Dineout Review: Breakfast at Honolulu Cafe

Being over budget this month, I suggested Bon’s on Broadway for our latest brunch session after volunteering but it was raining and there was probably a line-up at 10:30 on a Sunday so Cari suggested alternatives including Chinese breakfast. While I immediately interpreted that as dim sum, I inquired anyways and she mentioned she was referring to a meal at a HK style cafe (茶餐廳) and I agreed. I am most familiar macaroni soup for breakfast but was I in for a real treat!

Compared to the $15+ we usually drop on Western brunch, I was floored, never having visited an HK style cafe before noon. The offering was fantastic! First we looked at the instant noodles meals where you picked two toppings and it included a drink for $5.75. There were mini-meals that are actually real meals for under $10. But I followed Cari’s leadership and we went for the A+B special: pick from eggs and sausages/ham or omelette (A column) and then pick a noodle soup (B column) and a hot drink all came for $5.50!

Whoa, Chinese breakfasts rock already!

We both ordered omelettes with French toast–a chicken one for Cari and a mushroom one for me–and we both ordered the Five Spice Pork Noodle Soup (五香 猪肉丁 湯米線) and Hong Kong style milk tea (奶茶).

By omelette, it means they sauteed the ingredients–shredded chicken with peas and onions for Cari, mushrooms with peas and onions for me–before wrapping them  in a thin egg crepe. The French toast was different and Cari gave me fair warning although I was bound to enjoy it–not only is the toast deep-fried after being battered with egg, kaya was spread between the bread slices prior to frying. That marks my first taste of kaya and I don’t mind it at all.

The noodle soup was a nice dish to follow the omelette even though I can’t fathom the need for such a diverse breakfast. I only more recently became aware of “rice thread” noodles (米線) as an option for soup noodles and we enjoyed how springy the noodles stay in soup.

Honolulu Cafe is definitely grubby, almost a hole-in-the-wall of the caliber I would not deign to visit. The car seats are sadly worn and the upholstery looks like it might be moist. Still I appreciate that despite having a full dining room and generally the turnover is quite fast, the servers did not rush us out after our meal. (Unless they were just in the Chinese New Year spirit of being kind.) We’ll try Bon’s yet since we volunteer every weekend but it was a great great suggestion by Cari, gentle on my budget, and really satisfyingly filling–a spot that we should keep in our post-volunteering brunch rotation!

Honolulu Cafe 檀島茶餐廳 (Kingsway) on Urbanspoon

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