Quite a ways from Waikiki

Christian and I, the food adventurers that we are, thought we’d tried just about every ethnic restaurant here in El Paso (okay, that’s not saying TOO much, noting that Vietnamese is still considered pretty darn exotic for El Paso). We’ve had that, we’ve had German, we’ve had Greek, Lebanese, Turkish, Thai, Chinese, Bhutanese and Russian…heck, we even had a mystery meat taco at the Market just over the border in Juarez, Mexico.
But last night, as we rolled into El Paso from Cloudcroft, we decided to stick a bit closer to home and try out the Aloha Hawa”iian Barbeque joint not far from our apartment.
I’ve never been to Hawa’ii and it’s not in our budget for, say, the next decade. But I’ve always been mesmerized by photos and Travel Channel episodes featuring the “indigenous” foods of Hawa’ii and its islands. For one, poi. Sounds repulsive yet I’d LOVE to say I’ve had it. Whole pig cooked under banana leaves and buried under lava ash? I’m game. Their abundance of exotic, fragrant and beautiful fruits served in a huge bowl with flowers draped on the side? Mmmmm. But, wait…. SPAM???? SPAM sushi? SPAM burgers? SPAM ANYTHING???? Excuse me? Did I miss something in grade school? SPAM as an indigenous Hawaii’an dish? Well, apparently it is. SPAM is served in a multitude of ways in Hawa’ii including, yes, as a “sushi,” placed on top of rice and wrapped in seaweed. It was among the offerings at the Aloha Hawa’iian BBQ. Also served: BBQ pork chops, pulled pork, BBQ chicken, fried Mahi Mahi, fried shrimp, SPAM soup, chicken katsu and baby back ribs. All of the above served with two “ice cream scoops” of white rice and one scoop of macaroni salad. And I mean that white-bread, supermarket pre-made variety of macaroni salad drowning in mayonnaise with a little pickle relish blended in. Wow. I’d have to hula my way around the globe if I ate like this every day. Nary a salad in sight at this place, but I bravely ordered the BBQ chicken, saving the SPAM for someone else (You’re welcome).
We took our orders home with us, after visiting their “salsa bar” to load up on condiments for our meal. Basically the salsa bar consisted of three large bottles of Sriracha sauce and two of soy sauce, plus some sauces labeled for the katsu dishes and a “sweet and sour” sauce, similar to that which coats pork or chicken at cheap Chinese restaurants.
Okay, I must say…. the BBQ chicken was incredibly good. And man, they give you a LOT of it! Served on a bed of steamed cabbage (seemed to me WAY more German than Hawaii’an…and my husband liked it!), there must have been the equivalent of three chicken breast halves for each of us. The macaroni salad was edible, but not worth the caloric infusion if you ask me. But the rice was moist and warm, and tasted great as a foil for the spicy chicken.
Plus, each dish cost about $9, and definitely can turn into 3 meals, perfect for a chicken sandwich for lunch the next day.

When we got home we realized we’d left the air conditioner running the whole time. Great and welcoming to come home to a nice and cool apartment. We may get heated up when we get our electric bill, but tomorrow we’ll worry about that. The coolness seemed, however, to make our habanero plant we keep on our dining room table just THRIVE, and we now have about 7 orange habaneros we’re dying to make use of. And no, we won’t be doing any of those YouTube habanero-eating contests anytime soon!
Do you have a habanero recipe that you think we should try out? Don’t be shy, either. We are grownups and we can take the heat!

And again I forgot to post yesterday’s breakfast… the one meal I feel not so guilty about eating, and definitely my favorite meal of the day. Yesterday it was Alpen brand muesli, plums and milk, and it’s usually some variation of that. I could eat Alpen for every meal, really. But I’m definitely a creature of habit. Christian likes variety and I don’t blame him. But mmmmm, muesli just is IT for me! Is Hannah telling me something?


2 responses to “Quite a ways from Waikiki

  1. like that habanero plant. did you buy it or growing it from seeds?

    • We bought it at Wal-Mart for $10, which is a pretty good deal. I’m afraid I’ve bad luck trying to grow from seed, lol. I’m actually looking for recipes right now for the habaneros. I’m leaning toward a mango/habanero relish or salsa for tuna or shrimp…

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