Hawai‘i Herald Columnist
Shinnen akemashite omedetö gozaimasu (Happy New Year)! Of course, though the year has changed numerically, we’re still in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic which requires face masks, eye protection (at work at least) and social distancing. And because the data still shows that indoor dining is associated with a relatively high number of cases of coronavirus clusters compared to other virus-exposure activities, we continue to patronize local restaurants primarily through take-out.
Since the pandemic started, we’ve dined in-house only on two occasions; one of those times was prior to the City and County’s tiered system, back when it seemed that the 50th had flattened the curve. So for the better part of this Year of the Metal Ox, we’ll choose to support our local restaurant industry with take-out. Today’s column focuses not just on local establishments but also those in my neck of the woods in K-Town or the good old 96744.
I first sampled food at the original Zia’s Caffe in Kailua when I previously worked at the Kaiser Permanente Clinic right next door in 2001. The Dymond clan which runs the Kalapawai Market and Café businesses opened a second location in Käne‘ohe. Being a lifelong resident of K-Town, I didn’t think that the second location would survive. Fellow 96744-ers love their breakfast and Chinese foods, but not much else. However, here we are almost 20 years later, and the only thing that has changed are the owners.
Back in 2017, Lindsey Dymond put Zia’s Caffe on the market while the business was still doing well and had many years left on the lease, so that the Dymond clan could focus on promoting and advancing the Kalapawai businesses. In 2019, Micah Suderman — director of restaurants and bars at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel — decided to purchase Zia’s Caffe which his spouse, Sophany Mao-Suderman, would manage.
The purchase was finalized in January 2020. Then the perfect storm hit. COVID-19 touched down on Hawaiian shores, tourism suddenly died so Micah was laid-off from The Royal Hawaiian Hotel and the previous Zia’s Caffe chef left leaving Micah to man the kitchen himself. However, in August, Chef Keith Endo formerly of Vino Italian Tapas and Wine Bar (our second home) decided he needed a change of scenery and joined Zia’s Caffe — bringing with him many specials served at Vino like the fried Brussel sprouts, stracciatella cheese and Bristol Bay seared scallops.
Zia’s Caffe recently purchased a pasta machine so several fresh pastas are now on the menu. The managers have also started wine pairing dinners – three to four course meals with wine pairings for the savory courses, as Micah is also a certified sommelier. A bonus is that Zia’s Caffe now consistently offers porchetta on the special menu. If you’ve never sampled porchetta, it’s a whole pork belly slathered with fresh herbs, which are rolled and tied then roasted low and slow, until the flesh is succulent and tender and the skin crisp and crackling.
When porchetta was first offered at Zia’s Caffe, K-Towners probably didn’t order it as much as they did the porchetta pasta. That pasta, offered several days after the roast was made, consisted of chopped porchetta in a brown sauce on fresh fettuccine. Because I haven’t seen the porchetta pasta offered lately, I assume it’s because the porchetta now sells out soon after it’s offered. Great standby dishes offered prior to Chef Endo’s arrival are the chicken parmesan (a huge pounded, breaded and fried chicken cutlet with mozzarella and marinara on spaghetti), the macadamia-nut-crusted fish on lemon and asparagus risotto and chopped salad with balsamic vinaigrette. And while Zia’s Caffe is only about a 10-minute drive from our house, Door Dash delivers in our neck-of-the-woods which is the perfect option when I’ve started my cocktail hour a little early on Sunday afternoons.
45-620 Kamehameha Hwy.
Kaneohe, HI 96744
Monday – Sunday, 11 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Located in the minuscule Adon Plaza in the heart of Käne‘ohe, it’s not the easiest bakery to find. From the main intersection at Likelike and Kamehameha Highways, the entrance to Adon Plaza’s tiny parking lot is right after the second traffic light on the right. The entry and exit can accommodate a little more than one-car width, so if someone is leaving, you have to wait on Kamehameha Highway before entering the parking lot.
If you ever visited the old Dean’s Drive Inn (which has since moved about three blocks north) or Don Goyo’s Mexican Food (which relocated to Windward City Shopping Center), Ono2Guys is in the same spot. And though the Ono2Guys logo depicts a rugged character flashing a shaka, the owners couldn’t be nicer people. Usually Kyoung Je “Ewa” Kim works the front with “Lei” and Kyoung Ho “Kai” Rho bakes in the back.
They first started selling standard East Asian-style bakery fare with square bread loaves like Shirokiya and Kimuraya used to sell, anpan or sweet-bean-filled bread as well as standard pastries along with their Korean chestnut bread (which is bread literally filled with whole, sweetened chestnuts). And during the pandemic, they started selling dosirak or Korean bento as well as various pickles and kimchi.
When Ms. S had to change her exercise regimen due to the temporary closure of 24 Hour Fitness, she started going on walks outside of our neighborhood. We live on a long hill popular with walkers who do not wear face masks, so she elects to avoid the large crowds by starting her regimen early in the morning. But since it’s still early when she finishes walking, she always makes a weekly stop at Ono2Guys for dosirak ($6 including tax) and pastries.
Several months ago, when businesses were allowed to reopen, Ono2Guys was robbed at gunpoint which led first to anger then frustration by the owners, but after overwhelming support from residents on social media including making that initial visit or extra purchases at Ono2Guys, the owners felt that they truly were part of the Käne‘ohe ‘ohana and found the silver lining in this senseless act.
45-773 Kamehameha Hwy.
Kaneohe, HI 96744
Wednesday to Sunday, 7 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Like their Facebook page to see daily dosirak.
Adela’s Country Eatery
I Love Country Café co-owner Millie Chan and her longtime friend, baker Adela Visitacion, were invited to Hokkaidö because of Adela’s macadamia nut shortbread cookies, but ended up learning the art of ramen noodle-making at the Mochizuki Seimen Noodle Factory for five days. They even purchased a ramen noodle-making machine before leaving Japan.
Upon return, they decided to infuse the noodles with local flavors instead of simply creating traditional ramen noodles. And that started a new partnership for Millie Chan, Adela’s Country Eatery, which she named after her friend. They currently serve noodles flavored with purple sweet potato or ube, taro, ‘ulu (breadfruit), moringa (malunggay) and sometimes avocado. While they also produce standard angel’s hair pasta and ramen noodles, the flavored noodles are either paired with special sauces, or you can simply choose your own sauce and topping combo.
Don’t tell my internist, but my favorite is the emerald green moringa noodles stir-fried local-style and topped with lechon (crispy fried pork belly) with chopped onions and tomatoes. For the record, the lechon also is great on their garlic fried rice. I also recommend the ube noodles with garlic butter topped with garlic shrimp as well as the taro noodles with coconut cream sauce and bits of luau leaf and shrimp.
Adela’s also offers several variations of fried rice. My favorite is the chicken-adobo fried rice with two sunny-side eggs or the smoked-salmon fried rice when it’s available.
Their fried chicken also has several local food bloggers waxing poetic as it’s available with four different sauces. The crème de la crème for most diners, though, is the large dessert case with several variations of cheesecake and other baked goodies (also available as full-sized cakes if you order in advance).
Adela’s Country Eatery
1151 Kamehameha Highway
Kaneohe, HI 96744
Monday – Saturday, 10:30am – 8:00pm
Ryan Tatsumoto is a clinical pharmacist by day. In his off-hours, however, he and his wife enjoy seeking out perfect marriages of food and wine. Ryan is a certified sommelier and a certified specialist of wine. The Windward O‘ahu resident also writes a column for San Francisco’s Nichi Bei Weekly called “The Gochiso Gourmet” (nichibei.org/columns/gochiso-gourmet/).