Posts Tagged ‘ginger’

Yajima-Ya Lunch Wagon Revisited

August 1, 2012
Yatai in Hawaii (Part I) |  Yajima-Ya Revisited (Part II) 

The last time I covered the Yajima-Ya Lunch Wagon (located off of Sheridan Street near Keeaumoku), the majority of their menu items consisted of the noodle (soba or udon) and don (rice bowls) variety. Since then, they’ve expanded their menu to include well received plate lunch style items like teriyaki or mushroom chicken, steak, and a Japanese style beef stew called Hayashi Rice. I figgah now’s a good time as any to pay chef Tomoki Ito a (re)visit to see what’s new… with a little food p0rn/eye candy of course!

One of my favorite (and incidentally one of their most popular) dishes here is the mushroom chicken. Made with egg and tempura flour, the breaded crispiness of the chicken is offset nicely with the rich “graviness” of the rue. With a side of spinach and Japanese style mac salad, this one is fo’ real kine brok’ da mout’!

Mushroom Chicken Plate ($8.50)
Mushroom Chicken Plate ($8.50)

Prepared in a similar way sans the gravy, is their Teriyaki Chicken plate. Love the touch with the Furikake over the rice!

Teriyaki Chicken Plate ($8) (Photo Credit: Tomoki Ito)
Teriyaki Chicken Plate ($8) (Photo Credit: Tomoki Ito)

Another favorite of mine is the Hayashi Rice Plate (the Japanese style beef stew). Here’s a shot of that gem.

Hayashi Rice plate ($8)
Hayashi Rice plate ($8)

Wifey likes their Buta Shougayaki (Pork Ginger) plate, which is strange because she’s not a fan of ginger. In fact, neither am I, but we both can sure whack this buggah like that. Here’s a shot of Yajima-Ya’s combination plate with Pork Ginger and Wafu style New York Steak w/ponzu.

Pork Ginger and Wafu w/ponzu Steak combination plate ($9)
Pork Ginger and Wafu w/ponzu Steak combination plate ($9)

It’s hard to tell, but there’s a stack of steak underneath all that onion and ginger.

One of the great things about a combination plate at a place like Yajima-Ya, is that your options are practically endless. Some days you might be in the mood for Japanese style fair, while on other days, you might want full on local kine grindz. And then, there are those days when you just can’t make up your mind. This is when you combine the flava of the East with that of the options from way out west.

Here are a couple of combination plates, blending Hawaii and Japan.

Tempura and Teri Chicken combination plate ($8.50)
Tempura and Teri Chicken combination plate ($8.50)

Samurai Donburi & Mushroom Chicken combo ($8.50)
Samurai Donburi & Mushroom Chicken combo ($8.50)

And of course, they still have their tried and true donburi, udon and soba items like their Samurai Donburi…

Samurai Donburi ($7.50)
Samurai Donburi ($7.50)

… the Bukkake Sanuki Udon…

Bukkake Sanuki Udon ($8)
Bukkake Sanuki Udon ($8)

… and their Sansai (Vegetable Tempura) Soba.

Sansai Soba ($6.50)
Sansai Soba ($6.50)

Other interesting menu items include the Kara Soba (Spicy Cold Soba) for $8.25, the $4 Breakfast Special (Rice with 1 scrambled egg, 2 slices of bacon & 3 slices of Portuguese Sausage), and a couple of Salad options (with a choice of Udon or Soba) for $8 each. A far cry from the humble beginnings when their main clientele was employees from the neighboring Yajima-Ya (Cosmo) service station.

A few things to note since my last article… Although they’ve expanded their menu options to include the local style favorites mentioned above, they’ve also streamlined operations, choosing to shorten their hours of operation, and do away with extraneous things that take time to prepare like their Belgian Waffles, specialty drinks, and their Daily Specials menu altogether.

Yajima-Ya Hours of operation
Yajima-Ya Hours of operation

Kudos to chef Ito-san and the rest of the Yajima-Ya family for constantly evolving and finding ways to please our palate. I just hope my food p0rn/eye candy did the food justice.

Check them out the next time you’re in the area (or even if you’re not!). Trust… You won’t be disappointed.

Yajima-Ya
@yajimayahawaii
Sheridan Street (Behind Hinone Mizunone, between South King & Liona)
Honolulu, HI. 96814 (Street View)
808-497-7991
Mon-Fri: 7am-5pm
Sat: 7:30am-4:30pm

Yatai in Hawaii (Part I) |  Yajima-Ya Revisited (Part II) 

 

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Hawaii Ramen Quest – Part III

December 1, 2011
Part I | Part II |  Part III  | Part IV | Part V

With winter in full swing and Hawaii’s “chilly” weather freezing everyone to the core 😛 , there’s no better comfort food than a nice, hot, steamy bowl of ramen. And while eating at some of my go-to ramen picks (i.e. Yotteko-Ya, Tenkaippin, etc.) would be ideal, sometimes, patronizing your friendly, neighborhood ramen spots is the way to go to help warm the soul.

This next batch of spots in our Hawaii Ramen Quest consists of some of the more non-traditional, localized interpretations of ramen. Stemming from what appears to be of local Chinese influence (with the use of cabbage, bean sprouts, corn, mapo tofu, etc.), these ramen joints often have multiple locations in very convenient areas around town, and I would venture to guess that they are conceivably some of the most popular amongst the locals. Although I don’t associate any of these with the “straight from tha muthaland” flavor and style of ramen I’m accustomed to, there’s no doubt that I still frequent many of these for my noodle fix on the regular.

First up is Daiichi Ramen & Curry in Aiea.

I don’t usually venture out around lower Aiea too often except when I take a wrong turn from Aiea Bowl or Ice Garden, so when I actually did one day, I noticed a sign with big red letters calling me. It said Daiichi Ramen & Curry and I immediately thought to myself, “Oh, thaaaaat’s where it is!” Now you gotta understand, with a name like that (which means “#1” in Japanese), I will place very high expectations on the ramen coming out of the pots there. But then again, with a name like that (gotta love the confidence BTW!) it has to be good right? I’ve heard a lot about this place before but it wasn’t until a recent check-in by @abaggy earlier this month that my curiosity got the best of me. I dragged co-workers and friends Maribel and Trina to come along for the ride.

Maribel & Trina pose outside Daiichi Ramen & Curry in Aiea Shopping Plaza
Maribel & Trina pose outside Daiichi Ramen & Curry in Aiea Shopping Plaza

The first thing you notice is that it is very clean (perhaps even remodeled). Surprising, as they been around for quite some time. The next thing you notice is the two giant posters hanging on the wall advertising their “new” Tonkotsu and Tan Tan Ramens. Smart choice as those have been the popular styles of ramen here in Hawaii as of late.

Trina and I got one of each, while Maribel got the “Special Combo” with Mini Ramen & Curry choices.

Tan Tan Ramen - Healthy soup cooked for over 12 hours with chicken bones, pork rib bones and fresh ground sesame seeds, made fresh daily. - $7.75
Tan Tan Ramen – Healthy soup cooked for over 12 hours with chicken bones, pork rib bones and fresh ground sesame seeds, made fresh daily. – $7.75

Tonkotsu Ramen - Healthy soup cooked for over 12 hours with soft rib bones made fresh daily. - $7.75
Tonkotsu Ramen – Healthy soup cooked for over 12 hours with soft rib bones made fresh daily. – $7.75

Ramen from the Special Combo, Two choice - $8.75
Ramen from the Special Combo, Two choice – $8.75

Mini Curry Rice from the Special Combo, 2 Choice - $8.75
Mini Curry Rice from the Special Combo, 2 Choice – $8.75

Maribel and Trina posing with our ramens
Maribel and Trina posing with our ramens

The flavor wasn’t quite there for the Tonkotsu ramen, but the Ton Ton definitely had a lot of kick. It made all of us cry just a bit. LOL!

Daiichi Ramen & Curry
Aiea Shopping Plaza
99-080 Kauhale Road, Bldg A
Aiea, HI 96701 (Street View)
(808) 486-7432
Daily: 10:30am-9:30pm

Note: A new location also just opened up at 1029 Makolu Street in Pearl City (808-455-9898), which is the strip mall with Starbucks, Kozo Sushi and Panda Express FYI.

 

Next up is Sumo Ramen & Curry. They’ve got 6 or so locations sprinkled across Oahu now, but the one we visited for this review was the tiny one in the Moanalua 99 food court area.

Sumo Ramen & Curry at Moanalua 99
Sumo Ramen & Curry at Moanalua 99

We had the little one with us so everything had to be ordered in “to go” packaging (… You know, just in case. LOL!), but everything was pretty tasty nonetheless. They have quite an extensive menu with offerings in the curry, fried noodle, udon, fried rice, cold soba and ramen categories, in addition to various appetizers you don’t usually see at a place like this.

Spicy Chicken Wings Appetizer - $3.75
Spicy Chicken Wings Appetizer – $3.75

Wifey ordered the Mochiko Chicken Curry Combo, while I got, what else?, the Tonkotsu Ramen. At least I’m consistent right? 🙂

Tonkotsu Ramen - $7.50
Tonkotsu Ramen – $7.50

Here’s a shot of our entire meal.

Spicy Chicken Wings appetizer ($3.75), Tonkotsu Ramen ($7.50), and wifey's Mochiko Chicken Curry Combo ($9.50)
Spicy Chicken Wings appetizer ($3.75), Tonkotsu Ramen ($7.50), and wifey’s Mochiko Chicken Curry Combo ($9.50)

Sumo Ramen & Curry
Moanalua 99 Food Court
1151 Mapunapuna Street, Suite W-9
Honolulu, HI 96819 (Street View)
(808) 833-3139

 

IchiBen in Pearl City’s Times Square Shopping Center is a somewhat newer addition to the ramen scene, but has quickly gained popularity amongst the locals in the area. They specialize in fried rice, curries Korean style BBQ, and their ramens. The attention to detail with their ramen broth is evident by the meticulous description on their menu:

Our special cooked-from-scratch broth is low-simmered for 8-10 hours, resulting in a clear stock with layers of intense flavor. The ingredients include pork shank bones, chicken, shiitake mushrooms, kombu, dried shrimps and scallops, onions, garlic, ginger and leek. You can choose from Shoyu or Miso flavor. The third choice, Paitan, is kanchi for white soup. This signature pork and chicken soup is slow-boiled for 10 or more hours until the stock turns a milky white color. It is rich in collagen and flavor, also known as tonkotsu, and it’s a regional style from Southern Japan. Ours is delightfully light and smooth, without the greasy taste because of our constant skimming all day. We do not use MSG in our cooking, including the soup stock.

Here’s a shot of the Seafood Ramen with Paitan style broth.

Seafood Ramen with Paitan broth - $8.45
Seafood Ramen with Paitan broth – $8.45

Wifey seemed to be happy with her order of the Shoyu version.

Seafood Ramen with Shoyu broth - $7.95
Seafood Ramen with Shoyu broth – $7.95

On a return visit, I wasn’t really in the mood for ramen (it was hot out), so I read the menu’s description of their “Flaming Grill” options and was sold. I swear, the guy who wrote these should win some kind of award for always making me so hungry! 😛

Our BBQ chicken and Kalbi are marinated in Korean-style sauce with shoyu, sugar, ginger, garlic, black pepper and sesame oil for at least 12 hours to bring out the full flavor. Grilled to perfection and served with steamed rice, macaroni salad and tsukemono.

IchiGrill - 1 fillet of chicken and 2 slices of kalbi short ribs - $9.95
IchiGrill – 1 fillet of chicken and 2 slices of kalbi short ribs – $9.95

I actually liked the Korean BBQ items more than the ramen here. Very flavorful and tasty!

IchiBen
Times Square Shopping Center
98-1254 Kaahumanu Street, Suite B-06
Pearl City, HI 96782 (Street View)
(808) 488-4200
Sun-Thu: 11am-9pm
Fri-Sat: 11am-10pm

 

Mililani natives would know all about our next stop: Genki Ramen, which has a location on each side of the H2 (Mililani Mauka and Mililani town). Working out here in the often chilly-willy Central Oahu locale, it’s easy to make a quick lunch run to either location. Here are co-workers and friends Wendy and Maribel during a recent visit to the Mauka location.

Wendy and Maribel pose with our spread from Genki Ramen
Wendy and Maribel pose with our spread from Genki Ramen

Wendy ordered the Pork Vegetable Fried Noodles, which, ironically (at a ramen shop), is one of my favorite dishes here.

Pork Vegetable Fried Noodle - $7.50
Pork Vegetable Fried Noodle – $7.50

I usually order the Seafood Fried Noodles sans the radioactive looking ginger or the Mabo Tofu Ramen, but since this is a Ramen Quest, I took one for the team and ordered the marquee item on the menu: The New Genki Ramen (Big Bowl)!

New Genki Ramen (Big Bowl) - $9.75
New Genki Ramen (Big Bowl) – $9.75

Although da buggah is HUGE, it’s rather deceiving because, like many of the other ramens on their menu, the noodles seem to always be lacking. To me, they overstuff the bowl with cabbage and bean sprouts and never have enough noodles at the bottom for me to slurp on.

Maribel got the Combo A Set which included a Mini Shoyu Ramen, Fried Rice and 4 pieces of Gyoza.

Combo A Set - Mini Shoyu Ramen, Fried Rice and 4 pieces of Gyoza - $7.75
Combo A Set – Mini Shoyu Ramen, Fried Rice and 4 pieces of Gyoza – $7.75

Genki Ramen II (Mililani Mauka)
95-1840 Meheula Parkway
Mililani, HI 96789 (Street View)
(808) 626-7829

 

Rumor has it that there was some kind of rift (ala Gomaichi and Goma Tei) that caused one owner to leave Genki Ramen to start this next ramen restaurant chain: Ramen Ya. Although there is one in Kahului (Queen Kaahumanu Shopping Center on Maui), and one to open soon in Hawaii Kai, this review is for the somewhat new location in the Pearl Highlands area.

The menu is remarkably identical to Genki Ramen’s one so I went with what I knew best and ordered the Mapo Tofu Ramen. Yep, it’s spelled “Mapo” here.

Mapo Tofu Ramen - $7.25
Mapo Tofu Ramen – $7.25

Co-workers and friends Erin and Diane went curry and ordered the Deep Fried Gyoza Curry Rice and the Curry Ramen respectively.

Deep Fried Gyoza Curry Rice - $7.75
Deep Fried Gyoza Curry Rice – $7.75

Curry Ramen - $7.25
Curry Ramen – $7.25

Erin and Diane with our food at Ramen-Ya
Erin and Diane with our food at Ramen-Ya

If you like Genki Ramen, you’ll like it here as well (and vice versa).

Ramen-Ya
1170 Kuala Street, Suite 308
Pearl City, HI 96782 (Street View)
(808) 456-8868
Daily: 10:30am-9pm

 

I never even knew this next place existed until I did a site visit in the area for work. Since it was lunch time and we were mad hungry, Maribel (yes again) and I decided to scope things out at Ton Ton Ramen.

The menu is fairly extensive with noodle, udon & rice dishes, combos, side orders and a variety of special ramens including the Black Sesame Tan Tan Ramen, Ippin Ramen, Oxtail Ramen, and the one I got, which was the very popular Soft Rib Ramen.

Soft Rib Ramen - Ribs are slowly cooked over 8 hours until tender & juicy. Ramen is served in a garlic shoyu base with traditional half cooked egg. Original Japanese style. - $8
Soft Rib Ramen – Ribs are slowly cooked over 8 hours until tender & juicy. Ramen is served in a garlic shoyu base with traditional half cooked egg. Original Japanese style. – $8

The soft boiled egg was a nice touch, though it wasn’t quite as soft-boiled as I would’ve liked it. The nori was also a good attempt at being authentic. The soup needed more flavor but the soft rib was definitely soft and tasty.

Surprise surprise. Maribel got a combo yet again. LOL! This time around, she got the Mochiko Chicken Combo, which included the Mochiko Chicken, a mini ramen, and gyoza.

A happy looking Maribel with her Mochiko Chicken Combo - $9.45
A happy looking Maribel with her Mochiko Chicken Combo – $9.45

Ton Ton Ramen
94-050 Farrington Highway
Waipahu, HI 96797 (Street View)
(808) 677-5388

 

Back in the day, when we used to go clubbing (yes, THAT long ago), this next stop was one of our staples: Taiyo Ramen, thanks to its late night hours of operation. Located in between the now two defunct Blockbuster and I Love Country Café locations off Piikoi, this ramen joint has stood the test of time and endured the ups and downs of the market.

I don’t have any current prices or photos, but here are a few dishes from way back in 2006.

Gomoku Ramen
Gomoku Ramen

Seafood Udon
Seafood Udon

Soba from Taiyo Ramen
Soba from Taiyo Ramen

Makes me want to get drunk and go there again for old time’s sake. 8)

Taiyo Ramen
451 Piikoi Street, Suite 105
Honolulu, HI 96814 (Street View)
(808) 589-2123
Mon-Thu 10am-1am
Fri-Sat 10am-3am
Sun 10am-9pm

 

And speaking of late night eats, here’s a quickie shot of my Oxtail Ramen from none other than Sanoya’s. Ahhh, the memories…

Oxtail Ramen from Sanoya's
Oxtail Ramen from Sanoya’s

Not exactly gourmet eating, but good enough for those late night cravings.

Sanoya Rahmen
1785 S King Street, Suite 4
Honolulu, HI 96826 (Street View)
(808) 947-6065

 

And finally, here’s a “fast kine” location we recently hit up at the Manoa Marketplace: Nishi Mon Cho Ramen. As you’ll see in the photos, we again ordered everything in take out containers because we had baby with us. Our parents were pretty hungry, but wifey and I weren’t so we decided to share something small. I got the daily (Friday) special, the Curry Beef Rice & 4 pcs Gyoza combo, while wifey got a mini shoyu ramen.

Nishi Mon Cho Friday Special - Curry Beef Rice & 4 pcs Gyoza - $6.99 (with wifey's mini shoyu ramen on the side). Yes, I'm not a fan of cooked carrots. :P
Nishi Mon Cho Friday Special – Curry Beef Rice & 4 pcs Gyoza – $6.99 (with wifey’s mini shoyu ramen on the side). Yes, I’m not a fan of cooked carrots. 😛

Some of the other daily specials at Nishi Mon Cho Ramen
Some of the other daily specials at Nishi Mon Cho Ramen

The warm, fuzzy story behind this visit was that the worker (who appeared to be the owner) was very friendly and accommodating with us, noticing our obvious apprehension (whether to eat in or take out) due to our situation with the little one. She shared information about her own kids and made everyone feel very comfortable.

Nishi Mon Cho Ramen
Manoa Marketplace
2851 E Manoa Road #1-104
Honolulu, HI 96822 (Street View)
(808) 988-9928
Daily: 10:30am-9pm

 

And that’s it! Whew! That was a packed one! If I don’t see or talk to you guys soon, have a safe and happy holiday season. See y’all next month/year! 🙂

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

Poke Paradise – Experiencing the Best Poke Around Hawaii – Part IV

April 1, 2010
Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V

Last month’s visit to Brooks Takenaka at the United Fishing Agency Honolulu Fish Auction brought about the name “Rachel Haili”. As part of this ultimate poke quest we’re currently on, Brooks suggested I talk to Rachel to get her perspective on the history of poke in Hawaii. When the boss of the Honolulu Fish Auction speaks, I listen.

Rachel Haili – Haili’s Hawaiian Foods

I visited Haili’s back when they were at the old Farmer’s market, but had not yet made my way out to either of their new locations. Twitterville has been active talking about them too. Ah, better late than never right? Here are some photos of my visit to their Kapahulu location and my interview with Rachel Haili to follow.

Haili's Hawaiian Foods sign
Haili’s Hawaiian Foods sign

Conveniently located on Palani Ave, right off of Kapahulu, the interior at Haili’s is very clean and welcoming.

Interior of Haili's Hawaiian Foods [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]
Interior of Haili’s Hawaiian Foods [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]

Though they have a nice selection of poke…

Limu Ahi Poke [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]
Limu Ahi Poke [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]

Ahi Shoyu Poke [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]
Ahi Shoyu Poke [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]

… their bread and butter is still their traditional Hawaiian fare.

My "custom" plate with Lau Lau and Chicken Long Rice, which included Limu Poke, Haupia and two scoops rice!
My “custom” plate with Lau Lau and Chicken Long Rice, which included Limu Poke, Haupia and two scoops rice!


Rachel Haili of Haili’s Hawaiian Foods

[Edward Sugimoto] Your mom “Rachel Sr.”, if you will, started Haili’s back in 1950. What made her want to do a restaurant?

[Rachel Haili] Well actually we started out in the bar business after the war. They had like a cafe where they served food and liquor, and then, as our family grew, my mother decided that she didn’t want her family to be in the liquor business, so she branched out on her own and started her own Hawaiian food store and fish market. And my parents worked by themselves to build up that business. And it was more of a market type thing, not so much a cafe or restaurant, and that’s where she learned (cause my mother was pure Chinese) she learned to do more of the Hawaiian foods.

[Edward Sugimoto] You began at the old Farmer’s Market. What were those days like?

[Rachel Haili] Yeah, originally, that’s where my parents started, so they were like one of the oldest tenants there. And back then, it was all little stalls of fish markets, meat markets, vegetable skins… and then now it’s more modern of course.

[Edward Sugimoto] And poke, was that pretty big back then?

[Rachel Haili] Back then, I remember when we were kids, there wasn’t poke per se, like how we’re selling it by the pound, pre-made. What you did was you bought the whole fish, and then you asked them to prepare like how you wanted. Back then you bought an aku for like 50 cents, then you tell them, “OK, I want half of it, steak it for me to fry, and then the other half, cut it for me to poke.” So when you sold the fish, you actually had to prepare it for them then. It wasn’t pre-made. And then, it started developing like into a bigger demand for poke, and people were more in a hurry, so, then my parents started pre-cutting the poke. I remember because back then, I had to learn how to clean fish because you know we were so busy. Soon, we had to learn how to cut poke and make the different types of poke. Although when the people bought the fish, you know, then they’d say, “I want to buy a cup of limu and add that into my poke, and put chili pepper (water) for me.” You know, so they kind of dictated what they wanted in their poke. Then, as the demand for poke got bigger, and you pre-made the poke, you had to like make maybe a batch of plain poke, aku or limu aku, and then, at that time, shoyu aku evolved. It wasn’t something like automatic. I remember shoyu aku became popular when I was like in my teens. It wasn’t like, now you go to the supermarket and you see a whole array of pre-made poke. You had to buy the whole fish and then they made it for you. Just like the different types of poke, although we do more traditional poke, where we do awa, and we do like palu, you know, lomi oio, that kind of thing, nowadays it’s evolved into more a modern kind of thing. Where fish now has become similar to chicken or pork, so you do different varieties of it.

Display case at  Haili's Hawaiian Foods [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]
Display case at Haili’s Hawaiian Foods [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]

And then, I think a lot of the sushi bars, because raw fish is so popular, they’ve come up with all kinds of new creations that are pretty to the eye. You know you have fruit in it or masago, all different kind of things. It’s just like how if you order pasta, you have all different things that you put in it. So now, what’s popular is the poke bowls, where you get the poke and you get any kind of topping that you want, sorta like the frozen yogurt. Start out with the basic and then you put whatever, you concoct whatever you want onto it. So you know, that’s what it’s become. But, originally, you bought the whole fish and then they prepared it for you, or you took it home and prepared it yourself.

[Edward Sugimoto] Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, your lease expired and you decided to open up a lunch wagon called Haili’s Backyard Luau. What was the story behind that?

[Rachel Haili] Um, let’s see. Well, you know we’ve been there (at the Farmer’s Market) for 60 years, in fact, this is our 60th year that we’ve been in business. Marukai wanted to expand and they wanted the whole building, so Ward Center decided to convert that whole area into Marukai’s market so we had to move out. One of the options that we came up with in order to keep in contact with our customer base who was primarily in that area, was a lunch wagon. Although we can’t offer everything that we had there, it was a way that we could still keep in contact with them until we found something that was more suitable for us, you know in food offerings that we had. Then we finally came across this area in Kapahulu, and so far, it’s turning into something nice. It’s a little different, in terms of, we shifted from a market to a more deli and restaurant atmosphere. We actually didn’t intend to be a restaurant. You know, it was more of a counter service and you come and sit down, so that’s what we’re hoping to create over here. But you can buy either lunches, and you can take it out or eat it here, or you still can buy our Hawaiian foods by the pint, or the pound as we sold it in the market before.

[Edward Sugimoto] And business is booming. We’re here today and it’s pretty packed.

[Rachel Haili] *modest smile* Well, we always can use more business. We’ve only been open for about 90 days now and, it’s evolving. Customers are learning about us. The location is nice because it’s close to Waikiki. We get more tourists coming in too. Before we used to service primarily local people so now we’re getting a different mixture of people.

[Edward Sugimoto] You folks are big on using social media to market and stay in touch with the community. How did that come about and how are you enjoying it so far?

[Rachel Haili] That was something new for us too. When we did the lunch wagon, our friend suggested that we start using that more. So we’re still learning to use the social media but it’s amazing how fast you can spread the word, or you get more information out by using that. It’s fun, but you gotta keep up with it because once you put information out, you get a lot of feedback right away, so you gotta be on top of it all the time. I hope we’re doing good. *laughs*

[Edward Sugimoto] Yeah, you are! You have two poke items on your menu: Shoyu Ahi and Limu Ahi, and you mentioned that you had more in your display case…

Haili's Menu
Haili’s Menu

[Rachel Haili] Yeah, unfortunately our menu board could only hold like primary items, but our showcase over here also carries our larger selection of poke, which is you know like the poke awa, the aku palu, lomi oio. We specialize more in traditional poke so that’s why we have like the raw crabs and the aku palu.

Aku Palu [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]
Aku Palu [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]

Later we’ll be doing our poke bowls also. But it’s just that because we’re busy getting adjusted in here, we’re like slowly introducing or building up items. Poke bowls seem to be popular because it’s fast and people can pick it up and go right away. And then they get to personalize it too.

[Edward Sugimoto] What are some of your personal favorites types of poke?

[Rachel Haili] My personal favorite type of poke is, well, we’re gonna be creating this, um, sorta like a poke mountain. You know, where it’s like with rice on the bottom, some sliced ahi with avocado, tomato and masago. It’s really nice looking. When we were in Waikiki for a while, we sold those. However, we can’t do everything all at once, so, but we’re going to expand our poke bar and also our food menus. You know, we do catering too, so hopefully we’ll be expanding our catering service.

[Edward Sugimoto] Do you have anything else to add to your current or future customers?

[Rachel Haili] Well I hope all of you have a chance to come in and visit us because we really try to create a spirit of Aloha here, where you’re welcome to come in. We can mix and match whatever you want here and even if you don’t see what you want, you can either pre-order or ask us if we’re able to make it for you because that’s how we started so that’s how we still want to be. Also we make a really good dried aku, and that’s hard to find in town, so come down and check our aku out.

[Edward Sugimoto] OK, thank you very much!

Rachel (right) with her sister Lorraine [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]
Rachel (right) with her sister Lorraine [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]

For more information on the Haili’s Hawaiian Foods, visit their web site at www.hailis.net or follow them on Twitter at @Hailis808.

Haili’s Hawaiian Foods
760 Palani Ave
Honolulu, HI 96816
(808) 735-8019
Mon-Thu: 9am-7pm
Fri-Sat: 9am-8pm
Sun: 8am-3pm

Guy Tamashiro – Tamashiro Market

Also at the Honolulu Fish Auction, I made contact with Guy Tamashiro of Tamashiro Market. Spontaneously, we did an impromptu interview in preparation for my visit to his shop.


Guy Tamashiro of Tamashiro Market

[Edward Sugimoto] Describe your history with fish.

[Guy Tamashiro] OK, well, I think we first started with fish, actually my dad had a feed store and all that, the first Tamashiro Market, but then he started selling a little bit of fish. I think the story was that he bartered it at that time for some opelu. Then it sold, so he said “ok, that was fun.” So he started going down to the auction across from Aala Park, then he started selling a little bit more, and it started selling well, so he just started expanding it from there. And then, in 1962, he constructed the building that it’s in now, and then from there, it just started seafood as the emphasis.

Seafood selection at Tamashiro Market
Seafood selection at Tamashiro Market

[Edward Sugimoto] And you guys started doing poke after a while?

[Guy Tamashiro] Yeah, yeah, actually, poke was just one/two pans. When I first started working it was only 1 or two pans, and then from there, we, I don’t know, maybe 30 something?

Partial selection of poke at Tamashiro Market
Partial selection of poke at Tamashiro Market

[Edward Sugimoto] Out of that, which one is the most popular one?

[Guy Tamashiro] Ahi is, by far, the MOST popular. And if aku is available, that’s pretty popular too.

[Edward Sugimoto] Ahi limu or any kind of ahi?

[Guy Tamashiro] Ahi limu, ahi shoyu, ahi onion. We’re getting new flavors in too now. As we go on, we want to add to the different tastes that you can get from it, not just the plain type, but also other tastes we want to try out too.

Ahi poke, all wiped out at the end of the day!
Ahi poke, all wiped out at the end of the day!

[Edward Sugimoto] What is your personal favorite?

[Guy Tamashiro] Oh, that’s a hard one. Well, I love aku. Large aku. But for ahi, because they’re coming out with different flavors now, I don’t know. I have a poke lunch maybe 3/4 times a week, and it’s not always the same lunch. Hard to have one favorite, it’s just different flavors.

[Edward Sugimoto] What’s in store for Tamashiro Market?

[Guy Tamashiro] Well, we just hope we do a lot more sales. *laughs*

[Edward Sugimoto] Do you have any words for your customers out there?

[Guy Tamashiro] Sure. You know where to shop. You know where we are. Come down, see us. *smiles*

Located on North King Street in the heart of Kalihi, Tamashiro Market boasts the largest selection of seafood (over 75 varieties) in the state. With their unmistakable pink building and trademark crab statue hanging above, Tamashiro’s was definitely a can’t-miss stop on this Poke in Paradise tour.

Outside Tamashiro Market
Outside Tamashiro Market

Showing their love of the sea (and perhaps an ode to the Japanese boat in the war bearing the same name), a good-sized fishing boat sits atop the center island, overlooking the store.

The Tama Maru boat in Tamashiro Market
The Tama Maru boat in Tamashiro Market

It’s always busy whenever I go, but on this occasion, I just so happen to be there right before closing, so the “getting-stuffs-for-dinner” rush was in full effect.

The evening rush at Tamashiro Market
The evening rush at Tamashiro Market

As Guy suggested, I picked up some Ahi poke. Ahi Onion and Ahi Shoyu to be exact.

Ahi Onion poke
Ahi Onion poke

Ahi Shoyu poke
Ahi Shoyu poke

Sometimes, if I’m in the area for lunch, I’ll pick up some poke from Tamashiro’s and drive over to nearby Boulevard Saimin. The cold poke and hot saimin make for a good marriage (as mentioned before). Here’s a photo at Boulevard Saimin, after I bought some Furikake poke from Tamashiro’s and took it over.

Furikake Poke
Furikake Poke

Tamashiro Market
802 N King St
Honolulu, HI 96817
(808) 841-8047
Mon-Fri: 9am-6pm
Sat 8am-6pm
Sun 8am-4pm

Poke to Your Taste – Hilo, HI

And finally, here’s an interesting find while visiting the east side of the Big Island.

Poke to Your Taste building
Poke to Your Taste building

Hidden in an inconspicuous building (with no visible signage to speak of) on Leilani Street near the airport, Poke to Your Taste caters to those who prefer to concoct their own batches of poke. “Mix ’em how you like ’em!” is their motto, which I, along with their logo/signage, was finally able to find under an awning on one of their smaller side windows.

Poke to Your Taste sign
Poke to Your Taste sign

The inside of Poke to Your Taste is just as curious as the outside. Most of the usable space is empty or scattered with random items, while a small display case with just 4 items (Hawaiian Poke, Shoyu Poke, Kim Chee Tako Poke, and Imitation Crab Poke) sits to one side.

Display case at Poke to Your Taste
Display case at Poke to Your Taste

Solomon, or Uncle Sol as many call him, stands behind the counter and scoops out your preferred order. On this occasion my choices were to only be one of their two fish options: “Hawaiian Poke” or “Shoyu Poke”.

Starting with your basic poke (Hawaiian or Shoyu style) as your base
Starting with your basic poke (Hawaiian or Shoyu style) as your base

I went Haaaaawaiian because I wanted there to be as little flavor on there as possible to start. From there, Uncle Sol scooped it into my container…

Uncle Sol serving up my poke
Uncle Sol serving up my poke

… and it was just my creativity between me and poke bliss.

You can add a variety of “spices” like Hawaiian salt, furikake, sesame seeds and chili pepper flakes…

Hawaiian salt, furikake, sesame seeds and chili pepper flakes
Hawaiian salt, furikake, sesame seeds and chili pepper flakes

… and, for lack of a better word, “toppings” like ginger, garlic, inamona, green onions, onions, and hot sauce.

Ginger, garlic, inamona, green onions, onions, and hot sauce
Ginger, garlic, inamona, green onions, onions, and hot sauce

No fo-get da sesame seed oil, shoyu and chili peppah watah! 😉

Sesame seed oil, shoyu and chili pepper water
Sesame seed oil, shoyu and chili pepper water

I went with the super combo of furikake, sesame seeds, chili peppers, garlic, inamona, green onions, sesame seed oil and chili pepper water. She go!

My batch of poke had furikake, sesame seeds, chili peppers, garlic, inamona, green onions, sesame seed oil and chili pepper water - $6
My batch of poke had furikake, sesame seeds, chili peppers, garlic, inamona, green onions, sesame seed oil and chili pepper water – $6

Definitely poke to MY taste.

Poke to Your Taste
790 Leilani St.
Hilo, HI 96720
(808) 989-9962
Mon-Sat: 10am-6pm

So there it is. Part IV is in the books. Honestly speaking though, this Poke Paradise is not even close to being complete. I’m seriously considering making this a 12 part series and carrying it through the entire year. Wanna help? Email me or comment below where you’d like to see me hit up next. I’ve still got many on my hit list (Ruger Market, Fresh Catch, Tamura’s, Masa & Joyce, Da Pokeman, Young’s Fish Market, Alicia’s, etc.), but send me your tips k?

A special mahalo this month to Rachel Haili and the Haili’s Hawaiian Foods `ohana, Guy Tamashiro and the Tamashiro Market `ohana, Uncle Sol at Poke to Your Taste, and Dave Oi for actually finding the hard to find Poke to Your Taste! LOL! See y’all next month gang!

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