Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Musubi Mondays at L&L Hawaiian - Irvine

As one of Hawaii’s most iconic foodstuffs, Spam musubi may be simple, but it’s history is complicated. It’s derived from the Japanese rice ball snack called omusubi. The first person to add Spam to the mix was a Japanese woman named Barbara Funamura more than 30 years ago at her restaurant in Kauai. The idea quickly spread to the other islands.

But the protein its centered on, Spam, came to Hawaii around the time of Second World War via the U.S. Military. Point is, nothing about the Spam musubi is actually indigenous. Few things usually are.

What is has become, however, is arguably the gateway drug that introduces the rest of the 49 states to Hawaii’s culture and history. And if you live in Irvine, there’s no better day to indulge on Spam musubis than Monday, when L&L sells it for a buck each.

I bought ten (as that is the limit they’ve instituted per person) and when I ate it, it didn’t so much remind me of my last Hawaiian vacation as it did the lesson of how food continues to evolve.

Perhaps a food writer living 80 years in the future will wax nostalgic on the humble and unlikely origins of the San Frangeles’ most popular dish: spaghetti tacos.

L&L Hawaiian BBQ
14310 Culver Dr Unit A
Irvine, CA 92604
(949) 262-9088

Kyung Bok Kung - Buena Park

Friday, July 19, 2019

Barbadian Fish Cakes in Barbados

These are the Barbadian fish cakes I ate while on vacation in Barbados. They’re to Barbados as pizza is to New York and donuts is to Boston. Rihanna probably grew up eating them.

I had them three times from three different places.

The first time was as hors d'oeuvres at the free cocktail reception hosted by the hotel I stayed in. The next two times I ordered it at restaurants just outside the boundaries of the resort. When I did, I came to a few conclusions.

First, these fish cakes are essentially a cross between a hush puppy and a beignet, except with flakes of dried fish added to the batter.

Second, they’re delicious, especially if there’s a bottle of a local hot sauce within reach.

Third, I should’ve tried them at restaurants farther from the hotel, because even with local delicacies that ought to be cheap, the closer you are to the rich tourists, the more expensive things gets...even fried dough.

Marco Polo Bar & Grill
Lower Crane BB18079, Barbados
+1 246-271-2583

Cutters of Barbados
Diamond Valley BB18079, Barbados
+1 246-423-0611

Kyung Bok Kung - Buena Park

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Chirashi Sushi at Sushi Shibucho - Costa Mesa

This is Sushi Shibucho’s chirashi, the happy intersection of a bento box and a nigiri omakase meal. It is one of the most economical and instantly gratifying ways to eat at Shibucho. You’re essentially getting a complete run of the fish in stock, served over a bed of sushi rice.

And what you save in the time the itamae would’ve used to sculpt them into individual pieces, you see reflected in the price. Currently the cost of this meal is $21.50, which is not cheap. But when you compare it to what you’d pay ordering by the piece, the savings are significant.

Inside this compartment, I counted at least 16 pieces from at least 7 different species that I would’ve probably eaten in succession over an hour during a proper omakase meal. Some were oily, others tangy, sweet, or salty. All of it was sublime. And when I had them in concert with the same seasoned rice as the nigiri, the experience was like a self-guided tour rather than a guided one. Either way, I was eating sushi at Sushi Shibucho!

Sushi Shibucho
(949) 642-2677
590 W 19th St
Costa Mesa, CA 92627

The Chicken Rice - Santa Ana