Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Angelo Pietro - Japanese style Pasta plus Great Salad Dressing

Japanese style pasta has been popular in Japan for many years. In America, my favorite place has always been the Spoonhouse in Gardena, California on Redondo Beach Blvd. at Denker (I'll have to blog about that place one day). I went to Angelo Pietro in Honolulu (next to Shokudo - see my earlier post) recently and was pleasantly surprised that the food was innovative and tasty.

The appetizers were good. The deep fried calamari rings were crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. The garlic aioli was fabulous and I ended up putting it on bread the rest of the meal.

The surprise of the night was the questionably named Raw Potato Salad. I had visions of inedible chunks of raw potato mixed with mayonnaise. It was totally different. It was raw potato grated into long strings, like the way daikon radish is prepared for sashimi. It is garnished with daikon sprouts. You then season the salad with your choice of Angelo Pietro's four famous salad dressings. Let me tell you, it is nothing like you might imagine. It is terrific.


Angelo Pietro's salad dressings have been wildly popular in Hawaii and are sold in most supermarkets and at Long's. With a $6-$7 price tag for a relatively small bottle, they are not cheap. I always wait until they go on sale at Long's or Don Quijote, and the current sale price is 2 for $8.

My overwhelming favorite is the Sesame and Miso dressing (brown cap). I put it on everything from broccoli (a reasonable facsimile to my mother's broccoli namool), to pasta (my daughter loves this), and broiled chicken. It apparently is everyone else's favorite, too: whenever I find out about a sale on the dressings, brown cap is always gone first (or will be by the time I'm there!).

I tried the Shoyu dressing (orange cap) on the Raw Potato Salad. It was good, a bit more subtle in flavor than the brown cap dressing. I'm not a fan of the Ginger dressing (yellow cap) or the Ume (Japanese pickled plum) dressing (red cap), but others I know like them.

Back to the restaurant: the main dishes are mostly pasta dishes served in different combinations. You have a choice of four sauces: tomato, shoyu, garlic oil, and cream. One of those is combined with your choice of a long list of ingredients. On a specialty page of the menu are other choices, such as the Pietro clam that I ordered, which is similar to spaghetti alle vongole (spaghetti with clams). To me, it's not quite as good as the Spoonhouse, but I still liked it very much.

Others with me for that meal had the pasta with tarako and ika (codfish roe and squid), pasta with chicken and broccoli in the garlic oil, and something called shrimp and mushroom doria (Japanese style rice gratin, that was kind of like a thicker risotto). They were all good.

I think there are enough choices to keep a vegetarian very happy...a little harder for a vegan, but possible.

I'm not a big dessert person, but the creme brulee was good, and the different scoops of ice cream were also fine. I'll have to try the bread pudding next time.

Note to parents: the kids meals are excellent with generous portions. Half of a large pizza with sides or a good sized portion of spaghetti bolognese (meat sauce) at a very reasonable price. In fact, the prices all around are very reasonable.

When I'm coming out of the parking structure, I will always tend to turn right and go to Shokudo, but if it's crowded and the wait is too long (as it was that evening), Angelo Pietro is a delicious alternative.

Grace and aloha,


P. S. On the theme of blending two cultures, I am remembering Bob Lott, who was a retired pastor who served in Hawaii for many years. Bob went on to the church triumphant this summer, but the memories will remain. I will never forget the story he told about the time he was at a United Methodist gathering and the subject was sharing particularly meaningful experiences. Bob got up and shared how he was part of a regiment that was going to be invading Japan at the end of World War II. The word came that the atomic bomb blasts at Hiroshima and Nagasaki forced the surrender of Japan, making invasion unnecessary. He recalled how happy they were that they didn't have to be a part of the invasion and they were going home.

Then Haru (Harry) Fujimoto, the Japanese language pastor for Harris United Methodist Church at that time, got up to speak. He was a teenager who lived in Hiroshima. His class just happened to be on a field trip the day of the bomb blast. When it was felt that it was safe to return to the city, Harry rushed frantically to his home to find his family. The house was nothing but rubble. He then went to the hospital where his sister worked, hoping to find her there. Again, nothing but rubble remained. Going through the ruins, he found a pair of knitting needles. His sister was always knitting when she had a free moment. He know that she was gone along with the rest of the family.

Two stories about the same event...drastically different emotions.

After the event was over, Bob went up to Harry and expressed his sorrow for his loss, and also for his now conflicted feelings about celebrating while his friend suffered.

Harry put his hands on Bob's shoulders and said, "Bob, we are new creations in Christ."

May the redeeming power of Christ bring peace to you...may you find a reason to move beyond incalculable loss...and may you and I experience the kind of power and strength that God gives us to become new creations in Christ always....

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