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Island Grinds

By David B. Goldman

Island Grinds

When 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.

Perhaps 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.

Reviewed by Kim Fay

(Updated: 12/02/08 SB)

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