The past three weeks have taught me two very important lessons.
First, if you are taking pain killers for, say, a leg infection, you should never take one of the pills and then fall asleep with your headphones on while listening to Pink Floyd. (I am only thankful that it wasn’t “The Wall” that was playing.)
Second, never say anything other than wonderful things about a woman’s new hairdo no matter how bad it is.
So, because of my lesson on the second count, I felt I should invite Madge out for dinner to tell her that, on second thought, she looked great as a platinum blonde. I gave her a call and she readily accepted my invite but said she was craving something Polynesian and asked if I knew of any place that could offer such fare. I mentioned that there was a new spot in Chandler that had been advertising a lot called “Waikiki” and she said that would be fine.
After I picked her up, we headed out to Waikiki and found ourselves on the doorstep of a stand-alone building with an unassuming facade and the name of the restaurant in bright, red letters. We entered the place and I was sort of surprised because the interior was more like a warehouse with only a few splashes of anything vaguely Polynesian. We were taken to a table on the far side of the building and handed menus and told our server would be with us momentarily.
As I looked around even more, it was clear the place was a work in progress and despite its warehouse-like feel, the people were friendly and the place had a nice charm to it. On the wall above our table was a photo of a woman in a hula skirt doing a dance and I asked Madge if she wanted a fruity drink with an umbrella in it. “Not tonight, dear,” she said and threw me a quick smile. We reviewed the menus and were impressed with the offerings. There was something there for everyone.
Our server arrived and we placed our drink order. Madge and I both had Diet Cokes ($2.50 each). Our server asked if we wanted to order any appetizers and Madge suggested we try the Waikiki Boneless Wings ($8.95) and also the Crispy Pot Stickers ($6.95). I also suggested we try their Jumbo Quesadilla ($6.95), just to see what their version would be like.
After getting our drinks and placing our appetizer order, our server returned with our drinks and we ordered our entrees. Madge jumped at the chance to get the Hawaiian Burger ($8.95) and chose the fries as a side instead of the Macaroni Salad. She also ordered a side salad called the Hut Salad ($7.95). I went for the Kahlua Pork Island Plate ($10.95) with rice and veggies. My dinner came with a side salad.
After about a 10 minute wait, our appetizers started to arrive. Our first plate was the Waikiki Boneless Wings. The plate contained five huge boneless wings that had been coated and deep fried. From the look and taste, it seemed like the kitchen had infused the sauce with the batter, which was an interesting take on the wings. The exterior batter was very crunchy and Madge and I thought these were quite good, probably because they were unique. The chicken was hot, tender and moist. We both enjoyed the appetizer.
Next up were the Crispy Potstickers. The plate arrived with six big potstickers and a small plastic ramekin of a sweet chili sauce for dipping. Madge and I each grabbed a potsticker and they were searing hot, so we cut allowed them to cool a bit and then I dipped mine into the sauce and took a bite. The crunch was as loud as munching on tortilla chips. They were wonderfully crisp and the filling was a mixture of pork, ginger, onion and garlic. They were excellent. Madge had a bite of hers and agreed that they were outstanding potstickers. The extreme crunchiness of the wrapper really put these over the top. The sweet chili sauce was slightly spicy, but I would have preferred much more of it on the plate than the small cup. Still, these were fantastic potstickers and I would order them again in a heartbeat.
Our final appetizer arrived and I was hoping for a trifecta of great appetizers. However, the minute I saw the Jumbo Quesadilla, my heart sank. It was pretty enough with the a ribbon of chopped vegetables trimming up the quesadilla, but when I picked up my first slice, I knew this was not going to be a happy time. In fact, this quesadilla was truly horrible. The thing was barely room temperature. The cheese hadn’t even fully melted and the tortilla looked like it had never seen a griddle or pan. Also distressing was the vegetable mix on top had an overly sweet edge to it that was jarring and unwelcome. Madge took a bite and said, “Wow, that’s terrible.” It really was that bad. Thankfully, the wings and potstickers were more than enough to save the first course.
While we waited for the next round of food, Madge broached the subject of her hair. “I wanted to thank you, Seth, for being so candid with me about my hair,” she said in a very matter-of-fact, but conciliatory tone. “I guess I just didn’t want to hear it, but you were right that it just isn’t me.” I reached over and squeezed her hand and told her that we had been friends for a very long time and that if I couldn’t be honest with her, then what kind of friend would I be. She smiled and told me that she was going to let her natural hair color grow out. We were then interrupted by the arrival of Madge’s salad and I smiled knowing that all was right in my world.
Madge’s salad was quite large, but simple. The sizable bowl contained iceberg and Romaine lettuce along with tomato wedges, red onion slices, and croutons. Madge had selected the balsamic vinaigrette as her dressing, but complained that the small plastic cup wasn’t enough for the large salad. She did like the freshness of the salad, however, but did think the price was a little too high for what she got.
About halfway into her salad, Madge’s Hawaiian Burger arrived. The circular plate held a large burger topped with a pineapple slice and coated in teriyaki sauce, a small serving of French Fries, and the toppings for the burger in the form of red onion slices, sliced tomatoes and a lettuce leaf. Madge dressed her burger and took a bite. She thought it was very good. She especially liked the teriyaki sauce which she described as “thick and sweet.” Since Madge adores pineapple, she thought it made the burger that much better. The hamburger itself was moist and juice, she said, but was slightly overcooked. The fries, while tasty, were cold. “They seem to have a temperature problem in the kitchen,” she muttered.
My Kahlua Pork Plate arrived right after Madge’s burger and the large plate was mounded with white rice, grilled slices of zucchini and yellow squash and a hefty serving of slow-cooked pork. The pork was delicious, and, true to Hawaiian plate style, salty. It was quite rich and I could not have asked for a more tender serving of pork. The grilled squash was surprisingly delicious with a pleasant seasoning and a smokiness from the grill. The white rice was light and fluffy and a great counterpart to the pork. I was very pleased with my plate dinner.
Our server returned with my side salad and apologized that it had not been brought out at the same time as Madge’s salad. I was more than happy to forgive the oversight as I had completely forgotten that it came with my dinner. My salad was a smaller version of the salad that Madge had except that mine had some shredded cheese on top and didn’t seem as fresh as Madge’s salad.
By the time we finished our meals, we were completely stuffed. I requested the check while Madge went to the powder room. The total was $59.16 which included tax. Considering what we ordered, we thought this was a decent value. After paying the bill, we exited to the car and I asked Madge what she thought. “I would come back,” she said. “It is a fun place.” I, too, thought it was a fun place. Nothing fancy, but earnest people trying serve some island food with a full service bar in the center of the restaurant. We could have done much worse. Service was friendly and efficient (even with the salad issue).
So, with happy stomaches and the air cleared between Madge and me, I drove back to I-10 and then to Central Phoenix to return Madge home.
As we drove back, Madge thanked me for dinner and for being a good friend. “So, can I ask you something?” Madge blurted out.
“Sure!” I said.
“Do you think I am too old to have a baby?”
Waikiki Restaurant & Bar
140 West Warner Road
Chandler, AZ 85225
Dress: Casual / Hawaiian shirts
Hours: Sunday through Thursday - 11 AM to 11 PM; Friday and Saturday - 11 AM to 2 AM
Notes: On the northwest corner of Arizona Ave. and Warner Road.
Alcohol: Full bar service.
Additional photos can be found at www.feastinginphoenix.com
Waikiki Restuarant and Bar
140 W Warner Rd, Chandler, AZ