Blogger Spotlight: The Tasty Island
August 17th, 2010
02:30 PM ET
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Every so often, we're highlighting a local or regional blogger we think you ought to know about. We can’t be everywhere at once, so we look to these passionate eaters, cooks and writers to keep us tapped into every facet of the food world. Consider this a way to get to know a blog’s taste buds, because, well, you should.

Meet today's featured blogger and blog:
Who: Pomai Souza, of The Tasty Island
Where: Honolulu , Hawaii
Twitter: @TastyIsland808

Having been born and raised in Hawaii on the island of Oahu, I've been blessed all my life living in such a beautiful place with warm-hearted, kind people and of course, fantastic food.

Yes, food is certainly a big deal here in the "Aloha State." Being the cultural melting pot that Hawaii is, with plenty of history behind it, it's no wonder this is the birthplace of such creations as the "SPAM Musubi" (think sushi with luncheon meat instead of fish on it), "Saimin" (a fusion noodle soup made with Chinese style noodles and pork, Japanese dashi broth and fishcake, and American luncheon meat and/or ham) and "Loco Moco" (a popular "plate lunch" entree made by topping rice with hamburger steak, fried eggs and brown gravy). Not stopping there, Pacific regional and Hawaiian regional fusion is more popular than ever, thanks to pioneering local chefs, as well as up-and-coming stars in Hawaii's world-renowned culinary scene.

I started "The Tasty Island – Honolulu Food Blog" four years ago as a hobby, simply to share the wonderful foods I grew up with here in Hawaii, and to this day it continues to grow in content and popularity, including just recently becoming the second most-read blog on a national aggregate hotel review site.

For the most part, "The Tasty Island" maintains its focus on the foods of Hawaii and food or food-related products made in Hawaii, as well as coverage of local events such as cultural festivals, fundraisers and block parties. The restaurant reviews, product reviews, recipes and events coverage run a linear story-telling format that relies heavily on photography to "tell a thousand words" visually. I don't know about you, but I usually look at pictures before reading anything, and my readers constantly remind me how much they appreciate the photographs I provide in my postings.

The Tasty Island employs a unique "SPAM Musubi" rating system which is based on a score of 1 to 5, with 1 being "average" to 5 being "superb." Note that the lowest score is "average," as The Tasty Island doesn't go into negative or bashing territory of "not good" to "horrible." If a dish or product is anything less than average, it will either be made note of, or simply will not be qualified to be featured at all on this blog. After all, this isn't the " Yucky Island," it's the Tasty Island!

Do you read a local blog that you'd like to see featured? Send 'em our way for a chance in the spotlight.

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Filed under: Blog Spotlight • Blogs • Think

soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. Popeye

    This sounds like a fun past time, but spam ain't no thing compared to mountain oysters. Big get-togethers are made around roasting up a mess of mountain oysters. I tell you what.

    August 20, 2010 at 4:40 am |
  2. Barbara Hoefer

    What a gorgeous blog! Pomai, awesome job! You look just like your dad.

    August 20, 2010 at 12:23 am |
  3. William Souza

    Grew up with Pomai's father, my brother, brings back memories of our experiences with the many foods,
    recipes brought to Hawaii from the world over.
    Of course Pomai makes me feel that my brother is just a short flight away.

    August 19, 2010 at 8:32 pm |
  4. thinkthefink

    Mahalos Pomai for making my day a delight with this article. I'm hungry already, and now I got da kine rice cookin'! If only I had some Spam... But a word to Opah57–really, he may not have covered ALL of the local foods–just the more well-known types. He may have already covered the dishes that you mentioned in his previous blog postings.

    Growin' up in Kaneohe-I had it all. And 'den after soccer games at the Civic there'd be potluck with all the local kine foods. Took it fo' granted until I move to da mainland and I go "Eh! wheas da poki???"

    I try to keep my island cooking alive in my home–but it's hard enough to get the right ingredients.. namely ALOHA SHOYU!
    What the hell are they thinking? Making teriyaki this and teriyaki that on the restaurant menus when they can't even use ALOHA SHOYU!!

    Anyways, aloha nui loa.

    August 19, 2010 at 12:17 pm |
  5. Buster von Arnswaldt

    "cuisine" is just food. if you eat it, it's cuisine. you either like spam or spam musubi, or not. the discussion comes in when you like it done a certain way compared with another. local food is the one thing I craved for when living away for so many years......that and family.....and I don't need someone to put down my opinion of the kind of food I happen to like...You go Pomai !!! at least you got to CNN.....the only way your critic made it was through YOUR blog! Aloha

    August 19, 2010 at 10:47 am |
  6. Al

    Enough Already !!!!
    Someone tell me where I can find Lau-lau, Hawaiian Salt, Seaweed (*the kind you add to Poki), Lilikoi, Dobash Cake, "real" Saimin Noodles (not "oodles of noodles") here in the South without having to sell my first-born to pay for shipping ! so that I can enjoy (once again) some of the "tastes of Hawaii" I miss so terribly while everyone debates the merits of Hawaiian "Cuisine".

    August 19, 2010 at 9:28 am |
    • raphael tran


      August 21, 2010 at 2:36 am |
  7. Maria Rowena Rillen- Rizzi

    I lived in Hawaii in the late 80's and I can consider it a cultural melting pot and with that comes the culinary erperience that goes with it. I attended several block parties from our neighborhood and friends- who can forget the local dishes-lomi lomi salmon, opihi, and of course kahlua pig!

    August 19, 2010 at 5:56 am |
  8. Iwalani

    Great job Pomai! Love the pictures, mouth watering for sure. As an islander I have to admit that not all local food is the same. You have to know where to go to get the best of the best. I don't think someone visiting the island of Oahu for just a few weeks can truly say they've tasted what we locals would refer to as "local kine grinds." Kalua pig, squid luau, poke, opihi, lau lau, OMG, I'm hungry just thinking about it. Plate lunches not all equal but find the right place and you got a killer meal for usually under $7.00 that can really feed two cause we pack it on local style. I'm well traveled, US and abroad, haven't found a place that compares yet. It's the wealth of cultural blends, the family style sharing and talk story during a meal with family or friends that closes the deal for making our food so delicious. I know it may not be unique to Hawaii but when we eat our goal is to make sure our mouth is having a party everytime! Oh so ONO......

    August 19, 2010 at 4:10 am |
  9. Keanu

    I love Pomais blog! Whenever I want to go eat someplace I always check out his blog and reviews. And I love looking at the pictures. Thanks Pomai! and oh by the way he looks like that picture! Handsome!

    August 19, 2010 at 3:17 am |
  10. Natch

    Sorry, but I've had the Hawaiian island cuisine, and it doesn't hold a candle to that which I had in Guam. There, they've taken their local ancestral dishes, combined with the Spanish influence, then added further influence from Japan, the Philippines, Korea and now the USA, and have come up with a cornucopia of culinary delights that cannot be found anywhere else (at least, not all in one place!).

    August 18, 2010 at 3:30 pm |
    • OPAH57

      NO WAY! That Chamorro food is just nasty!

      August 18, 2010 at 3:52 pm |
  11. 808Fan

    You know, that photo of him is about 10 years old. I've seen him at the market and he's like, 15lbs. heavier. But then again, who isn't?

    August 18, 2010 at 3:18 pm |
    • HIPen

      Yeah. Not so cool to use an older picture. Have confidence in what you look like. Ever heard of a "chubbie chaser"?

      August 18, 2010 at 3:44 pm |
  12. COLady

    Lived in Honolulu for 4 1/2 years. Still get a hankerin' for Loco Moco. And the pizzas at Big Kahuna's, off Nimitz Highway, were the BEST!!!

    August 18, 2010 at 1:32 pm |
  13. Bailes24

    OHHHH He is a HOTTIE!!!!!!

    August 18, 2010 at 12:48 pm |
    • KingKam

      15lbs.? More like 20 to 25lbs. Guess all those reviews take a toll. Plus, methinks his clothes need to be less, um, fitted.

      August 18, 2010 at 3:42 pm |
      • EY

        Yeah Pomai...wear a bedsheet. Or is that a banana in your pocket? HAHAHAHA. I work with the guy. We were just laughing about the comments.

        August 18, 2010 at 9:08 pm |
  14. Molly

    Opah57, please tell us how you really feel. Don't hold back now!! And post more than once so that we get your message loud and clear!

    August 18, 2010 at 4:39 am |
    • OPAH57

      Molly, if it bothers you don't read my comments. It's called free expression.

      August 20, 2010 at 5:43 pm |
  15. raphael tran

    hey OPAH, i'm gonna give my take here as a mainlander. the things you say about world class cuisine is great and all, but let's not forget the intent of the eatocracy–which is to spotlight some regional food. hell, if it is good enough for the president of the united states, it's damn good enough for me. have you actually spent any time on pomai's blog? pomai does a lot of things, from the everyday plate lunches, to some of the fancier digs around the island. i hear what you're saying about some of the 'lowlier' foods–but that's just elitist of you. i mean really, who died and made you God? in the grand scheme of things, food & cuisine is an ever changing thing. the landscape changes. you as a native ought to know the reason for some of the plate lunches, where workers on plantations would share their food with each other. folks from around the world: chinese, portuguese, filipino, puerto rican, korean, japanese, and of course many other ethnicities converved on a really, a tiny spot of land in the middle of a vast ocean. and you get this truly unique amalgam of cuisine. to just say, teach the kids the 'classical' technique (french)' is horribly a western idealistic viewpoint. chefs are trying new things, some things work, some things don't–that's just how it goes. sometimes the best things are accidents: like the french dipped sandwich at phillippe's in los angeles or the philly cheese steak. other times, there are long regional cooking legacies, like southern bbq, or a lobster roll in new england, or dungeness crab in san francisco. anyways, i see what you're saying, and yeah, spam is kinda funny, but if you spent anytime on pomai's blog, you'll see there's a heck of a lot more to what he's saying about island cuisine, than just spam :)

    August 18, 2010 at 4:39 am |
    • OPAH57


      August 18, 2010 at 4:01 pm |
      • raphael tran

        did you actually read my post? actually nevermind, go duck yourself.

        August 19, 2010 at 12:25 am |
      • RKG


        August 19, 2010 at 1:01 pm |
    • rupa

      Nicely said , I to was getting tired of the so serious snobbery "French" isn't the only way to prepare good food. I wonder if there is any fun at Opah57's table or is it ; Just eat your vichysoise and shut up! ?

      August 19, 2010 at 3:03 pm |
      • raphael tran

        hehe yup :)

        August 20, 2010 at 12:09 am |
      • OPAH57

        If you took the time to read my comments and understood my point, you would know that I was saying we (locals) should not be so insular and think that everything we do is so great. We live on a small island in a large world. The foods we call "local" are taken from many cultures. The tin can and processed food (Spam, vienna sausages, corned beef and sardines) we crow about is nothing special. Let's be more humble in talking about our foods instead of all the hyperbole. Not everybody is a chef, there are cooks too.

        August 20, 2010 at 5:49 pm |
    • OPAH57

      The point I was trying to make and perhaps inartfully, given the responses is we have this "local" snoberry going on too. But we really don't have anything to be snobs about. I grew up in a family owned restaurant, worked in restaurants, from fish and chips to the Summit at the Ala Moana in its heyday. So I do know a little about food. I also eat out almost everyday and I see the poor quality of the food sold and the lack of service on a regular basis. I subscribe to Bon Appetite and other food magazines and read reviews in the newspaper and on-line regularly. When I commented about teaching local kids classical cooking (french), I was referring more to the cooking techniques more than the food, i.e. knife handling, garde manger, methods of food preparation, etc. It's like painting, the real masters trained in the Realism style and then went on to develop other styles of art; e.g. impressionism, cubism, expressionism, abstract, etc. Personally, I like homestyle cooking in all forms. I don't like playing with food or being creative for the sake of being able to combine ingredients for the novelty. Here in Hawaii we have such a limited perspective, we think everything we do is so great because of our limited horizons. Rather than being arrogant, my point was let's not be arrogant and think that the food we prepare and eat is the end all and be all.

      August 20, 2010 at 5:40 pm |
    • OPAH57

      Tran, you miss my point completely. It's not a matter of being good enough or not. I eat all the above and grew up eating all the above. My point is call it what it is, don't put on airs. You got the totally opposite impression. We have a tendency to be so "local" that we think we're the best. Spam is Spam no matter how you dress it up. I love it too, but lets not make it a "cuisine". We can have food contests to concoct different recipes but its still Spam. It should be fun and treated that way.

      August 20, 2010 at 5:56 pm |
      • raphael tran

        nobody's putting on airs here man....certainly not my man pomai and his awesome blog of deliciousness. how about you go talk to a bbq chef in the south? the stuff ain't fancy, but it's blow your socks off good. and certainly none of that french stuff either. not saying that the french classical isn't bad–it certainly is good. i live here in the sf bay area, chez panisse is minutes from my office in berkeley; we even have gourmet takeout (gregoire's in berkeley–yelp it). anyways, your dismissive tone in the previous posts just smacks of elitism. so really, who's putting on airs?

        August 21, 2010 at 2:41 am |
  16. OPAH57

    Before patting ourselves on the back, calling our food world renowned is laughable. Perhaps, we can say that we have chefs here in Hawaii who are talented and have technical skill comparable to chefs in other areas in the United States, but to elevate local cuisine to world class is simply an over statement. In an attempt to create a new cuisine, local chefs have combined ingredients in a mish mash manner in the hopes of being described as innovative and daring, e.g. Hoi sin wasabi vinegrette dressing poured over steamed baby bok choy and cedar plank smoked tilapia. There has to be limits to the madness of combing totally incompatible ingredients and calling it Pacific Rim cuisine.

    August 17, 2010 at 8:00 pm |
    • OPAH57

      If anything, teach the local kids the classical technique (French), and all the facets of food preparation. Having a strong foundation in cooking and food preparation is more important than combing disparate ingredients just to be different.

      August 17, 2010 at 8:12 pm |
  17. OPAH57

    Sorry, Spam musubi is not my idea of something to brag about. It's the equivalent of opening a bag of Fritos and dumping a can of chili on the plate. My definition of "local food" is what we grew up eating, not necessarily well prepared, having fresh ingredients or anything special other than the fact that it's comfort food. In fact, I would go as far to say that "local food" is actually common and not special at all. Just think about all the food you consider "local".

    August 17, 2010 at 7:42 pm |
    • OPAH57

      What made it special (local food) is the person who prepared it, the Auntie or Uncle, Nana or Tata, or Tutu wahine or kane. The love that came with the food is what distinguishes local food from any other food. Sitting together at the kitchen table, beach, or back yard. Playing ukulele, singing and having a few beers together and most of all talking story.

      August 17, 2010 at 8:07 pm |
      • OPAH57

        For example, Spam, vienna sausages, canned corned beef and cabbage, sardines and onions, pork and beans with hot dog, etc. What made me laugh was my first political fund raiser on Maui, they have a guy dressed in cook's whites carving a Portugese sausage like it was Chateau Briand. Now that's local style.

        August 17, 2010 at 9:36 pm |
  18. thinlady

    Malasalas are the best!

    August 17, 2010 at 5:53 pm |
  19. akindafoodblog

    I find food fusion in relation to race absolutely fascinating. I think that's what makes our island great. There are foods here that we find common but really aren't.

    August 17, 2010 at 3:53 pm |
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