Nostalgia for the Tummy

We live in a food culture. There’s the Food Network and the Travel Channel. Then there are events like Eat the Street. There’s been an increase of phở shops, food trucks, Izakayas, and Korean BBQ. And we live in the age of Instagram and Yelp where we can participate in building a foodie community.

But as good as today’s food gets, it can never come close to our childhood memories. Growing up, I remember picnics at Ala Moana Beach, baloney sandwiches with mayonnaise, family dinners at the Flamingo Restaurant, won ton mein at McCully Chop Suey, the popcorn at Sear’s Ala Moana, the hamburger steak at Washington Saimin, Naka’s delicatessen, and the neighborhood ice cream truck. Ahh, memories….

But here are my Top Ten Nostalgic Foods:

10.) Chicken Alice’s on Ke’eaumoku was amazing. We would pick up a couple of boxes of spicy chicken wings on our way to a UH football tailgate party.

9.) Zippy’s gravy rice hit the spot! When you were poor (and in high school,) this 35¢ bowl of sustenance was a life saver.

8.) The “Back Store” hamburger was the absolute best I’ve ever had. Many a student at Washington Intermediate got hijacked to satisfy the appetite of a “moke.”

7.) The shrimp tempura at Edo Shokudo was huge and delicious! Great family memories at this little restaurant.

6.) Honolulu Stadium’s saimin, boiled peanuts, corn-on-the-cob, and Frosty Malts were the highlights at Hawai’i Islanders baseball games. I can still hear Howard’s (stadium vendor) voice….

5.) Before Waiola Shave Ice took over, it was Alice’s Market. I remember the shave ice, cone sushi, manapua, chocolate milk, and pickled mango. Even that hard stick of gum in a pack of baseball cards was good.

4.) I loved Chunky’s Drive In. So much so, that I was their very last customer. I waited until 6pm on their closing day and ordered my last veal cutlet. Tear….

3.) My Auntie Kay from Kaua’i always used to bring us a box of Hanamaulu Café Chicken. It was the best. She was the best.

2.) Part of my “hanabata days” was spent at my Obaachan’s saimin stand on Beretania Street (next to the old Empress Theater.) The best saimin, BBQ sticks, and all the Coke bottle caps that I could fit into a brown paper bag.

1.) Mom’s home cooking. She would come home from work and whip up some of the best meals in no time flat. I remember her meatloaf, shoyu chicken, pork chops with cream-of-mushroom, ham shank with cabbage, and sukiyaki. She was also known for her macaroni salad. She would boil potatoes and add a can of crab meat.


I know I will have this again someday in Heaven….

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