David B. Goldman
it comes to culinary kudos, Hawaii has gained quite the reputation with its dynamic, big name
chefs. That’s what makes Island
Grinds such a treat. Sidestepping the
well-known celebrity chef venues, it showcases Hawaii’s
holes-in-the-walls patronized not only by locals in the
know, but also by the big names—think Alan
Wong and Roy
Yamaguchi—who hunker down at places like the Side
Street Inn for a taste of the real deal.
the best thing that can be said of a guidebook is that it
is just as valuable for locals as it is for visitors. Island
Grinds falls under this description. The cafés,
counter shops, strip mall dives and weekend grills are not
chosen to fulfill a publishing obligation, but because author
David Goldman has something he feels compelled to say about
the specific gastronomical merits of each and every one.
The narrative quality of the reviews give them the feel
of short (very short) stories. Read about Karen Yamaoka
(Karen’s Kitchen) who “puts out great loco moco,”
or 97-year-old “Mama” Shizuko Teshima (Teshima’s
Restaurant), who got her start selling sandwiches during
the war. This is also a primer on island cuisine, whose
influences are as far ranging as Portugal. In addition,
there is an index by dish, which is an excellent resource.
For lovers of the inside scoop, Island Grinds is a pleasant
journey through the experience of eating not only like an
islander, but of eating—regardless of where you are—on
the cheap and very well.
by Kim Fay