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. 🙂

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!)

A Catered Luncheon with Soul

By now, regular readers of this blog must think all we do at work is throw parties and EAT. Well, we certainly work hard, so when it comes time to relax, like everyone else, we love to sit down and enjoy a good meal. So here we are this past week, where we threw a nice going-away party luncheon for one our people in accounting, this time catering the food from Soul Cuisine with Aloha & Spice.

Soul is a still relatively new restaurant by Chef Sean Priester, who had a long run as executive chef at the highly regarded Top of Waikiki revolving restaurant. Compared to the posh, high tech (literally) digs at Top of Waikiki, Soul is a very tiny and humble hole-in-the-wall restaurant located in a rather “mishmash” strip mall on the corner of Waialae Avenue and St. Louis Heights Drive at the Ewa (west) end of Kaimuki.

I personally haven’t eaten there yet, although I’ve heard and read favorable reviews about the place. However, I HAVE had the opportunity to try all the food here already, back before Chef Priester opened his restaurant, when he had his “Soul Patrol” lunch truck while making the brave transition from employee to entrepreneur. To note, the “Soul Patrol” lunch truck is still in service as an extension of their brick & mortar restaurant.

Us folks always like to try new types of cuisine for luncheon themes, and we were all eager to sample some “Soul Cuisine with Aloha”. Which really is what Chef Priester’s concept is, using locally-sourced, high quality ingredients in his classic southern style dishes.

Without further ado, let’s see what Soul has prepared for us on this occasion, starting with some good ‘ole Mac ‘n Cheese!…

Next up, Chef Priesters EXCELLENT Coleslaw…

You see what’s coming next, right? Some FRIEEEEEED CHEEYIKIN!…

Let’s stay here for a brief moment and bath in cooking lard, savoring a few more pics of these absolutely delightful morsels of “Aloha & Spice” Chicken with serious SOUL!…

Soul’s Fried Chicken is accompanied with this KILLER Honey-Butter Sauce, that you drizzle over the chicken right before service…

So you’ve got the super-juicy, savory, slightly spicy ‘n crispy thang with the chicken, along with the sweet ‘n buttery thang goin’ on from the sauce and BAM! AWESOME.

Next up, Soul food would never be complete without Collard Greens!…

Another one my personal favorites is Chef Priester’s Vegetarian Chili…

Then wrapping things up from Soul, the also must-have dish for this type of cuisine, Corn Bread…


Not stopping there, folks from various departments in our office also contributed to the spread, where adding to the selection of main dishes, here we have some (Filipino) Pancit, courtesy of accounting…

Also from accounting, (Filipino) Lumpia…

There was also all kinds of scrumptious desserts, where our department contributed these EXCELLENT Brownies from Kilani Bakery in Wahiawa…

Back to P.I., we have a pan of Kakanin…

Peach Cobbler…

Blueberry Cheesecake…

\

Custard Pie…

Cherry Pie….

Wow. What. A. SPREAD!!!!!

Time now to check out some plates hot off the “assembly line”….

Here’s my plate…

Angle “B”…

Let’s try that “Cheeyikin”…

Oh man. Even though this piece of fried chicken had gone down to air conditioned room temperature by the time it landed on the plate in front of me, it was still STELLAR! The batter was still crispy, with a pleasantly-blended, subtle hint of spices going on in it.  While the chicken meat was super buttery-tender and incredibly MOIST ‘N JUICY, while being cooked all the way through, with no raw spots towards the bone or blood at all. It also wasn’t greasy at all. Just so, so, so, so, so, SO GOOD!

5 SPAM Musubi for Soul’s Fried Chicken for sure, even at the less-than-optimal a/c room temperature service when I ate it. I’m confident if I had the luxury of eating it FRESH ‘n PIPIN’ HOT out of the deep fryer, Soul’s signature Fried Chicken would score an EASY TEN!!!

As for the other dishes, the Vegetarian Chili was delicious, yet I must note it tasted and had the pasty texture more like baked beans than Chili. The Collard Greens were good, especially in that they’re enhanced with  pieces of smoked ham hock meat in it, yet everyone mentioned there was a distinguishable “tang” to its flavor profile, not sure if that was vinegar, or if there’s some spoilage factor, or if that’s just the nature of Collard Greens, as that’s certainly not a green commonly eaten here in Hawaii.

The Mac ‘n Cheese was congealed, thanks to the air conditioning, and also what seemed like the macaroni noodles had absorbed most of the cheese’s moisture. Other than that, flavor-wise, it was dee-lish. Which has me thinking we should SERIOUSLY invest in sterno warmers for our company luncheons. That would most DEFINITELY be a HUGE improvement when it comes to serving temperature “issues”, such as it was for this Mac ‘n Cheese.

I LOVE Soul’s Cilantro Coleslaw. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. PERFECT Coleslaw recipe. Nuff’ said.

The corn bread was a winner as well, with the right balance of “sweet” going on, although I would have preferred it to be a little more BUTTERY! Shoots, with this here soul food, I’d just as well take some melted drawn butter and drizzle it over the entire plate! lol

As for the dessert, the Brownies from Kilani Bakery were FANTASTIC, with the perfect “brownie texture” going on, not being too dry nor too moist, but, as Rap Replinger says, “Jussssssss’ right”….

The Kakanin was also fantastic, especially the one with the Latik-like glaze covering it…

SOUL Cuisine with Aloha & Spice
3040 Waialae Ave
Honolulu, HI 96826

Tel. (808) 735-7685
Web: www.PacificSoulHawaii.com

The Tasty Island rating (for catering service):

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

Related links:
First Bite: ‘The Soul Patrol’ by Chef Sean Priester – The Tasty Island
360º View at the Top of Waikiki – The Tasty Island
Soul – Yelp user reviews

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7Z56dxeGMA

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXZoowWAPZA

My First Pressure Cooker

Whether it’s a first date, first time solo in the cockpit of an F-22 Raptor, or first touch of that spankin’ new, “lastest ‘n greatest” smart phone you’ve just committed a 2-year contract to, as “simple” as it may appear, there’s certainly going to be a few things you need to know before you start, and learn more about as you go. And a pressure cooker is no exception.

In the case here, there are a few rules and procedures that set a pressure cooker apart from your conventional cookware which need to be taken into consideration. Far apart actually, as in much, MUCH FASTER COOKING TIMES. Up to 70% quicker, SERIOUSLY, as I soon discovered.

That sealed-in, high pressure heat inherent in pressure cooking is also said to retain much more of the natural moisture AND water-soluble vitamins and minerals in the food using this method, hence this is also a HEALTHY way to cook.

The significantly faster cooking times also makes a pressure cooker VERY ENERGY EFFICIENT. Especially when you consider the extremely high, beyond-boiling point 257ºF cooking temperature a pressure cooker generates within its hallowed walls requires only a low heat source setting from your stovetop burner once the 15 psi pressure is achieved.

So if you’ve already converted all your appliances to Energy Star compliant models and changed all your incandescent bulbs in your home to compact fluorescents (CFLs), you best be adding a pressure cooker to your energy (cost)-saving “THINK GREEN” must-have list.

After recently hearing my coworkers rave about how they’ve prepared dishes such as St. Paddy’s day corned beef brisket and pot roasts in just minutes in their pressure cooker – both which can normally take several hours conventionally – I was sold.

So I headed out on a hunt for a good price on a good quality model and ended up with a very nice one from ROSS’ Hawaii Kai store (gotta’ love that store). According to their price tag, this item’s regular retail price is $90, yet they were selling it for just $41. Works for me. Sold.

The pressure cooker I got that’s featured here today is manufactured by FAGOR, a major appliance manufacturer based in Spain.

Like other manufacturers, FAGOR offers several pressure cooker models. The one I have is the Rapida, which is their most basic model, and didn’t come with any accessories, which in hind sight, I kinda’ wish I got that. Then again, I don’t want any more “stuff” than my cramped condo-sized kitchen already has, so this works. If I do need any other accessories, I’m good at “McGuyvering” stuff in my kitchen.

Here’s the entire list of features and benefits of my new kitchen gadget “toy”:

RAPIDA 6-QUART PRESSURE COOKER
Manufactured by FAGOR
Quality features:
• Made of 18/10 stainless steel
• 3-ply Stainless Steel/Aluminum/ Stainless Steel thermo heat conductive base for even heat distribution
• Cooks on all types of stove tops: gas, electric, ceramic or induction
• Heavy-duty silicone gasket (replaceable)
• U.L. approved
• 10 year warranty – fully guaranteed
Safety features:
• Safety lock on handle prevents opening before all pressure is released
• Two independent over-pressure release valves assure no pressure build-up
Unit includes:
6-Quart Rapida Belly-shaped Pressure cooker
• Instructions manual with Recipes and instructional DVD

Here’s the same Fagor Presssure Cooker instructional video on the included DVD that someone uploaded on YouTube…

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmuGX7pwjTE

Other features on the box go on to say:
1. FAST
• Reduces cooking time up to 70%
• Easily adapt your recipes and cook 1/3 of the time (instructions inside)
2. EASY
• Load ingredients, lock lid in place and begin cooking… release pressure and enjoy healthy, flavorful meals
3. HEALTHY
• Create delicious meals while retaining important water-soluble vitamins and minerals
• The tender taste of slow cooking
• Cooks without oil (fat)
• Maintains the natural color and flavor of foods

COOKS: Vegetable Medley in 2 minutes, Fresh Steamed Lobster in 3 minutes, Cioppino in 5 minutes, Bean Soup in 20 minutes, Mediterranean Chicken in 15  minutes, Risotto in 7 minutes, Pasta Primavera in 7 minutes, Pepper Steak in 4 minutes, Cheesecake in 30 minutes, Chili in 16 minutes, Fajitas in 5 minutes, Corn Chowder in 12 minutes.

Wow, those are some mighty quick cooking times! I must note that Fagor’s Rapida and Splendid pressure cooker models are made in China, while the more expensive Express, Duo, Futuro and Elite models are made in Spain.

Still, the fit and finish quality of this Rapida Pressure Cooker is absolutely top notch, with not one visible flaw. In fact it’s so gorgeous, I actually polished it with my Diamond Magic polish (awesome stuff as well) after each use so far, as I still have that “brand new” novelty within me about this wonder of cooking beauty. In other words, I consider we’re both still on our first dates phase and “courting” each other. lol

It’s has a considerably hefty feel to it, with thick 18/10 stainless steel pot walls, and of course that all-important 3-ply stainless/aluminum/stainless steel conductive heat “sandwiched” pot base.

Here’s a closer look at the controls built into the pressure cooker’s black ABS lid handle…

The lid handle interlocks with the pot handle, which you do by aligning that line (where the blue arrow is pointing) with the pot handle, making sure the lid’s lip is aligned with the pots flange, then you simply turn the lid handle towards the pot handle, where they interlock with each other . Then you lock the lid in place by moving that green switch forward.

The yellow “button” forward of the green lid locking switch is not really a button, but a pressure indicator. This yellow button pops up once the cooker has reached its 15 psi cooking pressure.

Up from there is a dial switch with three positions: Unlock , Steam Release and High. To start pressure cooking, you move this to the High position. When the cooking time is up, you can do one of several things, depending on what you’re cooking:

You can immediately release the pressure to stop the cooking process by turning this dial switch to the Steam Release position, which it will blow the hot steam right out of a hole that’s built into the front side of that dial switch. Be very careful when doing this, as it spits out very hot high-pressured steam!

Or you can immediately bring down the pressure the “old fashioned” way by running the pot under cold water to quickly cool it down.

Or you can let it relieve its pressure “naturally” by just turning off the heat and setting the cooker aside. Keep in mind, if you do this, the food CONTINUES to cook for a long time due to the hot pressurized steam remaining “trapped” inside, even after it’s not on the fire. Which probably would be ok for making stocks, but may not be ideal if critical cooking times for meats, vegetables and such are a consideration.

Moving along on our little “tour” of my new Rapida pressure cooker, here’s that 3-ply sandwiched stainless steel/aluminum/stainless steel conductive thermo heat base…

This both literally and figuratively puts the stamp of QUALITY in this wonderful piece of cooking magic, as it gives me the confidence that not only will the heat be distributed more evenly, but that it will also help to prevent scorching. Or so I thought, as you shall soon find out! lol

Next to that 3-ply heavy-duty base, another critical component of this wonder cooker is the heavy-duty “C” profile silicone gasket that literally LOCKS & SEALS the pressure in…

Under the lid you can also see the two pressure valves, while also notice the lid has tabbed segments incorporated into its stamped steel design that fold over around its perimeter. These interlock with matching tabbed segments on the perimeter of the pot’s rim, so when you put the lid on and align the lid handle with the pot handle, there’s virtually NO WAY the lid could blow off while it’s under pressure.

When you turn the handles to align and lock the lid nto place with the pot, you can feel the gasket compress, as it gives a slight resistance as you turn it into the locked position. For added safety, once again there’s that green locking switch on the lid handle, which I must also note, there’s an interconnected mechanism that will not all allow you to unlock the lid unless the High/Steam/Unlock switch dial is in the UNLOCK position.

That makes 3 levels of safety redundancy built right in, so no worries of having your squid luau or oxtail soup become your new kitchen wall paper “look”. lol

One note on storage, according to the manufacturer, you shouldn’t store the pressure cooker with the lid on, especially in the LOCKED position, as this will cause the silicone gasket to prematurely “compress” and have a less than ideal seal when in use. They recommend storing it with the lid either turned upside down or separately. They also recommend lightly coating the silicone gasket with cooking oil to keep it pliable.

That’s pretty much the physical make-up of my modern day pressure cooker. Certainly steps ahead from the “stovetop grenade” your grandma may have had.

Now let’s talk cooking times, which as already noted, these things can RIP. There’s an an excellent and very informative site on all things pressure cooker over at MissVickie.com, where of course there’s a pressure cooking time chart for all types of foods. In that chart, it states Pork Butt takes just 35-40 minutes to cook. It doesn’t say at what level of doneness (just cooked through or pulled-pork fork tender), but that’s still mighty quick.

That said, one of the first things I wanted to try in my new pressure cooker was Kalua Pig, which as you may know normally takes about 8 hours in a conventional oven (a bit shorter in convection), or even longer in an Imu (traditional Hawaiian underground oven).

So I set off on my first attempt at pressure-cooked Kalua Pig, on my first time EVER using a pressure cooker.

Just one problem. One MAJOR problem. Being the “typical man” that I am, did I read my new pressure cooker instructions manual or watch the instructional DVD BEFORE using it for the first time? Nope. Because, you know, when it comes to “gadgets” or anything mechanical or electronic, us fellahz think that we got it ALL FIGURED OUT. I mean, how complicated can this be, right? “Manual, shmanual” as far as we’re concerned.

Well there’s just one important piece of information I was not aware of as a pressure cooker “newbie”, and that’s that you must TURN DOWN the fire to LOW once the cooker achieves full 15 PSI pressure. Did I lower the heat from high to low once the pressure was on max? Nope. And guess what? It was A DISASTER! Talk about “Chernobyl” Kalua Pig, that’s pretty what I had! LOL!

Well, not really “laughing out loud”, as the smell was actually kinda’ TOXIC from the combination of burnt-to-the-crisp ti leaves and pork butt. So much that I had to open all the windows and turn on every fan in the house to get the smell out. ACK!!!  While “smell-o-vision” would be great, trust me, this is one time you DO NOT WANT smell-o-vision, as this thing smelled just NASTY!

I didn’t even take anymore photos after that shot, as it was SO not pretty under that top layer of ti leaves. Ugh. lol

Rewinding on what went wrong, first let me say what I did right, which was adding 2 cups of water, which is what MissVickie.com recommends when cooking Pork Butt in a pressure cooker.

As for preparing the pork butt, I simply coated it generously with liquid smoke and Hawaiian sea salt, then wrapped it ENTIRELY (key word here) with Ti Leaves, set it in the pressure cooker pot, covered it with the 2 cups water, locked the lid, set the fire on high and let her rip.

Now for what I did WRONG, which as you already know, I didn’t turn the heat down to LOW once the cooker reached full pressure. So this thing was cooking away at GOD KNOWS how high of a temperature, but certainly way, WAY higher than what it was designed to be cooking at.

The high heat maintained from the burner ended up making  the pressure in the cooker exceed the 15 psi ceiling, where the automatic pressure relief valve (thank goodness it has that!) stayed open more or less throughout the cooking time. Which me being a “newbie” thought this was “normal”, but Hell no, I found out the hard way that that’s NOT normal. This open valve ended up letting all the moisture out of the pot, while entirely evaporating the two cups of water that was in there. Not good.

While it was cooking, everything seemed fine, and it smelled “OK”, up until about 40 minutes into the cooking time, then it started to smell “strange”, yet not BAD…. yet. Then about just 5 minutes later it was like “dayummm!, what the heck is goin’ on in there?!!!”. So I finally shut off the fire and just let it cool down naturally, mainly to (hopefully) let the pork continue cooking so it would reach fork-tender doneness. That extended cooking time as “naturally” cooled down just gave the ti leaves and and burnt pork on the bottom more time to burn even more.

I must say though, the pork that DIDN’T burn (which actually was most of it) was indeed pull-apart fork tender after just about 1 hour of cooking/BURNING. Too bad the toxic, horrid aroma from the burnt ti leaves and scorched pork on the bottom of the pot pretty much ruined the entire batch. It smelled so bad, I didn’t even risk tasting it.

When I attempt (stress ATTEMPT) to make Kalua Pig again in my pressure cooker, not only will I turn down the fire, but I’ll probably add a little more water. I also won’t put any ti leaves on the bottom (wrapped around the pork), but just cover it in layers ON TOP and AROUND the pork butt. Good Lord, burnt Ti Leaves smells HORRID! lol

After learning the hard way once again that men really don’t know it all when it comes to gadgets, this time around I read the instructions manual thoroughly from cover to cover, watched the included instructional DVD and also checked out a few pressure cooker demonstrations on YouTube. I then set off to make another dish that takes a while to cook, which is “Local style” Sweet & Sour Spare Ribs. This one using my Aunt’s favorite recipe, which is simply a 4 lb. tray of pork spare ribs, ginger, daikon, carrots and 1 cup each of shoyu, sugar, vinegar and 1 can of chunk pineapple, including the juice. In this case, I used apple cider vinegar instead of white vinegar, as I think apple cider vinegar has a better flavor when cooking with it.

While pressure cooking is indeed, fast, energy efficient and healthy, if there’s one “drawback” to it, is that you can’t just open the lid whenever you want to check on your food, stir it, or add ingredients as the cooking time progresses.

As you know when it comes to dishes such as pot roasts, stews and soups, most vegetables and/or starch ingredients in these recipes cook much faster than the tough cuts of meats it also uses. So with pressure cooking, many recipes have to be cooked in several pressurized “sessions”. Or as MissVickie.com calls it, the “Phased Pressure Cooking Method“: 1st pressurized phase the meat, 2nd pressurized phase the vegetables and/or starch and the 3rd unpressurized phase, the thickener. You get the idea.

So going off the cooking chart, which calls for just 10 minutes to pressure cook pork spare ribs, I cooked the (slightly-browned) meat, along with the the shoyu, sugar, vinegar, pineapple chunks ‘n juice and ginger for just 5 minutes pressure time.

Note that when you time pressure cooking, you start the timer from the time it reaches full 15 PSI pressure (when that yellow indicator button pops up), NOT when you first put the cooker on the fire. So while it does look amazingly fast on paper, the reality is theres that approximate 5 minutes of time it takes to pressure up , AND also the time it takes to pressure down (if required) when considering the TOTAL PROCESS (not cooking) TIME, not just the pressurized time.Plus the prep time such as peeling the vegetables ‘n stuff of course.

So anyway, after just 5 minutes of cooking time under pressure, I cut the LOW heat off and let it reduce pressure naturally. This took about another 10 minutes for the yellow pressure indicator button to go down, meaning it’s now safe to remove the lid. Which it then looked like this…

Yup, just 5 minutes of pressurized cooking time yielded pork spare ribs that were already falling off the bones, while the sweet and sour “sauce” was beautifully incorporated and infused with onolicious flavor from the bones in the pork.

That’s the first pressurized phase. Next pressurized phase, in goes the the daikon and carrot root veggies…

Let her go for 5 more minutes under pressure, let her cool down naturally (about 15 minutes), then voila, Sweet & Sour Spare Ribs…

A closer look…

Serve it  up…

As you can see, I insist on using only the finest Chinaware for my food presentations. lol

Seriously though, it turned out BROKE DA’ MOUT’ WINNAHZ! What’s interesting is I didn’t even need to do the 3rd thickening phase of adding a cornstarch and water slurry, as the sugar caramelized enough to give it just the right amount thickness.

Here you can kinda’ see the fat and meat of the spare ribs is practically MELTING apart off my spoon…


Pressure-cooked “Local-style” Sweet ‘n Sour Spare Ribs

You know that cartilage-like texture of the “bone” in pork spare ribs? Well these were so soft, yet had just enough “crunch” to it if you know what I mean. Plus, the flavor from the sweet and sour sauce was completely permeated throughout meat, bone and fat of the spare ribs and veggies, thanks to the benefit of high pressure cooking. Winnahz!

In hindsight, I don’t think this recipe needed to be done in 2 phases, as the spare ribs cooked so quickly, I think the root vegetables probably would have been perfectly cooked just as well had I put it all in the pot at the same time from the beginning. So there you go, just take the recipe I gave above and simply throw everything in your pressure cooker, let her rip for 10 minutes, then let it cool down naturally, and voila, you going stay get PERFECT local style Sweet ‘n Sour Spare Ribs.

My third and most recent pressure cooker project to date was Okinawan Pig’s Feet Soup, a.k.a. Ashitibichi, where here’s the final result…


Pomai’s pressure-cooked Okinawan Pig’s Feet Soup (Ashitibichi) with rice (gohan), Benishoga and Sushi Shoga tsukemono condiments

Gotta’ admit, that looks pretty darned OISHII! And you know what? It was very oishii! At least it came out more authentic tasting than my first attempt at Ashitibichi in a conventional pot. Not that I attribute my newfound success at making this dish to pressure cooking, yet I do think it did help extract more flavor out of the bones to make the soup broth.

I’ll now run you through how I did it, while pointing out again that I’m still LEARNING my pressure cooker, realizing just how FAST this thing is at cooking what normally takes much, much longer for these tough cuts of meats. In this case, the pig’s feet and hocks, which we have in raw state here…

Oh, don’t gross out. If you ate a bacon cheeseburger or bacon ‘n eggs anytime recently, this ain’t that much different, and mighty tasty if done the right way. Give it a try!

Along with that one HUGE cut of pig’s feet and hock part are a few cuts of spare ribs for added “meat” in the final soup.

Now the deal with properly preparing Ashitibichi is you MUST remove the blood and “scum” from the meat and bones before making the soup, as the broth has to taste “clean”. The way you do that, is you parboil the pig’s feet  for about 10 minutes, and then drain and thoroughly rinse it. So another mistake I made was thinking I could “parboil” it in high pressure mode in the pressure cooker to remove the blood and excess fat. WRONG.

What happened was, even for a short 5 minutes of pressurized cooking, the pork meat already began pulling off the bones of both the feet ‘n hocks and spare ribs…

…and I STILL have to add water to make the broth. Not surprisingly, upon doing that, returning it to the heat under pressure, after 15 minutes of cooking, the pig’s feet was pretty much rendered to loose bones with all the meat and skin barely sticking to it…

All I did in this next shot was turn the spoon, and it easily, without any restraint, FELL APART…

Which is fine if all you want is “pork soup”, but we want “Pig’s Feet Soup”, where there’s still a foot intact to gnaw on, so this won’t work. I’ll still use the “meat” (because that’s all it is now), but I’ll have to go get another package of pig’s feet and do that step again using a different method.

Here’s that overcooked “destroyed” pig’s feet and spare ribs, drained and put in a bowl on the side…

Of course all this tender pork meat is still good and will be used in the soup as an added “bonus”. Thankfully I also got a WONDERFUL pork broth out of that, which I placed in another separate container, and then refrigerated it overnight so I could easly skim off any separated fat off the top…

So back to the drawing board, I got another package of pig’s “trotters”, this time only the trotter part (no hocks), since I already had plenty of “meat” from the previous batch…

Doesn’t that look lovely? lol

This time around, to remove the blood and “scum”, I parboiled them UNPRESSURIZED for 10 minutes, placing the pressure cooker lid loosely on the pot without locking it. Out they came after being rinsed and drained looking like this…

That’s much better than the pretty much fully-cooked state they were in my first attempt. Cut up into individual pig’s feet servings, they looked like this…

By now you may feel a little squeamish looking at all these animal parts, so we’ll change gears and talk for a moment about the other ingredients that goes into traditional Okinawan Pig’s Feet Soup. One of the most unique being Chinese Squash, a.k.a. Winter Melon, or as the Okinawans call it “Togan”….

The flesh and seeds inside…

To describe how Togan tastes raw, it’s pretty much like eating an unripe melon or cantaloupe, sans the sweet or fruit-flavored element. It’s very subtle and nondescript, with no bitterness, acidity or sweetness whatsoever. I think what’s best about it is that it absorbs all the flavors of the broth once it’s cooked through. The skin is very easy to peel with a standard handheld vegetable and fruit peeler, while the seeds are also easy to scoop out using just a spoon. Very easy to work with. I got this quarter-section of Togan from the Kaheka Don Quijote for $1.49/lbs., which came out to about $4 for this piece, as a WHOLE Togan is is nearly as large as a watermelon.

One of my favorite ingredients in this soup are the tied knots of kombu….

Seriously, I could just as well take that hot pork broth and fill it up with a whole bunch of tied kombu knots for some Kombu Soup and call it a day.

Along with that are cut daikon and carrots, where here I have all the other “veggies” prepped and ready to hit what will actually be the third phase of cooking the vegetables…

So here we have the pot of pig’s feet soup after the pig’s feet have been “half-cooked”, where I used the broth from my first batch of pig’s feet for even more intense flavor…

In went all them “veggies”, then I turned back on the pressure cooker for another 10 minutes…

Then immediately released the pressure using the dial switch, to which my pretty much finished Ashitibichi turned out looking like this…

Serve ’em up…

Hai, itadakimasu!…

I think the pig’s feet are done just right at this point, where they still had some integrity, yet once it hits your mouth, it melts apart. You can see in this angle where the all-important marrow in the center of the bones was so soft, I could easily suck it out…

Like pig’s feet “buttah”…

I definitely did VERY well with the authenticity of the broth flavor this time, thanks to not adding dashinomoto, which made my first attempt at Ashitibichi taste more like Japanese Oden. My only other flavoring in the broth besides the pig’s feet (and various “veggies”) was Miso paste of the “shiro” (white) variety, which I used in restraint, adding it ever so slightly to taste.

The “veggies” were done pretty much how I wanted them, although I think the carrots could have used a little more time. I put in the mustard cabbage raw, as I like it that way, but you can cook it in the final phase if you don’t like the “bite” it has. I like that bite and crispy green taste mustard cabbage has in its raw state, so this was fantastic for me.

In hindsight of my first (actually second within a first) attempt at making Okinawan Pig’s Feet Soup in a pressure cooker, I think just like Sweet & Sour Spare Ribs, next time I’m going to put everything in from the start, except the kombu, as the Pig’s Feet cooks SO QUICK, I’m confident the veggies will still have enough al dente doneness doing it that way. I’ll keep you posted when that happens.

Summing it up, I give my pressure-cooked Ashitibichi on this attempt 3 SPAM Musubi, the pressure-cooked Sweet & Sour Spare Ribs 5 Musubi, with “no comment” on my pressure-cooked “rookie” Kalua Pig, other than to ask, “How often have first dates ever been PERFECT?” LOL!

I’m really looking forward to trying  more favorite recipes in my new pressure cooker, such as Portuguese Bean Soup, Pot Roast, Squid Luau and Laulau, just to name a few. This pressure cooker has already proven to be one of the best investments for my kitchen (besides the new kitchen itself) I’ve made yet. Every home should have one!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a01QQZyl-_I

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LncAQR47eZo

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!

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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.

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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