Kukui Cafe – Chinatown, HI

Have you ever been to Kukui Cafe? They’ve been around since I was a small kid (that’s a long time) though I was never a customer until now. I used to go to Chinese school at Sun Yat Sen school and this restaurant is located right at the edge. I was mainly a customer at a small shop that sold ice cake and sometimes Kent’s Drive In for their fries. There also used to be a little Chinese shop nearby where we would go to buy snacks (remember crushing up the instant ramen packets to eat like chips?), I think the store used to be called Cheung Chau, though they are no longer there. Oh the memories! So how would I characterize Kukui Cafe? I would say they focus on Cantonese or Hong Kong style food. It’s good stuff! Also…probably get MSG so be aware of that. Here’s a few things I got recently.

Singapore Rice Noodles | $12.00

Love these noodles. This one for sure has MSG because I have reacted to it. It’s thin rice noodles seasoned with curry, get shrimp and thin slices of ham in it too. It’s really good.

Beef Brisket Lo Mein | $12.00

Love me some lo mein, sometimes it’s too hot to eat hot soup you know? This is the best of both worlds, I get the beef brisket with the same egg noodles and just enough of the beef brisket sauce to have a great mixed noodle. I really enjoyed this dish too.

Lemon Coke | $4.00

Alright, this was a silly purchase. I mean it’s literally a can of coke with some freshly crushed lemon slices in it. Lemon and Coke is such a great combination though, so refreshing. So anyway, don’t order it, just make it yourself. This was four freaking dollars.

Another thing I love about this place? They make the food real fast. I would say the noodle dish takes 7-10 minutes to make from when you order it. They do phone orders…I park illegally by the river and just dart in to pick it up. I’m sure you can park in the lot with validation but just feels like a lot of hassle to me…haha.

6 comments

  1. alan says:

    Where is this place? I know I have been away from HNL for a number of years now, but in the olden days, I used to hang out a lot in Chinatown since I worked at Hawaiian Tel and ate a lot of Chinese food lunches. I remember olden days places like Tin-Tin and Tai Sam Yuen. But I am a lot older than you and maybe this place is new (to me). Maybe I can check it out the next time I am back home in HNL.

    • Jenny says:

      Hey! I would say this is on the corner of River Street and North Kukui, do you remember where Royal Kitchen was? This is just a few doors down! Shucks, you named a whole bunch of places that no longer exist…but I do hope you can give Kukui Cafe a shot! Nice small business just cranking out good food (pretty sure it’s cash only – makes it even more authentically chinese lol).

      • alan says:

        Thanks for the info. My fondest memories of old time Chinatown was when my late wife and I used to eat meals there. Many places, some of them I cannot even remember their names. Oh yeah, we used to eat oxtail soup and a side order of saimin at the old Wo Fat restaurant. You probably never knew of, or ate at, the old diner (whose name escapes me right now) but it was right on Nimitz across from Pier 13.

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