I randomly read about ‘Aina and the Hawaiian brunch pop up immediately caught my attention. I was slightly disappointed to find out the limited random days of operation (i.e. first 2 weekends of every month), but I suppose that is the very definition of a “pop up.” On a Sunday morning, we loaded up the Twin Tornadoes and headed over the Bernal Heights, a neighborhood we don’t frequent very often, but every time I’ve come, it’s always exuded a cozy SF charm albeit an extremely suburban urban one.
Many people have suggested that I add a twist to my blog and shift my focus to family friendly restaurants. To be honest, I’ve hesitated going down this direction as I am not sure that great food and family friendly often go hand in hand. However, in a city like San Francisco where fantastic food is around every corner and a growing generation of late Gen X’ers and Millennials are making greater efforts to raise children in the city, I would imagine that this would be more common. So this represents the first real eatery where we took the kids and I felt it was worth writing home to my readers.
I love spam, but I love even more how they call it seared pork terrine in this dish. It totally brings spam to more respectable culinary level. The aesthetics of this dish already had me salivating, because it looked so pretty. The pork terrine was served with a side of bernaise sauce over a bed of short grain rice and topped with a sunny-side up egg. The sprinkling of pistachio furikake and mix of herbal flowers finished off the plate. It was hearty yet distinctly Hawaiian. Absolutely delicious!
I had a lot of hope for this dish. The Korean short ribs were smoked for 12 hours and topped with a mushroom gravy and heart of palms pico de gallo. This was also pretty solid, but I don’t think dish was as well executed because I still found the short ribs to be a teeny tad bit dry and not as tender as I would have hoped. The flavors were good though.
Although this dish didn’t look as beautifully plated as the others, and ironically enough, it is the one we ordered for the kids, I thought it tasted pretty good. It was a Chicken Katsu with carrot puree, baby greens, sunny side up eggs and a somen slaw. It actually looked quite appropriate for children. The asian seasoning in the katsu batter made it kind of interesting, but I think using dark meat chicken somehow the katsu fall apart more easily. Again, I still enjoyed the flavors and seasoning, and I didn’t knock them too much for the execution.
All in all, I really enjoyed the meal. Admittedly, the whole Hawaiian brunch theme is not easy to find in the San Francisco food scene so the rarity of this type of food probably helps to satisfy my taste buds. There was one restaurant we went to called Grindz in the Richmond where we also took the kids too, but I never wrote about it. The food was solid. There were a few good dishes and a few average ones, but I think when you’re craving some food from the Islands… it really hits the spot.
903 Cortland St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
PAFO Ratings for ‘Aina:
Ambiance 3 stars
Food 3½ stars
Overall rating 3½ stars