Hawai‘i Herald Columnist
Earlier this year, a friend asked me if I could recreate the filling for Rada’s Piroscki as his sister would occasionally purchase a batch since she worked downtown. However, those visits diminished over time; he didn’t want to make that trip over the Ko‘olaus just for piroscki (Russian meat hand pies). If I could recreate the filling, he could simply make the piroscki at home. Even before he left a couple of piroscki with me, I could still remember the taste from when Rada’s original shop was on the lower, makai level of Ala Moana Shopping Center. This got me thinking about other tastes of the past that, unlike Rada’s Piroscki, couldn’t be sampled again as those eateries were long gone.
In a galaxy far, far away when discotheques allowed patrons as young as 18 years old into their establishments, we often stopped by Like Like Drive Inn before heading back to Kāne‘ohe for sustenance as most of the evening was spent partaking in adult beverages at La Mancha, The Point After or Steel Wings. And more often than not, it was for their shrimp curry, which was more satisfying than just a bowl of saimin. Local shrimp curry is a little different than the usual beef or hamburger curry as it doesn’t contain the traditional mirepoix of carrots, celery and onions but like Indonesian curries, has coconut milk to enrich the broth. Of course, since the pandemic arrived, Like Like Drive Inn is no more but you can easily recreate the shrimp curry at home. And since the Asian Garden frozen shrimp at Longs or Waterfront Bistro frozen shrimp at Safeway regularly goes on sale, you can make this every month!
Hawaiian Style Shrimp Curry
2 pounds shrimp
1/2 cup white wine
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoon curry powder
4 tablespoon butter
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
3 tablespoon curry powder
4 tablespoon flour
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 can (12 ounces) coconut milk (light or regular)
- Peel and devein shrimp.
- Combine the white wine, oil, curry powder and shrimp in a zip-top bag and marinate for about 15 minutes.
- Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan. Add the garlic, ginger, and onion and cook until the onion is soft, but do not let it caramelize.
- Add the sugar, curry powder, salt, black pepper and flour and mix until the flour is incorporated then slowly whisk in coconut milk to create a smooth sauce.
- Continue cooking, stirring often for about 10 minutes on a low boil so the sauce gets thick. If the sauce gets too thick, you can add chicken broth or water to reach the desired consistency.
- Add the shrimp to the sauce, stir and heat through just until the shrimp is cooked (opaque and curled).
- Serve over hot rice with the garnishes of your choice. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Where’s my Manapua?
Within a year of the pandemic, I lost my two favorite manapua establishments; Libby Manapua Shop in April 2019 then Char Hung Sut during the first pandemic shutdown. Both had the drier, flaked char siu filling that I prefer versus the wetter, glazed filling found in most other manapua. I’ve tried recreating my own marinating small chunks of pork in the Noh’s Char Siu marinade for several days then baking and flaking the meat but I still haven’t had any success recreating the taste of either establishment. So if you’re aware of any establishment that creates manapua just like Libby or Char Hung Sut, let me know and I’ll create a cocktail in your honor!
THE HOLY GRAIL
Unlike manapua where you might find a restaurant that makes manapua almost as good as those from the past, the next two items will simply remain in my memories – I’ve tried recreating one of them to no avail and simply don’t know where to start with the other.
Jon’s was located on the lower, mauka side of Ala Moana Shopping Center adjacent to the sandpit that kids played in with the huge bronze and steel sculpture created by Edward Brownlee (the first MFA recipient at the University of Hawai‘i) that resembled a huge, misshapen mechanic’s nut. Jon’s hamburger was unlike any other as I believe it also contained pork as well as beef with a slight curry flavor and pronounced black pepper. It was served on a white hamburger bun garnished with a leaf of iceberg lettuce and yellow hot dog relish. I’ve tried recreating it with various mixtures of lean and regular ground pork as well as altering the pork to beef ratio without any success in duplicating the flavor.
King’s Bakery (Marzipan or Princess?) Rolls
When King’s Bakery was still located on King St., Mom and Dad always purchased a box of pastries after a trip to Ala Moana and it usually included a dense pastry with a pronounced cherry flavor. It was so richly flavored that I never was able to finish the whole pastry even if it was only the size of a croissant. I haven’t seen any pastry like it at any other bakery since King’s Bakery closed and even wrote to food columnist Betty Shimabukuro who didn’t recall any King’s Bakery pastry like I described. She did send me a recipe for marzipan rolls but they were more like fluffy, dinner rolls.
A friend who originally started as a baker did recall the cherry-flavored pastry and thought it was either called a marzipan or princess roll though the current King’s Bakery in Torrance, California, doesn’t list any pastry on their website that remotely resembles what I enjoyed noshing on as a child.
If anyone has the recipe for either Jon’s hamburger or the King’s Bakery marzipan-type pastry, send it to me and I’ll create a whole bar list of cocktails in your honor!
In the end, my friend didn’t think my version of the piroscki filling mimicked the taste of Rada’s though he admitted that he didn’t think he would try to recreate it in his kitchen since they required a deep fryer. Oh well, sometimes it’s the journey that counts and not the destination.
Ryan Tatsumoto is a retired clinical pharmacist. However, he and his wife still 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.”