Hawaii Favourites

Hawaiian cuisine. 

Hawaiian local culture and food is a mix of Japan, Korea, Phillipines, Polynesian and American foods.  And being a japanese with time spent in America during youth, it just feels so comfortable and it’s no wonder that my siblings decided to choose Hawaii as home.  This time my main purpose was to say hi to a new member of the family but good food is always not too far behind.  

For this trip, my BBQ and Smoking Guru friend gave me a mission to check out some items he was interested in. I was glad he did.  

Helena’s Hawaiian Cuisine

They are a long standing institution serving many local dishes but famous for the pilikoi style beef ribs. Pilikoi usually means dried beef and usually refers to beef jerky. Theirs is a shorter drying style just for condensing the flavour. Very much like the Japanese himono ranging from dry (katsuobushi, niboshi or surume) to quick dried (ichiyaboshi or overnight dried).  

As seen in the picture, they hang the marinated short ribs and they cook it on the grill. The marinade tasted of soy and sugar and maybe some garlic but I couldn’t taste much of it or too much else herb/spice wise but the beef umami was really drawn out and it was really nice.  

Opihi poke. Normal Ahi Poke, tuna sashimi marinated with sesame oil and soy, along with seaweed and some raw baby abalone on the top.  

Butterfish collar stew. Tomato based stew. These stews with fish can get too fishy very easily but this was done just right.  

Mike’s Huli Huli Chicken

Huli Huli means turn turn. The chicken is butterflied and set on a basket rotisserie and roasted for 45 minutes over kiawe wood.  

I am not a big fan of rotisserie chicken. I think that the outside parts including my favourite pieces such as wings and drumsticks get overlooked during the process of cooking through to the core. No worries with the Huli Huli. The chicken is butterflied and the cooking process is short so the moisture is retained.  

The spit is empty because the chicken was already pre-prepped. Here is a flank steak being cooked to order.  

I got the prawn and chicken combo. The food actually tasted not fresh, even a bit off.  At first I was hesitant, but after my second bite I was hooked. I don’t know whether it was intentional but this also tasted like it’s been air dried. Condensed umami and slightly funky flavours. The taste just crept back at me and I was just heading back for more. The mac salad was totally fresh and the slices of juicy pineapple also a perfect accompaniment. I don’t know though. Air drying chicken sounds like a dangerous affair so maybe they use some sort of fermented marinade.  Either way the result was addictive.  

This simple dish became my most memorable dish dining outside.  

PS for the honour of the restaurant I did not get sick at all after eating this dish and am just craving to get back next time I can.  


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