Monday, May 30, 2011

hawai'i: giovanni's aloha shrimp truck gives you delicious garlic breath stank

this truck looks busted.

but admittedly, it serves some hoppin' delicious skrimp amongst all the shrimp trucks lined up in oahu's north shore.

giovanni's aloha shrimp truck is easily located by the use of a gps (a godsend when you're driving around hawai'i). their menu is concise and basic because you get skrimp, or you get skrimp...and maybe a hot dog, but i'm not sure why you're going to get a hot dog at a shrimp truck.

the shrimp scampi ($13) was pretty DERICIOUS. huge skrimps swaddled in a garlic butter sauce dotted with finely chopped garlic accompanied by two scoops of rice. although simple and probably replicable in your own home, i can see why you would want to drop by giovanni's if you so happen to crave shrimp and you so happen to be in north shore. i sure did.

on the other hand, their hot and spicy ($13) shrimp was pretty terrible. the hot sauce turned out to be dominated by this vinegar funk which gave these shrimps a very one noted flavor profile. i am not a fan of eating things that taste like vinegar. to add insult to injury, there is a a warning for it on the menu board "very hot. no refunds." omg, bye, bye $13.

before we headed back to our hotel, i HAD to stop by ted's bakery for their infamous chocolate haupia cream pie which is also located in north shore. oh boy, thick, decadent, chocolatey, with a whisper of coconut haupia in the mix. oh dear, how i wish they had a storefront here!

we also picked up a slice of ted's pineapple cheese pie because we had visited the dole plantation earlier that day so i still had prickly pineapples on my mind. though this slice was delicious, it was pretty clear to me that the chocolate haupia pie was the be all and end all dessert in hawai'i. in fact, i think i will be dreaming about the chocolate haupia tonight.

ted's bakery also serves bento boxes and various lunch items which were delicious. alas, we were hungry and scarfed them down before i could take pics. just another reason for me to head back with my belly and my camera. good times!

Giovanni's Aloha Shrimp Truck
66-472 Kamehameha Hwy

Haleiwa, HI 96712

(808) 293-1839

price: $$
verdict: tasty, try it!

Ted's Bakery
59-024 Kamehameha Hwy

Haleiwa, HI 96712

(808) 638-8207

price: $
verdict: omg, i love it!

Monday, May 23, 2011

hawai'i: spamming at mitsu-ken

like the guy you never thought you would end up falling for...maybe too short, too fat, too hairy, farts too much...i too, didn't think i would fall for spam as hard as i have. oh man SPAM. canned meat pumped full of sodium?! who would have thunk that i would be so smitten by gelatinous pink meat in a can...but that was before i had my first taste of spam musubi about 10 years ago so visiting hawai'i was as much about searching for relaxation as it was about looking for the perfect bite of spam musubi.

with this mission in mind, we were lucky to have found mitsu-ken early into our trip, thanks to a quick tweet from julian informing me about this small stand across the street from helena's. but after such a heavy meal at helena's, my first visit to mitsu-ken was a tentative one so i walked away from this tiny storefront with only one spam musubi in hand.

but literally, after one hefty bite of the spam musubi, a tidal wave of regret rushed in. why didn't i get more? how am i suppose to share just one? does d really need a taste? can we head back there now? WHY THE HECK DID I JUST BUY ONE I AM SUCH AN IDIOT!

so the following day, i was determined not to deal with food regrets from the day before. i picked up a mitsu-ken bento ($6) which consisted of garlic chicken, teri beef, a slice of spam, half a hot dog, egg omelet, and rice with furikake on top for lunch. everything on the plate had a sweet note to it, but since i tend to like sweet/savory foods, this whole bento box was right up my alley. EXTREMELY delicious.

and of course, the spam musubi ($1.25). it was everything i wished a spam musubi would be. it had the right amount of rice (not too much, not too little) and the right amount of saltiness and sweetness from the spam and soy sauce. although relatively easy to make, the "perfect" spam musubi bite can be rather elusive, but mitsu-ken smacked these flavor profiles right on the head. all you have to do is look at my leaning tower of spamisa to see how much i adored them.

sun, sand, spam. i'm hella coming back to this one! and next time, we're doubling up the spamisa to 10. ha! :0

1223 N. School Street
Honolulu, HI 96817
(808) 848-5573

price: $
verdict: holy shit!
Mitsu-Ken on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 15, 2011

hawai'i: the crack seed store supplies me with good crack

it was just a matter of time before this crack whore found herself in front of THE crack seed store in honolulu. yeah, it might have taken a 6 hour plane ride and flying over the pacific ocean to do so, but once she stood in front of the doors of this tiny temple that glorified all that was crack seed, it was GAME OVER. her slitty eyes immediately zoned in on the rows and rows of glass jars that housed the crack she had long been searching for.

she was overjoyed that the savory crack seeds were aplenty, the legal kind that can't be smoked, shot up the arms, nor snorted lest you want to deal with a big plum seed stuck uncomfortably in your left nostril. because dahlings, crack seed, for those of you unfamiliar with it, is a preserved asian "candy" a.k.a. preserved plum that is typified by salty, sweet, and sour flavor profiles. li hing mui would be the powdery form of crack seed and is utilized most commonly on fresh or dried fruits to provide a contrast to the said fruit's natural sweetness. once eaten and appreciated, these crack seeds are truly addictive, befitting of its name.

crack jars. lovely, lovely, crack jars.

before long, her eyes rested on this glorious green shelf laden with THE THINGS she flew so far for, li hing mui covered gummies. powdery li hing mui covered sour patch kids, green apple gummies, watermelon gummies, sour belts and the like...totally sweet, yet totally sour. loves.

her mouth puckered in anticipation, knowing that each piece of li hing mui covered gummy will taste even better than the last and with giddy anticipation, she ended up buying enough bags to put her over her carry-on limit.

this crack seed store is also known for their li hing mui icee which is a regular icee mixed with a spoonful of li hing mui juice. the salty flavors mixed well with the typically sweet icee flavors.

and how grand was it for her to find a little crack seed in the midst of this refreshing red sea? she was happy. this crack, ain't whack she says and with one hefty sip and a bag full of li hing mui gummies, she bade the crack seed store a fond farewell and swore to come back again. and she will.

The Crack Seed Store
1156 Koko Head Ave.
Honolulu, HI 96816

(808) 737-1022

price: $
verdict: omg, i love it!

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
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