My post of Cucina Urbana was not all rainbows and butterflies. That’s just not real life now is it. Another long time favorite of mine is Homestyle Hawaiian. It’s a steady source of comfort and I love to frequent the location near Mesa College. When I noticed Homestyle Hawaiian Pub & Eatery in Tierrasanta opened earlier this year I had to go check it out. Actually, we used to hit up the owner’s (Mo) other restaurant called Da Kitchen/Mo’s Island Grinds way back in the day until he closed it. What a sad day that was when we found out we couldn’t get his Korean chicken or kalua pig anymore. But the wait was not too long before he opened up the first Homestyle Hawaiian restaurant even closer to work! He’s grown his Hawaiian empire quite a bit since then and there’s currently four locations across San Diego you can get your fix of island food.
Before I visited, I checked Yelp to see if people were getting different items than I am accustomed to. Upon reading some reviews I saw a rather comical interaction with one of the reviewers who posted a video of Mo calling her something not very nice. I thought it was pretty funny because I’ve seen Mo plenty of times, always calm, cool, and collected. Not only that, he was very nice to us whenever we visited. One thing about a person posting a video is it can be taken way way out of context in that persons favor. So viewing it wasn’t going to stop me from trying his new restaurant, especially since I’ve been enjoying his food for the last 10 years. It didn’t put me off as much as it made me wonder what this woman and her family did to him to get such a reaction. Someone doesn’t call someone that unprovoked.
What annoyed me more is that after people read that woman’s post, they gave the restaurant a one star. One star reviews are fine. But when you never even have step foot into the restaurant before? Lame. I always like to try a place for myself before judging it. These people just took that person’s word and started bashing the restaurant for something they never even experienced themselves. People love being sheep. As funny as it seemed to me, I understand this is no laughing matter and bad reviews or even worse, a bad reputation beyond a review site, is hard to overcome. So instead of blindly following the herd, we went in search of this other side of Mo I had never seen before.
Lucky or unlucky for us, he wasn’t there when we visited. What we did get was a warm and almost artificial customer service. Overcompensation maybe? In any case, our server was very polite and checked on us frequently. It’s much better to have someone check in with you more than you need than to not check in at all. I’m also used to the wait at the other restaurant and he even came out to apologize for the food not coming faster even though to me this was normal. Everything tasted the same as the other restaurant and the Korean chicken had a nice crunch with a slightly sweet sauce. The kalbi also hit the spot. Along with the two piles of white rice, I could eat this plate all day.
Something I’ve never gotten here but love to get in Hawaii is a soup called saimin. This one had shoyu, noodles, napa, fish cake, chicken, spam, green onions, carrots, and nori. With so many ingredients packed in, I had to try it. The portion served here is also humongous but after about a third of it I didn’t need anymore. I think it was the broth that may have been a little too salty for me. You gotta love how much stuff they put in the bowl though.
Yes I am sucker for sauce. As the sauce station came into view, it appeared as if clouds had dissipated with a beaming light drawing me closer and closer. My precious, thank goodness for sauce.
One last thing we had to get was dole whip soft serve. If this is foreign to you I highly suggest you try it. It’s even better on a warm, sunny day. There are other flavors served elsewhere, but the most popular has to be the pineapple. They accidentally gave us a dole whip float instead of just the soft serve version. The only difference is in the float they add pineapple juice at the bottom. Tropical, tart, refreshing, and ever so smooth, close your eyes and you’re on the beach…or at Disneyland which is where it became famous and where many fans first got a taste of it in the 80’s.
Our overall experience is what I had expected. Service isn’t terribly fast, but after so many visits you come to expect it and we never go when we have somewhere to be. This particular location has more of a hang out vibe anyways with tv’s and some beers on tap. There seems to be more options to choose from here too and I can’t wait to go back to try their chili and rice, malasadas, and haupia. Boy I do love my Hawaiian food and hope to never get tired of it.
Homestyle Hawaiian Pub & Eatery
10601 Tierrasanta Boulevard
San Diego, CA 92124