toron/banana/kamoteq, Kare Kare... to name a few. You can get all that even in the upper class restaurants- tuyo and such. I do find a lot more kinds of pancit now... there's also some "high-class" versions of sinigang, pinakbet, dinuguan, etc... which are just so cheap it's almost insane. It's great that they now have all the classic Filipino foods in "fast food" chains now... unfortunately the McDonalds/western type foods are also fast becoming the most popular food stops.
In Cavite- I didn't really check out many of the Filipino restaurants because they didn't seem to be too good. Many of the Carinderias around seemed to have the better tasting food than those air-conditioned ones. What's plentiful there of course- are the fruits.
Then Dagupan- a few good Filipino restaurants with almost all of the Filipino dishes you can possibly think of, but what always comes to mind when I go there is the Kalashaw puto. It's the best, best puto with the freshly grated coconut.
Baguio- I find that the Filipino breads here (long jons/ pandecoco/spanish breads/pandesal,ensamada) are the best that I've tasted.
I swear, when I get back there I'm going to open a Pinoy bakery. :)

I'll update you guys more on this again sometime, I'm about to fall asleep already-just had this huge feast of adobo, dinuguan + puto, buttered kang kong, bean bread, and pandecoco at a picnic.

Good day! :)

#21 skchai

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Posted 12 September 2004 - 04:50 PM

Your summary has got me almost mental, Kapuliperson. Why can't we have these kind of places in Honolulu with our large Pinoy populations? My sense is that we have several places where you can get the standard turo-turo items - pancit, lumpia shanghai, pork and chicken adobo, dinuguan, pinakbet, caldereta, etc. And Golden Coin does have a pretty good selection of bakery items.

But where are the made-to-order and made-to-order items? There's one place that sells good PI-style chicaron. But other pork items are harder to find - I still haven't been able to locate a good crispy Pata.

I think the one thing we need is are a few good mid-range sit-down restaurants, especially those selling regional specialities. . . I

But more later!

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#22 Kapuliperson

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Posted 15 September 2004 - 08:51 PM

My pleasure..
Yeah, it's sad and strange that it's hard to get or find Filipino foods or restaurants there. I've been learning how to make all these Filipino foods the traditional way - if I may, - and yesterday I just learned how to make Majablanca (A very delightful sweet consisting of coconut milk, corn, condensed milk, evap milk, cornstarch, and what is called 'latik'- or the fat part of the coconut milk which is cooked down). I never knew it was so easy to make that awesome dessert. Tomorrow I'm going to learn how to make a certain kind of Bibinka.
Before I head back there I better get myself those electric coconut grater contraptions.

#23 adobohead

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Posted 16 September 2004 - 01:29 PM

I still haven't been able to locate a good crispy Pata.


Just found this thread...I am so surprised that you are having trouble finding decent Filipino food in Hawaii. I always assumed Hawaii would have tons of great places...

Two of the best area Filipino restaurants are within 3 miles of my place in Glendale. And one of them, Barrio Fiesta, has the best (IMHO) crispy pata in town. It may be that the Filipino community in Hawaii is simply not large enough to create the kind of cross-cultural interest in Filipino food that there is in California, even though the concentration of Filipinos in Hawaii may seem higher.
"He who distinguishes the true savour of his food can never be a glutton; he who does not cannot be otherwise."
Thoreau

#24 adobohead

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Posted 16 September 2004 - 01:42 PM

actually, i misspoke.

your problem seems to be that you can find decent Filipino food, just not SPECTACULAR Filipino food, am I right?
"He who distinguishes the true savour of his food can never be a glutton; he who does not cannot be otherwise."
Thoreau

#25 skchai

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Posted 17 September 2004 - 01:19 AM

That's right, though it is possible to find quite a bit of excellent turoturo style food here. The problem is the lack of somewhat more upscale, sit-down restaurants, and the made-to-order food that is associated with them.

When I lived in the Bay Area there was a Barrio Fiesta branch in Daly City with its crispy pata with a special fork stuck in, as well as the banquet-size <a href="http://www.titorey.com/">Tito Rey of the Islands</a>. There is nothing that ambitious here . . . I'm not sure why. The population would seem large enough, but perhaps is not quite as prosperous on average as that on the West Coast.

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#26 Kapuliperson

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Posted 18 September 2004 - 12:12 AM

I never did get to go to Barrio Fiesta there, but the Barrio Fiestas over here in the PI are pretty good. Or maybe the Filipinos in Hawaii just don't find the need to put up any really good restaurants or their tongues aren't so conditioned to Filipino food anymore. Again- the 2nd district has the most Filipinos than any other state... so it still is something to wonder about.

#27 skchai

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Posted 19 September 2004 - 11:35 AM

Yeah, maybe someone should contact the Barrio Fiesta management and ask why they haven't opened up a branch in Waipahu or someplace!

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#28 Kapuliperson

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Posted 23 September 2004 - 07:50 PM

Good idea. I'll do that.

#29 glossyp

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Posted 24 September 2004 - 07:32 PM

A bit off topic as far as local Filipino restaurants go but I came across the following article at OpinionJournal.com (on-line presence for the WSJ) and thought all of you might enjoy it.

http://www.opinionjo...e/?id=110005664

It's quite clear the writer, Tunku Varadarajan, is a bit clueless (calling it "Philippine food"!) but makes some interesting observations. I'm always surprised by the way cuisines I'm familiar with are described by "virgins" to use Mr. V's term.
"Eat it up, wear it out, make it do or do without." TMJ Jr. R.I.P.

#30 skchai

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Posted 24 September 2004 - 11:19 PM

Cendrillon considered to be one of the best Filipino restaurants in the world, if not the best. It's menu is actually very inventive and original, though it's not really in a self-consciously "fusion" sort of way. Never been there, though.

Tunku Varadarajan used to write a cricket column for the online version of CNN / Sports illustrated. . .

Sun-Ki Chai
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