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Spam Musubi, Aloha Grill [Pictures]

Spam Musubi, Aloha Grill [Pictures]
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  • Spam Musubi, Aloha Grill [Pictures]

    Post #1 - January 21st, 2005, 12:28 pm
    Post #1 - January 21st, 2005, 12:28 pm Post #1 - January 21st, 2005, 12:28 pm
    LTH,

    Spam is easy to make fun of and Spam Musubi, spam/rice/nori, oh-boy, a regular comedy routine. Only thing, surprisingly, Aloha Grill's spam musubi tastes good. The interaction between rice, spam and nori is very complimentary, really took me by surprise.
    Image

    In addition to their regular menu Aloha Grill has daily specials, Portugese sausage, eggs and two scoops of rice caught my eye.
    Image

    Ivan, the son of the owner, and a very friendly fellow, said the Portugese sausage had come directly from Hawaii, and was one of his favorites. He suggested a couple of drops of soyu, cautioning a little soyu goes a long way. While I enjoyed the Portugese sausage, I found the taste a bit spam-like, though it may have been musubi spam still resonating. :)

    Overall I really liked the place, clean as a whistle, friendly service, inexpensive and a number of menu items I'd like to try, BBQ short ribs and in-house ground hamburger for example. The one menu mistake, which thanks to Octarine, ReneG and Mike G, I knew to stay far away from, is Kalua Pork, which is made with liq*id sm*ke.

    It may have been Hawaii inside, but it's still winter in Chicago outside. :)
    Image

    Enjoy,
    Gary

    Aloha Grill
    2534 N Clark
    Chicago, IL
    773-935-6818
    Hold my beer . . .

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  • Post #2 - January 21st, 2005, 2:15 pm
    Post #2 - January 21st, 2005, 2:15 pm Post #2 - January 21st, 2005, 2:15 pm
    Yes, as Gary knows, I made the mistake of ordering the pork with liquid smork and the effect was something like accidentally spilling an entire bottle of Old Spice into your food; the artificial awfulness is so overpowering that it ruined the taste of even the dishes that it wasn't in, and basically made the whole meal a disaster. So avoid that dish at all costs, otherwise, Aloha Grill offers a nice change of pace with a cuisine not easily found elsewhere in town.
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  • Post #3 - January 21st, 2005, 4:42 pm
    Post #3 - January 21st, 2005, 4:42 pm Post #3 - January 21st, 2005, 4:42 pm
    I noticed they're erving on actual plates now if you eat in? If so, it's a welcome improvement. I always end up sawing through the styrofoam as I cut the meat. I've become a big fan of Aloha Grill. I'll have to check out the Portugese sausage!
  • Post #4 - January 21st, 2005, 5:54 pm
    Post #4 - January 21st, 2005, 5:54 pm Post #4 - January 21st, 2005, 5:54 pm
    I really enjoyed the katsu chicken and the grilled chicken. Ivan says his father insists on importing a particular type of Panko not found on the mainland. I don't know what it is but it's darn good.

    That portion size looks a lot smaller than the ones I had when they were newly open, I vaguely recall someone saying that the sizes were reduced....bummer
    I used to think the brain was the most important part of the body. Then I realized who was telling me that.
  • Post #5 - January 21st, 2005, 10:03 pm
    Post #5 - January 21st, 2005, 10:03 pm Post #5 - January 21st, 2005, 10:03 pm
    I just got back from dinner at the Aloha Grill... yes I braved the snow, but it wasn't snowing when I got there.

    The kitchen staff speaks Cantonese! Oh yes, made friends with them in no time. I had the Spam Saimin, and Spam Musubi and my friend Vicky had the Katsu Chicken. The chicken was good. Nice big portion, so much that we brought half home. I had the saimin noodles, nothing special, and was debating whether I should take the musubi home and order the Portugese sausage... Sausage was good. Slightly spicy and greasy, but good. My portion was not as large as Gary's pics though. But I am not complaining.

    I had the musubi when I got home. Could not resist the temptation of spam.. must eat... SPAM!!! It was really good. Simple and definitely doable at home, but I noticed some kind of sauce on the rice portion. It was soaked up by the rice. Could be grease, or not... Anyways, definitely worth the snow!

    One thing I would like to point out is that there are 2 musubis in an order.
  • Post #6 - January 22nd, 2005, 12:32 pm
    Post #6 - January 22nd, 2005, 12:32 pm Post #6 - January 22nd, 2005, 12:32 pm
    viaChgo wrote:I noticed they're erving on actual plates now if you eat in?

    viaChgo,

    Nope, still styrofoam. I planned on taking pictures so I asked Ivan if I could have regular plates. As Aloha Grill has actual plates on-hand, and seem to be quite service oriented, I imagine they would be happy to accommodate the the occasional 'real' plate request.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    Last edited by G Wiv on January 29th, 2005, 12:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
    Hold my beer . . .

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  • Post #7 - January 23rd, 2005, 2:18 pm
    Post #7 - January 23rd, 2005, 2:18 pm Post #7 - January 23rd, 2005, 2:18 pm
    Hi,

    Not too wild speculation on why Spam is favored in Hawaii. It is likely for the same reason you see more recipes from the tropics with evaporated or condensed sweetened milk. In the tropics, especially before inexpensive refrigeration, milk and meat spoiled rapidly. So fresh milk or meat was either eaten promptly or preserved. Spam probably represents a similar product made in earlier times with many traditional recipes including a preserved meat product.
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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  • Post #8 - February 11th, 2005, 9:25 pm
    Post #8 - February 11th, 2005, 9:25 pm Post #8 - February 11th, 2005, 9:25 pm
    Hawaiian mixed plate: your meat item, two scoops rice, one scoop macaroni salad, some pickle if you're lucky. It's a scary amount of food for anyone but a kama'aina (resident Hawaiian).

    I was lucky enough to visit Maui as the guest of a long-term resident (local haole) who introduced me to the wonders of mixed plate, Spam musubi (you'll see them at Seven-eleven at breakfast time), lau lau, butter mochi, and more. The diversity of the people and their food was delightful. I look forward to trying Chicago's version of Hawaiian favorites.

    A treasured gift from my Hawaiian friend was my very own Spam musubi mold, used for pressing the rice into just the right shape to fit between the Spam slices.
  • Post #9 - February 11th, 2005, 10:13 pm
    Post #9 - February 11th, 2005, 10:13 pm Post #9 - February 11th, 2005, 10:13 pm
    Mindz wrote:A treasured gift from my Hawaiian friend was my very own Spam musubi mold, used for pressing the rice into just the right shape to fit between the Spam slices.


    Sans mold, I could see using the can you just removed the Spam to press your rice into it. Once compressed, then use a can opener to open the other side of the Spam can and press your molded rice out.
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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  • Post #10 - February 12th, 2005, 5:00 am
    Post #10 - February 12th, 2005, 5:00 am Post #10 - February 12th, 2005, 5:00 am
    Gary, that's a pretty sad little pocho with eggs. Any Poly would be asking who ate the rest of his order. (If you ever go to Oahu, visit the swap meet out by the stadium. They have shirts in 3, 4, 5, 10XL and bigger.)

    Here's what a plate lunch should look like (from Vera's on the Hilo side of the Big Island):

    Image

    Or this "bento" platter from Verna's Too:

    Image

    (btw, check out the menu there.

    Or these from Blane's (my wife's on the left was a small order, or a kid's order, thus the one scoop of rice):

    Image

    And we didn't even get to try the best plate lunch places on the island because they were either closed or we were out of cash at the time. I've had better on other islands. Tell that place you want the kama'aina portions.
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  • Post #11 - February 12th, 2005, 7:48 am
    Post #11 - February 12th, 2005, 7:48 am Post #11 - February 12th, 2005, 7:48 am
    extramsg wrote:Here's what a plate lunch should look like (from Vera's on the Hilo side of the Big Island):

    Extramsg,

    Looks delicious, and a goodly sized portion to boot.
    [edited to keep peace in the family re wife's sister who lives in Hawaii]

    I don't think I will be visiting Hawaii anytime soon, I'll have to make due with what's available. Hummmm, maybe I will bring your pictures to Aloha Grill and ask for ono grinds Extramsg style. :)

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    Hold my beer . . .

    Low & Slow
  • Post #12 - February 14th, 2005, 10:18 am
    Post #12 - February 14th, 2005, 10:18 am Post #12 - February 14th, 2005, 10:18 am
    extramsg wrote:Gary, that's a pretty sad little pocho with eggs...


    To leap to Aloha Grill's defense, their actual plate lunches (the sausage w/eggs was a special) are (if memory serves) as big as the ones that I had in Hawaii. I have a pretty big appitite, but I could only eat just under half of my chicken katsu plate lunch yesterday.

    I really like the place, and hope it does well. Speaking to the son of the owner yesterday, it seems that they are hoping to expand their menu once they have got settled in a bit more. Is there anywhere else that serves food like this in Chicago? My girlfriend just moved back from Kauai after living there for six months, and she is certainly very happy to have Aloha Grill here. She also says that it compares favorably to her favorite places on Kauai, for what it's worth.
  • Post #13 - February 14th, 2005, 2:33 pm
    Post #13 - February 14th, 2005, 2:33 pm Post #13 - February 14th, 2005, 2:33 pm
    Do you know if they do lau lau (meat or fish wrapped in leaves and steamed) or kalua pig (essentially pit cooked pulled pork, though restaurants often find ways around doing it themselves)? What about loco mocos (meat, sunnyside egg, gravy on starch)?
    Unintentionally retired early by the pandemic, but without the golden parachute.
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  • Post #14 - February 14th, 2005, 2:44 pm
    Post #14 - February 14th, 2005, 2:44 pm Post #14 - February 14th, 2005, 2:44 pm
    "Is there anywhere else that serves food like this in Chicago?"

    The Japanese-Korean greasy spoon diner Hamburger King serves food that is very much in the spirit of the plate lunch places. What it lacks in expected combos, it makes up for in dingy ambience. It is very much like a place that one might stumble into on a side street in Honolulu. The times I've been for lunch, many or most of the patrons were dining on massive platters of rice covered with burger patties and brown gravy.

    I enjoy Aloha Grill, and think that it's about on par with what I had in Hilo, the big city on the wet and cloudy side of the Big Island (hometown of my wife's Okinawan-Hawaiian step-grandfather) that is mostly tourist-free.

    I think that someone should point out that a plate lunch, while a grand melting pot (or stew) of cuisines, is typically rather a big and relatively bland thing. Nothing wrong with that (see Andrezj Grill). But, for instance, I have found that the things that lean towards, say Korean (Kalbi,eg), at a plate lunch place will be much more simply and blandly spiced than what you'd get at a Korean place.
  • Post #15 - February 14th, 2005, 3:50 pm
    Post #15 - February 14th, 2005, 3:50 pm Post #15 - February 14th, 2005, 3:50 pm
    extramsg wrote:Do you know if they do lau lau (meat or fish wrapped in leaves and steamed) or kalua pig (essentially pit cooked pulled pork, though restaurants often find ways around doing it themselves)? What about loco mocos (meat, sunnyside egg, gravy on starch)?


    My girlfriend asked all of these questions too!

    They don't do Lau Lau yet, but are planning to add it to the menu soon apparantly.

    As discussed earlier, they do have kalua pork, but it's not the best thing there (due to the ahem liquid smoke). They said they'd love to make kalua pig properley, but don't think they can do it justice at the moment (due to the size of the kitchen).

    The loco moco there is actually really good!

    PS. Thanks for the Hamburger King tip JeffB...I'll have to check it out. Where is it?
  • Post #16 - February 14th, 2005, 4:13 pm
    Post #16 - February 14th, 2005, 4:13 pm Post #16 - February 14th, 2005, 4:13 pm
    You might want to suggest that they order-in the kalua pork. I know some places do that. There's a place here called Salvador Molly's which has an eclectic menu of surfer food, mixes of Mexican and Polynesian and Caribbean, that makes a kalua pork taco. I believe they order their pork from Hawaii and then re-heat it. Given its nature, it works. It's never going to be as good as the real thing freshly from the pit, but it will be a hell of a lot better than some liquid smoke thing. If they mesquite smoked a whole hog, it would be pretty close, too.

    btw, might as well link to some pictures from my most recent Hawaii adventure and the pig coming out of the ground.

    Most interesting ever was at a family luau on Oahu. My uncle is Samoan and I got to help prep a luau one time. By that, I largely mean "help dig a hole", but I got to see and partake in the whole process. Most important step: chickenwire.
    Unintentionally retired early by the pandemic, but without the golden parachute.
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  • Post #17 - February 14th, 2005, 4:48 pm
    Post #17 - February 14th, 2005, 4:48 pm Post #17 - February 14th, 2005, 4:48 pm
    What I don't get about the liquid smoke is that kalua pig (and similar buried preps that they do in Cuba and PR) is not particularly smokey. I would think that a pig done in a caja china would most approximate the real thing.

    "PS. Thanks for the Hamburger King tip JeffB...I'll have to check it out. Where is it?"

    On on Sheffield where it intersects Clark, about 3400.
  • Post #18 - February 14th, 2005, 4:58 pm
    Post #18 - February 14th, 2005, 4:58 pm Post #18 - February 14th, 2005, 4:58 pm
    extramsg wrote:You might want to suggest that they order-in the kalua pork. I know some places do that. There's a place here called Salvador Molly's which has an eclectic menu of surfer food, mixes of Mexican and Polynesian and Caribbean, that makes a kalua pork taco. I believe they order their pork from Hawaii and then re-heat it. Given its nature, it works. It's never going to be as good as the real thing freshly from the pit, but it will be a hell of a lot better than some liquid smoke thing. If they mesquite smoked a whole hog, it would be pretty close, too.

    btw, might as well link to some pictures from my most recent Hawaii adventure and the pig coming out of the ground.

    Most interesting ever was at a family luau on Oahu. My uncle is Samoan and I got to help prep a luau one time. By that, I largely mean "help dig a hole", but I got to see and partake in the whole process. Most important step: chickenwire.


    I know that they have been importing small ammounts of things like the sausage from Hawaii (hence the portions) and are hoping to ship more and more stuff over if the place does well enough, so I will certainly mention the pork when I am there next.

    Great pictures - I hardly had any time over there when I went (barely a long weekend) and I seemed to come over on the one weekend that there wasn't some kind of luau or celebration happening. Still, I can't complain, and I'm hoping to have some more time over there later this year (fingers crossed).
  • Post #19 - February 14th, 2005, 5:14 pm
    Post #19 - February 14th, 2005, 5:14 pm Post #19 - February 14th, 2005, 5:14 pm
    Cathy2 wrote:Hi,

    Not too wild speculation on why Spam is favored in Hawaii. It is likely for the same reason you see more recipes from the tropics with evaporated or condensed sweetened milk. In the tropics, especially before inexpensive refrigeration, milk and meat spoiled rapidly. So fresh milk or meat was either eaten promptly or preserved. Spam probably represents a similar product made in earlier times with many traditional recipes including a preserved meat product.


    Spam in Hawaii, and the Philippines, and Guam and many other South Pacific/Pacific Islander locales is so popular due to American occupation in WWII. In fact, Guam is the number one Spam-consuming country in the world (from a Spam book that someone gave me... the title eludes me presently). GIs who ate Spam often shared/traded their rations with natives/others who worked alongside the military and the natives just ate it up, literally. Spam in fact was a meat that was cheap, kept for ages and easy to obtain by the natives who were relatively poor, but it was definitely brought over by United States Armed Forces.

    And there is no more perfect meal than fried Spam with fried eggs, and of course, fried rice.
  • Post #20 - February 14th, 2005, 6:41 pm
    Post #20 - February 14th, 2005, 6:41 pm Post #20 - February 14th, 2005, 6:41 pm
    Tell me the substantial difference between spam and pate? :wink:

    One thing that does fit Cathy's speculation very well is mayonaisse. As I've said, my uncle is Samoan. Like many Polynesians, he loves mayo. Slathers it on anything and everything. You think the description in Pulp Fiction about Frenchies putting it on fries is odd, you should see the things he'll put it on. One Christmas, his family gave him a 20 lb tub of the stuff.

    Why? Because it approximates the very rich coconut creams he grew up on.
    Unintentionally retired early by the pandemic, but without the golden parachute.
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  • Post #21 - February 14th, 2005, 6:47 pm
    Post #21 - February 14th, 2005, 6:47 pm Post #21 - February 14th, 2005, 6:47 pm
    extramsg wrote:You think the description in Pulp Fiction about Frenchies putting it on fries is odd, you should see the things he'll put it on.


    We are detail-oriented around here, Nick. Give us some examples. ;)

    Erik M.
  • Post #22 - February 14th, 2005, 6:57 pm
    Post #22 - February 14th, 2005, 6:57 pm Post #22 - February 14th, 2005, 6:57 pm
    I've seen him put it on a peanut-butter sandwich where there was as thick a layer of mayo as PB. Really, though, anything you can think of, he probably put it on. He'd use it at nearly every meal. He could eat it with a spoon.

    Interestingly, he is built like a professional linebacker. Solid muscle and about 6'4". He's also an art professor at BYU Hawaii and a muralist and one of the most soft-spoken pleasant people you could imagine.

    http://w3.byuh.edu/academics/divisions/far/ali.html
    Unintentionally retired early by the pandemic, but without the golden parachute.
    Formerly Mi Mero Mole
    Formerly Zapapizza
    Formerly Kenny & Zuke's Delicatessen
    Artisan Jewish Deli at Home Cookbook
  • Post #23 - February 14th, 2005, 7:18 pm
    Post #23 - February 14th, 2005, 7:18 pm Post #23 - February 14th, 2005, 7:18 pm
    btw, I just found this huge list of things that define you as Hawaiian. Towards the end is: "The best cooks use lots of mayonnaise."

    At this Chowhound link the poster comments about a sushi place where they're good about asking you before they slather your sushi in mayo, noting that Hawaiians put it on everything.
    Unintentionally retired early by the pandemic, but without the golden parachute.
    Formerly Mi Mero Mole
    Formerly Zapapizza
    Formerly Kenny & Zuke's Delicatessen
    Artisan Jewish Deli at Home Cookbook
  • Post #24 - February 14th, 2005, 9:39 pm
    Post #24 - February 14th, 2005, 9:39 pm Post #24 - February 14th, 2005, 9:39 pm
    Hi Nick,

    Do your relatives do anything approaching:

    Food Contest Records wrote:Richard LeFevre holds the world record for eating SPAM by eating 6 pounds in 12 minutes.

    The world record for eating mayonnaise is held by Oleg Zhornitskiy; he ate 4 - 32 ounce bowls in 8 minutes.


    As much as I like mayonnaise, a little here or there is more than plenty.
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #25 - February 14th, 2005, 10:01 pm
    Post #25 - February 14th, 2005, 10:01 pm Post #25 - February 14th, 2005, 10:01 pm
    extramsg wrote:
    At this Chowhound link the poster comments about a sushi place where they're good about asking you before they slather your sushi in mayo, noting that Hawaiians put it on everything.


    Aha! See, all it takes to be an expert is to be published somewhere.
  • Post #26 - February 15th, 2005, 4:05 am
    Post #26 - February 15th, 2005, 4:05 am Post #26 - February 15th, 2005, 4:05 am
    Ann Fisher wrote:
    extramsg wrote:
    At this Chowhound link the poster comments about a sushi place where they're good about asking you before they slather your sushi in mayo, noting that Hawaiians put it on everything.


    Aha! See, all it takes to be an expert is to be published somewhere.


    You come to a internet message board looking for expertise? Your life must be full of disappointments. :wink:

    How about we just call you "someone with experience"? (Which we assume means neither that you are *old* or .... well, you know.)
    Unintentionally retired early by the pandemic, but without the golden parachute.
    Formerly Mi Mero Mole
    Formerly Zapapizza
    Formerly Kenny & Zuke's Delicatessen
    Artisan Jewish Deli at Home Cookbook

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