Another Great Saturday at KCC Farmers' Market

As you may have read in my previous post on Kona Coast Abalone, yesterday I paid yet another visit to the always impressive KCC Farmers’ Market.

This popular open market event is held every Saturday from 7:30 to 11:00am in the makai (ocean)-side parking lot at Kapiolani Community College at the foot of Daimond Head. Most of the vendors there are regulars, while there’s always a few new or occasional folks offering their goods on any given weekend.

Following are photos I took of just a few of the many wonderful made or grown-in-Hawaii food products offered from various vendors for sale on this particular Saturday morning. Enjoy.

Papayas are by far the most widely sold fruit at this market…

If there’s one thing I want this Christmas, it’s this…

Forget them canned or bagged Macadamia Nuts, these fresh-cracked slow-roasted Macs are as fresh and “snappy” as they get!…

Kate Wagner of StarPoint Cafe resources as much local and organic ingredients as possible, and many (but not all) of her pastries and other baked goods are sugar-free, using Agave as its sweetener, making them very popular with people who are diabetic or have other dietary restrictions. The following pastries and baked goods are from StarPoint Cafe.

Pineapple and Mandarin Orange Scones, Whole Grain Scones and Strawberry Scones…

Danish CinnamonRolls…

Truffle Brownies and  Carnival Bars….

Fruit Bars…

Hot Cross Buns…

Pecan Maple Cheesecake…

Chocolate and Red Velvet Cake…

Walnut Craisin Wholewheat Bread loaves…

Here Kate shows off a Cacao fruit pod from her family’s Cacao farm on the Big Island…

Now the fabulous Salmon Fried Rice from Ohana Seafood…

Salmon and Saba Fried Rice Bento Boxes…

North Shore Farms’ AMAZING Pesto Neapolitan Pizza…

North Shore Farms also makes the Mozzarella Cheese that goes on these jewels….

Next up is India Cafe…

Man, looking at that, I sure could go for a bowl of Indian Curry on Jasmin Rice right about now!

Grandma G’s…

What would an outdoor event in Hawaii be without Shave Ice!…

When dad handed this Rainbow Shave Ice to his daughter, her immediate reaction following the first bite was pure jubilation and she literally jumped with joy. Was sooo cute!…

Finally, a look once again at the (grilled) Kona Coast Abalone…

So what did I end up buying on this visit yesteday? Because you know, shopping at the KCC Farmers’ Market  is all about impulse, never premeditated. At least for me.

Well, as you may recall, I sampled the Grilled Kona Coast Abalone….

Those have now been added to my KCCFM must-eat list. That along with North Shore Farm’s Pesto Neapolitan Pizza is another thing I couldn’t leave without…

The fresh basil is limp only because I had it sitting in the package for over an hour. But it still TASTED AWESOME. I still say this is by far THE BEST PIZZA ON OAHU. Period.

Partially because of the wonderfully toasted and seasoned crust…

And of course that flavor-packed pesto, homemade, very creamy Mozzarella Cheese and those fruity-fresh and fragrant North Shore Farms Tomatoes, with the fresh basil rounding it all out…

Most pizza I can only eat 2 or maybe 3 slices at the most and I’ve had enough. Not this Pizza. I seriously think I could whack an entire pie of this stuff. Seriously, it’s that good.

My girlfriend loves Salmon, so I got her a Salmon Bento from New Wave Kitchen…

Finally, with all the fresh papayas being sold all over the place at the market there, I just had to come home with two of my own. So I picked the Non-GMO (Non-Genetically-Modified Organisms) Kahuku Papayas from Chinen Farms…

The woman running the Chinen Farms stand pointed out to me that the two papayas I chose were FEMALE. She explained that the way you can tell that is that “a female papaya is like a real woman (female): they can stand on their own (notice how it stands on its bottom end and doesn’t fall over), and that they require a lot of patience (to ripen), but they’re very much worth the wait (to eat).” I swear to God, that’s exactly what she told me! And I know exactly where she’s coming from. lol So we’ll give these two young ladies a few days and they’ll be ready.

I’ll sign off this post with a photo of a Hawaiian Monk Seal I caught napping on Diamond Head Beach yesterday morning…

To the tune of the nursery rhyme song “Rock-A-Bye Baby”…

“Rock-a-bye monk seal on a beach front. When the sand blows you sneeze and you grunt.
When the wave breaks, it rushes up and wets your hair. And all the people do is they stop and they stare.”

Well, doesn’t look like I’ll be making a living writing nursery rhymes for sea mammals anytime soon. lol

Kona Coast Abalone

Stopped by the KCC Farmers’ Market once again on a beautiful, sunny Saturday morning today where I decided to try the Kona Coast Abalone.

Live Kona Coast ‘Ezo’ Abalone (moving and squirming around)

These ‘Ezo’ or Northern Japan Abalone are raised exclusively on the big island of Hawaii by Big Island Abalone Corporation and shipped to finer restaurants, specialty retailers and distributors in Japan, the mainland US and all over the Hawaiian islands.

While being self-promotional, this YouTube video about the Big Island Abalone Corporation is never the less very interesting. Check it out…


At KCC Farmers Market, you can buy these Kona Coast Abalone in precooked giftbox sets, or as a “Farmer’s Market Special” a bag of 5 small-sized  live Abalone sells for $10.

And believe me, they’re alive and moving ‘n squirming around in there.

But the biggest seller at Big Island Abalone’s booth at KCC Farmers Market are the Barbecued Abalone…

Here they are all cleaned and ready to hit the fire…

Here’s a whole heap of ’em right off the grill…

These sell for $6 per two 50-60 gram fully-cooked Abalone.

Grilled 50-60 gram Kona Coast Abalone (with optional Shoyu drizzle). 2 for $6

They’re not seasoned at all when put on the grill except for their natural briny flavor from the pumped Kona coast deep sea water they’re raised in. There’s a condiment station at the service counter where they have Shoyu, spray butter, Lemon Juice and Tobasco Sauce. I asked if they had Ponzu Sauce and the girl said they ran out. Darned it.

I lucked out, as I decided to get my Abalone right before closing time (11am), so they were offering an even sweeter deal, giving 3 grilled Abalone for $6. Nice!

Here’s my three Grilled Kona Coast Abalone…

I asked the girl which condiment was her favorite and she said simply lemon juice. I decided to do a “sampler”, putting lemon juice on the one on the left, Spray Butter on the center Abalone, and Shoyu on the one on the right.

Here’s a shot of me holding one (with Shoyu on it) so you can get a scale of how big they are…

They’re already shucked, so you can easily pull it out of the shell and just eat away…

Like all shellfish, the physical design of the Abalone is almost alien-like from another planet (Venus perhaps? lol)…

Here’s the underside or “foot”…

Why the underside of this one looks entirely different from the one above is beyond me….

Could one of these Abalone be male and the other female?  I wish I had those folks around when I was eating them so I could ask these questions.

Here you see how they’re shucked and really easy to pull of the shell…

So that’s how they look. Now let’s have a taste!…

As said earlier, there’s an ocean-like briny flavor to it, yet not where it’s “fishy” but more “clammy”. I’d say they taste like a cross between a clam and a scallop, with a bit more “meatyness” to its flavor profile. Texture-wise, they’re quite dense and not as fibrous as scallops. They’re tender and tough at the same time in a good way, just like a beautiful woman. It’s a nifty balance of the two.

The grilling (not “barbecue” which is what they mistakenly call it) didn’t really impart much smoked flavor, but it did have a slightly toasty texture on the top side of the “meat”.

As for the three different condiments, my favorite by far was the Shoyu. It added this flavor-packed “Umami” factor to it. I also noticed the Shoyu really absorbed well into the Abalone’s meat. It didn’t just “float” around it. It was even better when all the juices from the condiments blended together: the butter, the lemon juice and the shoyu, really tantalizing my tastebuds.

Rating? 4 SPAM Musubi. Oishii! I highly recommend you go with Shoyu as your Grilled Kona Coast Abalone condiment of choice. Or you can “Ponzu-ize” it by adding some lemon juice to it as well. That’s a winnah’ right there.

The Kona Coast Abalone’s shells are just as fascinating, with this beautiful “Mother of Pearl” iridescence on the inside. These are the cleaned shells from the Abalone I ordered (which are included with the Grilled Abalone!)…

The topsides…

Without even “Googling” for it, I can certainly imagine so many culinary possibilities with this Abalone product. Wrapped in Puff Pastry. Served like Escargot with Garlic Herb Butter. Tossed with Pasta. “Stuffed” with a Lobster Tail. Gumbo. New England Abalone Chowder. Oh, the possibilities!

Next time you hit KCC Farmers Market, I highly recommend you sample the Grilled (not barbecued) Kona Coast Abalone. Good stuff!

First Bite: 'The Soul Patrol' by Chef Sean Priester

The Honolulu Advertiser’s Metromix Honolulu team has been on a roll lately with their “Who Makes It Best in Honolulu” series (that’s “Honolulu” repeated three times already lol), with the latest “shootout” being “Who makes Honolulu’s best fried chicken?” (that’s four now).

Just prior to that, they held a “Who makes the best poke?” shootout, with a follow-up segment to that due to many readers protesting the results. Funny enough, I was one of the readers who protested, saying that they left out who I think is the reigning “King of Poke”, Ono Seafood on Kapahulu avenue (not to be confused with Ono Hawaiian Foods down the street). Sure enough, they went to try it, and in that foll0w-up round 2 they voted Ono Seafood the “Best Poke in Honolulu“! All I can say is, “I told you so”. lol

I still have a gripe with them on voting Violet’s Grill as having “The Best Saimin” (with Oxtails in it!), but that’s another story for another day. lol

Anyhow, today we’re talking about the winner of Metromix’s “Honolulu’s Best Fried Chicken” award, which points us to restaurateur, culinary savant and celebrated chef Sean Priester and his latest project, the ‘Soul Patrol’. While I’m not sure if past American Idol winner Taylor Hicks has registered “Soul Patrol” under copyright, there’s no denying Chef Priester’s lunch wagon is the TRUE ‘Soul Patrol’!

As in what may arguably be the BEST darned Soul Food you can find this side of the southern US. Well, at least in the middle of the Pacific.

Like many locals who were born and raised in Hawaii, I have little to ZERO exposure to TRUE good ole’ southern cooking, save for some recipes we use here that are clear adaptations from the region. My late (English-Hawaiian) grandmother for one made this amazing fried chicken with white gravy that surely has roots from the south. But that’s as far as I’ll even try to go in describing the cuisine, lest someone hurl a full pan of cornbread ‘n grits at me. lol

Chef Priester’s soul is in the food, while the “patrol” part is his lunchwagon…

Got Soul? Check. Got Food? Check…

Rounding out the urban “ambiance” where the “Soul Patrol” lunchwagon is located, you’ll be greeted by R&B and other related hits played through the boom box pointing out the lunchwagon’s front door. Very nice.

Personally I think music and food go hand-in-hand, and I really appreciate when eateries use music to enhance and immerse their customers in the style of cuisine they’re serving. When I’m eating Hawaiian food, I wanna’ hear Hawaiian music. Same for Greek, Mexican, Indian and so on. You know what I’m sayin’. Even if it’s from a place as casual (and takeout) as this lunchwagon, having both the music and the food be “served” together makes it that much more an “experience” than just a necessity of the day. Now that’s what you call SOUL.

Speaking of which, without further ado, here’s Chef Sean Priester workin’ it…

Chef mentioned his business was VERY BRISK in the last few days due to the exposure from that Metromix article, especially with fried chicken sales, having selling out well before closing time each day. Diner E and myself learned that lesson the hard way the last time over at Ethel’s Grill, who were also featured on Metromix. At that time, we had taken their advice and gone to Ethel’s, only to discover the hype had caused a virtual ONSLAUGHT of customers. This caused an unanticipated back-up in their very small kitchen and ultimately caused a big delay (as in one hour wait)  in us getting our order.

So this time having lesson-learned, I called the ‘Soul Patrol’ ahead of time and RESERVED three Fried Chicken Plates for us, lest we get there and it would all be SOLD OUT.

Of course there’s much more to Soul Food than fried chicken. Here’s The Soul Patrol’s menu for the day…

Shoots! I forgot to get the Southern Sweet Iced Tea. Darned it. I heard that stuff is really, really good. That’s OK, as from our first impression of the grindz here, we’ll be back again and again and again and again and again! I so got dibs on that Fried Catfish with Hushpuppies plate as well!

But we were here today for the first time to sample The Soul Patrol’s Fried Chicken,  just to “validate” whether Metromix REALLY knows what they’re (tasting and) talking about. So we all got the same plate, which actually isn’t listed on the menu above. It’s what they call their “Southern Sampler Plate with One Piece Buttermilk Fried Chicken”…

The Soul Patrol Southern Sampler with 1 Piece Chicken – Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Vegetarian Chili with Black Eyed Peas, Organic Collard Greens, Honey-Cilantro Coleslaw and “Sweet Corn” Cornbread. $8

The Soul Patrol Southern Sampler with 1 Piece Chicken (another one) – Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Vegetarian Chili with Black Eyed Peas, Organic Collard Greens, Honey-Cilantro Coleslaw and “Sweet Corn” Cornbread. $8

The Soul Patrol Southern Sampler with 1 Piece Chicken (and yet another one) – Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Vegetarian Chili with Black Eyed Peas, Organic Collard Greens, Honey-Cilantro Coleslaw and “Sweet Corn” Cornbread. $8

Brah, does that look ONO or what?!!! I wish I had one more plate in front of me to eat right now! And what a bargain for all that variety of stuff!

If one piece of Chicken isn’t enough for you, for $9 you can get The Soul Patrol Southern Sampler Plate with two pieces of chicken. This I found out after we already got back with our plates. Shucks, I wish I knew that when we ordered. I think Chef doesn’t want to put that on the menu though, as he’d probably run out of chicken too quickly if everyone ordered that. Still, that extra piece of chicken would have come in handy for snackin’ later!

If you just want the Buttermilk Chicken, Chef sells them at two for $5, which is a bit pricey, but hey, if you want “The Best”, why not?

Notice the food’s served on eco-friendly “green” (actually tan) 100% biodegradable recycled cardboard clamshell containers…

Even the the “Spork” (Spoon-Fork) they provide is 100% biodegradable. Further saving the environment, they don’t offer plastic bags to carry your food away; t’s BYOB here (bring your own bag; but you can bring booze too, just don’ t drink in public lol).

Ok, let’s take a closer look at each item, beginning with the star of the show, the Buttermilk Fried Chicken…

Take a look at the color and texture of that batter. You just KNOW that’s gonna’ be some good eats even before taking one bite!

Now the Vegetarian Chili…

Looks hearty and full-bodied. Thick enough where the chili can be plated in the same area with the cornbread without soaking right through it, but actually just “kissing it”. Love that metaphor.

Certainly the most unusual dish for us Hawaii folks with little exposure to this style of cuisine are Collard Greens…

For added flavor, there’s sparse bits of bacon (or pork of some form) that’s mixed in it.

Now the Honey-Cilantro Coleslaw…

Cilantro in Coleslaw? As you’ll soon read, it’s BRILLIANT.

Last but certainly not least, we have Chef Priester’s AWESOME “Sweet Corn” Cornbread…

Well. It’s time to chow! (or whatever they say in the south for “Time fo’ grind!”)

Let’s start with the Vegetarian Chili…

Dig, dig, DIG the perfectly al dente Black Eyed Peas in it (I like the band as well). “I’m a be” chillin’ with Chef Sean’s Chili. This stuff is “dope”! Seriously, what I like most about it is that it’s the chili flavor is on the  mild side; much more so than say Zippy’s, and much more so than Richie’s. It’s more “tomatoey” if you will. While there’s some other complex flavor components that make this chili 100% unique. I’ve never had a chili like this before. Never. But I will again, and that will be from right here at The Soul Patrol, as I’m giving his Vegetarian Chili with Black Eyed Peas 4 SPAM Musubi.

Now let’s sample the “Sweet Corn” Cornbread…

You know what I love about this cornbread besides everything? Everything. It’s very buttery, sweet but not too sweet, yet also having a savory element to it. There’s like this interesting smokey aroma to its flavor profile. Perhaps because he bakes in cast iron? Not sure as I didn’t ask.  Really though, my favorite thing about this Cornbread is its TEXTURE. Very mealy, with bits of corn kernels mixed in that you can feel as you bite into it. The thick cornmeal granules provide this pleasant looseness and chewiness at the same time as you bite into it. 5 SPAM Musubi for Chef Priester’s “Sweet Corn” Cornbread.

Now take some of that awesome cornbread and some of that fantastic “B.E.P.” chili and eat it together from the spoon at the same time? Braddah! Broke’ da mout’ winnahz! So ono! The PERFECT combo. With that, it would be safe to say if you order just the Chili and Cornbread for $5 you CANNOT GO WRONG. Marriage made in heaven with plenty of SOUL fo’ sho’!

OK, let’s really get some SOUL in us and sample the Collard Greens…

Delicious! I love it, love it, love it. It’s like spinach but a little more “woodsy” if you will. It tastes like it’s coated with either butter and/or light olive oil, or some kind of “fat”. The bacon or whatever pork chef mixes in while cooking it imparts that flavor, but not heavily. I was expecting it maybe having a smoky hamhock-like flavor, but it didn’t. You mostly taste the Collard Green, which is how it should be. I’ll give Chef Sean’s Collard Greens 4 SPAM Musubi.

Moving along, let’s sample the Honey-Cilantro Coleslaw…

Another winnah! Winner, winner coleslaw…. oh never mind, that phrase is WAY overused already. lol As simple as it sounds, the Cilantro (a.k.a. Chinese Parsley) adds a fantastic “3rd dimension” to what would have otherwise tasted like any other coleslaw, while providing this refreshing “snap” to it. All I can say is next time you make coleslaw, set aside a small batch and add chopped Cilantro to it. I think you’ll agree with me in thinking “Duh?! Why hasn’t coleslaw been made this way from day ONE!”. I suppose my only complaint with this coleslaw is it’s a bit runny, but that’s really the nature of it when it’s been sitting for a while (as in being served out of  a lunchwagon). Yet at least it’s not like eating a glob of mayo’. Chef’s slaw is definitely not over-mayo’d at all. I’ll just leave in saying I’ll give Chef’s Honey-Cilantro Coleslaw 4 SPAM Musubi. Less runny and it would be easy 5.

Finally, as Metromix so proclaims, let’s taste for ourselves whether ‘The Soul Patrol’ makes “Honolulu’s Best Fried Chicken” and are deserving of this very prestigious award…

OK, they’re right. This is the BEST. Metromix, this time you FINALLY got it right. FINALLY! lol Just kidding.

Seriously, while I haven’t had the luxury like they did of trying ten (or more) different places to compare this to, I’ve  had some KFC  and Zippy’s Chicken in the last couple months, and can easily say this beats them. I won’t say it blows ’em out of the water, as FWIW, I won’t knock how much I love the Colonel’s 11 secret herbs ‘n spices. And FWIW (for what it’s worth), Zippy’s makes a mighty fine “Cardiologist’s Bird” themselves. Especially when combined with their Chili.

The great thing here is that the VERY crispy skin on this Fried Chicken has this unusual way of sticking to the chicken meat beneath it. It doesn’t just pull off so easily as you bite through it. So as you’re eating it, you get a piece of the mega-tasty ‘n “GBD” crispy skin along with the meat beneath it in just about every bite. Not da’ kine where da’ skin pulls off and all you get is plain ‘n oily chicken meat aftah’ dat. You know da’ kine, eh?

Of course if you want to, you can pull the skin off, but if you do that, you’re eating the wrong dish.

Actually I take that back, as assuming Chef is soaking these chicken in Buttermilk, I’m also assuming he uses a bunch of herbs and spices (including Cinnamon?) of his own in that marinade, as even the chicken meat under the skin permeates with flavor. Deep flavor. It doesn’t taste like plain chicken, but a flavored chicken. A really ono one at that!

And even though these Buttermilk Fried Chicken are prefried (not cooked to order) before Chef heads out with the wagon, they’ were still super moist ‘n tender when they arrived at the lunch table. You can just see it in those bite-through photos shown above. And the’re cooked properly and all the way through with no bloody spots. At least all our pieces were perfectly cooked like that.

So yes, I’ll admit it this time anyway. Or until I get a chance myself to try all the other places, Metromix, you’re right. So far as I can tell, ‘The Soul Patrol’ makes “Honolulu’s Best Fried Chicken”. Especially, and I emphasize ESPECIALLY when accompanied with the AMAZING sides this chicken is served with. THAT’s where the magic happens.

I’d say eating The Soul Patrol’s “Southern Sampler Plate” is similar in experience to eating a Hawaiian Luau plate. You know how everything magically ties together when you have your Laulau, Kalua Pig, Chicken Long Rice, Squid Luau, Lomi Salmon, Poke, Raw Crab, Dry Aku, Opihi, Pipikaula, Haupia, Kulolo, Sweet Onion and Poi all together on one dish? It’s the same thing with this. The Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Collard Greens, Honey-Cilantro Coleslaw and “Sweetcorn” Cornbread is that very same “marriage made in heaven” dining experience.

Diner “Saimin Kaukau” E enjoyed his plate so much, that he POLISHED IT…

For that I’m giving Chef Priester’s ‘Soul Patrol’ Southern Sampler Plate with 1 Piece Buttermilk Fried Chicken 5 SPAM Musubi. I was going to give it 4, considering the food wasn’t hot enough, but most lunchwagons suffer that problem, as it’s just the nature of trying to keep food warm without overcooking in their warmers. Not to mention the 10 minute drive it took to reach our office and sit down and eat it.

But when I take into account once again how the wonderful marriage of flavors every dish had as they came together, and how much care he put into each and every one of those dishes, it’s a 5.  Add to that the rarity of good ‘ole Southern Soul Cookin’ here on Oahu, and it’s an easy 5. Easy.

The Soul Patrol’s “Sampler Plate” just has that “wow” fact. That “it” factor”. That simply said “Damned this is freekin’ DELICIOUS!” factor! I said the same thing about Chef Priester’s dishes when he was the Executive Chef at Top of Waikiki, and while he may not be at the Top of Waikiki anymore,  he’s still at the top of his game… now with more SOUL than ever!

First impression? I’d EASILY say ‘The Soul Patrol’ by Chef Sean Priester is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Soul Patrol by Chef Sean Priester
Lunch wagon currently operates (as of March 2010) on Kawaiahao Street
between Cooke and South streets,
Tuesdays through Thursdays from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Chef Priester also operates as Pacific Soul Cuisine at Manoa Marketplace
on Sundays from 8 a.m.–1 p.m, Blaisdell Farmers’ Market on Wednesdays,
4–7 p.m. and Kapiolani Community College and Kailua farmers’ markets once a month.

Reach Chef Sean Priester at 808-542-8749 or follow him on Twitter at: PacificSoul

Or visit his website at

The Tasty Island rating (first impression):

(5) Superb. Worthy of repeat visits or purchases. (Broke Da’ Mout’!)

Related Links:
360º View at the Top of Waikiki – The Tasty Island
Who makes the best fried chicken? – Metromix (Honolulu Advertiser)
The Soul Patrol – Yelp user reviews

P.S. Here’s Metromix Honolulu’s pick for top 10 “Best Fried Chicken”:

#10) The Pastele Shop
#9) KJ’s Local Grindz
#8) Tanioka’s Seafood & Catering
#7) St. Louis Drive Inn
#6) Zippy’s
#5) Queen’s BBQ
#4) Max’s of Manila
#3) Ray’s Cafe
#2) Nolbunae
#1) Pacific Soul (The Soul Patrol)

Metromix says: “Sean Priester’s chicken closely edged out Nolbunae because it had stronger flavor and did exciting, memorable things to our tongue. Looks like the secret ingredient in fabulous fried chicken must be cinnamon, based on the top two.”

Now if they only tried Bac Nam’s Stuffed Chicken Wings. That’s a tough one to beat, although it wouldn’t be fair, as that’s a sort of different “animal” if you will.

Finally, here’s a (stitched) panoramic photo of Maunalua Bay taken last weekend near “China Walls” in Portlock (Hawaii Kai)…

Click on photo to enlarge;  use your browswer scroll bar to pan across.

First Bite: Shakey's Pizza Parlor in Waipahu

Diner A and his ohana made a first-time visit to the newly-opened Shakey’s Pizza Parlor in Waipahu Town Center this past Sunday evening, and left fairly satisfied by their first impression.

Being a new and exciting restaurant — add to that the nostalgia factor (which will be explained in a bit) —  it’s no surprise Shakey’s was PACKED, even on a Sunday night. Luckily they were able to get a booth without a problem.

Wait, booth you say? One of the most memorable things I remember about the “old school” Shakey’s were their communal style wooden bench tables and seating. LONG tables and benches.

How do I remember that? Well, Shakey’s was once a very popular Pizza chain on Oahu back in the 60’s up until somewhere around 1980 when they finally pulled out. Back then, Shakey’s had locations in Waimalu, Waipahu, Honolulu (where Sorabol now is) and, yes, in my hometown of Kaneohe.

Another key feature I remember about the old Shakey’s was the window in front where you could watch the Pizza chef prepare and spin the dough, tossing and spinning it in the air. Which as you may imagine for very young keiki like me and pals at the time, was absolutely CAPTIVATING. Add to that, back then when we didn’t have the likes of Pizza Huts, Domino’s or Papa John’s, and Shakey’s was really the only game in town at the time. So pizza was a novelty for just about everyone.

Do I remember how good (or bad?) Shakey’s Pizza tasted back then? Heck no. You could probably give a 5 year old ketchup on toast with a little cheese melted on it and tell them that’s pizza and they’d run off with it as a happy camper. lol

What other things about the “old school” Shakey’s in Kaneohe do I remember? Not much, as I was way too young. Just the small arcade room in the back, which being during the “pre video game era”, most of the games there were electronically-scored mechanical Pinball Machines and I think one Skee-ball game. Some folks mentioned they had a live Banjo Player, which I think I VAGUELY can remember the Kaneohe location did indeed have one.

Location-wise, Shakey’s Kaneohe was formerly on the lot on the makai side corner of Kamehameha Hwy. and Lilipuna Rd., across the street from American Savings Bank (corner of Kamehemeha Hwy. and Kahuhipa St.), which back in the day was HonFed. Remember that bank? Talk about OLD SCHOOL!

Fast-forward to Shakey’s 2010, they’re back with a fresh and modern look…

Decor-wise, the only thing  I also VAGUELY remember is that the Kaneohe location had high ceilings (perhaps with ceiling fans) and was very “rustic”. Perhaps a brick house tavern or pub look, but I can’t specifically recall. Gosh, I wish I had photos!

I’m just VERY DISAPPOINTED this new Shakey’s doesn’t feature the “window” in front showcasing Pizza cooks/chefs spinning fresh dough. Us kids REALLY loved watching them do that.  According to Diner E, the only window is a “view” of the kitchen in back, which is about chest-high from an adult’s vantage point, and that’s about it.  Boo!

While not available for dinner, Shakey’s offers an all-you-can-eat lunchtime buffet for $12.99. This includes Pizza, Pasta and a Salad Bar, which are presented on this (at the time vacant during dinner) buffet station…

The dining room is surrounded by booth seating…

While in the center are open tables that can be arranged into one or however many connected tables your party requires. This is where the nostalgia comes into play, as that I suppose is their 2010 “modular” answer to the circa 1965 communal-length wooden bench tables and chairs.

There’s also a number of big screen TVs throughout the place broadcasting live sports, so once beer and wine service kick, this place can act as part sports bar as well; except sans the bar, as there is none.

Just like the old school setup, the new school Shakey’s continues the tradition of keeping the keiki (and keiki at heart) entertained with an arcade room in back…

Don’t mind the “smiley” faces on those folks. They aren’t “Pizza Parlor robbers” or anything like that. That’s  just Diner A’s wife and son (anonymously) enjoying some of the game room action. They sure LOOK happy! lol Oh, the games are $1 each via tokens.

This is the arcade room’s prize redemption counter…

Man, I wish I could rewind the clock and be 5 years old again. That would be SO AWESOME. Damned it. lol

Moving on to the GRINDZ.

The way the system works here is that there’s a menu board that greets you just as you enter. But don’t dwell there yet. Diner A recommends before deciding what you want to order to first go hunt for an open table, have someone in your party sit there and reserve your table, while you go back to the menu board in front and decide what to get.

After that, you go to the front service counter and place your order and pay, to which they’ll give you an electronic tracker “key” with a number on it. Then you go back to your table and stick this electronic tracker key (lucky #13)  in a puka (hole) on the top of this contraption (where it says “3 easy steps”). This in turn tells the food runner which table you’re sitting at so he/she knows where to bring your order when it’s ready. This electronic key tracking “contraption” looks like this…

Pretty cool. Perhaps they’ll one day introduce an iPhone App’ for Shakey’s Pizza Parlor customers, so they won’t need to use this, but will be able to have their order delivered wherever they or their iPhone are located. Shoots, I bet that already exists!

There’s no host/hostess or wait service here, but strictly self-serve, along with a manager on duty to make sure you know what’s going on.  The only personalized service you’ll receive are food runners who bring you your order.

Need another drink? All self-serve. Need more food? Go back to the order counter, place your order, get another tracker tag, and return to your table and the food runners will bring it to you when it’s ready.

Speaking of drinks, while not yet available, draft beer and wine service will be coming soon.

With that, Diner A’s gang decided to try ‘Shakey’s Special’ Pizza…

Shakey’s Special™ – Salami, Pepperoni, Italian Sausage, Seasoned Ground Beef, Mushrooms and Black Olives. $22 large size ($14.99 medium; $7.99 small)

Diner A noted that he wanted the ‘Thick Crust’, but was told they were sold out of that style and only had ‘Thin Crust’. Can’t they just take two ‘Thin Crust’ dough, combine it together and make a ‘Thick Crust’? Nah, that would throw of their inventory numbers. Common’ now, this is franchise involving corporate. Gotta’ keep the number “right”. Tell that to a mom ‘n pop Pizzeria and they’d probably have the mob aftah’ yah’. lol

Accompanying their ‘Shakey’s Special’ was a side of their ‘Mojo’s’…

Mojo’s – Sliced Potatoes, lightly battered and fried to golden brown. $2.99 half order ($4.99 full order)

Rounding out their dinner, some Wings…

Spicy Wings with Ranch Sauce. $10.99/8 pieces

Here’s a closer look at each one of that on a plate…

An even closer look at that what I would have aptly named “Meatlover’s Pie”…

A bite-through view of the ‘Mojo’s’…

So what’s the verdict?

Pretty good, but certainly not “The World’s Greatest Pizza” as they declare on their menu.

He said the thin crust had a great toasty “thing” goin’ on, while having good rigidity and substance; not being soggy or saggy in the center  (which thin crusts can suffer from for various reasons). While he has yet to try Shakey’s ‘Thick Crust’, until then, he’s giving “Best Chain Pizza” to Pizza Hut’s Deep Dish model, which is one of my faves for sure!

Oddly enough, he says the Marinara sauce tasted a bit on the sweet side. Not where it ruined it, but enough where you noticed it. Which has me asking you folks who’ve been to Shakey’s recently whether you had that same impression. I’m curious.

Along with that toasty thin crust, the generous toppings certainly satisfied their pizza hunger, with that one large pie more than enough for the four of them (2 adult, 1 teen and one child). I’m personally (at least vicariously) digging all them olives and ‘shrooms tossed on there!

As for the ‘Mojos’, they were very tender inside the fairly-thin scallop-sliced potatoes, and golden-crispy-fresh-made outside, or “GBD” (golden-brown-delicious), with just a mild hint of spicy seasoning mixed in the batter coating. Diner A did say the Ranch Dipping sauce from the Wings was a big help kickin’ it up. While they enjoyed it, he thinks for the extra price, the ‘Mojo Supreme’ with all the Nacho style toppings would be the way to go next time around.

The wings had a sweet honey glaze to it, while being tender inside, but he didn’t necessarily say juicy. Although he could be wrong, he thinks they’re shipped frozen and baked (not deep-fried) to order. Definitely not made from scratch, which is nearly impossible to find at franchise operations. It’s just the nature of the business. Everything from the dough to the sauce to the sides are all centrally-made and shipped out frozen.

Overall, considering the clean, fresh and modern theme, family-fun atmosphere, the nostalgia factor (for Diner A and his wife as adults who grew up and remember the original here in Hawaii), overall good-yet-not-great pizza and sides and fair prices, they give the new Shakey’s in Waipahu 3 SPAM Musubi.

Shakey’s Pizza Parlor
Waipahu Town Center
94-060 Farrington Hwy #D3
Waipahu, HI 96797

Tel. (808) 677-1919

Shakey’s Waipahu location menu (<—click to download PDF)

P.S. Diner A’s Shakey’s Pizza “Doggy Bag” (or should we call it “Banjo Bag”)….

Reader's Corner: Top Maui Restaurants 2010

Molly Jacobson, one half of the husband and wife team behind ‘Top Maui Restaurants 2010’, recently sent me a digital copy of their new book to check out, and I must say, it’s a mighty fine piece of work. A lot of work. And a lot of EATING!

Hence they’ve proclaimed the contents as “Indispensable Advice from Experts Who Live, Play & Eat on Maui”.

This is really great actually, as I repeatedly get emails from visitors planning a trip to Hawaii asking for personal recommendations of where to eat, not just on Oahu, but other islands as well. Now I can simply point those heading to Maui to this book.

Their tagline “From Thrifty to Four Star” certainly holds true, as they review just about every type of eatery on the Valley Isle. From the local diners, drive ins and dives (hey, that sounds familiar), to restaurants that are sure to hand you a check at the end of the meal as big as the humpback whales breaching offshore of the oceanfront view you just got through enjoying.

‘Top Maui Restaurants 2010′ is very thorough, well organized and easy to navigate. The table of contents in front lists all of the nearly 200 Maui restaurant reviews and their corresponding pages in the alphabetical order that they’re placed in the book.  While the Index in back also includes the restaurants’ page locations, as well as a number of key names and words you might specifically be seeking out; e.g. “birthday”, “Luau”, “nightlife” or “wedding”.

They do note that while they’ve been able to fit nearly 200 restaurant reviews in this book, there’s about 400 restaurants total in Maui, so nearly half had to be left out, including a notable one I’ll mention later.

While I may have my “non-mathematical” off-the-cuff SPAM Musubi Rating System, their rating system is much more structured into the usual sets of criteria found on most restaurant reviews out there. This includes Food, Ambiance, Service, Heart (that’s a unique one!), Value (a.k.a. “Return on Investment” or ROI), and OVERALL. They present this in this easy-to-glance-at icon method…

The “Love” criteria is explained as “how much love we feel a kitchen cooks into the food.” Going on to explain it’s “primarly experiential” and you “know it when you feel it, just like the emotion of love towards a person”. I like that. I’ll have to start factoring that into my SPAM Musubi rating system.

Each criteria has a range of 1 to 5 stars, with 5 being best (of course). Although they do note that no restaurant has had the luck of receiving a 5 star overall rating. Yet. Hence the “Thrifty to Four Star” (and not five) tagline. They also note that although the average overall score may be low or average due to say poor service or ambiance, they sometimes still give it the Top Restaurant award just based on very good FOOD. Fair enough. That’s kinda’ how I am with my SPAM Musubi rating system. In fact, I’m giving this book an extra SPAM Musubi just for this!

Further enhancing this review book’s user-friendly interface are a set of icons representing the ‘Amenities’ offered at each establishment…

The only point of interest I think is missing is an ATTIRE (practically naked/casual/business casual (aloha shirt)/formal) icon(s).

Then again, ah’, you stay on Maui for cryin’ out loud, so you can fine dine at Spago in t-shirt, shorts and rubbah slippahz, no worries. G-String Bikini and Speedos? Why not? Shoots, Wolfgang is from Europe. That’s the style there!  lol

There’s two other key icons that will point you towards which restaurants were most favorable by authors Molly and James Jacobson. Representing their highest praise and recommendation are restaurants who are awarded the TROPHY icon, such as here at Paia Fish Market…

One step down from that, yet still worth considering a visit “for certain things” are restaurants awarded the Medal Ribbon icon…

The only thing a little confusing here is that even though some restaurants are awarded the Medal Ribbon icon, they still kind of bash the place, which as you see they’re doing here at Buzz’s Wharf.

The authors explain, while they only wanted to include the “best of the best” restaurants on Maui in their book (which makes sense considering its title), due to popular demand through emails and comments on their blog, they had to include even those that aren’t in that league. With that, the restaurants reviewed in this book that don’t either have the Trophy or Medal Ribbon icon are considered “not recommended” by them. Such as here at Tasty Crust…

As you can read in that particular review, they’re brutally honest, which is certainly appreciated. No sugar coating here whatsoever, regardless of any “hype” a restaurant may receive by others, as Tasty Crust normally gets regarding their hotcakes. I’ve been there myself and can pretty much agree with this review.

Just those three snippets of reviews gives you an idea of how thorough they are and how much they really know about the restaurant. You can really tell they’ve really been to all these restaurants a number of times. Which is what it would take to have that much detailed information, tips and actual dining experience they share in each and every review.

In the forward section on ‘FYI: How We Review Restaurants’, they explain three key rules they’ve followed when visiting each restaurant:

#1 is that EVERY RESTAURANT HAS BEEN VISITED AT LEAST TWICE. Sometimes 3 or more times. This, to ensure they’re giving the restaurant a fair review and not just catching them at either a really good or really bad time. Which you all know is the dynamics of the restaurant industry. I totally understand that.

#2 is that they PAY FOR EVERY MEAL. No comps. This way there’s no conflict of interest and they’re not obligated to give higher ratings. I totally understand that as well. Been in that situation before. With that, the authors say they’ve spent nearly a half-million dollars in eating out expenses building their review portfolio for this publication. Wow.

#3 is that they DINE UNDERCOVER. They don’t want to be recognized as restaurant critics by the staff, lest they receive better than “normal” or “average” food and/or service. Which is easy for them, as they don’t take pictures of the restaurant or food like I do. In fact there’s NO photos of the restaurants or their dishes in this book. None whatsoever. It’s all text reviews.

Of course, this being print media, page “real estate” is at a prime, and had they included photographs, there’d either be half as many reviews they could fit, or the book would have to be twice (or more) as long or thick to fit every review and the photos.

For web media, there’s not really any “real estate” limitations on any given page (at least not for me). Therefore my food blogging ideology is “look first, read later, or read about what looks interesting”, therefore I like to use photographs to tell a thousand words. So on rule #3 about ‘Dining Undercover’, I really can’t do that, as I always usually ask for permission from the owner or staff when taking photos in restaurants, having to explain to them that I have a food blog (which some of the older folks don’t know what the HELL a “food blog” is lol). Otherwise they think I’m either a health inspector or spy from a competitor. Seriously.

Back to the book, other features include ‘Top Maui Tips’, including recommendations for visitors on where to go shopping for groceries, visitor activies, local food explanations and driving tips.I’m a little disappointed they didn’t include Ah Fook’s in this section, as there’s groceries and other products at Ah Fook’s that are either unique to them or hard to find anywhere else on Maui or this state for that matter.

I’m also disappointed Sam Sato’s wasn’t included. Booo! Well anyhow, filling in that void, I’ll take the liberty of giving Sam Sato’s a “TROPHY” icon. Same for Ah Fook’s.

Finally there’s an ‘Easy Reference’ section in back which includes: Top Ten Meals on Maui and Recommended Restaurants by Food Craving, Location and Budget. Personally I think they could have left most of this part out and used those precious pages for photographs.

It also would have been nice if they could have at least included a “sampler menu” (like choose 2 or 3 of “the best” apps, entrees and desserts) from each restaurant’s full menu in the book. After location, the next thing people want to see when seeking restaurant information is the MENU. And even the web is still challenged in that regard, as many restaurants are operated by people who aren’t web savvy.

My only concern with publications like this is that the information can often be obsolete even before it leaves the press and hits store shelves. The internet is quickly making print media (and printed documents) a thing of the past. You just can’t beat the web for getting the most up-to-date information and critique on ANYTHING, including restaurants, no matter where they’re located in this world. Food blogs and Yelp are a prime example of that.The authors even admit to this, suggesting in various places throughout to “stay up to date” by visiting their blog at

Still, if I were to pretend the electricity and/or the internet suddenly went down, as a “foodie” (or someone just looking for a good place to eat), I’d be more than happy having this book as my guide. Or perhaps you know someone living on or visiting Maui who doesn’t use a computer? Then this is PERFECT!

Overall, if the written word is enough for you from the perspective of two seasoned writers and food critics who have certainly walked (and ate) the talk, ‘Top Maui Restaurants 2010’ should satisfy your hunger for seeking out the best that the Valley Isle’s culinary scene has to offer. While lacking any photography,  it makes up for that with a very user-friendly interface and logical organization, wealth of valuable information, insider tips and well written, detailed, personal “human” side given with each review.

Just “thumbing” through it, I already have a few places they’ve recommended that I’m DEFINITELY checking out on my next trip this year back to Maui!

What? 2010 Top Maui Restaurants – From Thrifty to Four Stars
Who is the author? James Jacobson & Molly Jacobson
Who is the publisher and what year was it published? Maui Media, LLC, Copyright 2010
Where did you buy it and how much did it cost? Online digital copy $17 @ *Free copy provided for this review (But I’m not biased. The rating I’m giving is honestly my opinion of it.)
Big Shaka to: Very well written and organized. A WEALTH of information and insider tips on each restaurant, with a personal “human side” given in each review. Maui.
No shaka to: Not including Ah Fook’s and Sam Sato’s. How dare! No photographs. Would have been nice if they provided at least a “sampler menu” to get an idea what each restaurant offers. Limitations of print media.
The Tasty Island rating: 4 SPAM Musubi (excellent)

Check out James and Molly’s blog at

Honolulu Travel Tips

Grindz of the Day: Tanioka's Goteborg & Fish Patty Musubi

Diner A picked up a bento from Tanioka’s in Waipahu the other day, where from along with that, he brought a couple musubi to share with us.

So Tanioka’s is doing Goteborg Musubi now, eh? I wonder where they got that idea from? Hmmmm. Any chance they’re offering a Poke Bowl as well? After all, they are well known for their poke, which I must say, theirs is up there with the best.

Goteborg Musubi from Tanioka’s Seafood & Catering

Notice for Tanioka’s take the on Goteborg Musubi, they form the musubi rice in the traditional extruded triangle shape, then sprinkle it generously with Goma Furikake (sesame seaweed seasoning). Then instead of the Goteborg Sausage acting as the foundational base underneath it, they cap it with it.

In comparison, here’s how the folks from Kauai (where this unique musubi is known to have originated from) do it…

“Jobos” Goteborg Musubi from The Poke Bowl (now DBA Pa’ina Cafe in Ward Warehouse)

See, so they’re each “DIFFEFRENT BUT DA’ SAME”. lol Actually I have to admit, I kinda’ preferred the more compressed texture of the rice in Tanioka’s version, as well as the much more generous sprinkling of Furikake on it. Not knocking the Oahu-from-Kauai original, Poke Bowl’s “Jobos” version though, as that one ROCKS as well.

In case  you never heard of Goteborg Sausage, I’ll once again repost the description: According to this website, Goteborg sausage is described as “Swedish sausage or Goteborg consists of 75% beef and 25% pork. The meat is chopped coarser than cervelat. It is stuffed in beef middle casings and smoked hard. In appearance it is similar to Farmer sausage. Swedish sausage is popular with the Swedish and Norwegian trade”.

I’ll just say it tastes sort of like a “gamey” Salami-meets-summer sausage if you will. Like any other cured or salted meat, frying it just ever-so-lightly really punches out the Goteborg’s flavor.

As for the history of Goteborg Sausage in Hawaii — or the island of Kauai in particular — Tasty Island reader ‘Anahola Tita’ gave the best and most entertaining explanation to date!

Re: Kauai Classic: Goteborg Musubi, Anahola Tita comments:

 OMG Guteberg!  Yummo !!  I am Kaua’i girl born/raised from Anahola Hawaiian Homes … My mom used to work at Kojima Store in Kapa’a–and the meat market in the back of the store was Da Bes’ Meat Market on the island … they were, and still are known for their marinated Kal Bi — and GUTEBERG !!  Already sliced in the perfect 6mm cut, plastic wrapped in foam trays –you can just walk in the store and pick it up in the meat section … along with trays of marinated kal bi … just down the road, literally, at Pono Market, you can get Guteberg Musubi–gotta go early or else sell out … whenever I go back home … those two stops are a must! And of course Hamura’s, Hanamaulu Cafe, and if I can make it to Lawai Store.

I’d like to share what I remember from either someone sharing with me or perhaps reading about, or maybe a combination of both–The History of Guteberg on Kaua’i evidently traces back to GERMANY.  It is a German Sausage or Salami — similar to Italian sausage, etc. — it’s a European-style deli sausage.  It was introduced to the island of Kaua’i when a German Stone Wall builder moved there back in the plantation days, and was hired to build stonewalls for the plantation owners, mostly on the West side of the island — as is evident by all the old, man-made stone walls that are strewn around the island.  The story goes that he introduced the sausage to the plantation owners he was hired by … and they introduced it to the plantation workers — at lunchtime — the one thing that every culture had in common — FOOD … it became customary for all the different cultures to share food … it became sort of a fun way to get to know each other and have respect for different cultures.  People couldn’t speak to each other — they all spoke different languages — so food became a universal language … and that is how they started to learn about each other.  Guteberg was the “Haole” man’s “kokua” or contribution to the lunchtime pot luck.

Anyways–I live on O’ahu now…married with child.  My husband is from NY and looooves Guteberg–he’s part-German…I looooove German sausage…(and Guteberg too…ahem!)–my mom lives with us now…she’s the one that used to work at Kojima’s…gotta have her saussage…so we satisfy our Guteberg urges @ Marukai Dillingham.  Although we found it in other stores, she looooooves the butchers there … and they loooooove her too — she’ll grab a long thing of sausage and walk up to the butcher’s sliding glass windows and press their button … and they slide the door open with big smiles on their faces … and she’s holds the sausage up in front of her — like, facing longways towards them … and she says … “I like ’em t’ick (thick)” … aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahahahahahahahaha !!  Crack Up!!  Yah!!  One Full-On Potagee Gramma asking the butchers at frickin’ Marukai if they can give her “6” — serious !!  She go, “You Can Do 6?” aaaaaaaaaaaaahahahahaha !!  Da guys look at me and dey turn all red — dark-skinned filipinos !!  you can see ’em blushing !! aaaaaaaahahahahaha !!  And they have no idea that my mother has no idea … hahlarious !!  frickin’ cartoons I’m tellin’ you!!  A bunch of deers with no eyes (no eye dear…no idea…never mind)…alrighty then–

btw … having a brain fart right now — wanna address the comment about the difference between UFOs and Flying Saucers …. Das Right !!  ONLY ON KAUAI !!  No other island has Flying Saucers … Kaua’i people know the difference … Kaua’i may be full of spacey people, but the upside of that is, they can tell the difference between UFOs and Flying Saucers … that’s what happens when you live on another planet …

kden — gotta get going — long over due for a visit to marukai…my mom was just saying she hasn’t “had it” in awhile … aaaaaaaaahahahaha!!  aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahahahahahaha !!  hoo boy … classic … hey–at least she’s free entertainment … toodles all !!
Mahalo Anahola Tita! ROFLMAO! That was CLASSIC!

I was hoping maybe Tanioka’s would “surprise” us by poking an Ume in the center of the musubi as a sort of “buried treasure”, but nevah get…
 Summing it up, I give Tanioka’s take on Goteborg Musubi 5 SPAM Musubi. Or should I give it 5 Goteborg Musubi? Now I’m confused. lol
As for Tanioka’s Fish Patty Musubi, as you see in the first photo, unlike their “famous” fish patty served at their okazuya counter, the one for this musubi is shaped rectangular to look like a slice of SPAM. In fact, when I first looked at, I thought it was a SPAM Musubi.
 Slicing it in half, you can see how Tanioka’s grinds the fish meat (not eats it, but grinds it like hamburger lol) really fine…

Tanioka’s Fish Patty Musubi (sliced in half with a Goteborg Musubi next to it)
I LOVE Tanioka’s Fish Patty, and with that I’m also giving Tanioka’s Fish Patty Musubi 5 SPAM Musubi. Or make that 5 Fish Patty Musubi. Sheesh! Now I’m REALLY CONFUSED! LOL

As mentioned earlier, Diner A picked up a bento from Tanioka’s, which he’s been having to eat fish every Friday in observance of Lent. That in mind, he chose a bento that had Tanioka’s famous fish patty, a salmon patty, shrimp tempura and one giant aburage cone sushi…

Tanioka’s Seafood & Catering – Salmon Patty, Fish Patty, Shrimp Tempura and Aburage Cone Sushi Bento. $n/a

Diner A’s rating? 5 SPAM Musubi. Winnah’, winnah’, fish patty dinnah’! Err, lunch that is.

Tanioka’s Seafood & Catering

94-903 Farrington hwy.
Waipahu, Hawaii  96797
Tel. 808-671-3779

The Tasty Island rating:

5 Goteborg Musubi/5 Fish Patty Musubi/5 SPAM Musubi

Wheah' Stay Da' Beef?

McDonald’s ‘Big N’ Tasty’ Burger

Diner A and E picked up a couple burger combo’ meals from Mickey-D’s the other day. Which otherwise would have been a non-event had it not been for a closer inspection of Diner E’s Big Mac that lead us to ask: “Where’s the beef!? Or in pidgin English, “Wheah’ Stay Da’ Beef!?”

Remember that famous Wendy’s television commercial back in the 80’s? If not, here’s a YouTube refresher….


That ‘Big ‘n Tasty’ Burger Diner A is holding up there in the first photo certainly’s got BEEF. Now let’s check out Diner E’s Big Mac…

McDonald’s Big Mac (with one bite taken out)

OK, that side looks fine. But look what’s hiding (or NOT hiding) beneath the bun…

Hah? Eh Ronald, brah, wheah’ stay da’ beef!!!???

Last time we checked, a ROUND-SHAPED BUN was fitted with a ROUND-SHAPED BEEF PATTY. NOT OVAL! Look at how much (saddle) bun area is “naked”! Well, unless all you care to bite into is their “Special Sauce”.

Here from another angle…

And no, Diner E didn’t pull the patty out and eat it by itself so it looks lacking like this. This is exactly how it was shipped!

In comparison, here’s Jack in the Box’s Big Mac knock-off, the ‘Bonus Jack’…

Notice the two beef patties pretty much fill the entire space between the bottom, middle (saddle) and top bun, and it retains this all the way around. Best of all, the ‘Bonus Jack Combo’ was just $3.99 including fries and drink! That offer is no longer available though (I think).

This in comparison to the Big Mac Combo (including large fries and drink) Diner E got that he paid something like $6 or $7 for. For that amount, I’d be screamin’ ‘n yellin’ “Where’s the #@$%in’ beef!!!???” lol

While we’re on the subject of multi-tiered burgers, this Double Cheeseburger from Forty Niner Restaurant in Aiea looks mighty beefy and mighty ONO!…

But I haven’t seen anything more insane than Heart Attack Grill‘s “Quadruple Bypass Burger”….

Not only would they need to take me to my car in a wheelchair after eating that, but they’d also have to help me fill out my will. lol

Really though, I just don’t get the concept of stacking a burger twice or three times the size of your head with stuff, making it IMPOSSIBLE to get your mouth around all in ONE BITE. When I eat a burger, I want to taste EVERY ingredient on every layer together at once. The bun, the sauce, the patty, the cheese and the veggies. Not this kine where I need to take a nibble here and a nibble there. A burger just doesn’t taste COMPLETE when having to be eaten like that. I might as well chop this whole thing up, mix it around in a salad bowl and eat it with a fork.

Teddy’s Bigger Burgers’ biggest burger (wow, how’s that for a run-on) is their 18 oz. “Monster Combo”, which my teenage nephew once gulped down within two or three minutes. I could not believe it. It was a sight to behold.

Speaking of Big Macs and mixing things up, McDonald’s Canada locations have been testing the market recently with a new ‘Mac Snack Wrap’…

As you can clearly see and/or assume, they’ve taken a Big Mac, chucked the buns, and instead wrapped the two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions in what else? Not a Crepe, which you’d think, but a soft warm Tortilla. This, all the way up north in Canada. Brilliant or bust? You make the call.

This reminds me once again of the geniuses at “Taco Town”.

So anyhow, if you see three guys picketing in front of various McDonald’s locations on Oahu holding signs that read “Wheah’ Stay Da’ Beef!!!???”, that would be us — and now you know why. lol