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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, January 24, 2003

Healthy food meets casual style in Paradise

By Matthew Gray
Advertiser Restaurant Critic

At Taste of Paradise on the North Shore, Csilla Boban serves up grilled salmon with rice, Kahuku greens and Brazilian black beans. The restaurant's strengths are its fresh food and friendly service.

Deborah Booker • The Honolulu Advertiser

Taste of Paradise

59-254 Kamehameha Highway

11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. daily



Taste: the sensation of sweet, sour, salty or bitter qualities produced by, or as if by, a substance placed in the mouth.

Paradise: any place of complete bliss and delight and peace.

It's a challenge to describe precisely where this North Shore paradise is, given that it is a physical location, and not the more atmospheric sense of the word, or state of mind. For townies taking the freeway to the North Shore for a bit of R&R, keep going past Hale'iwa, past Fujioka's market, Foodland and beyond Waimea Falls ...

There is only one appetizer on the menu, shrimp. I find that appropriate because I believe a large percentage of folks would expect shrimp if they ever actually made it to Paradise. The rest would probably want pizza.

The shrimppetizers, as they're called, cost a buck a shrimp, marinated and grilled with pineapple chunks, lemon, garlic and olive oil, with fresh herbs sprinkled on top. They were charred and tasty and a bit salty, but at $1 each (they are not "jumbo," as the menu states; they were small) and served on a paper plate, I think they are overpriced.

Two salads are offered; the Pupukea garden ($3 small, $4 large) plates up organic mixed greens, shredded carrots and sesame seeds. The deluxe garden salad ($4, $5) adds onion, tomato and feta cheese. The only dressing is a slightly sweet papaya-seed dressing.

The makeshift kitchen, at the far end of the restaurant, is an itsy-bitsy space inside a caterer's truck. Lunch and dinner entree plates are served with white or brown rice, salad, and beans or garlic toast.

The Rocky Point chicken ($7.50) is a skinless, boneless breast topped with grilled onions. This was quite good. Sunset steak ($8.50) is a tri-tip cut, also served with onions. Haleiwa fish ($8.50-$9.50) is the name for their marinated fresh fillets; mahi and 'ahi were the choices when I visited.

The Pipeline eggplant ($7) is a veggie lover's delight — grilled slices of Japanese eggplant with onion, bell pepper and tomatoes on top. This generous portion was scattered with oregano. Waimea veggie ($7) is a vegetarian patty grilled with onions, tomatoes and bell pepper; Banzai Pipeline ($7) is barbecued tofu with sesame seeds.

The sandwiches all are served with melted provolone, grilled onion, lettuce and tomato, on good toasted French bread with garlic butter. The choices are the same as the entrees; chicken, veggie burger and eggplant ($6 each), with the steak and fish sandwiches coming in at $6.50.

A couple of healthy-sounding fruit smoothies are offered at $4. One is called acai (ah-sigh-ee) energy, made with acai (a fruit from the Amazon), strawberries, guarana (a seed purported to give energy), honey and apple juice. The other is Amazon cherry (aka acerola cherry), blended with strawberry, honey and apple juice.

Taste of Paradise feels like a health-food place, given the look, style and energy of the place. You may find this 2-year-old refuge to be an interesting stop while circling the island. The style is beach casual, with barefoot surfers and tourists enjoying a little taste of paradise. The extremely limited menu and cooking style may not be for everyone, but the food is fresh and the service is friendly.

Reach Matthew Gray at mgray@honoluluadvertiser.com.