First Look: Sunny Days Café Opens Its First Location in Hawai‘i
This charming Japanese café has hits and misses.
Photos: Maria Kanai
Sunny Days—a new café near Diamond Head—is practically made to be Instagrammed: Food comes out on fancy wooden boards (that take up your table space), and there’s a baby blue, old-school Volkswagen van parked out front. On the back wall of the restaurant, a nifty video projector plays grainy, flickering shots of surf and beach.
Restaurant manager Nao Kuwabara says the restaurant’s concept is to be “healthy and beautiful.” She says they try to source as many local and organic ingredients as possible, and the menu has a definite vegan, health-conscious slant, thanks to Japanese head chef Masato Takayama.
At first glance, the lunch menu seems expansive, but it rotates daily with different plates so the options are more limited.
The only two dishes that are always available are the grilled chicken plate ($10) and the natural tofu vegan plate ($10). We wonder if that might result in disappointed Monday customers who might want the ‘ahi poke plate ($14) but can only get steak ($14)?
You wouldn’t guess that Sunny Days is a franchise from Japan, owned by Yoshinobu Nakamura. It originated as a fruit company called Hanafru, offering gourmet gifts in department stores all over Japan. (That’s because Japanese department stores are the place to go for high-quality food gifts and sweets.) Hanafru’s first restaurant and café opened in Osaka as Northshore Café and Dining, with an obviously Hawai‘i-inspired menu. Sunny Days is based on a similar menu. It opened Oct. 10 and is Hanafru’s first location outside Japan.
There are sandwiches and cold-pressed juices. We did like the papaya, kale and spinach dressing on the side salad for the pastrami sandwich ($16), but the sandwich itself was forgettable. The bread held together slices of meat, chopped egg and an assortment of vegetables including sprouts, carrots, cucumber and tomatoes. But we yearned for more flavor, more oomph, maybe just more paprika or another seasoning.
For three palm-size “Very Berry” ricotta soufflé pancakes, you’ll fork over $17. It’s a dainty dish, topped with delicate whipped cream and framed prettily with strawberries, raspberries and blueberries around the plate. The ricotta gives the pancakes an elegant lift with an extra rich, creamy center, but, for $17, we did wish there was just one more pancake to tide us over.
Sunny Days, 3045 Monsarrat Ave., open daily, 8 a.m.–8 p.m., 799-0034, sunnydays-hanafru.com