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Y’s Lunch Shop Bento (295)

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As mentioned yesterday, I had food delivered from the okazuya from heaven, Y’s Lunch Shop. I did a Google search for the place and was rather shocked to find that out of the dozens of sites listing where Y’s is located, only one had a review. However, I cannot give this one reviewer any credit because he says he went to Y’s and didn’t buy anything. He LOOKED at the food and bought nothing. PFFT! Who does that? If I had just come from a 7 course banquet I’d have bought a fried fish or piece of egg. There are all kinds of nutty people in the world.

It’s possible there weren’t any reviews because a) people in Hilo don’t really do the whole food blogging thing yet or b) I am committing some unspoken Y’s Lunch Shop customer taboo by creating hype and therefore creating competition for getting some of their food cause from what I remember, what they cook in the wee hours of the morning is all they have to sell for the day. If it’s the latter, uh oh.

Located at 263 Keawe Street in downtown Hilo, Y’s Lunch Shop has been around since… I don’t know. Forever? I know for sure they’ve been around for my entire life and my aunties have said they have fond childhood memories of their store as well. Run by the Miyamoto family, I was fortunate enough to be a customer when Mr. & Mrs. Miyamoto were still putting their love into the food they served every day. Mr. Miyamoto has since passed away, but the store lives on through Mrs. Miyamoto and their daughter.

As you can see in the photo, they were closed the day we passed by. That CLOSED sign will bring tears to the eyes of many customers. There were many days when I’d peel out of the door of Kodani Florist next door and be met with those dark brown doors and in my mind I’d scream, “Noooooooooo!!” If I was particularly hungry, I’d do it out loud. Sometimes if I was lucky, only half the door was closed, which meant that they were JUST ABOUT to close.

Their schedule is erratic; trying to figure it out is like trying to figure out what 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42 means on LOST. I’m not kidding. If you go to Hilo some day and you want to try this place I talk about so fondly, you’d best call ahead of time. Every day. I heard from various sources that they will be closed for almost all of February.

This photo is for the people who know what their fried fish tastes like.

Me and my cousins have pondered for years what is in these things. What kind of fish? Why is it so perfectly salted? Why is it right on the teetering edge of being ever so slightly chewy, yet also soft and flaky? What is it coated with that makes it so fine on the outside and yet doesn’t fall apart? How does it puff up to be so soft? What kind of drugs do they put in the batter?!?

The bento itself doesn’t look all that great since basically everything is fried brown. The potato fritters are pretty huge compared to the size I remember them as, so I cut one in half to show people that they’re made from Okinawan sweet potato. I made the musubi myself with lots of salt to coat it, just like Y’s does. Don’t ask where I got the face punch, cause I cut that out with a scissors by hand.

On the top right I have a piece of fried chicken. The chicken at Y’s is another mysterious enigma. It’s obviously got the same fine coating as the fish and the chicken is tasty all the way through. Pretty much anywhere that I’ve ever eaten fried chicken, the outside is nice and crisp and tasty, but the inside is tasteless and dry. Either that or it’s juicy, but just tastes like plain chicken. The Y’s chicken is somehow magically seasoned all the way through. Each bit is moist and salty. In front of the chicken are the four pieces of fish pictured above. Next to that is a little hash patty, which I think actually only contains potato now. That’s seasoned as well, so even though you’re just eating a little patty of potato, it’s got a lot of kick to it!

Alas, no egg omelet. No shrimp. No spam musubi with nori belt. (I told my brother not to get one of these, actually, I didn’t know how spam would hold up on the flight) The picture doesn’t do the taste justice. You’ll just have to go down there and taste some yourself.

I forgot to blog about this yesterday:

I heard the snow line was even lower a couple weeks ago, which would explain why it was so cold on Oahu then. I took this from the airplane and it was a good thing because it was overcast and raining in Hilo the whole time. You couldn’t get a single glimpse at the mountain from town. Click here for a larger version.