Posts Tagged ‘Sam’s Club’

Baby Tips for the Hawaii Father to Be

July 1, 2011

Back when I got hitched a few years ago, I suddenly became an expert (albeit self-proclaimed) in anything and everything weddings and decided to write about it. Granted I wasn’t exactly an authority on the subject, but, based on the amount of feedback I received (and still receive), I think it’s fair to say that it was a reasonably helpful piece for many looking to tie the knot here in Hawaii. Heck, I still refer to it to this day for various wedding related information.

So when wifey recently gave birth to our beautiful baby girl, I felt compelled to do another “brain dump” of sorts, of everything we’ve learned throughout the baby making process. Er, make that the baby rearing process. πŸ˜› Like the marriage process before, I had so many unanswered questions about babies that were such a mystery to me and I could not for the life of me find answers to. I’m hoping that this article will help unlock some of those mysteries for us new/nervous papas (and mamas) to be.

Travel!

Any time a parent (stranger or not) saw my big-bellied wife, one of the tips that was a constant was to travel. “Make sure you get the traveling out of your system!” they would say, or “You won’t be going anywhere for a while!” they would preach. And though we’ve been on countless trips since we’ve been together (Maui, Big Island three times, Seattle, Vegas, Utah, Kauai, Japan twice, Alaska, San Francisco, Reno, Sacramento, Lanai, Canada, and numerous beach house and hotel staycation weekends), we never really believed them until now. Once your wife pops that helpless little baby out, going out to get the mail is pretty much the only traveling you’ll be doing for a while. Though we’re glad we were able to travel quite a bit before baby came, we sure do still miss it!

Diaper
Wifey and I on an Alaskan glacier

In addition to traveling, I would also add “eating out” to the list of things to do before giving birth. I used to be the master of posting food pics to my blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Now, the most exciting thing I can post is a take-out order from Zippy’s. Get your eat on for sure!

Sleep

Another tip that was given to us on the regular was to be sure to get our sleep. “Enjoy your sleep now!” or “Kiss your beauty sleep goodbye” would be the two loving words of advice. At first, it didn’t seem too bad. Perhaps we had overly-mentally prepared ourselves for this and thought it was easy at first. Then, over time, we slowly started to wilt and saw what those mean people meant. Days turned into nights. Nights turned into days. Suddenly, we had no idea what time of day or what day of the week it was.

“Sleep when baby sleeps” was another tip we got which was quite helpful. At first, we tried to stay up and take shifts, but as baby grew hungrier and hungrier, it was increasingly difficult for daddy to take any shift that related to eating (this is if you guys are insistent on only feeding breast milk straight from the source). It’s difficult to sleep for 3 hours at a time (the general amount that a newborn sleeps in between feedings), especially when it’s broad daylight outside, but once we started doing it, it became easy. That, or we were so exhausted that we would’ve been able to sleep in the middle of a Def Leppard concert. (yeah, I’m showing my age.)

Diapers

“Stock up on dem diapers!” was probably the 3rd most common piece of advice given by others. And boy were they right! We are going through diapers like it was going out of style!

A guy I talked to recently at Babies R Us recently told me that on the average, babies will go through 8,000-10,000 diapers in the first two years of their life. WHAAATTT!?!? So if a case of 100 diapers costs about $30, each diaper would be about $0.30, which means that we’ll be spending up to $3,000 on diapers alone? WHAAATTT!?!? And here’s something I wasn’t aware of (or didn’t even think about) before. There are various sizes of diapers, so not only do you have to buy tons of diapers at each size, you have to make sure that you don’t over-buy in case they outgrow the previous size.

Diaper
Diaper “Cakes” from our baby showers

For us, we were fortunate enough to receive a lot of diapers as gifts from baby showers we’ve attended. Wifey opened the new diaper packages and took apart the diaper “cakes” and organized them based on size. We started on the “N” (Newborn) size – which is where we still are – and have quickly run out. I’ve already made two trips to Babies R Us to replenish our Newborn diaper supply (108 x 2) and will likely have to go back again. Buying in bulk at places like Costco or Sam’s Club is also a good idea, but again, be careful not to over-buy. They also only carry certain brands, so if your baby gets diaper rash from these brands, you’ll be stuck with a lot of leftovers.

Pampers Newborn-sized diapers - 108 count
Pampers Newborn-sized diapers – 108 count

I’m hoping that the “N” sized diaper is the one that gets used/changed the most, but we shall see. Maybe it gets worse! LOL! I must admit though… It is rather frustrating when, as soon as you change a diaper, da buggah is wet. Once, I think I had to change 3 diapers in the span of like 5 minutes. D’oh! Oh yeah, and btw, these days, many diapers come with a colored strip on the outside that signifies when it’s wet. Ours is yellow and when the diaper gets wet on the inside, the strip turns blue on the outside. Pretty handy dandy if you ask me!

Don’t forget about wipes. For every diaper change, you need at least 1 wipe (usually 2 or 3) to clean baby’s bottom up. My parents bought us a humangoid case of wipes from Costco (900 count), which seems like it will last us until the end of eternity, but if I do the math, probably not.

Kirkland brand baby wipes from Costco - 900 count
Kirkland brand baby wipes from Costco – 900 count

If you have a Diaper Genie, don’t use it with your newborn diapers. The refill bags are expensive and your newborn’s diapers don’t smell anyway (yet!), so no sense wasting the refill bags. Just toss them with your regular trash.

K, now that we got those three common tips out of the way, let’s work chronologically and walk through what you may need at every step of the way.

Before birth

  • Doing things as a couple – Of course, traveling (as mentioned above) and eating out and just doing things together before baby comes goes without saying. Once baby comes, it’ll be three and your quality time together as a couple will be significantly lessened. Go to movies, have date nights, just be in each other’s company.
  • Take photographs & videos – some people opt to get professional photographs taken while others just wish to document the experience. We did the latter. Starting with the home pregnancy test results to taking a photo of wifey’s belly every few weeks or so, we were able to document the entire 9-month experience. We were even able to capture audio of baby’s heartbeat during routine check-ups, and videos and photos of her at our ultrasound visits. She’ll probably be interested in seeing that one day.

Seeing our sweetheart for the first time through the ultrasound
Seeing our sweetheart for the first time through the ultrasound

  • Create a baby registry – if you are expecting baby showers or gifts from family and friends, it helps them if you create a baby registry so they know what you need. If this is your first rodeo though, that’s often not an easy task because you, yourself, have no idea what you want/need. LOL! We recommend enlisting the help of a new mom. They know about all the latest trends and gadgets and can help you pick out what to add to your registry. When we went to the store to set up a registry on our own the first time, we were armed with a scan gun and walked around aimlessly, not knowing what to scan. The second time around, we brought my friend (thanks Shell!) who walked us through the entire store saying, “OK, you need this, this, this, this, this…” Sooooo much easier! A tip from wifey: Register at more than one place if possible (even online stores). This makes it easier for the people buying you gifts (convenience and price).
  • Sign up for email newsletters – sites like BabyCenter.com and TheBump.com, etc. have newsletters that they send out weekly, with updates on how your baby looks or what to expect this month, etc. It helps with the anticipation and excitement of what’s to come. It also helps educate you on what’s happening now.
  • Take a class – originally called Lamaze class, these classes now cover everything from breathing to what to expect before, during and after your pregnancy. Chatting and bonding with other pregnant couples going through the same thing you are always helps as well!
  • Prep your crib (and your crib!) – women (and men) tend to go through this phase called “nesting” in which you go crazy preparing your house for baby’s arrival. Cleaning, organizing, rearranging, etc. all seem to happen when the date gets closer. Make sure your crib in your crib is ready to go before baby comes otherwise baby won’t have anywhere to sleep. Don’t worry too much about “babyproofing” your house (cupboard latches, gates, outlet covers, etc.) in the beginning since baby can’t walk anyway.
  • Sleeping options? – In addition to a crib, you may want to get a portable Pack ‘N Play, bassinet, or what’s called a co-sleeper. If you’re paranoid like us newbies, leaving your newborn in a crib in another room won’t let you get a lot of sleep (especially if you don’t have a baby monitor). We tried putting her in the crib in the beginning, but ended up sleeping on the floor next to her just so we could hear her every noise, you know, just in case. Now, we have the Pack ‘N Play in our room and baby sleeps there. That way, mommy and daddy can sleep in their comfortable bed, while still keeping our eyes and ears peeled for her noises. Bassinets work in a similar fashion. Co-Sleepers actually attach to the side or end of your bed. This way, you don’t have to get completely out of bed to check on baby. You just roll over. WARNING: We’ve been told not to let baby get used to sleeping in our room as they get attached and it will be REALLY difficult to make her sleep in her own room later. Just a head’s up. When we’re a little more confident, we’ll probably move her to her own room and pick up a baby monitor.
  • Rub mom’s belly with anti-stretchmark cream – if your wife is as paranoid of stretch marks as mine, then you’ll want to go out and get some cream for her. She really liked this cream/lotion called Blooming Beautiful that we picked up from Motherhood Maternity. Not sure if it was because of the cream or just good genetics, but we are proud to say that she is now the proud owner of a stretch mark-less belly.

Blooming Beautiful from Motherhood Maternity
Blooming Beautiful from Motherhood Maternity

  • Select a pediatrician – your first baby appointment is a few weeks after baby is out. Be sure you know who you want and book ‘um Danno!
  • Laundry – here’s another one to be aware of. When you bring baby home, he/she is going to have to have clothes to be in and clean sheets to sleep on. Make sure this is all done ahead of time. We luckily did a partial load, but since baby surprised us a couple weeks early, we needed to do the rest of the load while she was already here. Quite the challenge fitting it in to her crazy sleeping/feeding schedule. Another thing to note is that you have to use special baby detergent and not your normal detergent. Baby’s skin is uber sensitive and your detergent will irritate their skin.
  • Install your car seats in advance – the hospital won’t let you leave if you don’t have a car seat installed. We bought our car seat (and bases) from Baby Emporium who offered to professionally install it for us as a service. Luckily, we had one car installed prior to baby’s arrival and have since had our other cars (including our parents/babysitters) installed. Optionally, don’t forget to also install the baby mirror (so you can see baby’s face while you drive) and the sun shades on both rear windows (to block the sun from shining in baby’s delicate eyes). I hear that you can also schedule free car seat installations with your delivering hospital. That could be another option.
  • Hospital tour – schedule a hospital & delivery ward tour in advance if your hospital has this service. This helped BIG TIME! They actually walk you through, step by step, what you need to do when “the time” comes. You can see where to park, what elevators to catch, how to check-in and where you’ll generally be both delivering and recovering. It definitely takes a lot off your mind mentally because it answers a lot of the unknowns and uncertainties. Speaking of checking in, see if you can pre-register so that you won’t have to be fumbling around with paperwork when the actual day comes. Our hospital let us do this so when the actual day came, checking in was such a breeze!
  • Pick a name! – I bought a book with like 100,001+ names in it and I still couldn’t find a name I liked. Wifey and I selected our top 3, compared notes, and picked one we both liked. Don’t forget to pick a backup name for the opposite sex! Not sure how true this is, but they say that even if your ultrasound technician says “it’s a girl!”, there’s still a 20% chance she could be a he! I also heard of some couples picking two names out for the same sex and then choosing which one matched better once they saw the baby’s face. Whatever works for you guys!
  • Write a birth plan – Often, in the heat of the moment, you won’t be able to make decisions on the spot. By writing a birth plan, you give the nurses, midwives and doctors an idea of how you want to deliver your baby. From who you want in the room, to what kinds of drugs you want, etc., this will help both you and them. For example, sometimes, they’ll ask if interns can come in and watch the birth. Your birth plan will tell them “heck no!” Wifey was also adamant about avoiding a C-section unless absolutely necessary. That was in her birth plan. For baby boys, you will have to make a decision on circumcision. Be prepared for that.
  • Decide if you want an Epidural – speaking of drugs, she will probably want to decide what she wants to do in terms of an Epidural. Some moms go through it with nothing, some know they want it all from the beginning. My wife was unsure and wanted to decide on the spot. At first, the pain was bearable, but when it got more intense, she wanted to try the low dosage through IV. According to her, that didn’t do a thing so when the pain got even worse, she went straight for the Epidural. It’s a lifesaver, but there are risks involved since it does go through your spine. (see Wikipedia for more info). They also say that since it numbs her lower regions, it’ll be harder to push, but that wasn’t really the case for us. The bonus for the Epidural was the post-delivery patch up. It was a breeze.
  • Packing your overnight bag – one good tip I read in a book called “The Expectant Father” was to pack a pair of swim shorts. If your wife wants to jump in the shower and you need to help her, the swim shorts come in handy, which it actually did for me. Wifey claims that the shower felt REALLY good, so ladies, expect to jump in there at least once before baby comes. Other than the obvious stuff (extra clothes, toiletries, etc.), I would HIGHLY recommend packing a cooler with drinks and food. Our total delivery time was about 12 hours (including the waiting period) so you’ll be STARVING. Don’t forget your camera, extra batteries, extra memory cards, your phone, your chargers, etc. I also packed my iPad and IntelliGo so we could get our Internet on in the WiFi-less hospital room. In fact, I was able to check my personal and work emails, as well as post my first full blog directly from the recovery room!

Blogging from our recovery room
Blogging from our recovery room

  • Packing her overnight bag – for her, she might want an iPod to pass the time with music, a photo for her to concentrate on when doing her breathing exercises, a nursing bra, etc. I forgot to mention above that it’s important to pack your bags in advance! You don’t want to be scrambling around trying to remember to pack everything while wifey is screaming bloody murder. You’re bound to forget something. We thought we were packing well in advance (two weeks early), but it just so happened that the day after we packed our bags, we were off.

During the birth

  • Be supportive & strong – your wife is about to push a 5-10 pound human being out of her hoo hoo, so be sure she can lean on you for comfort and support. Massages are always nice. Help her get out of bed and go for a walk if she wants to. It’s supposed to help induce the birth. As I mentioned before, the shower feels really good for her. Help her in and out and bring fresh towels, etc. Most of our time in the delivery room was spent waiting. Talk with each other about what you’re thinking/feeling. This might even be a good time to record a video.
  • Call the fam – as it gets closer to delivery, you might want to take this time to call up the `ohana. You probably don’t want to call them too early as they’ll be waiting around for hours bored out of their minds. But as it gets closer, you probably want to give them a head’s up to let them know so they can start preparing their trip to the hospital.
  • Inform your office – I wasn’t sure if we were actually going to deliver when we did, but once I knew it was fo’ real, I emailed my boss.
  • Ice chips – after a certain point, moms aren’t allowed to eat. Request a cup full of ice chips so that you can keep her hydrated. With all the hard breathing she does, this also helps to quench her dry throat.
  • Eat and hydrate as well – graze on the snacks you brought with you so you don’t pass out yourself. I felt a little guilty grinding in front of wifey (who wasn’t allowed to eat) so I didn’t really eat much. When I did, I went to a dark corner and told her to close her eyes. LOL!
  • Use a mirror – initially wife didn’t want to see herself down there so she didn’t want a mirror. After a while, she thought she’d give it a try and that REALLY helped! She could see herself pushing and you could actually see immense progress after that.
  • Cutting the umbilical cord – be prepared to take a couple swipes at it as the cord is reasonably tough. My father-in-law described it as the consistency of a tako leg, which stuck in my mind while I was cutting it. I’d say that was a pretty accurate assessment. Haha!

Me cutting the umbilical cord
Me cutting the umbilical cord

  • Under pressure – the main word wife used to describe the sensation throughout was “pressure”. It wasn’t so much a pain thing as it was a pressure thing. Over time, the discomfort was so great that she just wanted to get “that thing” out of her. Her words, not mine! πŸ˜‰
  • Skin to skin – they say that the best thing for baby as soon as they come out is for them to go skin to skin with mom (baby lies on mom’s chest). If your hospital doesn’t traditionally do this, make sure it’s in your birth plan. Mom and baby bonded like this for like an hour.
  • Be prepared to cry – if you’re anything like me, tears are a foreign concept. I can’t recall the last time I cried. Once you see your baby for the first time, trust… the tears will flow. For me, it really hit me when I saw baby lying on mom’s chest, staring at mom who was staring back with tears in her eyes. Huuuu! I must admit, I got a little misty on that one. Good thing nobody saw! πŸ˜‰

Recovery

  • Help! – at this point, wife will be exhausted and in pain. We men pretty much didn’t really have to do a damn thing so do what you can to pitch in. Watch the baby as your wife sleeps, help wife go to the bathroom, be the door man/security (so nobody barges in unannounced), etc.
  • Visitors – there are a few schools of thought on this one. Some say that you should tell everyone so they come and visit you in the hospital because once you go home, you don’t really want to see anyone. Then there are others who say don’t tell anyone except close family and friends because while you’re in the hospital, you just want to rest and relax. I’m not quite sure where we fell because we’ve had visitors at both the hospital and at home and we were ok for the most part.
  • Examine baby – in addition to counting the 10 fingers and 10 toes, this paranoid dad went as far as committing his daughter’s face to memory. Even though they put multiple tags on you, mom and baby (for identification purposes), you never know. What if some sneaky baby robber is roaming the halls and swaps out the tags for another. Since I had her face committed to memory, whenever I was away from baby (which wasn’t often lemmetellya), I would immediately be able to recognize it and chase down and cream the baby robber. In all seriousness though, this is a highly important thing (in my opinion). Make sure baby stays with you in your room unless absolutely necessary. I heard of one story where the nurses accidentally switched the babies and the moms even went as far as breastfeeding them (the wrong baby!) until they figured out the mix up. Woah!
  • Breastfeeding – this one’s mostly for her. While in recovery, you’ll have lactation specialists come in to help mom breastfeed. Don’t get frustrated. Some moms’ milk doesn’t come in until after you are discharged. We had to give formula in the beginning, which, from what we understand is fairly normal.
  • Ask questions – while you have the doctors and nurses and specialists at your disposal, ask all the questions you have. No question is dumb. Once you go home, you’re on your own for the most part.
  • Bond with baby – since mom had a lot of bonding time earlier, make sure you get some daddy time in there too. There was one time when baby was wide awake (which isn’t often in the beginning) and mom was sleeping, so I ceased the moment and held her. She just stared at me and my heart melted.

Daddy-Daughter bonding time!
Daddy-Daughter bonding time!

  • Be prepared for no sleep – in my blog, I mentioned that term daddychondria, and lemme just say that this is in full effect that first night at the hospital. In addition to all of the nurses and specialists coming in and out to check on baby, you will also be paranoid about someone coming in and stealing your baby, or hearing baby choke, or any little noise for that matter. And I didn’t even mention my “sorry-excuse-for-a-rollaway-bed” bed! Nonetheless, I maneuvered that bed so that I was right next to baby the entire time!
  • Get help – mom gets fed hospital food, but there is nothing for dad. The in-laws also brought us snacks and foods to munch on, which definitely held us over, but by the end of the day, I was starving again. I asked my dad if he could get me some hot food to eat, a plate lunch, anything. He picked up some chicken katsu with gravy all ova (which I usually don’t eat), but I totally SCARFED it down cause I was SOOOO famished! With visitors, comes gifts and balloons, etc. Loading that up in the car will take multiple trips unless you have help. Good thing my dad helped a brutha out.

Grandpa lending a hand
Grandpa lending a hand

  • Get help (continued) – for your visitors, it’s a nice touch to have a little “thank-you” snack/gift for them. We were meaning to do that, but baby came early and we were unprepared. Thankfully, my mom helped to put those together for us (“Lollypops” from See’s Candies with cute “It’s a girl!” stickers on them). Loading your bundle of joy in the car seat for the very first time while she’s screaming her head off was quite intimidating as well. Thankfully, our nurse had our back there.

Loading baby in her car seat

I caught the most hilarious photo after all of this that I just HAVE to share. It’s baby giving us stink eye for putting her in the car seat.

Why'd you put me in this car seat!?
“Why’d you put me in this car seat!?”

After birth

  • The drive home – that drive home from the hospital was intense. I don’t think I’ve ever driven that carefully in my entire life! I had my hands on 10 & 2 and was probably traveling at 40MPH on the freeway! I avoided changing lanes, but when I had to, I had my blinker on for a good 20 seconds before slowly moving over. LOL! This is the moment where it really hits you: “Wow, I’m actually a dad!”
  • Attire – be sure to have mittens for baby. Her nails are like razor sharp claws and you don’t want her to be scratching herself or her face (and her eyes especially). A beanie is nice if you live in cold areas of Hawaii or if your baby was born in the winter months. They say that the temperature of her head is a good indication of how hot or cold she is. Be sure to also have home clothes and going out clothes or “when visitors come over” clothes all ready and washed up. We hate to admit it, but since it’s somewhat hot right now, a lot of times at home, we’ll just leave her topless. Hopefully, she won’t get too used to that in the future. πŸ˜› When guests are coming over or we want to take her out, then yes, we’ll put on something cute.
  • Swaddling – in the very beginning, your newborn will not have much control over their extremities. Think about it. When they were in the womb, they were all bundled up nicely and felt safe. Swaddling is a wrapping method that emulates how it was in the womb. Her arms and legs are tightly wrapped against her body. Note: be aware of her body temperature while swaddled too!

How to swaddle tag on one of our swaddle blankets
How to swaddle tag on one of our swaddle blankets

  • Breastfeeding – if you are going to breastfeed, get a Boppy pillow. It wraps around mom and helps to support baby while she’s at the breast, taking pressure off of mom’s wrists and arms.

Boppy pillow
Boppy pillow

  • Breastfeeding (continued) – don’t waste your time on the cheap breast pumps. Invest in the top of the line one from the start. We bought one from Medela. Early on, your wife’s breasts will fill up with milk so much that they will actually be sore. My wife joked that she thought she be on the news for being the first casualty of “exploding breasts”. Another funny story was when we visited the lactation specialist and she asked “Is this all you?” as if she had breast implants. LOL! Anyway, the breast pump helps to supplement what’s called letting the milk down. After repeated breastfeeding sessions, over time, mom’s nipples will become quite tender. Investing in cool gelpads or a lanolin cream my wife swears by called Medela Tender Care would be the way to go.

Medela Tender Care Lanolin cream
Medela Tender Care Lanolin cream

  • Breastfeeding (continued) – after babies are born, they naturally lose weight (losing a lot of the water weight, etc.). After 2 weeks, babies are supposed to be back at their birth weight. If they are not, they are considered “underweight” and the doctors will make you feed baby more. We actually had to physically wake her up every 3 hours in order to feed her because sometimes, she’d just sleep through it. If you don’t want that kind of pressure, be sure baby gets a full supply at every feeding and feed her often. If you supplement with formula, it may help, but often, moms want to try to do strictly breast milk.
  • Diaper changing – as mentioned above, you will go through diapers like nobody’s business. Make sure you have enough diapers and wipes to suffice. Be sure, especially if you have a girl, to wipe from front to back. You don’t ever want to bring the dirty stuff from behind to the front for fear of infection. If your baby gets a rash, you may want to change diaper brands, maybe to the unscented style. To treat the rash, there is a product called “Boudreaux’s Butt Paste” (not even joking) which I hear actually works well.

Boudreaux's Butt Paste
Boudreaux’s Butt Paste

  • Diaper changing (continued) – wifey personally likes to use a paste from a company called Desitin.

Desitin Maximum Strength paste
Desitin Maximum Strength paste

  • Belly button care – when you leave the hospital, baby is left with a stump at the end of her belly button. Hard and crispy is probably how I would best describe it. Resist the urge to touch it or pull on it. It will fall off on its own after a few weeks. We were also told to keep it dry, which meant only sponge baths (no tub baths).

Enjoying her first sponge bath
Enjoying her first sponge bath

  • Visitors – same rules apply like the hospital visitors we mentioned earlier. You have to do what’s comfortable for you and mom. Sure, everybody wants to come and see you guys and baby, but make sure you get enough rest and aren’t spreading yourself too thin. The best is when baby’s grandparents come over and bring food. Not only are they excited to come and play with their grandchild (giving you a slight break), but they feed you to boot! Sa-weet! Extra Bonus: the dads will even have a beer or three with you!

Happy Grandma and Grandpa
Happy Grandma and Grandpa

Happy Grandpa and Grandma
Happy Grandpa and Grandma

  • Get help from neighbors – we are fortunate to live in an area that has a lot of new families. We lean on our neighbors for advice because they are going through the same things we are. Trading stories and helping each other with food runs is so much wins.
  • Keep an eye out for JaundiceJaundice is a yellowing of the skin caused by increased levels of bilirubin in the blood. This affects about 50%-60% of full term babies, but usually goes away in a few weeks. Not sure how true it is, but I heard that Asian babies are more susceptible to Jaundice than other races. We were told to just keep her in indirect sunlight and she should be fine. If it doesn’t go away, be sure to contact your health care provider!
  • Get fresh air – sure it’s “safe” to stay cooped up at home because there’s no sick people to worry about or fear of crazy drivers, but it’s good to get out for some fresh air every so often. We’re fortunate to have a park right across the street from us. We’ll take baby out for a stroll when the weather’s nice. It also gives mom and dad some quality time together too.
  • Announcements – this kinda depends how public you want to be with your new bebe. For us, we kept it to close friends and family (yeah, outside of this world wide article! LOL!). My uncle in Japan sent me a cute photo of my precious grandma holding a photo of my daughter and a handwritten letter to us. Awwww, I think I might have to get a little misty again! πŸ˜‰

Diaper
My obaachan and her great grand-daughter

  • Avoid gassy foods – whatever mom eats, baby will eat. Try to avoid gassy foods that may make baby fussy later.
  • Send her regular emails! – one of my readers recently sent me this link and I thought it was pure genius! So much so that I actually stole borrowed the idea and thought I’d share it with all y’all as well! I just created my daughter her very own, custom email address and just got done sending her my very first email (with a photo attachment!). It actually made me a little misty writing it, knowing that the future version of my tiny sweetheart will be reading it one day. WTH!? Why am I so sensitive all of the sudden! LOL!


Dear Sophie

  • Document EVERYTHING – they say that babies change every day. One day they’ll look like mom, and another day, they’ll look like dad. Our parents visit about once a week and every time they come, they say baby looks different. It’s amazing. For the first few weeks or so, we were taking photos and videos on the daily. It’s nice to look back and see how she’s grown/changed and all of the experiences she’s been through (baths, feedings, visitors, etc.) in the first days of her life.
  • Enjoy it while it lasts – everybody tells us this and, although we’re still early in the game, we know exactly what they mean. It seems like she’s growing up so fast right before our very eyes. Treasure each moment as it will pass you by before you know it!

Sleeping baby
Sleeping baby

Addressing Daddychondria Issues

  • My baby’s a monkey! – some babies are really hairy all over their body. This is called lanugo and perfectly normal. Baby eventually sheds the hair and it goes away.
  • My baby breathes like Darth Vader on steroids! – babies tend to breath a lot faster than adults. Don’t worry, it’s normal.
  • My baby is getting shocked! – twitching is normal as your baby’s nervous system is still quite immature. They are also still trying to figure out how to control their extremities.
  • My baby is too young to have acne! – small pimples on baby’s face is also quite normal and goes away after a few weeks. If it doesn’t she may be getting it from irritation from the breast milk, etc. Just be sure to wipe and wash baby’s face clean after feedings.
  • My baby hates me! – babies don’t have the ability to show expressions (smiling, etc.) until about a month old. Be patient.
  • My baby hates herself! – the natural reflex for a baby’s hand is to grab whatever gets near it. It’s cute when she grabs a hold of your finger, but not so much when she grabs a handful of her own hair.
  • “What was that!?!?” – you’ll drive yourself crazy if you listen for every little peep from baby. Believe me, I did! LOL! I’ve learned that although it’s good to be aware of baby’s noises, don’t over-worry about it.

More Helpful Tips:

  • Don’t leave baby on stomach unattended – this used to be ok back in the day, but nowadays this is a no-no. They could choke because they aren’t strong enough or skilled enough to move their head away from the bed.
  • Always support their neck – speaking of their heads, when you carry your baby, be sure to always support their head and neck. A baby’s head is 50% of their body weight so they aren’t able to support it on their own in the beginning.
  • Avoid baby powder with talc in it – Apparently, it is dangerous when inhaled by a baby’s lungs, and may even cause cancer. If you need to use baby powder, it is recommended to look for one with cornstarch, but I would avoid it altogether.
  • Keep an eye out for a white tongue – If it doesn’t rub off immediately or easily, it may not be milk and it could in fact be yeast infection. If it continues, it will not only make baby uneasy, but may even make mom’s nipples uncomfortably itchy too. Get medication right away.
  • Vitamin D drops – these days, it is recommended that babies get a vitamin D supplement in the form of drops to help with bone development. Get that from your health provider as well.
  • Have tummy time – Although the first tip was not to put baby on stomach unattended, putting her on her tummy actually helps her exercise her back and shoulders so give this a try periodically. As long as you are watching her. This will help to strengthen her arms, shoulders, back, and neck (as she learns to push herself up), so when that time comes when she starts to roll over on her own, she’ll be strong enough to push her head (mouth) away from the mattress to avoid suffocation.

I think that’s about it. I hope this “brain dump” helped you new daddies (and mommies) to be. Now, time to go back to sleep. Zzzzzzzzz! πŸ˜‰

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

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

Following Part I of this Poke Paradise series, I received an invitation from a Mr. Jed Inouye to come and spend the day with him. In my article, I had mentioned that I was planning on covering the poke from Sam’s Club in a future article and Jed wanted to make sure that I got the inside scoops. You see, Jed is the president of Seafood Hawaii, Inc., a 100% local company who, for all intents and purposes, supplies and runs the seafood departments at both Sam’s Club locations in Hawaii.

The problem with Jed is that he is painfully humble. Shy even. He refused to be filmed at all during the day and wanted the focus to instead be on the process and educating me on the ins and outs of it. He constantly wanted to divert the attention away from himself and towards his partner and employees, repeating his mantra for the day, “It’s not a me thing, but a we thing.”

This is normally where I’d embed my Youtube interview, but this was an unconventional interview with an unconventional guy. So instead, here’s a pictorial glimpse of our “day in the life” activities, starting from the shores of the United Fishing Agency fish auction at Pier 38, to the display case at Sam’s Club.

As described by Jed, the action all starts at the boat.

Boat unloading their catch [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]
Boat unloading their catch [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]

“This fish hole [image above] is well insulated yeah, so it’s all packed in ice. Time and temperature is really important. The fishermen come in and unload their catch into carts.”

Loading their fish into the cart [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]
Loading their fish into the cart [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]

“Nobody’s throwing anything around. Everything is handled with care. Taking care of the fish is real important. Not to bounce it around… It all starts from the fishing. If it starts right on boat, it ends right on plate.”

Every day is different. You have your slow days and you have days like this day when the bounty was quite plentiful. 85,000 pounds from 6 boats to be exact.

Ahi loaded up in cart [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]
Ahi loaded up in cart [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]

Once the cart is loaded up, the fish is taken to the receiving area where they are scaled, weighed and tagged, before hitting the auction floor.

Auction floor at the United Fishing Agency fish auction [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]
Auction floor at the United Fishing Agency fish auction [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]

“The facility is HACCP managed by the federal government,” says Inouye. “Food safety is of the upmost importance. Core temperature must be below 40 degrees. The longer the fish is out of ice, you get temperature fluctuations, especially when it’s over 40 degrees, it’s no good. You don’t want that to happen. You want to be below 40 degrees all the time. If you noticed, it’s all ice. Ice is 32 degrees.”

Fish is kept under ice to ensure that its core temperature is always below 40 degrees
Fish is kept under ice to ensure that its core temperature is always below 40 degrees

“That’s what’s good about buying the fish here in Hawaii vs. other places. You know, you don’t know where the fish has been, if it’s been out of temp. We try to simulate the bin of the boat because that’s how the fish is best kept: in the hole of the boat. In here, we put it in bins and we ice it again.”

We were then allowed to go into a room at the far end of the auction where boatloads (literally) of swordfish were being stored until they were ready to be shipped away.

Lineup of swordfish, ready to be shipped away [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]
Lineup of swordfish, ready to be shipped away [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]

“I used to send a lot of fish away, but I decided I just wanna take care of the local people. The difference is that there’s no middle man for us. We go right from boat to the troat (throat). Taking care of the customer is essential. By doing this, there’s a lot of value, so we can offer it at a cheaper price so everyone can afford it.”

After the fish is auctioned off…

In the middle of an auction
In the middle of an auction

… it heads straight outside to be loaded into the various refrigerated delivery trucks.

Refrigerated delivery trucks receive the fish that was just purchased [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]
Refrigerated delivery trucks receive the fish that was just purchased [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]

“This is a really good way of taking care of the fish,” says Inouye. “Again, they go ahead and, after they buy it, they put it in bins, and re-ice it. Because it simulates the hole again, because you have ice right around the fish. The temperatures don’t change. You’re keeping the temperature constant.”

Fish kept under ice in delivery bins [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]
Fish kept under ice in delivery bins [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]

Like a scene out of “A Night at the Roxbury”, Jed then said it was time to head to “the club.” So we loaded up Jed’s truck with the fish he just purchased from the auction and headed to the Honolulu Sam’s Club location. On the ride down, he opened up.

“You gotta be real passionate about this job or you’re not gonna be able to last. Over the years, 7 days a week. So every day I pretty much do the same thing. My routine yeah. Nothing fancy. I like driving the truck [even though he’s the president of the company] because I’ve always been with the fish so I know it’s fresh. I enjoy this. I really enjoy this. The fish part, the work part, I really enjoy this.”

Then I asked him about his thoughts on poke.

“Poke is something for the imagination. People in Hawaii, they do a good job with poke. It’s just your preference. For us, we have to make sure that the product you start off with is a good product. Once you start off with that… and if you buy the fish in Hawaii, ahhh, can’t get bettah than that. Look, we going to the market now already. I mean fish came off the boat, 5:30 they selling um, it’s 8:30… three hours! How you goin’ beat that?”

“From here, we go to the club. When you hit the club, I mean there’s not much time change. So quality wise, you know. You saw the fish from the boat, it was purchased, went into the bin, all ice, BANG, right to the club. From there, we cut it.”

Preparing the fish for display
Preparing the fish for display

“When you take a look at the way we do things, you’re gonna understand where the ‘we’ comes from. Our people do a lot of work. They do a good job. They spend a lot of time, they wake up early in the morning. It’s a whole team. A lot of our workers make it what it is. I got my brother (Gerald aka ‘Lucky’), my partner (Arick Yanagihara), my employees. That’s why, keep the video off of me because we get plenny good, really good people. It’s a ‘we’ thing, not a ‘me’ thing. Everybody works hard, so they’re the stars, not me.”

Mike is a professional sashimi cutter with 20+ years of experience [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]
Mike is a professional sashimi cutter with 20+ years of experience [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]

Theresa, an employee of 14 years [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]
Theresa, an employee of 14 years [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]

Julie, an employee of 20 combined years [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]
Julie, an employee of 20 combined years [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]

“The product that you put out should represent the people behind it. If you put out a good product the sales should be reflective. But again, food safety and value. Those two things are KEY.”

Imitation Crab Meat Masago ($4.37/lb), White Crab previously frozen ($6.87/lb), and 50/60 shrimp [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]
Imitation Crab Meat Masago ($4.37/lb), White Crab previously frozen ($6.87/lb), and 50/60 shrimp [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]

“The main message is the fish. If the fish is of good quality, that’s what makes everything. It’s the fish.”

Fresh ahi poke - all under $9/lb [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]
Fresh ahi poke – all under $9/lb [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]

“The customer is your boss. No matter what, the customer is your boss. What they say goes. That’s the one that you have to take care of all the time. You have to please your customer, no matter what. As long as they keep coming back, you know you’re doing something right.”

I asked him how he keeps his prices so low.

“For the average person, when the price of the fish gets too high, they cannot afford it. There are times when we do lose money. The main thing is that we want to make sure that the consumer knows that we’re consistent and that we’ll take care of them. I guess that’s the message that really we try to push: We wanna take care of the local people. For our company anyway, we wanna take care of the local people.”

Jed Inouye, employees Julie and Theresa, and general partner Arick Yanagihara [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]
Jed Inouye, employees Julie and Theresa, and general partner Arick Yanagihara [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]

Wow. If that didn’t make you shed a tear, I don’t know what will. πŸ˜‰ At the very least, it should make you want to join Sam’s Club and visit/support them. Jed Inouye and his Seafood Hawaii, Inc. family exemplifies the true meaning of what a giving, local company should be. And although he will humbly deny it to no end, this truck driving President truly is the star.

Sam’s Club – Honolulu
750 Keeaumoku St,
Honolulu, HI 96814 (map)
(808) 945-9841
Mon-Fri: 10am-8:30pm, Sat: 9am-8:30pm, Sun: 10am-6pm

Sam’s Club – Pearl Highlands
1000 Kamehameha Hwy 100,
Pearl City, HI 96782 (map)
(808) 456-7788
Mon-Fri: 10am-8:30pm, Sat: 9am-8:30pm, Sun: 10am-6pm

During my tour of the fish auction with Jed, I was introduced to Brooks Takenaka, the manager of the United Fishing Agency, the company behind the auction. I sat down with Brooks to get more info on his company and the history behind the fish auction.

Brooks Takenaka – United Fishing Agency

An Interview with Brooks Takenaka – Part I

[Edward Sugimoto] Describe a little bit about your history with fish in the islands. You know, hana battah kid time?

[Brooks Takenaka] Well basically I was born and raised in a fisherman’s family. So my grandfather was a longline fisherman. My father and my uncles were fishermen as well. And until we were born, my father basically stayed on the boat, they stayed fishing. So I come from a fishing family, commercial longline fishing family, and, as a kid, I was always interested in fish, and I could tell you the scientific names of fish, the common names and all that. I used to raise some fish. They didn’t want me to go into fishing. So I had done all the trolling and diving, all kinds of different forms of fishing and all of that, and they didn’t want me to go into fishing, so I pursued a career in Marine Biology. I studied Marine Biology at the University of Hawaii. Then I did some research with the Oceanic Institute. Well, Coconut Island, worked out of Coconut Island, in the university system. And then I worked out at Oceanic Institute, and then I worked for the Sea Grant Program for a bout 3 and a half years and that’s when I came to appreciate education and outreach. So I was working for those guys and then the industry was going through some changes and they made me an offer and so I came back into the industry and have been here ever since. I’ve been here for about 30 years now with the United Fishing Agency.

[Edward Sugimoto] To those who don’t know, explain who exactly the United Fishing Agency is and its role is in the fish auction?

United Fishing Agency sign
United Fishing Agency sign

[Brooks Takenaka] Well, the United Fishing Agency is the fish auction, and basically, it’s a company that was put together many many many years ago, decades ago actually [incorporated in 1952]. And the whole idea, which is really a beautiful one, was put together by the senior Otani [Matsujiro Otani], and then basically it was a matter of bringing together wholesalers and fishermen to form an organization that basically put together a program that brought together the daily fish demand with the fish supply. And so back then, it was a far more expansive reality in terms of the type of species because you had reef fish, deep sea bottom fish, as well as open ocean pelagic fish. Maybe not in these kinds of numbers that you have today, but back then, when I was a kid, I remember going to the auction and there was a lot of reef fish. Trapping, netting, diving… all kinds of reef fish, and then there was a few bottom fish, and longline. Certainly the situation now is different in that the reef fish is pretty much sold as a different entity. They have their own market, and we don’t get involved with the reef fish anymore. But we do sell the deep sea bottom fish and the longline stuff, the um, pelagic stuff. So how the auction works basically is that when these fishermen provision up to go out fishing, the purveyors they buy their products from – the food, the fuel, the water… those purveyors would send their billing here to United Fishing Agency. These fishermen go out fishing, they come back, first up on the dock, first up on the floor. And every day, six days a week, the list of boats is listed on the board there. There is a phone service that people can call in to find out you know what we’ve got, how much they’ve got. So then we basically put up their fish, we unload their fish and put up their fish. All of every boat’s fish is color coded, and we sell one boat’s fish at a time. So we start off with the bigeye tuna, which is the target species of this fleet, and then with the yellowfin, and then the different tuna species, like your albacore or tombo, and then your skipjack or aku, and sometimes some kawa kawa. But longline not so much kawa kawa. Then um, your marlins, then your mahimahi, ono, other species like that: monchong, walu, opah. One of the good things about the Hawaii fleet is that historically, they’ve always brought back all the species they catch, with the exception of the blue fish, the blue shark, they bring back everything. And the nice thing about the Hawaii situation is that there’s a fond appreciation for all the species, so we don’t waste any of these species at all. And with the cultural diversity that we have, there’s so many different ways of preparing these fish, that you know people have a good appreciation for all these species. So that’s basically how it works. In terms of how we get paid, we take 10% off the gross sales for our payment. Basically that’s how it works.

[Edward Sugimoto] I read somewhere that this market is based off of the Tsukiji market (in Japan) in a little sense. Is that the true?

[Brooks Takenaka] Not in a little sense. Very very much so. We’re actually a very junior version of Tsukiji. It’s based after the traditional Japanese method of auction selling fish.

[Edward Sugimoto] You were kinda briefly walking us through the process. Can you in a little more detail (explain the process), how it comes off the boat, you do the scaling, you do the weighing and all of that?

[Brooks Takenaka] Yeah. How it all works is basically, when they come home, we unload the boats. If you go outside and take a look at some of the carts, the carts were built… Actually, prior to coming, moving to this facility, we were over in Kewalo, and what we used to do is we used to send trucks out to go pick up the fish at the various piers. Since moving here, the accommodations are great because we unload the boats right here. So it’s much more timely and the freshness and quality are significantly better. So it’s a far better facility. And basically how it works is these boats come home and we have an answering service, so first in, first up, and the answering service lets us know who’s first, second, third and all this. So, in order for us to start the auction at 5:30 (AM), my guys come in at 1 o’clock. They call the answering service, they figure out who’s first, then they just start unloading the boats. Those carts that we have now to unload the boats basically represent the same size of the truck bed that we used to go pick up fish with. And one of the reasons why we did that was because we have a good idea of about how many pounds are in each truckload. So that way, it’s another form of checks and balance(s). So that, we built the carts to be the same size, and about the same amount of fish, so we know there’s about 3,000 pounds of fish in that cart. Around there, yeah, depending on the species and sizes. So then, the boat unloads the fish into the carts. Those carts then are moved over to the facility, and then you see the weighing area where we stage it all out, and then the fish gets weighed and then tagged. And then you have a weight tag as well as a bar code and on the bar code, you have the information of the boat, the date, all this kind, what kind of species, how many pieces, that sort of thing. Then those fish are lined up, like I said, bigeye, big to small, yellowfins big to small, and then the others by catch species. And, that’s basically how we started. At 5:30, the bell rings, and off they go. What we do with the tunas however, is that you’ll notice that we do a tail cut, wedge cut, and then we’ll do an anterior coring. So basically, that’s all on each fish, each tuna in particular. And so the buyer has a good profile of what that fish is in terms of quality. And that facilitates and expedites their bidding on the fish. So that’s how it works.

The tail cut, wedge cut, and anterior coring shows buyer the quality of the fish [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]
The tail cut, wedge cut, and anterior coring shows buyer the quality of the fish [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]

[Edward Sugimoto] What do they kind of look for: bloodline?

[Brooks Takenaka] Well, what they’re looking for is freshness and quality, also relative to their client base. OK, so in other words, they have a good feel for their client base and then they’re bidding on fish that basically services their clientele. And so you have companies in there that play the whole gamut in terms of quality and range and prices, and you have those that are more of a niche market type of situation. And so, what’s interesting is that you have a whole different approach by different people in terms of how they’re buying, what they’re buying, how much they’re willing to spend, depending on what kind of client base they have. So some of these companies do send fish to the mainland. They work with people on the mainland, they’ll send fish to the mainland. Others will send… they’re even marketing in Vancouver. On occasion, you’ll hear comments about some of these fish maybe going to Japan. Not as much as before because what’s happened is that the world has come to appreciate sashimi and sushi and raw fish a bit more than it has in the past, and so what’s happening is there… and people are beginning to appreciate the value, and so, there are more people that are buying tuna today as compared to before. So not as much ends up in the Japanese market. A lot of it does go to the mainland United States. Canada. Vancouver’s a very strong market. So the rest of the world has figured out what’s happening with fish and that’s part of the reason why we’re talking this sustainability today. So that’s why we talk about those kind of issues today.

An Interview with Brooks Takenaka – Part II

[Edward Sugimoto] What kind of famous chefs/people come through here that you rub elbows with?

[Brooks Takenaka] Oh jeez. You name um, we’ve had um. Aw cheez, we’ve had Nobu (Matsuhisa), we’ve had Iron Chef (Masaharu Morimoto), we’ve had Paul Prudhomme, Ming Tsai, Chan Can (Martin Yan?). We’ve had a number. Of course and then there’s people like Chef Mavro (George Mavrothalassitis) and Alan Wong and Roy (Yamaguchi) and D.K.’s (David “D.K.” Kodama), you know, those people. And we also have a fair amount of visiting chefs from around the world and the country. So, far more than I can name. In fact we’ve also done tours for a lot of associations like nutritionists and people like that. I teach the coast guard… actually I also teach culinary classes, marine biology, oceanography classes, and I teach the coast guard.

[Edward Sugimoto] So your (Marine Biology) education comes in handy then?

[Brooks Takenaka] Yes, very much so. That was the purpose of it all. We have an incredible industry, but I think the industry was remiss for a long time because they pretty much did their own thing and kept to themselves. And then, in the meantime, what’s happened is that of course there’s interest that has just generated with respect to issues like sustainability and all this. And so we felt that it was important for us as an industry to get this message out, get some information out. And that’s the reason why we started the program that we have. So the program that we have now is called the Hawaii Seafood Council. It’s a non-profit organization, and we’ve set that up to develop the educational programs and materials to assist the industry.

[Edward Sugimoto] In terms of poke, what’s your favorite type?

[Brooks Takenaka] It all depends on what kind of fish there is and what kind of ingredients there are and what I’m jonesin’ for. I love aku poke and I happen to also love a lot of limus like waiwaihole and limu kohu, and lipoa, as well as the ogo. Actually the ogo to me doesn’t have that much taste. Lipoa, which is a really stinky one, is to me a real good limu to use for poke, but most people cannot eat that because of the strength. It’s kinda strong. So in terms of poke again, there’s so many different ways of preparing it, and in reality you can use all kinds of fish to do this. So it really becomes a matter of how you want to prepare it, what you want to prepare. But for me, I like aku poke. I like ahi poke, marlin poke (either nairagi, kajiki), and then, there’s also, you know again, like I said, poke is really a matter of imagination. You can do all kinds of things with that. Lobster poke is ono, you know, opihi poke is ono, so it depends. Crab, you can make crab poke, you know raw crab, stuff like that.

[Edward Sugimoto] It must be pretty hard to please you though since you’re so used to the freshness here?

[Brooks Takenaka] Well yeah, I’m a stickler for quality. And so, if you know of like say Take’s Fish Market in Moiliili, that’s the kind of place my wife will buy sashimi. I mean you know it could cost us $60-$80 for a pound and a half or two pounds you know, but it’s worth it. So here, again, it depends on what you’re used to. And since I was born and raised with fish, I’ve eaten parts of fish that most people don’t even consider. So again, my appreciation with fish is far greater or different than most. Like I said today, when I was a kid, I remember eating parts of fish that nobody else would eat. That was poor man’s food. Today, because of health, people are looking into other parts of the fish too, so we’re finally getting to… it’s gone 180. I mean now people are beginning to appreciate some of the other parts of the fish too. So I would venture to guess that anybody learning how to eat fish from people in Hawaii, they really learn how to eat fish. Hawaii people know how to eat fish.

[Edward Sugimoto] Speaking of kinda “stranger” pieces of the fish, the abura mi, the fatty parts, that’s of more value as opposed to the (aka mi)…

[Brooks Takenaka] Yeah well, you know, as the chefs say, the fat is where the flavor is. And so, in this case, one of the things that we teach the culinary kids of course is that the difference between the aka mi, or red meat, and the abura, or fatty fish vs. non-fatty fish, that doesn’t mean that the non-fatty fish is no good. In fact, some of these non-fatty fish can be nice enough that it can go 7, 8, 9, 10, 12 dollars a pound. But, if that same fish had some fat in it, it can probably go dollar, two dollars more a pound. And there is a significant difference even from species to species, there’s difference in terms of. So recently, I shared some fatty yellowfin and some fatty bigeye with Chef Mavro and Alan Wong, and they noticed the difference, the significant difference between the two species. Different kind of flavor, different kind of intensity in terms of the fat. So there’s a lot of things we can do, to share with the public in terms of understanding about quality and appreciation for quality.

Ahi, freshly cut on the auction floor [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]
Ahi, freshly cut on the auction floor [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]

[Edward Sugimoto] What’s in store for the United Fishing Agency?

[Brooks Takenaka] Well, I hope that we can work our way through some of the issues that we have to deal with in terms of the sustainability issues, and protecting species like turtles and birds and things like that. We certainly, you know the United Fishing Agency has been around since 1952, and I certainly hope that in history, we continue to succeed and can move forward you know, for the next generation. And I hope that we can continue to be innovative and stay ahead of the curve in terms of doing things the right way for the right reasons, and being able to continue to supply fish for our people because I think it’s a very significant part of our culture as well as lifestyle. And seafood of course, fresh seafood is, I think very very healthful. And so from that perspective alone, I certainly would like to continue to be able to provide good, healthy fish for the public. And, if you think about it, like I ask people think about this: what is the only form of food today that has no chemical additives in it? Wild fish, right? And you have concerns like bird flu, swine flu, all this other kind of stuff, but, you ever heard of fish flu? No. So the demand for fish, the concern for protecting the resource is important and we need to continue to do things to protect that resource. But, the thing is, I think people can also realize… learn and realize that some efforts are in fact being done the right way for the right reasons and I think the Hawaii effort is indeed one of those exemplary efforts. So I think if the rest of the world were to in fact conduct their fishing like we do here, then we may not have the kind of concerns that we have for the resources and stuff, so it would be better for the resources.

[Edward Sugimoto] And your auction is open to the public. Is there anything else you want to mention?

[Brooks Takenaka] Yeah, it’s open to the public, but we gotta be careful about how many people we get over here. That’s one of the things that again, we do these kinds of interviews, and I’ve got a few others to do within the next couple of weeks, but again, I do this with a grain of salt because the thing is, on one hand, we want people to know about our industry, but I also have a business to run and I gotta be careful about my time. But I mean people are welcome to come. It is open to the public.

[Edward Sugimoto] OK, thank you very much!

[Brooks Takenaka] You’re very welcome.

For more information on the Hawaii Seafood Council and what Brooks folks are doing for the seafood community, please visit: http://www.hawaii-seafood.org.

Since we’ve already covered Sam’s Club, let’s turn this one into a “supermarket kine poke” piece and take a virtual stroll through some of the others doing poke here in the islands shall we?

Costco Poke

One of my favorites from Costco is their Japan Clam Poke, which, according to the label, contains: Japan clam meat, alae salt, chili pepper flakes, green onions, sliced sweet onion, and sesame seed oil.

Japan Clam Poke - Japan clam meat, alae salt, chili pepper flakes, green onions, sliced sweet onion, and sesame seed oil ($11.99/lb)
Japan Clam Poke – Japan clam meat, alae salt, chili pepper flakes, green onions, sliced sweet onion, and sesame seed oil ($11.99/lb)

I haven’t seen it in some time though, but I’m hoping and praying that it’s a “seasonal” thing as opposed to a “discontinued” thing. :

Other good ones include their Fresh Ahi Limu Poke,

Fresh Ahi Limu Poke - ($12.99/lb)
Fresh Ahi Limu Poke – ($12.99/lb)

their Fresh Ahi Shoyu Poke,

Fresh Ahi Shoyu Poke - ($11.99/lb)
Fresh Ahi Shoyu Poke – ($11.99/lb)

and their Garlic Shrimp Poke.

Garlic Shrimp Poke - ($9.99/lb)
Garlic Shrimp Poke – ($9.99/lb)

Costco
(Many locations)

Safeway Poke

I have a soft spot in my heart for Safeway ’cause they be my peeps. They were the ones to give me my first part-time gig during high school daze, where I eventually moved up to the “Fish Cutter” position in the seafood department. This is where I experienced my first taste (literally) of the art of poke making.

Back then, there was no such thing as “spicy tuna” (as it’s known today), and some of the other “fancy” kine styles like wasabi, furikake, avocado, etc. My bread and butter was the ahi limu poke. A batch I recently picked up, though previously frozen, tasted eerily similar to the one I used to make.

(Previously Frozen) Ahi Limu Poke ($7.99/lb)
(Previously Frozen) Ahi Limu Poke ($7.99/lb)

If it’s available, and you can at all help it (and can afford it), my recommendation is to always go for the “fresh” version. There’s a HUGE difference in taste, texture and quality. Not to mention that a lot of times, places will treat/preserve their fish with carbon monoxide in order to “promote color retention” (keeps their fish looking red or from turning brown). Any time you can eat poke naturally (or any food for that matter) and avoid the chemicals, I advise it. Unfortunately, on this occasion, Safeway (and some of those below) didn’t have many fresh options.

Next to the Ahi Limu Poke, wifey particularly enjoyed the Ahi Poke Furikake from Safeway.

(Previously Frozen) Ahi Poke Furikake ($7.99/lb)
(Previously Frozen) Ahi Poke Furikake ($7.99/lb)

The current Fish Cutter toldΒ us that these next two batches were new, so we gave them a whirl. The Hot Ahi Poke (made with Sriracha sauce)…

(Previously Frozen) Hot Ahi Poke ($7.99/lb)
(Previously Frozen) Hot Ahi Poke ($7.99/lb)

… and the Ahi Wasabi Poke.

(Previously Frozen) Ahi Wasabi Poke ($7.99/lb)
(Previously Frozen) Ahi Wasabi Poke ($7.99/lb)

In the mood for some octopus, we rounded out our visit to Safeway with their popular Kim Chee Tako Poke.

Kim Chee Tako Poke
Kim Chee Tako Poke

Safeway
(Many locations)

Foodland Poke

I have to be perfectly honest. I’ve never been a fan of Foodland’s poke, though I do strangely enjoy some of Sack N Save’s versions on the neighbor islands. It could’ve been the taste/flavoring, the fish itself, the fact that I worked at Safeway (Ha!), or perhaps that I’ve just been unlucky whenever I ordered from there. To be fair, I picked up 4 types of their previously frozen styles: their Spicy Ahi…

(Previously Frozen) Spicy Ahi Poke ($7.99/lb)
(Previously Frozen) Spicy Ahi Poke ($7.99/lb)

… their Ahi Limu…

(Previously Frozen) Ahi Limu Poke ($7.99/lb)
(Previously Frozen) Ahi Limu Poke ($7.99/lb)

… their Ahi Shoyu…

(Previously Frozen) Ahi Shoyu Poke ($7.99/lb)
(Previously Frozen) Ahi Shoyu Poke ($7.99/lb)

… and their new Ahi & Avocado Poke.

(Previously Frozen) Ahi & Avocado Poke ($7.99/lb)
(Previously Frozen) Ahi & Avocado Poke ($7.99/lb)

They also had signage speaking of the carbon monoxide preservation methods, but interestingly enough, they also mentioned this: “From Philippines.” Not quite sure why, but perhaps because it is not local to Hawaii?

If anyone from Foodland wants to fill us in, complete the feedback form on the right and I’ll put your statement in here for ya.

Foodland
(Many locations)

Poke from TKS in Honokaa, Hawaii

To make sure I cover those doing poke well on the neighbor islands, I flew over to Hilo to visit my friend Dave. We found time to hit up KTA and Sack N Save, as well as the T Kaneshiro Store or TKS in “nearby” Honokaa.

T Kaneshiro Store (TKS) in Honokaa, Hawaii
T Kaneshiro Store (TKS) in Honokaa, Hawaii

As with many mom and pop type groceries like this, they didn’t have a dedicated seafood department, but they did provide a handful of poke options in their refrigerated section, including Ahi Poke – Korean Style, Ahi Poke with Sesame Oil, and Ahi Shoyu Poke.

Ahi Shoyu Poke
Ahi Shoyu Poke

T Kaneshiro Store
45-5002 Lehua Street
Honokaa, HI 96727
(808) 775-0631

Poke from KTA Super Stores – Hilo

There are two KTA locations in Hilo: on Keawe street and Puainako Stree, but we made sure to hit up the significantly larger Puainako locale.

KTA Punainako
KTA Punainako

Woah. In order to match the sheer size of their store (I’m guessing), the size of their seafood department is equally enormous!

Bruddah Dave checking out the wide range of goodies
Bruddah Dave checking out the wide range of goodies

Their selection included such items as Tako Miso, Tako Hawaiian, Tako Kim Chee with Cucumber, Tako Shoyu, Tako Sesame, Spicy Tako, Marlin (Au) Korean, Marlin Nori, Marlin Low Salt Shoyu, Marlin Shoyu, Ahi Korean, Ahi Nori, Spicy Ahi, Ahi Hawaiian, Ahi Shoyu, Kim Chee Soybeans, Crab Poke, Shoyu Clams, Nori Tofu, Mussel Poke, Shoyu Hokkigai (Surf Clam), Pipi Kaula, Kim Chee Shrimp, etc.

Numerous poke choices at KTA
Numerous poke choices at KTA

I know it’s hard to tell (based on the amateur panoramic photo attempt above), but take my word for it, they had CHOKE options. πŸ™‚

We sampled the Ahi Shoyu and Ahi Korean options (BTW, they weren’t labeled, but they tasted of the pre-frozen variety).

Ahi Korean Poke (left/top) and Ahi Shoyu Poke (right/bottom) and from KTA ($7.99/lb each)
Ahi Korean Poke (left/top) and Ahi Shoyu Poke (right/bottom) and from KTA ($7.99/lb each)

KTA Super Stores
(Many locations)

Sack N Save Poke

And finally, we hit up the Kinoole Street Sack N Save location in Hilo.

Kinoole Street Sack N Save in Hilo
Kinoole Street Sack N Save in Hilo

They had a pretty reasonably sized selection that included Ahi Hawaiian Style, Ahi Shoyu, Ahi Sesame, Ahi Furikake, Spicy Ahi, Ahi Oyster Sauce, Ahi Limu, Ahi Garlic, Avocado Ahi, Korean Ahi, Ahi Wasabi and Fresh Ahi Poke, as well as Soybeans, Tako Kim Chee Poke, Tako Furikake Poke, Cooked Madako Tako Poke, and Smoked Tako Poke.

Sack N Save's Poke Selection
Sack N Save’s Poke Selection

The Avocado Ahi was a big seller, so we picked up the rest of that tray along with some Spicy Ahi.

(Previously Frozen) Spicy Ahi Poke ($7.99/lb)
(Previously Frozen) Spicy Ahi Poke ($7.99/lb)

(Previously Frozen) Avocado Ahi Poke ($8.99/lb)
(Previously Frozen) Avocado Ahi Poke ($8.99/lb)

As with their sister/mothership Foodland, they had their previously frozen trays clearly marked with the “carbon monoxide” and “from Philippines” warning labels.

Comparing the poke from Hilo’s Sack N Save to the Oahu equivalents from Foodland, I really enjoyed the Hilo versions more, especially the Avocado Ahi one FBI (From Big Island)! Good job B.I.!

Sack N Save
(Many locations)

Home Made Poke

And finally, as if I didn’t bombard you enough with photos already πŸ˜› , here’s a step-by-step look at a home made batch I recently put together for a family gathering. Enjoy!

Cubed up Aku
Cubed up Aku

I started by cubing up some aku that my mom had purchased from downtown. Aku has a stronger/fishier taste than Ahi, but to me, is a LOT better for making poke.

Below are some of the “ingrediments”Β I used including shoyu, chili pepper flakes, chili pepper watah (water), green onions, tobiko, and a generous serving of sesame seed oil (I have a preference for Kadoya brand sesame seed oil).

Ingredients for my poke - Shoyu, chili pepper flakes, chili pepper water, green onions, tobiko, and Kadoya sesame seed oil
Ingredients for my poke – Shoyu, chili pepper flakes, chili pepper water, green onions, tobiko, and Kadoya sesame seed oil

Don’t forget the limu/ogo!

Mixing the ingredients together as the limu/ogo awaits
Mixing the ingredients together as the limu/ogo awaits

We add all the ingredients to the bowl (I like to save the sesame seed oil for last) and it looks a little sumthin’ like this…

Poke mixture before mixing
Poke mixture before mixing

Here it is up close.

Poke mixture up close
Poke mixture up close

I then added some furikake and the sesame seed oil and we got something that looked like this.

Ed's Aku Poke
Ed’s Aku Poke

Yeah, the color turned a little dark because of the shoyu, but it was yummy nonetheless… If I do say so myself. πŸ˜›

Ed’s Fish Hut
1 Ono Way
Honolulu, HI.
(808) 999-NEVAH-MINE!

A-ight, that’s it for Part III of this Poke Paradise series. Stay tuned for next month, when I interview Rachel Haili of Haili’s Hawaiian Foods, Guy Tamashiro of Tamashiro’s Fish Market, and visit a few other island favorite poke spots.

A big mahalo to Jed Inouye, Arick Yanagihara, Steve Rudolph,Β and the entire Seafood Hawaii, Inc. team, Brooks Takenaka and everyone at the United Fishing Agency fish auction at Pier 38, Dave Oi for the FBI Hilo hospitality and Grant Lau for assistance with the air accommodations. See y’all next month!

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