Happy New Year and Hawaii Feasting in Review

Update 2021: Sadly both Ming's Chinese Restaurant and Raging Crab are no longer in business.

I can't believe it's nearly the end of January and this is my first post of the year. I got back from my holiday vacations at home in Hawaii and got thrown into the thick of things, this little thing called life, and I feel like this is the first time I can come up for a breather. So let's start this year off with something I often do, a recap of things I ate while in Hawaii. There are some favorites I've shared before (like the Tempura and Spicy Chicken Kara'age Donburi shown below) and some new things that I'd never had before. Enjoy and may this be just the start of delicious things for 2014.

Tempura and Spicy Chicken Kara'age
from Kahala Sushi at Zippy's

Let's start with some favorites. One of the things that I look forward to in Hawaii is the plate lunch - our kind of fast food. You can find them everywhere - at local chains, hole in the wall places that only locals know about, and everywhere in between. The standards on the plate are two scoops (of) rice and mac salad - we like our carbs. The rest can vary from teri beef, beef stew, beef curry or chili to kal bi, bbq chicken, or chicken katsu. Vegetables are rarely represented unless they're in something like a stew or for decoration. And at most places you can get a mixed plate of whatever two things you want. You pick up a plate lunch, head to the beach, and watch the waves while you eat - there's nothing better.

Teri pork plate from Rainbow's
Roast pork plate from Rainbow's
Chicken katsu, roast pork mixed plate from L&L Drive-Inn
Korean fried chicken from Zippy's
(my sister doesn't like rice so she gets fries)
Zip-Pac Bento from Zippy's with fried chicken,
Spam, teri beef and furikake rice
Fried rice loco moco from Big City Diner - fried rice topped
with a hamburger patty, fried egg, and gravy all over

There are variations of these dishes throughout the islands. There are those that will argue over where you'll find the best beef stew or chicken katsu or any number of things. These are the foods I definitely look forward to when I go home.

Now for something new. My cousin invited us to a family dinner at Ming's Chinese Restaurant, a Shanghainese restaurant in Kalihi. I have probably driven by this place several times and never noticed it sitting quietly on the corner of a strip mall. I didn't get many pictures at that meal because we were enjoying everything so much. Along with xiao long bao we had two dishes that I really enjoyed:

Pork belly and glutinous rice steamed in bamboo
Steamed soft tofu with shrimp

Now a few more things to share starting with oyster sauce chicken cake noodles. I love cake noodles and I've talked about them before. We went back to Jun Bo for my fix.

We also went to Raging Crab a restaurant that makes a crab boil with a twist - seafood steamed in butter with a mix of Asian and Cajun spices. It's a get in with your hands, get dirty, and enjoy every bit of delicious food kind of place - but probably not a first date place :) We were introduced to a similar restaurant, the Boiling Crab, when we visited our good friend in California. It's probably not for everyone but we love it.

King crab, snow crab, mussels, clams, corn,
potatoes and sausage in spicy Asian Cajun butter

We also went to Tanaka Saimin where I was planning to get a big bowl of ramen, I was distracted by their ramen burger and I knew I had to try it. It comes with a side bowl of dashi broth and they tell you to cut it in quarters and dip the burger in the dashi. They also tell you it's quite messy - which it is. In the end I ate the ramen bun separately in the dashi. It was delicious but I'm not sure that I'd order it again.

Ramen burger with American cheese and watercress

And to wrap things up, just two more things. First, I have a love/hate relationship with the KCC Farmer's Market. It really irks me how many people are there. It's great that it's that popular and successful but it makes it so difficult to get to the things I want. But I love that I can find uniquely Hawaii things like kulolo - a Hawaiian dessert made with taro and coconut. Here are a few things we got on our visit:

And last but not least, some of the things we had at our New Year's Eve dinner - foods from different countries together on one table. Among the things we had include (from top to bottom) fried oysters, Korean mundoo, somen salad, smoked chicken, and hasu (lotus root). We also had Okinawan Sweet Potato & Haupia Pie for dessert.

Now that I've gone through that recap I'm craving so many foods, most that I can't readily get here in the frozen Northeast. I'll just have to wait for my next trip home.

Related Articles:

Hawaii Feasting: Mostly Maui

Hawaii Feasting - a week in review