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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Aloha Grill - Costa Mesa

1749 Newport Blvd.
Costa Mesa, CA 92627


Tucked away in a tiny strip mall in Costa Mesa, near The Golden Truffle, lies the brand new Aloha Grill. This is the second location for Aloha Grill, the first being in Huntington Beach. I decided to dine at the Aloha Grill a couple of weeks ago as a party of seven. It was one of those nights that was really cold. We walked up to the Aloha Grill and saw that most of the seating was outdoors. There were only about 5 tables inside, and the only one that could accommodate a party of 7 was taken. We thought briefly about sitting outside near the large fire pit, but finally decided to occupy two separate tables, indoors.

We sat down and were given our menus. The waitress told us that they had only been open for three weeks. She asked if we had any questions about the menu. I saw Loco Moco on the menu and asked if it was a popular dish there. The waitress asked me where I saw Loco Moco. I pointed it out on the menu and she said that she had never even heard of it before, so she had no idea. A couple of the rest of us had questions as well, but it seemed as if we knew more about the menu that the waitress did after looking at them for only a few minutes. We decided to make our own decisions without any help from the waitress.

I decided to start off with an appetizer. I ordered the Hawaiian Drums ($7.95) for all of us to share. I then ordered the Kahlua Pork Sliders Special($6.95) that I saw on the specials board outside, another item the waitress had no clue about. V ordered the Pipeline Fish Tacos ($9.95). J ordered the Molokai Teriyaki Chicken ($10.95) and S ordered the Hilo Hawaiian Plate ($9.95). R decided to order the same Kahlua Pork Sliders that I did. C ordered the Kahlua Pork Hawaiian Plate. He had to point it out on the menu because the waitress didn't know what it was. Finally, D ordered the Big Island Plate ($10.95).

After a brief wait, the Hawaiian Drums came out. The menu described this dish as marinated chicken drummettes, slow roasted and tossed in a spicy cherry char-siu sauce, then topped with pineapple and green onions. The chicken wings were actually pretty darn tasty. They were slighty sweet, slightly spicy and had a slightly crispy texture. They were very well balanced. These were however, the smallest chicken wings I have seen in my entire life. Everyone was poking at them and wondering if they were actually quail or cornish game hen wings. Since they were so tiny, we actually got about 20 of them on the plate. I picked up a piece of what was supposed to be pineapple and put it on my mouth. I then couldn't decide if I was eating a raw potato or jicama. I told J and V to try a piece. Neither one of them could believe how little flavor it had. C tried one and had the same reaction. V thought that maybe they had taken pineapple, soaked it in water for days to extract all the flavor and then boiled it to get every last bit of flavor out before serving it. I wasn't buying it. I'm pretty sure they were serving us raw potatoes or something that were colored slightly yellow and shaped like pineapple chunks.

Our food came out a little while later. R and I had ordered the same thing, the Kahlua Pork Sliders. The food runner asked us which one of us had ordered the sliders with no onion. Neither one of us had. He just handed one plate to each of us and said he'd bring out a side of grilled onions. R and I both enjoyed our sliders very much. The kahlua pork was tossed in a slightly spicy barbecue sauce and was put on some soft rolls. The only bad part about them was that they had stuffed more of that awful fake pineapple inside. I picked it out and happily ate my sliders. The french fries were really good too. They were fresh, hot and crispy.

V got three tacos stuffed with Mahi Mahi, cabbage and spicy habanero-cilantro mayo. She didn't like her tacos at all. She said the fish was dry and fishy tasting. She felt the tacos were also completely bland.

J's meal was an 8 oz marinated and charbroiled chicken breast glazed with teriyaki sauce. It was served with vegetables and two scoops of sticky rice. J said that thie meal was a contender for the worst meal she has ever had in her entire life. She said that the chicken was dry and tasteless. She didn't know how it was possible, but even the rice was so bad she couldn't eat it. J usually loves vegetables but she said these were completely without flavor. She was wondering how it was possible for her vegetables to taste like absolutely nothing. They didn't even have a bad flavor, they just tasted like nothing at all. Her meal was also covered in more of that flavorless fake pineapple.

C didn't like his Kahlua Pork plate either. He said that the pork was very dry and had no flavor at all. This made me happy that I had the sauce on mine. He said the dish was just horrible.

S's Hilo Hawaiian Plate came with teriyaki chicken, bell pepper and onion. It was served with a scoop of rice and a scoop of mac salad. S also said that her food had no flavor but that she was ok with that. S tends to like really bland food so she said she felt the food was decent.

I don't remember what D said about her food, but I remember that she didn't like it either. Her meal came with teriyaki steak, onions, bell peppers, rice and mac salad. The theme of the night seemed to be that everything was flavorless.

In the end it seemed that most of us were very disappointed in our food. I enjoyed my sliders and wings, except for the fake pineapple though. I guess I was just lucky in my ordering. Most of the people I was with despised their food so much though that I doubt we will ever return.

Seriously......I want this restaurant to contact me and convince me that they were actually serving us pineapple and not some fake pineapple shaped thing. It had the texture of a raw apple or potato, not pineapple. It had no flavor. It looked like pineapple, but it totally wasn't. Has some company out there created mock pineapple that they make out of some flavorless, crispy substance? This is driving me crazy! What was I eating?!?!

Aloha Grill on Urbanspoon


Chubbypanda said...

I've eaten at the Aloha Grill in Huntington Beach, and I recall being less than impressed. Much less. Win some lose some, I suppose.

ChristianZ said...

I went to the HB one a couple years ago wanting to like it. I think it is more about the scene than the food.

Captain said...

That Kahlua Pork plate looks as if it sat under a heat lamp for an hour. It just looks all dry and disgusting, like old, forgotten food that's been sitting on the plate all day.

Anonymous said...

As this complainer stated in the beginning, the restaurant is brand new. With any new business there will be some growing pains. The food is fantastic at Aloha Grill. This is a place for hawaiin food. These complainers need to go to Norms or Outback to get their mainlander stlye meat and potatoes. I highly recommend the food and experience you will get from dining at Aloha Grill. The atmospere is upbeat with an age range of about 50 down to 21. If you are looking for a quite boring time do not go to Aloha Grill.

Shelly Borrell said...

Hi Griffin. Thanks for the thorough write up -- I had only tried the Hula Burger, which I would not get again. And I thought I'd go back to try something different hoping it's better, but after reading about your experience, I'm not sure if I'll bother. Thanks!

Thanks, Shelly
Nibbles of Tidbits

Anonymous said...

I took my family of 4 to the Costa Mesa location last night. The food was a disaster. The service was even worse. Lazy execution on all fronts. Unless they turn things around, I don't expect this place to last long.

Anonymous said...

Went to the Aloha Grill last night and had the worst experience. The Bartender didn't pay attention to us while we were waiting to order and even the waitress was rude! To to it off the bartender insults me and I tipped him $7. Save you money and go somewhere else!!!