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Koa Pancake House’s hipper sibling

A review on the new brunch spot, Koa Café

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Koa Café is a new brunch joint to add to your usual early morning and afternoon restaurant selection. Located between Glazer’s Coffee and Bangkok Chef on South King Street, this new café is witin walking distance from UH Mānoa’s campus. Serving everything from traditional American breakfast staples, like omelets and benedicts with a twist, to new and exciting dishes like Butter Mochi Pancakes, Koa Café has something for everyone.

According to a server, Koa Café is the more unconventional counterpart to the Koa Pancake House chain. Juno Chung, the owner of both restaurants, wanted to undertake an all-new concept to give brunch-goers a unique dining experience. Some of Koa Café’s most popular food items to date include Butter Mochi Pancakes ($8), Guava Lava Mochi Waffle ($9), Brownie Haupia Pancakes ($7) and the Loco Moco Omelette ($11).

If the paper plates are any indication, Koa Café is casual and laid-back. Customers order and pay at the front counter and then seat themselves. The entire establishment offers two-person, four-person and single seating options, fitting around 50 people when full. The atmosphere is clean and inviting with no fuss, marble-like tabletops and matching plastic restaurant chairs.

I visited Koa Café on an early Sunday morning around 7:45 a.m. with a family member and was pleasantly surprised by the lack of crowds. Upon arriving, only a few families were seated inside and enjoying their meals. The staff was helpful, the ordering process went smoothly and the food arrived at our table within a matter of minutes.

What Koa Café lacks in presentation is made up for in taste. We ordered a single Butter Mochi Pancake for $8 and the Koa Madame ($10). 

The Butter Mochi Pancake came topped with chunks of strawberries, blueberries, a few slices of bananas, glazed walnuts and a ring of whip cream to top it off. I didn’t expect the pancake to taste like butter mochi, but my first bite proved me wrong. The pancake was cooked to a golden brown and had a slight crisp to each bite, which went with the soft sweetness of the fruit and crunch of the walnuts.

The Koa Madame was a savory complement to the pancakes. It came with ham, cheese, eggs and Dijon béchamel sauce. The dish was similar to traditional eggs benedict, except on toast rather than an English muffin. Customers have the option of ordering the Koa Madame with a potato medley or a house salad; I opted for the former and did not regret my decision. The potato medley was a mix of different types of potatoes cut into wedges and fried to a crisp. Think thick, stout fries, but bigger and better than your usual “potato fare.”

Koa Café excels in taste, customer service and its uniqueness. With a clean, family-friendly atmosphere, amiable staff and delicious dishes, I’d recommend stopping by before this place fills up with crowds. If you’re looking for somewhere new and novel, come here and come hungry.