Archive for the ‘Hawaiian Food’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Chef Sam Choy , The Choy of Cooking

The Choy Of Cooking
Sam Choy the the essences of island hospitality, local boy charm with his wit, and passion for

Hawaiian Food Recipe and regional cuisine. With more than 150 easy to prepare island style

recipes “the “Choy of Cooking” is filled with recipes reminiscent of grandma’s cooking. And just

to throw in a twist he threw on some of his favorite recipe with a touch of flare that only Sam

Choy can create. Award winning photography captures elegant culinary displays that showcases

Hawaiian artifacts assembled from museums, private homes, and artists from all over the

islands. making the Choy of Cooking a feast for the eyers, as well as a feast for the appetite.

The hearty island flavors are accompanied by spirited notes on the food preparation ad

presentation and of course, Sam charming local anecdotes.


get Chef Sam Choy’s ”THE CHOY OF COOKING”  cookbook …

Sam Choy Luau Food Recipes

PostHeaderIcon Honolulu Chinatown Eats: Hifumi Restaurant

As odd as it sounds to its surroundings of predominantly Chinese restaurants and shops, nestled on the riverside ground level of the Chinese Cultural Plaza in downtown Honolulu’s Chinatown district, you’ll find Hifumi Japanese Restaurant, who have been in business at this location over 30 years. 30 years! Plus 10 more at their original Kalihi location.

Which is where we had lunch last Friday in celebration of Diner E’s birthday. Otanjo-bi omedeto gozaimasu! Or being where we are on this visit, would it be more appropriate to say “Sàangyaht faailohk!”? That would be Cantonese for “Happy Birthday”. Ah heck, we’ll just say “Happy Birthday Diner E!”

Although this is a first time visit here for most of us, Hifumi is actually a favorite regular spot for Diner E, and for good reason as you’ll soon find out.

First let’s check out the place…

Wait, this is supposed to be a Japanese restaurant? Well, looking at the decor, they could have fooled me. This certainly looks more like a Chinese fast food/takeout joint than anything else. Especially when you factor in the location. There’s not a sign of Tatami or Shoji treatment anywhere to be seen to suggest a Japanese theme. Well OK, perhaps a few Japanese art pieces here and there on the wall and ceiling, but it comes across mostly as an afterthought. Actually, overall this place looks a little too casual for a birthday luncheon, yet this is what Diner E wanted, so we’ll roll with it.

Of course the food is what matters most, therefore without further ado, let’s check out the menu…

Ah so desu, we must note that it says “Local Family Style Japanese Restaurant”, so leave all your pretenses of traditional, formal Japanese cuisine at the door.

The bento is plated teishoku style like this, with only the miso soup served separately (for obvious reason)…

Wow, that’s quite a selection.

Notice on the ‘July Specials’ dry erase menu board above that it says ‘Giant Jumbo Shrimp Tempura’, which — along with their Wafu selections — is one of their signature dishes. Measuring about 12″ in length each, Hifumi claims to have the largest Shrimp Tempura on the island, where they have their giant tiger shrimp specially flown in from Thailand. This, according to Elsie, our server, manager and 26-year veteran of the restaurant.

This wasn’t our order, but here’s a couple plates of already massive Jumbo Shrimp Tempura (smaller than the Giant Jumbo Shrimp)…

Hifumi – Jumbo Shrimp Tempura

Note that these are pretty much standard-sized dinner plates, so you get the idea what they mean by “JUMBO”. Now imagine “GIANT JUMBO”!

Getting to our spread, like most Japanese meals go, we begin with the house Miso Soup…

Pretty basic shio miso soup broth, which while it can’t touch the OUTSTANDING Miso Soup at Ethel’s Grill, was never-the-less satisfying, being neither too watery or too strong. Garnishes are simply cubes of soft tofu and green onion.

On to the main attraction, here we have “birthday boy” Diner E’s choice, the Bento Special, which he chose Tempura and Ahi prepared Teriyaki style…

Hifumi – Bento Special: 2 piece shrimp and vegetable tempura, teriyaki ahi, rice, tofu, tossed salad (with Thousand Islands dressing), tsukemono and miso soup. .95 lunch price (.95 dinner price).

Accompanying his Teriyaki Ahi and Tempura Bento is a side of Hamachi Sashimi, flown in fresh from Japan…

Hifumi – Fresh Hamachi Sashimi from Japan (5 slices). when ordered with Bento Special

I’d just as well order a big platter of that sashimi and call it a day… and a mighty fine day at that.

Next we have Diner AC’s choice, the Bento Special, opting for Tempura and Ton Katsu (what I would have chosen)…

Hifumi – Bento Special: 2 piece shrimp and vegetable tempura, ton katsu (panko-breaded fried pork cutlet), rice, tofu, tossed salad (with Thousand Islands dressing), tsukemono and miso soup. .95 lunch price (.95 dinner price).

Diner A also chose the Bento Special, he also choosing the Tempura, along with Chicken Karaage…

Hifumi – Bento Special: 2 piece shrimp and vegetable tempura, chicken karaage, rice, tofu, tossed salad (with Thousand Islands dressing), tsukemono and miso soup. .95 lunch price (.95 dinner price).

What’s kinda’ interesting is that they add ketchup in their Tonkatsu sauce as a dipping sauce for the Chicken Karaage and Tonkatsu entree items…

Normally I’d shudder at just the thought of adding ketchup to ANY Japanese food, but you know what? I think this is BRILLIANT! It totally “localizes” the flavor, yet in a way I find pleasing. I wanna’ try this at home, adding ketchup to my Bull Dog Tonkatsu sauce and serve with simply-seasoned garlic salt and pepper fried pork chops. I bet that’s gonna’ rock!

Moving on, we have Diner C’s choice, the Shrimp Tempura…

Hifumi – Shrimp Tempura Special: 3 pieces Shrimp Tempura with Mixed Vegetable Tempura. Includes Rice, Miso Soup and Tsukemono. .95

Finally, yours truly couldn’t resist the Monthly Special 10 oz. filet Opakapaka and got that, opting to have it prepared in Hifumi’s signature ‘Wafu’ style…

Hifumi – Monthly Special 10 oz. Filet Opakapaka (Hawaiian Pink Snapper) prepared Wafu style: fresh garlic soy sauce, ground onions and sake. Includes rice, miso soup and tsukemono. .95 clipout coupon price (.99 menu price)

Here we have the included gohan (rice) and tsukemono (pickled veggies) included with the Wafu Opakapaka (and most other entrees)…

Diner AC was curious about this whole ‘Wafu’ hype and decided to order a ‘sampler’ plate (actually an entree item) of Wafu Chicken to share with everyone…

Hifumi – Wafu Chicken. .95

Further explaining this whole ‘Wafu’ thing, the menu goes on to say “Wafu style is a Japanese style of western dishes. This involves a hot plate heated to be served along with the entree. After applying the soy sauce, it produces a sizzling effect, which gives it the garlic aroma.”

What I will say is that Wafu style is WA-FREEKIN’ DELICIOUS! Seriously, do not leave Hifumi without trying it. It’s definitely unique and very tasty (<—-good word). As you see on the menu, you can choose any meat and have it prepared this way.

As for the Wafu Chicken, the thin slices of boneless white meat was super moist and tender inside, with this ever-so-delicate coating on it that, according to Elsie, is Sweet Potato Flour, which she claims is comparably expensive to regular flour. Yet it does impart this interesting texture that’s not quite crunchy, but as said earlier, delicate, while also imparting a little bit of sweetness. That is, unless the sweetness is coming from the grated onions.

Grated onions you say? Well yes, and that particularly is what makes this amazing Wafu sauce really stand out from the rest. Here, take a closer look now at my Wafu-style Opakapaka…

There on the front center edge of the sizzling platter you notice there’s translucent grains of “stuff” that sort of look like grated daikon, but that’s grated onion. What that grated onion does is become caramelized from the heat of the sizzling platter, imparting this incredibly rich and savory flavor to the garlic soy and sake sauce. That gritty texture also adds an extra dimension to the sauce, helping out the abundance of regular sliced caramelized onions in it. If you appreciate the virtues of onion in the land called “Flavortown”, Wafu is definitely for you. Goodness, my mouth is watering just writing about it here!

Also notice how moist, tender and flaky that cut piece of Opakapaka is there, which I easily severed using just chopsticks. Let’s have a bite, and another bite and another bite…

The Opakapaka itself was as fresh as could be and seared to perfection, being just cooked through, nothing more, nothing less.All I can say more is this was oishii-licious, broke da’ mout’ winnahz.

But. BUT. Yes, there’s a “but”, being what I realized is this ended up (no pun intended) being too much of a good thing, where after eating through about half of this giant 10 oz. filet (it seemed much bigger than that), I kinda’ got “Opakapaka’d out”.  I’m surprised Elsie didn’t mention it, but what I really think is the huge portion of this fish is better suited to be served family style instead of for just one person. What Hifumi should do (maybe they do but I didn’t ask and don’t see it on the menu) is offer a Wafu combo option. If they do, on a future visit, I’d get the hypothetical Opakapaka and NY Steak Wafu combo, or perhaps make it a threesome and add Scallops. At least then it would remain interesting, balanced, and not so one-dimensional, regardless of the multi-dimensionally incredible Wafu sauce.

That said, if you order the signature Wafu and/or Tempura dishes at Hifumi, I’d recommend you serve it family style with the “one entree per person rule”. This way there’s variety for everyone to pick and choose, and not be confined to just one big dish of this or that.

Summing it up, I give my absolutely excellent Wafu-style Opakapaka a very solid 3-SPAM Musubi, losing a point from what I would have given a 4 or 5 had their been more variety for my entree than just one big honkin’ filet of fish. Not that I’m complaining about portions, which are certainly generous and a fantastic value. Do this Wafu thing family style and no doubt you’ve got yourself and guests a winner meal.

As for everyone else on our table, they unanimously also gave their respective dish a very solid 3-SPAM Musubi with no complaint. They also noted the fantastic value at just .95 for each well-prepared and generously-executed bento and .95 for the generous serving of Shrimp and Vegetable Tempura. The latter of which Diner C noted the tempura batter was light and crispy and not oily at all, while the tempura sauce had great flavor, only missing the grated daikon. I’m not sure if they forgot that important finishing touch or they just don’t offer it.

Following tradition, our server brought us a piping hot pot of Ocha (Japanese style tea) at the end of our meal, which is always a welcome way to help melt down any heavy oiliness feeling in the throat and stomach…

Speaking of tea, knowing we were celebrating a birthday, Elsie so kindly brought us all complimentary bowls of Lappert’s Ice Cream for dessert, including (real, not artificial) Green Tea, Strawberry and Kona Coffee flavors…

Lappert’s Hawaii Ice Cream: Green Tea, Fresh Strawberry and Kona Coffee flavors

She noted the complimentary ice cream is only one scoop, while the regular ice cream dessert off the menu includes two scoops. Turned out one scoop was jussss’ right, and I must say, this Lappert’s Ice Cream is some good stuff. Really good stuff! Very creamy and rich. I had the Kona Coffee flavor, and that was by far the best example I’ve had of it yet. 4 SPAM Musubi on that.

Ah, gochisousama deshita (what a feast)!

Step out the side (or front door, depends which way you’re coming from) and you’ll find yourself transported right back to China(town)…

Yes, this is in the middle of Honolulu, not Beijing…

Here on the front window of Hifumi, they have a printout of a Star Bulletin article about them…

As for parking, the Chinese Cultural Plaza has a structure and the restaurant validates, where we paid just for about 2 hours, which is cheap compared to standard downtown Honolulu parking rates.

Summing it up, if you’ve never tried Japanese Wafu-style prepared meats and seafood — which once again is a combination of the meat crusted with sweet potato flour, served on a sizzling-hot platter drenched in sauce made of grated onions, garlic-infused shoyu and sake — then make your way to Honolulu’s Chinatown district and hit-up Hifumi. Highly recommended for good Japanese eats at a great price.

Hifumi Japanese Restaurant
100 N. Beretania Street
Suite 113
Honolulu, Hawaii  96817

Tel. (808) 536-3035

The Tasty Island rating:

(3) Very Good. Considerable of another visit or purchase. (Supah’ Ono!)

Related links:
Hifumi Restaurant – ‘Ono Kine Grindz
Hifumi: good, cheap, plentiful Japanese food – Midweek
Hifumi Japanese Restaurant – Yelp user reviews
Lappert’s Hawaii: Coffee, Ice Cream and Bakery Goods with the Aloha Spirit

Honolulu Romantic Vacation

The Tasty Island

PostHeaderIcon Bread Recipes Hawaiian Sweet Bread

Hawaiian sweet bread. Just a taste of sweetness, fluffy and light, that is the sweet bread that everyone in Hawaii loves. It is good just by its self, eaten in slices or even used for sandwiches. While still others swear it makes the best French toast. Lather with jelly and peanut butter or smeared with melted butter, which ever you prefer it is undeniably “Hawaiian Sweet Bread “is the favorite bread in the islands.
Hawaiian Food Recipe

PostHeaderIcon Palama Eats: Grant’s Grill Mandoo Express

Tucked away in the corner of King’s Gate Plaza on the corner of Dillingham Boulevard and North King Street in the Palama area of Kalihi, is the new Grant’s Grill Mandoo Express.

Owner Grant Hamura (no relation to Hamura Saimin on Kauai) explained that he started out volunteering with other folks at his church, New Hope Chapel, doing benefit fundraisers selling the foods he now serves at his restaurant.  He then decided to turn it into a business and opened Grant’s Grill Mandoo Express just three months ago in May 2010. In fact, they’re so new here, Grant’s Grill has yet to put up a sign of their own, where as of this writing, you see here former business operator Kang’s still has their sign up on the building over this spot….

Notable neighbors of Grant’s include Jiffy Lube and KFC, while across the street on the Diamond Head side of Dillingham Boulevard is Jack in the Box, and Mayor Wrights Housing on the mauka side of King Street. K, you can find ‘em? Shoots ‘den. Go check ‘em now, go.

Here we have owner Grant Hamura on the right in black shirt, along with his trusty assistant Ben…

Assistant Ben on the left (grey shirt) and owner Grant Hamura on the right (black shirt)

Grant’s previous life included cooking stints at Angelo Pietro’s for two years and Ryan’s Grill for four years. Still, he says most of the recipes are handed down from his mother, who I might add is a very nice, wonderful lady that you’ll often find helping out at the shop.

Here’s Korea-native and “Mandoo Machine Expert”, Sharon, who comes in on a weekly basis to help when they run the machine…

Now the business sub-name ‘Mandoo Express’ is there for good reason, as Grant’s Mandoo are made in-house from scratch, right down to the Wonton Pi wrapper, which come in three varieties. The ones shown here are made with Carrot Juice, imparting a golden color to the dough, while there’s also a green colored Mandoo wrapper that’s made with Sesame leaves, and a third type done in the standard plain white flour mandoo wrapper.

Most impressive and unique about their operation is this high-tech machine they have designed specifically to crank out Mandoo in volume…

If I didn’t tell you what this was, you’d probably just as well think it’s some sort of fancy shave ice maker. lol Seriously though, according to Ben, as far as they know, this “Mandoo Machine”, which I’ve given the make-believe model number “GGMEX-5000″ (Grant’s Grill Mandoo Express-5000) is the only one of its kind in Hawaii. It was shipped from Korea many years ago, where now it performs regular service at Grant’s Grill Mandoo Express. What would would have been cool is if Grant named his business ‘Grant’s Mandoo Machine’. Ha? How you figgah? Catchy, eh?!!

There you see wrapped in bags are sheets of raw mandoo wrapper dough  that were used to feed the machine.

Here’s the first stage of the machine where the mandoo filling, which is a combination of ground pork, beef, glass noodles, cabbage, chives, onion, and seasoning with NO MSG, are placed in this funnel feeder…

This funnel part feeds the mandoo filling through a tube inside the machine that “magically” combines it with the mandoo wrapper dough which gets encased around it like a “Mandoo Sausage” if you will, and extrudes it out the other side where the mandoo-shaped dies are…

Yet another marvel in modern industrial engineering.

The top die is what gives the mandoo its shape as it spins and pinches the extruded dough-encased filling from the feeder in front of it onto the bottom flat die. That Mandoo die makes three pieces in one revolution, so you can imagine how fast this thing cranks out mandoo. From this it drops the finished mandoo pieces onto a conveyor belt that feeds to to a table where staff quickly pick them off and arrange them on stainless steel steamer stackers in sets of fourteen mandoo each.

From here they go to the steamer station, where they’re steamed in stacks of 4 (56 mandoo total each) and steamed for exactly 4 minutes (the rule being 1 minute per stack)…

Within minutes, out they come piping hot and ready to grind!…

After being steamed to fully cook the wrapper and filling, mandoo that aren’t served immediately are placed on restaurant pans and placed in industrial kitchen freezers that individually quick freeze (IQF) them…

This “IQF” process preserves the mandoo’s fresh taste and texture. When ready to serve, they’re re-steamed or thrown in the deep-fryer.

Better than I could ever explain in words or photos, I shot an exclusive video today of Grant’s “GGMEX-5000″ Mandoo Machine in action. Check it out here!…

Man, that “GGMEX-5000 Mandoo Machine” is one neat piece of hardware! A work of industrial art!

Mandoo Express’ fresh-made-from-scratch, IQF’d, no MSG, ready-to-heat and serve Mandoo are packaged in Ziploc bags of 50 each which sell for the following prices:
• 1 to 9 bags: /bag (40 cents each)
• 10-19 bags: /bag (36 cents each)
• 20 or more bags: /bag (30 cents each)

So next time you’ve got a party and you wanna’ add some onolicious locally-made mandoo to the spread, you know who to call!

Moving on to the takeout side of the operation, here on our first-time visit we have Grant’s posted menu items of the day…

On our return visit the following week, these were the menu items for the day…

Here’s Grant’s regular takeout and catering menu…

Speaking of takeout, that’s pretty much the only option, as there isn’t much seating here, save for a couple small table sets, mainly to sit while waiting for your order.

Getting right to it, showcasing a combination of four recent visits, here’s what landed on our table…

Grant’s Grill Mandoo Express – Kal-bi (boneless).

Grant’s Grill Mandoo Express – Kal-bi (boneless).

Grant’s Grill Mandoo Express – Kal-bi (boneless).

Grant’s Grill – Boneless Kal-bi and Garlic Fried Chicken combo plate. .50

Grant’s Grill Mandoo Express – BBQ Spare Ribs & Garlic Fried Chicken Combo. .50

Grant’s Grill Mandoo Express – BBQ Spare Ribs & Garlic Fried Chicken Combo. .50

Grant’s Grill Mandoo Express – Garlic Fried Chicken Combo. .50

Grant’s Grill Mandoo Express – Aku Bone. .20

Grant’s Grill Mandoo Express – Aku Bone

Grant’s Grill Mandoo Express – 2 Scoops white rice, Potato-Mac Salad and Kim Chee (includes with Aku Bone plate)

Grant’s Grill Mandoo Express – Mandoo Plate. .50

Grant’s Grill Mandoo Express – Steak with Onions plate. .50

That’s everything we tried. Note, that ‘Steak with Onions’ plate is supposed to beSteak with Onions & Mushrooms’, but it turned out Grant didn’t have mushrooms in-stock on that particular visit. No mushrooms? Ack! That’s my favorite part!

Being only three months in business, evidently Grant’s Grill is still going through some “growing pains”, yet the good far outweigh the bad as you’ll soon read about.

Now I’ll go into describing how each dish tasted starting in reverse from the last plate shown here, which happened to be the most recently consumed, the ‘Steak with Onions’ (sans mushrooms) plate.

Regardless of it NOT HAVING MUSHROOMS!, it still turned out absolutely onolicious. The first thing Grant asked was “How do you want your steak done?” which I quickly shot back, “RARE!”. Like “still mooing” rare. I usually shoot rare and hope it comes out ideally just less than medium-rare, and it usually turns out that way, as it did here at Grant’s…

Perfect. Also notice small kine “koge” (sear markings) action going on, which is always appreciated for that flame-grilled taste, which Grant’s indeed has an open flame grill, and none of this flattop griddle nonsense. As the name suggests, Grant really GRILLS!

Here, spock one ‘noddah steak slice…

Grant says he uses chuck steak, which is notoriously tough and not commonly used for quick, dry grilling methods. Yet like all the meat he serves, he applies his “tenderizing magic” to it and it turned out being just as tender as a choice ribeye or NY strip, only being slightly less flavorful than the more expensive cuts due to less fat marbling. Grant seasons his steak simply with garlic powder (again no MSG), kosher salt and pepper, where after the steak is seared on the grill, it gets a sautee in some butter, which is A-OK with me. Mo’ buttah’, mo’ bettah! In fact, I’ve been on a Steak Au Poivre kick lately, which I’ll blog about in the near future.

Grant has all the condiments you’ll need to make the meal complete, including Tobasco, Worcestershire, Shoyu, ketchup, BBQ Sauce, and my favorite steak companion, the one, the only A1 Steak Sauce…

Love A1. I can practically drink the stuff. Oh, and the sauteed onions were caramelized well, with just enough sweetness and robust flavor to compliment the beef.

Summing up Grant’s Steak with Onions, for what it’s worth (just .50 for a good-sized portion), I give it a perfectly-cooked (rare/medium-rare), very tender, char-grilled ‘n buttery onolicous 3-SPAM Musubi, anticipating it would easily get a 4 had there been ‘SHROOMS in the mix. Next time.

While we’re on beef, by far my favorite dish by Grant so far is the boneless Kal-bi, which here you see how generous the portion is…

Like the steak, there’s distinguishable sear markings or “koge action” goin’ on. while also like the steak, these slices of boneless Kal-bi shortribs were as tender as ever.

Here you see how he cooks the Kal-bi around rare/medium-rare so it’s super moist inside…

What’s very noticeable is how deeply-penetrated the Kal-bi marinade is into the meat fibers, which I must point out tastes more like a hybrid Teriyaki-Kalbi than straight-up Korean style Kalbi. I think this is due it not having a noticeable accent of sesame and hot pepper in its flavor profile, but more just shoyu-sugar and perhaps garlic and just a little ginger.

Usually I don’t care for meats that are over-saturated with marinade, as it often drowns out the flavor of the meat itself. Yet somehow Grant pulls it off well with this one. Really well. As in 4-SPAM Musubi well, which is what I give Grant’s absolutely oishii, “worth the drive into town for it” Boneless Kal-bi.

Now let’s sample the OTHER star of the show, the Fried Mandoo…

Grant’s Grill Mandoo Express – Mandoo

Again, the mandoo filling is a combination of ground pork, ground beef, glass noodles, cabbage, chives, onion, and seasoning, sans MSG. I like the texture of the fried mandoo, as it has a crunchy outer crust, along with a slightly chewy layer beneath it. Thickness-wise, the wrapper is not too thick nor too thin. The filling tastes well balanced while also having a complexity that separates it from Japanese style Gyoza or Chinese wontons. Delicious, really. Further kicking it up a notch is the mandoo sauce that comes with it, which is your standard shoyu, sugar and vinegar combination. That’s always a winner with potstickers in any form.

While I’m not a veteran mandoo “eater”/expert by any means, as far as personal tastes, the texture and flavor of the wrapper and filling of this fried mandoo is right on point for me, where I’d give it an “I’d order a whole plate of the stuff” 3 SPAM Musubi.

On a subsequent visit, Grant hit me up with a sampler plate of his Steamed Mandoo…

This came hot-off-the-press from his “GGMEX-5000 Mandoo Machine” (actually more directly from the steamer pot), and you know what? I like the steamed version much more than the fried version. In the steamed version you can taste the actual flavor of the dough more, as it’s not masked by the oil from the deep-frying process, while for that same reason you can also taste the complex flavor of the filling more.

There you can see the glass noodles intermixed with the ground pork and beef, along with the chives. Dip that buggah in the sauce and it’s all good. So good, I’d highly recommend you try the steamed Mandoo before settling on the usual Fried version and compare them, as I give Grant’s Steamed Mandoo 4 SPAM Musubi. Ono stuff!

While we’re rollin’ on all good things Korean, let’s try the Kim Chee…

On a good note, the Won Bok cabbage is well-saturated with the Kim Chee marinade, while on a low note, texture-wise, it’s a little softer/soggier than I like (I like Kim Chee that has some crunch) and also a little too mild, spice-wise. Still a decent and satisfying Kim Chee that I wouldn’t do without on any Kal-bi plate, which overall I’ll give it 2 SPAM Musubi.

Along with Kim Chee, also included is Potato-Mac Salad, so now let’s sample that…

In that photo above I spread it out to hopefully show what’s in it, to not much avail. What is in it are cut red potatoes with the skin on, three types of parsley and relish. Yes, relish. That relish part may sound like it would resemble tartar sauce in flavor and overall off-putting to the “Mac Salad Purist” like we consider ourselves, but you know what? I kinda’ like it in this application! It adds a subtle and quite interesting “zippity-twang” to it that, after a few plates of the stuff, you get used to and appreciate this slight deviance. On top of that, overall it’s fresh, cool and creamy, which is what matters most in any good mac’ salad. With that, I give Grant’s Potato-Mac Sal’ an “I’ve grown to admire it”, very tasty 3 SPAM Musubi.

Moving on to another entree, we have Grant’s BBQ Spare Ribs…

Needless to say, it’s fall-off-the-bone tender, with again, good “koge action” (seared edges) goin’ on, while the sauce tastes like a localized version of your typical American tomato-based BBQ Sauce. The tomato in this case coming from Ketchup (very “local), along with other stuff, which I’m guessing one of is shoyu.

This plate was ordered by both Diner A and “Saimin Kaukau” E, who both unanimously gave Grant’s BBQ Spare Ribs a very solid 3 SPAM Musubi.

Next we have Grant’s Garlic Fried Chicken…

As you see, the chicken meat is glistening with moisture, while really the best part is the batter, which has this light and crispy, yet sort glutenous texture to it. Underlying that battered crust are undertones of sweet and spicy going on, along with just the right amount of garlic kick. Diner E noted that this Garlic Fried Chicken BLOWS AWAY both Sugoi’s and Mitsuken. Wow.

That said, both Diner A, who was the main “eater” of this entree gives Grant’s Garlic Fried Chicken another very solid 3 SPAM Musubi. Not a 4 or 5? No, and I’ll explain why shortly.

Next up we have Diner E’s Aku Bones…

According to Grant, this one is also seasoned simply with Garlic Salt and pepper, then char-grilled. Here inside you see the meat easily pulls right off the Aku Bones…

I’ll admit, personally I’m sooo not an Aku fan, not so hot for its fishy, “dark meat” flavor, so I can’t be a fair judge on what’s a good or not good Aku Bone. I do know what good seasoning tastes like and think this one lack in that department. I really think this should be “Teriyakified”, reaping the benefits of “Umami” from the shoyu and sugar. As it stands, after trying one of the MANY Aku Bones PILED HIGH on this .25 plate, flavor-wise I’m giving 1 SPAM Musubi, while portion wise I give it 5!

Now one thing that was, ehem, a “sticking” issue at Grant’s Grill was his rice…

On all but the most recent visit, the rice was kinda hardened and dried out like it had been sitting out uncovered in the pot the whole day, and as good as fodder for fried rice. Just really bad rice. Either his rice cooker doesn’t have a good “keep warm” function or something, but we complained to him about it and he promised to fix it. Well, thankfully he’s followed-up on that promise, actually going out and buying a new rice cooker, and after having it with my grilled steak, I can now say his rice is VERY GOOD! Before it was negative 3 SPAM Musubi. Now it’s positive 3 SPAM Musubi. Just had to point that out, because you know how us locals take our rice very seriously. lol

Once again, if there’s one plate you MUST TRY at Grant’s is his boneless, super-tender, well-marinaded grilled Kal-bi. I ordered it twice and went crazy for it on both occasions. Between Grant’s Grill, Dean’s Drive Inn in Kaneohe and Kahai Street Kitchen in Kalihi Kai, I’m torn between who of the three makes DA’ BES’ Teriyaki/Kalbi style beef.

Grant’s Grill – Boneless Kal-bi and Fried Mandoo

Grant’s Grill – Hot-off-the-GGMEX-5000-Press Steamed Mandoo

I do know Grant has that amazing “GGMEX-5000 Mandoo Machine”, which alone is fascinating. He also fixed his “rice issues”, so thank God for that. He believes in using only the freshest ingredients and using no MSG in any of his cooking. Portions are very generous, the price is certainly right.

All that in consideration, overall the entrees that come out of Grant’s kitchen are done very well and right. plus on top of that, Grant is one heck of a nice guy. Go check him out! Highly recommended!

Grant’s Grill Mandoo Express
555 N. King Street #110
Honolulu, Hawaii  96817

Tel. (808) 354-7776 or (808) 330-2557

Business Hours:
Tuesday ~ Friday: 10am to 4:30pm

Takeout Menu (<–download 2-page PDF document)

The Tasty Island SPAM Musubi rating:

(3) Very Good. Considerable of another visit or purchase. (Supah’ Ono!)

Related links:
Grant’s Grill Mandoo Express – Yelp user reviews

The Tasty Island

PostHeaderIcon chicken adobo

3 lb Chicken thighs
1 head Crushed garlic
2-3 big Bay leaf
Pepper corns(6-8) i use crush kine
1 C White vinegar(enough to cova meat)
1/2 C Shoyu(i use enough to cala da vinaga)
Cooking oil (optional)
add wata if too strong fo ya.
Cooking Instructions:
Put chicken in cooking pan.brown meat wit garlic,add vinegar, water, bay leaf, peppercorn, shoyu, salt and pepper. Cover pan and bring to a boil. den simma until meat is tender about one ouhwa. wack um wit rice, oh broke da mout

Hawaiian Ethnic Kaukau (food)


Kimchi, Kim chi or Kimchee, if you love Korean food than you might already familiar with it. It is crunch, spicy and has a fresh healthy flavor that has made this Korean recipe one on the list of the favorites adopted Hawaiian foods.

Hawaiian Food Recipe

PostHeaderIcon A Saigon Sub Kick

I don’t know why it is, but lately I’ve been on a major Saigon Sub kick. Also known as Bánh Mì, this Vietnamese-French fusion sandwich is so refreshingly healthy and delicious, with multiple layers of ingredients that each contribute an interesting and complimentary contrast of flavors and textures. If you’ve never had a Bánh Mì sandwich before, you need to get to your nearest Vietnamese restaurant and try it. Good, good stuff! So good that I now got my mother and aunt hooked on it.

Every Saturday morning I do my usual song and dance, hitting up the KCC Farmers’ Market where I can find just about all the necessary ingredients to make it at unbeatable prices. First of all I make sure I’ve got its two key components: fresh-baked Bánh Mì Parisian baguettes and Do Chua, which are those Vietnamese style pickled julienned Daikon and Carrots. The place to get these are from the Ba-Le Bakery booth, where a bag of four Bánh Mì French baguette rolls costs just and a 12 oz. container of the Do Chua is just . Cheap!

And Ba-Le’s Bánh Mì French baguette rolls are by far the best. They’re baked fresh and have that very desirable crunchy crust on the outside, with just the right balance of glutenous chew on the inside, while being supple and well balanced in density and porosity.The only problem I find with these French Rolls is they mold quickly when left out on the counter. Like after about three days. So after two days, I already put them in the refrigerator, to which they keep pretty good for about a week. Of course fresh is best though.

As for the Do Chua, I just checked the Aina Haina Foodland, and they don’t carry it. Not sure about Safeway, although I’m sure Don Quijote has it. Otherwise, just get it from Ba-Le. Theirs tastes great. In fact, sometimes I eat just the Do Chua by itself!

Being at a Farmers’ Market, of course you’re going to get all the necessary vegetables and herbs to make your Saigon Sub from there, including Thai Basil, Mint and Cilantro (Chinese Parsley), where you can buy a big bunch for just each. Try buying those same herbs in the supermarket and you’re looking at easily three or more times that price. Or of course, just grow them yourself! I might start doing that.

Cucumber is another common ingredient in Bánh Mì, to which I buy the Japanese Cucumber, as it has less seeds and an overall better flavor in this application. Japanese Cucumbers are usually about .50/lb. at KCC Farmers’ Market. Chili Peppers are another basic ingredient in a Saigon Sub, but I’m not one for “heat” in my sandwich and omit it, but hey, if you like it hot, knock yourself out.

The only other key ingredients needed for this Vietnamese-French fusion sandwich are the “fats”, which would be the mayonnaise and choice of meat, to which I buy them from either Costco or the supermarket. Best Foods (a.k.a. Hellman’s) brand for the mayo’ of course, and for the meats, I simply get whatever cold cuts I’m in the mood for. You can use roast beef, smoked ham, turkey, whatever.

Really, like most sandwiches, a Saigon Sub is rather flexible, as long as you have the two key ingredients: the Bánh Mì French Roll and the Do Chua Vietnamese pickled daikon and carrots. From there you can experiment with all kinds of proteins, vegetables, herbs and whatever else you think might work.

I’ve already done a Kiawe-Smoked Pastrami Bánh Mì sandwich which turned out pretty darned delicious…

Check out how I made my Kiawe-Smoked Pastrami Bánh Mì sandwich here, and how I made Backyard Kiawe-Smoked Pastrami here.

Future Saigon Sub experiments for me will include a spin on the classic BLT, Grilled Cheese, Tonkatsu, “Tonkrazy”, baked salmon and either Ahi Poke or tuna tartar.

P.S. Here’s a shot of Maunalua Bay Beach Park from Kuli’ou’ou Beach Park, where you see everyone setting up tents for a front-row, ocean-front vantage point of last night’s grand Fireworks Display over Maunalua Bay in Hawaii Kai…

Same thing at Kuli’ou’ou Beach Park…

It got much more crowded than that right before the 8pm show.

No man is an island… not even in Maunalua Bay when the tide is low…

The fireworks display over Maunalua Bay last night on July 4th, 2010 was quite a spectacle. It began at exactly 8pm and carried on without a hitch until exactly 8:21pm, lasting longer than the 17-minute duration they said it would be on the news. Steady bursts of all the usual shells were there, including the palm, round, ring, willow, roundel, chrysanthemum, pistil, maroon and serpentine. (check out that link for a really cool interactive explanation on that!). The grand finale was of course rapid and highly explosive and seemed to last longer than the seconds it took to complete launching every last shell. Kudos to the folks who set-up this year’s Maunalua Bay fireworks display. Great job! Maika’i!

The music for the Maunalua Bay Fireworks Show was provided by Hawaiian KINE 105.1 FM.

Surprisingly there were very little illegal aerials being launched in the area either before or after the show, compared to last New Years eve, when the skies over Hawaii Kai had more bombs bursting in the air than two of these 4th of July Fireworks displays combined!And this is Hawaii Kai. Imagine Kalihi  and Ewa Beach, where I heard it was like a war zone.

Speaking of which, as I was driving back home towards town from Hawaii Kai after the show (100% sober of course), around 9:30pm about five fire units and every police squad car in the area went racing by, sirens blaring, heading east. Turns out there was a substantial brush fire atop Kalama Valley that threatened nearby homes.  Although they have yet to determine how it was started, it doesn’t look good to have happened on fireworks night.

Lastly, speaking of Saigon Kick, remember that late 80′s/early 90′s band? Here’s their hit single, ‘Love is on the way’…

The Tasty Island


If you think L&L’s orange chicken is good you got to try this recipe! So what are you hungry for? Does any of these Hawaiian recipes get you drooling? Got any other suggestions? What are you craving for?

Hawaiian Food Recipe

PostHeaderIcon Chef Sam Choy’s , “Hawaiian Luau” Cook Book


THE embodiment of island charm and a true sense of the aloha spirit, Sam Choy is the most beloved chef in Hawaii and truly the Culinary ambassador of Hawaii . On his long running cooking show “Sam’s Kitchen” and his successful series of cook books he has inspired many people to fire up their grills and kitchen stove with his innovative style but still easy and simple recipes which are filled with the flavors of Hawaii.

Home-cooking is at the heart of his cooking style. Cooking should be fast and easy whether in a restaurant or in the home. Keeping it simple, blending of flavors is unexpected ways to liven dishes up. This is what has kept Sam Choy the most beloved chef in Hawaii and is so evident from his cooking show.

It is blending of the flavors of the many Asians, Polynesian, and mainland cultural which has melted into this unique style of cooking that has created the Islands Regional Cuisine. The Island-Style of cooking is unique and can’t be found anywhere else on the world. No where else can you find a blend of flavors and it all works so well.

His successful series of cookbooks is more than recipes, it is a guide to help you enjoy yourself the “Island style”. It’s takes a tour through the multi-cultural influences that has been adding their own unique flavors to the pot for decades, like teriyaki chicken, sashimi from the Japanese, sausages and sweet bread from the Portugese, kau lua pig, fresh seafood, fish, poke and all the other amazing luau foods from Hawaii, kalbi (A Korean style barbeque) from the Koreans, roast duck from the Chinese.

For Hawaiian food recipes, luau food recipes or Hawaiian dishes Sam Choy’s cook books are filled with the flavors that’ll put smiles on everyone’s faces at your next dinner.

… get Chef Sam Choy’s ” HAWAIIAN LUAU ” cook book …

Sam Choy Luau Food Recipes

PostHeaderIcon chicken long rice

1 4oz bundle Oriental vermicelli*
2 3-4 lbs fryers
2-3 slices Ginger
slivers of carrots
1 Tbsp Salt
White pepper
1 tsp MSG (optional)
Scallions (green onions), chopped
2-3 Tbsp Shoyu

Cooking Instructions:
Cover dry vermicelli with warm water and let stand for 1/2 hour. Cover chicken with water, add ginger, salt and simmer till chicken is tender. cool, Remove chicken from bones and cut into pieces. Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper, MSG. Discard ginger slices from broth. Cut vermicelli into 4 inch lengths. Add vermicelli, scallions and carrots to chicken broth with shoyu. Simmer for 15 minutes. Correct seasoning. Add deboned chicken and cook till chicken is hot.
Additional Comments:
To prepare ahead: Make chicken long rice the night before the dinner but omit final 15 minute simmering. Cool, cover and refrigerate. The vermicelli absorbs a great deal of liquid so when reheating, replenish liquid loss with more seasoned chicken broth or water. * Dried bean threads made of beans. Thin, transparent. It looks like nylon and is nearly as impossible to break when dry.

Hawaiian Ethnic Kaukau (food)