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Food Trippin’ Along the Mediterranean Sea

Columns Ono, You Know

May 28, 2011

Story By: Dining Out Team |

Every so often, my mind wanders away from the stresses of daily life and back to my travels along the Mediterranean Sea and to the land of Greece, where I spent one of the best weeks of my life. My days consisted of relaxing by the pool sipping mimosas on the Santorini isle, enjoying the magnificent sunsets, and discovering the ancient ruins of the Acropolis and Parthenon in Athens. And while I took this journey to Greece more than a year ago, I remember it like it was yesterday. The people were so friendly, and the food was out-of-this-world delicious — not to mention healthy.

There’s just something about the Mediterranean that I can’t get enough of. The beauty of the countries bordered by this majestic sea is beyond words. I’m currently planning an adventure to Spain, and it has always been a dream of mine to explore the pyramids of Egypt firsthand.

Yes, while I can endlessly dream about these exotic destinations, one thing that is realistically accessible to me at this very moment is the food! Mediterranean cuisine is characterized by its wide range of ingredients and many regional variations.

This week, I scouted out the best “Ono, You Know” Mediterranean cuisine at the following establishments, where I found that grilled meats, pita bread, hummus and falafel are very popular forms of this tasty fare!

The Fat Greek

  • The author cannot resist The Fat Greek's Taverna Shrimp ($14.95).
  • The Fat Greek's Sunday special, Shrimp Taverna served with Basamati rice, Greek salad and pita bread ($14.95).
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They say never trust a skinny chef, but believe me, even though the chefs are skinny at the Fat Greek, I give them my wholehearted trust when it comes to feeding my appetite. Owner Francois Provenza opened the doors to this classic Greek eatery on Waialae Avenue in 2007, and since then its award-winning culinary creations have kept new and loyal customers coming back for more. The Fat Greek also has an additional location in Waikiki and a kiosk at Ala Moana Center’s food court, run by Provenza’s son, Darien.

Provenza and his business partner and adviser, George Stephanos, take their jobs seriously by only offering the highest quality of Mediterranean cuisine, which is why I couldn’t resist sampling the generous portion of The Fat Greek’s Taverna Shrimp ($14.95).

Served with pita bread, basmati rice and a refreshing Greek salad, this Sunday special is cooked to perfection with feta cheese, tomatoes, flavorful amounts of garlic, and a dash of chili flakes and lemon juice.

“This dish is definitely one of my favorites and it’s extremely popular,” says Waialae manager Daniel Provenza.

“We have a lot of customers who request this dish on a regular basis, and it’s really very good,” he adds.

You’ll experience a burst of flavor with each bite of this eight-piece shrimp masterpiece, and there’s no doubting the fact that it will quickly become a personal favorite of yours, as it is mine.

So, forgo the grease and relish the Greek and take in the nutritious and delicious flavors of a few of The Fat Greek’s other specialties, including the Giant Elephant Beans ($6) and Falafel n’ Tuna Souvlaki ($10).

And while many things in life may be Greek to me, one thing’s for certain, I know I’ll be fattening up with the stellar cuisine at The Fat Greek.

The Fat Greek
3040 Waialae Ave.
1831 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 201
(808) 734-0404 (Waialae)
(808) 941-3444 (Ala Moana)
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The Pyramids

  • The Pyramids' Mousaka ($14.95, lunch, $17.95 dinner). Photo by Lawrence Tabudlo.
  • The author and The Pyramids' owner Tarek Guirguis showcase a tantalizing plate of Mousaka. Photo by Lawrence Tabudlo.
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Experience the glory of Egypt without having to go far by taking in the petroglyphs, sphinx and more at The Pyramids on Kapahulu Avenue. Specializing in Egyptian and Mediterranean cuisine, The Pyramids is owned and operated by restaurateur Tarek Guirguis, who has been offering customers unique and exquisite flavors of the world since 1995.

When I travel I’m always food trippin’ it, looking for the best, authentic food that the locals love to eat. It’s been a dream of mine to journey to Egypt, and while I haven’t made it there just yet, Guirguis gives me every opportunity to take in the distinct flavors of this ancient land.

“Here at The Pyramids we are open for lunch and dinner, and offer a wide selection of appetizers, sandwiches, salads, entrees, desserts and more. We even have vegetarian entrees,” Guirguis states.

“Greek and Egyptian food is very similar,” he adds. “Mediterranean food is very healthy, and we use very tasty spices like cumin in our cooking, but it’s not spicy.”

And when it comes to Mediterranean cuisine, I am a big fan of Mousaka ($14.95 lunch, $17.95 dinner), and let me tell you, this entree at The Pyramids is hard to beat.

The Mousaka features alternate layers of fried eggplant and ground beef topped with a creamy bechamel sauce. Served with a fresh Greek salad and pita bread, this dish is divine.

Guirguis agrees that the mousaka is undoubtedly mouth-watering, yet he also notes that the Reiash ($19.95 lunch, $21.95 dinner) is a highly requested items by customers.

Carnivores will love Reiash, an entree consisting of lamb ribs marinated for two days in a special blend of house spices. It’s then char-broiled over low heat for a perfect taste. Delicious in every way, it’s served with Egyptian salad, basmati rice and pita bread.

I recommend you sample The Pyramids’ famous Shawerma ($14.95 lunch, $16.95 dinner) as well. Guests adore the generous portions of mouth-watering marinated strips of beef and lamb that go along with this dish, and better yet it’s available as part of the all-you-can-eat lunch buffet ($12.95 per person) offered daily from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“Many of our menu items are available on the buffet line, so the buffet is usually very busy,” Guirguis adds.

The next time you dine at The Pyramids, keep in mind that you’re in for dinner and a show, as the restaurant showcases authentic belly dancing for your dining pleasure with shows set for 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 7 and 8 p.m. Sundays.

The Pyramids
758-B Kapahulu Ave.
(808) 737-2900
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Greek Marina

  • Mix Vege Plate ($15.95 lunch, $16.95 dinner) is a favorite at Greek Marina. Photo by Lawrence Tabudlo.
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When it comes to Mediterranean cuisine, one thing I’ve noticed is that you can eat to your heart’s content with no guilt. Really! When traveling along the Mediterranean Coast a couple years back, I ate as if I hadn’t eaten for decades and yet managed to not put on a pound. I guess you could say that Mediterranean cuisine is too good to be true.

Therefore, yearning for that same experience, I headed to Greek Marina in Hawaii Kai to feast my taste buds on genuine Greek cuisine in a casual and relaxing atmosphere. Once setting foot into the eatery, memories of Santorini, Greece, came flooding back to me, as a majestic painting of this beautiful island hangs on the wall.

Owner Tarek Guirguis (who also owns The Pyramids) treated me to a Greek specialty called the Mix Vege Plate ($15.95 lunch, $16.95 dinner). Perfect for vegetarians or just lovers of Greek food in general, this dish showcases delicious portions of grape leaves and falafel served with salad, Greek Marina’s famous pita hummus and babaghanouj. Falafel is a favorite among Greeks and consists of a ball or patty made from ground chickpeas and fava beans, usually accompanied by pita bread. Yum!

Greek Marina
Koko Marina Center
7192 Kalanianaole Hwy. #E126
(808) 396-8441
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