Ode to Cake Noodles
I grew up a fat kid and matured into a chubby adult. I grew up in Hawaii where meals are traditionally served with two scoops of steamed rice and a scoop of macaroni salad. Delicious! But this is not a healthy way to eat, and I grew up with a ton of bad eating habits. At my heaviest, I weighed in at 303 pounds, and the day I hopped on my ex-girlfriend's scale and looked down and saw that metric, I started looking to make a change. That change in lifestyle eventually presented itself to me when I read a book recommended to me by a co-worker called "The Four Hour Body," by Tim Ferriss, who outlined a healthier lifestyle that was sustainable for me in the longterm. In future blog posts, I will write more about the low glycemic foods and recipes I used to lose 85 pounds in less than 12 months. But the best thing about the Slow Carb Diet is that it introduced me to the concept of the CHEAT DAY, and today my friends was a cheat day!
I live in Waikiki, on the Island of Oahu, which if you're not familiar is the biggest tourist district in all of Hawaii. I live one block away from the biggest stretch hotels in the state, and also one of the nicest beaches (no, seriously) that the state has to offer, even though it feels a little more like the Vegas strip than Bali Hai. But one of the ironies of Waikiki is that even though it has some of the fanciest restaurants in Hawaii, the Kalakaua Strip (as I like to call it), is practically devoid of authentic local hawaiian (note the lower case h here) cuisine.
Hawaii has some of the best food in the country due in large part to waves of foreigners who arrived during the plantation era to work the fields for colonial landholders. Hawaii experienced many waves of labor influxes where Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, Portuguese, and Spanish workers came over here to help grow sugarcane and pineapples. And all of these cultures combined to produce some of the most delicious fusion cuisine the United States has to offer.
My personal favorite is the hawaiian-style Chinese food. Most of the Chinese laborers who came over were Cantonese, and so the vast majority of the local-style Chinese restaurants serve Cantonese fare.
Now when I was a kid, whenever I was a very good boy, or whenever my father was feeling hungry for Chinese food, we would head over to the local chop suey and order several dishes. But my favorite dish was always served with CAKE NOODLES. Now I have lived all over the country and sampled Chinese cuisine in almost every place I have ever gone. Some cities have great Chinese food (Vegas), some places have really crappy Chinese food (Ithaca, NY). But outside of Hawaii, no Chinese restaurant I've ever been to has gotten hawaiian-Chinese-style cake noodles right! It's such a simple thing too! Basically, you take thin egg noodles and fry them to a crisp in a wok into a patty. Once the noodles a fried, you take a clever to them and cut them into parallelograms, and top them off with whatever Chinese entree protein dish you want. My personal favorite is Beef Broccoli, though today, I decided to try these Beef with Bitter Melon and Cake Noodles:
It's very high-calorie and full of delicious carbohydrates! It is covered in corn starch thickened brown gravy. And the bitter melon offsets the sweet overtones that come from that gravy-coated beef. All topping a crunchy on the outside, but soft and noodley on the inside cake noodle! If ever I am sad or need to eat away my hard feelings, I turn to this fine dish instead of reaching for a tub of Ben and Jerrys or a jar of peanut butter, well at least on cheat days!
So, friends, I encourage you to visit Hawaii. Yes, we have nice beaches and the best weather on the planet. Yes, you will find some of the nicest human beings you will ever meet here. But before dawning my board shorts or heading out to meet up with my high school bros, the first thing I usually do when I come home to islands is run straight to the closest chop suey, and order up a hearty plate of cake noodles!