Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ono Da Kine!


clickity click click!
Christmas Aunties

"Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many."

Lucky for New Year

"Go and wake up your luck."
Persian Proverb

Northern Chinese Cuisine

"I watched a small man with thick calluses on both hands work 15 and 16 hours a day.
I saw him once literally bleed from the bottoms of his feet,
a man who came here uneducated, alone, unable to speak the language,
who taught me all I needed to know about faith and hard work
by the simple eloquence of his example."
Mario Cuomo

Kalapaki Apt. Hotel

"The perfect man uses his mind as a mirror.
It grasps nothing. It regrets nothing.
It receives but does not keep."
Chuang Tzu


Although I enjoy walking in Waikiki, there are many other wonderful areas of our town that reward a thoughtful perambulator.

One such is the stretch of South King Street between Keeaumoku & Kalakaua. Formerly the path taken by the King from old Honolulu down to "suburban" Waikiki, King Street grew and developed along with the plantation generations as they moved from the fields to shops, small business and snug bungalow homes of their own in the nearby villages of Paawa and Mo`ili`ili.

Today, most stores and businesses have migrated to the malls and such, but this corridor still boasts small family restaurants, mom & pop shops, and doctor's offices featuring old-fashioned "American" first names with Chinese and Japanese last names (Clarence Wong MD). This area is like a museum of Honolulu's working-class-American-Dream 20th Century, now in it's twilight. Many of the physicians are as old (or older!) than their patients and these practices are unlikely to survive their founders as the younger generations join HMOs. Same trend with the little shops, restaurants and businesses. More and more Hangul (Korean alphabet) signs are seen spreading out from Keeaumoku's Korean nexus as new immigrants replace the old.

I love everything that makes our town unique, and most special is our people. In Waikiki one sees faces from all over the world. Every generation and human condition is represented. But stroll along King Street on a sunny weekday early afternoon and you will be among the local elderly. The people who built the Hawaii of today, who fought both WWII and discrimination, are now leaning on canes and waiting at the bus stop. The pulse of Honolulu's life has moved towards upscale condos, tourism, & retail. Meanwhile, the low-rise store-front blocks, and modest, aging professional buildings of South King Street host hustling entrepreneurs and immigrant dreamers as they wait for whatever may be coming next.
Elegy and expectation walk arm in arm along King Street as the traffic hurries past towards the University, Waikiki, upscale Kahala Mall, and growing residential Hawaii Kai where the last small farms and nurseries face down developers at the end of the road, where the wild Ko`olau Mountain foothills seem to recede with our past.

Walking down Kalakaua Avenue back towards Waikiki I had a sudden "local style" hankering for Shrimp Chips. How long has it been since my tongue stuck to a puffy shrimp chip as it changed in my mouth like "Pop Rocks?" Little by little, the small unique things that used to define us become submerged in a sea of Frito-Lay and Whole Foods house brands.
I stopped into the tiniest mom & pop you can imagine, right behind kupuna (elders) and teens waiting at the bus stop. One bag left. I thanked the woman in my best Korean: "Kahm Sahm Ne Dah."
Soon after, I bought some take-out jerk chicken from the "new" Jamaican lunch truck across Kapiolani Boulevard from the Hawaii Convention Center. But tomorrow (I promised myself) I'll go to a hole-in-the-wall for a local plate lunch with two scoops rice, macaroni salad, mochiko chicken, lau lau, and cone sushi - all the local stuff we like eat. . . before there's nothing left but fast food and chic cafe`s.
Ono da kine!
(Delicious, that's the kind!)

PS: Best selling novelist Alan Brennert (read my review of his wonderful MOLOKAI here) quoted me (of all people) in a recent interview and then e-mailed me about it!
Read it here

Cool! ALOHA, cloudia