Friday, December 08, 2017

Bun Mee Vietnamese Sandwich Eatery in San Francisco

Bun Mee Combo

This small local chain from San Francisco recently opened its outlet at the airport. And I nearly passed on it tonight as I was rushing to get to my connecting flight, but somehow it looked like it might have some promise, even with fillings like avocado suggesting that this was a more modern interpretation of Vietnamese bánh mì. I'm really glad I ate it, as its bread was extra crunchy and the ingredients were nicely seasoned. And while I normally would've hoped that the garnishes would be more evenly spread inside the sandwich, it wasn't a bad thing for my first bite to be a load of fresh cilantro and jalapeno peppers. Next time I should try some of their other variations.

A Bowl of Saimin at Kahului Airport in Maui, Hawaii


There was actually one more local dish that I wanted to get before leaving Hawaii, and that was saimin, an Asia-influenced noodle soup that I once had at a McDonald's in Hawaii many, many years ago. Anyway, today there was a stall selling it right outside the gate at the airport, so I quickly sat down for a bowl. My first impression? I loved how salty the soup was. It was no-holds-barred in-your-face salty, but in a clean way. And it went well with the cabbage, so I just kept drinking it despite breaking out in a sweat at this outdoor airport. The rest of the stuff in the bowl was unremarkable though, so I just kept drinking the soup. I'll admit though that the saltiness eventually got to the point where I couldn't finish the rest.

Local Boys Shave Ice in Kihei, Maui

Haupia and Hawaiian Rainbow Shave Ice

One local thing I wanted to get before heading back was Hawaiian shave ice. This shop (1941 South Kihei Road, 808-344-9779) was supposed to be pretty good at it, so I stopped by. The ice was much more finely shaved than a snow cone or even Southeast Asian chendol (yet not as much as a Korean bingsu), making it very easy to eat. Sure, the syrups on top were a bit sugary (mine were a combination of coconut, salted dry plum, and papaya flavors), but not annoyingly so. And the scoop of ice cream at the bottom was a nice touch, especially since my haupia coconut cream custard flavor was rather aromatic.

Da Kitchen Express in Kihei, Maui

Loco Moco and Deep Fried Spam Musubi

Whenever I asked people about good local food in Maui, this place kept coming up (2439 South Kihei Road #107A, 808-875-7782). I thus got their loco moco for breakfast today, and it was a lot better than I thought it would be, mainly because the sauce was surprisingly subtle. I'm not sure if there was MSG or a bouillon cube helping to give it some depth, but it definitely wasn't as heavy as I thought it would be, even if the portions were still gigantic. I didn't care as much for that deep-fried Spam musubi in the corner though, as the glaze was really sweet.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Humble Market Kitchin by Roy Yamaguchi

Salmon Dynamite Roll

No, that is not a typo above; that's honestly how the place is spelled. And Roy Yamaguchi is like the poster child of Hawaiian cooking. So this place at the Marriott in Kihei (3700 Wailea Alanui Drive, 808-879-4655) is apparently a tribute to his family's roots in Maui. Admittedly, I didn't get a chance to try much of the menu, and that salmon dynamite roll above wasn't anything to get me too excited. But there was a surprising amount of heat packed into the "Phoenix" spicy tuna roll, and that was good enough for me.

My First Taste of Hawaiian Lomi-Lomi Salmon

Lomi-Lomi Salmon

Time for another afternoon snack, this time at a random general store. Instead of poke though, I went for this diced salmon thing, which is apparently served as a side dish at luaus. It kinda looks like pico de gallo salsa, and then many ways it kind of was, as this was largely just tomatoes and onions without a whole lot of salmon. And this one in particular was very salty. No, I didn't like it. I should have gotten their poke instead.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

A Quick Poke and Spam Musubi Snack in Hawaii

Hawaiian Ahi Tuna Poke

Hawaii is so cool in that I can just walk into a random supermarket, head to the back counter, and grab a little serving of poke for an afternoon snack. It's healthy, cheap, tasty, and one has full control over how filling you want it to be by specifying the amount (these guys offered bowls if you so wished, complete with a range of toppings, unlike yesterday's simple set up).

This Hawaiian ahi tuna was delicious, as it had a punchy saltiness that didn't overwhelm it, all while being savory thanks to that limu seaweed. The Spam musubi had a bit of a glaze on it and wasn't anything special, but I had to get one while I was in Hawaii. I did get to try the octopus poke (free samples!), but I'm still glad that I got the fresh ahi above.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Coconut's Fish Cafe in Maui, Hawaii

Fish Tacos

So apparently fish tacos were brought to Hawaii by surfers from California. But here, they aren't those wonderfully battered ones from Baja, but grilled instead. And this shop at Azeka Plaza (1279 South Kihei Road, 808-875-9979) got a whopping 27 rating on Zagat, so I figured I'd give it a try.

I didn't like it at all. It was supposed to feature two types of fish and a barrage of toppings, but the fish was cut too thickly to be enjoyable, and the garnishes on top didn't get me excited either, even if it was well-balanced. The only thing I really liked was the coarse corn tortilla, but I think I'll wait for my next run to Ensenada instead.

Epilogue: I just realized after looking at their webpage that they have locations in Cupertino and Scottsdale! #facepalm

Poke from Tamura's Fine Wine & Liquors in Hawaii

Poke Bowl

One might not be able to tell by the name, but this local chain of liquor stores is apparently one of the better places for some local poke. I thus made my way to the back counter where they had an array of choices available, and the prices were delineated by the more expensive fresh fish versus the previously frozen ones (the latter was noticeably chewier).

After trying some samples, I went for a mix of the Fresh Ahi Island Hawaiian Style and the Fresh Ahi Island Shoyu, the former of which had a deliciously umami local seaweed mixed in. I also liked how they were just salty and spicy enough to be noticeable without overdominating it. Plus, the bowls were simple, with a choice of warm brown or white rice underneath rather than messing with any toppings on top. Nice one. Maybe next time I'll try some of the shellfish versions.

A Smoked Gouda Cheeseburger from United's Bistro on Board

Smoked Gouda Cheeseburger

I've always been kinda curious about that cheeseburger that I've seen in United's in-flight dining menu. It wasn't too bad given that it was on an airplane, and somehow they were still able to serve it somewhat warm too. The texture of the Brooklyn Bred bistro bun in particular made it rather good. Granted, it was a bit of a hassle to have to manually assemble the condiments in a narrow economy class seat, but I suppose that there was no other way to do it.

Avocado Toast from SFO's Dogpatch Bakehouse & Caffè

Avocado Toast

Avocado toast might be the subject of some amusement on the internet these days, but it was exactly the light top-up that I needed before getting on my flight this morning, and this shop at SFO just happened to be serving it. They were a bit heavy-handed on the citrus (and too light on the salt), but these fresh bites did the job nonetheless, especially with the cracked black pepper and crusty sourdough bread underneath.

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Loncheria y Cenaduria Michoacán in San Jose, California

Asada Chavindecas

Yeah, that's my half-eaten snack above. Specifically, it was a chavindecas, featuring two tortillas with meat and cheese in between, complete with an array of condiments at your disposal. Admittedly, I'm not sure what the difference is between it and the quesadillas that were right above it on the menu; maybe it was thicker and thus came at a $1 premium? Well, this truck (3039 Monterey Road, 669-255-1673) seems to focus on food from Michoacán. So I went for this, and it came out piping hot and with a lovely aroma. I'll be happy to get that again...and hopefully I can try some of their special weekend items next time.