During the summer I had the pleasure of spending two weeks in several of the Hawaiian Islands. My family and I visited the Big Island of Hawaii, Maui, Kauai, and Oahu. During those two weeks, we ate a lot of food – both native Hawaiian and various others. Some of the Hawaiian dishes we tried were the Loco Moco, Poi (a side dish consisting of mashed taro) and Tuna Poke. But many of the other foods we ate were of an Asian influence because the majority of Hawaiian inhabitants are of Asian descent. I wanted to highlight two restaurants and one bakery that we visited on the island of Oahu that served up cheap and delicious foods – Side Street Inn on Da Strip in Honolulu, Shokudo Japanese Restaurant and Leonard’s Bakery.
Side Street Inn opened in 1992 and is a hole-in-the-wall local bar in Honolulu, Hawaii. They serve local comfort food that is a mixture of many cuisines: Japanese, Korean, French and Italian. Our meal was truly a mixture.
Our first dish was the Sautéed Mushrooms, which is mushrooms sautéed with shallots, white wine, garlic butter and topped with parmesan cheese. Not your typical Asian dish but it was very delicious. The mixture of garlic butter and white wine made you feel like you were eating an Italian pasta dish and not mushrooms!
Our second dish was Ahi Tuna Sashimi. This dish came with 18 pieces of tuna sashimi for the low price of $24. The slices were thick and almost melted in your mouth. It was so fresh! You would never find 18 pieces of tuna sashimi priced at $24 in New York City!
Our third dish was their Side Street Inn Fried Chicken, which is boneless chicken that is dipped in their own sauce and fried. This dish is served with a side of salad. The fried chicken was tasty without being too oily. Their fried chicken is very similar to Korean fried chicken in the sense that there is a sauce on top of the fried dough. Unlike American fried chicken, which has a dry fried crust on the chicken, this fried chicken had a wonderful moist fried crust.
Next up is Shokudo Japanese Restaurant. Shokudo is located by the Ala Moana Shopping Center, which is the biggest shopping center in Honolulu. This restaurant features traditional Japanese cuisine with a modern flair. Their menu and dishes are meant to be served family style – as in dishes are ordered for the entire table and everyone shares.
Our first dish at Shokudo was Garlic Shrimp Rice. Garlic Shrimp is a favorite local dish in Hawaii and is served at most restaurants. This dish is served in a sizzling hot stone bowl. The waiter mixes the rice and the garlic shrimp at your table in front of you. The rice has the flavor of the garlic shrimp because of this method. The rice and shrimp also stay very warm until you eat it because of the hot stone pot. But be careful not to touch the pot because it’s very hot!
Our second dish was Teriyaki Chicken Quesadilla. This dish features a tortilla filled with teriyaki chicken, mozzarella, and mayonnaise. I really enjoyed this dish because it used a very typical Japanese dish, Teriyaki Chicken, and combined it with tortilla, a very Mexican stable. The outcome was delicious as the teriyaki chicken sauce soaked the tortilla.
Another dish that we tried at Shokudo was the Sushi Pizza. Sushi Pizza is a dish that is typically served on the Western side of the United States. You won’t find Sushi Pizza here in New York City! Shokudo’s Sushi Pizza had a toasted seaweed base topped with rice and followed by a layer of salmon, crabmeat and scallops. I had never tried Sushi Pizza before so this was quite the experience for me. The pizza was cut into little bite sized squares, which made it very easy to just pop into your mouth. The seaweed melts in your mouth so all you taste is the salmon and crabmeat combined with the rice.
The star of the night at Shokudo, would be their signature dessert – Honey Toast. Their Honey Toast consists of thick Japanese white toast that is cut out and cubed. Honey is then drizzled on top of the toast, followed by a cube of vanilla ice cream. The uniqueness of the dessert makes it all the tastier. With this dessert, you don’t eat the crust. You fork a bit of vanilla ice cream and then stab a piece of cubed toast. The combination of honey and ice cream brings so many flavors to the otherwise bland taste of white bread. This dessert is a definite must try.
And lastly, we reach Leonard’s Bakery, established in 1952. Leonard’s Bakery is famous for their malasadas, a Portuguese pastry that is sort of a doughnut without the hole. They fry the balls of dough until they are a golden brown color. The fried dough is then rolled in sugar and depending on the type you choose, it might have a cream filling. They offer a different cream filling every month and August’s filling was mango cream. This is another food that you will not find in New York City! Leonard’s malasadas are so famous on the island that when we visited at around 9pm, there was still a line almost out the door. Their malasadas are super fluffy and just the right amount of sweet. The moment you bite into one, the cream filling will start to ooze out and melt in your mouth.
So while this food review contains food that aren’t easily accessible to those of us who do not live in Hawaii, I felt the need to share with all of you the delicious finds that can be found there. All of these restaurants are not touristy restaurants. They are all local restaurants that cater to those who live in the island of Oahu. The only reason why my family was able to find such restaurants is because of our relatives who live there. We were very lucky to experience such good local food and since they shared with me, I felt that I had to share with all of you.