The Zippy’s Restaurant location on the corner of Nimitz highway and Pacific Street (near Hilo Hattie and City Mill) has finally reopened after being closed for about two-and-a-half months for renovations.
If you’re familiar with this location, you’ll notice nothing at all has changed on the outside, with the same faded beige painted siding and slightly-weathered, yet still decent condition teal awnings.
Neighboring Iwilei eateries such as Eat Cafe, Sam Choy’s BLC, and the various eateries in Dole Cannery surely must have seen a spike in business while they were closed. I know the roving “Bento Man” benefited by their closure, making more frequent, daily stops at our office (for one) to fill the void.
While we normally take Zippy’s for granted, actually to the point of suffering “Zippy’s burnout”, many of us admittedly missed the variety of food and convenience of this location, so it’s good to have them back.
Now that they’re open, Zippy’s is being proactive in attracting back their clientele, putting up big banners out front and handing out these 15% off coupons to customers during the grand reopening…
While the outside remained unchanged, at first glance, we were surprised by how little was changed in the take-out area as you enter on the inside…
The dining tables and chairs here are the same, as are the ceramic floor tile. Diner A noted that they moved the restroom door to be accessible from inside the take-out restaurant, versus before where you had to walk outside to access it.
They did a little cosmetic “spiffing-up” on the service counter face and put black ceramic tiles on the walls for a more modern look, while the back-lit menu board looks to be the same…
I missed a photo of it, but replacing the fluorescent pen dry-erase board which posted their daily specials is a ceiling-mounted flat panel HDTV that takes over that duty, while it also flashes other miscellaneous Zippy’s promotions. Very cool. Perhaps on Superbowl day they can switch the channel so customers and employees can watch the game. lol
Along with the dine-in section, the Napoleon’s Bakery station is where most of the major changes took place, with a fresh look, improved lighting and more display case space that takes up the length of the walkway that leads to the dine-in restaurant…
Another major alteration is that they connected the dine-in restaurant entrance with the take-out restaurant, so you now enter through the same door on the take-out side and head to the right….
The removal of what used to be a wall and door at the dine-in restaurant’s former entrance certainly makes the entire room now look and feel much more spacious and bright, versus before where it felt more like you were sitting in a bar or lounge. The track lighting is the same, while there’s new ceramic floor tile, booths and Corian tables and chairs…
Since dine-in customers now must pass by the Napoleon’s Bakery station, this surely should help boost sales for the bakery. I don’t think I can look at them scumptious Apple Napples and not buy some. lol
According to staff, the kitchen behind the scenes is still the same, with the only other major unseen renovation being a new central air conditioner unit on the roof.
While I didn’t ask the manager (yet), my “guesstimate” just from a quick look around puts the price tag of this renovation somewhere between $300-700K. I doubt it was more than a $million for labor and materials. If I get the grand total, I’ll get back to you in a comment. Whatever it costs, surely the profits from the “gajillions” of gallons of Chili, Zip Pacs and other Zippy’s favorites will quickly pay for it.
What I really respect and admire about Zippy’s is not only the consistency of their food, but also the cleanliness of their restaurants, and work like this truly is a testament to their corporate philosophy on maintaining that image. Maikai (good job).
Speaking of consistency, the menu is still the same at Nimitz as it is at all other locations, and so are our favorites. For Diner A, one of his “regulars” is the ever-popular Chili Chicken plate….
Comfort food doesn’t get any better than that. Tip! You can buy the same seasoned flour that Zippy’s uses for their excellent fried chicken at Y. Hata on Sand Island Access Road. Good stuff. Cheap too, as it comes in bulk.
After recently reading my “Great Tonkatsu Sauce Shootout”, Diner A asked the clerk for a side of Katsu sauce so we could compare it with the brands I featured. Here it is…
GONG. No go. Not good. Apparently Zippy’s now makes their own “Katsu Sauce”, as before they used to serve Kikkoman’s (USA) Tonkatsu Sauce, which is actually pretty decent. This “Katsu Sauce” had a distinguishable Oyster Sauce flavor, with I’m guessing Ketchup and Shoyu. Something like that. Zippy’s, if you read this, please bring back the Kikkoman brand Tonkatsu (or as it says on the packet, “steak”) sauce. Better yet, serve Bull Dog brand! Hey, one can wish and aspire to dreams, right? lol
Moving along, I love taking their Mahi Mahi plate and turning into a Fish ‘N Chips plate by substituting the white rice for french fries…
While I normally prefer Fish ‘N Chips made with a batter, Zippy’s Panko-coated Mahi Mahi is STELLAR for what it’s worth. Super moist and generously coated with that golden brown and delicious panko crust. I mean really moist!…
Which of course is the nature of deep-fried fish in batter, which is why I love Fish ‘N Chips so much. While I’d prefer a thicker cut of fries, also for what it’s worth, Zippy’s fries are really, really good! Tender inside with a delicate, lightly golden crunchy outside and salted just right. What Zippy’s also does right is their Macaroni Salad…
Al dente, simple, cool, creamy and seasoned perfectly, with what tastes like just a small hint of mustard in it. Just a tad. I give Zippy’s Mac Salad a “nailed it” 5 SPAM Musubi. Perfect. It also goes surprisingly well with my “Fish ‘N Chips” creation here. Coleslaw would be great, but it works with Mac’!
Overall, I give Zippy’s Mahi Mahi what I call “Fish ‘N Chips” plate a solid 4 SPAM Musubi.
On a follow-up visit and taking advantage of their 15% grand reopening coupons (they gave us a big stack!), Diner A picked-up a Zip Pac…
The Zip Pac’s price is be creeping up closer and closer to the $10 mark, currently running $8.10. Ouch. Thank goodness for them coupons.
Again on another visit, Diner A went for one of my favorites, the Fried Noodles…
Also ridiculously priced are these Fried Noodles, costing $6.35 on the takeout menu for what probably costs about a dollar in ingredients. Not only that, but the portion is mini-plate sized. The profit from this menu item alone should help fund more renovation projects. Aside of that, as simple as it is, Zippy’s Fried Noodles are so good and satisfying. Something about the noodles, its texture, and how they flavor it using either just a small amount of shoyu and/or oyster sauce, it’s really, really ono.
Oh yes, the always-tantalizing noodle-grab shot. Just looking at that, after I finish writing this post, I think I’ll head to the kitchen and fire-up the saimin pot. Sounds good!
660 N. Nimitz hwy
Open 24 hours daily
The Tasty Island rating:
(4) Excellent. Worth another visit or purchase. (Winnahz!)
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