Hawaii eats section
by Martha Cheng
IT'S DELECTABLE ALL ACROSS WAHIAWÄ
So many small eateries dot Wahiawa with unapologetically simple decor and good food. We spent a day there to explore a few of them.
DA POKEMAN FISH MARKET
The poke at Pokeman (side poke $1.95) is full of sweet onions, a touch of ginger and fresh, fresh fish. We're a sucker for homemade laulau, especially when it's just $2.95, and at Pokeman, the laulau is one of the best — soft, melty pork melds with the earthy taste of luau leaf.
Da Pokeman Fish Market, 36 N. Kamehameha Highway, 622-4629
Our problem with a lot of Mexican food on the island is under-seasoned meat. Not so at Palenque. The Colorado, the sopas, the salsa and the house-made tortillas — it's all good.
El Palenque, 177 S. Kamehameha Highway, 622-5829
MAUI MIKE'S FIRE-ROASTED CHICKEN
Fast-food chicken with a conscience: Maui Mike promises that his chicken is always fresh, never frozen and 100 percent natural. The chicken is spit-roasted, and a secret rub results in juicy chicken with a salty, soft skin. Half a chicken with fries and two sauces (choose from six sauces ranging from Lava Hot to teriyaki) is enough to feed two for $7.99.
Maui Mike's Fire-Roasted Chicken, 96 S. Kamehameha Highway, 622-5900
Molly Walker smokes her meat about an hour per pound at a low, low heat until it's tender. An order of smoked meat — we like the pulled pork and baby back ribs — comes with a side of sweet cornbread, which almost outshines the meat.
Molly's Smokehouse, 23 S. Kamehameha Highway, 621-4858
You can't leave Wahiawa without a taste of Sunny Side's pies. The apple pie and peach and pear pie are fine, but the chocolate cream pie (all pies $1.50/slice) is divine. Custardy, creamy, chocolatey.
Sunny Side, 1017 Kilani Ave., 621-7188
It's true. There's a new cafe devoted exclusively to the super cuteness of Sanrio. The Sanrio Cafe is part of the newly renovated Sanrio Store in Pearlridge Center, and the place, open since Monday, is already drawing crowds who can't wait to get Hello Kitty-shaped cake. Awww! Mostly a counter with a few food and items like sandwiches, sweets and coffee and smoothies, everything with a an extra dose of kawaii. Cyrus Goo, also chef of Cafe Laufer, is the guy in charge of the Sanrio Cafe, so you can be sure that the stuff doesn't just look good, it tastes good, too. See page 3 for details on the official grand opening party.
Pearlridge Center, Downtown 98-1005 Moanalua Road
Hours: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sundays
CUCKOO FOR COCO PUFFS
Imagine this: A whole bunch of Liliha Bakery's (531-1651) signature Coco Puffs, all cuddled up together in a rectangle, and drowned in chantilly cream. Slathered. Frosted deeply in a heaven of butter, sugar, cream and eggs. The Coco Puff cake was created in response to customer demand.
— Wanda A. Adams
Mark and Judy Ellman have sold Maui Tacos and are at work planning a new restaurant, which Mark Ellman describes as an "ethnic seafood diner," just down the street from their Mala Ocean Tavern in Lahaina, Maui. It's expected to open next year; no name yet.
The Ranch House Family Restaurant, which opened earlier this year on Kapahulu Avenue (737-4461), has a new chef. Chef Jesse Kila of Kailua has taken over executive duties from chef Clayton Babas.
Celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse will headline the annual Kahala Food & Wine Classic, today and Saturday at The Kahala Hotel. Fans can get an up-close look at Lagasse as he stars in a cooking demonstration from 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday in the Maile Ballroom. Lagasse will showcase dishes from his latest book "Emeril 20-40-60: Fresh Food Fast," including Salad Tropicale; Kicked-up Shrimp Fried Rice; Stir-fried Beef and Broccoli; and Emeril's Late Night Parfait. He will be available to answer questions from the audience following the demonstration. Tickets to see Lagasse are $100 per person. The full schedule of Kahala Food & Wine Classic events can be found on The Kahala Hotel's Web site at www.kahalaresort.com. To make reservations to attend the Emeril cooking demonstration, call 739-8760.
Correction: Chef Cyrus Goo at the new Sanrio Cafe in Pearlridge Center also is still the chef at Cafe Laufer. A previous version of this story was inaccurate.