With a realtor for a mom and a developer for a dad, our little camp of four people and a dog move around much more than the average family. Despite moving from here to there every year or two, we’ve always remained somewhere in the Hawaii Kai to Kaimuki area. Located right between both East Oahu neighborhood, Jack’s Restaurant in Aina Haina has been our family staple breakfast spot for years.
I love the Aina Haina shopping center because it’s reliable. That’s right. Reliable. While restaurants come and go and homes are demolished and rebuilt, nothing in this shopping center seems to change. Foodland has been at one corner next to the Japanese place for as long as I can remember and the library across the street employees the friendliest librarians who have worked there since I was in kindergarten. And those librarians? Oddly enough, they never seem to age, always kindly stamping my books with their sun spotted hands and almost wistful looking eyes behind a pair of small gold rimmed glasses.
Jack’s is owned by a local Chinese family, with every member of the household doing all the cooking, serving and cleaning. Definitely a family business! They offer local Chinese dishes in addition to the breakfast menu, but you’re much better off getting pancakes here and your crispy chicken noodles elsewhere.
It’s a small and cozy, if a bit cramped…but always warm and happy! At the entrance to the semi opened kitchen are “specials” (which also never change) featuring more “exotic” dishes like lamb curry. But stick to breakfast. There’s also this huge fish hung near the ceiling. We usually get seated at the table right under the fish and I’ve always wondered how I would react if the fish ever fell on our table. Err…just an example of my rare non-food related random thoughts. Let’s just hope the fish never falls, its been hanging up there for long time.
Ok! Breakfast! Yes! This place is known for two things. Honey Biscuits and the-worlds-most-fantastic-pancakes (at least in my dictionary). The funny thing is, I’ve come here countless times but never ever had the honey biscuit. I just stare at the next table’s big beautiful golden honey biscuit in evny and tell myself I’ll have it next time. And then next time becomes next time. And pooh. Next time has yet to come. I suppose old habits die hard.
I always get the #2 Club Special: 2 pancakes, 2 eggs and a cup of coffee (sometimes I spice it up and sub orange juice for coffee). And that’s all I need. A most satisfying breakfast!And one makes it so satisfying? GAHH! Those PANCAKES. Such good, wonderful, addictive pancakes! There’s no food I dislike and I’ll eat nearly anything you place in front of my, but I naturally favor foods which are softer in texture. Jack’s pancakes are…oh man..how do I begin. They’re soft and tender, always at the right temperature with a slight buttermilk tang. Not so wimpy that they quickly give into an effortless “sideways” fork cut, but light and spongy enough to soak up just the right up amount of syrup. I suppose any excellent pancake fulfills this requirement but what takes Jack’s up one more notch is that their pancakes are CRISPY on the outside! And not just overcooked, on the griddle for a little too long kind of crispy but CRISPY, like borderline flaky. I’m not doing Jack’s justice. May the pancake Gods forgive me. You need to go for yourself to see.
Meals at Jack’s are done in silence for I’m always bewildered/fascinated/in plain awe of these damn pancakes. My parents get rather frustrated with me: “they’re just pancakes! We know it’s good, but they’re just pancakes!” Perhaps I’m overreacting as I’m the only one of all my family and friends who find such perfection in these plain pancakes. But at the very least they are good. Very very good! Oh So Good! Ok, I’ll stop here.
Aina Haina Shopping Center
830 W Hind Dr
Honolulu, Hawaii 96821