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Reasons to Fall in 'Love'
Foodie Fare

Reasons to Fall in ‘Love’

Story By Christina O'Connor Photos By Nathalie Walker
October 2 - 8, 2011

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Waking up early for a long day at work can be a bit of a drag sometimes. But I Love Country Cafe’s extensive breakfast menu can help take off that morning edge.

  • Side dishes such as Creme Caramel Bread Pudding ($2.50), Vegan Oatcakes ($2.50), Banana Bread ($2.49) and Grilled Southern Cornbread w/butter ($1.89) can be found at I Love Country Cafe.
  • I Love Country Cafe Richard Chan with Sunrise Skillet ($8.59)
  • Two Eggs Breakfast plate ($6.99)
  • Eggs Benedict ($5.99, small; $7.99, regular)
  • Homemade Sweet Bread French Toast ($4.99)
  • Veggie Breakfast Wrap ($6.29)
  • Sunrise Skillet ($8.59)
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I Love Country Cafe’s Queen Street location opens at 7 a.m., meaning you have just enough time to enjoy some Eggs Benedict ($7.99) or a Jumbo Stack of pancakes ($6.29) before heading off to the office. Or try the Sunrise Skillet ($8.59), which is a three-egg bacon, ham and onion scramble over country potatoes with cheese, tomatoes and green onion, and is served with toast.

I Love Country Cafe also offers a variety of breakfast plate options, including the Two Eggs ($6.99) plate, which comes with a choice of bacon, ham, Portuguese sausage or Spam, and a choice of rice, country potatoes, toast or pancakes. Owners Richard and Millie Chan say the Kiawe Steak & Eggs ($9.29) plate is a must-eat. “We have an outdoor barbecue, so we prepare the kiawe steak there,” says Millie. “It’s a customer favorite.”

And like much of the restaurant’s items, the breakfast menu also includes a number of healthier options for an energizing start to your day. “I get customers who I have known for years, and a lot of them go to the gym and exercise regularly,” says Richard. “And a lot of them are trainers, too. They want to eat healthy.” For these health-conscious customers, I Love Country Cafe offers dishes such as the Veggie Breakfast Wrap ($6.29) with sauteed onions, tomato, mushrooms, spinach, egg and cheese, or the Bodybuilder Omelette ($9.59), with egg whites and fresh roast turkey breast, mushrooms, bell peppers, onion, spinach, tomatoes and mozzarella cheese.

The Queen Street eatery also serves up fresh homemade breads for breakfast, including Banana Bread ($2.50) and Island Mango Bread ($2.50).

I Love Country Cafe is open until 6 p.m., so stop by for lunch and dinner, too. The lunch and dinner menus offer a wide variety of dishes with a range of influences, from Chinese to American to Italian to local favorites. Richard and Millie say that the restaurant is well-known for its fresh roast turkey, and that turkey dishes such as the Roast Turkey and Meatloaf Mixed Plate ($9.95) are some of their most popular offerings.

The restaurant also offers different kinds of stir-fry items. All stir-fry dishes come with mixed vegetables, and diners can add Chicken ($8.95), Oven Baked Tofu ($8.95) or Garlic Mahi ($10.95) among other options. Millie says that the Furikake Mahi ($10.95) and the Grilled Mochiko Chicken ($9.50) also are popular dishes.

And if you love I Love Country Cafe, you can get the restaurant to cater your next event. The catering menu includes appetizers like Vegetable Lumpia and salads such as Pesto Pasta Salad, Romaine Caesar Salad and Mexican Salad. For entrees, there is a wide variety of meat, seafood, vegetarian and noodle dishes — including Macadamia Crusted Chicken Breast, Ahi Katsu, Kalua Pork, Fresh Roast Turkey with stuffing, gravy and whole cranberry sauce, Honey Walnut Tofu and Fettucini Alfredo. Desserts include Mango Mouse Cake and Creme Caramel Bread Pudding.

No matter what your event, I Love Country Cafe can help you design a menu that suits your tastes. “We cater to all events, big or small,” says Millie. “We can customize the menu for the customers. People can create their own combination … Normally, I will sit down with the customers and I brainstorm with them, so that together we come up with the perfect menu.”

On the Side

Back when I Love Country Cafe opened in the late 1980s, it was a small operation that served up a few local favorites. But now, the restaurant’s menu includes an impressive array of options from an equally impressive array of influences. The eatery still offers local favorites, but now also includes salads, burgers, sandwiches, pasta and baked goods.

And a number of I Love Country Cafe’s menu items are healthy, homemade dishes. Owners Richard and Millie Chan derived many of their menu additions over the years from a desire to provide customers with healthy food and from a close, collaborative relationship with their regulars.

“When we first started the restaurant, my daughter was really young,” Richard explains. “And just like all responsible parents, we were trying to figure out how we can provide her with healthy food and a high-fiber diet.”

So the pair started by offering brown rice and green salad instead of macaroni salad with the plate lunches. This might be standard fare nowadays, but 20 years ago, I Love Country Cafe was ahead of the curve. And soon, with the help of the customers, Richard and Millie began expanding those options.

“A lot of times, my customers would come in and they would say, ‘Richard, can you do this for us?’ And I would say, ‘why not?’ Actually, they helped me to develop a lot of dishes,” Richard says. “The Hurricane Special ($10.75) is based off of one of our customers who is a trainer.”

The Hurricane Special is fresh white meat roast turkey with poached vegetables and Okinawa sweet potato with brown rice. Another customer-inspired dish is the Bodybuilder Special ($10.75), water-poached chicken breast, poached vegetables, served with brown rice, and has peanut sauce and soy-ginger on the side.

I Love Country Cafe also has a variety of salads such as the Sesame Chicken or Tofu Salad ($8.75) and the Cajun Shrimp and Mango Salad ($9.95). Richard says they also are always willing to adjust any of the dishes to accommodate customers’ dietary needs.

It’s this kind of attentiveness and collaboration with their customers that has yielded a dedicated set of restaurant regulars.

“Over the years, we have built a lot of nice friendships with a lot of people,” Millie says. “We become part of their family, and they become a part of our family, too, all because of the food that we offer.

“The whole philosophy is that we love our guests … and we always serve them foods that we love,” Millie says. “We become the kitchen away from home.”

I Love Country Cafe is constantly creating new dishes. “We all like to eat,” Millie says of her family and the rest of the I Love Country Cafe staff. “We have a passion for cooking, and we love our homestyle meals. We always try out new dishes together as a staff. So everything on the menu is what we love.”

I Love Country Cafe

  • Where
    • 885 Queen St.
    • Honolulu, HI 96813
    • (various other locations, and catering delivery is available)
  • Call
    • (808) 596-8108, 783-7901 (Catering Hotline)
  • Hours
    • Monday – Friday
    • 7 a.m.-6 p.m.
    • Saturdays and Sundays
    • 7 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • Website: