Cafe Lani – Ala Moana, HI

The wait is over. I am back for one post and will disappear again for a long time. Well, I don’t purposely do it and I appreciate anyone who still visits this blog. I sincerely do. I had something unreal happen to me again the other week but didn’t rush over to post it because it’s almost becoming too much of a thing to come on here only to complain. I think one thing that has made it harder for me to update is that I purchased a new computer and I have not had the time to properly transfer all my files over to the new computer. I’m also switching from an Apple back to PC so that’s a whole different headache. I enjoy Apple but I think I prefer PC just a little more.

I am still working away and schooling myself! Two classes again this semester. I’m really trying to push myself to get that degree. I should have time this summer, I might take a class for three weeks. Three weeks where we meet Monday through Thursday from 4:30 pm to 7:00 pm. I am silently crying already. We will see if I take it.

Today, I wanted to share my experience at Cafe Lani. You know the restaurant. If you go to Ala Moana, you will see a crazy line for this restaurant. Why? Beats me. The newest fad? I mean the restaurant looks great. The windows are from ceiling to floor so you can see inside and see the cute beachy feel of the restaurant…and they have a window where you can watch the bakers make fresh bread. That’s the draw for this restaurant, free unlimited fresh bread for you. You’re not filling up on carbs that will inhibit your ability to eat your weight in food at a buffet, you’re just filling up on delicious carbs.

I could never come on a weekend and wait for a seat, I bet it would take over an hour to get one. The restaurant reminds me a lot of the restaurants in Japan that specialize in American cuisine. Biggest sign? They have a steak dish that is served with foie gras on top. I had that exact dish in Japan. They also have the fake foods on display in front, how much more Japanese can you get? I came on a Thursday night and the wait was only 15 minutes. I was game to try it. Let’s take a look at the food!


160305-02Right when you sit down, they set down this plate of “sauces” for your bread. This plate is for you to share with your dining companion.

160305-03My favorite sauce of the evening. It’s really just a sweet fruit jelly, it went very well with the fresh croissants.




Chocolate Sauce


Cream Cheese

160305-07Winner bread of the night? This perfect croissant. What perfection. Right out of the oven, flaky, buttery, delicious. It was so good. I had three. Sorry, not sorry. They had other breads afterwards which included a cheese roll (not a fan) and a cheese danish. The danish was a bit weird to be served with dinner…



Panko Crusted Mustard Opah

My initial thoughts? Did panko go up in price? I expected the fish to be covered with a panko crust but I must say, the fish was good. It was cooked to perfection. Want proof?

160305-10Look at how juicy the inside of the fish is! It was delicious. I forgive the panko-less crust.


160305-12Seafood Doria – my friend is allergic to shrimp so we received extra mussels. This dish usually comes with shrimp as well.

This dish was good! Seafood, cheese, veggies and marinara sauce baked over buttered rice. Who can complain about butter?



“Cheesecake” Parfait

So why did I put cheesecake in quotes? Because other than the very top thin layer, the rest of the dessert was vanilla ice cream. I don’t like vanilla ice cream so I wasn’t a big fan. In all honesty, we shouldn’t have ordered dessert because we were SO full off the bread and dinner. I was game to get the dessert because it looks so good and I wasn’t sure when (or if) I would ever be back. The middle of the parfait is filled with corn flakes. Why? We could not finish this dessert and I did not feel bad about that.

All in all, my experience here was lackluster. The food was okay but overpriced. Our waitress was not nice or genuine. She basically ignored us from the middle to end of our meal. Anytime she talked to us, she had the perfect tone of voice and words yet she would be looking elsewhere when talking to us. There were two young Japanese ladies from Japan dining next to us. We finished about the same time and as our waitress returned with their change, she sternly told them about 10 times that their payment did not include tip. Boy that was uncomfortable. I got a sense the young ladies did understand but the repeated words of the waitress did not seem to bode well with the visitors. I think I would be offended too. Maybe the waitress was not given tip a lot by these visitors, but with the service we received from her, maybe she didn’t receive tip for several reasons.

Anyway, I can’t recommend this restaurant. The pictures in their menu are a bit deceiving. Their rib eye steak in their menu looks so nice and thick but the actual piece you get is so thin. It’s little things like that, that make me wonder why the restaurant is so popular. I really think it’s because they are the newest kids on the block in a shiny new space, it’s mediocre at best and I don’t think it’s worth it at this point.

5 responses to “Cafe Lani – Ala Moana, HI

  1. Kobi

    Thanks for posting. Enjoy reading when you do have time.

    • Jenny

      Thanks so much for continuing to read Kobi! I’m going to try to get a few posts scheduled…I hope!~ Can you tell who is trying to procrastinate on school work? Hehe, hope you are doing well!

  2. Anonymous today

    I’m so glad you post when you have time, Jenny. I was curious about Cafe Lani and your post gave me lots of detailed information. I heard some inside information and the tipping incident with the Japanese tourists doesn’t surprise me. Since there are so many Asian visitors here, you would think that waitstaff and management would have come up with a way to graciously handle tipping by now. I hope you have a productive and successful semester at school and less drama in your personal life. Aloha!

    • Jenny

      Thanks Anon! 🙂 I hope I wasn’t too mean in this post, but I guess I just have to be honest. I didn’t realize the tipping issue was so big with foreigners but you really would think they would have a better procedure if that’s the case. The businesses are already so catered to Japanese visitors, why not include a nicely worded note on the receipt or something? I know it can be hard when the wait staff earn minimum wage (actually restaurants can pay them less than minimum wage if they are tipped, which I don’t quite agree with)…I hope the trend of restaurants getting rid of tipping and paying wait staff a living wage continues. I think if the staff are paid a good wage, it will show in their service and in turn…produce loyal customers!

      Thanks for the kind words. Have a great weekend!

  3. Pingback: Rokkaku Hamakatsu – Ala Moana, HI |

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.