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Twice as Nice

By Kyle Galdeira Photos By Leah Friel
November 4, 2013

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Located conveniently on Waialae Avenue in Kaimuki Shopping Center, diners have the option of picking up a quick meal to go at Fairwood Drive Inn’s quick-service counter, or sitting down with family and friends in the inviting Pho 27 dining room. The restaurants are situated just minutes away from the University of Hawaii, Chaminade University, Saint Louis School and Sacred Hearts Academy, and the dining havens have grown in popularity among both students and educators.

“Some people like to relax, so they choose to come and sit down, do homework and use their computers,” says Tiffany Ko, the owner who brings nearly two decades of experience to the table after formerly operating Fairwood Drive Inn on Keeaumoku Street. “There are also those that have to go back to work quickly or take home meals for their family, so we came up with the idea of offering both sit-down and take-out dining. All our loyal customers are coming back following the move two years ago, and now, we see those who first came in as babies bringing their own children to enjoy our food.”

Fairwood Drive Inn has lived up to its reputation for offering local-style comfort food and Chinese-influenced plate lunches, including Braised Steak & Potatoes ($9.25). The dish features a hearty portion of tender beef along with tasty potatoes that are also served with a large scoop of rice. Customers rave about Honey Garlic Chicken and Garlic Shrimp Combo ($12.99), which includes one of Ko’s signature chicken recipes and is served with soup and salad.

“It’s a big menu, but customers are given a lot of choices,” Ko explains with a smile. “Sometimes, families come in and they all want to eat different things, so some can order pho, others want plate lunches and kids want a cheeseburger and French fries. We offer it all so everyone is happy, and we make sure that the quality is good.”

Pho 27 is geared toward providing lighter, healthier options such as Lemongrass Chicken ($10.25). The sweet-smelling aroma of the dish fills the air, and the Thai-and Vietnamese-inspired creation is also accompanied by soup and salad. Grilled Pork Chop ($11.95) includes soup and salad as well, and offers a light yet filling take on the classic, home-style dish.

Diners also flock to Pho 27 for its vast assortment of soup offerings, including the namesake Vietnamese noodle soup. Ko recommends Pho Special ($9.25 for medium, $9.85 for large and $12.25 for extra large), a huge bowl of pho complete with sprouts, basil and lemon (served on the side to add as desired) as well as sliced beef, brisket, tendon, tripe and meatballs. She also suggests other top sellers such as Vietnamese Crab Meat Soup ($11.95), with an eclectic mix of crab meat, pork broth and multiple garnishes, and Kimchee Pho ($11.99), which incorporates kalbi and teriyaki steak in a flavorful, spicy broth.

Ko makes it a priority to offer multiple house specials, including Ribeye Steak ($16.99). The 12-ounce cut of succulent steak is discounted from the regular price of $25.99 and is served along with rice, soup and salad. The expansive menu also includes fresh appetizers including Spring Rolls ($8.50), a plate featuring four large rolls that are filled mostly with pork, taro and long rice, not the usual carrot and vegetable stuffing.

Fairwood Drive Inn and Pho 27 also offer a host of beverages, including made-to-order favorites such as Iced Milk Tea ($3.50) and Salty Plum & Lemon ($3.75). Ko explains that the latter is crafted with lemons that she ferments for five years and incorporates with dried plums in what amounts to a sweet-and-sour tonic that has gained a reputation for aiding digestion, promoting hydration and combating colds and sore throats.

“We combine the lemons with plum and honey, mash them all together and it tastes a little bit salty and a little bit sweet,” Ko says of the unique beverage. “It’s very good for you, especially when you’re not feeling well. It will help your diet and relieves fatigue when sitting in an office all day. It’s really good for the body.”

Fairwood Drive Inn & Pho 27

Kaimuki Shopping Center
3221 Waialae Ave., Ste. 21, Honolulu
738-0027
Open daily 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.