Aahhh yes, breakfast and bowling alleys.... what could be better? Actually, you may be scratching your head a bit on this one. Back in Hawaii, there used to be some pretty good food served in Bowling Alleys. In fact, for a time, Kapiolani Coffee Shop, which used to be on Atkinson close to what was then Aloha Motors, and is now the Hawaii Convention Center, had a shop in Kam Bowl (which has closed). They made the best Oxtail soup!(Don't worry, if I recall you can get the same Oxtail soup at Asahi Grill and Kapiolani Coffee Shop in Waimalu) And in fact, The Alley Restaurant, in the Aiea bowl was on my list (most due to Pomai's post) when I returned home a few months ago. Unfortunately, I was unable to talk the Missus into eating in a bowling alley.
Still, I knew not to expect quite that, since I'd been to Gardena Bowl and the old Holiday Bowl Restaurant's before.
At 7am on Sunday, the place is half full, all old-timers, I'm the youngest by at least 15 years. I had a seat at the counter, and soaked in the atmosphere. I really can't use the word ambiance, because it seems to infer some "high maka-maka" quality. No, this was something special..... I'd never heard so much pidgin since I moved to mainland. And it wasn't just any pidgin, but "time-warp pidgin"..... I heard words, like "holo-holo", "Pake", and "manini".... Which seemed to indicate when these folks had left for "da' really beeg island......" The folks working really didn't talk that way, but they seemed to know most of the people coming in and eating.
The menu, part of it written on the greaseboard reflected the very old-school Japanese/Chinese influenced dishes I grew up eating.
On one of the greaseboards, it said "Poi - $3.50 extra".
I of course, ordered a Loco Moco ($7.50), which came with a dish of very old-school Tsukemono, just like Mom used to make.... literally, it tasted just like her quick Tsukemono... In fact, much of this had a home made quality, albeit that being the 60's and 70's home....
I like that they didn't ask me how I wanted my egg, it was done easy-over. The gravy was very dark, and there were shreds of what seemed like roast beef in it. It wasn't as salty as I expected, rather it was thick and dense, and I love a drizzle of Tabasco on my Loco Moco anyways. The rice was perfect....
The burger patty was lean, and seemed to have little filler.... which some folks might enjoy, but it was pretty chewy. Plus, I ran into what I call "the old toenail".... you know, you bite on a piece of bone or other hard calcified item which almost cracks your teeth. Also, the patty tasted like it was about a day or so from going South, that gamey-metallic flavor, which means you no harm (yet), but trips switches in my head.
Still, I enjoyed this meal. Just listening brought back memories, perhaps different from those that Fukagawa elicited, but very strong none the less. A nice step back to the type of "diner" I grew up eating in.
Gardena Bowl Restaurant
15707 S Vermont Ave
Gardena, CA 90247