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Hilo Trip

If you’re following me on Twitter, you probably already know that I went to Hilo this past weekend with Baby Girl to attend my uncle’s funeral. It wasn’t a happy reason to go home, but a lot of happy memories came out of the trip, which was a really good thing. Aside from spending some nice, quality time with Grandma Mu (who I hadn’t seen in a whole year), I got to see a ton of Big Island family and friends. Oddly enough, I even met three blog readers at the funeral. I totally wasn’t expecting it and it cracked me up. It felt nice, too. ^_^

The strangest part about taking trips home to Hilo only once or twice a year is that you begin to notice just how much the place doesn’t change. Seriously, it was like traveling back in time. Everything was the same. Well, except for the fact that the Puainako KTA building is now tan. I think my head almost exploded when I saw that. The KTA building has been a blazing blue ever since I can remember. KTA is the big mom and pop grocery store that everyone in Hilo shops at. If you ever want to spend 1 hour buying ketchup and onions, go to KTA with your parents. Every aisle they’ll find someone to yell, “AAY! HOW YOU?!”

I remember a lot of grocery trips where I’d put my head on the wagon bars in defeat as soon as my mom ran into someone. The Hilo grapevine covers a lot of ground, so you know you’re in for standing next to the milk for at least 10 minutes. Even so, KTA provides a lot of memories for Hilo locals. Or at least, it does to me. I haven’t stepped foot in there in at least 5 years, but I still remember that the fruits are by the right entrance and the sweet bread is at the left entrance. I used to give out food samples there with the Keywanettes. I almost ran over a traffic cop outside KTA with my temporary paper license. Oops.

We got in at around 11:30, just in time to find someplace fo’ eat. Da Hilo pidgin was out before we even stay outta da airport road. Anyway, first stop was without question, Cafe 100.

The signage is getting really dingy looking, but luckily the food hasn’t changed. I go here for their loco mocos and gravy cheeseburgers.

Last week I posted a picture of a breakfast bento from Zippy’s and someone commented, sounding shocked that a restaurant would serve a breakfast bento. That’s just one of the things that I guess we take for granted growing up in Hawaii. While bento is a relatively new thing to people around the world and a fantasically fancy way of packing lunch in Japan, bento in Hawaii has always been a part of life. They’re sold everywhere from supermarkets and lunch carts to drive-ins and convenience stores. Sometimes when you wake up and you forgot to tell your mom that you get one field trip that day, she can drive you to the nearest market and buy you a bento and a can of Hawaiian Sun to take on the trip. It usually has furikake rice, a slice of takuan, maybe a small corn beef hash patty, hot dog, and fried chicken or teri beef or both. It comes in a plastic food container held together by a thin rubber band. On the side you get chopstick rolled in napkin with more rubber bands.

Here is the outside of the ordering area at Cafe 100. Do you see something in the middle? Sunlight blocking the letters so you no can see too good?

There we go! So as you can see, I’m not making this stuff up. Bentos are everywhere here! My mom picked me up a free I <3 my Loco Moco bumper sticker, which I will hang on my office wall. I’d bought a book called What the Big Island Likes to Eatfor myself and Jenn just because while flipping through, I saw they had the loco moco recipe from Cafe 100. But then it turned out that they make the gravy from scratch with beef bones and she and I were like, “Umm… ne’mind, too much work.”

But now that I mention that gravy…

Now, I realize I’m supposed to be eating healthy and all, but good gawd would you look at that thing? It’s a hamburger. With gravy. And CHEESE oozing out. I cannot resist such a disgusting, delicious food item. Besides, I only ate one and I only have them like once a year. Then of course, I ate half of this loco moco, egg over-hard:

Loco mocos are rice topped with hamburger, gravy, and fried egg. I eat mine drowning in soy sauce. Mmm mmm! Anyway, after we ate that and Baby Girl, Mom, and my brother ate Goodie Goodies in front of poor, diabetic Grandma Mu, we went down to the Hilo Farmer’s Market.

Being a bit of a spam musubi snob, so I don’t buy musubis from 7-11 or open markets, especially ones wrapped in saran wrap. I just find it nasty. I bought one at the Honolulu Zoo once and when Baby Girl lifted it up to her mouth, I saw a fly staring at me with dead eyes underneath the shiny plastic sheet. Things were never quite the same for me and I have to make my own or eat it from a very trustworthy source. I thought I’d take a picture since it looked cool though.

Here we have my favorite fruit stand, which was sadly not carrying any cigar mangoes. They had beautiful rambutan (the hairy red fruits) but I ended up buying some cheaper ones at another stand. On the bottom left you can see some green starfruits. I bought a jabon and a coconut from this guy. At another stand I found some guava, which I love, so I started counting out 12 since they were 12 for dollar. He starts piling in tons more and I was like, “Errr, how many is that?” He’s like, “I no care. I goin tro em away anyway cause I no like take em home.” So I got like 20 guavas for a buck. Score!

I pigged out on rambutan, coconut, guava, and jabon before remembering that these are all things that when eaten in excess, make my bowels start training for the Honolulu Marathon. Was too late by then though, so I just ate more! LOL! Add in the 30 or so waiawi guavas that I picked by Grandma Mu’s mailbox and the thimbleberries I picked on the side of the road… I should really be regreting things soon.

I have no bento today because I was waiting for my braddah to fly in and bring me food from Y’s. I had brought carrots, cukes, an empty bento box, and (I thought) rice to make a bento at work once he delivered the precious goods, but sadly I forgot the rice at home. So… tomorrow I will make my Y’s Lunch Shop bento. My cousins shall all drool uncontrollably upon seeing this one!

I had forgotten that Bento #300 falls exactly on a Monday if I did a bento every day this week, so I’m either going to have to bento on the weekend or make one for Mr. Pikko. I need to have a 100 bento fall on a Monday so that I can go shopping during the weekend and start early on Sunday. I’ve been forming an idea for a theme, so hopefully I can round things out soon. It might end up being an office bento. I probably shouldn’t have said that because if Junko reads this and I end up bringing a bento only for myself, she’ll never forgive me.

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  • Jessie

    hey cuz… you made me totally hungry for cafe 100 now!!! grrr 😉 you totally forgot the most important thing though, the loco moco is like $2 which you can not resist!!!!

  • WOW! Yums. I love eggs and rice. I will have to try it with gravy now! That’s it… I’m coming to visit. LOL!

  • I’m delurking to tell you how much I LOVE your site and especially this post. Wonderful stuff, as always.

  • A. Cheryl

    It’s not only your cousins who will drool with the posting of your Y’s Lunch Shop bento! Living on the other side of the island affords me just as much opportunity as those of you off island to get to the shop when it’s open, which means I get a Y’s bento very rarely! Hope you enjoy every bite!

  • Jenn

    By far and away, my favorite post yet! I’ve spent many hours of my life picking up items at KTA while my mom chatted away in the vegetable section. While she talked with some friend, I would take the grocery list and bring back items to the cart. And Cafe 100? I can’t even begin to express how much I love that place. It’s always the 1st stop from the airport. I’m excited to see the Y’s food – I’ll be green with envy!

  • I was just in hilo and I was going to try the locomoco at Cafe 100, but it was Sunday and it was closed. Q_Q they don’t tell tourists this stuff in the guidebook :(.. now i’ll never get a chance…

  • omg. i used to work for a mini mart for the NEX and those little musubis are freakin gross. like they’d stay in our fridge for like a week until we heated them up and placed them in the warmer. ewwwww… by the end of it they all just taste like melted plastic.

    and someone left a message on my blog saying “oh its nice to know that hawaii is jumping on the bento bandwagon!” uh… my mom and all the other moms packed bento since i was like 5 and my mom isn’t even japanese, yo.

    we locals are just too cool for our own good. 🙂 bring me back some Two Ladies Kitchen strawberry mochi!

  • When I was in Hilo last month I knew there was something different about KTA, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Duh! It wasn’t blue anymore! I don’t know about you, but it seems like everytime I visit Hilo, I end up at KTA every other day!

  • Wow, all da Hilo peepos come out for dis one. lol

    @vampyra1 Bento bandwagon. HUH! Ask Barack Obama what a bento is and he’ll be able to tell you right there. Why? Cause he grew up here.

    @YangKai90 So so sorry you missed out on the loco moco. If you want to make some gravy from beef bone scratch, you can email me for the recipe. LOL

  • Leanne

    Oh, yum to the gravy cheeseburger, which I’ve never tried, but now will dream about.

    And Auwe to the food snobs dropping by people’s blogs with their b****y comments. Yeah, yeah, like their flyover state backgrounds of white bread and oleo are so sophisticated.

  • Hello, I can’t understand how to add your blog ( http://www.aibento.net ) in my rss reader

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