I think I need to start this post off with an apology..... to friends (especially you, Reid) and relatives I hadn't seen in almost a decade. Due to time constraints, I wasn't able to see but one of my good friends. I'll make sure to correct this the next time I'm "home", I promise.
There was one thing that I promise the Missus on every trip home. Every morning (when possible) She'll get Her "swimming session". Arriving in Honolulu mid-morning, we first headed to Her parents new home in Ewa Beach. The Missus and I then made a beeline straight to Ko'olina". And got one swim session "paid in full".
Being a "townie", I'm not an expert on food on the "West side", but a few jobs I've had included servicing accounts in Waipahu and Waianae. I will say this much, Ewa Beach sure has changed..... I used to service the PX located on Iroquois Point, and a good friend of mine used to live in "Old Ewa Beach town"...... man, I barely recognized anything. And the first thing the Missus wanted to eat was, what else, Poke. At first, I thought we should check out Poke Stop. But decided on a place that's been around for a good 30 years..... and it did seem that on this trip, I went kinda "old school" with my choices.
Tanioka's Seafood and Catering:
The Missus told me on the flight over She "didn't want old fashioned Poke.....", so She was on the look-out for newer offerings. Being the old fuddy-duddy dude, I wanted stuff that was more traditional. So to compromise, we did a variety.....
Also a favorite of ours was the Pipikaula Poke. Pipikaula, for those that aren't familiar with it is seasoned and dry cured beef.
I made sure to get some of that oldie, but goodie, Limu Poke.
Not quite at the same level was the Onion w/Limu Poke.
The Missus got Her "new and different" Poke. This was called "Hot Alae Poke". And I really have to say it was pretty much none of the above. It wasn't very spicy, nor did it have a significant Alae (orange/red salt containing clay) saltiness.
Tanioka's Seafood and Catering
94-903 Farrington Hwy
Waipahu, HI 96797
The following morning, the Missus decided that She's prefer Ala Moana Beach for Her morning swim.
She's always enjoyed Ala Moana Beach in the morning before the crowds, and was glad that not much had changed. The Missus always enjoyed swimming alongside all the old-timers..... From that point on, "Ala's" was Her choice.
We stopped in Chinatown on our drives back to Ewa, picking up vegetables and other stuff. And on this morning, the day before leaving for Beijing, I went with another old and dependable choice:
The best was the Limu Poke with Inamona (Kukui nut):
This had a good amount of inamona, which caught the Missus off guard. It really didn't taste right at first. After sitting in the fridge for an hour, it tasted much better. I think the Poke needed some time for the flavors to meld.
We didn't care much for the other two Poke. The spicy Poke tasted a bit off, and the quality of fish didn't seem to be very good.
There were two things that came out of our Poke sampling. Number one, the Missus realized that perhaps "traditional" when it came to Poke was not a bad thing. Number two, I've been making Poke with the best quality fish I can find. I usually will drive to Los Angeles or order from Catalina Offshore to get my sushi quality fish....sometimes paying $29 a pound for good maguro. There's no way that Poke selling for under $10 a pound will use the same quality fish. Of course, I can never get the same quality Limu in LA......
Speaking of "old school" and tried and true. Walking back to our car in Chinatown I told the Missus that I had one stop to make. As we walked up an almost empty North Pauahi Street, I stepped into the doorway below this sign.
Char Hung Sut:
The Missus had no clue...... I guess I'd never brought Her here. Puzzled, She stepped into the doorway, and "hit the brakes" with a look of surprise on Her face. Looking around at the folks kneading and folding dough, and doing other tasks, She asked me, "why did you enter through the kitchen?" I told Her "this is the shop, welcome to Char Hung Sut." I'm pretty sure that many folks have had the same reaction the first time they visited Char Hung Sut. You basically enter right into the kitchen here......check out Reid's post for some good photos.
Growing up, there were basically "two schools" of Manapua (what we call Charsiu Bao). It was either Libby Manapua Shop or Char Hung Sut (baked manapua from Royal Kitchen came later) . My relatives on the neighbor islands preferred Char Hung Sut.
The pork hash, though large, was very bland, tough, with some "hard bits".
The Manapua was pretty much just as I recalled. The dough is not as sweet as other versions, and the filling, which is also not too sweet, was quite generous in portion size. It did seem that the pork filling was closer to a charsiu flavored, moist pork sung......
Due to leave for Beijing the next morning, I'd made up my mind that I would go with mostly golden oldies on my return to Oahu.....
Char Hung Sut
64 North Pauahi St
Honolulu, HI 96817