Honolulu’s Best Signature Dishes
Wednesday - February 15, 2006
Stephanie Brown serves a
Shack chicken salad
“Geez, I no see da Zigzag anymore. U pau, or wat?” a reader asks.
“Jus lazy,” I reply.
Welcome to the column that happens w’en evahs. This week we offer an honor roll of house specialties at our town’s hole-in-the-wall nooks and roadside eateries.
That’s what the Zigzag Guide is all about.
Jo McGarry gets all the fancy, full-service restaurants with charming maitre d’s and fine linen. I eat out of Styrofoam boxes.
But I digress ...
Shiro Matsuo lives up to his reputation as the ‘King of
Sigall is professor at Hawaii Pacific University who had his graduate-level students research more than 150 local companies.
They collected such fascinating stories, Small Business Hawaii decided to publish them.
The book is delightful reading about 450 of Hawaii’s best-known companies. Want to know why Lex Brodie says “thank you very much” or where the plate lunch came from and how macaroni salad came to be on it?
You’ll find out in this book.
My favorite section is titled “Signature Dish - Specialty of the House.”
Many of Hawaii’s restaurants are famous for a particular item, it states. How many of the following onolicious “bests” have you tasted? You can’t call yourself a true kamaaina unless you know the specialty item at these places.
Evelyn Valdez loves her
Sampling each of these classics A to Z should keep you busy for a while.
Aiea Manapua: pizza manapua
Barbecue Inn: pork chops
Big City Diner: kim chee fried rice
Boots & Kimo: macadamia pancakes
Byron’s Drive Inn: broasted chicken, shrimp burger
Café Laufer: chocolate banana Oreo cake
Char Hung Sut: manapua, mai tai soo
Isaac Waters with a big plate of kim chee fried
rice at Big City Diner in Kailua
Columbia Inn: oxtail soup
Da Big Kahuna: garlic cheese balls
Deb’s Ribs & Soul Food: barbecue ribs
Doug’s Gee a Deli: pastrami sandwich
Elena’s: adobo fried rice
Flamingo Restaurant: double-crusted banana pie
Grace’s Inn: chicken katsu
Gulick Delicatessen: butterfish
Helena’s Hawaiian Food: pipikaula short ribs, butterfish collars
Irifune: garlic ahi, breaded tofu, ahi boat
Kilani Bakery: brownies, banana pie
Kimuraya Bakery: cake doughnuts
Leonard’s Bakery: malasadas
Liliha Bakery: coco puffs
Matsumoto’s: shaved ice
McCully Chop Suey: kau yuk
Mitsuba Delicatessen: sweet potato crumbles
Mitsu-Ken: garlic chicken
Rainbow Drive-In: mushroom chicken, slush float, teri beef
Royal Kitchen: baked manapua
Ruger Market: poke, boiled peanuts
Shiro’s Saimin Heaven: won tun min
Sunnyside: chocolate cream pie
Ted’s Bakery: chocolate haupia pie
The Olive Tree: souvlaki
The Shack: Chinese chicken salad
Waimalu Chop Suey: gau gee
Windy’s: teri burger
Yama’s: lau lau
Young’s Fish Market: lau lau
Savas serves a fish souvlaki
at the Olive Tree
As for the origin of the plate lunch, the book says it started on the plantation.
Field workers needed a big lunch that wouldn’t spoil. Macaroni salad was first popularized around 1900 at Delmonico’s restaurant in New York and became a craze, according to the source.
Many Hawaii hotel chefs were trained in New York and brought it with them.
So, there you have it.
With this list of house specialties in hand, get out this week with friends and family to patronize these humble, yet iconic hole-in-the-wall places.
Try one place, then another. That’s right. Zigzag ‘round the town.
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