What Happens When Cheesy Pizza Meets Salty, Tangy Filipino Adobo?

We headed to Shay’s Filipino Cafe to try this Italian-Filipino mashup.


To be honest, I’m not a fan of most Filipino foods. Surprising, considering I’m Filipino. Don’t ask me why. That being said, I do love certain dishes. Chief among them is adobo. I love adobo. I mean, I really love adobo.


Something about that combination of soy sauce, vinegar, bay leaves and black pepper evokes delicious memories of my childhood. Imagine a burst of salty soy sauce with a vinegary tang, followed by spicy peppercorns and the earthiness of bay leaves. Now toss in fatty slabs of pork or juicy chunks of chicken and that’s what I call happiness.


SEE ALSO: My Own Private Adobo


While I could eat adobo every day and be happy, I admit to wanting many other foods also. One of which is pizza. So I was pretty excited to learn about the adobo pizza at Shay’s Filipino Cafe.


Shays Filipino Adobo Pizza Waipio

Photo: Eric Baranda


Since my wife and I live in town, we headed to Shay’s at Salt in Kaka‘ako. There were two options for the adobo pizza: full size ($17) and personal size ($7), with choice of pork or chicken adobo. We got a mini pizza with half-chicken and half-pork. It was a good pizza, but that’s all it was—a good pizza. It had a warm, soft crust and was delicious, extremely cheesy, with a strong flavor of marina sauce. Too strong, unfortunately, because the marinara overpowered the flavor of adobo. If I hadn’t known it was an adobo pizza, I wouldn’t have noticed the adobo. It was a good pizza, but we couldn’t actually call it an adobo pizza.


Well, there happens to be another Shay’s location, the original one in Waipio. It’s a bit of a drive from town, but I was willing to make the trek to see if the original location would offer a different experience. I checked it out with a recently vaccinated buddy and we devised a backup plan: In case the adobo pizza didn’t turn out as hoped, we also got an order of regular pork adobo.


Adobo Pizza Sign Shays Filipino

Photo: Eric Baranda


This time we got the full-size pizza with half-chicken and half-pork adobo. We waited roughly 20 minutes for our order to come out. Was it worth the drive from town? Was it worth the 20-minute wait? Yes, it was.


SEE ALSO: Find Homestyle Filipino Food at Consuelo’s Kusina


The pizza came out hot, covered in melted cheese with glistening, juicy chunks of chicken and pork adobo sprinkled with green onion. A hint of the familiar scents of vinegar and soy wafted in the air, mixed in with aromas of cheese and freshly baked pizza dough. I lifted a slice. The cheese pull that stretched all the way down to the rest of the pizza was so laden with meaty adobo chunks, I had to scoop them all back onto the slice.


Slice Of Shays Filipino Adobo Pizza

Photo: Eric Baranda


Not only did the pizza look amazing, it tasted amazing. The hot cheese hit my palate first, followed by the flavors of soy sauce and vinegar. A hint of marinara was the perfect capstone, along with soft, warm, lightly floured pizza dough. The green onions gave a hint of refreshing crunch and sharpness. Chicken and pork were both delicious in their own way, the pork with a strong salty flavor and the chicken a lighter but still flavorful experience.


If you love pizza, adobo or both, make the trek to Shay’s in Waipio and experience the combo for yourself.


94-1040 Waipio Uka St Suite #10, (808) 892-1793; 324 Coral St Suite #205, (808) 773-7429; shaysfilipinocafehi.com, @shaysfilipinocafe