Let me just get this out of the way and say I’m not a huge fan of tripe. I didn’t grow up on it, but occasionally enjoy it in stew and pho. However, after eating this Tripe alla Parmigiana dish at Cafe Julia at YWCA recently, I have a whole new respect for the intestine.
Executive Chef Lance Kosaka, formerly of Alan Wong’s Pineapple Room, carefully cleans and cooks the tripe in a magical way that takes out most of the funk. The result is a tender, delicious, and “broke da mout” dish that I can only imagine would have been even better with a cold beer. Tripe in a rich tomato sauce and topped with cheese and a runny egg kept me going in for more. This day at lunch there were two other non-tripe eaters at the table, yet after trying this, we all agreed that it rocked. I would order it again in an instant.
Since opening in the YWCA late last year, and following the closure of the beloved Downtown @ the HiSAM, Cafe Julia has become a hot spot for lunch, pau hana, and weekend brunch. Chef Lance is doing the kind of food reminiscent of childhood days, but on an elevated level. Not to mention, the historic building in which the open-air restaurant is located offers a casual elegance to the ambiance.
If any of the pot pies happen to be on special, get it. I’m told its a rare site on the menu, so I couldn’t pass up devouring one a couple weeks ago. This was a Mexican-inspired interpretation with beef, beans and a whole lot of goodness in a crisp pastry. So good.
You can also find some great sandwiches here, like the Korean-Inspired Grilled Pork which was quite tasty.
Finally, if you have room for dessert, Chef Lance’s version of an ice cream sandwich is worth the calories. He’s making cookies just like his mom made them for him growing up. What’s not to love about that?!
Cafe Julia can get busy at lunch, so I strongly suggest making reservations, especially for larger parties. Check it out next time you find yourself hungry in downtown.
Cafe Julia at YWCA
1040 Richards Street
Honolulu, HI 96813
Phone : 808-533-3334
Breakfast: Sunday only, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Lunch: Monday – Friday, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Pau Hana: Wednesday – Friday, 4-9 p.m.
Parking: One hour validated parking for Alii Palace for diners. It is the closest and cheapest garage located off Alakea Street. Metered street parking is also available along Richards and King streets.
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