Posts Tagged ‘chow fun’

Sam Sato’s – Dry Mein & More!

April 1, 2012

So this review of the legendary Sam Sato’s on Maui is more than a few years delayed. My bad. I guess it’s shmall kine hahd for this Oahu boy to get around these days, especially with the little one around. But trust… It’s worth the wait! 🙂

Sam Sato’s is a pseudo hole-in-the-wall type eatery, located in Wailuku Maui, in the same “historical” lineage of the Hamura’s Saimins (Kauai), Nori’s Saimin & Snacks (Big Island) and Shiro’s Saimin Havens (Oahu) of the world.

Sam Sato's sign
Sam Sato’s sign

On any given day, there will usually always be a wait to get in. Be prepared.

The wait outside Sam Sato's
The wait outside Sam Sato’s

Don’t forget to sign in on their cute, self-waitlist system: a pen and a pad.

The waiting list system at Sam Sato's
The waiting list system at Sam Sato’s

Once you hit the lottery and your name gets called, you are seated inside, which has all the charm and nostalgia of yesteryear including palaka style window trimmings, old school paintings, and black & white photos from back in the day.

Inside Sam Sato's
Inside Sam Sato’s

You’ll even find posters/photos signed by local celebrities like Na Leo, Frank DeLima, & Maui natives Ekolu, as well as our two Hawaii-born living legends BJ Penn & Shane Victorino (also a Maui boy).

Signed photos from Shane Victorino and BJ Penn
Signed photos from Shane Victorino and BJ Penn

Sam Sato’s has a variety of popular noodle dishes like their Saimins, Won Ton Meins and Chow Funs, but none are as popular as their Dry Noodles, endearingly referred to as Dry Mein, due to their lack of a traditional soup base.

Sam Sato's Dry Noodles, aka Dry Mein
Sam Sato’s Dry Noodles, aka Dry Mein

The noodles aren’t exactly dry-dry. In fact, the consistency and flavor almost reminds you of a fried saimin/noodle type dish. The kicker here is that the dish comes with a small bowl of a chicken based stock/broth, which you are supposed to drizzle on before every bite.

Sam Sato's Dry Mein order with broth (S - $4.95, L - $5.75, Double - $7.25)
Sam Sato’s Dry Mein order with broth (S – $4.95, L – $5.75, Double – $7.25)

Like many of the other old school saimin shops, Sam Sato’s is also known for their BBQ sticks. My buddy Joel, a Maui native, ordered a couple BBQ Beef Sticks for good measure.

BBQ Beef Sticks from Sam Sato's ($1.25 each)
BBQ Beef Sticks from Sam Sato’s ($1.25 each)

Since he’s been here many times, Joel decided to forego the Dry Mein and feed his craving for Hamburger Steak, which he claims was also “Bomb.” Here’s a shot of our food.

BBQ Beef Sticks, Dry Mein and Hamburger Steak ($7) from Sam Sato's
BBQ Beef Sticks, Dry Mein and Hamburger Steak ($7) from Sam Sato’s

As if that weren’t enough, these buggahs also make some of the most ono kine manjus & turnovers evaaaar!

Partial Manju display at Sam Sato's
Partial Manju display at Sam Sato’s

Pictured here is the Azuki Bean Manju, with the Coconut, Peach and Apple Turnovers. They also had a Lima Bean Manju along with the Pineapple-Coconut, Pineapple-Peach, and Blueberry Turnovers. I’m not really a sweets person, but bruddah ova hea went to town! For omiyage of course! 😉

Manju and Turnovers from Sam Sato's
Manju and Turnovers from Sam Sato’s

My favorite part was the “key” they stamped on every take out box so you knew exactly which turnover was what.

Turnover 'key' stamped on take out box
Turnover “key” stamped on take out box

Sam Sato’s is one of those “must-visits” whenever you are in Maui. Personally, I’m already trying to figure out when my next visit there will be. Likely not soon enough.

Sam Sato’s
1750 Wili Pa Loop
Wailuku, HI 96793 (map)
(808) 244-7124
Mon-Sat: 7am-2pm (meals), 7am-4pm (manju pick-up)

VH07V
VH07V Gear
The latest in Hawaii lifestyle apparel. Check it out!

Hawaii Ramen Quest – Part V

February 1, 2012
Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV |  Part V 

Although varying in sizes and flavors, many of the ramen shops we covered in this series have one thing in common: their noodles are supplied by the same, local, noodle factory based right here in Hawaii. So what better way to close this series out than with where ramen in Hawaii all begins… Sun Noodle.

Outside Sun Noodle's Honolulu Factory
Outside Sun Noodle’s Honolulu Factory

At the helm of it all is Sun Noodle Founder and President Mr. Hidehito Uki who started the business more than 30 years ago (founded way back on July 10, 1981). Uki-san in fact comes from a noodle making bloodline. His family had a fresh noodle making “ya” (store) in the Tochigi Prefecture (then) named the Ikeda Noodle Company. Here, he perfected the art of “men” before moving to Hawaii.

Sun Noodle President Mr. Hidehito Uki
Sun Noodle President Mr. Hidehito Uki

While studying ESL (English as a Second Language) here at Hawaii Pacific University (Hawaii Pacific College at the time), he would often eat at local ramen shops looking for a place that reminded him of home. Frustrated, he set out to do something about it and that’s how Sun Noodle was born.

“There’s nothing more powerful than the sun. When you think of Hawaii, you think of the sun. That’s why I named the business Sun Noodle.”

His 10,000 square foot Honolulu factory on Colburn Street can produce up to 30,000 servings of raw noodles per 8 hour day. They churn out over 100 products like yakisoba, udon, chow fun, pancit, gyoza and won ton wrappers, and, for ramen alone, they make over 30 different styles!

Overlooking the Sun Noodle factory from above
Overlooking the Sun Noodle factory from above

Amazingly, even with that many choices, Mr. Uki’s philosophy is that every noodle order must be custom made for his clients based, on the flavor of their soup.

“Every soup our customer makes is their personality. The noodles and the soup have to have a nice combination. Even if you make good noodles and good soup, if it doesn’t match, it’s no good. That’s why we go out there and taste the soup from each client and try to figure out what noodle would go best with that particular soup. We keep trying until we get it right. Sometimes I spend months to find the perfect noodle to match their soup.”

Most of his factory’s noodles start with the same base: flour, water, salt and potassium carbonate. It is the variances in flour type and water that makes all the difference.

“We are lucky to have good water here in Hawaii. It makes good noodles.”

The ingredients are thrown in (by hand) to a large vat…

Sun Noodle employee throwing in the ingredients for this batch of noodles
Sun Noodle employee throwing in the ingredients for this batch of noodles

… where it is mixed together…

Ingredients are mixed together
Ingredients are mixed together

… and flattened into a thin sheet by automated machinery. Large rolls of these flattened concoctions are then fed into another machine…

Large flour rolls feeding into the machine that cuts them into noodles
Large flour rolls feeding into the machine that cuts them into noodles

… which slices and dices them into their famous noodle shape.

Where noodles are cut into their famous shape(s)
Where noodles are cut into their famous shape(s)

Some are straight, some are wavy, and some even have a different color to them (based on the type of flour). Here’s a batch of noodles being prepared for Zippy’s Restaurants’ famous Zip Min.

Noodles for Zippy's Restaurants' Zip Min
Noodles for Zippy’s Restaurants’ Zip Min

Depending on what is being made, the noodles are then either packaged right there or sent off to the steaming/cooking room where they (usually yakisoba or udon) take a bath before being packaged.

Trays of yakisoba noodles are cooked in hot water before being packaged
Trays of yakisoba noodles are cooked in hot water before being packaged

For a while, he tried to service his mainland customers out of this factory alone, but it proved to be a difficult task with them being spread throughout California, Washington, Nevada, Vancouver BC (Canada), and parts of the East Coast. Ultimately, in order to provide the freshest noodles possible to his mainland customers, he decided to open up another factory in the greater Los Angeles area (on W Mahalo Place ironically) in 2004. Not satisfied, he will soon open up another factory in the New Jersey area so that his East Coast customers and their clientele get the freshest Sun Noodles they can get.

“Providing fresh noodle is the best! Instead of making the noodles in L.A., freezing it, and shipping it to the East Coast, we decided to make a factory in the East Coast so we can provide the freshest noodles possible.”

During the tour, I asked Mr. Uki what he thought of Saimin (compared to ramen), and his answer, which I really enjoyed, gave me that ultimate “a-ha” moment.

“Each area in Japan has their own, unique style of ramen. Kyushu has Hakata style (tonkotsu), Hokkaido has Sapporo style (miso)… Saimin is Hawaii’s style of ramen.”

I never thought of it that way, but it’s very true! I now have a new found appreciation for saimin. Being from Hawaii, I’m required to be proud of it. 😉

I also asked him what his thoughts were on slurping as a custom. I once asked my parents (who are also from Japan) why people slurp so loudly when eating their ramen. They told me that it is a sign of respect and appreciation for the ramen chef. It tells them that the noodles are delicious and is the ultimate compliment you can give to them. Mr. Uki had a different explanation:

“It looks tasty if you slurp your noodles. If you don’t smell the noodles, you can’t taste it. Of course, when you slurp, you bring in the air, which is important to help you smell and taste the ramen. Nowadays, even the non-Japanese community is starting to slurp their noodles.”

In my brief conversation with Mr. Uki, I could tell that his passion for noodles ran deep.

“We try to make the best noodle possible. We will try to make best noodle market in Hawaii for everybody to enjoy ramen.”

He truly loves what he does and best exemplifies what I love so much about ramen: a warm base with humble beginnings… Here’s to another 30 years!

 

Mahalo for following along during this obsessive, noodle & soup-filled expedition. Although the Hawaii Ramen Quest series has come to an end, the journey continues. See y’all at the next ramen stop!

Note: R.I.P. to Hawaii Journalism legend Mr. John Heckathorn who also covered Hidehito Uki and Sun Noodle in his noodle series: “In Search of the Ultimate Noodle“.

Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV |  Part V 

Oahu… A Day In the Life

June 1, 2007

Todd is your typical local boy. Born and raised on big plate lunches, beaches and BBQs, this pseudo-expat will get all emotional on you if he stays away from these for too long. So when he made plans to return to Oahu for a few days from his current/temporary abode on the Big Island (with previous stints in Las Vegas, Maryland and Virginia), I made it a point to take the day off and tag along with this tourist to wherever he wanted to go. Turns out HE showed ME a thing or two about Oahu and its many hidden treasures…

The day started with a scheduled 7:30am arrival time from Kona International Airport at Keahole to Honolulu. As we all know, that means 7:40am by the time they get out of the plane and are ready to be picked up (7:50am if they need to go to baggage claim). So guess who calls me at 7:20am with an excitable voice traceable only by the high-pitched shriekiness? Yep, Tourist Todd. I was already on the way, but still rubbing the sleepiness from my eyes. He felt so guilty for his early morning arrival that breakfast would be on him at our first stop at Toshi’s Delicatessen in Kalihi.

Toshi's Delicatessen Sign
Toshi’s Delicatessen Sign

This tiny, hole-in-the-wall okazu-ya sits inconspicuously on the mauka side of North King Street, just a few blocks from downtown Honolulu. (! – There is a small strip of parking right up front, but be careful if you’re coming from the Wes’side… the turn is dangerous and possibly illegal).

At 7:49AM on a workday Friday, there was already a line of hungry locals forming.

Line at Toshi's Delicatessen
Line at Toshi’s Delicatessen

After tasting their Japanese-style breakfast/lunch lineup, it’s not hard to understand why.

Choices at Toshi's Delicatessen
Choices at Toshi’s Delicatessen

On this occasion, Todd ordered up a hamburger patty, corned beef patty, SPAM, eggs and rice, while I had the hamburger patty, corned beef patty, eggs, tofu and chow fun.

Todd's order of hamburger patty, corned beef patty, SPAM, eggs, rice and a snuck in peace sign
Todd’s order of hamburger patty, corned beef patty, SPAM, eggs, rice and a snuck in peace sign

My hamburger patty, corned beef patty, eggs, tofu and chow fun order
My hamburger patty, corned beef patty, eggs, tofu and chow fun order

Toshi’s Delicatessen
1226 N. King Street
Honolulu, HI 96817 (map)
(808) 841-6634

With food in our bellies, we headed just up the road to Chi-town, aka Chinatown. We were having a local-style barbeque that evening and wanted to pick up some goodies ahead of time. We ended up getting just three items: charsiu, roast pork and Okinawan sweet potatoes, but the photos I captured throughout provide for some interesting sights if I do say so myself. 🙂

Vegetable stand in Chinatown
Vegetable stand in Chinatown

Crab selection in Chinatown
Crab selection in Chinatown

More veggies in Chinatown
More veggies in Chinatown

Crossing the street in Chinatown
Crossing the street in Chinatown

Roast duck hanging in Chinatown
Roast duck hanging in Chinatown

Frozen Ox Tails
Frozen Ox Tails

Veggies in Chinatown
Veggies in Chinatown

Fruits and veggies in Chinatown
Fruits and veggies in Chinatown

Seafood and poultry selection in Chinatown
Seafood and poultry selection in Chinatown

Okinawa Sweet Potato
Okinawa Sweet Potato

Shrimp selection at the Maunakea Marketplace in Chinatown
Shrimp selection at the Maunakea Marketplace in Chinatown

Poor piggy who went to the market
Poor piggy who went to the market

Following Chi-town, we went to another “C-town” (Costco town) to pick up the rest of our eats for the BBQ: Tri-tips, shrimp, bacon & scallops, and other miscellaneous goods. We then headed for the crib to prep and drop off the food for that night. Our other friend Kelvin picked us up from here and we headed to the beach.

Didn’t take too many beach shots (or at least ones they would let me show you), so below is just one taken after our day in the sun, walking back to the car. Side note: When I told Todd I was writing a “day in the life” piece of his time here and asked him what he wanted to include in it, rather than mentioning anything about food, Hawaii or otherwise, he wanted to mention that he’s single and available. Kelvin is as well FYI, so for all y’all single ladies out there, feast your eyes on this! *grin*

Kelvin and Todd, Hawaii's most eligible bachelors
Kelvin and Todd, Hawaii’s most eligible bachelors

Nothing tastes better than a plate lunch after the beach, so the three of us stooges headed to local favorite Rainbow Drive-In in Kapahulu.

Rainbow Drive-In
Rainbow Drive-In

Kelvin and Todd – both monster eaters – ordered the Mixed Plate, which consists of teri steak, grilled mahi, and chicken. Todd was so much in heaven that he wouldn’t even move his hand to let me take a picture!

Rainbow Drive-In's Mixed Plate (teri steak, grilled mahi, and chicken)
Rainbow Drive-In’s Mixed Plate (teri steak, grilled mahi, and chicken)

As for me, I took the practical approach and got just a burger and fries to save my appetite for the eats to come that night.

Rainbow Drive-In's Hamburger and fries
Rainbow Drive-In’s Hamburger and fries

Kelvin made a joke that Rainbows was so fast that as soon as you placed your order and walked over to the next window, your food would be ready! He wasn’t too far from the truth! For future reference, Rainbows is fast kine!

Rainbow Drive-In
3308 Kanaina Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96815 (map)
(808) 737-0177

With more than 12 hours past since that girly voice greeted me on the phone this morning, it was time for the barbeque! Let me put on my bbq hat and attempt to recipe this buggah out:

First up on the grill was the beef tri-tips.

Seasoned Beef Tri-Tip
Garlic Salt (to taste)
Seasoned Salt (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)
Olive Oil (to taste)

Season the beef with garlic salt, seasoned salt and pepper just before cooking (will dry out meat if done too far in advance). Pour enough olive oil over each piece to moisten. Cook over grill, rotating regularly, to desired wellness.

Beef Tri-tip on the grill
Beef Tri-tip on the grill

Next was the Italian-style shrimp:

Italian-style Shrimp
2 pound bag of frozen 21-25 shrimp (shell off, tail-on and de-veined)
1 bottle of Italian Dressing (your choice)
Salt
Pepper

Defrost the shrimp and lightly salt and pepper them (shrimp is naturally salty and will also get ample flavoring from the dressing). Throw shrimp in a Ziploc bag, empty dressing into the bag and zip up. Do your best impression of “Shake Yo’ Money Maker” or “The Twist” (depending on what generation you’re from) and shake the bag until your shrimp is well coated. Place in fridge and let sit/marinate for at least a couple of hours.

When they’re ready, throw ’em on the grill and cook to taste, rotating regularly. (Note: Shrimps cook very fast so keep them off of the hot part of the grill and keep an eye on them or they will burn/char.).

Italian-Style Shrimp joins the party
Italian-Style Shrimp joins the party

Lastly, the Bacon-Wrapped Scallops

Bacon-Wrapped Scallops
1 bag frozen scallops
1 pack bacon
Skewers or thick toothpicks

Defrost frozen scallops and remove hard connective tissue (optional). Wrap bacon around scallop and secure in place with skewer. No flavoring necessary as the oil and saltiness from the bacon will be sufficient. Grill, rotating regularly, to taste and serve.

Bacon-Wrapped Scallops round out the bunch
Bacon-Wrapped Scallops round out the bunch

Big plate lunches, beaches and BBQs… All in a day’s work. But let’s not forgot to mention one of the most important Bs that makes living in the islands so unique: bonding with your buddies. You can’t put a price tag on that.
Good food, with great friends… Lucky we live Hawaii.