Restaurant Review: Island Vintage Coffee


Instagram-worthy poke bowl at Island Vintage Coffee

Brianna Acosta, Contributing Writer

Brianna Acosta, Contributing Writer

Island Vintage Coffee, offering al fresco (open-air) dining, welcomes you with a gentle, early afternoon breeze. Seated are a mixture of locals and tourists feasting on their brunch cravings. Behind the counter, two employees take orders with a smile while the rest hustle to serve food to the customers at their tables. You make your way to the back of the long line which stretches across the room, scanning the menu for something that catches your eye. The line moves surprisingly quickly, and soon enough you’re at the front. After ordering, the perky cashier gives you an order number, and you’re off on the hunt to find an empty table. All of the comfortable cushioned chairs inside remain occupied, so you find an open wooden seat out on the lanai.

            By the name of it, this cafe sounds like an ordinary coffee shop with only beverages to choose from, however, aside from their extensive list of coffee options, Island Vintage Coffee offers a variety of açaí bowls, salads, poke bowls, sandwiches, and much more, so you’re guaranteed to find something to your liking. Island Vintage Coffee, located in the heart of Waikiki on the second floor of the Royal Hawaiian Center and booming with business, serves as a popular cafe during lunchtime. The aesthetic, island themed plates attract many tourists during their day of shopping. Depending on the time of day, you may find it hard to find a seat. 

            The waiter comes out onto the lanai, spicy ahi in hand. Poke, a popular Hawaiian seafood dish with Japanese influence, can be made in many different ways. Preparation always starts with skinned, deboned, and diced raw fish, most commonly ahi, tuna, or salmon. Popular sauces include shoyu and sesame oil, as well as toppings like white onion, limu, and sea salt. Island Vintage Coffee’s spicy ahi features wild-caught fresh ahi from Hawaii and ripe cubes of avocado, tossed in a spicy aioli sauce, sitting on a serving of white rice, and topped with fish roe, baked rice crackers, sesame seeds, green onion, and of course, the signature white flower to give that extra island flair. Seaweed, nori, and pickled ginger lay separate from the fish, giving you the ability to add as much or as little as you want. Although a bit on the expensive side at $14.95, with the overwhelming amount of toppings, not to mention the great presentation, this beats the poke at your local grocery store. Definitely worth the extra few dollars. After snapping apart your wooden chopsticks, you dig into the attractive plate that sits in front of you. The first morsel contains the soft and chewy ahi with a piece of creamy avocado which balances out the spicy flavor. The warm white rice tones down the strong flavors of the various toppings. All of the textures and flavors of this dish come together in harmony to create a delicious masterpiece.

            The waiter comes out onto the lanai yet again, this time holding a large mug containing the glorious combination of açaí, neatly cut strawberries, bananas, and blueberries atop a bed of granola and adorned with a small white flower. Although popularized in the US, the açai bowl, containing a South American berry blended to creamy, thick, smoothie-like perfection, actually originated in Brazil. The cafe’s $11.25 “Original Açaí Bowl” gives you a truly remarkable first impression with the vibrant fresh fruits under a generous drizzle of honey glistening in the sunlight. Temptation takes over as you dig in almost immediately. The first spoonful fills your mouth with the almost frozen, rich and creamy purple blend of açaí fruit, as you bite down on the granola with a satisfying crunch. As you devour the mug’s contents, you realize why this sinfully sweet treat is an island favorite.

            After paying for your not only instagrammable, but also off-the-charts, delectable meal, you’ll leave feeling full and satisfied. If you prefer a quiet cafe filled with aspiring writers and headphone wearing college students, this may not be the place for you. But if you enjoy good food and don’t mind a fairly crowded scene while dining, Island Vintage Coffee is the place to go, whether it be for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.