'Ohana Hawai'ian BBQ (CLOSED)

EDIT: A follower of my Facebook page left a comment saying that the food and service are horrible at 'Ohana.  It turns out that the restaurant changed hands yet again in early May, and I've not been there since the new owners took control so I can't speak for the quality of the food or the service at this point.  Buyer beware...

Every once in a while, something related to this blog just flat out surprises me.  Such was the case about a week ago, when I checked my e-mail and found a message from one of the two women who run 'Ohana Hawai'ian BBQ.  The e-mail was basically an invitation to come and try their restaurant, but that's only part of the story....

You see, just a few short months ago, 'Ohana was an eatery called Kana Girl's Hawai'ian BBQ.  According to several restaurant review sites, I was in the minority of people who didn't like Kana Girl's.  In fact, back in the day when my reviews were concise and informative and posted on Urbanspoon (a site I'm still on a lot, and which you should all check out), I had this to say about them:

I hope it's not authentic
by Track
September 03, 2010 - Doesn't like it

There was only one occupied table when I went, but I still had to wait several minutes to place my take-out order because the proprietor/cook was chatting with the people at the table. When he did return to the kitchen, he sang along loudly with the songs on the sound system. I understand the "just dropped by a friend's place for some homestyle island fare" vibe they're going for, but it's not my cup of tea when I'm eating at a strip mall. The rice was fine and the macaroni salad was rich but good, but the char siu pork left something to be desired. I've considered returning to try something more traditionally Hawaiian, but there are several other places around Boise I've yet to try, and it will depend on how they stack up.
I have to confess now that part of that review was a lie.  I never really considered returning, I just felt like I should soften the blow a little because the food wasn't terrible and the people were nice enough.  I just didn't dig how they were doing things.  And now, here is a woman who, along with her sister and husband, had taken over the place.  She added that they had done a lot of research, made some changes, and were moving toward serving more traditional Hawaiian fare (which I took to mean no giant hamburgers).  A little research on their website turned up that they've very up-front about the fact that none of them are Hawaiian.  I have to admit, I was impressed!  I think it shows a hell of a lot of confidence to take over a place, serve basically the same food, and then contact people who have reviewed the restaurant poorly in the past and invite them to give it another chance.  It worked on me, anyway...

Not an old picture, just an old sign...

Mediocrities everywhere...I absolve you.

Warning:  This is NOT a review...not exactly, anyway.  It's more of a philosophical diatribe.  Proceed at your own risk.

I sit in a comfortable booth, in a nondescript Chinese restaurant.  I'm digging through a pile of sticky rice to find the pieces of mushroom, which I set off to the side before chopsticking the rice, chunks of pork and slices of sausage into my mouth.  I'm not doing this because I like the food, which tastes a little like some of the Asian markets around town smell, a smell I can't place and don't find particularly offensive, but which results in a taste that I'm not particularly fond of either.  I'm still eating because I want to be full and then leave this place.  As I continue to work the disposable bamboo sticks, I try to discern what it is exactly that I'm feeling.  Disappointment, certainly...I wanted so badly to like this place, and this meal.  But there's something else under the disappointment, and I can't tell if it's anger.  I suspect it might even be depression.  But why is it affecting me so strongly?

Half-assed hiatus...

I probably won't be doing a lot of dining out or writing about dining out for the immediate future, as a lot of my time and money will be focused on preparing and executing a change of residence.  Once the dust has settled, expect to see a lot more reviews of Eagle eateries!

Goldy's Breakfast Bistro

It's just after 5:30 AM on a Saturday morning when I feel someone climb into my bed.  I turn over and force my eyes open to find myself face to face with my housemate, who is bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as the saying goes.  I had slept about three and a half hours, getting to bed late after finishing another write-up.  I'm so out of it that I'm getting more of the concepts of what she's saying rather than the sentences as a whole, but she's definitely talking about going out to breakfast.  When I had finally hit the sheets around 2 AM, I had briefly considered waking her up and dragging her to Solid so I could finally try their chicken and waffles, since the kids were spending the night with their grandparents.  In the end, I had decided against it because she'd only been asleep for about five hours and I value my life more than a waffle, with or without chicken.  I decided on a different tactic: I would set my alarm for six, make a run downtown to DK Donuts for, among other things, their bacon maple bar.  I've been wanting to see how it compares to its daddy over at Voodoo Doughnut in Portland.  And now this.  I'm a little perturbed.  It's amazing how much difference another 30 minutes of sleep can make when you're that exhausted.  Then she mentions Goldy's, and suddenly I'm feeling much more awake.

Burger Time

FYI - This is no longer "Patty's" Burger Time, and the first things the new owners did was to start buying pre-formed burger patties and scrap the local dairy and produce.  Buyer beware!

Generally speaking, little drive-through burger joints don't get a lot of coverage in print.  Burger Time (or Patty's Burger Time, if you prefer) is an exception to that rule, and for good reason.  Patty's is the only fast food restaurant in Idaho to be certified Idaho Preferred, and since the meat is local you can always count on a fresh burger.  Also, I've heard that the ice cream machine is cleaned daily, which results in a much better milkshake.  All of that coupled with my $15 worth of food for $7.50 certificate from Boise.biz is what finally brought me to try out Patty's recently.  At this point, do I even need to mention that I've known about the place for years, driven by it a million times and for whatever reason just never stopped?  I'm beginning to suspect I might have started this blog as both excuse for finally trying all of these places and motivation to do so...

Mazzah Mediterranean Grill (State Street)

It's official.  My addiction to gyros is spreading, and has begun to infect my loved ones.  A while back, Mazzah Mediterranean Grill was the daily deal on LivingSocial.com, and I was able to snag a $40 certificate for $18.  It took several weeks of badgering on my part, but eventually I was able to persuade my housemate to pack up the kids and accompany me to their strip mall location on State Street between 17th and 18th Streets.  This was necessary because the only thing I can eat $40 worth of in a sitting is sushi, and unfortunately the certificate had to be used all at once.

Gino's Italian Ristorante

Meridian has come a long way in terms of restaurants.  I remember being in high school and having to drive to Boise just to get a decent espresso.  Now I'm mere minutes away from gelato, barbecue, bagels, Thai, fresh bread, and some damn good sushi.  A few years back a restaurateur heeded the winds of economic change, pulled out of downtown Boise and popped up again in an out-of-the-way strip mall in Meridian, bringing what many people consider to be the best Italian food in the Treasure Valley with him.

Los Beto's (Fairview)

I've reviewed a lot of taco trucks on this blog, and as much as I love some of the sit-down Mexican restaurants in town, for the most part my heart is with the street food version of Mexican cuisine.  That having been said, there are a lot of advantages to an actual restaurant.  Atmosphere, alcohol, a roof...oh, and I suppose a much more diverse menu selection due to the supplies and implements available.  In the great void between taco truck and traditional restaurant, you'll find Los Beto's.

Guido's Original New York Style Pizzeria (Chinden)

One of the ways that traveling (even in the limited amounts that I've done) gets you into trouble is in the way it educates you about food.  For example, a lot of what gets sold around here as Philly Cheesesteaks bear little to no resemblence to the real thing.  Does it make them bad sandwiches?  No, but I just can't recognize them as Phillys.  New York style pizza is another example.  Granted, there aren't many people in Boise claiming to serving it, but most of them have disappointed me (and in one or two cases, I'd go so far as to say it was insulting).  As someone who lived in New York for two years and ate pizza everywhere from Queens to Buffalo, I have to say that the closest thing I've found to true New York style pizza here is Guido's.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries

I've been going through a bit of a burger phase lately, and an odd one at that.  Basically I've been craving burgers constantly, and I've been going to lots of places to get them, but getting something a little unusual each time.  A strange cheese here, a different meat there, maybe a fried egg, unusual sauce, or some pork belly.  I've had lots of good burgers, but they were doing nothing to dissuade my craving.  It's like I was a bottomless burger pit.  One night recently, my housemate suggested that what I really needed was a good, old-fashioned, all-American style burger, and even though I should have known it myself this struck me as a revelation.

Problem was, the revolution came late on a weekday evening when pretty much everything but fast food joints were closed.  As a frenzy built in me, my savior contributed her second brilliant thought of the night: what about Five Guys?  We'd both been there before and quite enjoyed it, but I didn't want to get my hopes up.  It was, as I said, a weekday evening in Meridian, and Five Guys doesn't have a drive-through that's open late.  A quick visit to their website yielded two important bits of information: Five Guys is open until 10 PM seven nights a week, and they have online ordering.  At this point, the decision was easy.