The Weekly Eater

By Nadine Kam

Thursday, June 17, 1999

Italian and Thai fare
an odd couple

POOR pasta. So plain, so pallid. It sits on a plate, begging for color, something, anything, that will give it life.

For centuries, cooks have obliged. Kitchen De Koonings have splashed pasta with the red of marinara, the green of pesto and black of squid ink. Similarly, countries of the Far East have painted their noodles yellow with curry or brown with soy sauce. Rarely did the wheat flour of Italian pastas get swapped for the rice noodles of Asia, until now.

World shrinkage, thanks to technology, has led to a rapid exchange of ideas and an avant-garde approach to everything from business to the kitchen arts. Of course, one person's vision of progress can just as easily be viewed as another person's mess.

One would think that after Pietro's tuna and natto on pasta, I'd be accustomed to just about any noodle and topping combination. I have nothing against experimentation. I encourage it. But, a chef does have to start off with the right stuff. If one doesn't have the recipe for Japanese cuisine or Italian cuisine, combining the two could only add up to mush.


Food Star1/2
Atmosphere Star1/2
Service StarStarStar1/2
Value StarStar1/2

Bullet Address: Ko'olau Center, Temple Valley, 47-388 Hui Iwa St., Kaneohe
Bullet Hours: 5 to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Bullet Prices: About $25 to $30 for two, B.Y.O.B.
Bullet Call: 239-0888

Such is the dilemma at Bobby's Bistro, billed as the "not so ordinary bistro" in Temple Valley's Ko'olau Center. The restaurant's drab interior actually reads more "cafeteria" than "bistro."

Here, progress has come in the form of combining Thai and Italian fare. The novelty factor has likely doubled Bobby's chances for survival because the restaurant would not make it based on its Italian or Thai food alone.

THE staff does, however, possess a sixth sense about those who will love it here, critics be damned. For starters, Bobby's offers an appetizer of "Dynamite" ($7.95), New Zealand mussels topped with a "powerful dynamite sauce" that happens to be mostly mayonnaise.

Pad Thai ($9.95) made with spaghetti noodles could not compare to the Thai-style noodle dish. Faring better was the mild Thai Green Curry ($8.75) which could be ordered with rice, but I opted for the rigatoni which provided a broad surface for soaking up the sauce.

More traditional were the Clam Lover ($8.75) and Shrimp Scampi ($14.95) pastas, stirred with butter-cream sauce and a sprinkling of Parmesan. The former dish had about six clams and a batch of the canned, minced stuff, while the latter featured shrimp coated with enough pepper to bring on a coughing fit.

Children ages 10 or younger have the option of ordering Kraft Macaroni and Cheese ($3.95), which comes pretty close to matching the culinary level of the adult menu.

It's too bad, because the staff is very friendly and pleasant. I really, really wanted to like this food. Unfortunately, I'm not 10 years old. But hey, if you've got a young family ...

See a listing of past restaurants reviewed in the
Do It Electric!

section online. Click the logo to go!

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

-- excellent;
-- very good, exceeds expectations;
-- average;
-- below average.

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

E-mail to Features Editor

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
[Stylebook] [Feedback]

© 1999 Honolulu Star-Bulletin