S&S Old Time Island Style Saimin

We complete our three-part “Saimin Series 2011” today with a product review of Sun Noodle’s NEW S&S Old Time Island Style Saimin. This, following the first and second installments of saimin stand reviews over at The Old Saimin House and Palace Saimin, both truly “old school” institutions that’s been serving classic Hawaii Saimin to generations over the decades, dating back to the 1940’s.

As mentioned in the previous “Saimin Series” reviews, I visited “OSH” and “Palace” to reacquaint my palate to what “old school” Hawaii Saimin should taste like.

Those of you who regularly eat the current S&S Saimin, yet remember the older formula, may notice that the current S&S’s broth is essentially a packet of slightly modified Hon-dashi, which is a Bonito-based soup stock. Whereas, if you also visit the local stand stand that still uses  an “old school” broth recipe, you’ll notice the old school saimin broth is based on shrimp, not the bonito-source Katsuobushi. Some may also use a combination of shrimp and katsuobushi, along with kombu, pork, chicken and/or who knows what else, as of course they’ll never give away their broth’s secret recipe!

Well enter Sun Noodles all-new “retro chic” S&S Old Time Island Style Saimin. Where right there on the front of the package it touts a “Traditional Shrimp Soup Base” that’s a “Favorite taste of your past”. Hmm, we shall see about that!

Let’s check out the back of the package, looking specifically at the ingredients…

S&S Old Time Island Island Style Saimin
Soup Base Ingredients: Salt, Sugar, Monosodium Glutamate, Corn Starch, Krill Extract, Soy Sauce (Soy Bean, Wheat, Water), Hydrolized Soy Protein & Flour Enhancer (Nucleic Acid).

Yep, this one’s packin’ the MSG, as it is in just about every other instant noodle soup broth, not to mention the numerous other food products with at least some form of glutamate in it. Which, not surprisingly, one full serving of this Saimin with a packet of the broth powder mixed in the water-based soup will bombard your system with a whoppin’ 2,740mg of sodium, burying the daily value meter dial into the redline at 114%. Good Lord, someone please pass me another Lisinopril tablet. lol

Getting beyond its health “benefits”, as far as flavor factor, notice there’s Krill Extract in it, which is entirely absent in the current “standard” S&S Saimin broth packet, which uses, as mentioned above, Bonito (dried fish powder). Krill are micro-sized shrimp-like crustaceans that swim in huge swarms, with its primary prey being whales, seals, penguins, and of course, humans. As for the shrimp-based broths the local saimin stands make, I’ve heard they use either regular shrimp shells (after the meat has been removed and consumed in other dishes, or dried shrimp, a.k.a. Opae.

Shiro’s Saimin Haven, the home of “everything including the kitchen sink” saimin, should come out with a saimin called “The Donald Trump”, where the broth is made from the shells of Maine Lobster, Alaskan King Crab, Conch and Abalone.  Imagine how that would taste! Sounds interesting, anyway.

Let’s “depackage” it and check out what’s inside…

If weren’t for the broth packets in the shot, you may have thought those were two old mop heads. lol

S&S Old Time Island Island Style Saimin
Ingredients: Enriched Wheat Flour, Water, Salt, Potassium Carbonate, Gluten, Enriched Flour & starch.

Like the dreaded MSG “mega-sodium” in the broth, the noodles use enriched flour, which as you may know is essentially flour that’s been stripped of its fiber, vitamins and minerals to improve shelf life and texture. This “empty calorie” food ingredient plays havoc on your blood sugar levels that can lead to type-2 diabetes and obesity. But that’s another story for another day (even though I just talked about it today lol).

Like nama ramen (fresh noodle instant ramen), you must cook it by boiling these S&S noodles in water for 3-4 minutes and then DRAIN the water, as the water will take out and take on the extra flour and cornstarch that the raw, uncooked noodles are coated in for packaging (so it doesn’t stick together). Before you put the noodles in the boiling water, pour cups (boil six cups total) in your serving bowl, along with the Ebi Dashi powdered soup broth and stir to dilute it.

Here’s how the broth looks in powdered form before getting hit with the boiling-hot water…

Some powdered dashi broths also have dehydrated green onion already mixed in it, but not this one, which is good, as I’d rather add my own fresh toppings and garnish.

Speaking of toppings, I rightfully complained how The Old Saimin House and Palace Saimin, for some reason, didn’t included Kamaboko as a topping in their Saimin, which is even more perplexing considering Okuhara Kamaboko factory is right down the street! WTH???

O.K., O.K., fine then, be like that. I’ll get my OWN Kamaboko, dammmm it! lol

Since I’m now at “Diner P’s Saimin Stand” (my kitchen), I included Okuhara Kamaboko…

Here it is outta’ the package…

Cuting it in half (on the bias), you see I got the one that has the visually appealing swirl in it…

Okuhara also makes the Kamaboko with the built-in wood chopping block base, but I think this one looks better in saimin. They both taste the same though. If you haven’t tasted local Kamaboko before, it’s a steamed Japanese fish cake made with surimi paste, so it tastes very similar to imitation crab, albeit not “stringy” in texture, being more solid and firmly gelatinous. While in taste, it’s a little more salty, and well, not as “crabby”, is the best way I can describe it. It definitely provides a pleasant, contrasting balance alongside the savory, meaty Charsiu (Chinese roast pork) topping, adding that always welcome “surf” with the “turf”.

Getting everything ready for “plating” (actually “bowling” lol), here’s my saimin toppings ‘ garnish spread all prepped and eager for a hot bath in broth…

Whoah, whoah, wait, wait, wait, back the truck up, BACK THE TRUCK UP! Where’s the green onion? Ack! I forgot the green onion! I cannot believe this. I ALWAYS have green onion on me, and this one time I’m doing a saimin review and I don’t have green onion. Daaaaaamm it!

Oh well, at least I have sliced egg omelet, so I suppose that will make up for it, although I’d prefer if it had green onion, too!

Also in this spread is my homemade Charsiu pork, which I made myself using, of all brands, the NOH dehydrated package stuff. But you know what? That stuff is pretty darned good! I was impressed! Once you add the water, it tastes just as good as the liquid bottled stuff. I usually doctor my store-bought Charsiu marinade anyway by adding honey and shoyu to it, which really kicks it up a few notches.

Let’s do this.

Add the hot water to the broth in the serving bowl and stir, boil the nama saimin noodles for 3 minutes and drain, add cooked noodles to hot soup broth in bowl, add toppings and garnish, and voila! S&S’ all-new Old Time Island Style Saimin, featuring Traditional shrimp Soup Base…

That’s a nice presentation, but once again, it SURE IS MISSING SOMETHING WITHOUT THE GREEN ONIONS! But hey, we’ll make due with what we have, after all, saimin was a peasant’s food dish, and surely back in the plantation days, they must have used what little they had in their kitchen to garnish their saimin. I mean, you know, a $1 bunch of green onions is beyond my budget at the moment. lol

Let’s taste the broth, where in this next photo, I took before adding the noodles and toppings…

Ding-ding-ding, have a WINNER! If you want the next best thing to Palace Saimin, this right here is pretty much “Palace in a Package”. It’s no doubt comes across as a “Traditional Shrimp Soup Base” and definitely deserves its “Favorite taste of your past” tagline on the label. Slightly “shrimpy”, slightly savory just like Palace, whereas, where Palace gets its savory element from pork bones, this “retro” S&S Saimin broth gets its savory counter-balance from Shoyu.

On the other hand, if you DON’T like anything that tastes even remotely like shrimp, you won’t like this broth, nor will you like the saimin broth at Forty Niner Restaurant, Old Saimin House and Palace Saimin (to name a few).

For me, I LOVE IT! 5 SPAM Musubi, ’nuff said.

Let’s try the noodles now…

Unlike the OTHER S&S Saimin, which has a much different flavor and texture, the noodles in this S&S Old Time Island Style Saimin seem to be the same one used in Sun Noodle’s “Hawaii’s Original Saimin” featuring “Old Style Oriental Style Noodle”…

Man, Sun Noodle really wants to corner the saimin market, don’t they? That makes THREE different saimin products from the same manufacturer. Not that I’m complaining, as you know how highly I think of their products.

Apparently though, Palace Saimin and The Old Saimin House rather source their noodles from Eagle Noodle Factory, which I’ve been told doesn’t use Potassium or Sodium Carbonate (Kansui) in their noodles. The Kansui is what gives the noodles that “egg-like” flavor, and these sort of have that going on, although thankfully not as much as their Japanese ramen noodles. They’re also a bit more firm and glutenous like Japanese ramen noodle then the relatively more “pasty” noodles from Eagle Noodle Factory served at OSH and Palace. Which of course “Saimin Purists” might scoff at, but me being on the other side of the fence and being a Japanese “Ramen Snob” actually prefer the Kansui element going on in the noodles.  As always, that’s subject to your own personal opinion, of course. 🙂

Let’s hit the Charsiu and Kamaboko in one fell swoop…

The combination of the subtle shrimp flavor from the broth, along with the punch of the Charsiu and mild fishy element from the Kamaboko works EXCELLENT together. The green onion (here I go again on that tangent) really would have hit it outta’ the park, but just these two garnishes alone were fantastic, which I need to have a talk with the owners of OSH and Palace on SERIOUSLY considering adding Kamaboko to their Saimin. It’s a MUST!

Let’s hit the sliced egg omelet…

Oh yea, that’s the icing on the cake, right there, bringing all the meaty toppings into a full circle. Sometimes I put in a sliced boiled egg, which works great too.

Summing it up, solid 5 SPAM Musubi for Sun Noodles all-new “retro chic” Old Time Island Style Saimin. If like or miss Palace Saimin, or your favorite “old School” saimin house, this is as close as you can get to the real deal. The only thing that may come off different are the noodles, that a little more on the side of Japanese ramen, yet don’t get me wrong, it still tastes like Saimin noodles. The broth here is what really nails it.

Oh, one last thing: when you go grocery shopping, don’t forget the Green Onion!

What? S&S Old Time Island Style Saimin
Who makes it? Sun Noodle Company/H&U Inc. Tel. (808) 841-5808
Where can I buy it? Currently at Don Quijote and Times Supermarket Oahu store locations only (call them for more updated info’)
How much does it cost? $1.59 regular price ($1.19 sale price at DQ) for 2-serving 9.5 oz. package
How do I store it? In the refrigerator (up to 1 week) or in the freezer
How do I cook it? Read the instructions
How should I garnish it? Sliced Charsiu Pork, Kamaboko (steamed fish cake), boiled egg or omelet and green onions are the usual toppings, but you can put your entire kitchen pantry in the bowl if you want lol
The Tasty Island rating: 5 SPAM Musubi
Notes: The broth nails it, with it’s subtle hint of shrimp and savoriness. Noodles are a bit firmer and “eggy-er” than traditional saimin noodles in a good way. If you want Palace Saimin in a Package, this is as close as you can get.

For the sake of convenience and comparision, let’s do a sub-review here of Sun Noodle’s OTHER S&S Saimin product that’s been around for DECADES (including before Sun acquired the brand), which includes an even more instant noodle than the already instant nama noodles in the new product…

Unpacking it, you see how much whiter and thinner these noodles are than the new S&S Saimin…

Unlike the new S&S Saimin, where the raw noodles must be boiled SEPARATELY for 3-4 minutes, these here are actually already cooked, requiring you to only heat them up to loosen it by placing in a bowl of boiling hot water for 20 to 30 seconds (from frozen state), then you add the powdered Bonito-based soup broth straight to the same bowl of water with the noodles. You can also mircowave this to prepare it, which is great as a convenient and satisfying lunch at the office, which is why I like to say S&S also must means “Sustenance and Satisfying”.

A-ha, I have green onion topping this one! But now no more da’ egg omelet. Whoah man, da’ sacrifices. lol

Here in heated and served state, you see how much thinner and whiter in color these noodles are…

They’re also more “pasty” and not “eggy” at all like the new S&S Saimin noodle (which is actually the same noodle used in their OTHER saimin product; I know, it gets a little confusing). Personally I prefer the slightly thicker, firmer, subtle egg-like flavor of the new noodle, but this works, especially considering the convenience that it’s already cooked and microwavable.

While I love the new “retro chic” shrimp-based broth, I’ve always enjoyed the Bonito-based broth that’s been served with local package saimin ever since I can remember.

Speaking of broth, here’s the ingredients for the S&S classic…

S&S Saimin “classic”
Soup Base Ingredients: Salt, MSG, Glucose, Powdered Soy Sauce, Powdered Bonito (Dried Fish Powder), Disodium Inosinate and Powdered Seaweed.

And the noodles…

S&S Saimin “classic”
Saimin Noodle Ingredients: Enriched Flour, Water, Salt, Potassium and Sodium, Carbonate, Cornstarch.

What? S&S Saimin “classic”
Who makes it? H&U Inc, DBA Sun Noodle Factory
Where did you buy it and how much did it cost? I forget. I had it in my freezer for a couple a months now, but it’s available at most Hawaii grocery stores in the freezer section.
The Tasty Island rating: 3 SPAM Musubi
Notes: See review above

P.S. If you’re wondering why I changed the “look” of The Tasty Island, is because my original “Tarski” WordPress theme (which I ‘ve been using since day 1) was giving me problems (more like HEADACHES <see photo inset).

So I decided to apply a new theme, using a popular one called “Weaver 2010”, which is much more flexible, in that I can now use sub-themes and manually edit the CSS to really customize it. Over time you may notice I’ll be making changes and tweaks here and there, including experimenting with different colors, fonts, layout, interactive widgets, and of course the all-important masthead design. Hopefully my web host will get with the program and update their PHP on the server, as I think that’s at least partially what’s causing my site to load slowly. If you’re having problems with load speed or access to this website, please let me know.

As always, big mahalo for your readership and cool comments. 🙂

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Kalihi Eats: Palace Saimin

We continue with part 2 of 3 in our current “saimin series”, hot on the heels of the last stop at The Old Saimin House, where we’re here today at Palace Saimin, which is pretty much right across the street from there. King Street that is, in the heart of historic and scenic Kalihi, or as we like to say here at The Tasty Island, “The Center of Hawaii’s Food Universe”, a.k.a. “God’s Country”.

Palace Saimin is located at 1256 North King Street on the mauka side, not far down the street Daimond Head-bound of the Kapalama (Kalihi) Post Office. It’s on the ground floor of a walk-up nondescript apartment building, making it truly a hidden gem that you could easily pass by if you weren’t looking for it.

There’s very limited parking in the front of the building, and this place tends to pack a lunch hour rush crowd, so if you plan to eat here, it’s highly recommended to arrive early if you want a stall. Arrive in the heat of the noon-time lunch hour rush, and chances are you’ll also have to wait in line outside to get a seat inside, where notice they have stools in front, which indicates just how busy they get! Seriously.

Once inside, Like The Old Saimin House — or any hole-in-the-wall gem for that matter — you’ll find a very small dining room that can seat I’d estimate no more than 30 people at a time…

Similar to Hamura’s on Kauai, Palace Saimin has at least one communal table in the center that you share with anyone and everyone who’s there, which I think is great, as you get to meet the Palace Saimin “regulars” (and really nice folks) as I did on my visit.

You notice whenever I review restaurants, along with the food, I also I like to showcase the artwork they decorate with, which truly reflects the owners’ background and interests that they want to share with their customers, family and friends…

Speaking of owners, the history of Palace Saimin goes like this

THE PALACE SAIMIN STORY

Palace Saimin was the vision of Kame Ige, who immigrated from Okinawa in 1924. Mrs. Ige named the restaurant “Palace Saimin” after the Palace Theater on Beretania Street. The shop was opened in 1946 near the theater and the Palace Saimin experience began.

In 1950 Palace Saimin moved next to Tamashiro Market on King Street and again in 1960 to the existing location. In 1975 Mrs. Ige decided to offer the stand to one of her trusted waitresses Felice “Setsuko” Arakaki (“Mama”).

Mrs. Arakaki has been working hard with Mrs. Yoshiko “Aunty Yoshi” Takahashi, (waitress for over 40 years) and the rest of the friendly staff to serve the customers and keep the tradition alive. In 2010 Mrs. Arakaki’s son-in-law agreed to support the business and put forth his best effort to keep the tradition alive. We look forward to keeping Palace Saimin around for the generations of the past to enjoy, and the future generations to experience.

Keeping the tradition alive for generations to come, indeed. In fact, “Aunty Bobo”, a Palace Saimin regular who I met and sat next to on that communal table on one recent visit, told me she’s been coming here regularly for almost 50 years (her whole life). She pointed out the vintage baby chair they still have there is the same chair her daughter sat in when she was just a baby…

Her daughter is now an adult, and now HER baby daughter (Aunty Bobo’s grandaughter) sits in that very same baby chair at Palace Saimin. AWESOME! Passing along the Palace Saimin legacy from generation to generation to generation of loyal ohana (family).

Enjoy central air conditioning? Of course you do. Well, Palace Saimin has that, albeit done the old school way…

Classic! Cool, too, as it sorta’ feels like there’s this tradewind effect swirling around in what would otherwise be a very arid and muggy, closed room environment (no A/C).

Now that we have the history and place covered, let’s check out Palace Saimin’s menu…

That’s pretty darned GREAT prices. Most of which are a bit lower than The Old Saimin House, which was already very good, save for the BBQ Stick, which is 35 cents more here at $2.25 each vs. The Old Saimin House which are $1.90 each. BUT, at least here they really GRILL it! More on that later.

Now you might be asking yourself , “What the heck is “Saidon”?” Well, it’s pretty easy to figure out: SAI(min)+(u)DON=SAIDON. Which is essentially Palace’ Saimin, along with the much fatter-profiled Udon noodles in the same bowl, in about an equal proportion of each other.

Then what’s the mathematical formula for the “Combination” you may ask? Easy: SAI(min)+(u)DON+WONTON=COMBINATION. In other words, EVERYTHING they have to offer, all in one bowl, sans the BBQ Stick. Shoots, they should just throw that in there too! lol

And that’s pretty much it. No plate lunches, nor burgers, nor candies ‘n snack ‘n shave ice, nor — God forbid — “fru fru fancy-smancy” stuff.

This is a Saimin Stand through and through and to the core. Hardcore. All you’ll find on the other half of the menu are their business hours, phone number and customer appreciation message…

You have to love this place already without even haven eaten yet.

Reading over the numerous positive Yelp reviews, the bottom line appears to be unanimous that if you’re looking for truly “Old School Saimin” done the way it should be, Palace Saimin is where it’s at. Shoots. Hook. Me. Up.

Before we get to da’ grindz, let’s see what we have for table condiments here at Palace…

Same as The Old Saimin House, where I must note here they use my favorite shoyu brand, Yamasa, as I find Y amasa strikes a good balance between the more milder taste of Aloha and the salty, bold flavor of Kikkoman.

But does Palace Saimin’s broth NEED condiments to kick it up? Or is it fine just the way it is, OEM? We shall soon find out!

Hai, itadakimasu (let’s eat)!

First to arrive at the table are the standard saimin stand “tools of the trade”, a set of hashi (chopsticks), renge (soup spoon) and (Coleman’s) mustard, which you of course add shoyu and stir thoroughly for use to dip your noodles, charsiu garnish and/or wontons into.

And here it is in all its glory, my Palace Saimin’ Saimin (small order) and (Teri’ Beef) BBQ Stick…


Palace Saimin – small Saimin and BBQ Stick (with Coleman’s mustard and shoyu dipping sauce)

Tell me you wouldn’t want to be sitting where I’m sitting at this moment in time, with this staring at you, just seconds away from devouring it? Good LORD, there is a heaven.

Let’s zoom in…


Palace Saimin – small Saimin, $3.75

I immediately notice the broth here at Palace has a richer, more colorful tone than the light-looking broth at The Old Saimin House. Come to find out from 47-year regular “Aunty Bobo”, they use shrimp AND pork in the broth here. Ex. Cel. Lent! Surely there’s other secret “ingrediments”, but if that’s the gist of it, I’m already a happy camper.

As for garnish, there seems to be a trend that Kamaboko and sliced egg omelet is out of the picture at both Old Saimin House and here at Palace. That’s the only thing I scratch my head at, as I think those two are important ingredients that truly complete the dish. What’s even more perplexing about that is the fact that Okuhara Kamaboko factory is right down the street! Wassup’ wit’ ‘dat?!!! Next time I going come here da’ kine “BYOK” (bring your own Kamaboko). I bet da’ waitress and guests would trip out. lol!

Oh, before I continue, here’s Aunty Bobo’s Wonton Min…


Palace Saimin – large Wonton Min, $5.25

Getting back to my Saimin, note I took this shot after already having eaten the saimin, but can surely attest, based on broth alone, I have definitely found THE BENCHMARK OLD SCHOOL SAIMIN right here at Palace!…

There’s certainly a background hint of shrimp, while the pork bones “umamifies” it, or in other words, gives it an added dimension of “meaty-ness”. Yet it’s all still subtle and not as much a predominant element like it is in Japanese Ramen, where the broth is the central focus.

Here, the broth more like gently cuddles the noodles and garnish than it does take it along for the ride, if you know where I’m getting at.  It definitely DOES NOT need any of those table condiments unless you’re really starved for more salt and spices. It’s pretty much perfect, “OEM”, just the way it is straight outta’ the kitchen. I’m not saying you shouldn’t add anything else, but that you really don’t need to. Benchmark “old school” saimin stand broth FOUND!

Rewind back now, and let’s slurp some saimin noodles done “Palace style”…

Like The Old Saimin House, Palace Saimin also sources their noodles from Eagle Noodle Factory.  And the noodles here are indeed cooked a little more on the softer side than at OSH. It’s still acceptable, but if I had a choice, I’d take I’d prefer it cooked like OSH does it. Flavor-wise, Also like OSH, Palace’ noodles are somewhat neutral in flavor, without any of that egg-like undertone from the potassium and sodium carbonate (Kansui) that Sun Noodle uses.

Moving along to the garnish, as mentioned earlier, since there’s no kamaboko (steamed fish cake) or sliced egg omelet to be had here, all’s left to try is the sliced Charsiu pork and green onions…

Spot on in flavor, moist ‘n tender Charsiu. She go. I must note they also are a little more generous in portion compared to OSH in that regard.

How’s the sliced green onion? Like sliced green onion. lol

Summing up Palace Saimin’s Saimin, solid 4 SPAM Musubi, with a broth that taste just how “old school” Hawaii saimin broth should taste. If it had Kamaboko and slice egg omelet, I’d give it a 5.

I enjoyed it so much that I “polished’ the bowl….

Moving along, let’s try the BBQ Stick…


Palace Saimin – (teriyaki beef) BBQ Stick, $2.25

Of course I didn’t eat the BBQ Stick AFTER the saimin, but along with it, as you should.

Come to find out from Palace Saimin regular Aunty Bobo, you can request to have your BBQ Stick “Koge” or burnt on the edges, a.k.a. “Papa’a”…


Palace Saimin – BBQ Stick done “Koge” style (seared edges, free service upon request)

What I also found out is that the way they “Koge” their Teri Beef BBQ Sticks is by searing it with a handheld propane torch, an old trick chefs use to make Crème brûlée. Hey, whatever works! All I know is next time I’m gettin’ mine BBQ Stick “Koge’d” like Aunty’s are.

Let’s have a bite…

Oishii (delicious). It’s not heavily marinaded in Teriyaki sauce, which I like, as I want to taste the beef. The medium-cooked beef itself is a little tough, but tolerable. While I didn’t ask, my guess is this is cut is no better than your average top round choice. Huge thumbs-up for serving it on a plate in a puddle of the (thin) Teriyaki sauce, which also has little bits of burnt beef in it, as that helps to add moisture to the medium-cooked beef, so every bite is tasty, moist ‘n juicy from start to finish. Nice.

3 SPAM Musubi for Palace Saimin’s BBQ Stick.

I enjoyed my lunch so much at Palace Saimin, that I returned a week later with Diner A and E to join me! This time around, Diner A ordered the Large Saimin and BBQ Stick, where both he and I requested some “Koge action” for our “sticks”…


Palace Saimin – “Koge” BBQ Sticks and large Saimin

A closer look at his large Saimin…


Palace Saimin – large Saimin, $4.50

Deciding to try something a little different, Diner E ordered Wonton Udon…


Palace Saimin – small Wonton Udon, $4.00

And yours truly went for the Combination (Saimin, Udon and Wonton)…


Palace Saimin – large Combination (Saimin, Udon & Wonton), $5.25

Zoom in on my Combo’…

Here I dug up all the three different types of noodles so you can see it better…

Talk about carbo’ load. Makes you wanna’ run the 26k just looking it. lol

This time around I added some black pepper, as that’s what I usually add to my saimin when not in taste-testing mode…

Very, very consistent. The broth tasted EXACTLY the same as on my previous visit, save for my personalized addition of black pepper.

Let’s try the Wonton (notice the spelling, where as OSH spells it “Wun Tun”)…

Like the softer-cooked saimin noodles, the wonton are also cooked on the soft side. Which one diner who was waiting outside told me he prefers The Old Saimin House’s Wun Tun better because it’s firmer and has a better filling. Although he prefers the broth here at Palace. Sounds about right.

The pork filling was kinda’ “manini” (skimpy), but I suppose adequate enough to validate it. It was also pretty basic, tasting simply like ground pork and that’s it. No green onions, onions or other veggies in it. Good though. I have no complaints. I definitely need to try OSH’s Wun Tun Min so I can compare the two, but that’s a different story for another day.

Let’s go for the Wonton dunk in the hot mustard shoyu…

Oh yeah, ‘das da’ winnah’ right deah’ ( that’s the winner there lol)! So funny how no matter what, once the food hits that Coleman’s Mustard and Shoyu, you get immediately transported to a Chinese restaurant.

Let’s try the Udon now (this next shot is actually Diner E’s bowl, but I had Udon in mine too)…

Diner E agrees with me that the Udon, while good in and of its fat, fat noodle self, doesn’t quite work as a substitute for traditional Saimin noodles. I think because the mild nature of Saimin broth doesn’t quite cling or absorb well into the fat, slick Udon noodles. So when you eat the Udon, that’s all you taste is noodle, as the broth just slips on back into the bowl, barely clinging any of its flavor on the Udon. That’s pretty much the best way I can describe it.

The finer, more absorbent nature of traditional Saimin noodles holds onto the broth like glue in comparison when you slurp it up.

You can hear “SLURP, SLURP, SLURP” just looking at that.

Overall, the combination of textures between the thin Saimin noodles, fat Udon noodles and slippery-soft wontons made for a very, very, VERY unique “noodle soup” eating experience and certainly an option other saimin stands should follow.

Let’s try some Saimin noodles and Charsiu in the Coleman’s…

Winnahz. Dig that “clear-your-sinuses” effect that hits you first, then you taste the noodles and Charsiu soaked in Shoyu that immediately follow and it’s like POW!

Moving along to our “Koge” BBQ Sticks, you see how much more seared they are then on my previous visit…

Here you can see on this visit they’re also cooked to medium doneness…

Personally I would have liked it even more “koge” then that,, where it looked more like the ones Aunty Bobo had on my previous visit. So if you like REALLY “koge”, tell them so. I know I will. Still, those seared edges added a whole lot more flavor and put the BOLD in BBQ. Winnahz.

Summing it up, I give my Combination Saimin/Udon/Wonton Min at Palace Saimin a very solid 4 SPAM Musubi, and once again would give it a 5 if had Kamaboko and sliced egg omelet. Diner E gave his Udon 2 SPAM Musubi, while I must note, he and I ate here a few weeks prior where he ordered the saimin, to which he gave a very solid 3, which to you and I would be either a 4 or 5.

Diner A gave his Saimin a 4, and surprisingly, the BBQ Stick a 3, which I think is because both he and Diner E prefer their Teri Beef SOAKED DEEP with Teriyaki marinade, whereas I’m opposite in that regard.

As for service, very, very friendly and quick, where on all three recent visits, my/our order landed on the table within a 5 to 10 minute window.

So the benchmark of what old school Hawaii saimin should taste like has been found right here in beautiful downtown Kalihi at Palace Saimin!

Now with my taste buds educated on “Saimin 101”, next up, a review on Sun Noodle’s new S&S “Old Time Island Style” Saimin featuring “traditional shrimp soup base”.

Palace Saimin
1256 North King Street
Honolulu, Hawaii  96817

Tel. (808) 841-9983

Business Hours
• Tuesday to Thursday: 11am – 3pm lunch, 8pm – 10pm dinner
• Friday & Saturday: 11am-11pm
• Sunday & Monday: closed

The Tasty Island rating:

(4) Excellent. Worth another visit or purchase. (Winnahz!)

Kalihi Eats: The Old Saimin House

We’re back again at the “Center of Hawaii’s Food Universe” in the heart of historic and scenic Kalihi, this time sampling some truly “old school” saimin at The Old Saimin House.

This is actually part 1 of a 3 part series, leading up to a review on S&S Saimin’s new “Old Time Island Style Saimin”. Which makes it seem even more apparent that just like cars, ‘retro’ is the “new cool” in the food industry as well.

Notice on this label it touts “Traditional Shrimp Soup Base”, differentiating it from Sun Noodle’s Hawaii’s Original Old Style Saimin product, which uses the bonito-based dashinomoto saimin soup stock more commonly used nowadays.

That said, the reason this is a series, is that I needed to refresh my palate on what is the benchmark representation of Hawaii’s truly classic saimin taste in order to compare with S&S’s (under parent company Sun Noodle) latest attempt to replicate the “Traditional Shrimp Soup Base” broth flavor. Therefore I chose two old school saimin stands as my benchmark source: The Old Saimin House and Palace Saimin, both almost within a stone’s throw of each other in Kalihi.

How “old school” is The Old Saimin House? Well, they were established by Okinawan nisei (second generation) in 1963. Whereas Palace Saimin right across the street on King was also established by Okinawans in 1946.

Not to forgot the many other classic saimin stands around the island, including Forty Niner Restaurant out in Aiea, who was established around the late 40’s. Then there’s Boulevard Saimin, which has since changed to “Dillingham Saimin”, who got their start in 1955, while over on the Garden Isle of Kauai, Hamura Saimin set up shop in 1952. Not to leave out a few more places still in business that feature saimin as their signature dish, including Shiro’s, Shige’s and Zippy’s.

So we’re here today at The Old Saimin House, which is located at 1311 North King Street (nearby the Kalihi Post Office), in a tiny strip mall next to New Diner’s Drive Drive-In, with another notable neighbor being Kiawe Grill.

Without further ado, let’s check out The Old Saimin House tableside menu…


The Old Saimin House menu (current as of June 2011)

As is “standard” on the menu at most old school Hawaii saimin stands, The Old Saimin House has the requisite basic option of either Saimin or Wun Tun Min (the latter often spelled in various ways), along with a (teriyaki beef) BBQ Stick to go along with it. Think of the BBQ Stick to Saimin as what Gyoza is to Japanese Ramen. From there, the menu can vary quite a bit at each place.

The table condiments often say a lot about what type of cuisine is being offered. Where like most local style food restaurants in Hawaii, The Old Saimin House has the usual Shoyu, Tobasco, Salt ‘n Pepper. While indicating their Japanese/Okinawan influence, there’s also a shaker bottle of Shichimi Togarashi, which is a ground mixture of chili pepper and several other unique ingredients that make its spicy flavor unique…

One thing you hardly see anymore at local eateries on Oahu is Hawaiian Chili Pepper Water, whom Hamura Saimin on Kauai still includes on the tables in their condiments set.

The Old Saimin House was founded by Okinawan nisei Tomizo and Mitsue Ikei in 1963, where today you see their “Uchinanchu Pride” up in the form of a painting of what I’m assuming is their family’s home town of Henza Island in Okinawa…

As for the restaurant space, like most saimin stands, The Old Saimin is rather small, while being very clean, with a rather newly renovated look to it…

There’s a decent amount of designated free parking in the front of this tiny strip mall, although of course it does become tight during peak dining hours.

Getting to my order, on this solo mission, I stuck with the bare bones basic Saimin, this one being the large…

A closer look…

Now this truly is your bare bones basic Saimin, with just sliced Charsiu pork and green onions garnish, and that’s it. Not even Kamaboko nor sliced egg omelet is to be had here, making this a far cry from the “everything, including the kitchen sink” approach at Shiro’s Saimin Haven.

The reason I didn’t order the more popular Wun Tun Min, which is essentially the same dish with the addition of ground pork-filled wun tuns in it, is because I didn’t want the wun tun to muddle or change the flavor of the basic broth.

As for not ordering the usual BBQ (Teriyaki Beef) Stick as an accompaniment, upon asking how they were cooked, my server told they were griddled on a flat top, so I passed. No probs, as this large bowl of saimin by itself was plenty enough to fill me up on this lunch hour visit.

Hai, itadakimasu. Let’s begin with a taste of  what appears to be rather clear-toned, mild looking broth…

And? Definitely yet another shrimp shell based broth, albeit not particular “shrimpy”, while being seasoned with salt (possibly of the Hawaiian rock salt variety), and that’s about it. I don’t think there’s any katsuoboshi stock enhancement or dashinomoto in it, nor pork or chicken bones in the stock-making process. Overall, It’s very much back-to-basics to the core, not being under nor overpowering.

As long as you arrive with your palate in a neutral state (like you didn’t just get done snacking on some chips or anything salty), the broth should be acceptably seasoned without any further enhancements. Yet it is still on the very low key end as far as saimin broths are concerned, leaving the broth door wide open to add that shoyu and/or tobasco and/or Togarashi and/or Salt ‘n Pepper condiments provided on the table to suite your personal taste.

Let’s slurp some saimin noodles…

As others on Yelp have mentioned, the noodles here are on the firmer side of al dente doneness, which I actually prefer over softer-cooked noodles, whether it be for saimin, ramen or pasta.  Come to find out, unlike many other noodle houses around the island who source their noodles from Sun Noodle Factory, The Old Saimin House sources theirs from Eagle Noodle Factory. The latter of which I’ve been told doesn’t use chemicals in their noodles. With that, they’re somewhat neutral in flavor, without any of that egg-like undertone from the potassium and sodium carbonate (Kansui) that Sun Noodle uses.

Only thing left to try here is the rather sparse sliced Charsiu pork and green onion garnish…

The Charsiu was spot-on in sweetness and overall authentic flavor profile, while being very moist and tender. Thumbs-up, except for all that saimin noodles in the large bowl, they need more charsiu to accompany it. I suppose at $5.25 for the large, an additional 50 cents is worth the additional garnish needed to fully complete the dish in and of itself. Or of course order the BBQ Stick to offset the carbo load.

But yeah, this broth is certainly on the low-key side, and it had room for some shoyu to kick it up…

Ah, perfect! The (Aloha) shoyu really enhanced and “umami-fied” the subtle shellfish base of the broth’s flavor profile.

I also tried dipping the noodles and charsiu in the included (Coleman’s) mustard (and shoyu) sauce, which totally makes it taste Chinese.

The large saimin by itself was the perfect portion to sate my lunchtime hunger, while the addition of just a drizzle of shoyu was all it needed to make The Old Saimin House a good choice at the right price. So much so, that I had no problem polishing my bowl…

This was a good refresher start to get a benchmark taste of what true “old school” saimin should taste like. Next stop, right across the street over at Palace Saimin!

The Old Saimin House
1311 North King Street
Honolulu, Hawaii  96817

Tel. (808) 842-7697
www.TheOldSaiminHouse.com

Business hours:
Lunch: 11:00 am – 2:00 pm
Tuesday to Saturday

Dinner: 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday

Dinner: 6:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Friday, Saturday

Closed:
Sunday & Monday

The Tasty Island rating:

(2) Good. I’m glad I tried it. (Ono)

Chinatown Eats: Little Village Noodle House

Several weeks ago we celebrated yet ANOTHER birthday luncheon at Little Village Noodle House, located on “scenic” Smith Street in historic Chinatown, Honolulu.

Developed by successful restaurateur, owner and chef Kenneth Chan and his wife Jennifer, the Chinese cuisine served here is described as a blend of styles influenced from the Northern and Szechuan regions of mainland China, as well as Hong Kong, all brought together into a “balanced new taste”. With that, over the years Little Village has won numerous “People’s Choice” and “Critic’s Choice” awards by the major local newspapers and a prominent lifestyle magazine, just to name a few.

Upon entering the cozy, somewhat contemporary dining room, you’ll find the decor theme fitting of its name, along with a rather relaxed, low, naturally lit ambiance, as well as quiet demeanor by the mostly local patrons who work nearby in the downtown Honolulu business district…

Getting right to it, let’s check out the menu, starting with the specials of the day, which are written on a chalkboard above the kitchen service area…

On to the regular menu…

I suppose when it comes to Chinese restaurants, over 100 menu items listed here is about par for the course. At least they make it easier here for “newbies” to choose by identifying which ones are their “Signature Dish”.  Ideally when choosing “family style”, we like to have a representative of each meat type, which of course would be beef, pork, chicken and a seafood dish of some sort.

That said, first to land on our table (which took about 15 minutes from the time we placed our order) was the Mu-Shu Chicken Roll…

Mu-Shu “Roll”? Well not yet, as they do the final assembly of the dish tableside. That there is the filling that will go into each crepe that it’s accompanied with. Here our server immediately makes a Mu-Shu Roll for each guest on our table by first spooning a layer of Hoisin sauce, then on goes the Mu-Shu Chicken filling…

Save for using the spoons to handle it, as far as the way it’s rolled up, this is pretty much a Chinese “burrito” if you will…

Voila (or however you say “voila” in Chinese)! There you have it, one complete Mu-Shu Chicken Roll…

OK, let’s try this…

First of all, the flavor and texture (especially the thickness) of the crepe came across to me anyway as being more like a Mexican style flour tortilla. The filling certainly had a fresh, pipin’ hot-seared wok flavor to it, with nothing really discernible in and of itself except for the Hoisin sauce surrounding it, which was quite bold. Overall, it all tied together nicely as a “package”, where I’ll give Little Village’s Mu-Shu Chicken Roll 2-SPAM Musubi, noting I’m quite confident the pork version would easily score at least one extra Musubi point (because pork fat rules!).

Chicken? Check. Now of course we’re in a Chinese restaurant here, so you know what time it is, right? Duck time!…

As in Peking Duck, which is described as “Slices of crispy roasted duck skin and tender duck meat served in a fresh steamed bun with green onion and hoisin sauce.”

Just like Filipino Lechon (roasted suckling pig), arguably (in every sense of the word) the best part by far of roast duck is the SKIN, and that’s exactly what you get on these light-yet-glutenous steamed “bau” Chinese buns.

Have a peek under the hood…

Under that crispy, FLAVOR-PACKED duck skin is a thin layer of tender, well-seasoned meat…

This again is enhanced by the bold, savory boost of a Hoisin sauce drizzle, along with finely-julienned green onion slivers. Of course the “Manapua Guy” in me (that sounds weird) often expects anything in a Chinese “bau” (steamed bun) to have a Charsiu flavor to it, but Peking Duck doesn’t really ring that tone, if perhaps just slightly. There’s more this absolutely delicious, albeit complex combination of spices and sauces that all come together and really punch out the uniquely rich, “dark meat” flavor of the duck. Super solid 4 SPAM Musubi for Little Village’ Peking Duck Bau. Yum!!!

Not only do we get that, we also get the entire half of the roasted Peking Duck, all cut-up into bite-size pieces and ready to sink into…

Needless to say, among the five of us in our party, we quickly went through this plate! (I should do a time-lapse animated GIF shot some time)…

Now’s time for some seafood, here in the form of Little Village’s signature Honey Walnut Shrimp…

Before I stop and review this plate, let me finish adding the rest of the plates that landed on our table on this visit, where soon after that mouthwatering heap of Honey Walnut Shrimp arrived, joining it was this equally mouthwatering masterpiece of Beef Broccoli Fried Noodles (Cake Noodles)…

No Chinese meal would be complete without pork, where here we have Little Village’s Salt & Pepper Pork Chops…

Adding one more chicken dish to the spread, we have Little Village’s Orange Chicken…

Rounding it all off, gotta’ have some starch, where we decided on Chef Chan’s Special Fried Rice….

What. A. Spread!!! Chicken. Duck. Beef. Pork. Shrimp. Veggies. Fruits. Nuts. Noodles. Rice. Sauces. We’re all set!

Now that everything’s on the table, let’s make ourselves a handy-dandy little “sampler plate” of each dish…

Sampler plate B (or A, actually)…

What I can’t wait to try is that Honey Walnut Shrimp, so let’s check that out…

Oh. Em. Gee. This HWS ROCKS! There’s an ever-so-delicate light and crispy batter coating each tasty, tender and juicy shrimp tail, which I would estimate are in the U36-40 size range. There was just a slight hint of garlic flavor from the cream sauce, yet you tell it was there, with the predominant compliment coming from the sweetness in the sauce and the honey-glazed, toasted walnuts. Add to that the texture contrast from the fried rice noodle garnish and KUNG-POW!… this Honey Walnut Shrimp slams it out of the park for an easy 5 SPAM Musubi! Kung-Pow! lol Seriously though, I could just as well order a platter of this and call it a day, it’s that good.

Speaking of “Kung-Pow!”, also slamming a drive-line homer out the park was Little Village’s Beef Broccoli Fried Noodles….

..the latter of which is actually referred to here by locals as “Cake Noodle”,  a style of chow mein that some say is difficult to come by in the mainland. Oh well, looks like you’ll to book a trip to Hawaii if you want some!

The reason we call it “Cake Noodle” is because the noodles are sort of packed and almost “glued” together by their own starch, while being thoroughly permeated through with the savory beef sauce from the Beef Broccoli. There’s also an every so light and crispy “crust” on the bottom from the hot wok which creates this fantastic texture and flavor contrast to the starchy noodle “cake”. Then topping it off,  you have that buttery-tender strips of beef also permeated with the sauce, along with the perfectly al dente Broccoli and KUNG-POW! Another 5 SPAM Musubi winnah-winnah Chinese Dinnah! Err, lunch that is.

As for the Orange Chicken, it was certainly juicy and tender, yet I didn’t really know what to make of the sauce coating it. It was sweet, although could have used more “citrus-ee twang” to it, as it didn’t really scream the flavor of orange, regardless of its red color and orange slices garnishing  it. I must note, the tender mushrooms were a nice touch, as I LOVE and welcome mushrooms with just about any entree, no matter what it is. Summing it up, I give Little Village’s Orange Chicken 2 SPAM Musubi.

Finally there was the Salt & Pepper Pork Chops, which somewhat reminded me of Side Street Inn’s famous Fried Pork Chops, albeit done in a more traditional Chinese style than the “localized” version SSI prepares. This one being more airy and light with what I think is a cornstarch-based batter coating it. Whatever pork meat on there was certainly well seasoned (thanks to the batter), tasty and tender, yet it was mostly BONES. Wassup wit’ dat? That said, I give their Salt & Pepper Pork Chops 1 SPAM Musubi.

As for the Fried Rice, I didn’t try it. Sorry, I was already filled up from everything else, and had no room for rice on this occasion. Others on our table said it was “pretty good”, which I take would be about 2 SPAM Musubi.

Service was quick and friendly, with, again, our first dish arriving within fifteen minutes of being ordered, and everything else soon after that in a steady flow that kept pace with us as we went through dish after dish. Little Village offers FREE VALIDATED PARKING in their own private lot behind the restaurant, which is a huge convenience advantage, considering this is downtown Honolulu where parking is limited, especially during the work week lunch hour rush.

Summing it up, the highlights at Little Village on this visit were the Peking Duck (with skin bau), Honey Walnut Shrimp and Beef Broccoli “Cake Noodle”; all of which were absolutely STELLAR, broke da’ mout’ onolicious WINNAHZ!!! Good Lord, I sure could go for a combo’ plate of those three dishes right about, just looking at, writing about and reminiscing it!

Little Village Noodle House
1113 Smith Street
Honolulu, Hawaii  96817

Tel. (808) 545-3008
web: www.LittleVillageHawaii.com

The Tasty Island Rating:

(4) Excellent. Worth another visit or purchase. (Winnahz!)

P.S. You might be asking what we had for dessert? Well, for that we headed mauka on School Street to the Shimazu Store for some Shave Ice!…

That there is my Coconut, Melon Bar Melon (think Melona) and Strawberry combo Shave Ice.

Here’s the storefront…

Here’s Shimazu Store’s Shave Ice menu…

The custom shave ice syrup flavors are all hand-made by owner Kelvin Shimazu who we met there on this visit…

Pour it on!…

That there is the birthday girl’s Melon Bar Melon and Orange Creme (think Creamsicle) combo’. As you know, ice melts quickly in Hawaii, so once the server finishes pouring the syrup on, it’s time to QUICKLY dig in and start gettin’ yo’ shave ice GROOVE ON!…

You can see in that photo just how FINE and POWDERY Shimazu Store’s Shave Ice is. As good as Shave Ice gets, PERIOD.

This here is a trio Blue Cotton Candy, Strawberry and Li Hing Pickle Mango combo (Li Hing Pickle Mango on the backside/not shown)…

Common’ now, LI HING PICKLE MANGO SHAVE ICE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Key Lime Pie, Sour Lemon and Strawberry….

Another angle of my Coconut, Melon Bar Melon and Strawberry combo’, where you can again see the fine, powdery consistency of the GENEROUS portion of shave ice they serve here at Shimazu Store…

The Melon Bar Melon flavor taste almost EXACTLY like a Melona Bar, albeit not quite as “creamy” as the real deal. I’m sure a drizzle of some Condensed Milk would have finished it off, but I wanted to keep it simple on this first time visit so I could savor the texture of the Shave Ice itself. Note, notice us locals call it “Shave Ice” and not “Shaved Ice”.  And God forbid, NEVER call our Shave Ice a “Snow Cone”. Ack!!! lol

That Orange Creme flavor also tasted pretty much like “Creamsicle”, where again I think some Condensed Milk would have truly authenticated it.

Speaking of which, like many other Shave Ice stores nowadays, notice on the menu that Shimazu Store offers all kinds of “extras”, including the old school go-to Azuki Beans and Ice Cream, along with the “new school” goodness’es’es, such as Mochi Balls, Li Hing Powder, and what I hear REALLY ROCKS, their CREAMY HAUPIA, which is like a thick sauce that’s smothered over the top of the Shave Ice.

Still, of all the flavors I tried on this day (thanks to everyone who shared a taste), by far the Li Hing Pickle Mango as shown in the next photo was by far my favorite!…

You can kinda’ see the speckles of what may either be Li Hing Powder or actual Pickle Mango “pieces”. Whatever it is, this flavor ROCKS. Best way to describe it, is it’s sorta’ like taking pink Lemonade and infusing it with the “essence” of Pickle Mango, along with a slight Li Hing “twang”, if that helps at all.

So you get that “bite” from the acidity, while adding a pleasant balance of salty and sweet going on in a “Pickle Mango-meets-Shave Ice”, super-chilled kinda’ way.

Just take my word for it and CHOOSE the Li Hing Pickle Mango flavor on your next visit to Shimazu store. That one slams the ball out the park!

Getting to the bottom of the Shave Ice, you have that “slushy”, ice-cold “brain-freeze” combination of all the flavors, along with the creaminess from the  ice cream….

Now you have to admit, on any hot, Hawaiian sunny day who could resist that? Nobody! No ways! Da’ bes’!

Summing it up in this “bonus” Tasty Island review, with their best-as-you-can-get, super-fine and powdery shave ice, topped with a most excellent variety of house-made custom syrup flavors and extras that really kick things up, all offered in HUGE PORTION at a great price, easily awards Shimazu Store a Li Hing Pickled Mango-tastic 5-SPAM Musubi!!!

Grindz of the Day: Arirang, Monarch Seafoods & Chocolate-covered Bacon


Arirang Bar-B-Q Korean Quisine – Fish Jun

Repeat visits are an obvious indicator we really dig the place, which brings us back once again to several spots.

We begin today’s “Grindz of the Day” with lunch at Arirang, where this past Aloha Friday Diner A and yours truly visited as we BOTH had da’ “ono’s” (craving) for Fish Jun.

Before I continue, I must note that there’s an ongoing “debate” on where exactly “Jun” originated. Namely “Meat Jun”.  Many folks on the mainland think it must be a “Hawaii thing”, because the Korean restaurants in their neck of the woods don’t have such a dish.

I found this interesting discussion over at WOWGRINDS.com on the subject, where lots of comments have helped to dispel the “Meat Jun Mystery”. One comment reads, “So I discovered this watching this korean show and the Kwangju region in Korea is known for the dish we call “meat jeon.” In korean it’s yukjeon (??), yuk meaning ‘meat.’ So it’s not a local Hawaiian invention, but maybe some Korean from that region brought it over and revised it.” Plus many other insightful comments you should click on over and read if you’re interested.

Apparently the “myth” part is due to how differently the name is SPELLED, as based on the common denominator of that discussion, the PROPER way to spell “Meat Jun” is “Meat Jeon”. or more properly than that, “Gogi Jeon” or “Yukjeon”.

To make it even more confusing, the various Korean restaurants around Oahu each have a slightly different way of spelling it. Arirang and Ah-Lang Korean Restaurant spells it “Meat Jun”, Soon’s Kal-Bi Drive-In spells it “Meat Jhun”, while Jin Joo Korean Restaurant spells it “Meat Chun”. ACK!!

Anyhow, if you have more information on Meat Jun or variation of the dish that you’ve encountered, I’d love to hear about it.

Not to confuse you any more, but another popular version of this flour and egg-battered Korean favorite is what we have here today in the form of Fish Jun…


Arirang Bar-B-Q Korean Quisine – Fish Jun. $8.95 (lunch price)

Or should I spell that Fish Jhun? Or Fish Junn? Or Fish Chun? Or Fish Jeon? Or Fish Joon? Or how about Fish June? lol

That was Diner A’s plate. Here’s mine, where in this shot I’ve broken a piece in half to reveal the super-moist and flaky Mahimahi within…


Arirang Bar-B-Q Korean Quisine – Fish Jun. $8.95 (lunch price)

The key here being they use Mahimahi, which makes for an EXCELLENT Fish Jun, as in my experience over the years, Mahimahi has always been the best type of fish for this dish. Reason being, Mahi has a good amount of oil in the flesh, offering a savory-yet-tame, sort of “buttery” white meat flavor that’s not “fishy” at all, while having a super moist, tender and flaky texture that just melts in your mouth. Awesome.

Rest assured, Mahimahi is what you’ll get in your Fish Jun at Arirang, as it specifically says that right on the menu. Whereas, many places don’t specify, so you never know what may be in it: could be (the cheaper) haddock, pollock or even talapia (not from the Ala Wai Canal of course). I’d love to sample how Ono, a.k.a. Wahoo tastes in Jun (or Junn or Jeon or June) form.

Notice how they cut the egg and flour-battered Mahimahi here, where they’re shaped like medalions that measure approximately 4″Lx3″Wx1/4″ thickness each, with four of them on this lunch-sized portion.

Most “Jun” dishes are served with a dipping sauce that’s pretty much like a simplified version of Japanese Ponzu;  in this case, made with soy sauce, vinegar and sugar…

That said, let’s hit it!..

First of all, as described above, the mahi has a buttery, mildy-savory flavor and is super moist ‘n tender. And it’s cooked to absolute PERFECTION. The flour and egg batter has a nice crunch going on, while being very lightly seasoned with what tastes like just salt, if even that. The egg flavor helps to amplify the wonderful taste of the Mahi within, underscoring the JUN in this Fish Jun.

If there’s one complaint, I’d just say the default “Jun” sauce they provide was too mild, as if the soy sauce (shoyu) they use was the low sodium variety, or something like that, as the sauce tasted like it was watered down.

Not to fret though, as we clearly remember the EXCELLENT house-made Gochujang sauce Arirang put on our table the last time we were here, so we requested that…

OK, let’s try again wit’ da’ Gochujang action…

I’ll put it to you this way: even though the default “ponzu style” Jun dipping sauce was on the mild side, it was still “MONEY”. Now with Arirang’s AWESOME house-made Gochujang sauce joining this Fish Jun party, it is “BANK”!!! Or so Guy Fieri would have said it. Serious “Bank”. Like 5 SPAM Musubi “Bank”. So, so delicious. I swear, if you’re looking for an EXCELLENT Fish Jun, you need to head on over to Arirang. High, HIGHLY recommended.

I’m gonna’ tease you with a few more bite-through shots so you can see just how moist and tender this broke da’ mout’ winnahz Mahimahi-based Fisch Jgeonng was…

Here I combined the default “Jun” Sauce with the Gochujang Sauce at about 3:1 ratio…

Oh yeah, now THAT’s rockin’!  You get a little tang, a little sweet, some heat, along with a savory “bottom” thanks to the miso they use in the Gochujang sauce, which really is its “secret”. In fact, I’m surprised our server admitted that they use that. Yet you can clearly taste there’s miso in the Gochujang sauce. All I know is you could pour that stuff on anything and it would taste good.

Not that this it needs a sauce, as just like the Angry Korean Lady’s Meat Jun and Chive Jun, this Fish Jun is SCUMPTIOUS just by itself, and the sauces are really just icing on an already fantastic cake.

Summing it up, “Bank” 5 SPAM for Arirang’s Fish Jun (jeon, jeong, june, jhun, junn, joon, whatevahz…)

Speaking of “Bank”, also winning top honors is Arirang’s EXCELLENT Banchan side dishes…

Arirang’s Kim Chee is certainly “Money”, while their Korean style Shoyu Potatoes are “BANK”!!! As Diner A noted, they almost “Taste like Shoyu Chicken”, where you could just as well order a plate of this stuff as the main entree along with rice and call it a day. It’s that “meaty”.

Look at how that deep ‘n savory, sweetened shoyu “goodness” penetrates the outer layer of the fork-tender red potatoes…

Rewinding to the beginning of our Fish Jun “experience” on this visit, we enjoyed the included house seaweed soup…

I asked our server if they had the Korean Stainless Steel Chopsticks to accompany the Korean Stainless Steel Spoon, but they didn’t have them.

As Diner A described it, “It’s like sipping on a hot bowl of the ocean”, is the best way to describe it. Seriously, as simple as this Kombu-based soup is, it’s LOVELY. Next time I come here, I’m going to ask them how to make it, so I can do it at home before EVERY meal. Heart-warming, soul-soothing good stuff!

******************************************************

Moving on to our next “Grindz of the Day”, we go back a week to the previous Aloha Friday, where Diner A and yours truly returned yet again to Monarch Seafoods. This time around where Diner A “hanahou’d” their AWESOME Fried Poke, making that his single entree choice, while I decided to try their Spicy Calamari…


Monarch Seafoods – Spicy Thai Calamari Steak (left) and Fried Poke (right) plates

Let’s zoom in…


Monarch Seafoods – Deep Fried Poke. $7.95

All I can say is, in the battered ‘n fried fish category, next to the Fish Jun featured previously in this post, Monarch Seafood’s Fired Poke is as GOOD AS IT GETS!

Especially when it’s coated in Monarch’s KILLER house dressing…

It tastes like they marinade the ahi — which tastes VERY FRESH (not old stuff) — in some sort of shoyu-based marinade, then they coat it katsu style, taking a dredge in flour, egg and panko, then hitting the deep fryer to give it that “GBD” doneness, with no more and no less. So the Ahi within remains SUPER moist and succulent, especially when combined with that very tasty marinade it’s SOAKED with. FREAKIN’ AWESOME STUFF. PERIOD.

Another “Bank” 5 SPAM Musubi for Monarch Seafood’s Fried Poke. Make sure if you order this to ask for extra house dressing. Liquid Gold I tell ya’, Liquid Gold.

Now let’s check out Monarch’s Spicy Calamari…


Monarch Seafoods – Spicy Thai Calamari Steak. $7.95

These Panko-crusted Calamari (squid) “steaks” are some “tik” (thick) buggahz (suckers)…

As for the “Spicy” factor”, it both appears and tastes like, before hitting the panko and flour batter station, they basically coat the calamari steaks with the same Mae Ploy Sweet Thai Chili Sauce that’s used for dipping after the fact.

As you know, Calamari (squid) is very mild in flavor, as this was, while it was also notably tender, as you know how Calamari can be rubbery if over or undercooked. So “props” to Monarch on that. The panko and thick flour batter didn’t stick well to the Calamari within, yet for what it’s worth, added a nice flavor and texture contrast to it. While the Mae Ploy Sweet Thai Chili Sauce works for Wonton-wrapped stuff, I don’t think it works quite as well with pank0-battered stuff, as was the case here. By far, Monarch’s AWESOME house creamy dressing (the yellow-greenish stuff) is THE ONE to dip the “Spicy Calamari” into.

Spice-wise, it wasn’t hot at all, as Mae Ploy Sweet Thai Chili Sauce is very mild by default (at least to my palate).

Summing it up, I give Monarch Seafood’s Spicy Calamari 3 SPAM Musubi. Which really is saying a lot for someone who isn’t particularly a Calamari fan. If you are, you definitely need to try this.

******************************************************

Last but never least, we round up today’s “Grindz of the Day” with two of just about everyone’s FAVORITE foods: BACON and CHOCOLATE.

If you’re a Food Network and Travel Channel “Foodie Junkie” like I am, you probably already at least seen it. Yet so far on Oahu, it’s not that commonly found on restaurant menus. Yet recently I was at Eat Cafe, where I noticed they had it sort of “scribbled” on their chalkboard menu as kind of an afterthought. And I thought, “Hmmmmmmm, I wonder?”

Since I had two huge SLABS of Costo-issue sliced Maple flavored smoked bacon in my fridge, I immediately went online to find out how to make the stuff.

As advertised, it’s literally Chocolate-covered Bacon, no more, no less. With Valentine’s Day right behind us, we naturally had a surplus of chocolates hangin’ around – most notably a bunch of Dark Chocolate, as that’s my girlfriend’s favorite.

So I began my Chocolate-covered Bacon quest by first baking half a slab of thick-cut Maple flavored smoked bacon in the oven until it reached a slight “rubberyness”, and not to the point of being “crunchy-crispy”, as I personally don’t like my bacon (over) done that way.

Then I took about 1 cup’s worth of Giradelli brand dark chocolate squares and “nuked” it on low heat in the microwave until it melted. I was a little disappointed that it came out kinda’ clumpy, so I looked online what the base of chocolate is, and it said oil. So I turned around and “tempered” the chocolate by adding a pat of butter to thin it into a usable viscosity.

After the cooked bacon cooled to room temperature, I then proceeded to coat each slice on all surfaces with the butter-tempered dark Giradelli chocolate. Then I stuck it in the refrigerator to “set” the chocolate, where out it came a few hours later looking like this…

The lighting exposure in that shot makes it look like milk chocolate. Here’s another angle that’s more color-accurate…

I SO can’t wait to try this.

Here’s a macro cross-cut shot of one of these Dark Chocolate-covered Bacon slices…

How is it? CRAZY. TASTY indeed, yet simply NUTS. The combination of the sweet, deep and robust dark chocolate, along with the salty, smokey, savory goodness of the bacon WORKS, yet your brain is like “WTH is this?!!!”. That’s the best way I can describe it upon first bite.

Yet, after about the third bite, it becomes pretty addictive. Mainly out of denial that this actually does taste good. But it does! Genius.

If there’s anything I’d improve on, it would be to cook the bacon more crispy, as the congealed fat at the doneness I baked the bacon (ha ha) was a little strange on the palate. I also need to work on my chocolate tempering skills to get it where it’s like “candy”, whereas on this first take, it was kinda’ “messy”. But those are just “minah ‘kine stuffs” (nothing serious).

All I can say is if you like bacon and if you like chocolate, chances are pretty likely you’ll LOVE Chocolate-covered Bacon. I’m personally not a chocolate person, so I can’t really appreciate that element, yet I’ll vouch for the sweet, robust ‘n savory thing going on with this unique hybrid “invention”. 3 SPAM Musubi.

Waipahu Eats: Sato's Okazuya "Famous" Fried Noodles


Sato’s Okazuya “Famous” Fried Noodles

Fans of this popular genre of local style eatery know that each Okazuya has their own claim-to-fame dish.

Well, enter Sato’s Okazuya in Waipahu, where their Fried Noodles reign supreme. So much so, I’ve taken the liberty to tag them as “FAMOUS”!  Where, “Best Fried Noodles in town” is pretty much the common description given by reviewers on Yelp. Where, if this is true (as we shall soon find out), then this adds yet another reason to head out to Waipa-HU! (say the “HU!” part in a dramatically higher tone of voice ‘por dee ahk-sent) for some seriously ono ‘kine grindz. Where, in this old plantation town on Oahu’s west side, you can also get a mighty fine Fish Patty at Tanioka’s, some “wow, das’ some winnahz! ” Laulau at Highway Inn, “Triple-D certified” Poke at Elmer Guzman’s Poke Stop, and definitely some “masarap-sarap” Spanish Rolls at Nanding’s Bakery… just to name a few!

Sato’s Okazuya is tucked away amongst a row of small businesses in the Y-H building, located on Hanawai Circle, right up the street around the corner of Bank of Hawaii on Farrington Highway in Waipahu. As you enter the parking lot from Hanawai Circle, to the right will be the Waipahu Festival Marketplace…


Notice in the background the old Oahu Sugar Mill smoke stack still stands to this day.

Across the lot you’ll find Sato’s Okazuya in the Y-H Building…

As “old school”  hole-in-the-wall as it gets…

Typical of this type of limited-space eatery, Sato’s Okazuya offers minimal seating accommodations (two 4-place tables and one 2-place table), with the center of attention being the service counter that doubles as a window-faced food display featuring what’s (hopefully still) available for the day…

I’ve heard the wait here for their famous Fried Noodles can be long, making it wise to call ahead for your order. Yet I took a chance and walked in, where around my noon-time arrival (considered LATE by most Okazuya standards), thankfully there was plenty of Fried Noodles that had just been cooked, sitting in a warmer pan awaiting me and a few other fellow patrons who were there for the same thing…

Right above the noodles on the display counter, they have three sizes of takeout containers marked with the prices to help you quickly make your choice…

Check out that extra-large (XL) takeout container on da’ left… sheesh, da’ buggah is MASSIVE! Never seen that sized “plate” before, and thankfully so, as the last thing we need are local plate lunch joints offering “super-sized” plate lunches. Not that many don’t already do so, except they just pile da’ grindz VERTICALLY. lol.

To the left and right of the Fried Noodles pan, you can sort of see the other warmer pans next to it are already “Elvis” (gone), as were most of the musubi and other prepared Okazu selections in this part of the display case….

Speaking of selection, here’s Sato Okazuya’ menu board…

Apparently the Pork Chops & Fried Noodles is one of their most popular combos, yet I came here specifically just to try their “famous” Fried Noodles so I could savor it in all its own glory, which really, as is, can be considered an all-in-one meal.

The very first thing I asked the server was, “Where do you get your noodles from?” To which she immediately revealed Sato’s sources their noodles from Okahara Saimin Factory. Well I’ll be darned! Finally a place that doesn’t get their noodles from Sun Noodle Factory, whom seems currently has at least 90% of Oahu’s ramen and saimin shop market (amongst others) locked in. I actually was surprised they outsource their noodles, as I thought a place with such a reputation as theirs would still be making their own in-house (if they ever did do that).


Spock da’ bottles of what looks like some kinda’ “secret sauce” by the Fried Noodles prep area. half-shoyu/half-oyster sauce, perhaps?

So here now I FINALLY get to taste for myself what everyone is raving about…


Sato’s Okazuya – Fried Noodles (large). $7

Let me start by saying that, while I enjoy eating it occasionally, I’m certainly not particularly a Fried Noodles enthusiast myself, per se. So I don’t have many other places to compare this to, with the only other Fried Noodles consumed in recent memory being from none other than Zippy’s. I definitely much prefer this “local style” saimin-influenced version of the dish, as I’m (loosely) so NOT a fan of Chinese style Fried Noodles, mainly because of the flavorings in the sauce, and also because it’s often kinda’ greasy (at least in my experiences). Especially if they use Hoisin (uggh) or too much Oyster Sauce.


Zippy’s – Fried Noodles (notice they put SPAM in theirs)

Being this is an Okazuya and saimin stand, I’d say Sato’s Fried Noodles is essentially a bowl of  Saimin (same noodles), sans the liquid broth, thrown into a wok and fried along with an ever-slight addition of julienned carrots and cabbage and some “secret sauce”.  Then, like the typical “standard” Saimin you’ll find at most stands, it’s topped with finely chopped charsiu, ham and green onions.


Sam Sato’s – Dry Noodle, a.k.a. “Dry Mein”

In fact, speaking of the Sato name, this reminds me a lot of the also very popular Dry Noodle, a.k.a. “Dry Mein” offered at Sam Sato’s in Wailuku, Maui. Except with Sam Sato’s Dry Mein, they kick it up a notch by also providing a small bowl of broth on the side so you can “wet” your noodles. Because you know, we all like “wetting our noodle”. lol

OK, time for the moment of truth, let’s do this…

Right off the bat, EXCELLENT texture. Kinda’ rubbery ‘n chewy in a VERY GOOD WAY, and certainly not “pasty”. I think that firm-yet-tender chewiness is what makes it stand out the most and is its greatest virtue.

There’s an ever-so-slight oily coating, yet certainly not greasy whatsoever, with just enough of a slick surface coating all the noodles to prevent them from sticking together into one clumpy mess. These Fried Noodles remain in individual strands, so more props on that, and also once again for having just the right amount of oil coating.

Flavor-wise, just like Sam Sato’s “Dry Mein”, Sato’s Fried Noodles (don’t confuse the two!), it’s kinda tough to really tell exactly what’s going on (in) here in their “secret sauce”. It’s sorta’ “dashi-ish”, yet there may also be if just a TAD of Oyster Sauce, but not much. There’s definitely some “shoyu action” to boost the “Umami factor”. They may also be using chicken broth in there somehow as it’s being fried up. The julienned carrots and cabbage added some “earth tones” to the flavor and texture profile, yet there’s very, very little in it.

Which underscores the “less is best” concept that Sato’s theory on Fried Noodles is that it should be kept as SIMPLE AS POSSIBLE, as I too firmly believe is THE way to go with most “local style” noodle dishes, whether it be Mac’ Salad, Chow Fun, Saimin or this.

Speaking of which, what underscores this tasting essentially like Saimin in fried form is the chopped Charsiu, ham and green onions. Both the Charsiu and ham were very moist, tender and flavorful, while the Charsiu was particularly OUTSTANDING here. I really noticed that, even with what sparse bits and pieces were mixed throughout my generously portioned large plate of Fried Noodles.

At $7 for the large Fried No0dles, it’s easily enough to fill you up, or would also be an adequate portion if you were to split it among 2-4 people along with another entree, such as, oh say, their pork chops. In fact I shared 2 small bowls from my plate with my coworkers so they could try it and still had enough to leave me carbo-loaded ‘n STUFFED after all was said and done.

Summing it up, I give Sato’s Okazuya “Famous” Fried Noodles a “Simple is always best!” 5 SPAM Musubi, and definitely “in it to win it” for Oahu’s BEST local style Fried Noodles. Looks like we’re going to have to hold a “Best Fried Noodles on the Island” SHOOTOUT some time in the future!

Sato’s Okazuya
94-235 Hanawai Circle (turn off Farrington Highway at the corner of Bank of Hawaii)
Waipahu, Hawaii  96797

Tel. (808) 677-5503

Business Hours:
Tuesday – Friday: 7:30am to 2:00pm
Saturday: 7″30am to 1:00pm
Sunday & Monday: Closed

The Tasty Island rating:

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

P.S. At least in my opinion, most of the best okazuya delis (and many other types of restaurants) on Oahu are owned and operated by local Okinawan families (Sato’s is the exception, as they’re originally from Sapporo, Japan). Where back on the Ryukyu islands motherland, SPAM (and other competing luncheon meat brands) remain very popular, and is often incorporated into some of Okinawa’s most traditional dishes.

You regular readers of this blog may recall my recent post featuring my entry for Hormel’s contest to pick a winning design for their new, soon-to-hit the shelves SPAM’ Hawaii collector’s edition can label. In a comment by regular reader “Debbie-chan”, she  pointed out the special 70th Year Anniversary of SPAM in Okinawa collector’s can, to which she so kindly eMailed me a few EXCELLENT photos she took of her own copy.

Well, here it is!…


Photo courtesy of Debbie-chan


Photo courtesy of Debbie-chan

That is pretty. darned. COOL! I Especially like the masked Japanese “kimono” style artwork that makes up the “70” font. If you can read Japanese, I’d really appreciate if you could translate the entire backside of the label for us in a comment, onegaishimasu.

Debbie-chan noted that the artwork has a similar style to the one that graces this “Yonaha Toru presents Kachashii a go-go” CD cover…


Photo courtesy of Debbie-chan

It also reminds me of the illustrated character designs in the Crayon Shinchan anime series, which by-the-way is a RIOT! I sure miss that show, which KIKU-TV used to air here with GREAT subtitle work. Unfortately, KIKU had to give the reels back to the producer, as Asahi TV in Japan bought the rights to the show. Boo! Anyhow, look up “Crayon Shinchan” on YouTube and watch a few episodes… funny (and often naughty) stuff!

While on the subject of SPAM, Debbie-chan also sent me this photo of an “Okinawa Burger”, which was (or still is?) available at MOS BURGER locations in Naha, Okinawa…


MOS BURGER’s (Naha, Okinawa locations) “Okinawa Burger”. Photo courtesy of Debbie-chan

Get the heck outta’ here… a slice of fried SPAM and egg on a “bed” of Nori encased by a rice “bun”? Simply BRILLIANT! I SO need to try making this! My guess is that rice “bun” is made by pressing a tightly compacted small ball of white rice onto a saute pan on about medium heat and browning it ever so slightly. I dig how the Nori acts as the “lettuce”. Genius.

I tell you, when it comes to cookin’, dem’ Uchinanchu folks know how it’s done RIGHT!

Mahalo Debbie-chan for all the fun ‘n cool pics!

Hormel GÖTEBORG Kauai Label Design

Hot off the heels of the Hormel SPAM Hawaii Label Design Contest (which voting for the best one has just ended last night), I present to you my first attempt at a label design in an effort to promote Hormel’s other “Crazy Tasty” mystery meat,  their Göteborg Sausage.

“What in the heck is Göteborg Sausage?” you may ask?  If so, there’s quite a bit of information and discussion about it that both I and my wonderful readers have posted and commented about in the past, both here and here.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it once again, one of my absolute all-time favorite comments made to date on this blog has to go to “Anahola Tita”, who gave her two cents (and then some!) about Göteborg Sausage, where back in 11/09 she wrote…

“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 !!”

~ Anahola Tita

LOL TO DA’ MAX! CLASSIC! I swear, I almost fell of my chair in laughter, as well as enlightenment after first reading that. So cute, you gotta’ love her!

Seriously though, note that she mentions “Flying Saucers” and “UFOs”, which (given my readers provide accurate information), come to find out “Flying Saucers” are NOT a slang name for Kauai’s beloved Göteborg Musubi, but actually a type of saucer-shaped pressed hamburger sandwich. Which another reader named “Roger” explains like this, “Well as for the flying saucer, I remember it only at Bon Dance time and some other time. Two slice of bread, ground beef with a slice of cheese inside, toasted over heat in a saucer shape. Loved those at Bon Dance time… could eat a dozen of them.”

So anyhow, as you may now have read in those links all about Göteborg Sausage, this is truly a “Kauai thang”, that’s slowly making its way across Oahu, and perhaps the other neighbor islands and beyond, thanks to the internet no doubt. I seriously think Hormel should consider boosting their marketing strategy for this otherwise obscure, yet absolutely “Crazy Tasty” sausage!

Therefore in light of their SPAM Hawaii Label Design campaign, I hereby propose to Hormel this “starter” idea for an exclusive Hawaii label design to help market and boost sales of their Goteborg Sausage. Above you see a mock-up of how it would look on the product. Here’s another pulled back view (it looks crooked, but that’s how the original label was placed, which my label design covering superimposed)…

Yes, that Göteborg Sausage measures about 17″ in length, and weighs in at an equally quantifying 3¼ pounds. Whoah! Which is about the average size, as each sausage varies just a bit in weight, hence the meat produce label from Times Supermarket which gives the specific weights and measures price.

Speaking of supermarkets, the Kaheka Don Quijote currently has Göteborg Sausage in stock at a cheaper price than that, running $5.49/lb. vs. $5.99 in this example, which I purchased a few years back from the Times Supermarket’ Kahala location.

Here’s how the current Hormel Göteborg Sausage label looks like…

As for my Göteborg Sausage exclusive Kauai/Hawaii “rough draft” label idea, I pretty much “cockaroached” (borrowed/stole) the design concept from my SPAM Hawaii label design, which once again looked like this…

With that, here’s a proof copy version of my “Kauai’s Favorite” Hormel Goteborg Sausage label design proposal…

While that comment by “Anahola Tita” was certainly playful and comical, underneath it all, it was VERY informative, and the most information I could dig up yet online about the history of Göteborg Sausage on the “Garden Isle” of Kauai.  So I took the core information from her comment and did a little “history blurbage” on my “Kauai’s Favorite” Hormel Goteborg Sausage label design. I’m going to copy and paste that “blurbage” into text form here, mainly so I can eventually quickly find it on Google…

“Goteborg Sausage is said to have been introduced to the Hawaiian
island of Kauai by a German stone wall builder, hired to do work
on the lavish estate homes of wealthy plantation owners living
primarily on the west side of the beautiful “Garden Isle”.

Upon savoring the great taste of this European Sausage delicacy,
these plantation owners then shared it with their multi-cultural
plantation workers, and the rest is history.

Similar to the iconic “SPAM® Musubi”, one of the most popular
ways Kauai folks enjoy this “Crazy Tasty” Swedish sausage is as
“Goteborg Musubi”. An East-meets-West fusion sushi type of morsel,
made simply by topping sauteed slices of Goteborg Sausage with
tightly-pressed, flattened balls of rice,
and then sprinkled with Japanese
Furikake Nori for that
flavorful finishing touch.

Enjoy with Aloha!”

That’s the “blurbage” part. As for the graphical elements, notice I made the “Hawaiian” Tapa print stand out a bit more on the yellow gradient bordering each side of the vertical label design. I also threw in the widely used and abused Lauhala mat as a background for  the Göteborg Musubi “serving suggestion” image. Most important of all though with my design is the trademark “look” of the classic SPAM label design, with the blue vertical band coming from the top, while using the “Cooper” font to spell out GÖTEBORG.

Oh, speaking of “Ö”, in case you’re wondering what those two dots are above the letter Ö, it represents the German Umlauted form of O, which is best explained in this Wikipedia article.

Last but not least, I threw in my favorite design element from my SPAM Hawaii label design, the “SPAMWICH ISLES”. I was going to superimpose Goteborg Sausage as the islands’ background, but didn’t think “Goteborgwich Isles” had the same “ring” to it as “SPAMWICH ISLES”, so left it as that, while making reference to the widely known SPAM product in that final part of the “blurbage” (we like to use that term a lot in the advertising biz).

Anyways, that’s my design, to which of course still needs some tweaking and other ideas thrown in or tossed out. I’ll play with it more both graphically and conceptually if Hormel Foods decides to contact me on this and/or take it to the next level.

I’ll just finish this post with some photos of Goteborg Musubi that I’ve featured here on The Tasty Island in the past…


JOBO’s Goteborg Musubi from The Poke Bowl at Ward Farmers Market (on Oahu)

This is the photo I “pathed out” in Photoshop and used in my label design. Note, “The Poke Bowl” in Ward Farmers Market is no longer there, but they are indeed still around under the name “Paina Cafe”, located right across the street in Ward Warehouse. I must also note, ever since “The Poke Bowl” came around, it seems there’s been plenty of COPY CATS around town doing the same thing they introduced, which is namely as advertised, “Poke Bowls” and what we have here in the form of “Goteborg Musubi”.

Take for instance, you can now find deli-prepared Goteborg Musubi on Oahu at select Times Supermarkets, as well as even Tanioka’s in Waipahu!…


Goteborg Musubi from Tanioka’s Seafood & Catering

Notice Tanioka’s totally flipped the “Jobos” Poke Bowl Goteborg Musubi design upside down to make it “their own”. Essentially “different but da’ same”, and still mighty tasty thanks to that wonderfully savory-meets-salty, absolutely onolicious Goteborg Sausage.

Here’s a good cross-cut view…

Simplicity at its best. Still, if you ask me, I’d throw an Ume in the middle!

Speaking of which, I did one “epic” post in the past here titled the “Goteborg Musubi Project“, where I took a variety of Japanese picked vegetables and other side dish specialties called “Tsukemono” (which I LOVE) and topped them on Goteborg Musubi for the ULTIMATE sampler plate. Ch-ch-check ’em out…


Goteborg Musubi – a specialty from Kauai – with 7 varieties of toppings

From front to back, that’s Beni Shoga (the red stuff), Kim Chee, Goma Konbu (the black stuff, second row on the far left), Kyuri Zuke, Iriko/Beni Shoga, while on the back row is Ume/Nori Wrap and finally the classic Kauai classic Furikake-topped Goteborg Sausage.

In that same post, I also provided a bunch of photos of what a Goteborg Sausage looks like unwrapped…

All jokes and innuendo comments you may want to make aside, rest assured (or lest you have sleepless nights), this is indeed one HUGE honkin’ log ‘o meat!

Here it is all chopped up and ready to hit da’ frying pan (or ehem, excuse ’em wah, “Saute Pan)…


Here’s a closer look at each slice

Where there’s salty meat, gotta’ get rice!…

Fry ’em up…

A key thing to note here is how the Goteborg sausage slices naturally become concave in shape, forming a “cup” that conveniently holds the soon-to-be-added rice!

While you let the piping hot Goteborg sausage slices drain on a paper-towel-lined plate, now’s the time to make some Musubi to add to it. Do that by taking freshly cooked rice that’s been cooled to room temperature and pack it into tightly into ball-shaped form about the size (or a little larger) than the diameter of the Goteborg slices, “creatively” using your hand that’s been wet with lightly salted water (for seasoning and so the rice doesn’t stick). Then flatten the small ball of rice into a thick wafer-like shape, as a fully-spherical rice ball shape symbolizes death in Japanese custom. Just squash it and you’re good, where you’ll live a long and prosperous life. Then top your thick wafer-shaped ball of musubi rice on the inner-cup of each fried (sauteed) Goteborg Sausage slice, which should then look like this…

There’s nothing that “glues” the musubi rice to the Goteborg Sausage “cup”. It just kinda’ sits on it, yet it works, no worries.

At this point,  you can either eat da’ buggah plain laddat (eat that sucker plain, just like that). Or top each Goteborg Musubi with your favorite ‘kine stuffs (types of garnishments), which as previously mentioned, may look somethin’ like this…


The Tasty Island’s Goteborg Musubi Project

Mmm, mmm, MMM! Crazy Tasty!

Alexis Jordan – Happiness
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26jKtELitQE

David Gilmour – Then I Close My Eyes (live)
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WD7NXzmXMqk

David Gilmour – Where We Start (Live)
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGcJgdIfAX8