Sunday, June 17, 2007

Hawaiian Food in Shanghai

The Title is a subject that holds great promise - Hawaiian food in Shanghai! Who couldn't love it! On my recent trip to Honolulu I did my own unofficial "Super Size Me 2," by eating Plate Lunches for basically every single meal. To establish the proper context, here's some old-school food, from a Hawaiian mall's food court. It's a combination plate of pork, chicken long rice, lomilomi salmon, and poi:

And here's a "chili moco," which dumps chili over a hamburger steak, egg, and rice - a normal loco moco has gravy instead of chili. It was a special at the local chain, Zippy's.

Anyway I love the food and it's one of the many kinds of restaurants I'd love to see open in Shanghai. On the rare occasions I cook, that's the kind of food I make, and I even dream of opening a local style restaurant, maybe right next to the Vietnamese-sandwich & pho restaurant I'll open next door. I always thought of it as just a daydream, so I was shocked and surprised to be walking on Sinan Lu, next to Xianghshang Lu and Fuxing Park, and come across "Tammy's Sweet Dream." The Aloha shirts and floral motif made me curious, so I looked at the menu and saw it was a Hawaiian restaurant!

The menu didn't look entirely promising: a lot of these foods are very basic, but the prices were a little high - six or seven dollars. It was missing basic favorites like katsu. Also, what is fish lau-lau? Lau Lau is made from pork. I had a seat, the insides were nice and new and mostly empty, although I had made it a very late lunch. I should also mention a corner of the room with a star wars motif - a lot of small framed Star Wars posters. But mostly it was white and vaguely tiki:

I got the loco moco, it was like the chef had read a brief description of the dish but never actually eaten one himself. The main problem was the almost total lack of gravy, making the dish extremely dry. There was also some cabbage mixed in, which was just weird. Finally, the dish was very small, the amount I got was more like a snack. If my complaints sound petty, loco moco is neither a difficult nor an expensive dish to prepare!

About ten minutes after I got my dish, my friend got hers, it was hulihuli chicken, a grilled and specially flavored chicken. It didn't really get the hulihuli treatment, it was just normal grilled chicken.

So all in all I thought this restaurant was a big disappointment. It was more authentic than the Hawaiian joints that serve pineapple hamburgers, but the food was so poorly interpreted that I'd really have to be jonesing for Hawaiian food before I'd drop by.

Update 11/30/07 - I never did return and I guess I never will - according to Christopher St. Cavish's always entertaining food article in SH Magazine, the restaurant has closed.

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