One thing I absolutely love about Hawaii is that most, if not all, the good stereotypes associated with it are true—the seawater is impossibly clear, the sunsets breathtakingly beautiful, the flowers do bloom in all colours of the rainbow, and everything you eat is somehow more delicious than the last.
The accessibility of Hawaiian food in Singapore definitely dulls in comparison to other cuisines, with most establishments only serving variations of a poké bowl or açaí. I mean, what’s a girl gotta do to get a solid loco moco for dinner? The answer to that, coincidentally, is to make a trip down to Aloha Avenue, nestled in the heart of Haji Lane’s hustle and bustle.
What I tried
Before you feed your stomach, feast your eyes on the décor. It’s clear that the interior was decorated with the idea of bringing Hawaii’s colour and vibrance to Singapore, and if we’re talking about staying on theme, Aloha Avenue hit the nail on the head.
If I mention Hawaii, the most stereotypical food association that comes to mind is probably raw-fish anything, which is why their Poké Bowl (S$20) was what I had the highest expectations for. This rendition of the popular Hawaiian dish was served alongside avocado and topped with chives and sesame seeds, though the original version usually consists of seasoned poké served atop a bed of Japanese rice and topped with furikake.
I’ll say that I prefer the barebones version more because it gets straight to the point in a satisfying, no-frills, no-fuss way. The main idea’s there, but I’d prefer for all the salt to stay in the seawater at Waikiki Beach instead of throwing a huge party in the bowl of poké I’m eating at a café.
The Aloha Açaí Bowl (S$13) was up for scrutiny next. I’ll admit that Aloha Avenue had high expectations to live up to, what with the abundance of açaí spots that pepper the island. Topped with kiwi, berries, pineapple, and granola, this was a vibrant sight of colours, textures, and flavours to behold, though this was all there was to it.
Appearances aside, I found that this was over-the-top and laden with artificial sweetener—and that’s coming from me with my sweet teeth. Yes, plural. As much as I consider myself a sugar fiend, açaí is best when it retains its signature bitterness that juxtaposes the sweetness of fruits and other toppings. Blended with sugar? Not so much.
The next on the list is traditionally made of three ingredients and reigns as a well-loved staple in Hawaii—the Spam Musubi (S$12). Typically made by wrapping a slice of nori around thinly-sliced grilled spam and rice, it’s a simple recipe that’s guaranteed to keep you and your stomach happy. I felt that Aloha Avenue’s rendition could have, and should have done without the chilli mayo it was drenched in.
The flavour of spam typically holds its own well enough, and in this case, was unfortunately overshadowed by the condiment. I would’ve enjoyed it more if the two were eaten separately, I mean, why fix the good ol’ Spam Musubi if it’s not broken?
I always save my favourite for last, and I will give credit where credit is due—the Loco Moco (S$25) was undoubtedly the star of the show. We’re talking about a tender hamburger patty drenched in a tart and piquant gravy served underneath a perfect fried egg. It’s a heavy and mouth-coating dish in the way that the best comfort foods often are, and in that regard, Aloha Avenue scored a solid 10/10. My only gripe is that the price point is on the higher side, but if you’re a sucker for the novelty of experiences, it might be worth your trip down.
The search for quality, authentic Hawaiian fare will continue. It’s unfortunate that Aloha Avenue fell so short—a worthy attempt, though a better one must be made. The menu offerings are commendable, and the dishes offered are pretty accurate to what one would find on their next getaway to Hawaii.
If you’re looking for something that’ll take you back to the sandy shores of Waimanalo Beach under cobalt-blue skies, then there’s more travelling to do than just to Haji Lane.
Expected damage: S$12 – S$25 per pax
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Our Rating: 2 / 5
51 Haji Lane, Singapore 189244
51 Haji Lane, Singapore 189244