Le’s Banh Mi – Ala Moana, HI

I love myself a good banh mi and am always in search of a good one. I grew up with the ones from Bale, and while they are good, they are not great. Can’t go wrong when you go to a shop that specializes in them! I’ve wanted to try Le’s Banh Mi for a while now and recently got a chance to try them! They are located in the 808 Sheridan building on the 3rd floor.

The customer service was a bit lackluster but that’s okay, I’m there for the food. Maybe I went on an off day for service. This place was pretty warm when I walked in, like it was the oven. But I was excited to see that they bake their own bread! So I waited outside for my sandwiches in anticipation.

Roasted Pork Banh Mi | $10.50

Sorry the pic is a bit blurry, but take a look at the innards! They pack it in! And roast pork, they mean Chinese style roast pork, you know…with the crispy skin. Although, by the time you eat the sandwich, not really crispy. It still tasted great!

Saigon Special Banh Mi | $10.50

My favorite one, hands down. Anytime I see the saigon special, I know that’s the one I need to get. They put in a variety of meats and a handsome dollop of pate. If you don’t like pate, don’t get this sandwich. Can I praise the bread please? It is SO good. I don’t know if you can tell but it’s not at all doughy, perfect amount of fluff and it’s super light and crispy. Such a good sandwich…I like go back already. Highly recommend!

Mixed Plate Friday

Get this. I was in a mood but still always follow the rules. So I’m driving up Piikoi to go onto the freeway right? And you folks know, the right and left lane people always be trying to cut us rule followers. I don’t let them cut because why should I have to wait forever to get on the freeway while you folks just cut last minute? It is so maddening! Anyway, earlier this morning it happened. This stupid jeep was on the left trying to cut me, we were bumper to bumper at the red light. I was not going to let him in. But he kept moving forward and steering his car like he was just gonna cut anyway.

Well guess what. No. I didn’t let that happen. And as the light turned green and I went gas em, his passenger, some white lady busts out her phone and points it at me out of the window. Yeah! Like she’s trying for record me for not letting them in??? Girl are you crazy. I hope you enjoyed the view of me pissed off in my big black sunglasses I got from my eye surgery. It was obviously a rental car (dumb tourist). I was hopping mad but I ain’t going to engage with them. I just drove off. How rude right??? I almost like her post the video and me find it to tell everyone exactly what happened.

Spicy & Shoyu Ahi Poke Bowl | $12.99

Before the pandemic, Aja used to fill up the cold case with sushi and bibimkooksoo. Still no bibimkooksoo but I did try this poke bowl the other week! Pretty good! Pretty good portion for $12.99 even if it’s a lot of rice.

Homemade Bahn Mi Toast

Haha I’m calling it toast because I didn’t have any french bread. But I just toasted up one slice of bread, shredded Sam’s Club chicken with mayo, made my own carrot/daikon pickle, fresh cilantro and some homemade pickled jalapenos too! It was delicious! The boys loved it too, all three of them! Hard to find dishes that all three enjoy.

Homemade Tuna Pasta Salad

Did I post this before? I just made my own pasta salad one day and used cottage cheese as a base for the dressing to make it healthier. I just needed the wetness of the cottage cheese to make a dressing and for me it works. I added fresh dill too to make it even more flavorful. I forget the recipe already, if you want it, let me know and I can try to type one up and post. I enjoy this dish!

Bac Nam – Honolulu, HI

I’ve done a few postings here and there about Bac Nam but I don’t think I ever did a full post! How can?? Great Vietnamese restaurant, one of my favorites. Though…not for their pho. Sorry! I like their other dishes moreso than the pho so I recommend you coming here if you are not wanting pho. Well you can order the pho but you won’t be trying their best dishes!

Vietnamese Steamed Dumplings | $12.95
marinated shrimp, pork and onions wrapped into a thin layer of tapioca flour dough, then steamed – served with special House fish sauce

It went up one dollar within a few months but still as good as ever. I assume this is homemade, I think it would be hard to reheat this dish from frozen. Tapioca based flour is hard maintain after freezing or even putting in the fridge, delicious!

Crab Curry | $26.95
French Bread | $3.50

Wow, good thing I keep notes on my meals. The curry went up $2.00 and the bread went up 50 cents lol within a few months. Still one of my favorite dishes even though it pains me to pay for the french bread. While I am a huge fan of rice especially with curries, somehow, the bread just works best with this curry. Get plenty Japanese tourists at this restaurant and you know they all order the crab curry. It’s delish!

Side Order Rice | $3.00

Braised Large Prawn | $23.95

Okay, here’s the funny story. They have either entree style of this dish or a rice plate. The rice plate costs $20.95 while the entree costs $23.95…we asked how many prawns come in each dish. The rice plate comes with 2(!) prawns versus the entree which comes with a whopping…3. Well this was my main dish and I wanted to share my prawns but well…I didn’t really just want one freaking prawn for dinner so I went for the prawns entree along with a side of rice. Ridic. Well I ended up only eating one prawn cause I was full from the appetizers anyway. I wouldn’t get this dish again because it’s just not worth it. And if I were to, I’d get the rice plate. Blah! Anyway, tasted good just not worth the price.

Parking, they have a back lot that is a bit horrendous. If you go dinner time, I believe the metered street parking is free from 6PM – you gotta go read the sign.

Mixed Plate Friday

Steamed Tapioca Pearl Dumplings Stuffed with Peanut Pork

I know nothing about this dish. All I know is it was delicious and I would probably never attempt to make it, I found it at Lao Asian Market and would absolutely get it again.

Vietnamese Steamed Dumplings | $11.95
marinated shrimp, pork and onions wrapped into a thin layer of tapioca flour dough, then steamed – served with special House fish sauce

Absolutely banger of a dish from Bac Nam – I don’t see these dumplings in a lot of Vietnamese restaurant menus so I was ecstatic to try it! They did not disappoint.

Braised Mackerel with Radish

I don’t have much information on this. I got it from Palama Supermarket and ate it hot with some white rice at home. It really hit the spot, a real comfort dish.

Mixed Plate Friday

Crab Curry | $24.95
French Bread | $3.00

Bac Nam has great crab curry. That is clear. The restaurant is very popular. That is clear. The crab curry is freaking $25 and comes with no rice or bread…so we had to pay $3.00 for one french bread. No ma’am. But was it good? Oh yes. The nicely toasted crunchy bread with the crab curry was delightful. We had leftover curry so I went to Bale the next day and paid $4.00 for 3 FRENCH BREADS which we toasted up to eat with the leftovers. So good. Next time just sneak in your own french bread like you from France (lol).

Fried Saimin Bento | $11.39
fried saimin, 2 pieces garlic chicken, egg omelet, 3 pieces portuguese sausage & rice with furikake

Mitsu-Ken Okazu and Catering reminds me of childhood days. Remember their old location? How popular they were even with zero parking? Well their current location get choke parking so no worry but for me, they are located completely out of the way. Also, they pack a lot of MSG into their food. Tastes ono but if you’re not good with MSG, avoid!

Roast Duck & Chicken Rice Plate | $13.50

Remember Mini Garden Express in Ranch 99? They re-opened by the Airport and they have online ordering for pick-up! Here is the website for the online ordering site. They are still located Salt Lake side so I can go grab food when I go out to Target. This is one of my favorite dishes, love it! It’s actually served over a simple fried rice, I love roast duck and chinese style shoyu chicken so it’s a winner. Give them a try if you’re in the area! I highly recommend ordering ahead, we had to wait quite a while.

Mixed Plate Friday

Vietnamese Sandwich | $10.99
nguoi (pork belly), cha lua (pork bologna), pate, house mayonnaise, cucumber, sweet onion, pickled carrot/daikon, cilantro, soy sauce

I think…I THINK I FOUND MY FAVORITE BANH MI place. Sorry for the caps. What a name for a place huh? It’s called No Name BBQ Sandwich. I highly suggest calling your order in first, they make it fresh and it’s a tiny little place run by a cute little couple so it takes a bit of time.

I was so hungry, I wanted to open it in the car to take a quick bite. Oh how fast does a quick bite turn into THE ENTIRE SANDWICH IN MY BELLY. The bread was so light and crunchy and warm…and I…I just couldn’t resist. It was the perfect sandwich and oh my gosh, they give SO MUCH CILANTRO. IT’S A DREAM COME TRUE. Anyway, I hope you folks will give them a try. No lemongrass chicken here but who cares, try something else, live a little. Trust me.

Udon Salad

An oldie but goodie, I brushed off the cobwebs to make this dish recently. I just love how it looks pre-mixed. Got to use my fancy carrying case too! Super easy recipe, check out my old post here. Refreshing, can’t go wrong!

Carry Along Shrimp

My coworkers talk about this recipe all the time, you can find it at the Electric Kitchen, here. This is my first time cooking it and trying it. Great dish! We threw it in the airfryer for about 10 minutes at 400°F. I think it tastes great, howw would I tweak it? I think I would add a bit less sugar. Delicious though!

Viet Chubby Boy – Kalihi, HI

Yes! Another Vietnamese restaurant opened up in Kalihi! And what a cute name, Viet Chubby Boy. Their menu is interesting, mostly Vietnamese dishes but also some fusion dishes thrown in. Yes, this place is located in a strip mall and maybe it’s not the prettiest restaurant you’ve been to but sometimes the best food comes from the humblest places. It’s a clean restaurant with friendly service, so how was the food?

Chubby Spicy Wings | $12.90
fried chicken wings mixed with house spicy sauce

Appetizer to share, I didn’t try one but it was certainly gobbled up by two teenage boys.

French Fries | $5.00

*shrug* look, I had a moody teenager who is a french fry fiend. I got this for him to calm him down. It was fried crispy but lacked salt I was told.

Vietnamese Ham Sandwich | $10.50
pork meat loaf in Vietnamese baguette, carrot and daikon pickle, cilantro, jalapeno, and cucumber

The sandwich was enjoyed by the diner. This wasn’t my dish but to be honest, as I look at the picture, it looks a bit skimpy for my taste. I like when they fill up the sandwich with all the good guts.

Beef Pho Combination | $15.50
our signature spiced beef broth with fresh rice noodle, rare steak, stewed brisket, beef trip, beef ball, white and green onion, cilantro, aromatic herbs. served with side basil, bean sprouts and jalapeno.

The other teenager is a pho fiend. Too many fiends – too much frenzy. I’m used to Vietnamese restaurants having pho as an option and then the crazy variations of toppings you can choose. This place has beef, oxtail or vegetable pho. They say you can customize toppings but I wonder who would know how to do that. And $15.50 for a bowl of pho is a bit…I get inflation but I think I can still get this pho from other places for a cheaper price and still as good.

Vermicelli with Spring Rolls and BBQ Pork | $13.95
BBQ pork, spring rolls, cabbage herb salad, mint, roasted peanuts, fried shallots, house fish sauce, vermicelli noodles

My dinner for the night! Delicious. I always love this dish and the spring rolls were fried to a perfect crisp. Love their BBQ pork, seasoned just right with a good amount of char in it’s cooking. I enjoyed it!

Mixed Plate Friday

Birria Banh Mi | $13.00 (maybe?)
vietnamese inspired sandwich with birria meat, mayo, cucumber, pickled carrots, and daikon (radish), and a sprig of cilantro. served on a toasted baguette and a side of consomme

I wanted to try Cocina De Roja when they opened during the pandemic. A birria banh mi? Sign me up. How was it? Okay, nothing great. I rather just get a regular bahn mi. Also when I go look at their online order site now, it’s not even an option to order so maybe this was pointless?

Beef Stroganoff on House-made Fettuccine | $29.00
mustard sour cream demi-glace

Just sharing a picture of this beef stroganoff from Tango Contemporary Cafe in case any of you were curious how it looked. It wasn’t my dish but it was enjoyed!

Seafood Chow Mein | $12.95

Assorted Dim Sum

I don’t usually crave chicken feet but this time, I did and ordered it. This is the only way I will eat chicken feet, it has to be prepared in this manner. I will not digest any other way. I don’t know why, please don’t ask. I can never pass up dim sum and yes, I like to order seafood chow mein as an accompaniment. It reminds me of childhood so I enjoy it. By the way, this is from Ginger & Garlic. I guess the final question is, do you chicken feet?

Have a great weekend folks.

Piggy Smalls – Honolulu, HI

I got the chance to return to Piggy Smalls for brunch and oh boy did I jump at the chance! Parking was crazy. Ward has been super busy lately, they’ve been using their space to hold different fairs (like themed craft fairs) so I’ve had to park pretty far up. I guess it’s a good thing for retailers right??

Seasonal Slushy | $5.00

Man oh man, what was this flavor? Okay, I am going to go with POG. Was so nice and refreshing. They change it every month!

Classic Pho French Dip Banh Mi | $17.00
12 hour slow roasted beef brisket, spicy hoisin, thai basil chimichurri, sautéed bean sprouts & onion, toasted la tour baguette, side of our classic beef pho broth for dipping

I absolulely would get this anytime and at any place. In fact, if we didn’t order our second entree – I would have added noodles for $4.00 to the broth. We shared this sandwich and it was good to the last bite. Okay the side salad, why they served us a salad “undressed” is beyond me. How embarassing for the salad (sorry, bad joke) but the salad was wasted because I am not an animal and will not eat plain leaves for pleasure.

Banchan’s Army Stew (Budae Jjigae) | $39.00
vienna sausage, spam, aged kimchi, ramen noodles, american cheese, tofu, microgreens

This was the next dish we shared together. Oh boy, talk about salt bomb yeah? I mean it’s all the meats and they were pretty generous with the meat! I was kind of surprised. Wasn’t a huge fan of the microgreens as the topping but went with it. We were both pretty stuffed from the sandwich already so we could barely finish this. It was good…but for a hipster place you know? I gotta get this dish from a Korean place next time.

‘Ōlena by Chef Ron Simon – Kalihi, HI

Honolulu Aunty told me about ‘Ōlena by Chef Ron Simon a few months ago when I posted about banh mi. Well, I finally got a chance to order from them this past week along with some office folks! Sad to share that they are closing down on December 24th but are looking for a new location so I am sending good vibes their way. I am not sure the name of the lady in the front but boy is she friendly and vivacious. That’s the best way to describe her, what a difference awesome customer service makes. Well if you can order before they close, do it! They have an online ordering system that makes it super easy to order, pay and pick-up! Also, they are super busy so that’s probably the best way to get your food.

BBQ Pork Ribs | $16.99
slow-braised tender, pork ribs with lilikoi BBQ sauce. served with choice of white or brown rice and fresh pineapple coleslaw.

Two office mates ordered this dish and both enjoyed it! I like that you can really customize the sides. Not sure what Olena rice is but that’s $2.00 extra. No one ordered Olena rice so I couldn’t tell you!

Red Wine Beef Stew | $14.99
gluten-free braised beef stew with choice of white rice or brown rice or local greens

Feedback on this dish? They felt like the stew could have been braised longer and the sauce/stew could have been reduced more. I can see what they mean…doesn’t look as thick and it could be huh?

Blackened Ahi Sandwich | $16.99
Regular Fries Add | $4.50
served with sweet aioli

Feedback on this was…the ahi is cooked perfectly. Nice and pink inside. Do I think it’s worth $4.50 to add fries? Personally no, but if you are able to eat it fresh…it’s nice and crispy! Not so good cold.

Chicken Lemongrass Banh Mi (Sandwich) | $13.99
Add Fries | $4.75

Whoa whoa whoa, how come the fries cost more to add to a banh mi plate? Hmm…

Chicken Lemongrass Banh Mi (Sandwich) | $13.99
Extra Cilantro | $0.25

Okay, this was mine! I got my sandwich without the fries and added more cilantro because I freaking love cilantro. So how was it? Good! I think it’s a great lemongrass chicken banh mi and I like that the lemongrass isn’t overpowering!

Spicy Ahi Roll | $16.99

A co-worker was nice enough to order this to share with us! I got to try a piece. How was it? Eh, it was good. I guess I prefer my spicy ahi rolls fresh and not fried.

Organic Beets with Caramelized Onions | $3.00

Another dish I got to try. How was it? Ehh, okay. I didn’t taste that much of a caramelized onion taste. Tomatoes are a nice addition, I can just eat my Costco beets though.

Soba Noodle Salad | $10.99

I got this dish to eat for dinner. Okay, I don’t know why I always fall for this. Me being a carb queen assume it’s like a full soba noodle bowl but it’s actually a layer of soba noodles and the rest is spring salad mix. That’s okay and that’s better for me. I love the toppings on this. There was gari (red ginger), ocean salad, egg omelet, kamaboko, julienned carrots and of course green onion. I like their dressing too! I would get it again.

Seared Ahi | $8.99

I got this seared ahi to share and to supplement my sandwich. It was good, the ahi was seared perfectly. Wish the outer layer had flavor, also wish the sauce wasn’t just wasabi with soy. I guess I am too spoiled by Ethel’s and their amazing ahi tataki sauce.

All in all, it was a good visit! I would absolutely return back to try their food again! Hoping they find a new spot so that we all can try. They update their instagram regularly so check them out. Support local!