Posts Tagged ‘taegu’

We Do It Big Island Style – Part II

September 1, 2012
Part I |  Part II 

Wow! Has it really been 5 years since I last wrote about our Big Island of Hawaii? To give it some perspective on how long ago that really was, since then, I’ve gained a ring, a wife, a baby, and a few extra pounds. 😉

To be fair though, we actually haven’t done much traveling at all since da bebe came into our lives. Needless to say, this recent trip to the youngest island in our Hawaiian chain was a welcome change in scenery. The secret, ulterior motive/reason for the trip? To get the little squirt used to the idea of flying in a plane – call it “practice” – so that we could one day take her on a trip to the mainland U.S., Japan, or beyond.

Baby's first plane ride
Baby’s first plane ride

Our adventure started like any other trip would… NOT! Boy, traveling with a little one ain’t easy. There are soooo many things you need to worry about. Things like:

  • Bottled milk
  • Baby snacks
  • Clothes
  • Baby swimsuit
  • Baby lotion
  • Hat
  • Inflatables
  • Bibs
  • Baby wipes
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • Diapers
  • Baby carrier
  • Etc.

Wifey literally had to pack one of those HUUUUGE (pronounced like Donald Trump) suitcases that you take on month long European vacations… For a two night neighbor island trip! Seriously?

Then again, she always packed like that. Kidding! No tell on me ah! 8)

And then there are the other baby essentials that come in larger form factors. Things like the infant car seat, stroller, crib, etc. Again, things you don’t really think or worry about when you’re a baby-less traveler.

Since we didn’t exactly want to take our “good” stuff (for fear of it getting mangled on transport), we decided to rent the car seat from the car rental place. A good idea, so long as you don’t mind using a “worn in” car seat and paying a few extra bucks on your rental car bill. For us, the convenience of it all just made more sense.

Baby and momma pulling maps while waiting for our car
Baby and momma pulling maps while waiting for our car

Ed’s Tip: Be sure you know how to install standard car seats for babies. The rental car people aren’t allowed to install it for you, probably for legal reasons (they don’t want to get sued if something happens).

For the stroller, we were fortunate enough to stay at the beautiful Hilton Waikoloa Resort where they actually provide it as a service to their clientele. With Hawaii’s weather (causing a lotion-lathered baby to get quite sweaty) and elements (sand, salt water air, etc.), borrowing a stroller is definitely the way to go if you want to preserve your personal “good” stroller.

And then there’s the crib. Again, thank goodness that the resort provided this to us for free. Not sure how many they have available, but I would recommend calling in advance to request it for your room. Even though ours turned out to be more of a dryer rack (a place to hang our wet swim attire) as baby slept in the bed with us (see sleep diagram here), it was nice not to have to worry about lugging around a portable crib all the way from Oahu.

My “goal” when we first arrived at KOA (Kona International Airport), was to eat some famous Pork Chops from my friend’s family’s place: the Manago Hotel. Heck, I even skipped breakfast in anticipation of the blessed event. Since I knew it was in the Captain Cook area (which is even further south from our hotel than the airport), I thought it would be best if we went straight there from the airport rather than making a special trip there.

The drive was a bit longer than I thought (20 or so miles, and a good 30-40 minutes), but pretty straight-forward. You pretty much drive south on Queen Kaahumanu Highway (HI-19) until you get there.

Outside the Manago Hotel
Outside the Manago Hotel

The restaurant sits inside the lobby area of the 64 room hotel. It was perfect. We arrived just before 11am when they open for their lunch shift, so getting seated was a breeze.

Inside the Manago Hotel restaurant
Inside the Manago Hotel restaurant

Ed’s tip: Speaking of breeze, the hotel sits on the slopes of Mauna Loa at an elevation of 1,350 feet, so I would imagine that it gets quite nippy here at night or during the “winter” months. Be sure to bring warm attire with you. We were there in the middle of the afternoon in the midst of summer, and you could still feel the bite in the air.

On to the menu.

Manago Hotel menu
Manago Hotel menu

I already knew what I wanted, so looking at the menu was just a formality. 😉

First up though, were the inclusive starters… A nice little old school touch.

Steamed veggies
Steamed veggies

Home made mac salad (with potato chunks!)
Home made mac salad (with potato chunks!)

And my personal fave…

Ogo namasu
Ogo namasu

I’m not a big fan of raw onions and tomatoes, but the third item in this dish (ogo) is one of my faves (see Poke Paradise series)! Don’t think I’ve ever had ogo namasu style. She go!

And then it was on to the main course. Wifey ordered the Mahi ($9.75) for her and baby, but I just noticed that I don’t have a single picture of the dish. I think I may’ve been in a pork chop trance by this point. LOL! That’s ok. My friend Nathan Kam to the rescue! Here’s a shot of the Mahi he took a few years back. Thanks Big Nate!

Mahi from Manago Hotel [Photo Credit: Nathan Kam]
Mahi from Manago Hotel [Photo Credit: Nathan Kam]

I feel bad because wifey ordered it mostly so that baby could have something healthy (and chewable) to eat. She said it was good, but nothing out of the ordinary. Though she did say that after tasting (and tasting, and tasting!) my pork chops so her palate may’ve already been tainted by then. 8)

And then my dish came… Did somebody say PORK CHOPS!? (cue 2 Unlimited’s “Get Ready for This”)

Yes, I was a bit excited about getting those chops in mah belleh, and Manago Hotel definitely did not disappoint.

Manago Hotel's world famous Pork Chops ($9.75)
Manago Hotel’s world famous Pork Chops ($9.75)

Dauym! Buggah fo’ real kine brok’ da mout! The crispy texture of the breading was perfectly offset by the creaminess of the gravy. And the flavor… POW! Hit me right in the kisser. I want to go back again like right NOW!

Side note: There are many purists who think that you should enjoy the pork chop here sans the gravy. It’s up to you how you want to eat it. To each their own. I personally prefer gravy all ova!

Overall, it was a really great way to kick start our neighbor island vacation. Manago Hotel has that old school charm that I absolutely love and I know you will too. Go check um out goo…

Manago Hotel
82-6151 Mamalahoa Hwy
Captain Cook, HI 96704 (Street View)
(808) 323-2642
mail@managohotel.com
Restaurant hours:
7am-9am (Breakfast)
11am-2pm (Lunch)
5pm-7:30pm (Dinner)
Closed on Mondays

Our next stop was full on spontaneous. As I was posting my pictures from Manago Hotel on the Interwebs, I got a bunch of comments asking if I was going to go check out Kona Chips. Being the Oahu boy that I am, I was like hah? Wea dat? Come to find out, it’s actually just a few steps away from (outside of) Manago Hotel! I would’ve totally missed it had they not told me. And thank goodness they did. Their star product, aptly named “Ugly Cookies” was winnahz!

Ugly Cookies from Kona Potato Chips (company)
Ugly Cookies from Kona Potato Chips (company)

Made with your standard oatmeal, rice cereal, flour, chocolate, butter, sugars, eggs, vanilla, baking powder, and baking soda, the real kicker here is that they include bits of their popular Kona potato chips in the mix, giving the cookies their trademark “ugliness”. 😉 We still have about 3 more cookies left in the fridge from our batch of omiyage to ourselves, and believe you me, I’m trying my darndest to make it last as long as possible! LOL!

Other popular items here include their Furikake Chips, their “Sumo Style” Shrimp Chips and, of course, their namesake Kona Potato Chips.

Side Note: While penning this article, I gave Kona Chips a call to find out what their hours of operation were. To my surprise, the company president himself Jerome Furukawa answered the phone and he was very humble and nice and appreciative of the piece I was writing. Gotta love those kinds of folks. Go and support um gang!

Kona Potato Chips
82-6155 Mamalahoa Highway
Captain Cook, HI 96704 (Street View)
Phone : 808-323-3785
KonaChips@hawaii.rr.com
Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri: 8am-5pm
Wed: 8am-3pm
Sat: 9am-1pm
Sun: Closed

With our pon-pons full, we packed up and made the northerly trek back up the Kona coast towards our home for the weekend at the Hilton Waikoloa. The drive was about an hour (approximately 40 miles), which only meant one thing: Daddy, the designated driver, was the only one awake. What’s new? 😉

The drive was definitely worth it though. Once we reached our room and unloaded all of our stuff, this is the view we were treated with. Ahhhh, lucky we live Hawaii, no?

The view at Hilton Waikoloa
The view at Hilton Waikoloa

After feeding da bebe, and a quick dip at the Kohala Pool, it was already time for dinner. We washed up and psychologically prepared ourselves to experience DK’s Crab Ramen again from nearby Sansei Restaurant & Sushi Bar. If you recall in part I of my Hawaii Ramen Quest series, the Crab Ramen at this particular Sansei (Waikoloa location) was the only dreamy one worth splurging on. The same exact ramen from the Sansei Waikiki and Kapalua locations both, for some reason, disappointed us (I didn’t try it from their Kihei location). We’re happy to report that the Crab Ramen at Sansei Waikoloa is still dope! We would’ve been so sad if that one also failed us. 😛

D.K.'s Crab Ramen with Asian Truffle Broth from Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar (Waikoloa) - $17.95
D.K.’s Crab Ramen with Asian Truffle Broth from Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar (Waikoloa) – $17.95

Instead of our usually faves like the Shrimp Dynamite and Panko Crusted Ahi Sashimi Sushi Roll, we decided to try a few different things this time. Wifey got the Matsuhisa Style Miso Butterfish for her and bebe, while I ordered the Japanese Yellowtail Nori Aioli Poke off their “New Looks” section of the menu.

Japanese Yellowtail Nori Aioli Poke with Crispy Lotus Root Chips and Tobiko ($14.95)
Japanese Yellowtail Nori Aioli Poke with Crispy Lotus Root Chips and Tobiko ($14.95)

Ironically, bebe crashed out and decided to sleep through our entire meal. The one positive? Mommy and daddy got to enjoy a little adult time.

Mommy on a hot date! :P
Mommy on a hot date! 😛

Daddy posing with the K.O.'d bebe
Daddy posing with the K.O.’d bebe

Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar (Queens’ MarketPlace, Waikoloa Beach Resort)
201 Waikoloa Beach Drive Suite 801
Waikoloa, HI 96738 (Map )
(808) 886-6286
Dinner Nightly: 5:30pm-10pm
Late Night Dining: Friday and Saturday: 10pm-1am

Of course it wasn’t long after dinner when bebe decided to wake up and get hungry, so we headed straight back to the room to feed our little Tamagotchi. Shortly thereafter, it was time for bed. It was then that I was able to capture this precious (IMHO) moment.

Bedtime stories with momma and bebe
Bedtime stories with momma and bebe

The next morning we headed back to Queens’ MarketPlace to pick up some breakfast and snacks at Island Gourmet Markets. If y’all don’t know, convenience-wise, this place is the greatest invention since sliced bread! They’ve got a bakery, deli, produce department, meat and seafood department, stuff for omiyage and even a wine bar! Island Gourmet Markets is actually a division of ABC Stores so picture an ABC store and add like a mini supermarket all up in it. It’s like an ABC store on steroids. Wifey was able to pick up whole milk in small portions for the baby, which was perfect, since we weren’t able to bring much over on the flight and the refridge in our room wasn’t big enough to hold anything bigger. We also picked up some drinks, snacks, and bentos and sandwiches for lunch.

Wifey and baby enjoying a quickie picnic at the Queens' MarketPlace
Wifey and baby enjoying a quickie picnic at the Queens’ MarketPlace

After lunch, we showed baby this neat water display that shoots a single stream of water over and across a walkway. It’s meant for people to walk under it, but baby found another way to have fun with it!

I guess she's a fan of water!
I guess she’s a fan of water!

It was funny because although she kept squinting and making a scared face every time she touched the water, she insisted on continuing to go back for more! With her entire body pretty much covered with water, we figured it was time to head back to the resort to get ready for some pool action. The little squirt had other plans. After a brief stop to catch a glimpse at some of the flamingos on property…

Pointing at the flamingos (baby's eyes are getting heavy...)
Pointing at the flamingos (baby’s eyes are getting heavy…)

Flamingo area near the Kona Pool
Flamingo area near the Kona Pool

… the little one decided to crash out. Must’ve been the water fountain! 😉 A couple hours later, we made our way back to the Kona Pool to finally get our swim on.

Kona Pool at Hilton Waikoloa Village
Kona Pool at Hilton Waikoloa Village

I live for days like this!
I live for days like this!

After getting nice and toasty, we went back to our room, rested up and got ready for dinner. Whereas normally, we would’ve probably adventured off site to see what kind of neat, hole-in-the-wall eateries we could find, with the little one, we opted to stay close and head back to the Queens’ MarketPlace yet again. This time, we ate at Romano’s Macaroni Grill, for your standard, Italian fare.

Mac & Cheese Bites, Truffle Dip
Mac & Cheese Bites, Truffle Dip

Mama's Trio (Chicken Parmesan, Lasagna Bolognese, Chicken & Mushroom Cannelloni)
Mama’s Trio (Chicken Parmesan, Lasagna Bolognese, Chicken & Mushroom Cannelloni)

Romano’s Macaroni Grill (Queens’ MarketPlace, Waikoloa Beach Resort)
201 Waikoloa Beach Drive, Suite 1010
Waikoloa, HI 96738 (Map)
(808) 443-5515
Daily: 8AM-10pm

We followed dinner with our ritualistic visit to Island Gourmet Markets before heading back to our room and calling it a night.

Down to our final day on the B.I., we decided to try and get an early start to our day. For us, that meant somewhere in the neighborhood of 9am, which enabled us to check out the Big Island Breakfast buffet at Water’s Edge.

The view at Big Island Breakfast at Water's Edge
The view at Big Island Breakfast at Water’s Edge

Ed’s Tip: There is typically a wait to get seated here, but even if you see a big crowd here ahead of you, don’t be scurrred. They turn (and burn) the tables pretty quick so you won’t be waiting very long.

Family photo opp. She's actually posing and smiling!
Family photo opp. She’s actually posing and smiling!

With a check-out time of 12pm (no extension available that day), we headed back to our room for the dreaded pack up. Whyyyy did it have to ennnndd? 😉

Das ok, I had one more trick up my sleeve.

During our stay there, I learned about a neat little place called Da Poke Shack. Just a couple miles south of the “touristy” part of Alii Drive, this little, well, poke shack averaged 5 stars on Yelp with 271 reviews! Say whaaat? Since me and poke are one, I just HADSTA get us there to check it out!

Da Poke Shack
Da Poke Shack

Inside was your typical looking mini fish market…

Inside Da Poke Shack
Inside Da Poke Shack

… Complete with a seafood and poke display case.

From L to R: Kim Chee Shrimp, Chuka Idako (Octopus), Pipi Kaula, Kim Chee Tako, Spicy Tako, Raw Wasabi Tako, & Taegu
From L to R: Kim Chee Shrimp, Chuka Idako (Octopus), Pipi Kaula, Kim Chee Tako, Spicy Tako, Raw Wasabi Tako, & Taegu

The choices for poke for that day were Pele’s Kiss (which was their cute name for Spicy Ahi), Dynamite (Avocado Aioli), Shack Special (which looked like a shoyu based poke) and Sesame Poke. And you could pick from a variety of sides like seafood salad, mussels, imitation crab salad, edamame, etc. I went with the Poke Bowl, which comes with a choice of brown or white rice, 1/3 pound of poke and one of the sides.

Da Poke Shack's Poke Bowl with Pele's Kiss poke, white rice and Seafood Salad - $8.50
Da Poke Shack’s Poke Bowl with Pele’s Kiss poke, white rice and Seafood Salad – $8.50

The Poke Plate is the same except you get 2/3 pound of poke and 2 sides. Since wifey also got the Poke Bowl, I made a new friend on Instagram who shared with me her recent photo from Da Poke Shack. Thanks Amy!

Half Pele's Kiss Poke, half Shack Special poke with double Kim Chee Mussels and brown rice - $16.50 (Photo Credit: Amy Tsang)
Half Pele’s Kiss Poke, half Shack Special poke with double Kim Chee Mussels and brown rice – $16.50 (Photo Credit: Amy Tsang)

The reviews online raved about the poke, which I will admit was super ono. Their poke is always fresh (never frozen), which is a HUGE (there’s that word again!) deal to people like me.

They also gave props to the friendly staff, which, in my particular experience, was nowhere in sight. To be fair, it was towards the end of the day and all of the “main” workers were probably gone for the day. And I was also in a rush (we were scrambling to get to the airport), and making odd requests (wifey told me to order a mini “anything with chicken” for the baby). I definitely need (and want) to go back to have a calmer, not-so-rushed Da Poke Shack experience.  I’m sure I’ll enjoy it a lot more because, like I said, the fish was super fresh and delish and that to me is numbah 1!

Da Poke Shack
76-6246 Alii Dr
Kailua, HI 96740 (Street View)
(808) 329-POKE (7653)
Daily: 10am-6pm

After a quick stop at KTA (of course) and the gas station to fill up, it was time to bid the Big Island farewell. Quite a different experience traveling with a little one, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything else in the world… Even if that means keeping on these extra few pounds! 😉

 

* Special thanks to Big Island blogger extraordinaire – Damon Tucker and to Hilton Waikoloa‘s Director of Marketing Communications – Leanne Pletcher for your info and hospitality! What a way to travel for the first time as a family. We had a blast!

Part I |  Part II 

Don’t forget… THIS month…

===========================================
Rice Fest
The 3rd Annual Hawaii Rice Festival
Ward Warehouse
Saturday, September 29, 2012 @ 11am-7pm
For more info: Ricefest.com / Facebook / Twitter
To RSVP: Facebook Event / Twtvite
===========================================
VH07V
VH07V Gear
The latest in Hawaii lifestyle apparel. Check it out!

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

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

Local band Island Rhythms pretty much summed it up in their classic hit, “Is This the End?

Is this the end?
Are you my friend?
It seems to me
We are to be free…

Over the last 4 months, we’ve been poke-ing it up across our great state. We’ve visited some great institutions like Yama’s Fish Market, Tanioka’s, the Honolulu Fish Auction, Haili’s, and Tamashiro Market, and have met with some interesting folks in the industry like Sam Choy, Mel and Justin Tanioka, Hideaki “Santa” Miyoshi, Alan Wong, Jed Inouye, Brooks Takenaka, Rachel Haili, Guy Tamashiro, and Hilo’s Uncle Solomon.

And though we’ve still got a loooooong way to go, we’re going to (temporarily) wrap things up this month in the 5th part in the Poke Paradise series with Kahuku Superette, JJ’s Seafood, Off the Wall, Paina Café, Ono’s Seafood, and poke’s new kid on the block Reno Henriques and his shop Fresh Catch.

Reno Henriques – Fresh Catch

Chef/Owner Reno Henriques grew up next to Kaneohe Bay and spent much of his childhood fishing, diving, and trolling in the ocean. After graduating from St. Louis School, he attended Western Culinary Institute in Portland, Oregon, where he honed his culinary skills. Reno returned to Hawaii to help with his family’s businesses (brother Dominic Henriques owns RRR Recycling Services and parents Linda and Robert Henriques own Rolloffs Hawaii), until an opportunity presented itself to open his own place. Fresh Catch was born.

Fresh Catch on Waialae Ave
Fresh Catch on Waialae Ave

Customer response has been tremendous thus far, bringing in tourists and locals alike, even eliciting a visit from UFC Fighter, and Hilo native, BJ Penn.

http://static.ning.com/socialnetworkmain/widgets/video/flvplayer/flvplayer.swf?v=201004131104
BJ Penn Visits Fresh Catch

Wanna learn more about Fresh Catch? Here’s a recent interview I did with owner, Bruddah Reno Henriques.


Reno Henriques Interview

[Edward Sugimoto] Give us a little history about yourself.

[Reno Henriques] I was born and raised in Kaneohe, fished my whole life, went to high school, St. Louis High School, and then after I graduated St. Louis, I went to Western Culinary Institute in Portland Oregon and did a lot of culinary up there. And then, when I came back, my parents own Rolloffs Hawaii, a rubbish company, and my brother does Triple R, I was working for them for about maybe 10 years. Then, my brother started a recycle thing in Kaimuki, so he asked me… ’cause the place was available and it’s too big for him… if I would like to do poke with him. I mean do a poke thing, and then he do his recycling in the parking lot. At first I was like ah, might as well. I didn’t cook for about maybe 10-15 years, but I figured, ah, I’ll give it a shot, I always cook at home. So I came in, prior to that, about a year, I was helping somebody else in Kaneohe, used to be called Slow Poke, it was a fish market. I was just helping him after work, you know, mix poke. One day he got real busy, he was like, “Reno go back there and make your own poke.” So I started mixing and next thing you know, people was telling me, “Oh I wanna try that one, try that one.” So I started making for him, and then, next thing you know, he was like, “You know what. Come over, help me, and you can work off your bill.” *laughs* Free poke and beer. And then he just helped me work couple hours a day, during the rush hour. So that’s how I kinda got into it, and then he taught me a lot of things, and then he retired about 8 months ago and I took over that business also. So now I have two stores, the Kaimuki store and then the Kaneohe store.

[Edward Sugimoto] How many different types of poke do you have and what are some of your more popular ones?

[Reno Henriques] Huuu. Probably got maybe over, I’d say about, between 30-35 different types of poke.

Fresh Catch's wide poke selection [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]
Fresh Catch’s wide poke selection [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]

[Reno Henriques] The most popular one is up to you. I don’t know everybody has their flavor.

Close-up of one of my favorites: the Smoked Tako Poke
Close-up of one of my favorites: the Smoked Tako Poke

[Reno Henriques] You know, shoyu’s a good one. Everybody likes shoyu poke.

Shoyu Poke from Fresh Catch [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]
Shoyu Poke from Fresh Catch [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]

[Reno Henriques] I started a new one, it’s called the Spicy Hawaiian. It’s kinda like an Ahi Limu Poke with spicy sauce inside. Different, but the thing is good, plus with the crunch with the limu.

Spicy Hawaiian Poke from Fresh Catch
Spicy Hawaiian Poke from Fresh Catch

[Reno Henriques] And the salmon poke is one of my popular ones. Teri Furikake Salmon Poke, da buggah’s ono.

Furikake Salmon Poke from Fresh Catch
Furikake Salmon Poke from Fresh Catch

[Edward Sugimoto] How about some of your personal favorites?

[Reno Henriques] My personal favorites is, you know the old school Hawaiian stuff like ake (liver), lomi oio…

Lomi Oio  [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]
Lomi Oio [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]

[Reno Henriques] … Dry aku, a real popular one too is our taegu dry aku. It’s like dry aku, we cut it up, and then, got my grandma’s special taegu sauce. Everybody’s trying to get that one outta me, but cannot part with that one. *laughs*

Reno mixing up a batch of Taegu Dry Aku Poke [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]
Reno mixing up a batch of Taegu Dry Aku Poke [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]

[Edward Sugimoto] And you don’t just have poke. You have plate lunches, marinated meats (party platters, and Red Velvet Cupcakes from Divine Desserts, etc.)…

[Reno Henriques] Yeah, we have all the different plate lunches. Our most popular plate lunch is the Teri Furikake Baked Salmon. That thing is deadly. Moist, juicy…

Teri Furikake Baked Salmon from Fresh Catch
Teri Furikake Baked Salmon from Fresh Catch

[Reno Henriques] Then we got like local favorites like a Deep Fried Ahi Belly with a butter garlic heavy cream sauce.

Deep Fried Ahi Belly from Fresh Catch
Deep Fried Ahi Belly from Fresh Catch

[Reno Henriques] We got grandma’s fatty beef stew. Plenny gravy. And then we got pateles, lau lau, we make smoked meat, chopped steak, just all kine local styles. We also sell marinated meats for the barbeque grill, you know tailgate time?

Marinated Meats from Fresh Catch
Marinated Meats from Fresh Catch

[Reno Henriques] And then we have some cold beverages. My wife and my cousins make red velvet cupcakes. It’s the best on the island I’m tellin’ you. *smiles* It’s the cream cheese frosting with chocolate chips. Mmm.

Red Velvet Cupcake from Divine Desserts (at Fresh Catch)
Red Velvet Cupcake from Divine Desserts (at Fresh Catch)

[Edward Sugimoto] So it’s a whole family affair over here.

[Reno Henriques] Oh yeah, everybody’s involved. Free labor ah? *laughs* Payback time!

[Edward Sugimoto] What’s in store for Fresh Catch?

[Reno Henriques] You know like everybody else, become famous and rich. Nah! *laughs* I’m trying to bottle my sauces right now. So I’ve been going to the mainland. I went to Boston’s seafood show, got some ideas. I want to start bottling a couple of my sauces and maybe one day, you know selling it throughout the world hopefully.

[Edward Sugimoto] Anything else to add to your current or future customers?

[Reno Henriques] Thank you everybody for your awesome business and your support. Fresh Catch will be coming up with a new special very shortly. I can’t tell you guys too much but yeah.

[Edward Sugimoto] Plate lunch or Poke special?

[Reno Henriques] Plate lunch.

[Edward Sugimoto] Shoots, thanks ah?

Fresh Catch
3109 Waialae Ave
Honolulu, HI 96816 (map)
(808) 735-7653
Tue-Fri: 10am-7:30pm
Sat: 8am-7:30pm
Sun: 8am-5pm

Note: Fresh Catch will be holding their 2nd Annual Father’s Day “Up In Smoke” Cooking Contest and “Nobody Cares” Hawaiian Style Car Show on Sunday, June 20, 2010 at the Aloha Stadium Nimitz Parking Lot. Click here for more details.

Ono Seafood Products, Inc.

Through one of my many blogs/tweets/status updates (I don’t remember which), I asked where the best poke place in town was. One of the names that came up regularly was Ono Seafood on Kapahulu.

Ono Seafood Products, Inc
Ono Seafood Products, Inc

Self-proclaimed as “The Best Poke in Honolulu,” this “Ono’s” should not be confused with the Hawaiian Food restaurant “Ono’s” with the same/similar name: Ono Hawaiian Food.

Outside Ono Hawaiian Food
Outside Ono Hawaiian Food

The Hawaiian Food “Ono’s” also resides on Kapahulu, and, to make things even more confusing, they serve poke as well.

Hawaiian Style Poke at Ono Hawaiian Food
Hawaiian Style Poke at Ono Hawaiian Food

But getting back to Ono Seafood Products, Inc… Here’s a quote from my friend Dean Shimamoto, who teaches us what and how to order:

“Every order of poke is made in front of you… You have the option to pick what you want, but I usually get ‘everything’ which means fish, onions, ogo, some kind of chili sauce thing, inamona (i think) and their special sauces. Ogo is fresh and their sauce is mean (haven’t tasted anything like it). How to order… ‘One pound Ahi with Everything’. You can also specify the spiciness, but if you don’t say anything it’s assumed to be mild. I’ve gone enough to know not to go on Tuesdays before 2pm when they get their shipment of fresh ogo.”
-Dean Shimamoto

As you may’ve noticed in the picture above, I arrived at Ono Seafood a tad early and was greeted with their delightful “Closed” sign. After killing an hour or so, I was the first, excitable patron through door. An older woman, whom I could only assume was the reverent “Judy,” took my order.

A confused Aunty Judy takes my order
A confused Aunty Judy takes my order

Though Ono’s has a reasonable variety of products beyond poke like dried goods (ahi, aku, squid jerkey, smoked tako, taegu, etc.) sashimi, party platters, boiled peanuts, and pickled products (kinilau, pickle onion, cucumber kim chee, lomi salmon, etc.), they’re primarily known for their poke and poke bowls.

Poke options at Ono Seafood
Poke options at Ono Seafood

On this occasion, I picked up a half pound of shoyu poke (ahi)…

Shoyu Ahi Poke from Ono Seafood ($14/lb)
Shoyu Ahi Poke from Ono Seafood ($14/lb)

… and a half pound of miso ahi.

Miso Ahi Poke from Ono Seafood ($14/lb)
Miso Ahi Poke from Ono Seafood ($14/lb)

As mentioned by Dean-o, my orders were made to order. And though I didn’t say anything about my spiciness preference, the Shoyu Ahi actually had some pretty good kick to it. If you no can handle (Randall), you should ask for mild regardless.

I don’t know if I’d go as far as naming them “The Best Poke in Honolulu” but it was tasty. Made to order care using only fresh fish is tough to beat.

Ono Seafood Products, Inc.
747 Kapahulu Ave, Apt 4
Honolulu, HI 96816 (map)
(808) 732-4806
Mon-Sat: 9am-6pm
Sun: 10am-3pm

Pa`ina Café

A couple years ago, I broke the story about a place opening up in Ward called The Poke Bowl. Well since that time, brothers Derek and Craig Uyehara, along with their partners, moved shop across the street to the Ward Warehouse area. With the move came a larger property and menu (PDF), as well as a name change to Pa`ina Café.

The line outside Pa`ina Café [Photo Credit: Ryan Ozawa]
The line outside Pa`ina Café [Photo Credit: Ryan Ozawa]

If the Poke Bowl is what you’re after, there is actually a science as to how to order. First you choose your size (small or large or extra large), rice (white or brown) and sauce (hot or mild). Then you pick your poke (Spicy Tuna, Shoyu Ahi, Hot Shoyu Ahi, or Limu Ahi), and cover it with one of 10 toppings at 50 cents a piece: Natto, Taegu, Kim Chee, Takuan, Shredded Nori, Fukujinzuke, Pickled Onions, Furikake, Green Onions, or Seaweed Salad.

Small Hot Shoyu Ahi Poke Bowl with Furikake and Seaweed Salad on White Rice
Small Hot Shoyu Ahi Poke Bowl with Furikake and Seaweed Salad on White Rice

Since there are so many options, you can literally go several times and never get the same thing.

One Small Spicy Tuna Poke Bowl with Shredded Nori, Seaweed Salad and Green Onion on White Rice, and one Small Shoyu Ahi Poke Bowl with Pickled Onions and Seaweed Salad on Brown Rice
One Small Spicy Tuna Poke Bowl with Shredded Nori, Seaweed Salad and Green Onion on White Rice, and one Small Shoyu Ahi Poke Bowl with Pickled Onions and Seaweed Salad on Brown Rice

Derek has informed me that they will actually be moving again in August to the nearby location formerly occupied by the Chowder House. Even more space and seating for their loyal and growing following.

Pa`ina Café
1200 Ala Moana Blvd #24
Honolulu, HI 96814 (map)
(808) 356-2829
Mon-Sat: 10am-8pm
Sun: 10am-6pm

Off the Wall

The brother in law told us about this unique, Okinawan joint sitting in the middle of Pearl Kai Shopping Center. Wifey and I checked it out one day and were pleasantly surprised with their eclectic dishes, especially their andagi options: the Shoyu Pork Andagi…

Shoyu Pork Andagi - Crispy andagi batter surrounding a shoyu pork filling. Served with a shoyu pork sauce and yuzu beurre blanc. $3 each
Shoyu Pork Andagi – Crispy andagi batter surrounding a shoyu pork filling. Served with a shoyu pork sauce and yuzu beurre blanc. $3 each

… and their house specialty: the Chocolate Filled Andagi…

Chocolate Filled Andagi $2 each
Chocolate Filled Andagi $2 each

Some notes from their menu regarding the Chocolate Filled Andagi FYI: “Absolutely made nowhere else! Warning: After eating our Andagi we are NOT responsible for any uncontrollable cravings to eat more than one! We cook our andagi to order and it does take some time to make (approx 20-30 min). Please order your andagi at the beginning of your meal.”

Off the Wall also featured many izakaya-type dishes, including a poke one called the “Naked” Spicy Ahi Poke Musubi.


“Naked” Spicy Ahi Poke Musubi – Our poke layered on a bed of furikake rice and drizzled with a spicy aioli. – $8

Off the Wall
Pearl Kai Shopping Center
98-199 Kamehameha Hwy, B-10
Aiea, HI 96701 (map)
(808) 486-9255
Wed, Thu, Fri: 11am-2pm (take out lunch)
Wed, Thu, Sat, Sun: 5pm-9:30pm (dinner and drinks)
Fri: 5pm-2am (dinner and drinks)
Mon, Tue: Closed

JJ Seafoods

Another name mentioned in my informal survey was a place in Kaneohe called JJ Seafoods. Since I don’t spend nearly as much time on the Windward side as I should, I wasn’t exactly familiar with this place. I did though, remember driving by their very unique looking pink building many a time.

JJ Seafoods in Kaneohe
JJ Seafoods in Kaneohe

It’s not a large place in the slightest. Very mom and pops-ish, which I love.

Inside JJ Seafoods
Inside JJ Seafoods

We were off to a party in the ‘hood so we had to pick up at least two pounds. Unfortunately, we were strolling in just as they were closing and they were all out of their Shoyu Ahi. To our delight, they were willing to mix a fresh batch just for us to go along with our Tako Poke.

Tako Poke from JJ Seafoods ($11.99/lb)
Tako Poke from JJ Seafoods ($11.99/lb)

Ahi Shoyu Poke from JJ Seafoods ($11.99/lb)
Ahi Shoyu Poke from JJ Seafoods ($11.99/lb)

Go and support small, family-run businesses like JJ Seafoods k?

JJ Seafoods
45-726 Kamehameha Highway
Kaneohe, HI 96744
(808) 236-4987

Kahuku Superette

Back in high school, I used to dread seeing “Kahuku” on our basketball schedule. Not only were they good and likely to wipe the floor with us, the bus ride over was a killer in itself. (There’s only so many times one can listen to Boyz II Men on the Walkman. 😛 ) Now that I live somewhat closer to the north shore of Oahu and, more importantly, have my own car, taking that drive, like Rocky says, “ain’t so bad!”

Outside Kahuku Superette
Outside Kahuku Superette

Inside you’ll find your typical superette, complete with groceries and various knickknacks, but head to the back of the store and you’ll find a setup that’s uber popular.

Inside Kahuku Superette
Inside Kahuku Superette

In addition to poke, Kahuku Superette also sells boiled peanuts, seafood salad, and various meats (like kalbi, teriyaki pork chop, chicken bbq and Korean cooked beef), by the pound. You can purchase your poke by the pound, on its own ($9.99/lb), or in a bowl ($9.99/lb + $1, $1.50, or $1.75 for the small, medium or large sizes).

Small Ahi Shoyu Poke Bowl from Kahuku Superette ($9.99/lb + $1)
Small Ahi Shoyu Poke Bowl from Kahuku Superette ($9.99/lb + $1)

(Ed’s Tip: If you can help it, I would recommend eating right away if you get the bowl version. Reason being, the rice is mega hot, so it actually cooks the cold poke on top just a tad.)

Here’s a cross section of the poke bowl.

Side view of the small Ahi Shoyu Poke Bowl from Kahuku Superette ($9.99/lb + $1)
Side view of the small Ahi Shoyu Poke Bowl from Kahuku Superette ($9.99/lb + $1)

Wifey was particularly impressed with the meticulousness of their system. They actually took the weight of the container itself (before anything was in it), and subtracted that from the weight of the entire dish. Although, miniscule, I commend them for being that honest and fair about their pricing.

We also got half a pound of their Ahi Limu Poke.

Ahi Limu Poke ($9.99/lb)
Ahi Limu Poke ($9.99/lb)

Oddly enough, ther Ahi Limu Poke tasted pre-frozen, though their Ahi Shoyu (on the rice) did not. Not sure if it was just a time of day situation or if their Ahi Limu is always pre-frozen (or they serve fresh fish in the bowls only?), but just a head’s up.

Kahuku Superette
56-505 Kamehameha Hwy
Kahuku, HI 96731 (map)
(808) 293-9878

And that’s it! Five amazing months of meeting and eating everything and everyone poke. When we return, I’m hoping to hit up other popular places like Alicia’s, Ruger Market, Tamura’s, Marujyu Market, Monarch Seafoods, Inc., Masa & Joyce, Young’s Fish Market, and Da Pokeman, among others, but until then, kick back, relax and poke it up brah! Hope you enjoyed the series up until this point! Wow, I think I might get a little emotional here. Queue Island Rhythms…

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