A Tasty New Find in Waipahu
Tiano’s restaurant serves Filipino, American, Local-style and more in Waipahu.
Photos: Martha Cheng
A banner outside the restaurant advertises a prime rib dinner. Also on special: an adobo fried rice omelette. I’m with a friend, and I’m as much a sucker for prime rib dinners as he is adobo fried rice omelettes. It’s like we’re in one of those sci-fi movies where the billboards scan your cornea and show ads tailored to your deepest desires.
We have biked along the Pearl Harbor bike path—the most intriguing bike route in all of O‘ahu, a journey that feels more like traveling along the river banks of the Mekong than it does a suburban Honolulu bike route—and it drops us into the wilds of Waipahu. We’re starving. But even if we weren’t, that sign outside Tiano’s Restaurant would have lured us in anyway.
Tiano’s, just a year old, has to have the most extensive menu in all of Waipahu. There are local favorites (loco moco and saimin), American plates (prime rib and baby back ribs), Pacific Rim dishes (kālua pig nachos and furikake salmon) and even Italian-American items (fried calamari and chicken Alfredo pasta). And then, of course, there’s a page dedicated to Filipino food—adobo, lechon kawali, dinuguan and even kilawen kalding, translated as “goat poke” on the menu.
There are, unfortunately, only two of us. We do the best we can and order a crispy pata, pork adobo and prime rib dinner. (Sorry, adobo fried rice omelette. Next time.) The waitress hovers after we order, as if to say “anything else?” as if we haven’t already ordered the three biggest, meat-heavy dishes on the menu. We ask to sub one of the starches for vegetables. “That’s bizarre, but OK,” she says with a shrug.
For a restaurant that thinks it’s weird to order an extra side of veggies, but not three dishes for two people, the veggies are actually pretty good. So is the prime rib dinner with garlic mash, and the pork adobo is decent, if weirdly gelatinous. But the best thing, the thing worth biking (or, OK, driving) over here for, is the crispy pata. It’s a deep-fried pork leg—crispy pig skin encasing soft, tender meat. It’s served off the bone and chopped up, with a soy calamansi dipping sauce. Maybe because they know we’re into veggies, they even serve it on a kale leaf. Tiano’s, if you haven’t already figured it out, is not your usual Filipino restaurant. Or local restaurant. Or American restaurant. Or even Waipahu restaurant. It’s all of the above. And with a killer banana lumpia to finish.
94-235 Hanawai Circle, Waipahu, 677-2992
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