Monday, May 2, 2011

hawai'i: helena's hawaiian food will pop your pants good

while people head towards hawai'i thinking of sunning on the beach or snorkeling with the fishes, my own hawaiian plans involved eating till my pants popped. sure, i can pop my pants anywhere, BUT, i wanted to pop them real good with some authentic hawaiian food like the stuff you find at helena's hawaiian foods in honolulu. omg, ono. no, seriously, ono.

in order to avoid the maddening lines that form almost as soon as helena's open, we got there at exactly 10am (they are open tuesday through friday so plan accordingly). given the option to sit anywhere, i made sure i found a seat that faced the infamous pipikaula short ribs as showcased in the man vs. food hawaiian episode. i think i'm just intrigued by hanging meat and by golly there were lots of them!

after a quick once-over with the menu, we settled on "menu d" ($17.85) which was comprised of their four most popular items; kalua pig, pipikaula short ribs, lomi salmon, luau squid, two cubes of coconut haupia for dessert, and a choice of either two scoops of rice or poi.

although everything was delicious, the standout items by far was the luau squid which consisted of taro leaves, squid, and coconut milk which was cooked until it became a mushy, delicious green mess reminiscent of creamed spinach. although unattractive to look at, it was in fact, one of the highlights of the meal and the silky fragrance of this dish made it rather craveable.

but the king of it all, the main reason to go to helena's is THIS, the pipikaula short ribs. omg. the 24 hour drying process allowed the short ribs to attain an almost jerky like texture but the flavors of the marinade has also deeply penetrated the meat, giving it an intense flavor with every bite. it also didn't hurt the flavor cause that these ribs were deep fried before serving which gave them a crunchy exterior.

we were so smitten by these short ribs, we literally ordered another large order of pipikaula ($10.40) and had to fight each other for the last piece too! in fact, right before we flew home, we came back again to order some food to go. too bad helena's is so dang far away!

alaea sea salt (unrefined sea salt mixed with hawaiian clay that is rich in iron oxide) served with slices of raw maui onion which was a curiously delicious accompaniment to the meal. i was so smitten with the salt after this introduction that before we headed home, i bought 5 bags to take with me which promptly got me pulled to the side by the tsa at the airport.

overall, the food was intensely satisfying and my expectations were met. when i come back to oahu, i will make sure helena's is the first place i visit. and next time, i will be wearing a floral dress so i can avoid all this pants popping is so embarrassing when one cannot zip up one's pants.

Helena's Hawaiian Food
1240 N. School St.
Honolulu, HI 96817
(808) 845-8044

price: $$
verdict: holy shit!
Helena's Hawaiian Food on Urbanspoon


  1. I've seen that episode of Man v. Food. I always wanted to try it. Thankfully it wasn't a fail for you and D! :)

  2. Did the salt make it with you back to the US?

  3. danny- yup, we were really happy that it tasted as good as it was hyped up to be. d LOVED it.

    diana- they took a bag and did this test on it and allowed me to take it home once the test cleared it. good thing we were early cuz that took a while.

  4. These short ribs are clearly the stuff of Hawaiian legend. I must taste it myself soon!

  5. Another one filed under "HOLY SHIT!"

    I'm a little skeptical about the creamed spinach looking squid, but the ribz look incredible!

  6. OMG...those pipikaula ribs look awesome. next time i'm in on oahu, i'm going.



  7. Ooh bookmarked for my next Oahu trip! Whenever that is, hopefully soon ..

  8. marie- oh man they are so good!

    cathy- looks are deceiving. the luau squid is very fragrant and very delicious...even though it looks like green mush :/

    kish- oy, go!

    fiona- it's a true gem and absolutely worth the stop. beautiful beaches, wonderful weather, and pipikaula short ribs...that's all you need for some good r & r :)


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