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Ono, You Know

Ali’s Road To Fries

By Ali Resich
May 8, 2016

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The editor strolls across London's famous Abbey Road between snacking sessions. PHOTO BY ANNA RESICH

The editor strolls across London’s famous Abbey Road between snacking sessions. PHOTO BY ANNA RESICH

Travelling is one of the best forms of inspiration, and I’m currently full of foodie flair from a trip I just took with my mom to visit my grandfather in London. While hopping over the pond, we were lucky enough to scour the city for the best in English edibles, from savory meat pies and Victoria sponge cakes to a couple of pints at the pub. And maybe it was just a comfort food craving, but for some reason we could not get enough chips on this trip — that is, the British version of french fries, not American potato chips.

Of course, after eating chip after chip after chip, we wanted to walk off some of those extra carbs. This led us to one of the greatest parts of the city to take a stroll: none other than the crosswalk featured in The Beatles’ iconic Abbey Road album. Following in the legendary band’s footsteps was much needed, as I didn’t want to end up like one of the record’s fantastic songs, Carry That Weight

MAC 24/7's French Fries ($7 with Parmesan and truffle oil) MISSY ROMERO PHOTO

MAC 24/7’s French Fries ($7 with Parmesan and truffle oil) MISSY ROMERO PHOTO

Now that we’re home, I’m still seeking out chips like there’s no tomorrow. But this time, I’m embracing french fries as Americans know them, complete with fanciful twists along the way. I hope you’ll join me as we Come Together, right now, over fries.

MAC 24/7 BAR & RESTAURANT

Seeing as potatoes are one of the great bases of American food, a type of cuisine MAC 24/7 Bar & Restaurant specializes in, executive chef James Aptakin knows there’s much more to fries than simply deep frying potatoes.

To him, though the recipe can be simple, getting it just right comes down to an exact science. “Everybody thinks that a fry is just a fry, but if it’s too skinny, then it doesn’t hold enough heat to the table in my opinion. If they’re too thick, they tend to be too soft, they don’t have that snap or crunch, and they tend to fall apart,” he explains. “So what we searched for was the perfect fry, which has the best of both worlds: not too small, not too thick, medium sized that’s going to retain the heat, retain that nice golden brown color, but not break on you.”

MAC 24/7's Sweet Potato Fries ($8 with Parmesan and truffle oil) MISSY ROMERO PHOTO

MAC 24/7’s Sweet Potato Fries ($8 with Parmesan and truffle oil) MISSY ROMERO PHOTO

One bite of his fresh-cut French Fries ($4 regular) and you’ll see he knows what he’s talking about. They’re wonderfully battered, seasoned and fried, and they even feature a touch of the skins, indicating their freshness.

The fries are taken to the next level when adorned with Parmesan and truffle oil ($3 add on), making them even more indulgent. “Truffle oil and potatoes has always been a match made in heaven,” adds Aptakin.

Fry heaven doesn’t stop there. Diners also go crazy for Sweet Potato Fries ($5 regular, $8 with Parmesan truffle add on), which are a little longer with the perfect crunch. Be sure to order the Parmesan and truffle oil with these bad boys as well, as they create an addicting palate explosion of sweetness meets saltiness meets umami-style savoriness.

Enjoy these fries on their own, or alongside your favorite MAC 24/7 comfort foods.

MAC 24/7 Bar & Restaurant
Hilton Waikiki Beach
2500 Kuhio Ave., Waikiki

IZAKAYA RESTAURANT KO

If you take a look at the Izakaya Restaurant Ko pupu pictured to the right, you may think you’re looking at standard french fries — but take a closer look and think again.

This glowing picture of golden fry goodness actually depicts Gobo Fries ($5.95), the restaurant’s enticing way of putting a delicious Japanese twist on typical fries.

As manager Saori Ohki explains, gobo fries are a popular finger food in Japan, ideal for munching on while throwing back a few beers. The best place to enjoy the pupu is at an izakaya establishment, which tends to offer small plates that are great for sharing during a night on the town with friends.

Izakaya Restaurant Ko's Gobo Fries ($5.95) BODIE COLLINS PHOTO

Izakaya Restaurant Ko’s Gobo Fries ($5.95) BODIE COLLINS PHOTO

Izakaya Restaurant Ko, located on Waialae Avenue across the street from Times supermarket, brings a taste of this Japanese custom to Hawaii, and island customers have embraced it with open arms.

When it comes to the Gobo Fries, the eatery prepares them with long, hearty strips of burdock root, or gobo, which provide a soft interior, but retain that great fry-worthy crunch through the deep-frying process.

“Gobo is a healthy vegetable that many Japanese people like to eat,” explains Ohki.

The fries are paired with ponzu sauce accented with a dollop of mayo, which patrons can mix to their liking as they dunk away.

A sprinkling of Japanese spice mixture shichimi, or togarashi, adds a nice kick of flavor to the slightly sweet root vegetable.

Gobo Fries and other sharable starters offered at Izakaya Restaurant Ko are priced and portioned just right so that parties can try a variety of plates within a reasonable price point. The restaurant — which is open from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. every day except Tuesdays — has become increasingly popular on Thursdays, when it offers 25 percent off all food and drinks (not combinable with other coupons, some exclusions apply). Ohki suggests making a reservation during that time.

Izakaya Restaurant Ko
3196 Waialae Ave., Kaimuki
888-5975