Friday, August 21, 2015

Awesome Sauce: Palama Market bibim kooksoo

Pit stop at Palama Market in Kalihi for my first meal of the day. The bibim kooksoo (cold) was perfect. I liked the price first, but the sauce. THE SAUCE. Nice spicy, nice sweet. AWESOME SAUCE.

I'm not kidding. If they bottled this, I'd buy it. Then I'd sip it. Addictive.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Foodie Route: McCully to Kaimuki

If I had to suggest a foodie route for Kapahulu/Kaimuki/Moiliili/McCully, it would go something like this.

1. Enchilada plate (pork/steak) at Torito's (Market City) ONLY IF THE COOK'S MAMA MADE THE SAUCE THAT DAY. That sauce is the bomb. I fold my Mexican rice into the sauce to get every savory drop. Yes, I would drink it from a bottle.

2. Chicken donburi at Okata Bento. Metered parking only but worth the quarter (or two). Only open for lunch hours.

3. Wash it down with A) an XL bowl at Waiola Shave Ice​ (I prefer li hing/strawberry flavors with azuki beans and ice cream) or B) mocha frappe at Smokey's. BEST MOCHA FRAPPE ON OAHU.

4. Afternoon snack: Chili plate w/ mac salad and side of Asian cole slaw at Rainbow Drive- In​. Yes, best chili in Hawaii. I don't mix everything up like some people, but I love the chili and mac salad together — even though I always avoid mac salad otherwise. Not quite the same as adding a dollop of mayo to chili like they do in Kohala, but close. Optional: Huli chicken (1/4 or 1/2 chicken) next door (Rainbows' own Hawaii Finest Kitchens). If it's not charred, you're missing out.

5. If you're still thirsty, stay at Rainbows and get the humongous shave ice at their Shimazu Shave Ice stand. Their ice is not as powdery-fine as Waiola, which is good. A little texture is best.

6. Take home: ahi limu poke and spicy pipikaula from Tamura's on 10th Ave.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Fried Chicken Top 10

Morning ride to Tamura's in Kaimuki was about lavosh. I love that hard lavosh they sell in the big bag. But when I got there, all they had were two bags and everything in them was crumbly. I took a pass. I like the lavosh a little fresher.

But I couldn't say no to 1) ahi poke with limu, and 2) fried chicken. Tamura's has a new little window thing, mini-sized, just for spam musubi, bentos and fried chicken. The FC was 1) just crispy enough, 2) juicy and 3), only $1.50 per piece. Compare that to Foodland ($2.10 to 2.40).

So maybe this is selective memory, but the Tamura's FC (thighs only) rates No. 2 on my updated list. Having the thighs along with an ahi poke bowl (and rice with furikake) may have swayed me some. But the list always changes. This will do until next time. Still haven't tried that famous place in Kaneohe. Yet.

## Pupule's Best Fried Chicken (Hawaii) ##
Friday, June 12, 2015
1. Golden Duck (S. King St.) - salt & pepper wings. Garlic/chili pepper topping rules.
2. Tamura's (Kaimuki).
3. Jolibee - Spicy, please.
4. Shakey's (Waipahu).
5. Foodland (Kalihi).
6. B&L (Waipahu).
7. Zippy's.
8. KFC.
9. That gas station in Kawaihae.
10. Popeye's.
11. L&L (Liliha).

Friday, May 1, 2015

Chippy garlic and vinegar corn chips

Tried this for the first time the other day. $1.25 from a mom-and-pop store in Kalihi that sells a lot of Filipino products and produce. Never seen it before. The garlic and vinegar flavors are among my favorites, but combined? Great idea.

The taste? The corn chips are a bit similar to Fritos, not as dense and thick. The flavor was pretty good, but I'd rate this a 7 out of 10. A little teeny bit disappointing, but still good enough to throw into my next homemade salad.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Waipahu: B&L Drive Inn fried chicken

Yes, I had oatmeal for breakfast again (Jamba Juice). Yes, I stopped by B&L Drive Inn to try their supposedly tasty fried chicken this afternoon. My pupule verdict?

Very good. Though the place is air-conditioned — a relief on a sultry and hot day in Waipahu — the scent of some weird disinfectant in the establishment was hard to ignore. I kinda got used to it.

The fried chicken took, as it does in most places, several minutes to make. When I got the mini-plate ($6.25), it was actually kinda wide. Wide? Yeah, it seems that along with the one scoop of rice and one scoop of mac salad (they don't offer tossed salad), you get two very wide chicken thighs. Flattened, too.

My guess is that they flatten the thigh so that it cooks evenly in the oil. No harm done. The chicken thighs were excellent. Crispy, borderline crunchy on the outside. They use a batter, but it doesn't have any negative effect, no unusual flavor. The meat was tender and fairly juicy all the way through.

This is among the better fried chicken I've had, and the fact that it was another hole-in-the-wall makes it  even more rewarding.

I forgot to bring my camera today. Photo is a bit fuzzy. B&L fried chicken good.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Liliha: L&L fried chicken

A friend advised that I give L&L in Liliha a try, noting that their fried chicken is exceptional. I didn't think I'd sample this for a long time, but I had a break the other day and it was time for late afternoon lunch.

As I was told, this took 15 minutes. I can't say it was enthralling, though it was promising. I can't say it was a disappointment, though I wonder why it isn't better.

It's because of this: the breast is perfectly cooked. Crispy, juicy and really good. It's the rest of the chicken (plate is $9) that was slightly overcooked. Sure, I ate it all up a day or two later, but at the time, it was the first fried chicken I'd eaten in a long time — at least since I'd begun this Fried Chicken rankings — that was anywhere near overcooked.

My guess is they kept it in the fryer 1 minute too long. Hope they fix this problem, because if they can cook the rest (thigh, legs, etc) as well as the breast, it's a championship-level contender.

Kalihi: Foodland fried chicken again

Made a return visit to Foodland in Kalihi on my way to work and this time, I got a full plate, if you can call it that.

The first time, I just got a thigh for $2.19. That was tasty, perfectly salty, crispy and juicy. This time, I went for the plate, think it was $8 or so, and was bummed to find out that they only give a thigh or breast, and then a small leg piece. Lots of rice and side (I chose potato salad), and tasty as it was, I couldn't even finish that. I should've just gotten chicken only.

Again, the chicken was just right. Crispy, juicy... and this is mid-afternoon when you might imagine most places have hardened fried chicken sitting under lamps. But at Foodland, it's not sitting under burning hot lights. It's behind a window, as if the thighs and breasts are keeping each other naturally warm.

Still high up on my Fried Chicken rankings.

Kapahulu: Hoku BBQ

These photos were buried on a camera for awhile. I'd just eaten a chili plate at Rainbow Drive In when I wandered around and walked into this place. Well, first, I wanted to take home some huli chicken that was cooking in the parking lot. They pointed me to this place, Hoku BBQ, which used to be a vet clinic.

No jokes please, strictly huli chicken here. And some other stuff I had no interest in. Worth noting that the folks who own Rainbows are going to pull a lot of visitors to Hoku BBQ, just a hunch. I was there at mid-afternoon and there were several tourists there.

The full chicken is $12, a bit pricey, but worth every cent. The Hoku huli chicken is a little bit on the sweet side, not exactly covered in paprika and other spices like the old-school huli chicken you may be used to. But it is expertly cooked, juicy and awesome.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Kim Chi II: Bibimbap

You get what you pay for. I like the $6 bibimbap style bowl at Itchy Butt. Filling, cheap and convenient.

But at Kim Chi II, you get the full works (veggies), and the meat is thick. Not shredded stuff. You pay $9 plus and get more. Both are good, just depends on what you need. Parking at KC2 is a bit of labor. I Parked on the street, paid a quarter or two into the meter. Worthwhile.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Shakey's fried chicken?

Crispy skin, juicy meat, evenly cooked. Thumbs up!

The Fried Chicken List has taken on a bit of life the past couple of days. Yesterday, I found myself in Foodland and decided to partake of their supposedly fantastic fried chicken. (That proved to be true.)

Today, I beat the traffic on what will no doubt be a hellish Friday rush hour from Mo'ili'ili to the west side. So I took up the promise of Brian Santos and stopped in at Shakey's. Mid-afternoon, it's nice and air-conditioned and mostly empty with friendly service. The wait was worthwhile. (I don't mind waiting for good fried chicken. Just shows they're doing it right and it's not something they pop into a microwave oven.)

Yes, Shakey's is the old-school pizza joint, and yes, they used to have a restaurant in Honolulu on Keeaumoku Street where Sorabol now is. Here, you won't see a pizza guy flipping the dough high above, but you will get some ono chicken. They also have a special hot sauce that one of the guys said is "really hot" but you won't get it unless you specifically request it.

I'd been here only once before. I love the place. Four TV screens, two ESPN channels. Thunder and Grizzles on this screen. This could be my office if I lived around here.

This two-piece meal with potato wedges ("mojos") is $6.99. They have a salad bar plate for $8.99. I almost went for that, too. Still might. I've got a little time to spare.

## Pupule's Best Fried Chicken (Hawaii) ##
Friday, Apr. 3, 2015 (updated again)
1. Golden Duck (S. King St.) - salt & pepper wings. Garlic/chili pepper topping rules.
2. Jolibee - Spicy, please.
3. Shakey's (Waipahu). 
4. Foodland (Kalihi).
5. Zippy's.
6. KFC.
7. That gas station in Kawaihae.
8. Popeye's.