@Seawalker mentioned that we’re about due for a food post. I think food posts get about the second most comments right behind Ala Moana Center memories. Two things that MLCers cherish the most.
The other night I was having a bowl of Vietnamese pho with my daughter and I was telling her that pho is a new thing for us. When we were growing up, we only had saimin. The local kine like Hall Saimin, Saimin House, Tanouye’s, or the Chinese kine you get at the chop suey joints. I think pho didn’t become Hawaii mainstream until around the 90’s? I didn’t start eating it until just about 5 years ago! How’s that for a late bloomer?
Then it got me thinking of other “new” foods and the closest thing we had during our small-kid-time days.
Okay, the bologna sandwich is a bit extreme. After all – we did have one or two sub sandwiches restaurants around town. Remember Mr. Subs at Pucks Alley? And I think Magoo’s used to sell sub sandwiches too. And there was a little place in Kailua called Bread of Life where they sold awesome sandwiches too. And can’t forget the legendary pastrami sandwiches from Lyn’s Delicatessen in Ala Moana center.
But now you have the Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwiches. And Subway sandwiches and Auntie Pasta’s meatball sandwiches.
And speaking of Lyn’s Delicatessen – when we ate Italian food – we had spaghetti. We didn’t have all these different Italian restaurants manned with Vietnamese cooks. If we did want something close to real Italian food, we had to go to Waikiki. Trattoria comes to mind.
How about beef curry. Growing up we had one kine curry – the kine made from the Schillings curry powder in the glass bottle. Then came the little curry cubes. Not the same. Then came the Japanese curry like the kine at Coco Curry House or the one Zippy’s puts on their katsu curry. Not the same.
I remember when I was small and my dad took me walking around Waikiki, by the zoo. We walked by Queen Surf and the curry from the concession stand smelled so ono. Beef curry is one of those things that taste better when eaten at the beach, from a round styrofoam bowl with a huge scoop of rice underneath it. Hard to find beef curry made from Schilling curry power nowadays. Most are the cube or package kine.
When we drank coffee, we had a choice of black – with sugar and/or cream. And that was it. And it was coffee from a percolator. It would be either strong or bitter. But most times, both. Today’s coffees don’t even resemble coffee. Do these fu-fu drinks even have caffeine in them? How do the guys expect to grow hair on their chests drinking this stuff!
Just like in today’s world, we too had soda. But our special treat was a slush. A majority of the time it was strawberry. And if we were really lucky – like it was our birthday or something – we’d get a scoop of ice cream added to make it a slush float! But now there is the smoothie. Costs almost about as much as a plate lunch and contains just about the same amount of calories.
I remember back when I was in high school and I was working with this guy from California. Typical Cali guy – surfer, health nut, organic – you know the kine. Anyway, he told me one day “Let’s go get a smoothie”. I said “What the hell is a smoothie?”. Then he proceeded to take me to Vim & Vigor where he ordered a smoothie with some kind of protein powder added and some peanut butter and banana and other stuff. I had a taste and said “I’ll pass” then went to another store and got me a…, wait for it…,
One more – Dim Sum.
Who called it dim sum? We had manapua, pepeau, half moon, pork hash, and rice cake. That was it. Okay, jin dui for dessert. But that was all we had to choose from. We didn’t have shrimp dumplings or steamed soup dumplings. We didn’t even know what a dumpling was! Add chicken feet, taro root dumplings (there’s that word again), spring rolls, beef noodle rolls – none of that stuff. We had manapua.
Life was so simple back then.
What other foods can you think of that we didn’t have growing up? Or foods that evolved into something barely reminiscent of what we ate back-in-the-day. Maybe some of these places were around all the time but we just didn’t venture out as much? Nah, lots of new stuff nowadays as compared to small-kid-time. What can you think of?
Time for a quickie Thursday 3. I’m sure you’ve used the phrase; “Such and such is my go-to blankety-blank for _____”. So let’s find out your go-to answers.
What is Your Go-To;
Place to eat a meal?
Market or grocery store?
Here’s my replies.
My go-to place to eat a meal has to be Zippy’s. The prices are reasonable, the food is pretty good, and most importantly – they’re open 24 hours. During the daytime, I might go to other places now and then – but for reliability, it’s Zippy’s. That’s why it’s my go-to place to eat a meal.
My go-to market or grocery store? Well, it’s more like Paula’s since I don’t cook or shop for groceries. And that has to be Times Supermarket. Paula is familiar with the neighborhood Times’ set up and can find everything easily. And Times has a lot of local brands (like Holmes sardines) unlike other grocers that carry only their own branded items. Okay, Holmes sardines is not made or caught locally – but it’s local, right? btw, does Costco count as a market/grocer? Local markets must take a hit from the big-box stores.
My go-to snack is; French Fries. Some people like potato chips, some like cookies, some like ice cream – but if I had the opportunity, I’d grab french fries. But since snacks are usually something you eat at home, I’d have to say… Ketchup flavored Pik-Nik. It’s about the closest thing to eating french fries with ketchup. When they go on sales at Long’s – I’m there!
Okay, your turn. What’s your go-to replies. And no shame answer more than once as more “go-to” answers pop into your head.
Remember when we were young – and we could eat anything we wanted, any time we wanted – and didn’t have to worry about weight gain, or heartburn, or acid reflux, or weird dreams?
A night out with the guys usually to a Chinese Kung Fu movie or to the pool hall or where-ever always ended up at someplace to eat.
We loved Jack-in-the-Box. The one on King and McCully – especially because we knew Emily who worked there. The usual for us was; 3 tacos with extra sauce, onion rings, and a soda. Once in a while, someone would switch it up and order a Breakfast Jack or Moby Jack.
After catching a Chinese movie in downtown, we’d hit King Street and head over to Washinton Saimin for their bul-go-gi plate. Bul-go-gi, fresh off the grill and laid over a bed of rice. Kim-Chee on the side was a must. After eating, because we’d have to park on King Street, we used to slowly walk back to the car and check out the pictures at McKinley Photo. Or was that Ace Photo?
Sometimes if we were in the mood, we’d head over to Kalihi side and hit the saimin joints: Palace Saimin, Saimin House, or Hall Saimin. Remember when Saimin House was next to Tamashiro market? There was the soda factory right next door and they had a soda machine right outside. The kind that you slip in your 50¢ and pull out the bottled soda of your choice. Then you could take it right in to Saimin House to enjoy with your meal. When pau, you would take the empty bottle out of the saimin joint and put it in the wooden soda bottle rack that was next to the soda machine. And nobody stole the bottles.
And of course – Zippys. Or as we called it, “Zip’s”. We could pound a Zip-pac with no problem. Or the chili-frank plate. Or if we were eating in the Saimin-Lanai, we could order a Zip-min – while playing songs on the jukebox. Ho, felt so grown up eating in the restaurant part. Usually, the restaurant was saved for dates. Which leads me to places to eat on a date.
After a movie or a concert or where ever we used to go on dates, we tried to eat at different places than the ones we went to with the boys. Maybe because we were afraid that we might see them and they’ll embarrass us in front of our date. As I mentioned, the Saimin-Lanai was usually reserved for eating with a date. Because kinda tacky ordering at the window, then carrying your food to your date while she waits for you on the laminated wooden tables outside, then eating out of the paper lunch plate box, yeah?
I remember other places I used to go to eat on dates. Would you believe Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor? Yup, the Ala Moana one. Sometime, you just wanted dessert instead of a meal. Or Farrell’s had burger platters too. Went well with an Orange or Rootbeer Freeze. Reminds me of another place.
KC Drive In! I don’t know about you folks, but in high school I always made sure that my car had a bench front seat. You know, so my girl could sit right next to me. Cut Seat as they call it on Maui. Broke Seat if you’re from Kauai. I don’t know if we had a name for that on Oahu. But having your date sit right next to you made car-hop service convenient. The fries went on the dashboard and the drinks stayed on the tray (no built-in cup holders back in those days), and waffle dogs weren’t that messy to eat. I remember to this day some words of advice that my friend told me (from experience); Never order hot saimin at the car-hop. The bowl is too hot to hold – so you end up eating off the tray with your head out the window.
How about coffee houses? I remember that we used to go to Wailana Coffee Shop with dates. That was a bit more fancy so it was saved for special dates – like after the Junior Achievement banquet or proms. I regret that I didn’t visit other coffee shops – like all the Spencecliff ones like Tops or Coco’s. Anyone remember where Popo’s Coffee Shop was?
Where else did we go? Pizza joints. Shakey’s or Chico’s Pizza.
What late-night eateries did you patronize? Either with your friends just hanging out or on a date? I know there are a lot more places that we went to. Help me remember them!
Remember the old days when there was no such thing as cell phones? From home, you’d call up a couple friends – at their home – and made plans to go check out a movie or something. If they weren’t home when you called – oh well, too bad. And when they came home and were told that you had called them, they’d try to call you back. But if you left the house already, ruff-ruck.
Or remember when you were trying to avoid someone and you’d have another member of the house answer the phone for you and tell the person calling that you weren’t home? No caller ID back then. We had to use live screeners.
Or how about when you were out on a date? You didn’t have to worry about your date being interrupted by a ringing cell phone. Or text message alert. Or a bored date checking his/her Facebook page. Or an overzealous date posting pictures of the car, restaurant, food, drinks, shoes, bathroom, etc.
Remember when there were more than 1 car load of friends – like after a social or dance – and the 2 cars would be following each other around town? If somehow you got separated, then it was impossible to find each other. It helped to have a planned-ahead-of-time rendezvous point for such occasions – like McCully Zippys.
When we got separated, there was no chance of finding each other. It wouldn’t be until the next day that we’d find out what happened. “Eh, what happened to you guys last night?” “Well brah, if you never blast through the yellow light, we would’ve followed you”.“So, where you went? We was waiting for you guys at Zips”.“Zips!?! – we was looking for you guys at Ala Moana beach”.
I remember after we got married and our girls were about 4 and 5 years old, shopping meant everyone hanging out together. If we had cell phones back then, I could take the girls somewhere while Paula shopped on the 3rd floor of Liberty House. But we didn’t have cell phones then. So it meant that when Paula shopped at Liberty House – we all shopped at Liberty House. Me and the girls knew exactly where all the chairs were in the store. And we would race to grab the available seat.
Then later as the girls got older, we did the “Okay, meet back at the ‘nook’ next to the escalator in Macy’s at 3:oo” (it was no longer Liberty House by then). Then I could go looking at electronics and tools in Sears while the girls shopped at Claire’s and Hot Topic, and Paula shopped in – you guessed it – Macy’s.
When cell phones became available, but they weighed 4 lbs, held a charge for only 5 hours (stand-by), and cost $3.50 per minute – we went with the poor-man cell phone:
Yup, Motorola personal walkie-talkies. They only worked as far as half of the mall at a time and caught mostly only on the mall level – sometimes on the street level – but they served their purpose. I must’ve looked dorky wearing that thing on my belt…
I must say though – before cell phones, it was much easier to ice out someone. And you didn’t have to worry about them trying to find you.
I wonder how today’s kids would react if we told them that in our day, we had only 1 phone that the whole family had to share. And the phone couldn’t leave the house. And you couldn’t walk around the house with it. You had to sit by the telephone base and have your conversation – even if everyone else could hear. And if you stayed on the phone too long, you’d get scolded. And it was only good for voice communication. They probably wouldn’t believe us.
Do you wish we had cell phones when we were growing up? Or are you glad we didn’t have cell phones in our day? Where you one of those who waited until later in life to get on the cell-phone wagon? Or did you jump in early? If so, who was your original cell-phone carrier? Me, I had Primeco, which later turned into Voicestream, which later turned into T-Mobile. Can you imagine how different things would be going on a date nowadays with cell phones?
Edited: Thanks AnkleBYTERS for sharing this picture of a Vette with a CB antenna. I forgot all about the CB craze in the 70’s.
Ahh, Zippys! The ultimate hangout. So many memories.
I remember when the McCully Zippys was the only Zippys in town. The night was not complete without checking in at Zippys. If not to eat, at least pulling into the driveway and taking the cruise around the Saimin Lanai restaurant – taking your time driving slowly over the speed-bumps – especially if you had a hot rod as all the heads from the restaurant would peer out the window the check out your car.
Some nights we’d park at Zippys and hang out by our cars and listen for the souped up Novas, Chevys, Camaros, etc. cruising on King Street and pulling into Zippys. The rumble of the headers and the marbles-rolling-around sound of a racing cam. And every once in a while – the whiny sound of someone with gear-drive. The best was watching the Mopars and Chevys coming in with the bench seats and the guy’s chick sitting “cut seat“.
And when the hot rods pulled out of Zippys, it wasn’t cool to “burn out” on King Street. Nope. Nobody had to prove that their car was cherry. If anything, the ‘rods would pull out casually and maybe give a little “chirp” of the tires when shifting into second.
Zippys, for us – wasn’t really a place to bring your girl. It was a place to cruise with your friends – and run into other people – maybe a bunch of chicks (or guys) you remember meeting at a social. Back in those days – when we didn’t have cell phones or pagers – if you lost your friends while cruising Waikiki or Hotel Street, the protocol was that if we got split up, we meet at Zippys.
Trivia question: What bakery was right next door to Zippys? (of course we’re talking about the McCully one). It later became the Zippys corporate office.
Remember the bathroom? It was located on the Ewa side of the building, next to the walk-in reefers. People from the saimin lanai who wanted to use the bathroom would have to walk though the restaurant’s back door only to find themselves outside next to the reefers sharing the same bathroom.
And the Saimin Lanai was NOT the biggest dining room. The line used to be right outside the door on the little porch and down the steps. And when it started to rain, everyone tried to cram on the little entrance so as not to get wet.
And just a ways in pass the cash register area was the jukebox! And I remember the cool thing about the set up was that the Saimin Lanai had either KKUA, KIKI, or KPOI playing on their sound system. And as soon as someone started playing something from the jukebox, the radio broadcast was muted and the jukebox songs played on the sound system. When the 3 songs for a quarter was done, the radio would automatically kick back in.
The Saimin Lanai was small and cozy. Sometimes a bit too cozy. I remember one weeknight during college time, I went there after work around 9:00PM or so and met my nightclub friends there. We had a couple of booths and had some dessert and were drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes. Since it was a weeknight and not very busy, we hung out there for hours while they kept filling our coffee and we kept smoking our cigarettes – until the whole dining room got all smokey. It started to look like the Point After’s back bar! Needless to say, with all that caffeine and nicotine – I had a very hard time sleeping that night.
And I have to mention the waitresses who worked in the Saimin Lanai restaurant. They were cool. I can’t remember any of their names. There was one that I met at KCC. Her name was – I not going say. But her first name began with an “R”.
I remember this other waitress who looked kinda homey (not homely). She had wire rim – almost granny looking – kine glasses and I thought she might’ve been the kine shy, soft spoken girl. Maybe from the neighbor island and attending UH kine. So I asked her the standard “What school you grad?”. She replies back to me “Saint Taniguchi”. I’m thinking “What? Maybe I’m right and that is some neighbor island school”. So when she came back, I continued on the conversation and said “Saint Taniguchi’s? Wea dat”. She just smiled at me and turned away. The other guys were telling me “She playing you, man! I think she grad Roosevelt”. She became one of my favorite waitresses.
So many MLC memories. Thank you Zippys for not closing down or rebuilding the McCully Zippys. I haven’t been there since they remodeled a couple years back, but I heard that they kept most of the charm. I really need to visit there again and retrace my steps from long ago.
Happy 47th Anniversary Zippys! Thanks for the memories.
What are your memories of Zippys? Did you hang out there? After the movies? After high school football games? After your bowling shift was over? Remember this commercial with Jade Moon? Share your stories with us.
Wanna check out a hot band? Pocket will be playing this Saturday (10/19/13) at Gordon Biersch at Aloha Tower Marketplace. Check out Wes Aoki, Kristie Ching, Darla Pestana, Dwayne Higa, Wendell Ching, Jules Kam, and Aaron Kimura.
Remember bowling alleys? I grew up with bowling – as probably a lot of us MLCers did.
In fact, my first puka-head was at a bowling alley. I must’ve been maybe 4 or 5 years old and my dad was bowling in a Pearl Harbor league at Boulevard Bowl (remember where that was?), and I was doing the spin around a lot and fall down all dizzy thing. Well, I fell down and whacked my head against the corner of the ball polishing machine and puka my head. My dad was pissed. He had to stop bowling to take me home. I remember him pressing the bloody handkerchief against my head. Never did go doctor to get stitched up.
Then later, my dad joined a Friday night – second shift – league at Pali Lanes. We used to go hang out at the bowling alley every Friday night. While dad bowled, I’d play around the top area (but wasn’t allowed to spin), or watch the guys play nickel machines, or sit in the snack bar and wish I could have french fries or a banana split. Or sometimes I’d just lie down on the Bruinswick orange and white plastic seats and fall asleep.
I think I was destined to grow up at bowling alleys. Even my aunty Yoshiko and her sister Chiyo had a barber shop at Bowling City.
My mom used to take us there every so often to get our head’s buzzed.
Eventually, my dad bought be a used 13 lb. bowling ball. It was an Ebonite Earl Anthony with the name DEL inscribed on it. My bowling bag was from Gold Bond stamps. I just used it to bowl for recreational purposes.
Then after I got married, I started bowling with my In-laws at Stadium Bowl-o-Drome.
And like my days of growing up – we bowled on Friday nights – second shift. But because the first shift was a 5-man team and because of the old ball returns and broken machines, we sometime didn’t start bowling until 10:00. Needless to say – we didn’t get out of there until 1:00 the next morning.
This went on for years. At first we were bowling in a league that took up almost the whole alley. Eventually, it got smaller until it took up only half of the ally. Then when it got even smaller, we merged with another league that was using the other half of the alley. This went on until Bowl-o-Drome decided to close its doors for good.
Then that league merged with another league over at Kam Bowl.
And the night changed from Friday to Thursday – still second shift. The best thing besides the short ball rack (so you didn’t have to wait until the next lane finished just to get your ball), Kam Bowl had automatic scoring. You have no idea how much I loved that. See, at Bowl-o-Drome I was bowling with my in-laws. Father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother-in-law(s) and not one of them stepped up to help me keep score. When it was our turn to keep score – I had to keep score. Sometimes, after I threw my first ball, I’d have to go back and write in the other teams score, then throw my second ball and write in my score. WTH? And of course, I had to be the team captain – which meant going to the meetings, collecting the dues, and making sure we have bowlers. Paula’s brother used to bowl sometimes and her sister’s husband used to bowl the other times. But I was the one who used to have to tell them when to bowl. This one time I did an experiment and told the BOTH of them to decide between themselves who was going to bowl on Friday night. Friday night rolled around and neither of them showed up. Pathetic. Had to use Dummy score. And me being the team captain, I had to pay for their lines.
So when we moved to Kam Bowl, we had a new team with just my FIL and me and a couple of friends. And with automatic score keeping – I had time to relax, concentrate on my game, talk story with my teammates as well as the other team, and enjoy myself. The game was now fun and I used to try to break 200 on at least one of my games.
But when word came that Kam Bowl was going to shut down and be replaced by Walgreens – I hung it up. Almost 20 years of bowling – and I went through almost the same number of bowling balls. I was very passionate about bowling. I subscribed to the magazines, watched the PBA Tour on TV every season, practiced in the off season, hung around some of the top bowlers to get tips, knew all the bowling shops around town – and the reputation of the drillers. I was a bowling junkie.
But one of the best parts of bowling was the socializing. Before Facebook and Linkedin and Instagram, bowling was one of a few ways to network with people from all different professions and who worked in all different companies. I made a lot of friends when I was bowling. And every now and then I think about them and wonder what they’re doing today. Hmm… maybe I can find them on Facebook…
Did bowling play a part in your life? Do you miss the socializing, the networking, the fun times spent at the alley. Or at Zippys or Likelike Drive in for the after bowling grinds. Remember the bowling banquets? Share your bowling memories with us.
The other weekend while dining with Paula and daughter #2, I was telling them that I didn’t start eating tacos until I was in high school because:
We didn’t have mainland fast food places when we were kids
I didn’t eat cheese – especially yellow cheese
The only kind of taco I knew was boiled octopus
Paula shared that she ate tacos (the Mexican kine) when she was small only because her older cousins made tacos with them in the kitchen – from scratch. Well, they had the tortilla shells, but they had to fry them to get them crispy and taco shaped.
But going back to item #1 – Hawaii got it’s first fast food restaurant – McDonalds – in 1968.
This picture is actually from 1974
Until then, we grew up with mom & pop drive ins. About the closet thing we had to a chain of restaurants was Zippys when they opened their second eatery in Kaimuki.
But we were totally happy eating mom & pop hamburgers made with Loves buns, a thin patty, the ketchup/relish mix, and of course – the yellow sauce. And if you could swing another dime – the hamburger transformed into a cheese burger. And if your dad’s tax return just arrived, that meant a Deluxe – with lettuce, onion, and tomato.
Then later came Jack in the Box. The one at the corner of King and McCully is the first one that I remember. That’s where I had my first taste of a taco. And from that point on, I knew I loved tacos. And onion rings!
Somewhere along the timeline – Taco Bell set up shop on Oahu. Their tacos were different. Not the same as Jack in the Box tacos. I couldn’t quite pinpoint the exact difference. I think the Taco Bell tacos were… Fresher? Healthier?
Anyway, then the fast food restaurants started expanding to the rural areas of Oahu. Kailua got a McDonalds! And a Dunkin’ Donuts to go with it. And for some odd reason, Kailua got an A&W Root Beer drive in restaurant. Honolulu didn’t even have one yet! Next came Taco Bell to Kailua. And this was WAAYYY before Kailua became a tourist destination.
But soon, the Andy’s Drive In, Jumbo’s Drive In, Scotty’s Drive In, Kenny’s Burgerhouse, Jolly Roger Drive In – they all started to lose business and began shutting their doors.
Gone were the 25¢ each or 5 for $1 hamburgers. The Porky Boys and Cheesy Gals gave way to Big Macs and Jumbo Jacks.
But back to the point I was trying to express to daughter #2 – in our day, we just had local drive ins with local kine sandwiches, plates lunches, and drinks – including malts and/or shakes. And if you were lucky, they had one slush machine. We didn’t have these mainland chain drive ins. It was all mom & pop drive ins.
Are you happier now with the mainland chains here giving us more choice of dishes? Or would you have been happy with just the old locally owned drive ins? Or are you okay with it – in the name of progress. Not that we can change anything – but it’s nice to remember how simple it was in the olden days. Although the kids of today might beg to differ.
As I mentioned in my last post – mom & pop bakeries are getting harder and harder to find. And as they go, so do the family recipes and specialty items – like custard danishes.
Growing up in Kailua, we had 2 main bakeries: Jean’s Bakery and Craig’s Bakery. Ironically, they were located within a quarter mile of each other.
Jean’s Bakery (1951)
Craig’s Bakery (2001)
I remember my mom taking me to Jean’s Bakery one night when I was just a little kid. The Kailua Japanese School used to have meetings there to plan upcoming events. That’s how it was in the old days. People would open up their business to host meetings for community groups.
On Sunday mornings when my dad didn’t feel like cooking breakfast before church, his bakery of choice was Craig’s Bakery. He may have been a bit biased because he knew the Craig’s Bakery owner’s kids. The Furubayashi boys grew up playing little league baseball with all of us.
But what I remember the most about Craig’s Bakery is hanging out in the front of the bakery after Japanese school and sometimes wondering in to look at the pastries in the glass cases and the ice cream in the refrigerated case – the kind with the glass doors angled on the top that you slide open. And the floor rack of birthday party toys, something like this:
Unfortunately, Jean’s Bakery and Craig’s Bakery are just memories. But they were Kailua’s bakeries. Even when Dunkin’ Donuts invaded Kailua, the 2 locally owned bakeries held their own with their loyal following.
As for Supermarket bakeries – it’s not the same. Convenient, but as my MIL would say “no ono”.
I remember Bakery Kapiolani – both the Kapiolani one and the King street one that was across of Makiki Zippys. And didn’t the King street one have a take out window where they sold hot dogs for super cheap?
But what I remember about Bakery Kapiolani on Kapiolani boulevard was the square orange chiffon cake. They were so old school that once the bakery closed, I never found it again.
That is until I ventured into Kaneohe. Now, I’m not sure if this picture was from Kaneohe Bakery or Deluxe Pastry Shop since they are next door to each other! But I snapped this picture at one of those two bakeries:
There are still a number of mom & pop bakeries around: Kilani Bakery, Kamehameha Bakery, Lee’s Bakery, Liliha Bakery (which I read will be opening up a couple more), New A’ala Bakery, etc. Some have changed owners over the years and some have kept the business in the family. I’m hoping the mom & pop bakeries continue on with their quality goods and family secret recipes.
But this is MLC where we remember things of the past. So share with us the bakeries you remember – whether around your neighborhood while growing up or ones you remember seeing advertisements for or maybe that special one that had a certain pastry that you enjoyed – like Bea’s Bakery that was on 12th Avenue, known for their pumpkin/custard pies. I miss those…
A few months ago, on a Saturday afternoon – I had the hankering for a custard danish. Not any old supermarket bakery custard danish – but the kind that I used to eat from Craig’s Bakery in Kailua – which sadly is no longer open.
Since we were at Ala Moana center when the craving hit, the first place I visited was St. Germain’s bakery in Shirokiya. But the custard in the danish didn’t look right – not as I remembered. The custard on the St. Germain’s danish had an orange color to it. I wanted the yellow custard.
So we headed to Liliha bakery where I figured we’d find exactly what I was looking for. Nope. Same thing – the orange stuff.
Then we tried Napoleon’s bakery at Zippys. Uh-unh.
Next we drove down to Dee Lite Bakery thinking that although they are the same as St. Germain’s in Shirokiya, maybe the main bakery on Dillingham will have real custard in their custard danishes. But such was not to be. It was the same orangey looking stuff.
Then I thought – maybe because it was already in the afternoon that the yellow morning custard had turned to orange afternoon custard. But then I don’t notice custard pies turning orange, so it must be that the bakeries are using pre-made or pre-processed custard on their danishes.
So the search continued…
Then a few weeks ago, I had to stop by Liliha Times to pick up a prescription. And since it was during my lunch break, I decided to walk around the Liliha Square shopping center and check out the little shops there that are tucked away in the corner of the shopping center on the Liliha street side.
I passed Subway and as I was walking over to check out Toyo bento, I passed the New Aala Bakery. But something stopped me and told me to take a look at this tiny bakery. Lo and behold, guess what I found?
A custard danish. But not just any ol’ custard danish – but the kind with yellow custard! I ordered one and as the girl behind the glass case was ringing up my small order, I asked her about their custard. She said that their custard is all freshly made. None of this pre-processed custard, but fresh home-made custard, made daily. I told her that I was looking high and low for the exact custard danish they served.
Then she told me that not only do they make their custard fresh from scratch – but they don’t deep-fry anything. Everything is baked. Then I thought to myself “That’s right! That’s how it should be – after all, they are called bakeries!“. Then she proceeded to put in a couple of pastries into my package and said to try these “Sweet Rolls”. The one with the chocolate is a Haupia Sweet Roll and the one with the powered sugar is a Custard Sweet Roll.
I told her to add them to my bill but she insisted on throwing them in for free – for me to try. How cool is that! Not only do I find the kind of custard danish I’ve been hunting months to find, but I also get a few filled donuts to sample!
I returned back to work and quickly snapped a few pictures of my lucky find. Then it came time – to try the custard danish that I’ve search high and low for. And it did not disappoint. It was exactly as I imagined it would be – fresh, eggy, custard. But then I noticed a tinge of lemon. I’m not sure if it was coming from the custard or the pastry part – but it added a little uniqueness to it. A skosh of a zing.
The danish had filled me up (being that I had eaten lunch prior to trying it) so I passed on the Haupia Sweet Roll and the Custard Sweet Roll to a couple of my coworkers – who love their food. And they enjoyed it very much! This, after they too had already eaten lunch – so you know it must’ve been ono because they too weren’t very hungry.
So I think I’ve found my secret hideaway for custard danishes. Next, I need to try their custard pie. Then their custard/pumpkin pie. And reading reviews on Yelp, I’ve got to try their butter rolls.
New Aala Bakery: Owned by Arthur Oda – where pastries aren’t fried, but baked. Follow them on FaceBook. And a special mahalo to the nice girl who helped me. She was so pleasant and helpful.
And other suggestions where I might try a good, old-fashioned custard danish? Mom & Pop bakeries are getting harder and harder to find. Later on I’ll do a blog about old time bakeries – but for now – it’s all about the custard danish.
Rodney Lee is a Baby Boomer - and proud of it. Rodney started the Midlife Crisis blog back in the days of The Honolulu Advertiser and ran it for about 3 years. After The Honolulu Advertiser shut down, Rodney decided to continue his blog here at Midlife Crisis Hawaii. New blog entries are added every Monday and Thursday.
So join Rodney as he reminisces about the good ol' days.
Midlife Crisis Hawaii - where the memories live on.