Going Where the Fried Rice is Always Twice as Nice

Columns Ono, You Know

January 23, 2011

Story By: Dining Out Team |

If you haven’t quite figured it out by now, my entire life currently revolves around food! Yes, I’m a few meager steps away from being what some might call “a food addict.”

Here’s what a typical day for me is like: I wake up, eat breakfast and jet off to work, where I’m responsible for putting together multiple stories showcasing many of Hawaii’s finest restaurants. A good deal of my days are spent either on the phone or out on assignment, talking with owners, managers and chefs and hoping to get the inside scoop on their cuisine.

And every so often, I even get to sample their onolicious creations.

(I know what you’re thinking: Tough way to make a living, Alana.)

In between all these assignments, I find myself eating as a method of survival, because a busy schedule calls for intensely high energy levels, which in my case, can only be satisfied by regular food consumption.

So seeing that my life revolves around food, I took it upon myself this week to find a food that in turn revolves around life. Enter fried rice — a dish that you can enjoy at all times of the day. And no matter what you pair it with, this savory, hot creation is always delicious.

Hy’s Steak House

  • The author can't wait to take a bite of Sam Choy's delicious fried rice with dining room manager Gordon Meideros, who proudly presents a breakfast favorite, Fried Rice Topped with Two Eggs ($7.50).
  • A side dish of Garlic Fried Rice ($7.95) goes perfectly with any of the exquisite entrees awaiting diners at Hy's Steak House.
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When it comes to celebrating momentous occasions, my dining choice is the award-winning Hy’s Steak House in Waikiki. This fine dining restaurant with its warm and romantic atmosphere has been pleasing the palates of many for the past 33 years.

Hy’s specializes in USDA prime beef that is aged and trimmed on the premises, with the belief that this process retains the tenderness and taste of the meat while reducing the fat content.

Chef Zach Inouye says the secret behind the beef ultimately lies in the kiawe wood, which cooks with such an intense heat that, as a result, highly complements the flavor of the beef.

All entrees come with a choice of mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, French steak fries, white, brown or pilaf rice, but when sharing a meal, I highly recommend an accompaniment side dish of Garlic Fried Rice ($7.95).

Inouye, who has been Hy’s executive chef for the past eight years, agreed.

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“It’s very popular, actually. People like to order it if they’re sharing a meal — the steaks here come out fairly large, so they just share steaks and the garlic fried rice,” he says.

“I didn’t start this item myself. It’s been around for quite a long time and it’s gotten real popular, so I can’t take it off the menu.”

Nor would he want to. In all honesty, the Garlic Fried Rice is literally to die for! As an all-time favorite of mine, I just can’t get myself to share it with others. Believe me, I’ve tried.

Chef Zach first cooks up the garlic until it’s crisp and golden-brown, then adds the perfect amount of white rice, green onion, a special blend of seasonings and Kikkoman Shoyu.

I have to admit, I will never tire of this dish, for miracles occur when the right ingredients are combined.

Guests of Hy’s Steak House also can catch local musician Audy Kimura, who provides beautifully soothing music Wednesday through Saturday nights.

So, the next time you’re in the mood for fine dining, plan a date night at Hy’s Steak House, where you can sit back, relax and indulge in some of the finer things in life.

Hy’s Steak House
2440 Kuhio Avenue
(808) 922-5555

Sam Choy’s Breakfast, Lunch & Crab

  • There's no better way to start your day than with the Fried Rice Topped with Two Eggs ($7.50) at Sam Choy's Breakfast, Lunch & Crab.
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World-renowned chef Sam Choy certainly knows how to cook up all your local favorites, and hungry diners can find all of his marvelous creations at his Nimitz eatery, which is known for much more than merely breakfast, lunch and crab.

You’ll always find the restaurant bustling with guests from near and far, all with a common goal in mind — to devour ono cuisine like Sam’s award-winning poke and Sam’s Favorite Burger, to name a few.

However, there’s one thing in particular that my tummy longs for most, and that’s his famous fried rice. Conveniently available for breakfast, lunch and dinner, early birds can start their day with Fried Rice Topped with Two Eggs ($7.50), or enjoy it as a side dish during lunch and dinner hours for $4.95.

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Dining room manager Gordon Medeiros says the fried rice is a hit among guests, and credits its intense flavor to a bounty of delicious ingredients.

“We add Portuguese sausage, bacon, eggs, onion, green onion, soy sauce and pepper to our fried rice. Basically those are the main ingredients, but sometimes we’ll put in lap cheong too, if it’s available, and a little bit of oyster sauce,” Medeiros says.

Then he shared the one special ingredient that takes this popular menu item to a whole new level.

“When the fried rice is served at your table, the one condiment that really draws out all the flavor after it’s been cooked is plain old black pepper. Most people wouldn’t believe it takes only a simple thing like that, but if you put it on liberally, the flavor really just comes out,” he attests.

“I learned that trick when I was growing up in Japan. The Japanese always made their fried rice very, very light and let the ingredients take over the flavor, and that little dash of pepper finishes it off perfectly.”

Any entree on the menu that contains rice can be substituted for fried rice at no extra charge. Now, if that isn’t music to your ears, I don’t know what is.

Sam Choy’s Breakfast, Lunch & Crab
580 North Nimitz Highway
(808) 545-7979

Pho My Lien Vietnamese Restaurant

  • Pho My Lien's Shrimp Fried Rice ($10.50) features shrimp, peas, carrots, egg and garlic, among other fresh ingredients.
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Pho enthusiasts are smiling a bit brighter since the opening of Pho My Lien this past November. Located in Westridge Shopping Center, the restaurant serves up authentic Vietnamese cuisine all within a chic and modern atmosphere, thanks to the husband-wife team of Tommy Dang and Lien Bui.

Bui’s homemade pho or beef noodle soup is a cure-all if you’re suffering from the sniffles and will cleanse your senses with every bite. A regular order of pho is priced at $6.95, and if your appetite has got the best of you, opt for the large portion for $7.95. Each order is served with mint leaves, bean sprouts, herbs, chili pepper, lemon and a special blend of sauces that pairs perfectly with the pho itself.

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Yet, Bui’s Shrimp Fried Rice ($10.50) also has been flying off the menu and straight into the mouths of hungry diners as well.

Executive chef Phuong Bo prepares each order of fried rice with an array of fresh and colorful ingredients, including shrimp, peas, carrots, egg and garlic, then sprinkles a bit of pepper and shoyu on for seasoning.

And at such reasonable prices, the portions here are quite filling. So, go ahead and get your fill of pho, fried rice and so much more at Pho My Lien.

Pho My Lien Vietnamese Restaurant
98-150 Kaonohi Street Suite B213-B
(808) 488-4900

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