The Weekly Eater

Nadine Kam

Sunday, June 6, 2004

Homestyle Filipino cuisine
is on the plate at Julie’Z

My trip to Julie'Z was overdue. I'd planned to visit the Kapolei Filipino restaurant in March, but "American Idol" fever hit, and well, just next door at En Fuego was a television set tuned to the whole shebang and I was torn -- Filipino food or TV?

To TV or not TV was a question many were asking every Tuesday night, and many otherwise cool people were choosing to lounge at home with "Idol."

Normalcy is a blessing. No more fretting about when that red-headed kid was going home or guessing where Jasmine's flower would end up next.

Even now though, there's no escaping Jasmine as her photos grace the walls behind the counter at Julie'Z. I had to know: "Did Jasmine eat here?" After all, some people enjoy the vicarious thrill of following in the footsteps of the famous and/or infamous. (OK, I admit to being easily entertained, and sitting at the Bill Clinton table at Buzz's in Kailua has always been good for a chuckle.)

As for Jasmine, turns out she's never been to Julie'Z. Co-owner Julie Oasay's son just happens to be a fan of the young Filipina, and she would do well to stop by. She would not only be adored by many, but she'd get a good meal out of it too.

The restaurant serves homestyle Filipino cuisine, and families seem to have taken that to heart, showing up en masse in T-shirts and jeans, pulling two, three, four, five of Julie'Z small tables together.

Lunch and dinner buffets are available for members to get acquainted with the menu, but the regulars already have their a la carte favorites. Forget about pork adobo ($6.85), which everyone's mom can make to family preference. For most, the main attraction seems to be the fried pork ($7.25). There it was, sitting at every table, a platter of thin strips of pork fried until just about every drop of liquid in it had evaporated away. Not a deterrent for those growing up with jerky or pipikaula who will find the pork just as addictive, with or without the accompanying vinegar sauce. The pork is topped with slices of raw onion and chunks of tomato.

Julie'Z Restaurant owners Julie Oasay, left, and Zenaida Pagdilao show off some of their Filipino food specialties.

IF YOU'RE NEW to Filipino cuisine, start with the tame sari sari ($6.85), essentially a vegetable soup/stew with slices of eggplant, diced tomatoes, slivers of onion, plus pumpkin, long beans and ong choy. A splash of fish sauce and cubes of roast pork add flavor. This is my favorite dish because of its healthful aspects.

Dining is family style here, so you'll be given little bowls to measure out your share.

For the veggies without the soup, order the pinakbet ($6.85). You'll want to vary the offerings so if you are getting the pork and veggies, add one of the seafood offerings.

I chose the bangus sarciado (milkfish, $8.95) over the shrimp sarciado, but newbies might do well to go with the latter instead of the fishy fish. The sweet shrimp might also better compliment the topping of sweetened eggs scrambled with onions and chopped tomatoes. If wish they could make it easier on the diner by shelling the shrimp before it's cooked.

The presence of the shell also doesn't allow the garlic flavor to permeate an order of garlic shrimp ($7.95).

If it's the sharp bite of adobo you still crave, stick with the chicken or pork ($6.85). A platter of clam adobo ($8.25) is offered, but the briny taste of the shellfish outpowers the vinegary sauce.

Another way to get a broad, affordable sampling is to go with one of the combination plates featuring rice plus two choices for $4.95, three for $5.95, and four for $6.95. Choose from chicken or pork adobo, gisantes (another tame choice with slices of beef, peas and onions in tomato sauce), dinuguan (blood stew), pinakbet, pinapaitan (beef and tripe with bile), mongo beans or squid guisado.

They've also made concessions to those timid types who prefer known quantities of beef teriyaki ($5.75), fried noodles with barbecue stick ($5.75), or corned beef with cabbage ($5.75).

For dessert, you could go with hot-from-the-deep-fryer banana lumpia ($2.50), or for summer, a refreshing taste of halo-halo, a shave-ice treat featuring layers of preserved fruit and condensed milk, topped off with ube (purple yam) paste and a slice of leche flan. Ono!

Julie'Z Restaurant

The Marketplace at Kapolei, 590 Farrington Highway, Suite 532 / 693-8778

Food Star Star Star

Service Star Star Half-star

Ambience Star Star Half-star

Value Star Star Star Star

Hours: 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays to Thursdays, and 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays

Cost: About $16 to $25 for two

See some past restaurant reviews in the Columnists section.

Nadine Kam's restaurant reviews are conducted anonymously and paid for by the Star-Bulletin. Star ratings are based on comparisons of similar restaurants:

very good, exceeds expectations;
below average.

To recommend a restaurant, write: The Weekly Eater, P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, Hawaii 96802. Or send e-mail to


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