220 Grille: A Sustainable Food Bistro is located on the campus of Kapiolani Community College, which is known for three things: best farmer’s market on O’ahu, nursing program, and most of all their culinary program. The Ohia building is connected to the cafeteria and above the bookstore, is where the 220 Grille is located. Every semester, the culinary students opens up the restaurant to the public. We, the public, gets to eat gourmet food for McDonald’s prices. The menu changes every time and the students take almost the whole semester learning how to cook the menu. If that wasn’t good enough, the students even take time to learn how to work the front of the house.
The floor is nice and spacious. There is seating outside and inside, each table seats four. Since this is a sustainable bistro, all tableware and silverware is biodegradable. So, don’t expect actual dishware here. The waitstaff looked and acted professional. I almost forgot that they were students.
My friend Jonathan and I started with an appetizer, Fried Calamari ($4). The calamari was nice and tender. I found that each piece was nicely seasoned and fried to perfection. The dipping sauce was cold, tangy, slightly spicy, and tasty. A great sauce to bring out the fried calamari. The potion was good enough for one, but we stretched it for two.
Jonathan got the Shitake Dusted Island Catch. The dish came with a beuree blanc sauce garnished with black bean, jicama, and corn. It was served with steamed asparagus and jasmine rice, for only $9. Now tell me, does this look like cafeteria food to you? Well, at KCC, it is. In a fancy restaurant, this meal could easily cost $14. The bistro doesn’t skimp on the portion either. When I ask Jonathan how his meal was, he quickly replied, “good,” with a huge smile.
I got the Grilled 9 oz. Rib Eye with Mushroom Sauce. It came with fried Paiai Taro, grilled sugarland tomato, and watercress Maui onion salad for $9. Right off the bat, huge portions, which is not a complaint whatsoever. The steak was grilled to perfection and even had those neat grill lines that grill masters like to talk about. For my liking, there was a little too much sauce, but it didn’t really bother me too much, because it tasted good. Honestly, the steak didn’t need a sauce, it was so tender. I never had steak so tender before and I’ve been to really expensive steakhouses, like Wolfgang’s in Waikiki. I’ve never had salad like this before. It was crunchy, sweet, tangy, slightly bitter, pretty much hitting each flavor note on my tongue. It gave a nice crunch to the whole dish. My starch was the taro cakes, which was unique. It was crunchy on the outside and creamy taro in the inside. It’s really hard to describe until you try it. There is nothing I can really describe it to. If you can imagine whipped potatoes formed into a patty, which is lightly fried on the outside and the middle nice and soft.
No meal would be complete without dessert. Jonathan raved about Chef Eddie’s Famous Vanbanna Pie, so I just had to get it. This pie is described as a swiss almond vanilla ice cream infused with banana pudding, on a ritz cracker crust, served with caramelized apple banana and caramel sauce for $4. All I can say is that I’m in heaven. It was good! It was not too sweet for my palette and the “burnt” banana was addictive.
In a nutshell:
- Great affordable prices
- Open to the public
- Parking during school hours is pretty tough
- Fridays are the best day to visit
- Free Parking, except for Lot A
- Cheap for the quality of food
- Professional and friendly staff
- Take out option
- Money goes right back to help the students
- Helps the educational future for the culinary program
- Closed on Mondays
- Only open twice a year for about a month
- Chef Eddie’s Famous Vanbanna Pie
- Grilled Barbeque Spare Ribs (per Jonathan)
- Steak (per me)
Menu (March 21-April 27)