After a grueling 4-hour hike up and down the entire Kuli’ou’ou Ridge Trail recently, on the way back we stopped by ShAloha Mediterranean cuisine for a late lunch. ShAloha is based specifically from Israeli cuisine, however please note they’re not kosher.
ShAloha is located in Kaimuki, on the corner of Waialae and 3rd Avenue, right across St. Louis Drive In and Chaminade / St. Louis School.
Since the last time this place was reviewed here back in 2014, the menu hasn’t changed much, except of course for an increase in price, and the addition of ShAloha plates, which are essentially a deconstructed version of their sandwiches, with the addition of rice.
VEGETARIAN PITA SANDWICHES
$12 (Hummus $8)
FALAFEL – A middle east classic; garbanzo beans and our house spices fried until golden brown and served with homemade salads in freshly baked pita.
EGGPLANT SANDWICH (SABICH) –Thick rounds of fried eggplant that melt like butter in your mouth, combined with a hard boiled egg and served in a warm pita with Israeli salad and homemade tahini.
HUMMUS SANDWICH – The famous Middle East spread, made from cooked garbanzo beans and blended with olive oil, sesame, lemon juice and spices, served in a pita bread.
MEAT PITA SANDWICHES
- SHAWARMA – Juicy chicken thighs marinated in our shawarma spices, grilled to perfection and served in our fresh-baked pita with salads.
CHICKEN SCHNITZEL – A juicy chicken breast fillet (boneless & skinless), breaded and fried in our special spices, served in pita bread with homemade salads.
Any choice above $15 (includes rice), Hummus $11
- PITA CHIPS – Shaloha’s version of french fries. House-made fresh-baked Pita chips are made to order, and served with hummus. $8
- Hummus / Tabouleh, Iraeli Salad / Red Cabbage / White Cabbage – small $8, large $12
- Lemonana – ShAloha’s own fresh mint-infused lemonade $3
- Fresh-baked house-made Pita Pack: small (6 each) $8, large (12 each) $12
ShAloha has won recognition and praise for their fresh-baked pita bread made daily in-house, and they really do stand out from anything you buy in the store shipped from the mainland. Good stuff!
Like Korean, what I especially love about Mediterranean cuisine are the complimentary assortment of prepared veggies. Above are an Israeli Salad and Tabouleh. The latter of which is made with quinoa, tomatoes, mint, parsley, olive oil and lemon.
Another highlight of ShAloha is their house-made super creamy hummus in the far left bin above. So, so good! Next to that is Israeli seasoned white and red cabbage.
Without further ado, being a chicken fan while having never tried this before, Diner K went with the Shawarma sandwich. Again, that’s described as “Juicy chicken thighs marinated in our shawarma spices, grilled to perfection and served in fresh-baked pita with salads.”
$12 is a relative high price for a takeout sandwich, however they do pack a lot in there, where this thing had some real heft to it.
Being a huge fan of it, I always get the Falafel Sandwich, shown above.
A middle east classic, Falafel is a deep-fried ball made of garbanzo beans and spices, fried until golden brown. It’s served in a pita lined with hummus, and supposed to also have Tahini sauce drizzled over it, however it they forgot to add that when making it this time. No!!!! The reason I didn’t notice is I wasn’t watching them make my sandwich, and it was wrapped up before I got a look at it prior to leaving.
Above is a better angle of the Falafel “money shot”.
I can never leave ShAloha without a side of their fabulous Pita Chips with house-made creamy hummus.
And? Let me start with the Pita Chips and Hummus. For an increase in price to $8, not only is that a bit high for a side dish at a takeout shop, they now don’t add the important ingredient that used to make this special: Zaatar. When I asked the counter person why there was no Za’atar on it, she said, “we don’t do that anymore.” What?!
Above is how it’s supposed to look like. Za’atar is a Mediterranean seasoning blend made with oregano, thyme, sumac and various other herbs and spices. That makes all the difference on these otherwise fantastic deep fried pita chips. Without the Zaa’tar? Nope, it’s a no-go. That fantastic creamy hummus to dip them helped just a little, however with no seasoning on the deep-fried pita chips whatsoever, they were like a Ferrari driving on its spare tire.
As for my Falafel sandwich, it was definitely amiss without the Tahini sauce. Like the Pita Chips, I think there was also a seasoning “issue” within the ingredients here as well, unless it’s that Tahini that gives this sandwich all its character. I certainly wasn’t about to drive all the way back to Kaimuki just to add that on, nor do I keep the stuff in my fridge. My best remedy was to put more Hummus from the Pita chips and some Israeli hot sauce on it for added flavor. With that, it was acceptably good, however I wasn’t exactly raving over it as I did in the past.
Being the first time here, Diner K wasn’t all that impressed either with her Shwarma seasoned chicken sandwich. I took a bite and would concur with that.
ShAloha is owned by Sage Sisko, originally from Israel. He used to have a business partner named Mor, also from Israel, however the cashier told me Mor is no longer involved with the company. As its stands, ShAloha has an excellent 4.5 stars average rating out of 528 reviews, so perhaps this was just one of those off days. Still, they better bring that Za’atar back for the Pita Chips.
3133 Waialae Avenue
Honolulu, Hawaii 96816
Tel. (808) 744-4222
The Tasty Island rating: (for 4.12.18)
(1-1/2) Average to good
• ShAloha – Yelp user reviews
• New Middle Eastern Eatery: Shaloha – Honolulu Magazine Blog
• Fuud: Shaloha in Kaimuki – The Cat Dish blog
• ShAloha Pita – Fashionably Forward Foodie blog
• HawaiIsrael.com – Mini Israel, an online Israeli Kosher Supermarket in Hawaii
• OahuKosher.com – Fine Kosher food for all occasion, serving the island of Oahu
• ShalomHawaii.com – Everything for and about the Jewish community on the Hawaiian islands
P.S. Since we’re on sandwiches, once again I’ve been on a BLT “binge”, having one about every other day for the past couple weeks. Yeah, I know. Sigh. Woe is me.
For me, a BLT should be kept classically simple. Good bacon — I use thick-cut Maple smoked Kirkland (Costco) brand — that’s pan-fried semi-crispy with still a little chew. Top that with thick-sliced perfectly ripe tomatoes, hand-torn leaves of crispy fresh Iceberg Lettuce (I prefer that over any other type for BLT), on very fresh lightly toasted sandwich bread that’s smothered generously on both sides with Best Foods Mayonnaise. Such a perfect combo’.
I’ve always wanted to try making Big Island style Smoke Meat using Pork Belly, turning it essentially into “Hawaiian Bacon”. Next time I smoke a batch I’ll try that and make a BLT out of it. I bet it’d be winnahz!