Kua ‘Aina recently opened in Belfast’s Victoria Square. Finally somewhere that does Hawaiian style food in Belfast! When I’m in Florida I love eating in Hawaiian restaurants so it was a treat to be asked along to sample the Kua ‘Aina menu.
This is the third UK opening for the Hawaiian restaurant, which specialises in laid-back burgers and sandwiches. Each restaurant does their best to source ingredients locally and for that reason not every menu is exactly the same. I chatted with Patrick, the UK owner of Kua ‘Aina, who as it happens grew up in Belfast but now lives in London (where the first two restaurants opened). He explained that Kua ‘Aina is a well-known street food cafe in Hawaii and, using it as inspiration, he opened the UK sit-down restaurants. He has further plans for expansion in the coming years.
The food and drink menu is extensive. There are a wide variety of burgers, salads and sides to choose from – all of which I would consider to be low prices (mains are around the £6/7/8 price range). I loved that there was lots of mahi mahi and halloumi on the menu, making it easy to opt for a healthy lunch/dinner. I’ve had mahi mahi alot in Florida – it’s a fish widely eaten in Hawaii and the USA and is best served slightly pink in the middle.
To drink you can order anything from your classic soft drinks, to healthy smoothies, beer and cocktails.
What we ordered
We went for dinner on a Thursday night and were pretty hungry. I couldn’t take my eyes off the extensive halloumi cheese offerings and in the end ordered the halloumi and roast pepper salad with home-made coleslaw. Phill choose the teriyaki chicken burger with chilli cheese fries. Patrick insisted we also try one of the beef burgers – ‘the classic’. The beef burgers are cooked over a lava rock – which Patrick told us helps maintain their juicy taste but dredges off the excess fat you often get with frying.
When it came to drinks I ordered the Kahala Sunset which was a mango and raspberry smoothie, whilst Phill ordered the Castaway IPA beer.
The food came out really quickly. My halloumi had a gorgeous chargrilled taste and there was plenty of it. The side salad was nice but it was a bit chunky and unrefined. I didn’t really care for the big chunky slices of red onion. You can order balsamic or ginger and sesame dressing. I tried both and they were equally tasty. I would have also preferred a larger plate to the small wooden oval one that the salad came out on. The plate was crammed with food but there wasn’t much room to manoeuvre!
Phill devoured his teriyaki chicken burger. It was a good size and really tasty but the presentation could have been better. It looked a bit dull and there was a rather random stick of carrot served alongside it. When the beef burger was served a few minutes later both our eyes lit up like Christmas trees! It was a big beef patty and looked so juicy. And it tasted wonderful. We were so glad Patrick insisted we try it.
The home-made coleslaw was very creamy but lacked a bit of flavour. It’s hard to go wrong with chilli cheese fries and we were served a big portion and devoured the whole lot!
Finally, I’m pleased to report the Kahala Sunset smoothie was utterly delicious and addictive. I almost finished it before the food came out. Phill enjoyed his Castaway IPA beer and Patrick also gave him tasters of two other craft beers, both of which he really liked. The beer is actually imported from a brewery in Hawaii, close by the original Kua ‘Aina!
I would say Kua ‘Aina is a great place to go on a cinema date or for lunch after a hard morning shopping. It would also be a great pit-stop with the kids as I’m sure they’d not only enjoy the food but the brightly coloured and funky interior, which makes you feel like you’re dining by the beach. The food is served quickly, and whilst the plates are not necessarily instagram worthy, everything we ate tasted good and was very reasonably priced.