Atomosphere: Poor man's Trader Vic's.
Price range: Dinners range from $3.95 to $8.95 plus a la carte choices; children's menu available on Sundays.
Hours: Mondays through Thursdays, 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Fridays 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays from 5 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Special facilities: Accessible to the handicapped; highchairs and booster seats for children; parking is on the street or across the street at a public parking lot (metered by day).
Credit Cards: American Express, Bank Americard, Master Charge, Diner's Club
On an ice cold evening recently, we wandered over to Blue Hawaii to see what Hawaiian cuisine was all about. The sight of palm fronds, brightly colored leis, tribal masks and bamboo wall dividers warmed us up immediately.
Our family of four was shown to a round table with three swivel chairs and one throne-like peacock chair. Our daugher, 11, and our son, 10, both made a dash for what was clearly the best seat in the house. The maitre d' intervened immediately, seating our daughter in the throne-like bamboo chair and telling both children that midway through dinner, they were to switch seats.
Our waiter inquired about drinks while we studied the menu. He suggested chi chi for my husband and me and Hawaiian punch for the children. Chi Chi, he said, is a Hawaiian version of pina colada - pineapple juice, coconut milk and rum or vodka. The punch, he said, was a blend of fruit juices. We went along with his advice and everyone was pleased with their drinks.
The menu at Blue Hawaii is divided into several sections. The first page announces Sunday specials - children under 12 can choose from one of four main courses, all priced at $2.95 to $3.10. The choices were chicken chow mein, chopped sirloin, barbecued spare ribs and shrimp tempura. These are not, unfortunately, available during the week.
The next section listed Korean dishes - Bul Go Gee, $7.95; Gal Bee, $8.95; Be Bab Gap, $6.50, and a Korean shishkabob, $7.95. Exotic flambe dishes were next, featuring Steak Kobe Diane and flaming lobster for $10.95 to $12.95. We got seriously interested in the Blue Hawaiian Special Dinners which included fried rice, a Pu Pu platter (a lazy susan of shrimp tempura, shrimp toast, cho-cho and other hors d'oeurves) and fortune cookies. The choice of entrees ranged from chicken to shrimp to beef to pork dishes. In price, the low as chicken chow mein for $3.95 and the high was Lobster cantonese for $8.95.
My husband decided to try a Korean dish, the Bul Go Gee, which the waiter described as shredded beef marinated in a sauce and made as hot as the customer wanted. My daugher ordered Mooshi pork, $4.25; my son wanted sweet and sour pork, $4.95, and I decided to try chicken with cashew nuts, $5.45.
Our Pu Pu platter, with enough shrimp and cho cho to serve four, arrived with its own flaming hibachi. The shrimp tempura were beautifully cooked - huge succulent shrimp fried in a light batter. The other Pu Pu offerings were good, if somewhat greasy.
Just before our main course arrived, the maitre d' returned to remind our children that they had to switch seats. We were all sorry we hadn't switched dishes with our daughter. Her Mooshi pork was clearly the best of all the dishes. The Korean dish was interesting, the chicken dish was somewhat bland and what is there to say about sweet and sour pork. While we couldn't rave about these dishes, they were adequately prepared and good enough.
What made our dinner at Blue Hawaii somewhat special was the service and attention of the maitre d'. We thought it was charming that he hadn't forgotten the deal he'd set up for our children. We felt the restaurant was comfortable with children without treating them in a cloying way.
While we were getting ready to pay up and leave, a four-piece band started playing music in the back corner of the restaurant. Our maitre d' told us the band would keep it up until closing time.
We lingered for a song or two but were in no position to check out the actual running time of the band.
Our check for food came to $23.30. The chi chis and Hawaiian punches were another $6.90. By the time we paid tip and tax, we had spent $35.15.