Exploration Foodie

The Day I Said I Do

How did my food journey begin…?

I grew up in Hawaii, my family from there all being Japanese. I only realized I was different after I had moved to North Carolina, probably the second day of my 8th grade year in junior high.

I was sitting at a cafeteria table with the “popular” gals. I only know because they acted like they were better than other people since they were donning Abercrombie & Fitch. I digress. Everyone pulls out their packed lunches, I spy the typical white bread sandwich, chips, fruit cups, etc.
Mine however… a tupperwear full of Oyakodonburi and rice.

Say what?



Heads turn.

“What is that?

Fastest way to explain:

“Leftovers from dinner. Rice with chicken and egg and… other stuff.”


Keep in mind they thought “Hawaiians” were blonde and tan with lots of piercings. Okay… country hicks. I was not the expected image, and currently eating what appeared to be alien food.

I grew up trying a lot of typical Japanese/Chinese/Portuguese/Hawaiian/Filipino foods.
Living in the melting pot…

Nishime, ozoni [5 am mochi pounding], soba for new years. Kinako mochi.
Dry saimin for snack. Pounding the package on the sidewalk and dropping the sauce *cough*
MSG packet into the crumbles.
Friends having chopped tako or kamaboko (fish cake) in ziplocs for snack.
Cone sushi. Maki sushi (tuna/egg/carrot/red or green hana-ebi/shiitake/kampyo)
Orange halves with Li Hing Mui stuck in the center bleeding its red salted brine throughout the veins.
Fresh pineapple. Soda crackers. Arare. Kimi Balls. White rabbits occasionally.
Iso peanuts. Tomoe Ame rice candy. Washerette shave ice.
Sweet bread and peanut butter for breakfast. Kulolo.
Mrs. Aunty Kuwada’s spam musubi rolls (G-pa and I would get into these before even leaving her house… HAHA our impatience to Grandma’s dismay)
Mrs. Kuwada’s wine cake (OMG). Her andagi, mochi, chocolate iced cake, yellow pound cake…
That woman was AMAZING—
Lee-Bear’s white chocolate covered PB Ritz with rainbow sugar sprinkled on it
<---------- {If you remember this <3} Char Siu or curry chicken manapuas from Minit Stop. Red hot dogs. Redondo's. Crispy duck cakes from Ting Ying’s. Korean nori strips. Chichi dango mochi.
Tasaka’s Guri Guri. Homemaid’s malasadas. Taro chips. Mochi poi balls.
Cream filled malasadas. Maui Bake Shops raspberry twists.
Sam Sato’s dry saimin with soup on the side. Lima bean manju.
Hard boiled egg and shoyu. Yan Yan. Pocky. Koala’s. Sembei.
Nazo’s Ox tail soup… my grandma’s favorite. Kim chee. Nappa Zukke.
Lahainaluna (or whatever club, let’s be honest)
doing the fund raising selling kalua pig/lau lau.
S&S saimin. Loco Mocos and the best fruit punch EVER at McDonald’s.
The crack store (crack seed store, that is). Icees. Tasty Crust saimin.
Pork shumai and all the good food my uncle would bring over from Oahu.
Flying Saucer (sandwich at the Maui County Fair). Chow Fun.
Old school Liberty Restaurant chow fun. Fujiya Coconut Tea crackers.
Mom snacking on cuttlefish or ika (squid), shredded mango and prune mui.
The Barrio Fiesta: (PC: Maui Filipino Heritage Festival) Pancit. Lumpia.
Being disturbed at a pot luck because someone decided to put adzuki beans in the rice,
and it really freaked me out as a kid because I thought it was bugs.

I missed all of these things when I was living on the mainland. Although the exposure to Southern food while living in NC was also great. Sweet teas all around, pulled pork sandwhiches, brisket, Chick Fil-A, waffle fries, fried chicken, cornbread, biscuites, banana cream pie, berry cobblers, apple ciders, pumpkin desserts, ribs, BBQ sauces, hot sauces…

As I got older I realized a few things. Food presented a certain way appeared to be art. It was more than just sustenance, it was something that brought people together… and I started taking pictures of the spreads at our family get-to-gethers. Also, if I had a great meal: I wanted to remember it. Definitely weird, I used to blog many YEARS ago, here and there about the things I’d do on the weekends or when I’d hang out with my friends and use a few of the photos for that. The rest are floating around which I will probably dig up soon for old times sake.

The most recent experience that clicked, (besides me taking pictures of alllllll of my food) was when my mom and I had just returned from Europe and we had 4 days to do Portland-y things. Our unplanned plan of attack…

Day 1.

Bob’s Red Mill

Downtown Food Carts
Nong’s Khao Man Ghai
Korean Twist
Grilled Cheese Grill

Lauretta Jean’s Pies (x3)
SE Division Teahouse – Chai
Salt & Straw Ice Cream

Screen Door



Eating our Nong’s Khao Man Gai chicken and rice.


Mmmmm Korean. Pickled sides and some odd salad. Still good though!




Pies and chai… Yummmmmy!



Crazy Halloween flavors!! Didn’t try any though, boo.
The Scoops: Pear & Blue Cheese / Double Fold Vanilla / Almond Brittle w/ Salted Ganache

I had heard, been told, and saw on yelp that I needed to try Screen Door. Southern cuisine. All done just right. After a full day of eating it was almost unfair to go there (that’s why we got the dessert TO GO), but I’m so glad we did!


In line early… smart move—


Hush puppies and shrimp cheesy grits for starters ^ The best thing I ate at Screen Door—


Mom’s favorite food: fried chicken– A very good rendition here.


My gargantuan pulled pork sandwhich and sweet potato fries. This was a real big mess to devour.


I think these were yams… although we hadn’t expected it to be sweet.


Brisket (?) on a bed of lima beans and gravy with coleslaw on top. Also really tasty and epically large.


Could’ve done without this altogether. Not bad tasting but not a great cake by my standards. Could’ve been moister, sweeter, creamier… didn’t leave me with any lasting impressions other than the notion of SKIPPING dessert. Overall great experience and the start of my collecting places to put on a list so I wouldn’t have to wonder where I was going to eat out next. With so many options it was hard to remember what’s where or even recommended in the area.

So why not compile a list and share it– I write about all my other endeavors… How can I not post my [usually terrible] iPhone photos of food that were not-so-discreetly taken! Riiiight?