Dania Katz, publisher of Edible Hawaiian Islands magazine, had been posting about this Café/Restaurant on Facebook for a while, always raving about how good it was. Boy, was she right!
I am always thrilled when I find someone whose food recommendations I can trust. I have often enthusiastically embraced friends’ food suggestions only to be disappointed, especially in Hawai’i, so I am a little guarded on that. Everyone’s palate is different, not to mention the settings on their quality bar.
EAT Honolulu is a breakfast/lunch Café which also offers catering and private chef services. Actually, as owner Jocelyn Leigh Passanisi McCann explained: EAT – which stands for Everything And Then some – is truly a catering business first. Jocelyn likes to say “If you crave it, we can make it!”
Jocelyn and her husband, Chef David Passanisi, are certainly doing a wonderful job of fulfilling that promise.
The Café is located inside the Na Lama Kukui Building (former Gentry Pacific Design Center), a rather unattractive building despite the word design in its former name, but with a convenient and large parking lot right in front. You can find it off of Nimitz Hwy, just after the K-Mart lot and right across from what used to be Sam Choy’s location, now closed.
The inside of the building is rather obscure, as in not well lit, and with not much activity, but it is definitely worth going just to eat at this café. You either choose from the breakfast menu on the big green board, or from the lunch menu posted on the easel display, which always features a few daily specials. Coffee drinks are listed on the other big green board.
You order at the counter, then grab some cutlery and napkins from the baskets available nearby and sit at one of the tables while you wait. Everything is prepared fresh in the moment and, when you number is up, your name is called out and you can pick up your order.
Their take-out menu states: “Rustic Gourmet Goodness”, and that is what you will find here: scrumptious comfort food made with locally produced ingredients, and they get extra kudos for that.
The first couple of times I stopped at the café I picked up lunch to go. I remember getting their Island Vegetable Panini one time, and their Grilled Cheese Panini the next, to which I added their Sugar Spiced Bacon and some fresh Avocado. They both reheated wonderfully in my toaster oven when I got home, and were oh-so-good.
Above is a photo of the Fish Taco with Nalo Cilantro Sour Cream I had for lunch on yet another day. At the very top is the photo of one of their specialties: Soft Shell Crab Sandwich, and the description goes like this: “Whole & Crispy Soft Shell Crab with Hawai’i Tomatoes & Lettuce, Red Onion, our Specialty sauce on our handmade Sesame Bun.” Are you drooling yet?
I ordered it straight, but the suggested additions sounded tempting: fresh avocado and/or sugar spice bacon. There were two lovely layers of soft shell crab and, in order to bite into the piled-high sandwich, I slid one out, which I took home with the rest of my leftovers and thoroughly enjoyed once more the next day.
Above is the Seasonal Greens Side Salad I ordered with my fish taco. As you can see, it is not just green salads, but grilled asparagus and other veggies as well. Below is the Aloha Burger my friend Kim enjoyed for lunch on our first visit together. The description of this burger goes like this: “Our Kauai Beef Patty marinated in Aloha Beer Co’s Honey Porter, topped with our signature Sugar Spice Bacon, Coriander infused Hawai’i Pineapple & Crispy Onions.” Drooling again? Do I need to mop up the floor?
My friend Kim and I also enjoyed breakfast here about a week ago. Their breakfast menu board boasts their Breakfast Sandwich as “possibly the best in town”, so I had to try that as well as one of their lattes. Both passed with flying colors.
I ordered my breakfast sandwich with whole grain bread, my eggs scrambled, Swiss cheese and their incredible bacon. I have had some really good breakfast sandwiches/bagels around town, and this is certainly one of the best. Here it is, in the image below. It looks deceivingly simple, but it is incredibly delicious and satisfying in both flavor and texture.
I found out that the coffee used at EAT is especially created for them by Koko Crater Coffee Roasters, and it is a blend of more than 50% Waialua coffee with coffee from other countries added in to achieve their signature flavor. The result is aromatic with a mild roast and no bitter after taste or acidity, and whatever vanilla syrup they use in the lattes blends really well with the other flavors without standing out on its own. Upon asking, I was told that they do not have decaf coffee, but I since found out that they do. They actually freshly grind their own Wailua beans every day to create a decaf Americano that is becoming a hit with the regulars.
Other items on the breakfast menu are Bagels (or Toast) with Jam; Oatmeal, and the plated version of the breakfast sandwich with 2 Eggs, Bacon (or Ham) and Toast.
Their lunch menu is not just burgers and sandwiches either. There are also salads and specialty plates like their Kauai Beef Burger “Steak”, the Grilled Chicken Scaloppine, and Hawaiian Island Fish of the day. There is also a daily soup selection and a pasta, both of which change daily. You can view the full current menu by clicking here.
One more point of notice on the menu that gets extra kudos from me: it changes seasonally. Don’t you just love that? That is what I used to do at my restaurant: our menu changed with the seasons, and each week there was also something new depending on the availability of fresh produce and my creative flair. I would get bored with always making the same dishes, and enjoyed the changes both in the menu and ambiance decor.
I have yet to try their desserts, as each time whatever food I order is quite plenty to fill me up, with extra to take home, but I do know that they are made by local bakers. They also frequently feature an assortment of those divine Ono Pops, which, for the non-locals, are popsicles and creamsicles made locally and organically in an amazing assortment of island flavors.
On site, EAT Honolulu also avails itself of a private dining room which is available for lunch or dinner parties by previous reservation. Next time I will take a look and a photo as Jocelyn and David sounded excited about the more recent updates made in the room.
Delivery of EAT deliciousness is also available by reservation (via Aloha2GoDelivery), as well as catering both on site and off.
Cheers to you both, Jocelyn and David, on a wonderful job done with passion.
560 N. Nimitz Hwy, ste #102 – Na Lama Kukui Building – Honolulu, Hi 96817 | 808-538-0597
update of 05/04/2018: The wonderful team of EAT Honolulu are no longer running the cafe’, but have switched to catering full time, so you can contact them for delicious food for your party, event lunches et all.
And if you are looking for more good food while on O’ahu: