Koa Pancake House

So Michelle and I had a chance to check out Koa Pancake House. They seem to be popping up everywhere on Oahu nowadays. The first Koa’s opened up in Kaneohe in 1987, and then in 2004 two more locations popped up in Wahiawa and Aiea. More recently, locations opened in Waipahu and Salt Lake.

It’s not like I haven’t been to one of these before, I have eaten at Koa’s at least twice! Once in Wahiawa and once at the Salt Lake location. But having never blogged about Koa’s, I thought this was a good opportunity to talk about it since it was fresh in my mind and stomach.

This most recent trip to Koa’s saw me indulge in an ono (great tasting, for the non local folk) omelette filled with bacon, spinach and cheese with fried potatoes on the side. I originally had ordered pancakes on the side (omelette’s at Koa’s come with your choce of side, either the namesake pancakes, rice, or fried potatoes) but I did a switch-a-roo at the least minute. Michelle decided to indulge a bit and went for something a little sweeter. She had the crepe suzettes, filled with fresh strawberries and bananas. 

I am a big omelette fan and I was not disappointed with this Koa branded omelette. The serving size was perfect. Often times, omelettes are either too humungous or too small, the Koa omelette was just right for my tummy. I’m not so big on the starch, so I had a few of those cute fried potatoes coupled them with some ketchup and they were the perfect side for my omelette. My dish felt very homemade (which is a good thing), right down to the paper plate it was served in. 

While I gobbled up my omelette, Michelle had the daunting task of finishing three very plump crepes! I think she enjoyed them as much as I enjoyed my omelette as she complimented on the freshness of the fruit filled crepe. It may have been a bit much for her small stature as we left Koa’s with an extra crepe in hand! 

Service at Koa’s was just OK. I prefer the service at the Wahiawa location, the “older” ladies that take the orders there make the experience that much more “local” authentic. The Waipahu location was flooded with young, filipino waitresses – who didn’t seem very happy with doing their job. I think they need to borrow the chapter on how to be happy that all Jamba Juice workers read before starting work! Breakfast is all about fun eating, girls!

The line was non-existent when we arrived. This was most likely due to timing, we decided on a late breakfast, 12:30 pm! If you go during the morning rush hours, between 8 and 11, you will surely be in a line leading out of the front door. If you plan to visit Koa’s during traditional breakfast times, be prepared to wait and drool as you are left to wait in line and watch as other early birds gobble down their meals! 

Koa Pancake House (Waipahu)
94-050 Farrington HWY#C1-2
Waipahu, HI 96797

Other Locations: Kaneohe, Aiea, Salt Lake

Matsumoto Shave Ice vs. Waiola Shave Ice

If you live in Hawaii then you basically know that there are three shave ice spots that matter, Aoki’s, Matsumoto’s and Waiola’s. Both Aoki’s and Matsumoto’s are located in Haleiwa, in fact they are just a couple of feet from one another. Between Aoki’s and Matsumoto’s, I have to say that I prefer the taste of Matsumoto’s over Aoki’s any day. 

So given my preference for Matsumoto’s. I was perturbed when a friend had said that Waiola’s was superior to Matsumoto’s shave ice. I was skeptical. Although having heard of Waiola’s on many a occasion, I myself had never tasted their shave ice. You can’t blame me, I live on the west side of the island. And when you want shave ice, you always head to the north shore. The question begged, how could anything be better than Matsumoto’s? Impossible. I had to check out this Waiola’s. 

On a rather impromptu occasion, I paid a visited to Waiola’s shave ice on Kapahulu Avenue. Already, I began anticipating the disappointment ahead. Alas, after searching for parking, I finally made it to Waiola’s. Would Waiola’s reign supreme over Matsumoto’s gold standard? Turns out, my prediction had come true. Total disappointment! And so I present to you 9 reasons why Matsumoto’s not only dominates over Waiola’s in terms of taste but in every other aspect as well. 

  1. Parking. Ample parking at Matsumoto’s vs. Hard to find street parking at Waiola’s
  2. Setting. Come on now, how can you even compare Kapahulu Ave. to Historic Haleiwa Town? As you sit and indulge in your shave ice at Matsumoto’s you see the rustic Hawaii of yesteryear. As you sit and indulge in your shave ice at Waiola’s you see a freakin’ golf course!
  3. Simplicity. At Matsumoto’s you get your shave ice how it should be. Ice, syrup and optional vanilla ice cream and sweet azuki beans. At Waiola’s you’re flooded with un-appetizing options like chocolate syrup? Chocolate syrup on shave ice is blasphemy. Sometimes the best kind of shave ice is the kind where you don’t have to try too hard to make it look good. Mochi balls on my shave ice? I’ll pass. 
  4. Price. Matsumoto’s beats Waiola’s yet again. Compare the size differences as well, above left you see a small size Matsumoto serving, and to the right you see me holding a Waiola’s tiny large sized serving!
  5. Line. A line (or queue if your British), is a good indicator of a quality product. At Matsumoto’s there is always a line of people that forms outside of the store. During my visit to Waiola’s, there were three unassuming customers in front of me. 
  6. Taste. The flavor comes from the syrup-ey goodness poured on the shave ice. At Waiola’s you can get a Rainbow (three set flavors) or choose two flavors of your choosing. At Matsumoto’s everything is fair game. I don’t need to pay extra for a third or fourth flavor. My personal favorite flavors at Matsumoto’s are Lilikoi, Pineapple and Melona!
  7. Ice. Generic shave ice (or snow cones in the mainland) have ice that is quite rough in texture. Premium shave ice like that served at Aoki’s, Waiola’s and Matsumoto’s are known for the finely shaved ice particles. And although Waiola’s shave ice was very finely shaven, I found that it was too finely shaven. Matsumoto’s have perfected the art of shaving ice. Shaving the ice fine enough as not to go over the edge. You have to experience it to know what I am talking about. 
  8. Speed. Although the wait due to the line is longer at Matsumoto’s, the speed at which the shave ice is made is far faster than Waiola’s. You get the feeling that they know what they are doing when you’re at Matsumoto’s! 
  9. Bees. Science knows that bee’s love to nibble on sweet sugary goodness. So it makes sense that you’ll always find those harmless honeybees’s buzzing about the outskirts of Matsumoto’s. They want the good stuff that you’re enjoying! I spotted zero bees at Waiola’s. Zilch. 

So that’s it. In head-to-head competition (or should I say ice-to-ice), Matsumoto’s shave ice is the better shave ice. It simply can’t be beat. Bee’s don’t lie. 


Matsumoto Shave Ice
66-087 Kamehameha Hwy
Haleiwa, Hawaii 96712

Waiola Bakery and Shave Ice II
525 Kapahulu Ave
Honolulu, Hawaii 96815


Ninni Ku-Ya

Ninni Ku-Ya

Originally uploaded by iCoty

Lots of food dressed up in garlic. It’s an interesting restaurant on
Waialai that was converted from an old house. Ambiance was great but
food was just OK. Highlight had to be the crabcakes and the company!

Michael Mina and Foie Gras

Our fine dining selection for San Francisco included a trip to the highly rated Michael Mina Restaurant. All I have to say is: interesting flavors. Oh, and I had my first taste of foie gras. Definitely an eye opener. I don’t have a picture, but, Wikipedia does have a description:

Foie gras (pronounced /fwɑːˈgrɑː/ in English; French for “fat liver”) is “the liver of aduck or a goose that has been specially fattened by gavage” (as defined by French law[1]).

Foie gras is one of the most popular and well-known delicacies in French cuisineand its flavour is described as rich, buttery, and delicate, unlike that of a regular duck or goose liver. Foie gras can be sold whole, or prepared into mousse, parfait, or pâté (the lowest quality), and is typically served as an accompaniment to another food item, such as toast or steak.

The technique of gavage dates as far back as 2500 BCE, when the ancient Egyptians began keeping birds for food and deliberately fattened the birds through force-feeding.[2] Today, France is by far the largest producer and consumer of foie gras, though it is produced and consumed worldwide, particularly in other European nations, the United States, and China.

Gavage-based foie gras production is controversial, due to the force feeding procedure, and the possible health consequences of an enlarged liver, and a number of countries and other jurisdictions have laws against force feeding or the sale of foie gras due to how it is traditionally produced….