A Place that Everyone Loves

Columns Foodie Fare

January 12, 2014

Story By: Christina O Connor | Photos by: Nathalie Walker

The menu at Anytime Cafe is so vast that owner Cindy Wong says even the most dedicated customer can get a lot of variety no matter how often they dine here. And some patrons really put that to the test.

“Some of our regulars come a few times a week, or even every day,” says Wong, who co-owns the restaurant with husband Ken. “You can eat all different kinds of food every day. That was our whole concept — to provide more variety.”

To ease yourself into Anytime Cafe’s menu, Thai Style Pork Cheek ($6.95) is a good place to start. The meat is marinated for hours in a house-made sauce, which includes fish oil, garlic and shoyu. This appetizer is served with a dipping sauce, which Wong says is the best part of the dish.

“We use a little bit of chili,” she says of the dipping sauce. “Then we add garlic and lemon juice, and it is really flavorful. Once you eat it, you can’t stop.”

The restaurant’s entree selection includes items such as Chicken Anchovy Spaghettini ($10.95), featuring a chicken thigh and anchovies over spaghettini.

“This is a really flavorful dish that is really popular,” Wong exclaims.

One of Anytime Cafe’s most popular dishes is Won Ton Noodle ($8.95), in which shrimp won ton and vegetables are bathed in a broth comprised of various seafood.

“We special order these won ton noodles from Vancouver,” Wong says. “The noodles absorb the flavor.”

Another entree that has gained popularity is Baked Pork Chop with Fried Rice ($13.95) served with salad and bread. The fried rice can be substituted for spaghetti.

Anytime Cafe’s risotto dishes also have been earning quite a bit of praise among customers. Wong recommends Shrimp Risotto ($13.95), which features shrimp and bay shrimp topped on risotto and accented with a pink tomato broth.

Currently, the restaurant offers 20 percent off (with coupon) late-night dinner Monday through Saturday from 9:30 p.m. to midnight.

“We want to give our customers good deals,” Wong says, noting that new deals will soon be revealed.

“Some places close pretty early,” she adds. “But after a movie or after a meeting or working late, you can come here to eat.”

On the Side

The origins of Anytime Cafe, which turns four this month, stems from two parents just trying to make their child happy.

“When my son was small, we would ask him what he wanted to eat, and he always said pizza and spaghetti. For us, it got a little boring,” says co-owner Cindy Wong.

At the time, Wong and her husband Ken, who have opened a string of various restaurants in the Islands, were running fine-dining eatery Banana Leaf Italian Bistro. However, when the economy took a downturn, the couple wanted to help families continue to be able dine out. The Wongs decided to take a departure from their fancy fare and open a new kind of restaurant, one that had a wide, varied menu with reasonable prices.

“We wanted to change the restaurant format and make it more casual,” Wong says. “Some people like won ton noodles, some people like risotto, some people like sandwiches. Here, there is a lot of variety for the customer to choose from.”

And although the restaurant is taking a more casual approach this time around, you can still find a lot of the same elements from Banana Leaf, including the executive chef.

“When you come to Anytime Cafe, you are still getting fine-dining quality,” Cindy says, “But the prices are more affordable.”

For the Wongs, their mission has been accomplished: They now have a place to take their son where the whole family can get what they want.

“Our son likes it here,” Wong says. “He always asks his friends to come here and eat.”

Contact Christina O’Connor at diningout@staradvertiser.com

Anytime Cafe

Market City Shopping Center
2919 Kapiolani Blvd.
Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-midnight
Saturdays 8 a.m.-midnight
Sundays, 8 a.m.-10 p.m.

Honolulu, HI 96826

Hawaii's Best
Hawaii's Best