Thursday, May 12, 2005

Ethel's Grill: Restaurant Review

Before my trip to Oahu this month I exchanged email with Reid of Ono Kine Grindz. Despite being super-busy with work, Reid graciously put together a list of restaurants for me to try during my week vacation. I am very grateful for his fantastic recommendations! Next time you plan a trip, do yourself a favor and visit some blogs based in the location you are planning to visit--you will end up with some great tips, I guarantee it.

One of the places Reid recommended was Ethel's Grill. You can find Reid's post about Ethel's and see his series of photos here.

Ethel's Grill is located in an industrial area on Kalihi Street just off the Nimitz. Parking is difficult as is finding the place--a true hole-in-the-wall. The walls are papered with newspaper clippings, many of them about Hawaii-born former sumo champion Konishiki. While I didn't notice any sumo wrestlers, some of the menu items came in "sumo size". The clientele seemed to be mostly blue-collar workers. The menu is unusual in that all the meals include rice, soup, salad and a drink. Before you can even order you are served ice tea.

The soup was quite delicious, a bit like a combination of egg drop soup and miso soup. The salad was a crunchy iceberg salad but dressed with a homemade parsley dijon dressing. It was very tasty and not surprisingly available for sale. Even though our meal included soup and salad, we felt compelled to try the Tataki appetizer ($4). The tataki consisted of very lightly seared ahi dressed in a soy ponzu sauce with slivers of soy marinated garlic and garnished with radish and bean sprouts. It was tangy and meaty and succulent.

We also had the mahi mahi which was dipped in beaten egg and fried. The best dish of all may have been the Garlic Chicken which was really mochiko chicken (see the last post for more about mochiko chicken) pan fried and served with a thick teriyaki style garlic sauce. It was the stuff you dream about, crispy, toothsome, saucy and gave me shivers it was so good! The rest of our time in Honolulu we debated going back for more of it. Sheepishly I must admit, we were too chicken to order the pig's feet soup that was recommended to us by some diners we met a few nights earlier.

As in all the lunch plate/drive-in style places we ate at, the place was busy, the staff harried, yet so nice and friendly. The proprietor smiled to see us taking pictures of the food and told us the tataki was on the house. Have I mentioned how much I love Hawaii?

Ethel's Grill
232 Kalihi St.
Mon - Sat 6 am - 2 pm