Lunch with HWN PAKE at BWS Cafeteria

BWS Cafeteria – Oxtail Soup with rice and cucumber kim chee , $8.50

Nate, better known in the food blogosphere as HWN PAKE IN OKINAWA, is back home on Oahu from Okinawa for a brief vacation, and today met with me for the first time over lunch at the BWS Cafeteria. Through a tip from Nate, our gang sampled this hidden gem back in September of last year, that time turning out a “supah ono!” 3-SPAM Musubi rating.

Being food bloggers, naturally Nate and I had plenty to wala’au (talk story) about all da’ grinds, so that’s where we’ll start this off with.

While it wasn’t available on the day of our visit back in September, the Oxtail Soup was indeed on special here today, and that’s why I suggested to Nate that we make our lunch meeting on Thursday, when BWS Cafeteria regularly puts it on their daily specials list. Looking at this week’s daily specials, they also offer Oxtail Soup on Wednesdays as well. Surely this is a popular item here, as more than a majority of the orders landing on the table around us was the Oxtail Soup. At just $8.50 for a satisfyingly-sized bowl, including rice and cucumber tsukemeno on the side, it’s easy to understand why.

Other daily specials for today included hamburger steak, grilled pepper steak, or baked pork chops in mushroom gravy, each entree including rice and salad, to which the latter is what Nate opted for…

BWS Cafeteria – Baked pork chops in mushroom gravy with rice and salad, $6.50

Zooming in a little closer on Nate’s baked pork chops, he noted the mushroom gravy was supah ono, which is pretty much seals the deal here…

BWS Cafeteria – Baked pork chops in (supah’ ono) mushroom gravy with rice and salad, $6.50

Nate didn’t say much more about his plate besides the supah ono gravy, yet he polished his plate clean, so nuff said right there!

Now on to my order of Oxtail Soup, here you have a better view of just how much you get for a post tax day blues busting $8.50…

BWS Cafeteria – Oxtail Soup with rice and cucumber kim chee (and grated ginger condiment) , $8.50

If that isn’t the “deal of the Oxtail Soup century”, I don’t know what is! lol Of course, downtown Honolulu is known for killer deals on grinds, and this is just one of them.

But is this just “any oxtail soup”, or is it something special? I’d say considering the flavor of the broth, abundance of falling-off-the-bones oxtail meat, compounded by the great price point, and relaxing, casual, quiet, breezy rooftop ambiance of the BWS Cafeteria dining room, it IS special. I savored each and every bite, polishing off everything you see on this tray.

Here’s a couple more close-ups on this order of Oxtail Soup…

As witnessed here, you will not be left asking “where’s the beef?!” with this bowl of soup. It’s in there in abundance. Throw some of the grated ginger in the soup broth, and save some to mix with shoyu, which you dip the oxtail meat and various cabbage generously added in there, and, oooh yeah, winnahz!

Being a notable factor in this dish, Nate asked how strong the star anise was, to which I thought was on the subtle side. Especially in comparison to the recipe mom follows from Jean Hee’s book, which calls for 5 star anise. Nate says he usually puts no more than 2 star anise in his oxtail soup. Either way, it works for me, not being too licorice-like. The “veggie-beef-like” broth easily offsets that.

Just a quick note on the sides: the cucumber “kim chee” actually tasted more like namasu, which is fine by me! Although I’ve never tried eating oxtail soup with either one, and can’t verify which is better, this better-described “namasu cucumbers” was excellent with the dish!

As early pointed out in all factors considered, this bowl of Oxtail Soup from BWS Cafeteria on this visit wins a solid 4 Spam Musubi rating.

Here’s how BWS Cafeteria looks, which I snapped this photo just before the noon rush…

When a place has a really small menu like this, it’s a good thing…

BWS Cafeteria – Lunch Specials for 4/16/09

It was great to finally meet the “HWN PAKE”, a fellow Hawaii (expat) food blogger in person. Being that he’s currently working in Okinawa, I had many questions to ask, not only about the food, but also about such aspects as their culture, geography, weather and economy, all from a gaijin (foreigner’s) perspective.

Interestingly, because Nate is (Hawaii-born) Chinese, I asked him what Okinawans commonly assume he is (ethnically by appearance), and they all think he’s Okinawan. So he must constantly tell folks there that he’s from Hawaii to address the language barrier. He did note that, once you tell folks there you’re from Hawaii, you instantly become a highly regarded and respected person. Cool.

That was a great lunch. Mahalo Nate!

P.S. Mahalo, also, for the Okinawan Goya seeds. I’ll keep ya’ posted on how it does in the earth.

Related links:
Downtown Eats: BWS Cafeteria – This blog


4 thoughts on “Lunch with HWN PAKE at BWS Cafeteria

  1. I am grateful for the pictures, the commentary, the yummy-liciousness of what you report. The biggest issue, however, is the price. I left Hawaii nine months ago because of the prices. Crazy. I hope there will be an uprising soon regarding this issue. However, I don’t expect it. That is why I left.

  2. Jeff, indeed the cost of living here is astronomical, yet most who live here agree the pros outweigh the cons. That’s why eating at places such as BWS Cafeteria are such a relief on the wallet… especially after just paying the utility (water) bill like Amy.

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