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Hawaiian Grinds

August 26, 2009

So while we were in Hawaii, we ate a LOT. I wanted to try local specialties and tiny shops and fresh seafood and fruity drinks. I already miss pina coladas and poke.

Some of my favorite and most inspiring experiences were:

Ramen Nakamura, the teensiest, tiniest, cutest noodle shop ever. Everyone was speaking Japanese except us. It’s really quiet in there… no one really talks much, you just hear lots of slurping. And everyone ate so quickly!

The noodles were so darn perfect, and the broth was worth gulping down. The dumplings on the side were crispy on the outside, flavorful and fresh on the inside. It was quite a feat to eat all those noodles with chopsticks without splattering broth all over myself. But somehow, I managed. I also loved how the spoon was grooved so you could hang it over your bowl.

I’ve been trying to find a place that serves ramen in Austin, and so far I’ve found three possibilities: Banzai, Sushi Sake, and Yu Sushi Izagaya. I’ll let you know how they taste, though I’m sure they will be nothing like my first ramen experience in Hawaii.

I also found out that I LOVE kalua pig. This one is from Keneke’s, near Waimanalo Beach.

It’s traditionally cooked forever in an underground oven, until it’s extremely tender. It’s then shredded and served with rice. I found a recipe for crockpot kalua pig, and I definitely want to try that soon.

It turns out that I love plate lunches in general.

This one is a hamburger steak plate lunch from Ted’s Bakery on the North Shore. I just love that it’s just meat and starch. It could be kalua pig, or grilled mahimahi, or hamburger patties smothered in gravy, but it must be served with two scoops of perfectly sticky white rice and a scoop of macaroni salad. I could do without the mac salad, but that rice! I seriously plan to have more white rice in my life from now on.

I also fell in love with poke (pronounced “poh-kay”).

This is pre-packaged poke available in your average Hawaiian grocery store. I had a few servings of poke at Roy’s, Sansei, and the Beach Bar, and they were all so delicous. It’s a mix of raw seafood (often ahi), soy sauce, sesame oil, seaweed, and whatever other lovely ingredients the chef feels like adding (maybe baby greens or octopus or diced tomato). Why, oh, why do we not have poke in Austin?

I also loved browsing the shops in Chinatown. This little meat shop had a display of duck necks, and as we passed, one woman was choosing the perfect one for dinner.

I loved that there were stalls filled to the brim with mango and dragonfruit and papaya.

I loved that there were bins and bins of dried noodles and squid and fish and other things I didn’t recognize.

I loved that all the shoppers knew exactly what they wanted.

So I fell in love with island cuisine, both local plate lunches and Japanese-influenced dishes. I want to try to make or find:

  • Poke
  • Kalua pig
  • Sticky white rice
  • Really fresh sushi
  • Ramen
  • Perfect gyoza
  • Dim sum
  • Butterfish

If any of you have any suggestions, let me know! We do have a Roy’s in Austin, and I’ve never tried it, but I definitely will soon.

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9 Discussion to this post
  1. Laura Lane says:

    Just at at Get Sum Dim Sum on Lamar and 38th today. It was pretty awesome! The chef comes from San Franciso and I loved my veggie dumplings!

  2. I’m so glad you put this post up before I leave in the morning! (I know, so self-serving). Everything’s already been stuck on a google map. :-)

    As far as sushi here in town… we’ve had a couple of good experiences at Tomo and Musashino, but they can be really expensive if you aren’t careful! We haven’t found a really good neighborhood-type sushi joint that serves awesome fish, even though this town does have a lot of sushi places. Good luck with the quest!

  3. Ooh and maybe we can accompany you guys to Roy’s when we’re all back in town and talk Hawaii! Whaddaya say?

  4. Sarah M says:

    This is a lovely post! That fruit stand makes me long for a beach and some sun. The ramen dish at Banzai, by the way, is pretty tasty!

  5. Ariane says:

    I like Origami Sushi, it’s at the corner of I-35 and 620 up in Round Rock. It’s not too expensive and the fish is always very good.

    For dim sum, you can try Shanghai, it’s at I-35 and Middle Fiskville road, right next to the Galaxy Highland 10 movie theater. Otherwise there’s T&S seafood restaurant on North Lamar, which also does decent dim sum.

    Enjoy!

  6. Crystal says:

    Rachel, I’m totally up for Roy’s when you guys get back!

    Sarah, I’ll try Banzai soon for Ramen.

    Ariane, thanks for the suggestions! We’ve only had dim sum at Chinatown here in Austin, so I’ll keep Shanghai and T&S on our list to try.

  7. Nicole says:

    Its so interesting seeing a totally different side of Hawaii (well new to me at any rate since all my knowledge of Hawaii comes from old Elvis Presley movies)! Now I want to go!

  8. connie says:

    sticky rice is also called sushi rice. you add a little rice wine vinegar to it I think. i loved all your food pics!

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