Everything’s Mo’ Bettah’ Fried

Kamehameha Bakery Banana Fritter, Taro Haupia Roll, Poi Donut and Haupia Malasada

We know it’s “bad” for us, yet it always tastes so dang good, we can never resist! Fries. ‘Katsu. Tempura. Wontons. Mandoo. Lumpia. Malasadas. You name it. Yes, as anywhere else around the globe, us Hawaii folks LOVE our food fried!

Here’s a post to discuss all things in Hawaii’s fried food world (and your fried food world wherever you are as well). What’s your favorite fried food dish? What kind of preparation such as seasonings, batter and oil for frying do you prefer? Know of a novel new fried food concept or method? Ways to cut the fat, yet retain the decadently great flavor?

Mai Tai Bar Ala Moana “Pauhana” Happy Hour Pupus

If you sit at a typical local pub (bar), you’ll notice the most popular pupus are usually deep-fried. Not only because it’s usually the cheapest items, but also because they go great with a cold beverage. Such as the case above, where the food runner at Mai Tai Bar Ala Moana just brought out that massive tray filled with orders of Fried Chicken Chinois with Huli Huli Sauce, Fried Calamari and Roasted Peppers, along with two non-fried Ahi Poke platters. Shoots, might as well deep-fry da’ poke too! Nah, no ways brah!

Mai Tai Bar Ala Moana Calamari Poke (non-fried special request)

Interestingly, a fellah sitting next to me decided to get adventurous, and made a special request for the fried calamari to instead be served Poke style, where they simply blanched the squid quickly to par-cook it, then toss it with onions, green onions, shoyu, sesame oil, chili pepper flakes and sesame seeds. And you know what? It turned out pretty good! Who said everything must be deep-fried to taste good?

But I digress. Yet actually, deep-fried Poke is and has been done, as we have here with this Hamburger Steak and Fried Poke Plate from Monarch Seafoods

Mixed Plate of Monarch’s Deep Fried Poke and Hamburger Steak with Sauteed Mushrooms ‘n Onions and House Nalo (as in Waimanalo) Greens.

The secret really is in that AMAZING Monarch House Salad Dressing…

Monarch Seafoods Fried Poke with their Signature House Dressing for dippin’

OMG, so ono! And as if that isn’t enough, try dipping these Monarch Seafoods‘ deep-fried, Nori-wrapped Crab-stuffed Ahi Maki rolls in that…

Monarch Seafoods – Deep-fried Nori-wrapped Crab-stuffed Ahi with Nalo Greens and Brown Rice.

While we’re getting exotic, ever heard of deep-fried Poi-battered Fish?…

The Hawaiian Chef – Poi Battered Ono (Wahoo fish)

I tried that from a vendor at my favorite Saturday morning spot, the KCC Farmers Market, where I also tried the ever-popular Fried Green Tomatoes from Two Hot Tomatoes

Two Hot Tomatoes – Combination Basket of Fried Zucchini and Fried Tomatoes, served with Wasabi Lemon and Basil Lime Sauce

Back to pub grub, another fave’ are Side Street Inn’s famous Fried Pork Chops, where here I’ve successfully prepared them at home…

Side Street Inn’s famous Fried Pork Chops (homemade)

While we’re on Pub Grub, in my last post I mentioned my German heritage. Well, I’m also part English from grandmother’s side, whom she was half English (Lindsey) and half Hawaiian (Ka’anana). She also spoke fluent Hawaiian, which was pretty cool. Anyhow, as you folks with diverse heritage like me know, that heritage often influences what you like to eat. And it’s no exception for me, as I’ve always LOVED Fish ‘n Chips, a British classic!…

Beer Battered Pollock Fish ‘N Chips with tartar and cocktail sauce.

I’ve also made Fish ‘n Chips with pancake batter, which turned out EXCELLENT!…

Pomai’s Pancake-battered Fish ‘n Chips

Speaking of “chips”, without a question, when it comes to fast food fries, McDonald’s to me is the hands-down winner…

McDonald’s Hawaii Large Fries

Sometimes I’ll go to the nearby McD’s and order a large fries and nothing else, and sit there at the table for about a half hour, slowly eating just that. It’s like my “zen” moment. Those of you who are with me on that understand what I’m talkin’ ’bout. lol

McDonald’s Hawaii Large Fries with Ketchup (a must!)

Oh, speaking of which, also mention your favorite condiments and dipping sauces. I CANNOT eat fries without ketchup. No ketchup? Nope, no fries for me.

While we’re at McD’s, may as well mention their exclusive Hawaii fried menu items, the Haupia Pie and Taro Pie…

McDonald’s of Hawaii limited edition Haupia Pie

McDonald’s of Hawaii limited edition Taro Pie

Also at McDonald’s, another pan-fried local breakfast fave’ they serve exclusively in Hawaii is the classic Portuguese Sausage, Eggs and Rice. Here I have my homemade version, served over brown rice…

A pan-fried local breakfast fave': Portuguese Sausage, Eggs & Rice!

A former Jewish coworker of mine once shared her homemade Latkes with us in the office, and ever since, I fell in love with the dish, being one: I love potatoes, and 2: I LOVED how it was served, with sour cream and apple sauce. So ono!

Jewish Latkes

Latkes are sort of like Hash Browns with onions mixed in it, pan-fried like little pancakes.

Jewish Latkes, “smooth” version

Reader h was so kind to share her late Grandma Dot’s recipe for Latkes, which are a bit different, in that it calls for the potatoes to be blended smooth vs. how most Latkes typically use grated potatoes (see photo comparisons above), hence they resemble more of a pancake (a.k.a. “hot cake”) than a hash brown. Here’s Grandma Dot’s complete recipe for her amazing Latkes, courtesy of h!

Speaking of Jewish and potato dishes, check out this spin on fries using Pita bread from Da’ Falafel King in Waikiki (no longer in business)…

Da’ Falafel King Pita Chips, served with Hummus

Da’ Falafel King Pita Chips

Then there’s Falafel King’s deep-fried “Da’ King” Falafel Sandwich

Da’ Falafel King “Da’ King” Falafel Sandwich

If you’ve never tried Falafel before (because I know lots of you local folks haven’t), it’s basically ground/processed Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans) and/or Fava Beans  mixed with a variety of herbs and seasonings,  then formed into a ball and then deep-fried. In the case here at Da Falafel King, they use only Garbanzo Beans to make their Falafel, along with of course a few other “secret ingrediments”. Delicious!!!

A relevant and interesting fact about this blog is, the very first post made was on preparing Andadogs, made popular at the annual Okinawan Festival. Here’s my homemade version, using four different types of hot dogs…

Okinawan-meets-American “Andadogs” by “Chef Pomaikaitashiyaki

It’s the same concept as a Corn Dog, where a hot dog is dipped in Andagi (an Okinawan “donut”) batter, then deep-fried until “GBD”, which means “golden brown and delicious”. And believe me, it IS “GBD”!!! Oishii!! So oishii, the Okinawan Festival sells TONS of Andadogs every year at the festival. You can also buy them daily at Marukai.

Andagi Hot Dogs and Andagi for sale daily at Marukai on Oahu

While we’re on Okinawan grindz, on Oahu, you CAN NOT leave this island without trying Okazuya. No can! And one of my favorite fried Okazuya delicacies is the Vegetable Tempura from St. Louis Delicatessen in Kaimuki…

St. Louis Delicatessen Vegetable Tempura, Corned Beef Hash and Chow Funn

When it comes to the delicately flaky and crisp Japanese style Shrimp Tempura, one place that’s a “blast from the past” was Hanaki in Manoa Valley…

Hanaki in Manoa Valley (counterclockwise from top): Nishime (in bowl), potato hash, eggplant tempura, zucchini and carrot tempura, shrimp tempura, various tsukemono and hamachi sashimi

And if Shrimp Tempura AND rice is your thing (of course!), consider Ebi Ten Musubi

6-piece Ebi Ten Musubi set from Jiraiya in Shirokiya Yataimura Food Court at Ala Moana Center (no longer available, however there’s another permanent vendor there that offers something similar!)

Not deep-fried, but still fried, if you want the best local style Fried Noodles on Oahu, look no further than Sato’s Okazuya in Waipa-HOO!!!…

Sato’s Okazuya “Famous” Fried Noodles

When it comes to Vietnamese and Thai cuisine (LOVE IT!), while I actually prefer the non-fried Summer Roll, I do love me some good ‘ole deep-fried Spring Rolls….

Bac Nam: Cha Gio  – Spring Rolls.

You want the best Chicken Wings (next to Ken’s) in town? You MUST try Bac Nam’s Crispy Fried Stuffed Wings!…

Bac Nam: Canh Ga Don Thit: Crispy Fried Stuffed Chicken Wings.

It’s really neat. What they do is cut the skin and remove the chicken meat, and mince it up, mixing it with ground pork, rice and Vietnamese seasonings, then stuff that back in the wing, coat it with bread crumbs and deep fry it, served with Mae Ploy Sweet & Sour Chili Sauce. OMG, the best!!!

Moving south-west a bit to Hong Kong, China, my sister’s favorite Cantonese style fried dish from Kin Wah Chop Suey is their Crispy Gau Gee (pork won tons)…

Kin Wah – Special Plate “B”: Kau Yuk, Spareribs, Beef Broccoli, Crisp Gau Gee, Fried Shrimp and Rice

Speaking of fried wontons, my other favorite American classic appetizer is Crab Rangoon…

Pomai’s Crab Rangoon with Mae Ploy Sweet Thai Chili Dipping Sauce
(Crispy Gau Gee from Chinese takeout restaurant also plated on same spread)

Crab Rangoon are wonton wrappers filled with crab (either real or imitation, depending on your budget), mixed with softened cream cheese, chopped water chestnuts and green onion, deep-fried and served with a sweet & sour dipping sauce. So ono!

Still on deep-fried wontons, there’s this new conceptual business called Paul’s Poppers, where Paul makes these deep-fried wontons filled with all kinds of novel new fillings such as “Cheeseburger”, Pork/Jalapeno/Cheddar, Turkey/Jalapeno/Cheddar, Pepperoni Pizza, Spinach & Artichoke, Turkey & Mild Cheddar and Caprese, to name a few….

Paul’s (wonton) Poppers: Pizza, Cheeseburger, Pork/Jalapeno/Cheddar, Spinach & Artichoke and Caprese

He’s still thriving in business, now selling his “Poppers” at Aloha Stadium football games.

They then go south of the border with these Wonton-wrapped Stuffed Jalapenos from Los Chaparros Mexican Restaurant….

Los Chaparros Mexican Restaurant – Jalapeno Wontons: Deep-fried wonton wrappers filled with Jalapenos and Monterey Jack Cheese, served with Creamy Ranch Sauce

You all know I’m a HUGE Japanese Ramen lover, and still stand by Tokyo style Shoyu Ramen being the last dish served to me on this Earth. And the best Shoyu Ramen on Oahu in my opinion is still Goma Tei at Ward Center, where along with Ramen, they also happen to serve what I think is the best Fried Chicken on this island…

Goma Tei – Chicken Tatsutaage

It’s like Karaage Chicken, Kikaida-kicked up a notch. Seriously, that’s my pick for “Best Fried Chicken on Oahu”, blowing away KFC & Popeyes, and even beating Soul Patrol. Goma Tei Chicken Tatsutaage FTW!

I mentioned healthier and lighter ways to fry, and there really are solutions for that, such as the T-Fal® ActiFry, which only uses several tablespoons of vegetable oil to achieve the same tasty deep-fried results of the traditional method.

The ActiFry was brought to my attention by reader and friend Ken Williamson, who makes these supah ono “Ultimate Buffalo Wings (< see complete recipe at that link!), and shares them with all his Makaha friends. He describes them as “International Mexican with a Korean Twist”, which it really does taste like. Check out that link for the complete recipe, of which I’ve since added a new main navigational link to this site (main header menu).

Chicken Wings are all about the sauce, and so is Tonkatsu…

“The Great Tonkatsu Sauce Shootout”

And I made a huge point on how important the sauce is for the Japanese deep-fried favorite, Tonkatsu, pitting NINE different brands against each other to taste who’s is the best. Follow that link to find out which ones I thought were the best!

While we’re on ‘katsu, in Hawaii, pretty much everything gets the treatment, including fairly recently where L&L “Hawaiian” Barbecue busted out their pretty awesomely ono “Hawaiian Katsu Burger”…

L&L Hawaiian Barbecue’s “Hawaiian Hamburger”

The name is so wrong, yet the execution is thankfully so RIGHT! It’s simply an all-beef hamburger patty “Katsu-fied” by being breaded in Panko bread crumbs and deep fried, served in a hamburger bun with Iceberg Lettuce and a sauce made of Ketchup and Mayonnaise. And it’s totally awesome! Learn more about it here.

When it comes to deep-fried sweets in Hawaii, the first thing that comes to mind has to be Malasadas….

Leonard’s Malasadas

Now they come with all kinds of tasty fillings…

Leonard’s Malasadas Puffs: Custard, Dobash (chocolate), Haupia (coconut) and the flavor of the month, Mango

If you like Malasadas, you will absolutely LOVE the Beignet from La Tour Cafe…

Beignet from La Tour Cafe

OMG, they’re so delicate and soft, with an amazing crust. Make sure you eat them pipin’ hot straight out of the fryer…. c’est délicieux!

Another NEW fave of mine is the Banana Fritter from Kam Bakery (I said it! :-P)…

Kamehameha Bakery – Banana Fritter (center), Taro Haupia Roll, Poi Donut and Haupia Malasada “money shot”

Yes, those Kam Bakery pastries are all “dip-pride”, and YES, they’re all 200% broke da’ mout’ WINNAHZ!!!!

A novel dessert you’d just as well find in a Mexican restaurant as you would in a Thai or Vietnamese restaurant, is deep-fried ice cream…

Blue Ocean Thai Restaurant – Fried Ice Cream (Vanilla only): Vanilla flavor coated with special ingredients then deep fried and bedded with a vanilla cream sauce, topped with whipped cream and cherry.

Finally, another “dip-pride” (<–ha-ha-ha!!!) sweet fave’ of mine is Filipino Banana Lumpia

Banana Lumpia