If Tangö Contemporary Cafe is the chic sophisticate of the cafe world, Tangö Market is her more casual, breezy little sister who lives just kitty corner from TCC’s Hokua haunt, fronting Auahi Street at Ward Centre.
Coming from the same parent, chef Göran Streng, you can expect a few similarities between these siblings. Both have a fondness for contemporary cuisine prepared with a light hand, using quality ingredients. But the graceful cafe prizes a slower pace and dining as a social endeavor, welcoming those who want to sit and relax awhile.
Tangö Market is more attuned to a faster pace of life and geared toward those on the run, who might just want to pick up a quick salad, sandwich or latte, with or without friends in tow.
As much as I liked Satura Cafe, which occupied the space before Tangö Market, its menu of cafe beverages, desserts and a few croissant sandwiches was a bit too girly for me. I’m afraid I eat more like a man.
Tangö Market has taken the coffee, tea and dessert concept one step further by offering more substantial salad, sandwich and entree options.
True to its moniker, Tangö Market can be expected to take you through your workweek, breakfast through dinner, and through the weekend as well, whether you choose to dine in or go home with salads and other dishes sold by the pound, as well as salad dressings, housemade marinara sauce and chutney.
Breakfast items include muesli with fruits and berries by the bowl ($6.75) or cup ($3.95); lox and bagels with Maui onion,tomato and capers ($9.50); and sandwiches that include ham-and-cheese croissants ($9) and a sausage-and-potato wrap ($9).
Ward Centre » 596-4888
Hours: Breakfast 7 to 11 a.m. weekdays and 8 to 11 a.m. weekends; all-day menu from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays
Cost: $20 to $30 for lunch or dinner for 2
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It gets a little more interesting at lunch, with a range of upscale sandwiches such as grilled pesto chicken on herb focaccia ($8.50); bay shrimp salad with avocado, tomato and cucumber ($10.50); and a small dice of mild lemongrass chicken ($9) on flat bread with hoisin sauce, goat cheese, tomato and arugula. I’m sometimes guilty of not reading every word of the menu, so when I saw the goat cheese on the sandwich, my response was, "Huh?" Lemongrass and goat cheese are not ingredients you see together often, if at all, but it worked.
A duck confit quesadilla ($9.50) also filled with corn salsa and avocado was excellent, the tortilla crisped by the panini grill. It makes a pretty substantial lunch, served with your choice of a mixed green salad with balsamic vinaigrette, or pasta salad. (I was not given this choice when I visited; more on service issues later.)
Their entree salads would feed two easily. These include baby spinach ($10.50) with grilled mushrooms, tomato and eggs with raspberry vinaigrette, a Cobb salad ($11) and Market salad ($11.50) of mixed baby greens, roasted beets, goat cheese, egg, cucumber and tomato, served with Finnish rye and Boursin cheese spread.
You can continue to get these items in the evening or opt for hot entrees of vegetarian lasagna ($9.50) with the crunch of roasted zucchini, or shepherd’s pie ($9.50). I don’t know whether I’ve ever seen this European classic on a local menu, but I have to wonder why when it’s such a great comfort dish. Streng’s upscale take on this is to substitute the usual hamburger under a mashed potato crust with Big Island Red Veal.
He also offers Big Island Red Veal meatballs to go, by the pound, at $8.50, or by the piece, at 50 cents each, for those who want to make their own meatball sandwiches or toss them into their own pasta dishes.
With the growing community of area condo residents, Streng also introduced a neighborly Friday Night Barbecue from 4 to 9 p.m. weekly.
A grill is set up outside, so diners can watch clean-tasting hoisin barbecue pork ribs ($12.50), flank steak ($13), barbecue chicken ($10) or lemongrass shrimp skewers ($12.50) as they arrive, smoking hot off the grill. Each dish includes baked beans, cornbread, coleslaw and rice.
If you can’t make up your mind, you can create a combo by adding a single shrimp skewer to any meat dish for an additional $4.25. Corn on the cob is $1.50.
For now, service on these special Friday nights is better than it is by day. Staffing levels look about the same as Satura’s,but the process of heating dishes—prepped at Tangö Contemporary Cafe and reheated to order at the Market via panini grillor convection microwave, or making a milkshake (that’s right, they have $4 chocolate, vanilla and strawberry milkshakes!)— is more involved than putting pastry on a plate and ringing it up.
With very different orders coming at them during a lunch rush, and seemingly no specific duties, a few staffers looked more confused than capable. And, without a specific cashier, those involved with prep would often step away to ring up orders, throwing off any rhythm they might have had.
And, although customers are supposed to bus tables themselves, none seemed aware of this, so new customers were forced to sit at tables strewn with dirty dishes and napkins. Even when plates were removed, staffers never bothered to wipe the tables.
But anyone familiar with the original Tangö knows Streng runs an efficient operation, and on revisiting one week later, I feel stronger team members are on their way in. I don’t usually do this, but I’m gonna assign a slightly higher star rating on service based on that expectation of improvement.
Nadine Kam‘s restaurant reviews are conducted anonymously and paid for by the Star-Advertiser. Email firstname.lastname@example.org