A People-Pleasing Pair of Hawaiian, Filipino Fare

Features Inside Feature

September 14, 2014

Story By: Jaimie Kim Farinas | Photos by: Lawrence Tabudlo

There’s something inherently comforting about Filipino and Hawaiian foods. They both share a commonality in that they’re no fuss, no muss — just some seriously delicious eats with a focus on enhancing signature flavors in each unique dish.

People’s Cafe expertly combines these two culinary influences with a friendly staff and relaxed familial environment to create an overall memorable dining experience.

The eatery’s menu features an eclectic combination of authentic Filipino-and Hawaiian-style dishes, ranging from familiar favorites such as Kalua Pig and Lau Lau, to daily specials like Pinapaitan and Pinakbet. Items are made daily and feature fresh ingredients prepared with homemade recipes by chef Tomas Ventura, who co-owns the restaurant with Conrad Valdriz.

A longtime special and popular dish among loyal patrons, BBQ Ribs with Salmon and Shrimp ($12.50) is a flavorful surf-and-turf a la carte item. To prepare the ribs, Ventura softens the meat first before cooking it on the stovetop and adding his house-made barbecue sauce. Salmon, the second component of the dish, is sauteed with garlic salt and lemon-butter sauce. Ventura uses a similar buttery sauce for the shrimp, which he grills to complete the dish.

Also on People’s Cafe’s menu of specials is Short Ribs Pipikaula Style Special ($13.95) — a scrumptious feast of six different samplings cooked up by Ventura. Cubes of short ribs prepared in a shoyu-based sauce take center stage. These are accented by a bowl of kalua pig and cabbage, which Ventura prepares daily, as well as rice, lomi salmon and haupia.

An added bonus to this already impressive combination of plates is ahi poke.

“I get it from the auction,” Ventura explains, pointing to the freshness of the fish.

The ahi poke is prepared with soy sauce, chili pepper water, ogo and sliced cucumber and red onion.

The restaurant’s Lechon Kawali ($9.50) is listed as a special only available Saturdays, but Ventura shares this insider tip: “You can order it on other days.”

This Filipino favorite also is known as “fried pork belly.” Each bite is met with a layer of crispiness before giving way to meat that manages to stay supple, thanks to Ventura’s technique of boiling it before it is deep-fried.

On a cool day (or even a warm one), Salt Meat with Watercress ($7.50) is a hearty soup with a simple broth that doesn’t skimp on flavor.

Ventura first marinates short ribs for 24 hours with Hawaiian salt before adding them to a clear broth and perfecting the dish with heaping portions of watercress.

Located in downtown Honolulu, People’s Cafe makes for an ideal destination for those looking for a lunch spot or catching a meal after work. Plus, ample seating ensures that couples and larger groups alike can comfortably experience every bite People’s Cafe has to offer.

People’s Cafe

1310 Pali Highway
Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Honolulu, HI 96813

Hawaii's Best
Hawaii's Best