Posted tagged ‘Kalihi’

Back in the 808: Shimazu Store

August 28, 2012

Although Waiola’s is definitely my favorite place for shave ice on the island, I did want to try out the Shimazu Store and see what it was about.  Inside the store, there are many signs stating the rules for ordering your shave ice.  (There is also a sign which states no pictures so I have no pictures of the inside of the store.)

First you must tell them what size shave ice you want.  The small is a large and the large is a giant and “The Larry” is just ridiculous.  The Larry is the size of about four smalls put together.  TM and I shared a small and it was more than enough because the small is about the size of my head.

Shimazu Store offers an assortment of unique flavors like durian, mojito, creme brulee, red velvet, peanut butter, haupia, and more!   I chose green tea with haupia sauce on top.  I am so glad we got the plastic holder for 25 cents.  It was worth it not to have our entire shave ice crumble to the ground.

Make sure you go early since there is not much parking and follow the rules on the signs so you don’t get yelled at.  Order your size, extra toppings, with or without ice cream, pay for your shave ice (cash only) and THEN tell them what flavors you want.  It was almost “soup nazi” status but worth it in the end!

330 N. School St.   Honolulu, HI

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Back in the 808: Ethel’s Grill

August 24, 2012

I love hole-in-the-wall restaurants.  There are plenty of great ones in Hawaii, you just need to know where to go.  Ethel’s Grill is in an industrial area in Kalihi and you would probably drive by it unknowingly if you weren’t looking for it.  They don’t have designated parking so we drove around and parked down the street.  We made a point to go early (around 11:30 AM) to beat the lunch rush and I am sure glad we did.  The dining room is tiny, maaaaybe it seats 20 people altogether.  We grabbed the last two seats.

The dining area is quite frankly, a mess.  There were boxes stacked in random places that we had to weave between to get to our table.  Their menu is hand written with markers on pieces of paper and inserted in binder sleeves and specials are taped up randomly on the wall all over the place.  It doesn’t get more local and homey than this!  We sat at a table next to these signs which I found amusing.  I love how there is no option to buy a size S t-shirt but they go up to 2X, 3X and 4X!

Each lunch order includes a side salad, rice, miso soup and a choice of fruit punch or iced tea.  This was an amazing deal considering each lunch dish was only about seven or eight dollars.  You also have the option to “sumo size” any meal for $2.50 although the regular potions are quite big already.

I ordered the Japanese hamburger steak.  There are two types of hamburgers in Japan that differ based on the pronunciation of the word.  One is a hamburger as we know it in America between two buns with ketchup and other fixings.  The other is served with rice on the side and usually grated daikon radish and a sauce on top.  Every restaurant has their own version.  This one had grated daikon and daikon sprouts with a ponzu sauce over it.

The ahi tataki sashimi is fresh tuna that is lightly seared and served on a bed of bean sprouts.  It is drizzled with some sesame oil and some of Ethel’s garlic shoyu sauce.  All for 5 bucks!  It was a steal and TM and I shared this starter.  Just about every single table in the restaurant had an order of it.

TM went with the deep fried pork chops that came smothered in a sweet garlic sauce.

Ethel’s is a neat little find that I am glad we tried.  Definitely go early if you can because there aren’t many tables and it looked like they filled up quickly.

232 Kalihi St.   Honolulu, HI

Back in the 808: Helena’s Hawaiian Food

August 14, 2012

I mentioned in my last post that right after breakfast, we drove one block to pick up food for lunch.  My friend Jeff had told me Helena’s Hawaiian Food (This James Bears Award winning restaurant opened in 1946!) is the place to go for Hawaiian food.  He said one thing we needed to get was the pipikaula short ribs.

We started out with a side of lomi salmon.  It left much to be desired as there actually wasn’t much salmon in it.  Many places these days end up being mostly tomatoes and little salmon.

Helena’s serves up to 150 pounds of kalua pork every week and it’s all cooked in an off-site imu.  It has the perfect combination of smokiness and saltiness to it.  The kalua pork is on the left of this combo plate.

Pipikaula is like a Hawaiian beef jerky.  Pipi means beef / cow and it is traditionally dried in the sun and wind so the texture is chewy and softer than traditional jerky.  At Helena’s, they hang their beef from stainless steel hooks high over a stove to dry.   It has a shoyu (soy sauce) flavor and has the perfect amount of crunch and chewiness in every bite.

TM ordered poi with our meal and I must admit, I didn’t eat a single bite of it.  Poi is made from the corm of the taro plant and it is mashed until it gets to this desired consistency.  I once heard someone describe it as tasting like wallpaper paste and I always think of that whenever I try it.  It often has a sour flavor to it, the older it gets, and often replaces rice in a meal.  As much as I like taro flavored things, I cannot appreciate poi.

One of my favorite desserts besides ice cream is haupia.  It is a Hawaiian coconut dessert that is served in blocks.  It is smooth with no coconut shavings (this is key for me) and although it is considered a pudding-like dessert, it is almost gelatinous.

1240 North School St.   Honolulu, HI  (open Tuesday through Friday 10:30 AM to 7:30 PM)

Back in the 808: Mitsu-Ken

July 18, 2012

*Sorry friends, I’ve been MIA lately!  May and June were crazy busy with travels to Portland, LA, Greece and Turkey.  Yes, Greece and Turkey too!  TM and I went on an amazing trip to a couple of the Greek islands and to Istanbul for two glorious weeks in June.  We ate our way around the two countries and I hope to post about them soon this year but in the meantime, let’s finish up our Hawaii trip.  Did I mention we’re going back to Hawaii in September?*

Fried rice and fried chicken aren’t my usual breakfast foods but Mitsu-ken is only open from 5 AM to 1 PM (Tuesday through Saturday).  TM was concerned Mitsu-ken would run out of their famous garlic chicken if we went for lunch so we headed out to Kalihi first thing in the morning.

We knew we had days of gorging ahead of us so we tried to keep it “light”… we only ordered 6 pieces of chicken and two scoops of rice to share.  The flavor on this chicken was incredible.  The outside was crispy, the inside flavorful and garlicky with a sweetness to it.  I’m sure we reeked of garlic for the rest of the day but it was worth it.  The fried rice was decent and almost seemed as if it had been made with mochi rice because it was a little of the soft side.  I would go back for the garlic chicken but not the fried rice.

Mitsu-ken is literally a hole-in-the-wall with no seating.  We ended up taking our food back to the car and eating it while parked.  This was our lovely view.  We had contemplated driving somewhere to eat that was more scenic than this but decided we wanted to eat our food ASAP while it was still hot.

TM wasn’t sure if he wanted to order a breakfast plate to go along with the garlic chicken but he decided against it.  He chose to keep it simple with just the garlic chicken and fried rice.

Mitsu-ken is located across the street from the place we were planning on eating lunch.  After we finished our food, we drove across the street to pick it up lunch.  Good thing we kept our breakfast “light” that day!

1223 N. School St.   Honolulu, HI


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