Waikiki Hawaiian Grill - Tustin
I've learned a great deal about Hawaiian food lately, thanks primarily to two akamai food bloggers Kirk and Reid. Their episodic quest for good Hawaiian grinds, in the island state itself, and in San Diego has provided a good primer for me to start on a quest of mine own here in the county of Orange.
My first grind-find (L&L does not count!) is a sleek joint in Tustin. Waikiki Hawaiian Grill, it's called. I spotted it while zooming by on Newport Blvd., behind a SoupPlantation, of all things.
The shop is designed for you to order your food and make a hasty exit. Everything seems to be packaged in those styrofoam to-go containers. As I understand it, this shouldn't be surprising considering the plate lunch is fast-food, island style. Need silverware? Go somewhere else brah!
But should someone decide to stay and eat, the restaurant is spotless and bright. The tables are shiny and slick, reminding me of a polished wooden surfboad. Canvasing one entire wall, there is an oversized photo mural of an island scene. In the air, an Israel Kamakawiwo'ole CD seems to be playing in a continuous loop. Gorgeous photos of the food are shown on a backlit marquee above the counter. The pictures are of their various combos items, with a scoop of rice, a scoop of macaroni salad and a mass of grilled meats.
Below the marquee, a tall, lanky white guy and a short, stout Asian dude take your order. Bo-da-dem friendly and attentive.
I order the Seafood Mix ($6.99), which consists of a few slabs of thin marinated dark meat chicken grilled over flames, two fried breaded pieces of fish, and three butterflied shrimp "rings". As with just about every meal they serve here, there's a generous heap of rice and a scoop of macaroni salad laced with tangy mayo.
How was it? Well as a Hawaiian would say "It was onolicious! It brok' da mout". In mainland-speak; it was delicious!
The chicken was deeply smoky and sweet. And eventhough it was good as it is, I could not resist slathering each bite with the teriyaki sauce they provide. This sauce, which has the viscosity of dark maple syrup made every square inch of that chicken shine.
The shrimp (which looked like it was doing a pirouette) and filets of fish, were deep-fried to a greaseless crunch and stood up to a vicious dunking in the pineapple sweet-and-sour sauce.
Ono grinds in Tustin, brah!*
*Sincere apologies to Kirk and Reid for my inane attempt at pidgin.
Waikiki Hawaiian Grill
13771 Newport Ave. #10
Tustin, CA 92780