After hearing a bunch of her coworkers rave about this place, this past week Diner K convinced me to try Jersey Mike’s Subs, who recently opened in the Hawaii Kai Towne Center (Costco, Ross and City Mill).
Well the hype and word of mouth must be very positive, as when we arrived this past Wednesday around 1pm, it was PACKED, with a long line that steadily remained nearly out the front door. Thankfully Jersey Mike’s is well-staffed, with about 8 employees working the counter when we were there. Or, excuse me, they’re “Sandwich Artists”. Or, excuse me, we need to throw in the proper “Joyzee” accent and pronounce it “Syanwich Wattist”. LOL!
What’s funny is, when I asked the gal ringing me up about their bread and I referenced Subway, she looked at me like I said the “F” word. Don’t ever say “Subway” at Jersey Mike’s, or you going get da’ evil eye!
That said (stubbornly), it’s a similar experience as Subway at Jersey Mike’s, where you tell the first person what you want, who then sets up your sandwich and hands it off to the next “Syanwich Wattist” along the assembly line. The difference here is they only have one type of sub sandwich bread in white or wheat in either regular (8″) or giant (16″!). While the biggest deal of all that sets them apart, is the deli meats and cheese are all sliced to order on their electric deli slicer. Which IIRC, is what Blimpie did. Remember Blimpie Subs?
Actually, they don’t have nearly as many veggie, cheese and dressing options as Subway, sticking with a simple “Mike’s Way” for the cold subs, being onions, lettuce, tomatoes, spices and “The Juice: a blend of Red Wine Vinegar and Olive Oil. Of course you can customize that combination however you want, which in retrospect, I should have. More on that shortly.
Without further ado, the entire Jersey Mike’s Subs Hawaii Kai menu from their takeout version, which is completely identical to what you’ll see on the menu board in the shop, including the prices:
Download Jersey Mike’s Subs Hawaii Kai Towne Center location menu in PDF format here!
As they have so proudly on display in their shop, Jersey Mike’s uses both their own name label, as well as independent brands for their ingredients, including Hormel Pepperoni, Blue Ribbon Turkey Breast and Four Monks Red Wine Vinegar.
In the following photo sequence, you can see how two “Syandwich Wattists” work the heavy-duty Bizerba electric deli slicer, alternating first with slicing the Provolone Cheese, then on to alternating the deli meats in succession, loading each sandwich according to the order. Notice in the third photo, there’s a hand-off between the two workers from one type of deli meat to the next.
Their hot subs get the flattop grill treatment for their meats ‘n veggies.
The hot subs are assembled at another counter in back next to the flattop grill.
Above is the cold sub veggies ‘n condiments finishing station. In retrospect, had I known they also had pickles and mayonnaise, I’d had asked for that in addition to their default “Mike’s Way”. Why isn’t there Deli Mustard? Shouldn’t that be standard at ALL sandwich shops?
Adding “The Juice”, a blend of Red Wine Vinegar and Olive Oil.
Add a bag of chips and 22 oz. drink to your sub order for an additional $3.69, or $3.89 for the 32 oz. drink. There’s also a potato chip line under Frito Lay they offer that I didn’t get a shot of named “Miss Vickie’s”.
Jersey Mike’s fresh-baked cookies and brownies by David’s Cookies. Them chocolate brownies are BOMB DOT COM! More on that later.
I’ll go with the Tropicana Pink Lemonade, thank you very much! Love that sweet ‘n acidic “twang” with my sub!
Sugar-laden soft drinks not your thang? Instead, fill your cup with fresh-brewed CHINAMIST Blackberry Jasmine, Traditional or Passion Fruit Iced Green or Black Tea.
Regarding the service, the line moved fairly quickly, where starting from the back of the line near the door, we got to the ordering counter within about 10 minutes. Once there, we were checking out within about another 8 minutes. Not bad considering how bonkers busy it was. All the staff was also super friendly with smiles on their face, while being knowledgeable and helpful. These guys and gals were on it!
So we agreed that we’d order one cold sub and one hot sub, so we could try each style and see which was better. Thus, I went with the cold sub, deciding on the Jersey Shore Favorite, while Diner K went with the Pastrami Reuben hot sub. Rounding it off was the addition of a bag of chips and soft drink to each order.
Being a cold sub, the Jersey Shore Favorite comes wrapped in paper, unlike the hot subs that are wrapped in aluminum foil.
The Jersey Shore Favorite features Provolone Cheese, Ham and Cappacuolo, which was $8.75 for the regular, while the large is $13.95.
I went the default “Mike’s Way”, which is pretty much the works at this place, again being fresh Onion, Iceberg Lettuce, Tomato and “The Juice”: a blend of Red Wine Vinegar and Olive Oil. It’s served on an 8″ bread that’s fresh-baked every day on the premises. Just like how Subway does it. I said it again! *whack-whack* Probably all you hardcore sub sandwich fanatics wanna’ slap me too for keep referencing Subway. lol
In the top view above, you get a better idea in scale to my Note 5 as to how big the regular JMS is, where my “phablet” phone measures 6″ length x 3″ width.
Even this “regular” 8″ sub — which they cut in half by default — would be enough for two people, unless you’re REALLY hungry. I only could eat half, taking the rest home for later.
So here we have the Jersey Shore Favorite cold sub “money shot”, where you see them layers of sliced-to-order Provolone cheese, Ham and Cappacuolo deli meat.
I’ll have to be honest, this will the first time I’m trying Cappacuolo, that red deli meat.
And? First of all the white sub sandwich bread they use is OUTSTANDING! I was really worried the bread was going to disappoint me, but nope, it is PERFECT! The best way I can describe it is, if you’re familiar with Safeway’s fresh-baked French Bread loaf, this is EXACTLY like that, albeit in a smaller form factor. Same flavor, and more importantly same texture, with that crusty, crunchy golden crust, along with a slightly glutenous and chewy, yet airy inner part. It smells fresh-baked, and it tastes fresh-baked, because it is fresh-baked!
I will say though, this white sub sandwich bread is sensitive to becoming soggy, especially if you get the cold style with”The Juice”, so I would highly suggest you eat the sandwich as soon as possible, and not let it sit too long. The other half I took home and ate the next day did suffer some sogginess where “The Juice” absorbed into it, however fortunately for the most part it held up.
As for the piled-on layers of Provolone, Ham and Cappacuolo deli meats, to be honest, it all kind of became muddled, where I couldn’t really distinguish the difference between each deli sliced layer. If I were blindfolded, I would have just as well thought perhaps this was a glorified ham ‘n cheese sub.
And “The Juice” wasn’t really doing it for me. It’s too “thinly acidic”, while not the right olive oil flavor and silky mouthfeel. Subway’s vinegar and oil blend is much better, IMO. As I noted previously at the veggie station, this cold sub was also missing what I think is BASIC in any deli sandwich, mayonnaise and mustard. What’s up with that?
Actually I still prefer my go-to fave’, Subway’s Cold Cut Combo over this one. Mainly because I’m more used to Subway’s flavors, being I grew up with them. In fact, over the course of my life time, hands down I’ve eaten at Subway more than any other fast food chain. By a hundred-fold!
That said, don’t get me wrong, this was still a very decent cold deli sub, and I enjoyed it, especially with that outstanding bread. However I’m personally just biased towards Subway, especially because they have way more veggies and other toppings for it. And it has nothing to do with price, being this Jersey Shore Favorite is considerably higher than my favorite Cold Cut Combo, but simply personal taste.
Next we move on to the hot sub category, in the form of Jersey Mike’s Pastrami Reuben, where notice this hot sub is wrapped in foil vs. paper.
Voila. The Pastrami Reuben. Now if you’re a Reuben fan, you’re probably scratching your head as I did, like “huh? Where’s the dark rye bread? A true Reuben must have Rye!” Yup, I thought the same thing. But we’ll give it a chance and try it.
Jersey Mike’s Pastrami Reuben is in the “Hot Classics” category, featuring grilled Pastrami, Swiss Cheese, Sauerkraut and Thousand Islands Dressing. The regular shown is $9.45, while the giant is $14.95.
And? OK, this is MUCH BETTER than the cold Jersey Shore Favorite sub. The hot thinly sliced pastrami was spot-on in flavor, tasty, tender and juicy. The melted swiss, sauerkraut and thousand island brought it all home, making it pretty much true to its name. While it was still amiss without Rye bread, the default crusty white bread still worked quite well, enough where if you’re not a hardcore Reuben fan and didn’t know the difference, you’d totally, totally dig this hot sub.
While not totally, totally diggin’ it because of the absence of Rye bread, we were totally diggin’ Jersey Mike’s Pastrami Reuben. Like, totally. lol In fact, between Diner K and myself, we both polished off the entire sandwich!
With that, we both agreed we’d come back to try the Philly Cheese Steak version of their hot sub.
As for the (Frito Lay) Maui Style Potato Chips & 22 oz. soft drink, that was an additional $3.69 per sandwich, and nothing worth commenting further than that.
Diner K also grabbed one of Jersey Mike’s house-made Chocolate brownies by David’s Cookies (baked fresh every day) for dessert, and I must say, it was EXCELLENT. Super-duper moist, almost to the point of being a brownie fudge, and very rich in a delicious way. My only wish is that it had walnuts in it. To me, a brownie just isn’t complete without chopped Walnuts! Gotta’ have ’em! Still, if you wanna’ complete your sub dining experience here and you like chocolate, definitely grab one of Jersey Mike’s brownies for dessert!
As for picking a spot to eat, because it was so crowded in Jersey Mikes, with only one row of tables in the narrow space they’re in, we decided to eat right outside on the marina waterfront behind the shopping center, which I would highly recommend to you. You get there through the center courtyard entrance, in between Maile’s Thai Bistro and Panda Express.
The view of Hawaii Kai Marina while you enjoy your grindz out there is the best! Above is the exact view from the table we were sitting. Nice!
Summing it up, between Diner K and my opinion of our sandwiches (Jersey Shore Favorite and Pastrami Reuben), sides and overall customer experience, Jersey Mike’s Subs gets an initial 3 SPAM Musubi, meaning “Very Good!”
Jersey Mike’s Subs
Hawaii Kai Towne Center
333 Keahole St.
Honolulu, Hawaii 96825
Tel. (808) 395-8880
The Tasty Island Rating:
(3) Very Good
• Jersey Mike’s Subs (Hawaii Kai) – Yelp user reviews
• National sandwich chain to open first Hawaii shop in East Oahu – Pacific Business News