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.