thelma's restaurant

Oahu Eats: A Taste of Manila

The kids and I decided to venture out to “Little Manila” to see what we could find to eat for dinner last night.

The City of Waipahu on Oahu, is a former sugar plantation town. Back in the early 1900’s, Oahu Sugar Company imported laborers from many different countries, including Portugal, China, Japan, Norway and the Philippines. Oahu Sugar Company shut down in 1995 and majority of the Filipino labor population settled. Waipahu is known to have many Filipino owned businesses with 85% of the Filipino American population of Ilocano descent.

Having never ventured into a Filipino restaurant with the kids before, we decided to drive past the one that looked the “busiest” and have dinner there.

filipino food in hawaii
Thelma’s restaurant

Not really knowing what to order, we simply asked the waitress to recommend something “kids’ would eat”. She immediately suggests the Adobo Fried Rice for my children and for me, “Thelmas Special”. Ok, sounds great! We’ll have that.

As we sit, sharing a table with another family (love the family style seating), my kids point out the unusual foods that pass them by. “Mom, we have to go to the Philippines so we can speak their language”, says Lou Lou. She notices that no one at the time is speaking English except for our waiters which means the food must be good if Filipinos are eating here! We’re getting excited at this point.

filipino food in hawaii
The restaurant

Our food arrives and disappears within minutes…

filipino food in hawaii
Pork Adobo Fried Rice (they have chicken too)
filipino food in hawaii
“I want to eat with my fork and spoon like them”, says Jaf. (he’s referring to the man sitting next to him)
filipino food in hawaii
Thelma’s Special (Chopped Lechon Kawali with Tomato,Onion and Soy Sauce $ 9.95)

Honestly, I’ve never eaten fried pork before and I loved this dish. It wasn’t oily or fatty, it was simply divine! I’ll be back for this dish again. My kids, picked off the tomatoes but finished off the fried rice, leaving none for me.

We then asked the waitress what we could order for dessert and she recommended the “halo halo”. Halo Halo is a popular Filipino dessert with mixtures of shaved ice and evaporated milk, various boiled sweet beans, jello and fruits. It’s a feast for the eyes, but unfortunately the kids were so full we could barely finish it. Or so I thought…

filipino food in hawaii
Halo Halo


When Jaf shouts “Mommy, can have the dessert for takeaway”?

So our adventure into Little Manila had a sweet ending.

Thelma’s Restaurant
94-366 Pupupani St
Waipahu, HI 96797

(808) 677-0443
Accepts Credit Cards, Lots of Parking, Casual, Family Friendly, Kid Friendly, Good for Groups

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