About Sam Choy's Kai Lanai

You'll experience the wonderful hospitality of the Hawaiian culture, the sensational aromas of fresh, island cooking and the innovative recipes created by Hawaii’s culinary ambassador, Sam Choy.

At Sam Choy's Kai Lanai, a stunning 230-degree view of the Pacific stretches out in a beautiful blue oasis before you. “The Short Bait” bar is a fun place to meet friends for pupus or sit by the fire pits and watch spectacular sunsets. The superb service and warm Aloha welcome will make this your top dining choice at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

78-6831 Ali'i Dr.
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
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Dining Style:
Casual Dining

Cuisines:
Hawaii Regional Cuisine

Hours of Operation:
Serving Daily - Lunch and Dinner, Breakfast on Saturday and Sunday

Monday - Thursday 11:00 am - 9:00 pm
Friday 11:00 am - 9:30 pm
Saturday 7:00 am - 9:30 pm
Sunday 7:00 am - 9:00 pm

HAPPY HOUR - Daily 3:00 - 5:00 pm

Dress Code:
Casual Dress

Price Range:
$30 and under

Payment Options
AMEX, Diners Club, Discover, JCB, MasterCard, Visa

Phone Number:
(808) 333-3434

Website:
http://www.samchoy.com/

Parking Details:
Lot plus over flow parking lot with cart service between over flow lot and restaurant.

Executive Chef:
Sam Choy

Additional:
Beer, Fireplace, Full Bar, Happy Hour, Non-Smoking, Outdoor dining, View, Wheelchair Access, Wine

Private Dining

If you have an intimate party or a large gathering, you will select your menu or defer to Chef Choy’s suggestions and life-long experience in preparing custom, creative and undeniably delicious food.

Sam Choy's Kai Lanai Ratings and Reviews

5
4
3
2
1

3.9

Overall Rating

based on recent ratings
food

3.8

service

4.0

ambience

4.2

value

3.6

Noise

Quiet

73% would recommend it to a friend

Scenic View (32)
Great for Outdoor Dining (26)
Local Ingredients (16)
See All
Casual (16)
Good for a Date (13)
Romantic (12)
Good for Groups (11)
Fun (10)
Neighborhood Gem (10)
Good for Birthdays (9)
Creative Cuisine (9)
Handcrafted Cocktails (9)
Good for Anniversaries (8)
Special Occasion (8)
Bar Seating (8)
Happy Hour (7)
Great for Lunch (7)
Quiet Conversation (7)
Authentic (6)
Fit for Foodies (6)
Healthy (6)
Worth the Drive (6)
Kid-friendly (5)
Comfort Food (5)
Hot Spot (5)
People Watching (5)
Waterfront (5)
Tasting Menu (4)
Great Beer (3)
Organic (3)
Sunday Lunch (3)
Tapas (3)
Good Vegetarian Options (3)
Great for Brunch (3)
Business Meals (2)
Cozy (2)
Pre/post Theatre (2)
Quick Bite (2)
Afternoon Coffee (1)
Afternoon Tea (1)
Disabled Access (1)
Gluten Free Options (1)
Late-night Find (1)
Live Sports (1)
Paleo Friendly (1)
Seasonal (1)
Spicy (1)
Vegan (1)
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995 reviews
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·Dined 2 days ago

We ate at the restaurant twice while vacationing in Hawaii.
We liked the staff and how friendly they are. The fish dishes are excellent and prepared the way fish should be fixed. We especially loved the Calamari. I had the catch of the day and thought it was excellent. The fish was Hebi. My husband and son had the trio and also were very pleased.

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Special Occasion, Happy Hour, Worth the Drive, Healthy
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Hawaii)·Dined 2 days ago

We make sure we eat here at least twice every January we are in Hawaii. It’s one of the best places to watch the sunset.
Robert, a native of Hawaii, was our waiter and went overboard to make sure we were happy.
Mahalo Nui Loa🤙

Tags: Seasonal, Creative Cuisine, Organic, Comfort Food
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Minneapolis)·Dined 4 days ago

The setting has an incredibly huge view of the Pacific Ocean- and there are fire pits on the patio adding to the ambiance. The fabulous Hawaiian food was beautiful, with edible orchids garnishing our plates. The drinks were wonderful, the service very friendly and quick. So glad we went there!

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Great for Outdoor Dining, Happy Hour, Good for a Date, Quiet Conversation, Romantic, Local Ingredients, Bar Seating, Authentic
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food5
ambience5
service5
value4

 
 (Phoenix)·Dined on January 12, 2018

Felt more like a sports bar than a seafood restaurant...concrete floors, cheap furniture and multiple TV screens. Cats wandered freely through the restaurant, begging scraps from diners. Food was average, as was service. Much better dining choices in Kona for the prices they charge.

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food2
ambience1
service3

 
 (Chicago)·Dined on January 12, 2018

Our visit to this place was the same day it was reported that the current management of Choy's Kai Lanai (Sam Choy has nothing to do with the place anymore) replaced a yellow "conditional approval" state health department (DOH) placard with a green "Passed" placard, which is illegal and as a result the management was fined $13,000.00! The yellow placard meant there were serious DOH health/safety violations in the place. We had heard about this just before leaving for the evening but went anyway. Our server, whom we trust implicitly, assured us that what we were to order was OK to eat, which it was.
The upshot of this is, if you think Sam Choy has anything to do with the place - Wrong, he sold out to a Colorado firm which apparently seems to think local health department rules don't apply or why would they have changed the placard?
Now, our dinner was just fine...the Calamari app is delicious. We had the striped marlin which is a pleasant mild white fish. Our other entree was the braised short ribs which were delicious.
You may bring your own wine choice for a $15 corking fee, about average.
The view from the outside tables offer a panoramic view of the Pacific, sunset time is popular, of course but you do have look beyond the solar-paneled roofs of the Keauhou Shopping Center which is immediately below the restaurant.
The state DOH has reinspected and issued a green "Passed" placard to the location.

Tags: Scenic View
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food4
ambience3
service5
value3

 
·Dined on January 11, 2018

I would definitely recommend Sam Choy’s for the scenic view. It overlooks Keahou Bay and is beautiful, especially during sunset. The food was mediocre at best I had the short ribs and they were a bit tough but passable. I shared the bread pudding for dessert and it was very good. They use the sweet bread from punalu’u bakery. The service was decent except for the waiter sweating profusely which was a bit off putting. It is all about the views, which reminds you that you are in paradise.

Tags: Scenic View, Local Ingredients
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food3
ambience5
service3
value3

 
 (Los Angeles)·Dined on January 10, 2018

One of the best places for a cool drink and beautiful sunset

Tags: Great for Outdoor Dining
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
·Dined on January 9, 2018

Stunning sunset view. Good food and drinks

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food5
ambience4
service4
value4

 
 (Hawaii)·Dined on January 8, 2018

As always, Sam Choy's has great food, a fantastic view and easy parking. Great value for what you get. My wife always gets the Ahi Poke salad, which she loves. I get whatever fish stuff is fresh. I got the triple fish dish, Ahi, Mahi-Mahi & Ebi. It was perfectly prepared & tasted perfect.

Tags: Great for Outdoor Dining, Scenic View, Fun
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined on January 5, 2018

Been going to Sam Choy’s for a long time. Food was not very good. Hopefully it was just an off night.

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food2
ambience5
service5
value4

 
·Dined on December 30, 2017

Fish wasn't cooked through. Street noise pretty load. Cat running through dining area. Not much of a view.

Tags: Casual
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food3
ambience2
service4
value3

 
·Dined on December 30, 2017

Since uncle Sam is no longer in charge here the entire place has suffered. The food quality and server quality are most noticeable. With a lot of realistic attention to detail on all levels the restaurant can have a happy client base of not just tourists but locals as well. It will be sad to see a place that bears the name of a man with so much aloha for all become just another place for tourists. I hope things get better.

Tags: People Watching
1 person found this review helpful.
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food2
ambience3
service1
value2

vip
 (Portland)·Dined on December 29, 2017

Famous chef owner isn't enough! Some interesting food ideas are ruined by a indifferent wait staff that basically manages itself. My 3 star rating was very generous; trust me.....

1 person found this review helpful.
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food3
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service1

 
 (Hawaii)·Dined on December 29, 2017

it took a few minutes to be greeted but the host apologized. we asked for a nice table and she went and cleaned one up herself for us. we told her it was my moms birthday, and she sat us at the table with only two menus.
our server was very dry. he didn't greet or introduce himself, he just asked us what we wanted to drink and told us what the fresh catch was. how ever when he greeted the table behind us he gave them his whole intro and made the menu sound delicious.
it took him a while to come back and take our order, but when he did, that was the last time we seen him. the food runner brought our apps, we had the brie cheese which was EXCELLENT, and the every-menu-item go-to calamari. our server came back, cleared our plates, gave us fresh silverware, and without a moment to spare, took off before i could ask him for the wine list.
it was hard to get his attention, but he finally got my order and it arrived just moments after our dinners. he asked us if we needed anything, but we were fine. throughout our dinner he refilled our waters a few times, but not ONCE did he ask us how we were enjoying our meals.
when we were finished he came back, cleared our plates, and offered dessert. it was so hard to flag him down, i didn't even have a moment to catch him to secretly let him know it was my mothers birthday. however we did let the host know and thought she would have told our server. we ordered dessert, chocolate cake, freshly baked and scrumptious! but didn't get a candle to go with it which was pretty upsetting.
when the food runner brought us the dessert, we asked if he could tell our server if he could bring us our check, as you know it was impossible to get his attention. i got really irritated when he started going on and on about how he wasn't supposed to be here that night, how he was there since 8am bartending and then was asked to stay and help. i didn't ask for his sad stories. i asked for my check.
overall i felt ignored, forgotten, and unimportant.

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food5
ambience5
service1
value1

 
 (Hawaii)·Dined on December 29, 2017

Seating was nice, great view. Waited long time for drinks.. 30 mins for 2nd round to arrive. Appies soso had calamari and wontons, both not hot. 1 of 3 of dinners was okay- lamb was extremely fatty, pork dish was okay.
Was last night in Hawaii and we were disappointed.

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food1
ambience4
service1
value1

 
 (Montreal)·Dined on December 28, 2017

Tried it once for pupus and drinks for a great sunset view. Was so good we ended up going back twice during our week in Keahou for dinner. Great food and awesome view.

Tags: Great for Outdoor Dining, Tapas, Happy Hour, Scenic View
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food4
ambience4
service4
value4

 
·Dined on December 28, 2017

Decent food. Good drinks. Amazing view of the subset!

Tags: Scenic View
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food4
ambience5
service4
value3

vip
 (New York Area)·Dined on December 26, 2017

Awful and awfully expensive. Went there for Xmas dinner. Expensive buffet with tasteless American food. Oh wait, this is a Chinese restaurant? Felt sick a day afterwards. They serve unfiltered tap water. Yuk.

Tags: Great for Outdoor Dining
1 person found this review helpful.
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food1
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 (Hawaii)·Dined on December 25, 2017

The friend I had dinner with on Christmas has limited mobility and uses a walker. I requested a table near the buffet table and that's what we got. The staff was very accommodating offering to get her things from the buffet and dessert table. Our waitress even helped her with the door to the rest room and then waited to help her with the door when she was done.

Thank you for making Christmas brunch so pleasant for us.

Tags: Great for Brunch, Disabled Access, Great for Outdoor Dining, Waterfront, Worth the Drive, Fit for Foodies, Scenic View, Healthy, Casual, Quiet Conversation
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food5
ambience5
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value5

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined on December 25, 2017

I was looking for a nice place in Kona to dine with my husband on Christmas Eve. The place was very busy and the wait was a bit long for our food but the server was great and the food was worth the wait. Lovely place for a sunset dinner.

Tags: Fun, Casual, Pre/post Theatre, Good for a Date, Scenic View
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food5
ambience5
service5
value4

vip
 (Jackson Hole)·Dined on December 21, 2017

Well, chose this restaurant because of TripAdvisor...shopping mall restaurant, view of the roof of the Home Depot or something like that...food was more of a fast food type...but the service was great...poor guy...

Tags: Good for Groups
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food2
ambience2
service5
value2

 
 (Phoenix)·Dined on December 18, 2017

Everything was really good...until we were ready to leave and one of us almost fell to the ground! Narrow drain by the lanai wall is extremely close to the dining tables and chairs can get caught up, if you are not aware. Waiters should point that out to diners as they seat by the wall.

Tags: Casual, Scenic View
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food5
ambience4
service5
value4

 
 (Hawaii)·Dined on December 17, 2017

Excellent food, service, location and ambiance!! Lives up to the reputation!

Tags: Great for Outdoor Dining, Tasting Menu
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Anchorage)·Dined on December 16, 2017

Made reservations for a table for sunset dinner, we were seated behind a post. Even though it wasn’t crowded it took quite some time to get drink orders and water delivered.
Food was not up to Sam Choy caliber. Ordered a trio of fish, seared ahi was cooked all the way through. Sordfish and salmon also were over cooked.
The ribeye was cooked to order however had a mushroom side sauce that could best be described as thick cream of mushroom soup with a few shrooms thrown in.
The highlights were the chowder and bean soup.
Definitely not the Sam Choy’s of old.

Tags: Scenic View
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food2
ambience4
service2
value2

vip
 (Washington DC)·Dined on December 15, 2017

Beautiful views, good food, spotty service (we think our waitress may have been doing double duty)...would definitely go again. The sunset was worth the price of admission!

Tags: Fun, Authentic, Neighborhood Gem
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food5
ambience5
service3
value5

 
·Dined on December 15, 2017

知人家族のお嬢様が「お肉が食べたい!」という事で4人で訪問。素晴らしいサンセットと共に美味しい食事をいたしました。

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food4
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined on December 10, 2017

The hillside view of the ocean and coast is great, but the shopping mall below does sort of interfere with the tropical ambiance. The rack of lamb was taisty but hard to cut as it was served in a bowl on top of pasta. A plated dinner might have been easier. Drinks were good as was the special fish.

Tags: Scenic View, Good for Groups
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food4
ambience5
service5
value5

 
·Dined on December 8, 2017

The whole experience was mediocre. I really had expected more. The feral cat roving around the area probably did not contribute to the situation.

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food3
ambience3
service4
value3

 
 (Vancouver)·Dined on December 8, 2017

Knowing Sam Choy is a famous chef, my husband suggested that we go try this restaurant, which is close to our hotel. The restaurant was at a very nice location - on a hill overlooking the ocean. My husband ordered the ribeye for dinner, and I ordered the seafood lau lau. My husband liked his steak, but the sauce on the side was salty. My seafood lau lau looked beautiful, but the food turned out to be very salty. When we told the waiter, he offered to switch the dish and suggested macadamia nut crusted fish. The macadamia nut crusted fish dish turned out to be blend. The chef probably got scared by what happened with the first dish and didn't want to put any salt on the second dish. The waiter was nice enough to take the dish back and not charge us for it. The manager came by to find out what happened. She then comped us with chocolate cake with ice cream. I liked the cake, but not my husband - he said he doesn't like flourless chocolate cake.

As the other reviewer mentioned, there was a cat roaming around the restaurant, going under tables and by people's legs. It didn't look like it had an owner. I was getting nervous that it would go by my husband as he is allergic to cats.

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food2
ambience4
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value2

 
 (Hawaii)·Dined on November 30, 2017

We love Sam Choy's Kai Lanai. We always bring our out of town friends and family there.
We love the Fish Trio but there are many very good dishes on the menu. The view is spectacular and we often come for birthdays and anniversaries.

Tags: Romantic, Neighborhood Gem, Local Ingredients, Casual, Bar Seating, Great for Lunch, Good for Birthdays, Good for Groups, Organic, Good for Anniversaries
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food5
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vip
 (New York Area)·Dined on November 26, 2017

Wonderful view, good food, service needs improvement. We went here with a group of 6 friends for dinner. The view at sunset was spectacular. The food was better than average. The service needs some attention. The waiter was more interested in himself and was way too "cutsie". To make mattes worse he was sloppy and couldn't have cared less. He spilled on EVERY glass while refilling the water and didn't even bother to apologize. To make matters worse, he dumped an ice-cream on one of us and did nothing to help clean it up.

Tags: Good for Groups, Bar Seating, Comfort Food, Good for a Date, Fun, Great for Outdoor Dining, Scenic View
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food3
ambience5
service1
value3

 
·Dined on November 24, 2017

We went there for Thanksgiving buffet. We paid $49 a person. The buffet was filthy with crumbs and soiled serving spoons. The roast beef was dry and there was no horse radish or au jous available. We had to request plates, stuffing, and mashed potatoes. We had to summon our waiter for more water. We also had to bus our own dirty plates. Overpriced and we felt like we were being served leftovers! Yuck!

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food1
ambience1
service1
value1

 
 (St. Louis)·Dined on November 24, 2017

Our server was absolutely wonderful. The food was very good, the vegetables were well prepared. I had the macadamia nut crusted chicken; which was cooked perfectly. My husband had the trio a fish, he stated it was slightly over cooked but still good. The pumpkin pie was very good, we spent some time trying to figure out the spices because it was not like any other pumpkin pie we have had.
We know we can always come here and have a good experience.

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food4
ambience5
service5
value4

 
·Dined on November 24, 2017

Our party of 4 reserved a table at 3 pm on Thanksgiving day. The hostess was rude and indifferent even though there were many tables available. The turkey was dry, the stuffing a gloopy mass, the mashed potatoes gluey, no cooked side vegetables (unless you count canned yams), the prime rib was literally one half a slab of fat and not tender even though medium rare. Worse, everything was highly salted, and the gravy was extremely salty, almost to the point of being inedible. The best thing about the buffet was the lemon meringue and key lime pie.

Tags: Scenic View
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food1
ambience3
service2
value2

 
·Dined on November 23, 2017

Really good food. Menu has something for everyone. Unique dishes that focus on quality first versus just being different. Just a good place to enjoy great food and dinner conversation. Decor is basic (cement floors) more than made up for by view, attentive staff, and food that's very well prepaired.

Tags: Quiet Conversation, Worth the Drive, Casual, Scenic View, Creative Cuisine
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Orange County)·Dined on November 17, 2017

To expensive for portion... Waitress had to many tables... Should never have to ask for water, we did... Expected a little more for ambience given price and nice.

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food3
ambience2
service2
value2

 
 (Nashville)·Dined on November 16, 2017

Best sunset view!!! And the food and service was outstanding!!

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food5
ambience5
service5

 
 (Denver)·Dined on November 13, 2017

We just returned from dinner. We seldom give bad reviews. But this was such a bad experience that we feel compelled to tell people. Service was slow. After getting our drinks (and being greeted quickly) we waited quite awhile to give our order. We waited for quite awhile for our food. The people to our left and behind us, both were waited upon by different people, got there after us, and got their entrees much sooner than we did. We both had fish, so it wasn't the dish that caused the delay. When we received our food, the entrees and veggies were hot, but the potatoes were cold. My entree, the speciality of the house, a fish trio, was overcooked.
We complained about the potatoes, and they were promptly replaced with lukewarm potatoes!!
We didn't complain further, but ate what we had. The waiter, Paul, was very nice, and offered free dessert. He also gave us a discount because of the potatoes, which we appreciated. We both ordered ice cream. We almost laughed out loud when we realized that that both dishes were over 50% melted. What restaurant can't manage firm ice cream? It was quite obvious that it was partially melted. The best thing about the evening was the view, the music, and the drive home!

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food1
ambience5
service2
value3

 
 (Hawaii)·Dined on November 12, 2017

Our first time at Sam Choy's since they left the Keauhou Beach Hotel years ago. It was great.

Tags: Cozy, Great Beer, Good for Birthdays, Quiet Conversation, Scenic View
1 person found this review helpful.
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food5
ambience5
service5
value4

 
·Dined on November 9, 2017

We went for our anniversary and it was a great night. We caught the end of happy hour and had fabulous cocktails and the calamari was excellent. Our dinner was good overall and we were given a complimentary dessert! We would certainly recommend Sam Choy’s with the great food and stunning view!

Tags: Good for a Date
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food4
ambience4
service5
value4

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