When we last left off, it was Friday morning in Honolulu. With marlin, eggs and rice under my belt, along with two half malasadas, I clearly needed to figure out what to do for lunch, and how to get there without irritating my GPS too much.
I have to admit that I like how the GPS pauses before reconsidering my best route to someplace after I’ve missed an obvious turn. There’s a pause, and then an emotionless, Stephen Hawking-esque (but feminine) computerized voice says “recalculating.” The pause followed by the purely emotionless voice, to me, makes her sound kind of pissed off. It’s like she noticed I missed the turn, can’t quite believe that I ignored her, pauses for a moment to contain her rage, and then, trying not to yell, says “recalculating.”
My friend Jonathan Ray, who taught at a fancy Honolulu high school called Punahou ("Pew-na-how,” according to the GPS, who calls Kamehameha Highway “Camay-hamay-ha Highway") had fond memories of Mekong 2 for Thai food, but I thought I’d start with more local fare (not to say Hawaiian, which implies the food of ethnic Hawaiians such as poi and laulau, as opposed to the spam musubi, plate lunches, loco moco and saimin of the locals, whom you can't call “native,” even if they were born in Hawaii, because that implies ethnic Hawaiian, too).
So I ended up at Zippy’s, a local diner chain, for saimin, which is a local version of ramen. I scarfed down a small bowl at the counter and then climbed back in the car and drove down S. King St., until I could find parking. By then Mekong 2 was closed for the day, but I went nearby to the corner of S. King and Punahou (excuse me, Pew-na-how) and had an adobo plate lunch.
A plate lunch is protein — chicken teriyaki, a burger patty, a piece of salmon, what have you — often served in one of those sectioned-off TV dinner trays, with two scoops of rice and one scoop of macaroni salad. Alan Wong likes to describe that as a quintessential example of how the different groups who have settled in Hawaii have affected each other's food to create something unique in the islands.
Hawaii also has a very serious obesity and diabetes problem — among the worst in the country. Some awareness has been raised on that front, and so not only was I able to order a small saimin at Zippy’s, but also I could order a small plate lunch at Pee Wee (so-named because it's a little corner shop, not because the portions are small). So I got a big scoop of adobo — not the Mexican kind, but the Philippine kind, which is stewed pork cooked with vinegar, soy sauce &c. — with one scoop of rice and macaroni salad. I have to say, there’s something about how the mayonnaise from the macaroni salad and the juice from the adobo mixes with the rice that really is magical.
With dinner approaching, I figured I should go ahead and stop eating for awhile, so I told the GPS to take me back to the Halekulani, and she did.
To view all the blog entries about my trip to O‘ahu, click here.