It’s not very hard to find a relaxing spot in Hawaii, preferably with an open view of the blue skies, breeze blowing through the leaves of a nearby tree and a nice tall, refreshing drink.

At the Pavilion Café inside the Honolulu Academy of Arts, this setting is accentuated with contemporary sculptures and art to feed the eyes and the stomach. The café has been a part of this boutique art museum for years and is quite popular making reservations a must.

Refreshing drinks: Ginger Lemonade (left) and Plantation Iced Tea (right)

I joined my high school friend Judy for lunch during my visit back to Hawaii, and while still an unusually warm day, it was nice to sit in the open pavilion space with charming wood décor with Hawaiian patterns.

The lunch menu provides a mix of Asian and Hawaiian flavors, with an equal amount of huge salads and sandwiches. Both Judy and I went for salads; she ordered the salmon and I got the mahi mahi with soba noodles. (Mahi mahi is a popular local white fish.)

Pan-seared salmon salad with 'nalo greens and mango salsa ($19.95)

The salads were piled high in the tradition of the 1980s when food towered from the plate. My particular salad was built on a pile of soba, the Japanese buckwheat noodles. I felt the fish was cooked perfectly but the shoyu-lime vinaigrette was a bit too tart.

Despite the overly decorated and dressed salads, the ingredients were fresh and the quality high, so that it was a substantial and satisfying lunch. And there’s no beating the calm environment in the heart of a busy city, with added artwork for inspiration afterwards.

Rating: 2.5 out of 4 camera snaps



Pavilion Café inside the Honolulu Academy of Arts, 900 S. Beretania St., Honolulu. (Admission to museum not required.) Lunch served Tuesday through Saturday, reservations recommended. PH: 808.532.8734. Web site

Pavilion Cafe on Urbanspoon

Open-air dining area is a key attraction

Mahi Mahi and soba noodle salad with cucumber mint relish ($18.95)

3 Responses to Artful Island Dishes Circa 1980

  1. Foodhoe says:

    Both salads sound good, nothing beats nicely cooked fresh fish! Love the addition of soba too.

  2. agent713 says:

    Those really are towering. They look yummy though.

  3. Carolyn Jung says:

    That soba noodle salad has me drooling. I tell ya, Hawaii has THE best fish.