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First Byte: Jersey Mike’s Subs

After hearing a bunch of her coworkers rave about this place, this past week Diner K convinced me to try Jersey Mike’s Subs, who recently opened in the Hawaii Kai Towne Center (Costco, Ross and City Mill).

Well  the hype and word of mouth must be very positive, as when we arrived this past Wednesday around 1pm, it was PACKED, with  a long line that steadily remained nearly out the front door. Thankfully Jersey Mike’s is well-staffed, with about 8 employees working the counter when we were there. Or, excuse me, they’re “Sandwich Artists”. Or, excuse me, we need to throw in the proper “Joyzee” accent and pronounce it “Syanwich Wattist”. LOL!

What’s funny is, when I asked the gal ringing me up about their bread and I referenced Subway, she looked at me like I said the “F” word. Don’t ever say “Subway” at Jersey Mike’s, or you going get da’ evil eye!

That said (stubbornly), it’s a similar experience as Subway at Jersey Mike’s, where you tell the first person what you want, who then sets up your sandwich and hands it off to the next “Syanwich Wattist” along the assembly line. The difference here is they only have one type of sub sandwich bread in white or wheat in either regular (8″) or giant (16″!). While the biggest deal of all that sets them apart, is the deli meats and cheese are all sliced to order on their electric deli slicer. Which IIRC, is what Blimpie did. Remember Blimpie Subs?

Actually, they don’t have nearly as many veggie, cheese and dressing options as Subway, sticking with a simple “Mike’s Way” for the cold subs, being onions, lettuce, tomatoes, spices and “The Juice: a blend of Red Wine Vinegar and Olive Oil. Of course you can customize that combination however you want, which in retrospect, I should have. More on that shortly.

Without further ado, the entire Jersey Mike’s Subs Hawaii Kai menu from their takeout version, which is completely identical to what you’ll see on the menu board in the shop, including the prices:

Download Jersey Mike’s Subs Hawaii Kai Towne Center location menu in PDF format here!

As they have so proudly on display in their shop, Jersey Mike’s uses both their own name label, as well as independent brands for their ingredients, including Hormel Pepperoni, Blue Ribbon Turkey Breast and Four Monks Red Wine Vinegar.

In the following photo sequence, you can see how two “Syandwich Wattists” work the heavy-duty Bizerba electric deli slicer, alternating first with slicing the Provolone Cheese, then on to alternating the deli meats in succession, loading each sandwich according to the order. Notice in the third photo, there’s a hand-off between the two workers from one type of deli meat to the next.

Their hot subs get the flattop grill treatment for their meats ‘n veggies.

The hot subs are assembled at another counter in back next to the flattop grill.

Above is the cold sub veggies ‘n condiments finishing station. In retrospect, had I known they also had pickles and mayonnaise, I’d had asked for that in addition to their default “Mike’s Way”. Why isn’t there Deli Mustard? Shouldn’t that be standard at ALL sandwich shops?

Adding “The Juice”, a blend of Red Wine Vinegar and Olive Oil.

Add a bag of chips and 22 oz. drink to your sub order for an additional $3.69, or $3.89 for the 32 oz. drink. There’s also a potato chip line under Frito Lay they offer that I didn’t get a shot of named “Miss Vickie’s”.

Jersey Mike’s fresh-baked cookies and brownies by David’s Cookies. Them chocolate brownies are BOMB DOT COM! More on that later.

I’ll go with the Tropicana Pink Lemonade, thank you very much! Love that sweet ‘n acidic “twang” with my sub!

Sugar-laden soft drinks not your thang? Instead, fill your cup with fresh-brewed CHINAMIST Blackberry Jasmine, Traditional or Passion Fruit Iced Green or Black Tea.

Regarding the service, the line moved fairly quickly, where starting from the back of the line near the door, we got to the ordering counter within about 10 minutes. Once there, we were checking out within about another 8 minutes. Not bad considering how bonkers busy it was. All the staff was also super friendly with smiles on their face, while being knowledgeable and helpful. These guys and gals were on it!

So we agreed that we’d order one cold sub and one hot sub, so we could try each style and see which was better. Thus, I went with the cold sub, deciding on the Jersey Shore Favorite, while Diner K went with the Pastrami Reuben hot sub. Rounding it off was the addition of a bag of chips and soft drink to each order.

Being a cold sub, the Jersey Shore Favorite comes wrapped in paper, unlike the hot subs that are wrapped in aluminum foil.

The Jersey Shore Favorite features Provolone Cheese, Ham and Cappacuolo, which was $8.75 for the regular, while the large is $13.95.

I went the default “Mike’s Way”, which is pretty much the works at this place, again being fresh Onion, Iceberg Lettuce, Tomato and “The Juice”: a blend of Red Wine Vinegar and Olive Oil. It’s served on an 8″ bread that’s fresh-baked every day on the premises. Just like how Subway does it. I said it again! *whack-whack* Probably all you hardcore sub sandwich fanatics wanna’ slap me too for keep referencing Subway. lol

In the top view above, you get a better idea in scale to my Note 5 as to how big the regular JMS is, where my “phablet” phone measures 6″ length x 3″ width.

Even this “regular” 8″ sub — which they cut in half by default —  would be enough for two people, unless you’re REALLY hungry. I only could eat half, taking the rest home for later.

So here we have the Jersey Shore Favorite cold sub “money shot”, where you see them layers of sliced-to-order Provolone cheese, Ham and Cappacuolo deli meat.

I’ll have to be honest, this will the first time I’m trying Cappacuolo, that red deli meat.

And? First of all the white sub sandwich bread they use is OUTSTANDING! I was really worried the bread was going to disappoint me, but nope, it is PERFECT! The best way I can describe it is, if you’re familiar with Safeway’s fresh-baked French Bread loaf, this is EXACTLY like that, albeit in a smaller form factor. Same flavor, and more importantly same texture, with that crusty, crunchy golden crust, along with a slightly glutenous and chewy, yet airy inner part. It smells fresh-baked, and it tastes fresh-baked, because it is fresh-baked!

I will say though, this white sub sandwich bread is sensitive to becoming soggy, especially if you get the cold style with”The Juice”, so I would highly suggest you eat the sandwich as soon as possible, and not let it sit too long. The other half I took home and ate the next day did suffer some sogginess where “The Juice” absorbed into it, however fortunately for the most part it held up.

As for the piled-on layers of Provolone, Ham and Cappacuolo deli meats, to be honest, it all kind of became muddled, where I couldn’t really distinguish the difference between each deli sliced layer. If I were blindfolded, I would have just as well thought perhaps this was a glorified ham ‘n cheese sub.

And “The Juice” wasn’t really doing it for me. It’s too “thinly acidic”, while not the right  olive oil flavor and silky mouthfeel. Subway’s vinegar and oil blend is much better, IMO. As I noted previously at the veggie station, this cold sub was also missing what I think is BASIC in any deli sandwich, mayonnaise and mustard. What’s up with that?

Actually I still prefer my go-to fave’, Subway’s Cold Cut Combo over this one. Mainly because I’m more used to Subway’s flavors, being I grew up with them. In fact, over the course of my life time, hands down I’ve eaten at Subway more than any other fast food chain. By a hundred-fold!

That said, don’t get me wrong, this was still a very decent cold deli sub, and I enjoyed it, especially with that outstanding bread. However I’m personally just biased towards Subway, especially because they have way more veggies and other toppings for it. And it has nothing to do with price, being this Jersey Shore Favorite is considerably higher than my favorite Cold Cut Combo, but simply personal taste.

Next we move on to the hot sub category, in the form of Jersey Mike’s Pastrami Reuben, where notice this hot sub is wrapped in foil vs. paper.

Voila. The Pastrami Reuben. Now if you’re a Reuben fan, you’re probably scratching your head as I did, like “huh? Where’s the dark rye bread? A true Reuben must have Rye!” Yup, I thought the same thing. But we’ll give it a chance and try it.

Jersey Mike’s Pastrami Reuben is in the “Hot Classics” category, featuring grilled Pastrami, Swiss Cheese, Sauerkraut and Thousand Islands Dressing. The regular shown is $9.45, while the giant is $14.95.

And? OK, this is MUCH BETTER than the cold Jersey Shore Favorite sub. The hot thinly sliced pastrami was spot-on in flavor, tasty, tender and juicy. The melted swiss, sauerkraut and thousand island brought it all home, making it pretty much true to its name. While it was still amiss without Rye bread, the default crusty white bread still worked quite well, enough where if you’re not a hardcore Reuben fan and didn’t know the difference, you’d totally, totally dig this hot sub.

While not totally, totally diggin’ it because of the absence of Rye bread, we were totally diggin’ Jersey Mike’s Pastrami Reuben. Like, totally. lol In fact, between Diner K and myself, we both polished off the entire sandwich!

With that, we both agreed we’d come back to try the Philly Cheese Steak version of their hot sub.

As for the (Frito Lay) Maui Style Potato Chips & 22 oz. soft drink, that was an additional $3.69 per sandwich, and nothing worth commenting further than that.

Diner K also grabbed one of Jersey Mike’s house-made Chocolate brownies by David’s Cookies (baked fresh every day) for dessert, and I must say,  it was EXCELLENT. Super-duper moist, almost to the point of being a brownie fudge, and very rich in a delicious way. My only wish is that it had walnuts in it. To me, a brownie just isn’t complete without chopped Walnuts! Gotta’ have ’em! Still, if you wanna’ complete your sub dining experience here and you like chocolate, definitely grab one of Jersey Mike’s brownies for dessert!

As for picking a spot to eat, because it was so crowded in Jersey Mikes, with only one row of tables in the narrow space they’re in, we decided to eat right outside on the marina waterfront behind the shopping center, which I would highly recommend to you. You get there through the center courtyard entrance, in between Maile’s Thai Bistro and Panda Express.

The view of Hawaii Kai Marina while you enjoy your grindz out there is the best! Above is the exact view from the table we were sitting. Nice!

Summing it up, between Diner K and my opinion of our sandwiches (Jersey Shore Favorite and Pastrami Reuben), sides and overall customer experience, Jersey Mike’s Subs gets an initial 3 SPAM Musubi, meaning “Very Good!”

Jersey Mike’s Subs
Hawaii Kai Towne Center
333 Keahole St.
Honolulu, Hawaii  96825

Tel. (808) 395-8880
www.JerseyMikes.com

The Tasty Island Rating:

(3) Very Good

Related links:
Jersey Mike’s Subs (Hawaii Kai) – Yelp user reviews
National sandwich chain to open first Hawaii shop in East Oahu – Pacific Business News

The Tasty Island related links:
Subway Binge
Backyard Smoked Pastrami
Kiawe-Smoked Pastrami Ba-Le’s Bánh Mì

13 thoughts on “First Byte: Jersey Mike’s Subs

  • February 10, 2017 at 5:44 pm
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    Pomai,

    When I eat at Subway I have to ask for double meat and cheese before the sub has any taste to it.

    At least I can see Jersey Mike’s Subs fills the sub with enough meat and cheese to be worth a try. I’ll go for the Italian sub.

    Wish some day a real good  Philly Hoagie shop opens in Honolulu. I’d pay money to see you try and finish a regular 8 inch Philly Hoagie of your choice.

    Actually a good RI grinder shop would be great too! Give your jaw and mouth a workout.

    Reply
    • February 10, 2017 at 6:07 pm
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      Ken,

      The default amount of deli meat and cheese in the Subway Cold Cut Combo is plenty enough for me to taste it. I actually  prefer “double” veggies, often asking them to “add a little extra” sliced tomato, bell peppers and olives. I LOVE olives! I also make sure they give it a shake of salt and pepper, which really makes a difference vs. without that!

      I came close to getting the Italian, because of the wider variety of deli meats in it, however I thought for the first time I’d stick with one that’s unique to Jersey Mike’s, the “Jersey Shore Favorite”. They should rename it “Da’ Joyzee Sho-ah Fave’rit… made by weal Syanwich Wattists!” lol

      Check out this place: Timmy T’s Gourmet Grinders out in Kailua.

      Reply
  • February 11, 2017 at 5:38 am
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    Pomai, I am into vege sandwiches from time to time and lost some weight on it.  Now after seeing the Reben that one need to try along with brownie.

    Reply
    • February 11, 2017 at 7:46 am
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      Amy,

      I remember when I went vegetarian for half a year, I lost a bunch of excess weight. Became as ripped as Bruce Lee (then again, I was only in my early 20s as well). However one thing I did NOT like was Subway’s Veggie Sandwich. Bleck! It just didn’t work for me, and I LOVE Subway! I think it just tasted too “naked”, being prior to that I was used to the cold cuts deli meats in it.

      Reply
  • February 13, 2017 at 2:18 am
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    Pomai:  I think Jersey Mike’s is OK, but I like Subway better now.  In the old days, I did not care for Subway but now I like them the best of all the sub purveyors.  They have good breads and bread choices now, and their fillings are pretty good too.  And as you have pointed out, Subway has a lot of veggies and “add-ons” to choose from and they are free.  Their pricing is good and they offer a lot of coupons these days (at least here on the Mainland).  Every week I get a couple of BOGO coupons, or some other good coupon to use.  I will be back in Honolulu again end of this week, but I don’t think I will be eating any sandwiches while on vacation — ha, ha, ha.  Going to pig out on all “local kine” foods that I miss.

    Reply
    • February 13, 2017 at 11:21 am
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      Alan,

      I was surprised how many Jersey Mike’s there are all over the mainland, yet only now we’re getting one here. We actually still have quite a few well-known chain restaurants that haven’t arrived yet, such as Olive Garden, White Castle and In-N-Out, to name a few. Interestingly, like retail, national restaurant chains tend to perform very well here in Hawaii (to incredibly amazing) compared to their mainland locations.

      I’m signed  up with Subway’s phone texting coupon system as well. Great deals they send me. Apparently Jersey Mike’s has an eMail subscriber system where you receive special offers,  however I haven’t signed up yet.

      I agree, sandwiches are definitely not a Hawaii thing, no matter what they stuff in it or name it. Make sure when you’re back in Honolulu,  you check out 100 Sails, formerly the Prince Court in the Hawaii Prince Hotel Waikiki. AWESOME buffet, with all the best (and very high quality!) island style grindz you could ever want in one sitting! See my tour of 100 Sails’ buffet here!

      Reply
  • February 13, 2017 at 9:09 am
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    You don’t like the subway veggie sandwich? What’s wrong with you? :-D I might not like their bread, but I do love their veggie sandwich options. I always get extra, extra lettuce (love that iceberg, I’m so high brow), pickles and olives.

    Speaking of pickles, I can not accept a sandwich place that does not offer pickles on their sandwiches. No way! No pickles, no patronage. That’s my rule.

    Not to be a negative nelly, and I realize that obviously nearly all of their patrons are meat-eaters, but… they really shouldn’t use the same slicer for meat and cheese.

    Finally, if you want to sound really Jersey (or just generally like you’re very, very italian american), you have to pronounce Capocollo/a as “gabagool” as in “I’ll have some gabagool with prozchoot, reegoat and mootzadell” I’m sure IA Rhode Islanders do it to, Ken probably knows what I’m talking about.

    **I just saw the part about them having pickles there.

    Reply
    • February 13, 2017 at 11:46 am
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      h,

      I see there’s a Jersey Mike’s Subs right in your town. It’s in “KL Sq.”. Punch in your town on their website LOCATIONS page and it pops right up. Several others in nearby towns as well.

      To be honest, I can’t even remember the last time ordering Subway’s Veggie. As noted, all I do remember is not liking it because of its lack of the deli meats I was so used to before that. It was part of my adapting palate while going vegetarian. It was definitely a challenge. Some meatless dishes appealed, while others didn’t. I do remember mushrooms playing a big roll as my “meat-flavored” substitute. And still is today! If Subway did a vegetarian Roasted Portobello Mushroom ‘n Swiss Sub, I’d be ALL OVER THAT!

      Regarding pickles, I can sit there watching  TV munching on a dill pickles as my snack. LOVE pickles! That said, I really wish I knew they had pickles. I only realized it after looking at my photos, being I already decided while ordering to get the sandwich made “Mike’s Way”, as described above. Well, Mike, “Your Way” is missing pickles! Mayonnaise and Deli Mustard as well! Come on now!

      As for using the same slicer for the meats and cheese, that’s a Jewish thing, right? Or is that also a sanitary thing you’re suggesting?  I understand according to Jewish dietary law, you aren’t supposed to eat meat together with cheese, so a Cheeseburger and Cordon Bleu are a total no-no! Also no “scavenger” creatures, such as shrimp, lobster, crab (shellfish in general) and pork (pig).

      Ha-ha! Love the education on Jersey/Italian-American accents! I thought I was gonna’ get the third degree from someone from Jersey about my attempt at translating “Sandwich Artist” to “Syanwich Wattist”. I thought that was HILARIOUS! Am I at all correct on that one? I have no idea, that’s why!

      “I’ll have some gabagool with prozchoot, reegoat and mootzadell”… I believe “prozchoot” is Prosciutto, “reegoat” is Ricotta Cheese and “mootzadell” is Mozzarella, correct? I would have NO IDEA “gabagool” is Capocola. Then again, only now have I even heard of that style of deli meat.

      Reply
      • February 13, 2017 at 2:57 pm
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        Didn’t you ever watch The Soprano’s (if not google gabagool and you’ll see a YT video from the show)? That’s how I know those words, well, that and, way back when, on the Howard Stern show,  Artie Lang used to talk about his mother bringing him gabagool and eggs. Finally, an ex and I used to visit his grandmother for all holidays, his uncle who owned a deli in Tom’s River, NJ would come as well. Have you ever met an Anglophile? The sort who uses words like “loo” instead of bathroom, and uses other britishisms because of their love for the culture? Well my ex’s uncle, a first generation polish catholic, who grew up in a very, very, very polish-american neighborhood, was an italiaphile. I don’t know if that’s a real word. But he took on Italian American affectations when speaking. “I brought a pizzagain’ it’s full of prozshoot and some mortadel… I brought some manigot and a tray of gnol'” The first time I met him, I had to ask josh if he was doing a routine or something because it was like Geraldo, you know how he speaks unaccented english until he gets to a spanish-ish word and he really rolls a r’s and speaks in a dramatic accent? His uncle spoke in a northeastern Pennsylvania accent till he got to any italian word. It was hilarious.

        I have no idea how italian americans would pronounce sandwich artist.  I think they might pronounce sandwich “sangwich” though. I remember hearing Pauly D say that on Jersey Shore and it reminded me of being back in Miami where latino/a’s pronounced it that way (regardless of how many generations had been in the country). As for jersey accent in general, you’re probably correct. Btw, my mom has a New York/New Jersey accent even though she’s from Miami Beach. Back then her area was a “sixth borough” location, everyone she knew was a northeastern jew.  To this day, she says things like tawlk, cawfee, soap operer. draw (drawer), sistah, etc.

        Anyway, jersian isn’t my thing. I can answer anything about Yiddish, Spanglish and the miami dialect. That’s about it. Speaking of Yiddish, or jewish things, you are correct about the slicer, I doubt they could get away with that in some parts of the US. But I was mainly talking about vegetarians, as I doubt they have many kosher folk in your neck of the woods. You’re right about the food restrictions. I wasn’t raised that way, the denomination in which I was raised doesn’t believe in it. I was watching an Israeli show on Amazon Prime, and while it wasn’t about religion, the characters were observant. One mixed up the meat and milk forks and they had to be planted in a dirt pot to cleanse them. Weird. Religion can be really weird. Growing up, we had shellfish, and my mom cooked pork things and at ham. Even the denomination I grew up in drew the line at ham. Some of my relatives up here grew up in a stricter (but not the strictest) denomination, and while they are no comfortable mixing meat and milk (not just in the same dish, like a cheeseburger, but at the same meal, so like no steak and creamed spinach. I forgot how long you have to wait between eating meat and milk. I don’t think you can have a dairy starter, then meat, then ice cream, for instance. Anyway, so these relatives don’t mix meat and milk, but have no problem gorging on maryland crabs or old bay shrimp. Or lobster. *shrug*

        I’ve moved (just a week ago, still living among boxes), and the Jersey Mike’s is no more than a mile or so from me, I’ve seen it a few times. If you were looking on the location page, it would be underneath KL SQ, this is MV Ctr. I don’t think I’ll be going there anytime soon, there are a zillion restaurants to try within a 4 mile radius. (It’s weird, I went from living in the middle of nowhere, with few local amenities, moved 10 miles away and there’s every store I could ever need and some I hadn’t even thought of, and so many restaurants.

        Reply
        • February 13, 2017 at 8:33 pm
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          Pomai,
           
          Git otta town!! h talks like my uncle Vinnie an herr mudda like Sal!!! That’s what happens when you have the Jewish neighborhood next to Italian neighborhood next to African-American neighborhood in Rhode Island.
           
          No way I’m driving to Timmy T’s for a sub even if it’s all Boars Head! Can go to Foodland and have one custom made. Better still, drive to Kapolei to Aloha Sub and for same price as Subway get a sub same price almost twice the size as Subways.
           
          That is something I noticed today as I had an Aloha Sub. Subway is 6 inches long and Aloha is 8 inches long. Subway is two bites across and Aloha is three bites across. Same class act with veggies, olives and pickles.

          Reply
          • February 14, 2017 at 12:23 am
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            Actually, I have a Miami accent, or speak the Miami dialect, depending on how you see it. It’s subtle, even more so since I left miami (as an adult). I really noticed the difference in speech pattern when I moved from Miami to the west coast of FL (naples area) for 2 years before leaving Fl. completely. I guess that was about 13 years ago. The dialect is still there though, and even worse when I speak to Miamians. It’s a subtle different cadence and rhythm, and peppered with a bit of spanglish (I’m a fluent but not native spanish speaker). I dropped the irregardless and supposably in my late teenage years, once I learned they weren’t real words, and I’ve never said sal-mon for salmon. But other than that, I sound like a Miamian in accent and phrasing, no matter how hard I try to get rid of it. It’s weird when you learn that phrases you’ve said your whole life aren’t said or really understood elsewhere. Like, in Miami, we say “mission” for a long or tedious activity. “I had to go 4 stores before I found it, what a mission!” I get funny looks for that, but I’ve had a hard time erasing it from my vocab. Another thing I haven’t been able to drop is expressions that are literally translated from spanish, like in Miami, you “go put gas” instead of “taking the car to get gas.” Finally, super goes before everything. Super cute, super gross, super fun, super boring, super mission, etc. (oh, and I say like a lot, too, not in the valley girl way).

            The miami accent is an evolving thing, so things like babe and dale are newer/after my time.

      • February 13, 2017 at 8:39 pm
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        Pomai,

        h is right, its a no no to use same slicer to shave cheese and meat together.

        Reply
  • February 14, 2017 at 11:07 pm
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    h,

    Very fascinating, all the slangs and dialect influences you have or are familiar with from growing up in Florida, as well the overall east coast area. That’s pretty awesome you speak fluent Spanish.

    For some reason, when I meet tourists here, they often don’t initially think I’m from here, both in how I look and talk. I often get somewhere in California. However  the locals here will immediately recognize me as such, because I look so Portuguese (I’m half), which there are many locals here that are. And I can throw out Pidgin English ( a very “broken” style of English that dates back to Hawaii’s sugarcane and pineapple plantation era) when I want to, usually just when I’m joking around with another local. That said, I notice younger generation aren’t using Pidgin as much as when I was kid. The schools are probably discouraging it, not to mention the internet, where kids here have more mainland influence now.

    I also say “Gotta’ go put gas”, and when I was a teenager, we used to say “On a mission”, meaning exactly as you said. It’s more of a surf slang, as we used it whenever trying to find a beach with the best wave break. “Mission-bound”, meaning “Let’s go find where the surf’s at!”. Or of course, looking for hot bikini babes on the beach. lol

    I watched those “#### Miami Girls Say” videos you embedded. The thing is like, they like talk so fast, like they’re speaking Spanglish. Still, YouTube is so super awesome, but the thing is like, I can never decide which video to pick, there’s like so many super cool videos to  choose from. Like, talk about a mission. lol

    Reply

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