What could ever be better than going to the beach in Hawaii?
Well, quite obviously, the answer is going to “the beach in Hawaii with lunch.”
In the small sleepy North Shore town of Waialua, just about 10 minutes from Haleiwa, is Paalaa Kai Mini-Mart.
Tipped by some of my relatives, and I’d been here a few years ago, I was in the area and needed to pick up some food for lunch.
The mini-mart is sort of like a gas station convenience store without the gas, and has a very similar atmosphere to many other good Hawaiian eateries such as Kahuku Superette.
The owner and chef extraordinaire is Korean, so much of the food at Paalaa Kai Mini-Mart is Hawaiian style Korean, but that being said, there are all the classics: SPAM musubi, bentos, fried chicken, kimchi, poke, and all sorts of snacks, sodas, beer, etc.
A few years ago, I used to think that bigger was better, for just about everything.
Now as I get older and food wiser (hopefully), I’m beginning to realize that balance and proportion are more important than bigger.
Take for instance the SPAM musubi at Paalaa Kai Mini-Mart, which I’ve often called Hawaii’s most glorious handheld treat.
The SPAM is cut thick, the rice is not overly huge, and the proportions are just about perfect.
And on top of that, they go the extra mile at Paalaa Kai Mini-Mart by marinating the SPAM in teriyaki sauce which oozes onto the rice and seaweed.
Let’s just say, this SPAM musubi didn’t make it out of the car to the beach.
It was gone before we even left the parking lot…!
Ok, back to the beach…
The fried chicken at Paalaa Kai Mini-Mart is also quite worthy of mentioning. When you walk in the shop you’ll see it all freshly lined up.
The chicken is deep fried to an impressive crunch and is salted to perfection.
Having had poke (raw fish) for breakfast, one of my favorite foods in the world and something I would normally always include for a Hawaii beach lunch, I went with fried chicken and a Korean style bento.
The black plastic container was filled with rice, and topped with sesame flavored japchae, fried potato noodles, and also with a side of chicken.
I should have bought a container of kimchi to go with the meal, but I was satisfied none the less. Both the chicken and the noodles had the flavor of sweet soy sauce, garlic, and lots of sesame oil.
If you happen to be in Waialua, Oahu, and need some food, Paalaa Kai Mini-Mart has lots of tantalizing choices. There’s also the Paalaa Kai Bakery next door for some pretty decent sweet treats.
Paalaa Kai Mini-Mart
Address: 66-945 Kaukonahua Rd Waialua, HI 96791