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Ono, You Know

Wrap Up the Holidays With Sensational Squid

By Alana Folen Photos By Leah Friel
December 29, 2013

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By now, the post-holiday blues have begun to set in and Christmas seems as if it was all a dream. Yet, the gifts strewn around the home and the tree still boasting its majestic glow manage to keep some of that holiday cheer alive and well within me. The holidays have always been a time of delicious gluttony, and who says the excessive splurging has to end there? We have a couple more days before those New Year’s resolutions start to hang over our heads — so, Ono readers, let’s make the most of it!

This week, it’s all about squid! Yes, I definitely think it’s time to pay homage to calamari, squid ink pasta, squid sashimi, squid somen and more! Here at the following Ono, You Know locations the chefs take full advantage of this palatable sea creature, and the possibilities are deliciously endless.

So, let’s all put on a smile and bid 2013 farewell with sensational squid. It’s like Christmas all over again for your taste buds. Now, that’s a holiday wrap-up!

Sushi King

“It’s all in a name,” and there’s plenty of truth to that when it’s Sushi King we speak of. Satisfying diners since 1992, this South King Street eatery sets the bar high with its gorgeously authentic sushi creations, which are prepared by skilled sushi chefs with such precision and attention to detail. The result is something that is almost too beautiful to eat. And thank goodness for technology — the beauty of the dish instantly can be captured by a camera phone, and you easily can dig right in without the guilt of destroying a masterpiece.

So, once your sushi favorites are consumed, direct your appetite to my personal favorite, Calamari Tempura ($9.50), which features four pieces of ika (squid) coated in flaky tempura batter and deep-fried a crisp golden brown. An array of vegetable tempura, including broccoli, zucchini, carrot, sweet potato and eggplant, also adorn the plate, and tempura sauce provides the finishing touch.

I’ll let you in on a little secret (that’s not on the menu), squid fanatics. Sushi King offers Ika Sashimi ($14.50) — an a la carte option, available all day — garnished with shredded cucumber and daikon; along with Ika Somen ($14.50), a unique creation, in which the squid is cut into thin slivers that portray a strong resemblance to somen noodles. Perfect for those warmer days, Ika Somen is accompanied by a bonito-flavored dipping sauce accentuated with ground ginger.

Then, when those late-night cravings hit, I recommend Ika Maruyaki, grilled slices of squid doused in your choice of teriyaki or ginger sauce. Priced at $11.95, this popular a la carte item is available after 5:30 p.m. from the restaurant’s Robata Bar.

Finally, for an additional $6, choose your favorite dish and make a complete meal out of it — an appetizer, salad, miso soup and pickles are added to the mix.

Sushi King
2700 S. King St.
947-2836

Max’s of Manila

Max's of Manila's Grilled Marinated Stuffed Squid (Inihaw na Pusit, $10.50) Photo courtesy of Max's of Manila

Max’s of Manila’s Grilled Marinated Stuffed Squid (Inihaw na Pusit, $10.50) Photo courtesy of Max’s of Manila

As the holiday rush winds down and Christmas festivities wrap up, Max’s of Manila finally can take a bit of a breather — but not for long. Here’s why: The party of all parties is most definitely a Filipino fiesta, where the spread of Filipino fare is endless, lively chatter and contagious laughter permeate the room and love abounds like no other. You really don’t need a specific reason, such as the holidays, to celebrate, and Max’s of Manila surely can provide the feast.

With more than 100 restaurant branches throughout the Philippines, two in Dubai, one in Abu Dhabi, two in Canada and eight branches in the U.S., including two establishments here at home (the first restaurant opened in Waipahu in 2006 followed by the Dillingham branch in 2010), home-cooked Filipino staples are easy to come by. However, here it is in ink: squid aficionados who appreciate that special Filipino flair are in luck! Max’s of Manila serves up mouthwatering Grilled Marinated Stuffed Squid (Inihaw na Pusit, $10.50), Fried Calamari ($7.95) and Max’s Teaser ($8.50), which features calamari, squid tentacles and Lumpiang Shanghai (egg rolls).

“Grilled Marinated Stuffed Squid is a whole New Zealand Squid stuffed with onions, tomatoes and ground pork topped with a tangy sweet sauce and served with a soy vinegar sauce,” explains Maly San Luis, general manager of the Dillingham and Waipahu locations. That right there is reason enough to work up an appetite, but I must admit, marinated calamari battered and fried to a crisp and paired with vinegar and garlic sauce is absolutely nom-worthy!

“The vinegar and garlic sauce is very unique to Filipino cuisine,” San Luis adds.

I bet you’re currently salivating at the thought of squid, right? If so, Max’s of Manila is the place to be!

Max’s of Manila
801 Dillingham Blvd. #108
951-6297

Anytime Cafe

Anytime Cafe's Squid Ink Pasta with Calamari ($16.95)

Anytime Cafe’s Squid Ink Pasta with Calamari ($16.95)

No matter what you’re in the mood for, Anytime Cafe in Market City Shopping Center has the answer to all your cravings.

Owned and operated by husband-and-wife duo Ken and Cindy Wong, the popular establishment only has been in business for about three years, but in that short amount of time it already has garnered an impressive following of patrons, all of whom have a slew of favorites on the menu, which boasts more than 100 items — from Chinese cuisine to Italian, American and more.

On my most recent visit to the restaurant, I stumbled upon a rather unique creation that stirred my curiosity — Squid Ink Pasta with Calamari. Priced at $16.95, this dish presents fresh squid ink pasta tossed with calamari rings and doused in a house marinara sauce. And best of all the pasta is fresh. Believe me, this Italian girl knows fresh pasta when she sees (eats) it!

According to Cindy, she and her husband were inspired during a visit to Hong Kong. The couple noticed that most restaurants there carried nothing but fresh pasta, the most popular being squid ink pasta.

“People in Hong Kong love squid ink pasta, and it’s also one of Anytime Cafe’s most requested dishes,” Cindy says.

The noodles are black because of the squid ink, but don’t let that deter you from this dish. The taste of the squid ink is very mild and the palate picks up the flavors more so from the marinara sauce, which exudes accents of savory garlic. The morsels of calamari are also oh, so tender and sauteed to perfection.

Anytime Cafe
Market City Shopping Center
2919 Kapiolani Blvd. #218
735-3888