Kaukau Hawaiian Style at Young's Fish Market

Ask those in-the-know where to get the best Hawaiian food on Oahu, and chances are the names that pop-up will be Helena’s (Kalihi), Haili’s (Kaka’ako), Ono’s (Kapahulu), Highway Inn (Waipahu) and what we have here at Young’s Fish Market.

Young’s Fish Market is located in City Square Center on Dillingham boulevard in the Kapalama area of Kalihi.

Sidetracking just a bit, also in City Square Center is this hotel furniture liquidator warehouse…

Arcade Shoppes – former home of Grocery Outlet and future home of Chuck E Cheese

This business will soon be replaced by Chuck E Cheese, who will be relocating from their original location in Aina Haina Shopping Center to this larger, high-ceiling space. The Honolulu City & County’s main DMV office is located on the side of this front portion of the center, hence the name “City Square”.

Adjacent to here in the main parking lot are a stretch of non-restaurant type businesses in this section…

There’s Kalihi Pet Center on this end, and to my surprise, a Koolau Farmers garden shop on the opposite end. They’ve been a fixture in Kaneohe (across Windward City Shopping Center) ever since I was a kid! Is this a second location for them? They have a rather spacious live plant area on the side of the store, in an area between their building and the back building (where the restaurants are).

That building on the far end with the CITY FINANCIAL blue sign on the side is where all the restaurants – including Young’s – are located. Those restaurants include Sugoi Bento, Chong’s (Korean) Bar-B-Q, Utage (Okinawan), Young’s Fish Market, and where Kapiolani Coffee Shop (famous Oxtail Soup) moved out, this new Vietnamese restaurant named HA LONG NOODLE HOUSE…

I took a peak inside and also got a take-out menu, which the owner was so friendly and welcoming, I almost changed my mind and ate there! Check out this super cool art deco wall prop of a bowl of Pho…

The restaurant was decorated beautifully as well, carrying that contemporary art deco theme throughout. The menu is very similar to Bac Nam. That being the case (as well as the friendly owner), I am DEFINITELY coming here ASAP!

OK, enough sidetracking, we stay hungry ar’ready. Time fo’ hit Young’s!…

I was going to ask Alan Young (da’ ownah) if I could take pictures inside the place, but he was really busy and the timing didn’t seem right. Next time (and there will be, believe me!).

So what you wen’ o’dah?

First of all, Diner A went “rebel” on us (see, he likes to be “different” lol) and ordered Korean from Chong’s (which is a whole nother story), so his dish isn’t going to be included in this write-up.

Diner E went for his regular Young’s favorites, getting a Charsiu Pork and Roasted Turkey Tails plate…

Young’s Fish Market – Turkey Tails, Charsiu, Mac’ Salad & Rice plate, $9.75

Diner E gave his plate a solid 3-SPAM musubi rating, also noting his seal of approval for the Mac’ Salad. AwW-RIGHT! I tried a piece of the Charsiu… winnahz. Nice, sweet glaze on it. Perfect fo’ throw in one bowl saimin!

Diner C just wanted to try one of their Pasteles…

Young’s Fish Market – Pork Pasteles (Puerto Rican), $3.25 each

When you order it ala carte, it comes steam-heated, still wrapped in foil, with a Ti leaf under it…

Here you can see the pork filling inside of the grated banana “masa” casing…

Diner C LOVED it, giving it a solid 5-SPAM Musubi rating with no hesitation! I tried a bite and concur. Up there with the best. I didn’t get a chance to ask if theirs are house-made or supplied from elsewhere, so I’ll guess it’s the former. Only thing, Young’s doesn’t have Gandules Rice and Bacalau Salad to go along with it for that “complete Puerto Rican experience”, with just white rice and mac if you want a complete meal. But ‘das minahz, just buy two of these… ‘nuff!

As you see, Young’s serves up fantastic Chinese (the name ‘Young’ is Chinese after all!) and Puerto Rican dishes, but really, the heart of Young’s Fish Market is Hawaiian.

That said, Diner P (yours truly) went with the Laulau Plate. Unfortunately, for some darned reason the photos I took of the whole plate somehow vanished off my camera’s memory card. I took like 3 shots of it, yet POOF. Gone. Zero. Zip. Nodda. Nottin’. I couldn’t believe it. Ack!

Good thing I took additional shots of each individual items on the plate, so I’ll start with the star of the show, the Laulau!…

Young’s Fish Market – Butterfish Laulau

Young’s Laulau is certainly a competitor for best Laulau on Oahu. It’s up there with Ono Hawaiian Food, going neck-and-neck for first place, IMO.

Here’s a cross-cut view inside…

Wow, that’s a lotta’ butterfish! You can see it just tender, moist and falling off the bones. OMG, just awesome! The luau leaves were also steamed just right, being fork tender, yet not down to mush. It still had some bite to it, which I like. Otherwise, might as well just eat squid luau. lol Oh man, this butterfish laulau is da’ bestestest! Throw little Hawaiian salt on top, whack ‘em, den whack some poi fo’ chase ‘em.. hooo, broke da’ mout’!

Da’ Lomi Salmon…

Young’s Fish Market – Lomi Salmon

I dig how all all the “wet stuff” are packed in separate covered containers. Maikai.

How is it? Ever heard the term “Lomi Tomato”? That’s a joke used when you go to a luau where the caterer skimps and doesn’t give much salted salmon, making the dish mostly diced tomato in a salty brine. This was kinda’ the case here, and the only reason I didn’t give my plate overall a solid 5-SPAM Musubi rating. While it was still ono, and there were evident small bits of shredded salt salmon in it, it was predominantly tomato, along with chopped white and green onions.

Here, try look..

Where’s the beef!? …err… salmon?!

If I didn’t tell what that was, you might just guess it’s Salsa from New York City. lol

Nah but, da’ salty lomi salmon flavah was there, so still, she go. Especially along with everything else.

Da’ Sweet Potato…

Young’s Fish Market – Sweet Potato

The starchy, sweet flavor of the sweet potato compliments beautifully with the savory laulau, pipikaula and salty lomi salmon. The perfect accompaniment with the plate.

Speaking of Pipikaula, here it is…

Young’s Fish Market – Pipikaula

This added the “turf” to go along with the “surf” in the butterfish laulau. Pipikaula is a Hawaiian style cured beef, similar to beef jerky, but not quite as dehydrated and tough as that. In Young’s version, it’s marinated heavily with a Teriyaki (shoyu/sugar) sauce. Another winnah!

Of course the Hawaiian in me opted for Poi (instead of rice)…

Young’s Fish Market – Poi

I’m pretty sure this was Taro Brand, as that’s the brand they also had bags for sale of on the counter. It tasted like Taro brand as well. Fresh too. Also quite generous container size. Enough to accompany that massive laulau and other items on the plate. To me, if you don’t eat Hawaiian food with Poi, poho (waste). Gotta’ be with Poi, or nothing else!

So that Laulau combo plate I just showed you included one (massive) Butterfish Laulau (you can also order Pork and Chicken or Beef for a bit less $), Lomi Salmon, Pipikaula, Sweet Potato and Poi, coming out to $12.62 with tax. That’s actually not bad considering the portions and quality in preparation, also taking into consideration the high cost of the ingredients; the poi being especially market-sensitive in that regard.

That was so much food, I only could eat half, saving the rest for a snack later. Winnah-winnah-laulau-dinnah (actually lunch)!

Finally, for dessert Diner AC bought us some Kauai Kulolo…

Young’s Fish Market – Kauai Kulolo, $6.80 ($8.50/pound)

Kulolo is like a “Hawaiian Mochi”. with a similar profile to it, being glutenous, but not with that much “pull” like mochi. More starchy. Here’s how it looks unwrapped…

Here’s a cross-cut view..

Id say it tastes like sweetened poi with coconut milk mixed in it, except instead of being paste-like, it’s in a more hardened form, with a lightly grainy texture to it.

This Kauai Kulolo is AWESOME! Broke ‘da mout’! Ono! Solid 5-SPAM Musubi from me. The only way it could be better is if you got it fresh out of the oven.

Well, that wraps up our grinds from Young’s on this particular visit today.

For your convenience, here’s a PDF download of Young’s Fish Market current menu (current as of 9/25/08)…

Young’s Fish Market menu (2-page PDF document)

The cover says “Prices current as of March 1997”, but don’t mind that. I took the cover from the old menu (that’s how long we’ve been going here!) and scanned it along with the current take-out menu given to us today. If you print it, just cross that out and put “September 2008” in there manually. Hawaiian ohana (family) style.

Young’s Fish Market
1210 Dillingham Blvd.
Tel. 841-4885

Business hours:
8am-5:30pm Mon-Fri
8am-4pm Sat
Closed on Sun

Related links:
Kapalama City Square Grindz – The Tasty Island
Young’s Fish Market Adapts to Stay Afloat – The Honolulu Advertiser
Young’s Fish Market – Yelp user reviews

8/25/09 post edit: My girlfriend picked up a Laulau Plate from Young’s yesterday…

Young’s Fish Market – Laulau Plate, $12.05

The Laulau plate includes their famous Laulau, Lomi Salmon, Pipikaula, Sweet Potato and Poi or Rice

Here’s a closer look inside the Laulau…

This laulau was steam-cooked to perfection, not leaving any unwelcome itching in the throat, while also not being too soggy either. It was also seasoned with Hawaiian Salt just right, while the pork and butterfish inside was so tender and ONO! The Lomi Salmon was also perfect. Their Pipikaula is pretty good, although a little too sweet for my liking.

All in all a solid 4-SPAM Musubi Laulau plate.


10 thoughts on “Kaukau Hawaiian Style at Young's Fish Market

  1. My mother used to work for Mr. Young at his Liliha location many years ago.
    Making laulau and many other things. He taught her well in many of his recipes. Which I learn also for my family to enjoy here in California.

  2. Oh my Gawwwd, everything looks so ono. I love, too, how you describe the surrounding area ’cause I tend to get lost easily and knowing what to look for really helps. Kauai Kulolo, here I come!

  3. My aunt use to worked for the now late Mr. Young at Liliha location which not there any more. Now more food added on more better for all. Kulolo is not easy to find and they having it great.

  4. me too. I want kulolo so much I sent relatives after it. But…*sigh* it’s hard to find . I wish you’d do a recipe or something and tell people how to make it (with mainland ingredients)

  5. My mother used to have a restaurant in Kapahulu called Daruma Shokudo
    and she made potato-mac-tuna saled only on weekends and gets sold
    out before lunch. The best way to eat mac salad is sprinkle with soy sauce,broke da mouth !!! Her secret to making mac salad is marinate the mac overnight with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Next day put in God’s gift (best Food mayo), the tuna (optional) and flavor according to
    your taste buds.

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