When I first learned that a Hawaiian restaurant would be opening in Cebu, the two things that came to my mind were pineapples and Spam. I blame this on the movie, 50 First Dates, which highlighted the importance of the fruit and exaggerated on the Hawaiians love for Spam and eggs.
After researching on their local cuisine, I discovered that the Hawaiians loved these two things for good reason: Pineapples, since the year-round tropical climate of this US state makes it an ideal place to grow; and Spam, because they simply love it. In fact, Hawaii is said to be the largest state to consume Spam. A total of 7 million cans are sold in the state alone every year.
Knowing this, I was so eager to get my game on and indulge in some of the local Hawaiian dishes I have yet to discover. So on one fine Saturday noon, I gathered my office friends together to try out this new restaurant at the Cebu IT Park called Shaka Hawaiian Restaurant.
No, it is not a twist on the Pinoy term ‘chaka’ (or so-so). Shaka is actually a hand gesture famous among Hawaiians and surfers. While there is no direct translation or meaning for it, the gesture is being used as a way of greeting another person or to show gratitude; embodying the aloha spirit of Hawaii.
The name fits pleasingly well with the vibe of the entire restaurant. Shaka has forgone the usually enclosed structure for an open and inviting atmosphere. Each section is separated from the other, allowing diners to marvel at the beautiful scenery. The area is bedecked in floral prints, surfboards, and hanging umbrellas.
At night, the place transforms into something extraordinary and would make you feel like you’re holding a glass of fresh Mango Shake, sitting on the sandy white beaches of Boracay, staring into the waves ahead.
And as you make your way to the dining area, the air is filled with Jamaican beats, the ever so famous Bob Marley. My husband wishes the establishment would stay true to its Hawaiian roots and play songs similar to Jack Johnson, while I argued with him of how reggae music has long entered the ‘beach’ scene. I wish to hear more reggae and ska music from local Visayan artists the likes of Island Joe, Enchi, Tropical Depression, Skabeche, and more from the Island Riddims collection. This takes me back to College when I was going through a phase with my love for Dumaguete local culture.
Shaka Restaurant Menu
Considering their location, Shaka tends to be a bit pricey. It’s definitely not for the average IT Park employee. An occasional visit is recommended though.
A day before we paid a visit to Shaka, we already visited during lunchtime. But considering they were on their first week of operations, my friends and I were unable to dine due to the huge volume of curious diners. On this visit, I managed to take a peek into their menu– a fine collection of familiar and unbeknownst fare. I grew curious with the Spam Musubi and the Poke as I have written about its many health benefits in the past. The former, because it reminded me of a stall in Mall of Asia that I never got to try.
When we were finally able to dine at Shaka the next day, I was surprised to find them handing out a different menu from the one I saw before. The waitress explained to us that it was their Soft Opening menu but failed to say when the original menu would be available. To be honest, I got a little disappointed since I was so eager to try Hawaiian cuisine. While the new menu piqued my interest, there were things that were all too familiar to me (Larang and Pork Spareribs). I heard the Larang was quite good though.
My companions and I decided to settle with the Shoyu Chicken and the Pork Spareribs. These two dishes turned out to be a pleasant treat for us.
The first dish to arrive was the Shoyu Chicken— chicken cooked in a savory soy sauce broth until it was tender to the bone. The taste was all too familiar to us, as we later realized it was a reminiscent of the ever famous Cebuano Humba sans pork. To rid that umami taste, the macaroni salad served on the side tasted divine as it explored the unfamiliar with its use of mango chunks that played with my tastebuds. The serving size was good for one hungry fellow.
The next dish to arrive was the Pork Spareribs, an all too familiar taste loved by Filipinos. The meat was soft, the sauce, tangy; and together, they gave a slight tickle on the tongue as it reminded me of my childhood. However, I wish it had more fried garlic bits on top to complete the experience. Instead of the accompanying rice and macaroni salad, the dish is served with some tasty atchara that I happened to enjoy a lot.
For its price, the Pork Spareribs was a delight! It was good for 2-3 people to share. I do have to stress that their rice serving was huge and can also be shared among 2 people.
My friends also enjoyed their fruit shakes and juices. I wasn’t able to try one though.
Overall, I enjoyed my experience eating at Shaka. I look forward to visiting the restaurant once again and trying out the other dishes that I failed to order on our first visit. I understand that there are a few negative feedback from diners with its service, especially since the restaurant is less than a month old. That’s why I think the best time to go there is when you’re not rushing and just want to enjoy your meal and be transported somewhere exquisite. And with its beauty and charm, Shaka proves that it’s perfectly alright.
Garden Bloc, Cebu IT Park,
Lahug, Cebu City
Operating Hours: 11:00 am to 2:00 am Daily
For inquiries, call 032 514 2667