Café Kaila Launches a New Dinner Menu
Skip the pancakes and try some deep-dish pizza instead.
Fried Chicken and Waffles ($15).
Photos: Meg Ishihara
Café Kaila ranks high in Honolulu’s local breakfast scene. Witness the daily long line of Japanese tourists and local residents. For the past seven years, the eatery has won multiple Hale ‘Aina Awards, and for good, fluffy-pancake reasons.
Café Kaila’s dinner hours began quietly in March, serving only on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, because of lease requirements. There are still breakfast dishes available, including the pancakes, which are called “hotcakes” for dinner, Belgian waffles, cinnamon French toast and omelets. The new dinner items are billed as comfort food, inspired by owner Chrissie Kaila Castillo’s favorite straight-to-your-thighs dishes.
Bocconcini and tomato salad ($10).
First there’s the bocconcini and tomato salad ($10). Technically, the dish is “caprese,” since “bocconcini” means “little balls” of cheese—not slices. However, it’s a tasty rendition of thick slices of mozzarella cheese alternating with freshly cut tomato, drizzled with balsamic vinegar dressing. Name nitpicking aside, the salad is easily a favorite from the dinner fare, because it has that signature simplicity that Castillo brings to the table.
Tuscan pizza ($13).
Then there’s the pizza: pseudo deep-dish pizzas, which are the last things we expected to find at Café Kaila. The Tuscan ($13) is probably the closest thing we have to a deep-dish pizza in town, since Chi-Town Deep Dish Pizza closed two years ago. Maybe it isn’t as deep as the real Chicago stuff, but we aren’t complaining. There’s a good two inches of crust for sundried tomatoes, mushrooms and spinach, smothered with cheese and house-made tomato sauce.
The menu also takes a stab at Southern food with fried chicken and waffles ($15), but they’re underwhelming. There are more waffles than chicken, and the chicken had more batter than meat. If you’re in the mood for waffles, you’d be better off ordering the Belgian malted waffle ($10).
Both the chicken pot pie and the brownie sundae are decadent, but neither stand out from the rest of the menu. Tip: You need to ask the servers for dessert options, which aren’t on the menu.
For an eatery that’s made its mark with breakfast, dinner doesn’t quite meet the standard just yet. Our advice is to stick with the breakfast classics, including the crispy and soft Belgian waffles, which taste best with all the fresh fruit options. And the upside of breakfast at night? There’s no line during dinner hours, no wait and no tourists, even on a Friday night. And there’s something extra delicious and a little bit mischievous about eating food doused in maple syrup for dinner.
Café Kaila, 2919 Kapi‘olani Blvd., dinner hours Wednesday through Friday, 5–8 p.m., 732-3330
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