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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

New restaurant in Waianae: Coquito's Latin Cuisine

Left: pernil with pigeon pea rice; right: steak mofongo with tostones and fried yucca

There aren't a lot of restaurants on Oahu serving dishes like mofongo and tostones—what sound like gangster names but are Latin-Caribbean specialities. So to find them in Waianae—at Coquito's Latin Cuisine—is a surprise. But don't expect Coquito's to be the Leeward equivalent of Cactus Bistro; Coquito's dishes are much less refined. I wouldn't make a special trip out here, but it can make a good post-beach stop, a break from the usual plate lunch/poke snack in Waianae. The place is packed with Spanish speakers celebrating, the lanai seats a group nursing sunburns and beers.

Everything tastes better than it looks. Maybe that's not saying much because when our dishes arrive, they look so drab and unappetizing, I am thoroughly disheartened. So when I taste heavy garlic, pepper and salt on the steak mofongo ($12)—steak piled onto plantains mashed with bacon—I am perhaps more impressed than I would normally be. The mashed plantains are bland, as are the side of fried yucca and tostones. But the tostones—double-fried plantains—are so crispy, they're still addictive.

Pernil, Puerto Rican roast pork shoulder ($12), looks just like kalua pig, and while I would prefer something less shredded, oregano and a touch of nutmeg (?) save it from utter disappointment.

Tres leches cake ($4.75)—sponge cake soaked in sweetened milk and cream—is straightforward, simple goodness.

Coquito's Latin Cuisine, 85-773 Farrington Hwy., 888-4082

Posted on Wednesday, June 13, 2012 in Permalink

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About This Column

From five-star restaurants to hidden holes-in-the-wall, Biting Commentary will let you know what’s hot and what’s not. Find out the latest restaurant news—who’s opening, who’s closing, which chef is moving on, where the great special dinners are. Discover the best menu items, fabulous wines, stunning cocktails, hand-crafted beers. Be the first to hear about upcoming food events and festivals.

Food editor Martha Cheng graduated from Wellesley College with degrees in Computer Science and English. She's a former line cook, food truck owner, Peace Corps volunteer and Google techie. Follow her on Twitter @marthacheng.


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