Author Archives: Aaron K

// Broke da mout!

Broke da mout (pidgin, aka hawai’ian slang) – Delicious.

This past weekend was a blur. Meeting family member after family member, it’s a wonder I was able to get out and get a taste of local flavor before heading back to LA. Thanks to my younger cousin tho, I managed to slip out and sample one thing that is definitely Hawai’ian. Kalua pork.

So driving around, enjoying my few hours of freedom, I tell my cousin I wanna try this local flavor. She takes me to this one local joint called Kuhio Grille. Walking in, it doesnt seem like anything special. Pretty typical hawai’ian local eatery, complete with fairly minimal decoration and a few tables with large locals chowing down on their food.

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We sit down and get the menu, and I immediately see this section.

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Kanakatak it is. Just the name of it makes it sound like that plate will attack and destroy hunger! So my cousin orders her keiki min (child’s portion of saimin, or hawai’ian style ramen. Keiki is hawai’ian for “child”). Yea. I know. She, like the my all my other cousins (who happen to be women), doesn’t eat much. All of my uncles eat like monsters tho, which explains a LOT.

Being a local restaurant and because of the location, I didnt expect much. I mean cmon, where the heck are they going to keep an underground oven large enough for a whole pig in the area? When the plate came out, I still didn’t know what to expect so I tried to keep my expectations low. Better to be pleasantly surprised than thoroughly disappointed, ya?

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One Pound Lau Lau - The Kanakatak!

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Keiki min. Hawai'ian twist on ramen. Notice the spam?

Yea. That’s spam in the keiki min. I might add, Spam is CHEAP in Hawai’i. At the local walmart, the regular going price of spam was $1.67. On my plate above (in clockwise order), Poi (a starchy paste made from a relative of the taro root), shredded beef, rice, kalua pork, onions, lomi salmon (salsa-ish mix, with chunks of salmon), and in the middle, haupia (a coconut based dessert with the consistency of jello).

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Kalua Pork

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Kalua Pork, up close and absolutely broke da mout!

I was very pleasantly surprised by every aspect of this plate with one exception. The poi (the purple stuff) takes some getting used to, and I wasn’t used to it. But I tried it anyway as my cousin showed me, by taking an onion and dipping it into the poi. Interesting combination, interesting mix of flavors, but not for me. At least, not yet. The shredded beef was a little salty, but still good. But the highlight of the plate was indeed the pork. I’m drooling thinking about it as I type. Maybe I’ll go hit up this one hawai’ian joint in Monterey Park and try the pork there.

Afterwards, we had to get some dessert. My cousin blurted out “Shaved ice!” I was asking myself “shaved ice? wth kind of dessert is just some ice in a cone with syrup?”

We go to this part of Hilo that’s just a string of shops with tourist-friendly stores. Among which, we walk in here.

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I walk out with

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If you’ve had shaved ice in LA, you’ll know that it’s smaller than what I’m holding and that the ice sort of globs up into chunks of ice that you sort of have to chew through. Not so with this place. Every bite is like eating a piece of cloud, with every bit of soft ice melting completely to leave nothing but flavor on your tongue. No chunks! And if you get the deluxe cone, there’s a scoop of vanilla ice cream at the bottom that you an enjoy mixed in w/ whatever flavors you might’ve gotten. I got the strawberry and sour apple. Also, this was the SMALL cone.

Day 2.

With my cousin having left for Honolulu that morning, I was left to fend for myself in exploring this strange area. So I took my uncle’s car, fired up Google maps and yelp mobile, and took off in search of another local eat. I ended up in the same area, and at this place called Hilo Cafe. Most reviews on yelp were pretty favorable, and walking in, the decor was pretty chiq, with a decent bar and layout that reminded me of some of the more lower-upscale joints around LA.

The menu was drastically different than Kuhio Grille’s. Plate combinations reminded me of trends that could be seen in LA. For example, here’s the plate I ended up choosing.

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Kalua Pork with Side Salad

There are a couple things wrong w/ this picture though not all evident at first glance. First problem was with the pork. Traditional kalua pork should be roasted/smoked in an oven. NOT grilled. The immediate problem with this was that while chewing through some of the pork, I ended up biting into an entire section of raw pork. Now, I shouldn’t need to go into detail about what’s wrong with that. But at $17 for this plate, TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE. The salad, with it’s bacon bits and blue cheese and green asian dressing, was actually the highlight of this meal. I left the place in a hurry leaving the raw pork in the middle of the plate. I wanted to leave a negative tip if possible. And not to mention, service was mediocre at best. Yelp, you’ve failed me yet again, and Hilo Cafe, so have you.

To make up for the disaster at Hilo Cafe, I walked over to the 7-11 near my grandma’s pad in Hilo and picked up a katsu spam musubi. These are pretty clutch when you need a snack.

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Unfortunately, that’s all I got to try of the local flavors during my trip. Besides the above, I was mostly fed typical korean food at my aunt and uncle’s place. And at the wedding, typical catered food, so nothing new.

Knowing I have relatives in Honolulu I can stay with on trips, there’ll definitely be more island editions (hopefully sooner than later).

If you’re ever in Hilo, I would definitely recommend Kuhio Grille and you definitely need to try the deluxe shaved ice at Wilsons by The Bay.

Kuhio Grille

111 E Puainako St
# 106A

Hilo, HI 96720

(808) 959-2336


Wilsons By The Bay

224 Kamehameha Ave
Hilo, HI 96720

(808) 969-9191

Eat well, Live Well
-fooddude.

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//Curry Style

I ended up at UCLA today earlier this evening having to scope out a location for an event this Saturday. After all that traffic and walking around the UCLA campus with my brother, hunger happened like whoa. DUN DUN DUNNNNNNNNN. Well, honestly, you might ask “Aaron, when does hunger NOT happen to you?” which is true. I’m always at differnt levels of hunger. But what to eat at the moment? Westwood has a myriad places to eat, all of them good to varying degrees. Noodle Planet? Saks? Yamato? In N Out? Corner Deli? Zankou? Furaibo?

After driving around for a bit, earning glances from eager meter maids and overzealous cops on bicycles, I thought “F this bullcrap!” and headed over to good ol’ Sawtelle.

It’s always a toss-up when it comes to curry on Sawtelle. Hurry Curry or Curry House? It didn’t help that I passed by the parking entrance to Hurry Curry while thinking about this. Curry House it was.

One thing I appreciate about Curry House is that they usually has a rotating menu of experimental curry combinations. Some are a hit, some are a miss. Here’s today’s experiment. Seafood and Sausage curry (extra hot, of course).

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Seafood and Sausage Curry, Extra Hot

Strips of squid, scallops, beans, thai chili peppers, and sausage all topped with shredded green onion, corn, and tomato. Interesting mix, but sadly not too interesting tastewise. Not to say this wasn’t good; Curry House curry is pretty good. This combination was a daring step into the unknown, and I appreciate this place for taking those steps. And no, this place’s “extra hot” tries but fails to register any real heat to me, even with eating the thai chili peppers.

My brother got the Menchi Katsu Curry, which is basically hamburger katsu with curry. Basic plate that can’t go wrong. No description necessary (or so I think. If you want more detail, let me know and I’ll gladly go “refresh my memory” by paying Curry House another visit).

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Menchi Katsu Curry

Their regular curry is up there, though my personal preference is more towards Hurry Curry. The immediate difference between the two curry houses is the portion size. Curry House gives you just a little more, or so I believe. The service here is spotty sometimes. Today’s service was awesome. Last time I went, our group of eight was behind this translucent wall and we were hunting for servers all night. As far as parking goes, Curry House’s plaza has underground parking which makes it a little more easier to go to.For you dessert freaks, there’s also a Yogurtland and Beard Papas in the same plaza.

Good ol’ Sawtelle. Not too much variety though so I can’t head there often. If you like curry, there’s a Curry House in Little Tokyo too (along with orochon, daikokuya, shabu shabu, zencu, fatville lil tokyo, etc). The environment is different out on Sawtelle. Something about that area makes eating the same thing a different experience, and for that I’d gladly take a short trip out here, even if it’s just for some curry.

And Apologies for not being able to post in a while. It’s been a busy week, and it’s only getting busier. I thought I’d take a break and drop some taste on you in the form of a rich golden sauce commonly known as curry. My thoughts have been all over the place these days so pardon if this entry jumped around a bit.

Curry House
2130
Sawtelle Blvd # 200
Los Angeles

(310) 479-8477

Eat well, Live well.

-tfd

Chicken Fu – Dak Galbi style.

Sunday night. I was just waking up from a nap I needed in recovery of a hectic Saturday night and my appetite started kicking in. A quick check on the blackberry shows a few missed calls and bbms (btw, if you haven’t tried out the unoffical bbm 5.0, try it now). I start the round of callbacks and the first person happens to ask me if I want to try dakgalbi.

Although I’ve heard many of my friends talk about dakgalbi (roughly translates to chicken ribs), I’ve never had the opportunity to go. CS mentioned it was her favorite place for chicken so naturally I was curious as to what her tastes were like. Yea, screw calling back the rest of these people. I’m gonna go eat dakgalbi!

When I’d got to the restaurant, CS had already ordered and the dakgalbi was already on the grill. At first glance, it didn’t seem like much. Then again, I would’ve been happy eating whatever was thrown at me at this point, cooked or raw.

dakgalbi 7-19-09(Pictured: chicken, rice cake, carrots, and sweet potato)

At this point, I’m collecting my drool in a cup of ice because I’m growing hungrier by the second (I exaggerate, but I sure as hell could have). Salmonella, which is one of the very few food-related things I fear, prevents me from just taking samples as the chicken cooks. After a few more minutes on the pan, the server comes by and adds a few more ingredients.

dakgalbi2 7-19-09(Cabbage, onions, and chili sauce in the mix)

dakgalbi 3 7-19-09(Sesame leaves and green onion joins the party)

And, in it’s somewhat finished state,

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At this place, they come by when you’re almost done and make bokkumbap out of some of your “leftovers.” This extra touch isn’t exclusive to this location, but it’s nice to know they put in that little extra.

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For two people, I think we did a fair amount of damage. I’m not as prone to my old ways of eating monstrous amounts as I used to be, so there were some leftovers.

And now here I am. Still needing to call back some people, but fairly satiated. I’d taken a few bits of food off the Dino’s I picked up for my brother while meeting Danny there.

This place reasonably hit the spot. It was ok. Worth a try, but honestly I can’t say it was something to rave over. It was nice how we could specify the spice level of the food (CS learned that I wasn’t kidding when I told her I can eat pretty spicy, to a level some of you might be well aware of). The sides were average, as was the service. Everyone else in the restaurant (two other tables) got aprons except us. I have to wonder if it’s because I was dressed so comfortably in my basketball shorts and t-shirt while everyone else was in their khakis and polos.

Now I really want to try the other dakgalbi place a couple people mentioned, just to see how good this can get. There’s nothing I can really compare this to so there wont be any rating on my scale, for now.

Dakgalbi (Sign is only in Korean)
3078 W Olympic Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90006

Parking is street/metered/valet.

Average cost per person: $20

Eat well, live well.

-Aaron aka thefooddude