Pampered by a fried egg sandwich

27 09 2011

It’s easy for me to feel pampered down at the fishing pier.

10:30, after my workout in Kāneoʻhe, in the mood for a late breakfast, I stop at He‘eia Pier once again. I’m monitoring my food intake for several reasons, but today, after reading the menu, I feel I can have an egg: Fried Egg Sandwich $4.

But like I said, I’m pampered.

In a few moments Chef Mark calls out: Rebekah, would you like anything else on it? Some cheese?

Me: Um, no, do you have any lettuce?

Chef: Tomato would be good.

Me: Okay!

Chef: A little mayonnaise?

Me: No thanks, and please hold the cheese.

Now why, you might ask, don’t I just fix my own egg sandwich at home?

On a beautiful day in Hawaii like today, I can sit at the outdoor picnic table on the waterfront and be mesmerized by the Ko‘olau Mountains I love to paint and the sound of the sea lapping the shore. I can eavesdrop on the old-time regulars and watch the boats come and go to drop off and pick up polite Japanese tourists. It’s peaceful.

When my order comes out, I see beautiful food art neatly cut in two triangles. I don’t have to step up to the pick-up window for my plate. Chef delivers it personally to the table.

Bread toasted perfectly, just how I like it. Egg fried perfectly, but not greasy, with just the tiniest bit of runny yolk. Tomato slice and sprigs of . . . purslane!

I would have shown two thumbs up when Mark checked back—it seems he always makes it a point to acknowledge the customers—but one hand was putting the sandwich in my mouth. And I’m sorry, I ate everything before I thought of taking a picture.


• Be willing to park on the far side of the boat ramp and walk if there are no spaces closer. The Deli is open for breakfast and lunch, closed on Monday.

• Have no expectations except to expect to wait for your order. Allow yourself to be surprised. He‘eia Pier Deli is not a fast food joint. It’s the most welcome addition to local cuisine kicked up a couple notches where the chef and crew take care of windward Oahu residents.

• Feel good that you are supporting the local Hawaiian economy.

Copyright 2011 Rebekah Luke

Foods my ancestors ate

20 05 2011

Hakka menu

The theory of eating the foods my ancestors ate for good health came to mind when I saw two board menus recently: a Hakka dinner menu planned by the Tsung Tsin Association in Honolulu, and the day’s local specials at the Heeia Pier General Store and Deli on Oahu.

They reminded me of a model for sustainability presented at the “Chefs & Farmers Facing Future” forum I attended last month: create tighter communities and make friends with your neighbors.

At lunch with Cousin Millie (see my 5/15/2011 post) she asked if we would be interested in joining the Tsung Tsin Association, an international club that practices and preserves the (Chinese) Hakka culture.

We have Hakka genes. Hakka people descend from the Han people and migrated at various times for various reasons from northern China to the south and beyond. Hakka people are still migrating. They are nomadic.

Cousin Audrey Helen and I decided we would go to the Sunday meeting in Chinatown (Millie couldn’t make it) to check it out—for Millie—and report back. What do they do? I asked. Millie said she was told they eat and learn about Hakka culture (in that order). I chuckled.

Everyone the world around agrees eating has priority. There it was on Sunday—a Hakka Dinner Menu posted in the clubhouse. There are no Hakka restaurants on Oahu, but the association found a restaurant in Chinatown that would cook the special menu for them. I thought of my friend Linda.

I met Linda in the Sunset magazine food test kitchens in the Seventies. I left the magazine after a couple of years, and she enjoyed a long career as food editor. When she retired in 2005 Linda planned a trip to China to research Hakka cuisine. It was an eating tour with all the arrangements made, right down to the chef of most meals, by Linda. She needed two more travelers to make up her party of 10 for a group rate, so DH and I did not have to think twice to accept the invitation. All we had to do was pay and show up in Beijing on the appointed day.

There are some basics to Hakka cuisine, but we also found that food took on added flavors from whichever region Hakka people lived.

Both Linda and I will have food books out in 2012—hers the product of her Hakka cuisine research, and mine a reprint of Everyone, Eat Slowly that has recipes and anecdotes of my family. The Tsung Tsin Association members might want copies, I’m guessing.

So that’s the Chinese side.

The other side is part Native Hawaiian. What’s native on the menu below is the “kalua pig,” “guava,” “kalo” and  “o‘io.” And it wasn’t lost on me! These foods are not the traditional plate lunch fare. How refreshing to see what the new chefs like Mark Noguchi are coming up with.

Looks good to me

The eatery that served up local-style food at the end of He‘eia pier, has reopened under new ownership/management, much to my delight. It had been closed for months since the previous owners retired. It is one of the very few ocean-front restaurants on the long coast between Kailua and Haleiwa. DH and I used to bicycle there from the studio for breakfast and watch the fishing boats come and go, or stop there on the drive back from town. Its scenic value is popular with artists.

From this menu, though the other diners recommended the guava chicken, I tried the fried rice. It’s a sautéed mixture of onion, green onion, carrot, egg, bacon, Spam—all diced finely—rice, and (I think) a little oyster sauce.

Island fried-rice breakfast at the counter decorated with snapshots. Wow!

You can sit at the picnic tables or the small counter and listen to the folks talk story, or meander down the dock and watch the people fish for their own food. A man offered me some dried aku he made to go with my fried rice.

He‘eia pier

All this seems to fit in nicely with the message received from the “Chefs & Farmers Facing Future” food forum, organized by and Leeward Community College, whose food service students wanted to give back to the industry that gives so much to them. The event brought together farmers, fishers, aquaculturists, ranchers, chefs, and media reps to explore promoting and using locally produced food for sustainability in our island communities.

The meeting started with the sobering fact that there is only about a 10-days’ supply of food here with most of it arriving by ship or plane.

What I took away from the meeting was the notion that to sustain we should form tighter communities and make new friends with our neighbors within them.

As the Hakka association that takes care of its clan. (My grandmother took care of her own family of 15 and neighbor bachelors by growing vegetables in her victory garden.)

Or the young creative chefs serving dishes with local ingredients, or the man who gave his fish to me, or my own developing garden that sometimes produces enough to share with the neighbors. It’s a great life.

Sweet potato in my garden

Copyright 2011 Rebekah Luke

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