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Sunday, May 14, 2017

MY FAVORITE RAMEN

I gained 4-5 pounds on my world trip.  I thus had hoped to begin to lose some of that bulk by walking  18 holes on Friday.  A golf tournament closed the Ala Wai Golf Course.  So on Saturday I caught The #4 Bus into downtown Honolulu with the intention of walking back up the hill:


I'm at the bus stop and 15 Craigside is across the street.  If I walked into town, I'd get sweaty and be uncomfortable through lunch.

A form of comfort food in Hawaii and much of the Orient is noodle in a hot soup base with additives.  When I grew up in Honolulu it was saimin, said to be developed during the sugar plantation era (meaning more than 150 years ago), mostly of Chinese origin, with touches of Japanese ramen and Filipino pancit.  Why China?  Saimin combines two Chinese words, sai = thin and min = noodles, and char siu is a Chinese red-colored barbecued pork.  The first foreign laborers into the sugar industry came from China.

Japanese dashi (taste for the soup part, mostly from seafood and seaweed) became prominent and kamaboko (fishcake) was added to the mix.  Not sure how the Philippines entered this equation, although most of the final workers into sugar came from there, but their noodles came from China anyway.  Green onions were always available from gardens, but Spam came later, introduced during World War II.  I show Franz Shiro Matsuo because he also graduated from McKinley High School, but his very first saimin shop opened exactly 50 years ago at the Aiea Bowling Alley.

While I'm at this, pho, from Vietnam, had a similar evolution with different politics.  It probably came to be as a French influence 130 years ago, for pho is a corruption of pot au feu, French beef stew.  And, by the way, pho is not pronounced FO, but something closer to FA.  Anyway, it is said that the USA came into the history when during the Vietnam War we were wasteful, and much of the beef came from Army camps, which the Vietnamese boiled to make the soup.  Certainly, pho became known when immigrants escaping that war ended up in the U.S.  There is a distinct difference between the pho of Saigon and that of Hanoi, for the latter adds more stuff, including proteins.  If it is pho nam, it comes from the north.  To pho is added fresh basil, cilantro, lime and jalapeƱos.  The big difference is that the noodles for pasta, saimin and ramen come largely from wheat, whereas pho has rice-based noodles.  To repeat, while pho is beef-based, all the others use ocean products, with variations, of course.

I haven't been to Shiro's from many years, but I've pretty much expanded my tastes to any kind of noodles, even cold soba (buckwheat).  I like them all.  Yesterday, though, maybe because it was conveniently located in downtown Honolulu, I went to Lucky Belly, for they probably now serve my favorite noodle in soup, a Belly Bowl:


I enhanced the broth with a few cc's of cognac.  All the above with tax and tip cost $25, not exactly your thrifty meal.

The artwork here seemed evocative of some fetish, and there were more:


The waitress on the left with a bluish tinge to her hair was symbolic of the art.  

Further down the road from Lucky Belly is Wo Fat (you can only barely see it to the left):


Wo Fat operated from 1882 to 2005 and has long been up for sale.  Any interest in re-starting a Chinese tradition?

A few yards further along Hotel Street is Kekaulike Mall, with orchid trees, looking towards Honolulu Harbor:


Most don't know the real name, but turning Mauka (mountain direction), this is Maunakea Marketplace, where you can find products not usually found in standard supermarkets:



Lychee from Hilo, tilapia for $3/pound, red snapper for $11/pound, abalone for a fortune,  and banana flower (I wonder how that is served).

Walking further mauka up River Street, I got to Chinese Cultural Plaza.  Why river street?  Because it parallels Nuuanu Stream, and I live two miles upstream.  Next Saturday I'll go to Fook Lam for their Singapore Soup Dumplings--for just the opposite--soup in noodle:


Interestingly enough, no Blue Bars.  But a flame tree and bush with more orange flowers:


Then close by, blue flowers:


Up Nuuanu Avenue, a tamarind tree:


I love to now and then eat tamarinds.  Next door is the Japanese Consulate with more orchid trees:


After hopping around Planet Earth, it is such a pleasure to not have to re-pack, rush to the airport, go through the hassle of immigration/customs, wonder who last slept on my hotel pillow, etc, at enormous cost.  Every month I'm away from 15 Craigside I still need to pay them $4,000.  Maybe I'll stay home forever.  Life in Purgatory is so nice.

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3 comments:

Tom Daniel said...

Glad to see that you're back home, Pat! Entertaining blog post, as always. Would like to talk with you about possible participation in the upcoming 8th Okinawa-Hawaii Ocean Energy & Eco Dev Symposium here in Kona next month. Email query in process.

PLANET EARTH AND HUMANITY said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PLANET EARTH AND HUMANITY said...

Dear Tom: Look forward to your coming query. As you know I helped moderate the 2nd gathering, and my reportage of the 6th can be found at:

http://planetearthandhumanity.blogspot.com/search?q=nelha%2Cotec%2C+okinawa%2C+hawaii