Something new: Button Up Cafe

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Alright, disclaimer: Button Up Café isn’t exactly new, it’s new-ish. It opened in Pearl City in February in one of the small plazas off of Kam Highway. With delectable entrees, the cozy eatery can fill up with weekend brunch crowds in no time.


There’s limited parking in the small lot right in front of Button Up that’s shared with other businesses.

Since I love sweets, I try the signature stuffed strawberry cheesecake French toast. Strawberries aren’t my favorite fruits, but I’m willing to take the risk.

If you’re visiting Button Up for the first time—or have a serious sweet tooth—ordering the stuffed strawberry cheesecake French toast ($7.95) is a must.

If you’re visiting Button Up for the first time or have a serious sweet tooth, the stuffed strawberry cheesecake French toast ($7.95) is a must.

Billowy pieces of French toast are stuffed generously with light, whipped cheesecake filling that’s distinctively pink. They’re topped with sliced strawberries, whipped cream, nuts and custard. The bread’s fluffy, spongy texture and the strawberry cheesecake filling make this pretty remarkable.

You always need something savory to balance the sweet, so we order the kalua pork hash eggs benedict ($9.95) with fried rice. For all eggs bennies, you have your choice of tater tots, hash browns, rice or a fried rice upgrade. I go for fried rice whenever I get the chance.

The fried rice option is worth the extra $1.95.

Upgrade to the fried rice option when possible. It’s worth the extra $1.95.

This fried rice has Spam, Portuguese sausage and white and green onions. It’s just salty enough and slightly peppery — plus, there are plentiful chunks of Spam and sausage. But on to the eggs benny.

The Korean braised short rib eggs benedict ($11.95) may reign as the most popular of the eggs benedicts, but the kalua pork hash is a close contender.

The Korean braised short rib eggs benedict ($11.95) may reign as the most popular of the eggs benedicts, but the kalua pork hash is a close contender.

This is currently one of my favorite entrees. Each English muffin slice is topped with a heaping portion of succulent pork covered liberally with hollandaise, and I savor every indulgent bite. No matter what meaty option you get here, there’s no MSG: The braised short ribs, corned beef and kalua pork are made in-house.

While breakfast is Button Up’s main draw, the two grilled cheese options on the lunch menu shouldn’t be overlooked. The bulgogi grilled cheese is more popular, but the kalua pork grilled cheese ($6.95) is my preference.

The kalua pork’s smoky flavor blends nicely with the melted Cheddar.

When I lived in Southern California, I was a big fan of L.A.’s annual Grilled Cheese Festival. I eat a lot of grilled cheese sandwiches. With this kalua pork grilled cheese, the pork loaded between the two thin slices of ciabatta threatens to spill out. It has the perfect amount of spice and smokiness, and together with the Cheddar this makes it one of my favorite grilled cheese sandwiches, hands down.

Here’s one of the most popular lunch items: the mixed plate ($10.95).

The mixed plate features rice, mac salad, BBQ chicken, meat jun and kalua pork.

The meat jun is flavorful, and while the BBQ chicken isn’t the best I’ve ever tasted, this is a good sampler for the indecisive (like me) or those who like a lot of choices on one plate.

Since pesto is my favorite spread, I try the chicken pesto sandwich ($7.95). Then, in an attempt to compensate for the mixed plate, I order the BLT ranch salad ($6.95).

The pesto spread is thick and creamy, just the way I like it.

This sandwich surprises me with thick cuts of chicken, not chicken salad, but I’m not complaining because it’s garlicky and flavorful.

Crispy bacon is the best part of the BLT ranch salad, which isn’t otherwise noteworthy.

While the BLT ranch salad is refreshing, I probably won’t order it again because I can make this at home. The mix of spinach and romaine is topped with lots of tomatoes, crispy bacon and croutons and comes with a side of dressing. If you do opt for this, be sure to ask for extra dressing.

So, why the name Button Up? For me, it’s pretty clear: Whether you indulge in breakfast or lunch, buttoning up those skinny jeans afterward may be a feat in itself.

Button Up Cafe
719 Kamehameha Hwy.
Open Tuesday-Sunday, 7 a.m.-2 p.m.