Pa’ina, meaning gathering, perfectly describes this cafe in the Ward Warehouse’s outdoor food court in Honolulu. Long line ups and group gatherings seem the norm for the popular cafe. We managed to grab a seat out in the beautiful weather while waiting for our meals.
(Above: Hawaiian Poke Bowl, Kalua Pig, Lomi Salmon and Tuna Poke Bowl.)
Pa’ina Cafe has an extensive menu offering a variety of salads, Paina plates, poke bowls and sandwiches. Daily specials and colourful pictures of entrees are hung up on one side of the wall.
We managed to narrow down our orders. First, a small Hawaiian Poke bowl with brown rice, shredded nori and green onions. The bowl was mostly heavy brown rice topped with our fillings: shredded Kalua Pig which was disappointingly dry; large, fresh chunks of spicy tuna and a side of Lomi Salmon. The combination was refreshingly nice in the hot breezy weather, but the flavours lacked seasoning and were extremely tame.
(Above: A gigantic, grilled Ahi Gyro.)
Next was a grilled ahi gyro loaded with tomato, red onion, romaine, cucumber and yogurt sauce. The ahi gyro was gigantic and bursting with veggies and yogurt sauce — eating it was very messy. My bites hardly put a dent in the gyro and it took a doubled effort from Tre to help tackle the wrap. The gyro, however, also suffered from a lack of seasoning, and the pita — soaked by the sauces — fell apart before we could finish it off.
Our bill including taxes and tips came to just under $22, which is a bit pricey for a lacklustre food court meal. Pa’ina is a great place to people watch, however. We noticed a couple of hipsters wearing beanies with boots and skinny jeans with sweat dripping down their foreheads in the 30 degree weather. It was the highlight of our meal, which made for a good laugh.
Perfect for: emergency mid-shopping energy boost.