Bowled Over By The Alley

Jo McGarry
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Wednesday - May 16, 2007
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The Alley’s Tiffani Luke, Glenn Uyeda and Shane Masutani
The Alley’s Tiffani Luke, Glenn Uyeda and
Shane Masutani

There’s something you really should know about me. Since coming to Hawaii, my sense of direction has taken a serious nosedive. When I lived in Scotland I used to roam the hills on weekends with nothing but a tiny compass, a bottle of water, a Mars bar and a wrinkled old hiking map, and I could find a pub 75 miles from anywhere. Point me in the direction of a mountain, and I’d be off like a goat.

But something happened to me when I came to Hawaii. Maybe it’s the fact that we only have a few roads, or perhaps it’s that I can’t get used to being behind people who never use a turn signal, but whatever the reason - I simply cannot find my way around.

So what does all this have to do with food?

Finding restaurants. When my friend Vicky called to give me directions to The Alley, I could feel my brain completely shutting off. I was with her all the way to “and they have a really nice chef,” but as soon as she mentioned Aiea and H1, I drifted off and started to think about what to make for dinner. The upshot of all of this is we met at Aloha Stadium (years of doing The Tailgate Show on radio before every UH home game ensured that I can drive there blindfolded), and drove over to The Alley for lunch.

You probably already know where The Alley is and, to be honest, if she’d said Aiea Bowl I’d have been able to find it easily (ha!).

The Alley opened late last year, and the new owners have spent these last few months just finding their feet within the remodeled bowling alley. There’s no waitress service - you just drive to the rooftop parking lot of the Aiea Shopping Mall and order at the window. You then take your Styrofoam box into the casual restaurant, or do what we did and find a table, settle in and then make frequent trips to the window for more food.

Aiea Bowl has gone through some intensive modeling in recent years, but the most impressive change is in the food. You can still get a hot dog or saimin, but local-style dishes like garlic shrimp, teriyaki beef and loco moco have been given a gourmet twist by chef Shane Masutani. There’s a blossoming bake shop too, in the capable hands of Tiffani Luke. They’re both KCC graduates who left Hawaii for the Mainland, and were lured back by new owners Glenn Uyeda and his brother Grant. While Shane’s been busy creating dishes like pan-seared furikake ahi ($6.50) and grilled Coca Cola-marinated turkey breast ($5.95), Tiffani’s been hard at work in the bakery. She makes a lemon drop crunch cake that is sublime, and her goal is to make the bakery famous for its five-layered chocolate cake.

“It’s already getting hard to keep up with demand,” says Tiffani cheerfully.

Prices are reasonable, the food is really good, and it’s run by a group of young, local people trying to make their mark.

“It’s seems to be catching on,” says Shane modestly. “Before people used to come to bowl. Now they’re coming to eat too.”

Go check it out. The food is good and even the cosmic bowling looks like fun.

I’d love to tell you how to get there ... but you know how it is.

Happy Eating!

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