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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, September 6, 2002

Eateries offer tasty barbecue, bentos, pork, shave ice

By Matthew Gray
Advertiser Restaurant Critic

Sam Park is the owner of Sam's Delicatessen on Nu'uanu Avenue, where the plates are piled high.

Cory Lum • The Honolulu Advertiser

Sam's Delicatessen
1627 Nu'uanu Ave.
Mondays-Saturdays, 9 a.m.-9 p.m.

If you like Korean barbecue places, you'll want to add this one to your list. Sam's is off the beaten path, on upper Nu'uanu, mauka of School Street, and the folks there know how to lay it on thick.

Their mini plates are priced at $3.95, with the exception of the kalbi plate ($4.95). They include two scoops of rice and two choices of side vegetable orders.

The regular-sized plates are high and mighty, with three scoops of rice and four choices of side vegetables. It'll take a pretty large appetite to polish off one of these in one sitting. The vegetable choices include watercress, shoyu potato, potato salad, bean sprouts, seaweed, broccoli, cabbage, tofu, corn, sweet shredded daikon, daegu, cucumber kim chee, and long rice.

I was particularly impressed with the meat jun ($5.50), three big pieces of beef coated with egg and fried. The meat was very tender and thinly sliced, the batter was a thin coating of egg, and the resulting flavor was slightly sweet and savory at the same time. They have the jun thing down pat, because the fish jun ($5.50) was also excellent. The barbecue beef ($5.50) had a very good grilled teriyaki flavor and was even better than the very good barbecue chicken (three boneless pieces of thigh meat for $4.95).

1824 S. King St.
Bento counter: 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. daily

I passed by this location a gajillion times over the years, which was home to the Suehiro Japanese restaurant for a long time. Last January, Gyotaku moved in and picked up where Suehiro left off.

There's a walk-up counter where you can order the various bento boxes to go. The food is prepared and placed on a steam table so you can see it before you buy. There are 10 combination plates, lettered A-J, with a photograph of each finished bento taped to the window.

I especially liked the butterfish bento ("C," $6), the teri beef, shoyu chicken and saba (mackerel), or salmon combination plate ("I," $6.75). The plates with tempura (with short rib "G," $7; with teri chicken "E," $6.25; or with saba or salmon "F," $6.25) seemed to be flying out the door.

Weenie Jr.'s Hotdogs & More
10:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays
In front of Comp USA on Ala Moana Boulevard

This is bare-bones grinding. A tiny cart in front of the Comp USA store made its presence felt about two months ago, feeding the computer nerds who often frequent the store. When a big sale is on, you can wager that this cart will be busy. With everything under $5 here, it's worth a try.

Although it offers hot dogs ($2.49), Polish sausages ($2.99) and a very spicy Cajun-style sausage ($2.99), I would steer you in another direction, namely toward the pretty good smoked pork sandwiches ($3.99), or smoked pork over rice ($3.99). The earlier in the day you go, the better and moister the pork will be. Make sure you get enough sauce or the meat may be a bit dry. Soon the cart will be offering a tamale plate ($4.99) on Thursdays, and a kalua pig and cabbage plate ($4.99) on Tuesdays.

A nice young man named Aaron serves up the sandwiches and the other goodies. He told me that the meat is pork butt, and that's it's smoked for 16 hours over keawe wood.

Ice Day
1738 S. King St.
11 a.m.-9 p.m. weekdays
11 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays

Ice Day serves the best shave ice in town. Their ice is softer than snow and the flavorings are just right. I especially like the lychee and raspberry flavors. And, oh, yes, the $1 small shave ice is an excellent deal and quite generous. For 50 cents more you can add azuki beans, or have it snow-capped (drizzled with sweetened condensed milk) for 25 cents. It's a great way to refresh on a hot day or night.

Reach Matthew Gray at mgray@honoluluadvertiser.com with your comments, questions and suggestions.