Friday, April 29, 2011

John Currence's Quinoa with [Spiced Seared Scallops] and Pistou

This recipe has a huge list of ingredients, but its method is as easy as it gets. The original recipe calls for tossing the shrimp in an awesome mix of spices and oil, but for some reason, I was in the mood for a scallop. So instead of marinading and baking shrimp, I decided to use this marinade as a dressing on top of a seared scallop.

The recipe also calls for mixing together a pesto with some quinoa, which I thought was just brilliant. This kind of opened up my world with quinoa. I love whipping up some pesto, and I love seeing quinoa transform into a fluffy cloud. I don't know why this preparation isn't used more often, and I wish I had thought of this earlier. Really simple, really delicious, and it gives the quinoa a beautiful green color.

The end result was great. I had never seared a scallop before, but with the help of my friend, Hana, and Alton Brown's method, the abnormally humungous scallop became beautifully browned. The taste of the pesto was subtle, and could have probably used a tad bit more salt, but it complemented the light nuttiness of quinoa really well. The smell of pesto also filled my nose with each bite. The lack of salt in the pesto balanced out the relatively intense dressing. I think I was a little bit over-enthusiastic with the dressing. Next time I'll make do with a smaller dab. A well-proportioned bite of this, though, hit the spot.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I rarely find myself in Seattle's Madison Park. I don't really know why. It's nearby, it's accessible, and it's got lots of character. But I'll be honest. The only reason I ended up at Nishino was because it has the highest rating on Yelp for sushi in Seattle.

Nishino is one of those places that's as casual or as formal as you want to make it. Service will make you feel like you're at an exclusive, fine dining establishment, while the welcoming, warm lighting will make you feel like you're over at your friend's house. Table seating is smartly elevated, is not too crowded, and overlooks the expected open sushi bar. Overall, the restaurant felt casual, comfortable, and inviting, three adjectives I would probably use to describe Tatsu Nishino's omakase.

The meal started off with a five-item plate. The first was a Spot Prawn and Tomato with Wasabi Sauce. The spot prawn was super fresh and the wasabi sauce brought a light heat to the fresh tomato. It was a really bright way to start the meal and wake up the palate.

The Sockeye Salmon with Kelp balanced out the lightness of the previous bite with more fat and a generously seasoned sheet of kelp. The lemon added a needed acidity to make the transition from the spot prawn more gradual.

The third bite brought things back to a strictly lighter tone. The Shigoku Half Shell with Ginger Salsa was unbelievably fresh and the restrained amount of ginger salsa brought a light kick to the nose. The contrast of the ginger against the oyster really helped to bring out the more subtle tones in the oyster. This was my second favorite of the five bites.

The fourth bite was Yellowtail with a Cucumber Wrap and Miso Sauce. Yellowtail is my favorite type of sashimi, and this did not disappoint. The miso sauce moved the bite away from being very light, while the cucumber helped to make sure things didn't get too heavy. This was my favorite of the five.

The last bite of the first course was a Sesame-Crusted Albacore on a Cucumber Slice. Like the previous bite, this one had a nice mixture of light and heavy, but leaned more towards heavy. The albacore was topped with a delicious and restrained mix of ponzu, radish, red pepper, and green onion. This last bite made sure that you felt like the first course was satisfying and not too scant.

The second course was what Nishino calls a New Style Sashimi. Basically, it's arugula wrapped in whitefish seared with extra virgin olive oil, sesame oil, and ginger soy sauce, topped with some lemon juice and scallions. While this was probably my least favorite course of the night, I appreciated the flavors that came through in this dish. I just wish the flavor of the fish and the arugula came through more. The dish seemed a bit over-seasoned with the various oils and sauces. I still ate every last bite though.

Next up was the Foie Gras and Seared Tuna with Shiitake Mushroom and Red Wine Soy Reduction. This dish was incredible. I'm not the hugest fan of foie mainly because I feel like a lot of places slap on too huge a portion of foie as if to say, "Look! We have foie gras!" The play on a surf and turf here was clever and perfectly restrained. While I could have used a little bit less of the red wine soy reduction, the lightly seared tuna brought a needed lightness to the small piece of filling foie. The shiitake mushroom brought a great level of umami to round out the dish. Really amazing. Of the few preparations of foie gras I've had, this just might be my favorite. This one is on their permanent menu, so grab this if you get the chance.

The fourth course was the Albacore Tuna Sashimi Salad on Mixed Greens with House Dressing. This course was a great way to lighten up the meal after the previous course. Though there was nothing mind-blowing about this course, I really appreciated the simplicity and predictability of this course. This dish brought things back to the comforting and recognizable standbys of Japanese-American sushi restaurants. The salad did come with some awesome lotus root chips, however, that brought some texture to the plain mixed greens and generous cut of albacore sashimi.

The next course was a Mushroom Dashi Soup with Mizuna, Enoki, Black Cod, and Tofu. Every part of this soup was beautiful. The broth itself was extremely aromatic and filled my nose with comfort and a light smell of mushrooms every time I went in for another spoonful. The enoki mushrooms were slightly crisp, the mizuna added a hint of bitterness and pepper, and the perfectly-cooked black cod and tofu both melted in my mouth. This course was a perfect way to bring some warmth to the meal after the salad.

The sixth course was String Bean and King Crab Tempura with a Spicy Lemon Garlic Sauce. The string bean tempura were pretty standard, but the king crab tempura was out of this world. The crab was perfectly cooked, with the crunchy exterior giving way to the juicy and flavorful crab. The spicy lemon garlic was also a great way to bring some more complementary flavors to the dish in lieu of your standard tempura sauce. I also loved the lightness of the tempura batter. The course was filling, but still very light for a plate of tempura.

It was that good.

Course number seven featured another well-known Nishino standard, Curried Seared Halibut Cheek with Sautéed Mushroom and Swiss Chard and a Cilantro Aioli. The halibut itself wasn't my favorite piece of cooked fish, and while the curry seasoning was interesting at first, the flavor got a little stale with certain dried out pieces of the fish. The mushrooms and chard, however, were great, and they went really well with the two mounds of addictive cilantro aioli. I'm 100% confident that I was just unlucky and got one of very few overcooked fish that gets to the customers.

The last savory course was an obligatory Chef's Selection of sushi. While the Unagi Nigiri were typical and sweet, the rest of the selection was worthwhile.

The House Special Roll with Tuna, Yellowtail, Salmon, Whitefish and Asparagus was what I'd consider an inverted rainbow roll with asparagus instead of avocado. While I still think I prefer avocado over asparagus in anything related to sushi, the freshness and irresistibility of the fish made this roll easy to sink. The fish in this roll got me really excited to try the last two nigiri.

The Chuu Toro is exactly what I wanted it to be: super fatty and super fresh. I actually ate this as a sashimi without the rice, and the second the tuna laid itself down on my tongue, the corners of my mouth moved up my face. I don't think I've ever had a piece of chuu toro that I've hated.

Last, but not least, was a huge piece of my favorite sashimi: Hamachi. Hamachi has always struck a chord with my taste buds. Something about its deep, rich, somewhat oily yet refreshing flavor, along with its effortless ability to melt on your tongue, makes this variety of sashimi irresistible. This generous slab did not disappoint, and like all the other fish in this omakase, the hamachi tasted absurdly fresh. I had this one without the sushi rice, too.

The omakase rounded itself out with a Green Tea Tiramisu. Something about this dessert made me smile. While the rest of the omakase was so delicately and minimally presented, the dessert looked like something I would get at my aunt's house: a plate with a delicious cake surrounded by mountains upon mountains of fruit. This dessert was in some was a testament to the warm, familial, inviting nature of Nishino. While the light, moist cake was delicious and full of matcha, the freshness of the fruits shone more. I love it when restaurants end your meal with fresh fruit because it always makes you feel better about yourself.

Nishino's omakase reminds the diner that an omakase is not about flashiness or absolute uniqueness. It's about the diner placing his trust in what the chef wants to share, and in Tatsu Nishino's case, he shares his love for keeping things casual, comfortable, and inviting. While his appreciation for basics, simplicity, and restraint shines through with nearly every course, Nishino will occasionally invite you to participate in small twists, contemporary preparations, and new flavors.

3130 E Madison Street
Suite 106
Seattle, WA 98112
(206) 322-5800

GET: Omakase; Foie Gras and Seared Tuna with Shiitake Mushroom and Red Wine Soy Reduction; Sashimi.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Marcella Hazan's Roast Chicken with Lemons (6/24)

Roasting a chicken is probably one of the easier things you can do in a kitchen. But Marcella Hazan's recipe takes that simplicity to a whole new level. Thomas Keller's was simple as well, but his recipe requires some serious cleanup and smoke screening. This roast chicken is a testament to simple, easy, and healthy cooking.

As usual, give the chicken a wash and a pat-down. Marcella Hazan uniquely suggests placing the chicken on an incline to drain out any remaining water. If you can, leave some extra time to do this step to ensure a nice, crispy skin. As the chicken warms up to room temperature, the time you leave the chicken out will balance out with any extra cooking time in the oven.

As the chicken is draining, take some time to roll out two lemons. Be careful when you do this. I got a little too overexcited and broke the rind while rolling one of the lemons. But don't be scared to get into it. The more juicing you trap in the lemon, the better.

Next, give the lemon some pokes with a toothpick. If you don't have a toothpick, finding a substitute is relatively easy if you get creative. I used the end of my cooking thermometer to make some holes. Of all the steps in this recipe, poking 20 holes into two lemons took the most time and concentration. Basically, this recipe's easy. Don't worry if the lemon starts crying. Just close your eyes, plug your ears, and keep going.

When a recipe says to season a chicken generously with salt and pepper, really go for it. In my experience with roast chickens so far, it's really hard to over-season a whole chicken. So get in there and get intimate with the chicken. If you're worried about raw chicken juices getting all over your salt or pepper mill/container, as you should, crack or pour a generous amount of salt and pepper into a small bowl before you start seasoning the chicken.

The next step was admittedly the hardest, mainly because sewing is pretty foreign to me. I also didn't have a trussing needle appropriate for kitchen twine. After placing the two lemons into the chicken, I stared at the chicken, wondering what to do. Thankfully, Marcella Hazan says that the sewing shouldn't be very airtight. So I took my trusty thermometer again and poked some holes and passed the kitchen twine through them. As suggested, I loosely tied the legs together to keep the chicken's shape.

30 minutes breast-side down at 350 degrees [pictured here], 30 minutes breast-side up at 350 degrees, and 30 minutes at 400 degrees later, out came a beautiful chicken [see the first picture of the post] with clear running juices and a delicious jus. When I put a chicken in the oven, I love listening to the the whistling noises it makes as the skin puffs up and releases air. The sound always reminds me of how cooking is often an experience that utilizes all of your senses.

As I was working through this recipe, I loved how Marcella Hazan gives the reader some reassurances throughout:

"Do not add cooking fat of any kind. This bird is self-basting, so you need not fear it will stick to the pan."
"Do not worry too much about it, however, because even if it fails to swell, the flavor will not be affected."
"There is no need to turn the chicken again."
"The lemons will have shriveled up, but they still contain some juice; do not squeeze them, they may squirt."

Simple comments like these make the recipe-following process a lot more enjoyable.

The end product was mind-blowing. Every single part of the chicken was amazingly tender and juicy. Most recipes that require lemons in the cavity only accomplish a hint of lemon in the meat closest to the cavity. With Marcella Hazan's recipe, you can taste, and smell, the lemons with each and every bite, regardless of where your meat is from. I loved how the aroma of lemons filled the entire dining table area. The skin was perfectly crispy, all without the guilt of having bathed the chicken in oil or butter. The chicken got demolished in record time, and at the end of the meal, I found myself picking at each and every nook and cranny. The chicken oysters are typically the best part of the chicken, and they're the hardest to share. These oysters were the best oysters I've had to date. Do what you have to do. Don't miss out on them.

If you don't have any ideas for dinner tonight, make a quick trip to the market and pick up the simple ingredients for this beautiful recipe: a chicken, salt, pepper, and two lemons. You won't regret it. With such simple preparation and such amazing results, this is definitely my favorite roast chicken to date. Marcella Hazan has situated herself on a clear benchmark. The rest of the year's got some serious competition.

Monday, April 18, 2011


This is #2. Also known as a Cuban Roast. This sandwich looks simple: a meat-based sandwich on Chinese plateware. But #2 is really something more. Oh so much more. It's....

Hold on, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's take a step back.

Meet Paseo, a small, unassuming, shack of an establishment on Fremont Ave. The tin walls suggest that Paseo is more of a makeshift bunker than anything else, but one look at the huge line should tell you one of two things in Seattle: (1) there's a great concert going on, or (2) there's some great food going on. The quiet lull of Fremont Ave and the smell of grilled pork and caramelized onions make it clear that Paseo's got something delicious brewing in its bunker.

On a good day, you'll only have to wait in line for 30 minutes. On a great day, you'll wait 10 minutes. On a really lucky day, you won't have to wait at all. Chances are, however, you'll have to do more waiting than less, so make sure you get there early, or work some extra time into your lunch schedule.

During the five minutes before getting to the register, you'll see a large menu with a slew of options. Don't get distracted. Stick to a Cuban Roast, a Corn on the Cob, and a drink if you want one. I can't count the number of times I've tried their other options only to get backhanded by disappointment. Don't get me wrong, all the stuff I've tried has been great, but none of it stands up to the Cuban Roast. Yes, it's better than the Midnight Cuban Press and the Grilled Pork, and no, you don't have to worry that there's an "As Seen On TV" sticker next to the Cuban Roast. Don't argue with me on this one. If you do, it'll probably get really personal really fast.

Note: They mean it when they say "CASH ONLY," so make sure you go to Paseo armed with enough cash. If you don't have cash, you can run up a few blocks to the neighborhood market. They've got an ATM inside that charges $2.00 per withdrawal. I'm convinced that this has to be one of the most successful ATMs in Seattle that's not affiliated with any major bank.

If you've braved the line and placed your order, you get to start looking for seats like an owl looks for mice at night. On warm and sunny days, few people mind sitting outside on the curb. But on cold and rainy days, everyone's on the lookout for indoor seating. In typical Seattle fashion, however, everyone has a general idea of who was waiting for a table first. If you blatantly take a table from someone who's been waiting for a seat longer than you have, expect to get judged and told off.

If you get a seat, enjoy the view of zombie-like Seattleites waiting to get their fix of Paseo as you wait for your sandwich.

If this is your first time having Paseo, get that sandwich in your mouth ASAP. If you've had Paseo plenty of times, you probably know just as well as I do that sometimes, running back home with your sandwich instead of waiting for a table isn't the worst thing that could happen.

There it is. #2 in its full glory. Complete with unbelievably crunchy bread from Macrina Bakery, thick cuts of tender yet crispy caramelized onions, pulled morsels of marinated slow-roasted pork shoulder, a refreshing couple of romaine lettuce leaves, an addictive spread of aioli, fresh sprigs of cilantro, and perfectly situated pieces of pickled jalapeños, one bite signals one thought: This is the real deal. Though every ingredient is really amazing on its own, the jalapeños really bring together and bring out the flavors of all of the other ingredients.

Is it the wait that makes this sandwich so delicious? No. I've eaten at Paseo on beautiful sunny days, on unbearably rainy days, and at 11:00am with no wait with just as good results. The sandwich stands on its own.

Most of the time, I forget that I even got the Corn on the Cob, but I'm so glad when I remember it's there. Slathered with butter, diced garlic, salt, pepper, and olives, the corn becomes something entirely different, but is just as comforting as a good old corn on the cob. The corn does nothing to make you feel like you're eating anything close to healthy and it doesn't help you feel any better about the pork juices running down your chin, but it's worth it. I'd love to see how this corn evolves with some chargrilling action. Maybe the people at Paseo have already tried it and decided against it, but my love for barbecue tells me that it might be something worth investigating this summer.

I know this post is rife with militant caveats, but two last warnings. First, don't get to Paseo too late. They run out of sandwiches by late-lunch to mid-afternoon. Second, don't fall victim to their random monthlong break around January. Check their website before going if you're planning to go to Paseo around that time of year. They also take random breaks throughout the year, and sometimes there's no getting around what's probably going to be one of the saddest days of your life. You'll be angry with them at first, but like with any true love, you'll learn to forgive them.

All warnings aside, Paseo is an amazingly pleasant experience. The line is organized, you bond with strangers in pursuit of the same goal, and the staff is incredibly friendly. And nothing produces a good laugh quite like seeing your friend reaching for the nearest napkin with aioli and fat running down his or her chin. Needless to say, don't pass on Paseo if you're in Seattle and don't be surprised if #2 becomes your #1 favorite sandwich.

4225 Fremont Ave. N
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 545-7440

GET: Cuban Roast; Corn on the Cob.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Korean Seasoned Spinach

Korean seasoned spinach, or shi-geum-chi, is one of my favorite Korean side dishes. It's also one of the easiest.

Ingredients for one large fist of Korean seasoned spinach
1 bundle of spinach
2-3 medium cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 green onion, chopped
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 teaspoon of sesame oil
1 teaspoon of toasted sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon of crushed red chili peppers or cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper

1. After washing all the nasty stuff from the bundle of spinach, blanch the spinach in boiling, salted water for 20 to 30 seconds.
2. Drain the spinach and shock the spinach under running cold water.
3. Gently squeeze the spinach to remove excess water.
4. In a mixing bowl, add all the ingredients and mix them into each other by hand.
5. If necessary, add more of any ingredient to taste.

The end result should have a light balance of spicy and salty, and should have a decent punch of garlic and green onion with each bite. Try pairing this with your next stew, grilled protein, or roast chicken. The cool, refreshing spinach is usually a great way to balance out warm and meaty dishes.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Tasty Crust

My fourth and final memorable Maui bite was at a spot called Tasty Crust. When my friend first insisted that we go here, I wasn't sure what to expect. Do they have awesome pizza? Or pies? Or quiche? While they do serve up some pies for dessert, Tasty Crust is noticeably famous for one thing: Banana Hotcakes.

First things first, the butter is unnecessary. The syrup is unnecessary. This stack of hotcakes is one of the few that can stand on its own. The pleasant aroma of banana fills your nose every time you reach for the plate and each bite of this fluffy banana cloud of wonder is heavenly. Unlike most banana pancakes, Tasty Crust's cakes strike the perfect balance between the flavor of banana and the comforting flavor of traditional pancakes. The texture is light and avoids the packed density of a banana, and the hotcake melts in your mouth, releasing the flavor of banana inside your mouth like a breath of fresh air. Needless to say, these pancakes are insanely tasty and addictive, so beware.

Tasty Crust also serves up standard breakfast fare with optional Hawaiian takes on things (i.e., rice and spam). I opted to get their Breakfast Special to accompany the hotcakes: two slices of bacon, one slice of spam, two pork sausages, two over-easy eggs, and wheat toast. Overkill? Probably. But getting anything less just didn't seem right. Especially on vacation. Everything on the plate tasted great, and the spam brought me back to countless meals from when I was growing up that were accompanied with spam and Vienna sausage, which is sometimes, or always, a good thing.

Packed with locals and complete with incredibly friendly service, Tasty Crust is clearly a spot that lives to make its community happy. Like Sam Sato's, Tasty Crust can feel a little bit out of the way if you're staying in Lahaina, but it's well worth the drive, and makes for a perfect stop on your way to or from the airport.

That's it for Maui, folks. While Seattle's weather has barely progressed towards anything close to warm, these past four posts have helped to keep me a little more sane this past week. Thanks for letting me indulge in some warm memories.

Tasty Crust
1770 Mill Street
Wailuku, HI 96793
(808) 244-0845

GET: Banana Hotcakes.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Aloha Mixed Plate

Memorable Maui bite number three goes to Aloha Mixed Plate for introducing me to one thing: Furikake Garlic Fries. Like Roy Choi's Furikake Kettle Corn, it's one of those ideas that makes so much sense that you wonder why you never thought to do it before. The fries were perfectly crisp, and the tasty topping of sweet seaweed, bonito flakes, and toasted sesame seeds made the ketchup unnecessary. The fries had just the right amount of garlic to give them some kick. I could try to further describe the deliciousness of this, but I'd rather you go get your favorite garlic fries armed with a bottle of your favorite variety of furikake and witness the magic yourself. Simple flavor combinations like this are a big reason why Hawaiian food rocks.

Aloha Mixed Plate also serves up some solid plate lunches. Though I only went here once during my trip to Maui, I would imagine that their food is really consistent. Just from looking around their outdoor deck, I could tell that they have a devoted group of regulars.

My favorite was probably the Shoyu Chicken because the dark meat was so tender and the soy sauce marinade had a great balance between sweet and salty. The plate lunches, in general, were nothing as new and as mind blowing as the fries, but they were definitely very tasty. And they have brown rice, which is always a plus.


Shrimp Stir-Fry.

Chow Funn.

If you're staying in Lahaina, make it a point to go here for some legitimate plate lunch options. Aloha Mixed Plate is very accessible, has a beautiful view of the ocean, is reasonably priced, and is filled with an extremely friendly staff. And never, ever, forget to get the Furikake Garlic Fries.

Aloha Mixed Plate
1285 Front Street
Lahaina, HI 96761
(808) 661-3322

GET: Furikake Garlic Fries.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tasaka Guri Guri Shop

It's not ice cream, it's not sorbet, it's not sherbert, it's not shaved ice, it's not an icee, it's not gelato. It's guri guri, and it's the second of four memorable eats I had in Maui.

Guri guri is a uniquely Hawaiian treat that combines three simple ingredients: 7UP/Sprite, fruit juice/soda, and condensed milk. That's a pretty solid trio if you ask me. Not the most diabetic-friendly treat, but it's definitely worth having in moderation. Tasaka Guri Guri Shop is apparently the most famous and most popular guri guri provider in Hawaii, and my friend said that we had to go. So we went, and I'm so glad we did.

First of all, check out the prices. Two scoops for $1.10? Awesome. Second, notice the randomness of this shop. This place has everything a run-of-the-mill convenience store has, along with some random trinkets and toys. Third, who in their right mind is getting an icee instead of a scoop of guri guri? One scoop of guri guri, please.

Even though I didn't grow up eating guri guri, it made me feel nostalgic. The combination of soda, fruit juice, and condensed milk really drove home some classic childhood flavors. They only have two flavors: strawberry and pineapple. The strawberry flavor was great. It has all the strangely appealing artificial flavors of its ingredients, and had some hints of a bubblegum. I don't think they use any bubblegum when they make the guri guri, but maybe the extreme nostalgia of it all conjured up some nostalgia for Bazooka Joe, Big League Chew, and Bubble Tape. I've heard the pineapple flavor is really great too, but unfortunately, they were sold out of pineapple that day. I guess I'll have to get that next time.

More than anything, I enjoyed the consistency of it all. I didn't think I'd like the consistency, but it was actually nice having something that was neither sorbet nor ice cream. Each bite started off icy, ended creamy, and had me reaching for another addictive bite.

Unfortunately, I don't know of any guri guri providers in Seattle, but I can't wait for Seattle's weather to get warm enough to start craving some guri guri and other frozen treats.

Tasaka Guri Guri Shop
70 E Kaahumanu Ave.
Suite C13
Kahului, HI 96732
(808) 871-4513

GET: Guri Guri.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sam Sato's

Seattle's weather is slowly, very slowly, starting to shape up. With the sun making a couple appearances, I can't help but wish I were in Hawaii. Last year, I had the chance to take a weeklong trip to Maui. Even though it was low season, the weather was amazing, and I had four memorable eats. The first of those eats was at Sam Sato's.

If you're staying in Lahaina, Sam Sato's can feel like a far drive. But really, I don't think I mind a drive on Maui, especially when it's sunny, warm, and clear. Even if it's raining, it's well worth the trip. Chipped out of an unassuming building and packed with locals, Sam Sato's serves up some of the best dry noodles, or dry mein, I've ever had.

The components of this renown bowl of Dry Mein are simple: fat al dente ramen noodles, smokey and sweet cha siu barbecue pork, a heavy dose of chopped green onions, and a moderate pile of refreshing bean sprouts. All this comes with a light, dashi-like broth on the side. The noodles were perfect, with just the right amount of chewiness. The noodles weren't so dry that they clung to each other, but if they ever did get too dry, the broth did a good job at loosening them up. The noodles also tasted like they were briefly stir-fried in a little bit of soy sauce. You also have the choice of adding hot sauce, but I liked the noodles the way they came. The bean sprouts and green onions added some welcome texture and good flavors. The pork was heavenly. The appearance of the pork suggests a relatively simple method, but the flavor had a lot of depth and heartiness. The pork also had just the right amount of fat and tender meat.

I saw people dipping the noodles in the broth, pouring some of the broth into the noodles, and sipping the broth on the side. For good measure, I did all three. I think the best way to showcase the noodles, but still incorporate the flavors of the broth, is to lightly pour some broth onto the noodles every few bites and enjoy the broth by itself on the side throughout the meal.

I also got to try a couple Beef Sticks. The amount of beef that comes on one skewer is awesome. You definitely get a lot of bang for your buck, especially because the skewers only cost a little over a buck. The marinade is sweet, like a teriyaki sauce, but not too sweet. In typical teriyaki fashion, the beef was a little overcooked for me, but that didn't stop me from downing the whole thing in one bite.

The Chicken Sticks were not as generous, but made up for it in taste. The chicken had a great, chargrilled taste to it that balanced out any sweetness and made me wish I had ordered just one more.

Conscious of the constant line, my friends and I made our way out. As we neared the exit, I couldn't help but notice some of the plain-looking pastries on display. They didn't look like much, but I thought that if the rest of the meal was any indication of their pastries, the pastries were probably pretty awesome. Lucky for me, my friend knows one of the people who works there (props to that friend for making sure we ate here on our trip, by the way), and before we had a chance to place an order for some pastries, he gave my friends and I a paper bag filled with an assortment of pastries. Score.

The bag included a couple Manju treats. The one pictured here is an Azuki Bean Manju. The outside was amazingly flaky for a manju. The filling was a little bit brittle at the beginning of each bite, but a few milliseconds after taking each bite, the azuki softened up into a delicious paste that was never too sweet.

The bag also contained some Turnovers. These come with a few varieties of fruit filling. I tried the one with apple filling and another one with a peach and pineapple filling. The apple one was like eating an apple pie with a flaky and buttery crust. Like the manju, this one had just the right amount of sweetness. The peach and pineapple turnover had a lot more sweetness to it, mainly because of the inherent sweetness of the fruits. I didn't know how the combination of peach and pineapple would shape up in a turnover, but I really enjoyed how the straightforward sweetness of the peach balanced with the slight tang of the pineapple. I also loved how the crust on both of these turnovers were baked to a darker brown on the edges, giving the turnovers an undeniably homemade pie taste. If I had to choose one, I'd go with the apple one, but they were both pretty solid.

Sam Sato's represents local, cheap, no-frills eating at its best. To this day, the noodles still haunt my taste buds, in the best way possible. This place could definitely get away with marking up the prices, but everyone knows they never will. Their genuineness comes through in their food and service, and it's that genuineness that assures everyone who's ever eaten at Sam Sato's that this spot is going to continue to be around for a long time.

Sam Sato's
1750 Wili Pa Loop
Wailuku, HI 96793
(808) 244-7124

GET: Dry Mein; Azuki Bean Manju; Apple Turnover.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...