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Grindz of the Day: Fish 'n Chips & Kalua Pork Okinawan Sweet Potato Mini Cakes

For the Grindz of the Day today (actually consumed on Saturday) we have a plate of Fish ‘n Chips from Teddy’s Bigger Burgers in Hawaii Kai. For takeout, it doesn’t come served on a paper plate as shown, but in separate white paper bags for the fish and the chips (fries).

The counter guy convinced me to “upgrade” to garlic fries (chips) for 50 cents more. With that, I was expecting there to be actual pieces of minced garlic and perhaps herbs laced all over it (like Gordon Biersch), but instead was disappointed to find they just sprinkle it with bottled garlic salt seasoning. Hah?

I should have asked more questions about it before going that route, as I didn’t care for this faux version of Garlic Fries at all. Teddy’s regular fries are excellent, but in my  opinion this garlic seasoning stuff totally ruined what would have otherwise been a perfectly cooked batch of fries.  Needless to say I gave most of it to our pets. At least they liked it.

As for the fish part, the beer-type batter had a nice ‘n golden brown, crunchy, slightly airy texture and OK flavor, but could have used some herbs and seasonings in it. I’m just spoiled by Alexander’s (in Kihei, Maui) seasoned Tempura-based fish ‘n chips batter in that regard, who still holds my “Best Fish ‘n Chips in Hawaii” award.

According to Teddy’s menu, the fish in it is Pollock, which for me is too mild and really just characterless in flavor. While I don’t expect a burger joint to ace fish ‘n chips, it’s not a hard thing to do if they use the right fish. They should seriously consider Mahimahi. I mean common’, this restaurant is in Hawaii, not Alaska. It would taste so much better with Mahi, and I’d be willing to pay extra for its superior flavor over Pollock.

I’ll give them points for being super tender and moist though. So tender that one fillet broke in half just by picking it up. The included malt vinegar and lemon always provides  nice acidic contrast to it, while their tartar was rather flavorless. Almost like plain mayo’, and not enough relish in it. Personally I prefer cocktail sauce for dipping my fish ‘n chips, which is something I learned from Alexander’s. The kick from the horseradish in the tomato sauce base of the cocktail sauce really enhances the flavor of the batter-crusted deep fried fish fillet. You should try it.

Summing it up, I’ll give Teddy’s Fish ‘n Garlic Chips 1 SPAM Musubi. Next time I’ll stick with what they’re really good at – the burgers. No garlic salt on my fries, thank you very much.

Next up we have these here Kalua Pork Okinawan Sweet Potato Mini Cakes from Kahai Street Kitchen…

Take the corned beef hash patty concept and swap out the corned beef for Kalua Pork and Russett potato for Okinawan purple sweet potato, roll into a ball, coat in panko and fry ’em up and you have these here Mini Cakes. And I must say, they’re mighty tasty! The sweet potato compliments the smokey ‘n savory Kalua Pork quite nicely. It’s served with a Hoisin Aioli Sauce, but I preferred them as is with no sauce.

Very creative, that’s for sure. Rating it, I’d say 3 SPAM Musubi.

Which has me now wondering how Corned Beef would taste with the Okinawan Sweet Potato? While I’m skeptical, I won’t knock it ’til I try it! With St. Patrick’s Day just two days away, I’ll have to put back on my “Food Scientist” hat and do some experimenting! Hopefully it won’t turn out like my Teriyaki SPAM Macadamia Nut ice cream NIGHTMARE-ON-A-PLATE. lol

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On another note, from the east side of Oahu, a bunch of changes have been happening at Aina Haina Shopping Center in the last year or so. For starters, Chuck E Cheese, who was a tenant there for decades has moved out of Aina Haina since December 2008 and is now open for business in City Square shoppping Center in Kapalama (Kalihi), taking the (very large) space of the former Grocery Outlet.

More recently back in February of this year, Foodland reopened their Aina Haina store after months of extensive renovations — essentially an entire overhaul — and are now rebranded as ‘Foodland Farm’…

If you’re familiar with this Foodland location’s former layout, you’ll be in for a shocking surprise once you step through the front door. My initial impression while walking through this new ‘Foodland Farms’ for the first time is that they’re trying to look like (and compete with) Whole Foods. Which is totally fine by me, as long as their PRICES don’t resemble Whole Foods, a.k.a. “Whole Paycheck”.

Designwise, like Safeway’s new look, Foodland Farms has that rustic countryside market theme going on. They’ve even gotten rid of the white commercial floor tiles in favor of bare concrete floors, although that part is a  little too “rustic” in my opinion, as the floors now look kinda’ beat up in some areas.

As expected based on Foodland’s recently renovated other stores, a full service deli and meat counter has been added and stands as the centerpiece of the store just as you pass the front checkout counter. Their poke counter situated on the side is also substantial in size; both of which this former location didn’t have before.

Being rebadged as ‘Foodland Farms’, the new produce department, which is now located in the front of the store, is certainly much more impressive than previous, with a even wider variety of local and and organic produce, all of which looked to be culled for quality and freshness.

Their meat department, which is still in the back, while wasn’t very big to begin with in the former layout, doesn’t look any bigger or smaller the way it is now. Just slightly rearranged.

Other new features include a full-service florist (which takes up a considerable amount of space in the corner of the produce department area), an R. Fields Wine staffed outlet and a Gelato Bar. all these “bells ‘n whistles” additions have obviously consumed plenty of floor space that once served where runs of gondolas (product shelves) once were. And with that, it looks like they may have gotten rid of a lot of skus (products) from their former layout in the process.

While I’m not clear exactly which products may have been sacrificed for sake of making the selection at Foodland Farms more “upscale”, the impression is it’s now practically half interactive market (the deli and poke counters, R. Field outlet, florist) and half grocery store, and not really a ‘supermarket’ anymore.

One thing that stands out that matches their new look is the staff’s genuinely friendly attitude and for the most part great customer service, so BIG, BIG shaka on that!

There’s great video coverage of the new Foodland Farms in Aina Haina provided by the team at Hawaii News Now. Check it out at that link.

Next door to Foodland Farms, taking the space of former longtime tenant Komokata Japanese Restaurant is a new Genki Sushi Restaurant…

While I didn’t take “inventory” on my latest visit, as it currently stands, most of the other tenants in the shopping center remain the same. Where as you may already know, the Aina Haina McDonald’s is the first one to have opened in Hawaii back in 1968.

2 thoughts on “Grindz of the Day: Fish 'n Chips & Kalua Pork Okinawan Sweet Potato Mini Cakes

  • March 16, 2010 at 7:28 am
    Permalink

    Hey Pomai,

    Sent you an email a few days ago. Hope you can make it. You’re doing an awesome job here.

    Reply
  • March 16, 2010 at 8:16 pm
    Permalink

    Interesting to know that the Aina Haina McDonald’s was the first one to open in Hawaii. I recently went there for the first time and was blown away by how dated and old it was. Sadly, the whole McDonald’s was empty that early evening except for my friend and I and a group of folks we think were the owner and his friends by the way they were spread out at the tables. I’d never seen any McDonald’s at any time of the day that empty before. It was kind of weird. I suppose they must still do a lot of drive thru business, though.

    Reply

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