Pah Ke’s Restaurant: Large
Portions And Casual Dining

By: Kevin McQuarrie
Oahu Island News

“Good ceiling, bad floor,” remarked my companion as we entered Pah Ke’s in Kaneohe. The ceiling has an ornate tile pattern with a dragon design, while the floor is a simple, plain-white linoleum. But it is just this mix – the utilitarian blended with sensory delight – that makes Pah Ke’s such a favorite among many area residents.

Pah Ke’s has very inexpensive prices, with many dinner entrées ranging around $6. It’s an even better deal when you consider that the dishes are meant to be shared. Pah Ke’s is very friendly-family and caters to groups – so it’s only natural that the place is
usually packed with families wolfing down rice soup (Juk) and noodles. It’s a large, bustling, brightly lit restaurant, where you might experience two different servers and two different water-fillers, all zipping around to fulfill your needs. Our waitress was extremely prompt and food seemed to magically appear on our tables within seconds of ordering it.

We started off our dinner with Shrimp Won Ton Soup, Hong Kong Style ($6.95). Plump won tons, stuffed with whole shrimp and mushrooms, bobbed in a huge, steaming bowl of broth. The soup is family style and would have been enough for up to four people to share as an appetizer. The broth warmed us and was perfect for a cool (well, cool for Hawaii) winter evening. Next, we tried the Squid with Salt and Pepper ($6.25). The calamari had been battered in a light, salty, almost cakey batter and then deep-fried. It was served over sliced cabbage and with a dipping sauce. This dish is definitely a standout – I was daydreaming about eating more of it the next day.

While we were tempted to order one of the house specialties, Crispy Kaneohe Taro-Stuffed Duck, we decided to sample a classic, the Peking Duck. A half duck is served with nine steamed buns ($13) or you can order a whole, which is served with 18 buns ($26). The duck was delicious – rich, tender and coated in a hoisin sauce. A word to the wise: Even the half-order was an enormous portion.

Chicken, beef and pork were other meat options and you can choose from the casseroles section, sizzling platters, eggs, rice soup and noodles listings. If you’re a vegetarian you will discover many meat-free options, including Braised Black Mushrooms with Vegetables ($6.95) and Steamed Soft Tofu ($4.75).

On the seafood side of the menu, we found dishes such as Fresh Scallops with Black Bean Sauce, Steamed Fresh Fish, Lobster Tails with Curry Sauce, Sautéed Oysters with Ginger and Green Onions, and Abalone with Black Mushrooms. We settled on Shrimp with Ginger and Garlic ($8.50). It was served piping hot, with the shrimp swimming in a fresh, not-too-garlicky sauce. Snow pea pods, straw mushrooms, carrots and scallions rounded out the dish. Even the steamed rice accompanying the meal was perfect: hot, soft and delicious.

Dessert did not appear to be a big focus at Pah Ke’s and that was fine with us, as we were stuffed, but we did buy an almond cookie (a huge one runs a whopping 62 cents) from the take-out counter on our way out the door. We nibbled on it the whole way home, enjoying the slight sweetness and satisfying crispness.

Overall, Pah Ke’s reminds me of how it feels to eat at your auntie’s house. The staff is happy to see you, they stuff you full of hot, nourishing food, and they send you on your way with a cookie. It’s not a fancy establishment,
but then, neither is auntie’s.

Pah Ke's Chinese restaurant
46-018 Kamehameha Hwy.
Kaneohe, HI