Last month, while watching my favorite morning television show, Good Day Sacramento, the show's resident "foodie," Tina Machua, aired a segment that featured a new-to-Citrus Heights restaurant, by the name of Ben's Huli Huli Chicken & Hawaiian Cafe. After enjoying the cheerful banter between show hostess Tina, and the owner of the restaurant Kit, and drooling over the samples of Ben's fine food that were presented on the show, I made it a priority to pay this wonderful restaurant a visit, as I enjoy Hawaiian cuisine, and I really appreciate a friendly owner.
As with all of my reviews, I have no affiliation with the restaurant reviewed, and there is no monetary gain on my part, as I am simply a person who likes to eat, and I love to write-up, and publish my dining experiences.
Photo: Ben's Hawaiian Cafe is new to Citrus Heights, have recently relocated from nearby Folsom to the new location in a small shopping center on the north end of town. The restaurant is named after the owner's son, Ben. Today is Tuesday, February 21, 2017, and I've arrived just after 11 in the morning, when the restaurant opens. When I plan to take photos and "write-up" a restaurant, I prefer to arrive when the restaurant is the least busy, as I don't want to annoy other diners, and the staff generally have more time to talk.
Note the restaurant is so new that a banner is used instead of a lighted sign.
Photo: Before opening a "brick and mortar" restaurant, the owner, Kim Syn, operated a food truck. The truck still operates, as Kit caters to special events, parties along with fundraising events. The truck is parked along busy Auburn Blvd., and it serves a good source of advertising for the new restaurant.
Photo: The view of the dining room as you enter. It's quite spacious, but sparsely decorated, and the furniture is picnic tables. Hey, that's barbecue! You place your order at the counter, pay for it, and when it's ready, your name will be called. To the customer's left, on the counter, is a large jar of pineapple water, which is both refreshing and complimentary.
Photo: Meet Mr. Kit Syn, the owner of Ben's Hawaiian Cafe, who greets everybody with a friendly smile, and a cheerful "Aloha." Note the photo of Kit's son, Ben, on the counter, as the restaurant is named after Kit's son. The freshly made Spam Musubi, still warm from the oven, are in the glass case at the right of the photo. I was seriously considering lumpia, but I gave in and ordered Spam Musubi, as Spam is the official meat of Hawaii.
Photo: The menu is compact, as it's only one page, but offers all of your Hawaiian favorites.
Photo: I was very interested in watching Kit make a large shaved ice for the customer in front of me. This shaved ice desert is ENORMOUS! I forgot to ask Kit how many flavors he has available, but judging from the bottles of syrup, there are many flavors to choose from.
Photo: As an appetizer, I had originally toyed with the idea of lumpia, but when I saw Kit's fresh-from-the-kitchen Spam Musubi rolls, I caved in. Spam Musubi features fried Spam, steamed rice, and Nori seaweed. It's delicious. As corn tortillas are the "bread of Mexico," Spam is the "meat of Hawaii."
Photo: As I was waiting for my "Combo" order, Kit brought a complimentary "Asian Hawaiian Salad" for me to enjoy. Thanks, my friend! I don't know if it was my digital camera, my constant questions, or my pleasant demeanor, but the salad was delicious, and made a great appetizer. Note the beautiful presentation; this salad tasted even better than it looks in the photo. I loved the cubes of barbecued chicken in the salad.
Photo: Mr. Kit Syn presents my lunch to me with a smile on my face, less than five minutes after I placed my order. I asked him how could they fix is so rapidly, and he told me they come in early to start things going, so by the time the restaurants open, the food is ready. The grill is in constant use, so the food is always fresh and delicious.
Kit is quite a guy, and quite a host. As I previously wrote, he greets everybody with a smile, and a friendly, sincere, "Aloha." Kit is a nice guy, very friendly, and will treat you like you're Queen Lili'uokalani, or other members of Hawaiian royalty. It's easy to see that Kit enjoys what he does for a living, and strives to achieve superior customer service.
One interesting note is the restaurant features a "food for life plan." How that works is you pay up front $1000.00, and then you get free food for the rest of your life. Now, a caveat may be in order, as many restaurants in the greater Sacramento area have a short life span, but Kit assured my that "we'll be here forever." From my house, it take's me about 20 minutes to drive to Ben's, and if I was lived closer, I'd pony up the grand, and enjoy Ben's fine cuisine for the rest of my life.
Photo: I asked the friendly owner, Kit, to snap my photo, and he was happy to honor my request. Thanks! Like the restaurant, the "plates" are quite unpretentious, as a styrafoam box holds the food, paper trays hold the sides, and the pineapple water is in a styrafoam cup. The utensil is a plastic fork, and I used the two hands that God gave me to eat the chicken, along with lots of paper towels. The unpretentious atmosphere only adds to the taste of the delicious food served at Ben's Hawaiian Cafe.
Photo: This late Tuesday morning was my first visit to Ben's, so I decided to order the "Combo Plate," to get a sample of the fine cuisine this wonderful restaurant offers. Where to begin? Meat...
"Combo Plate" features both chicken and pork, which works for me, as I love them both, and I never can figure out how to choose, if I'm forced to make a choice. Note how juicy the meat is. Note the color and the grill marks. Both the pork and the chicken simply melt in your mouth, and each bite is sheer "foodie" ecstacy.
I loved the macaroni salad, but I'm not really all that knowledgeable about the fine points of macaroni salad except to say that I'd go for seconds, or maybe even thirds. The rice worked out to be perfectly steamed white rice, but it included little shavings of coconut which took the rice to a whole new level, and instantly transported me to Mauna Kea.
Ben's Hawaiian Cafe truly serves delicious, authentic Hawaiian cuisine, and super-friendly Kit welcomes you with a friendly "Aloha," and treats you like royalty. The food is amazing! In the words of another diner, "Da kine ono grinds," which, in Hawaiian, means "really good food." I couldn't have said it better...
Ben's Hawaiian Cafe
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