Ka Boom! It’s A Flavor Explosion
Every once in a while, our ordinary dining routines need a nice, big jolt of excitement to keep our taste buds interested. If you’re ready to spice things up at the dinner table, I’ve got just the dish for you.
One bite of seafood dynamite and — POW! — your palate is exploding with flavor. Never before have creamy and spicy ingredients come together in such a mind-blowing way than when they’re ignited with seafood and baked to an electrifying crisp in dynamite specialties.
I’ll never forget the first time I tried a seafood dynamite appetizer at a small sushi spot on King Street. It must have been at least 10 years ago, and I don’t remember any other dish I tasted that night, but the sheer uniqueness of the dynamite’s melted mayo sauce, oozing with cheese-like richness, as well as the chili-pepper heat that kicked in after a few seconds made it a full blast of un-forgettable. My eyes must have popped out like a cartoon character’s the minute this bomb of satisfaction sounded in my tummy.
With a little help from my Ono, You Know crew, I’m ready to push the TNT plunger down on a high-voltage pursuit of Hawaii’s finest dynamite creations.
Oftentimes when you see a dynamite dish on the menu, it’s at a sit-down restaurant, which doesn’t always come in handy when you have a spur-of-the-moment craving.
That’s why I love satisfying my hankerings on the go at Mamaya, since the shop always is stocked with good-quality bentos that are freshly made and ready to eat, or may be custom ordered in minutes.
This week, I’m here to wolf down the Salmon Dynamite Bento priced at $6.99. While this dish is served in the most convenient of manners, it’s actually quite gourmet. A generous fillet of brined salmon is first cooked, then topped with an imitation crab salad bursting with seasoned mayonnaise and onions. After saucy Sriracha is drizzled on top, the fish is baked in a salamander grill, giving it a nice crisp around the edges.
With just the right textures and flavors, the salmon erupts when paired with Ma-maya’s original blend of multigrain rice (white rice also available), as well as nicely balanced nibbles of nishime, Japanese pickles, egg and mochiko chicken.
“It’s really popular,” says retail manager Takeshi Ouchi, who notes that 70 to 80 of these booming bentos sell per day.
Additionally, diners may find an array of neatly packaged boxes on the expansive bento table that greets customers as they enter Mamaya. “Even if you don’t see (the one you want) on the table, you can order it and we can make it right away,” assures Ouchi.
Pearl Kai Shopping Center
98-199 Kamehameha Hwy., Aiea
For those days and evenings when you do have time to enjoy dynamite delights in a sit-down setting, be sure to make Rijo Restaurant your first stop. As you enter the vast, palatial interior of the eatery, tantalizing aromas of contemporary Japanese fare waft from the open-faced kitchen, giving diners a hint of the dishes they’ll soon enjoy — including Dynamite Crab Crusted Fish of the Day ($26) and Scallop and “Zuwai Kani” Dynamite Roll ($16).
Seafood dynamites are known to pack a punch, but the dishes at Rijo don’t stop there. Expanding upon the creamy-meets-spicy base of dynamite fare, these selections offer complexity in flavor, thanks to the sweet and savory sauces they’re paired with.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s start with Rijo’s baked crab dynamite, which sous chef Brandan Bandith uses as a component in a number of dishes only after it has been delicately baked to perfection. Made with just a touch of creaminess, the concoction is lighter than most of its counterparts, but still brings the boom-factor thanks to its mélange of spices.
In the Fish of the Day, this dynamite mixture is placed atop the fresh catch — usually flaky, tender monchong — and served with a slightly sweet chili soy vinaigrette. “We want it to be a healthy dish at the same time, so everything underneath is healthy vegetables: mushrooms and bok choy,” adds Bandith.
As for Scallop and “Zuwai Kani” Dynamite Roll, this pupu comes with a warning: high chance of explosive flavor! Sweet, salty, spicy and creamy all come together as black bean sauce-coated hamachi, avocado and cucumber are tucked into a sushi roll topped with torched scallop and crab dynamite. These layers of flavor build up to a grand finale of candy-like unagi sauce, sesame seeds and Japanese pepper.
Now, that’s what I call dynamite!
Harbor Court, third floor
66 Queen St.