My life has been crazy busy the last year. I’ve had time to eat all of the food but not enough time to write about it. I’m making a concerted effort to get back in to writing about food this year. First up: Uncle’s Hawaiian Grindz
I’m sure you are asking yourself why I am reviewing a restaurant all the way out in Fallston. The explanation is simple: Mr. Meat and Potatoes keeps getting sent to Hawaii for work and I am super-DE-duper jealous of all the food he keeps posting on his Instagram. So when someone from Uncle’s Hawaiian Grindz sent me an email about the restaurant I was like OMGEATALLTHEHAWAIIANFOOD! I was even nice enough to allow Mr. Meat and Potatoes to come with and it’s cheaper than a flight to Hawaii.
Before we get to the food let me give you a little more information about the restaurant operations:
Uncle’s Hawaiian Grindz is a privately owned, farm to table restaurant. They specialize in preparing authentic Hawaiian Cuisine with a twist. The restaurant has a very family friendly vibe. Their food philosophy is simple,
We believe in preparing all of our foods, whenever possible, with locally sourced, sustainably grown or raised, and non-gmo ingredients. We support GMO labeling and any efforts to increase food system transparency. Our commitment to food integrity and local farms is as much about flavor as it is about health. We believe in sustainable food systems that enhance the lives of those whom it feeds, as well as the earth from where it all comes. We believe in feeding our guest the same way we feed our family… With Aloha!
Our waiter let us know that they get all of their fresh ingredients from within 100 miles of the restaurant. They believe in supporting their local farms and community. Speaking of community, the restaurant also adds (and matches) 25 cents to each check as a donation to FoodBridge. According to their website, “FoodBridge helps foodservice businesses track, manage and reduce their waste while supplying wholesome left over food to those in need; Feeding families, not landfills.” Pretty cool!
The Executive Chef, Kaimana Chee, was born and raised on O’ahu. Although he never attended a formal culinary school, Kaimana Chee has developed his skills and been featured on numerous television shows including a victory on the Food Network show Cut-throat Kitchen. Kaimana is joined by Travis Szerensits, Chef de Cuisine and Zack Trabbold, Executive Sous Chef. The chefs recently won 1st place in the 2017 “Chefs Taste Challenge” hosted in New Orleans and Uncle’s Hawaiian Grindz was just voted “Best New Restaurant” by Harford Magazine.
And now, let’s get down to the good stuff! Food (and drinks)!
We started out our meal as one would start out a vacation in Hawaii, with fruity cocktails. The only thing missing was the beach. No complaints here. I even had two martinis, just to be sure. Then we moved on to the appetizers or “quick bites” as they call it on the menu.
Let me just say that the Lobster Rangoon with passion fruit butter and pineapple chili jam might have ruined me. I don’t think I’ll enjoy it anywhere else after having what I can honestly say it the best Lobster Rangoon I’ve ever eaten. You bite in to one and big chunks of lobster are hiding in there along with the perfect cream cheese filling. Better get to Uncle’s fast though because these are a current special and won’t be on the menu for long.
Of course, Hawaiian restaurant, have to try some poke’! Poke’ is raw seafood, typically ahi tuna. We shared the Queen Street Tuna which is their #1 grade tuna with green onion, ginger, garlic, sesame oil and aloha shoyu. Don’t be scared, poke’ is delicious! So many people are frightened by the eating of raw fish but at a place like Uncle’s who gets it fresh first daily you shouldn’t have to worry. The poke’ at Uncle’s is not to be missed and it’s worth the drive from Baltimore alone. And those chips, YUM! The Queen Street Tuna poke’ really lets the fish be the star; it isn’t overpowered by a lot of sauce and toppings, and the freshness really shines through.
While some might overcome their fear by eating raw fish, on this day I overcame my fear of Spam. I’d never had it and generally avoid canned meat like the plague but I’m a believer in trying all weird aspects of local cuisine. Oddly enough I was convinced to eat this by a friend who is a Pescatarian. The Spam Musubi is teriyaki marinated , seared spam wrapped in sticky rice and nori seaweed, atop Uncle’s secret sauce and kabayaki glaze. I guess you can call me a convert because it just tasted like regular ham to me. I made a mess eating this because I enjoyed it so much and was trying to get every inch of it covered in the secret sauce.
And now for the main event!
Mr. Meat and Potatoes could not narrow it down to a single choice so he ordered Aunty’s Mix Plate. It is a sampler of Chicken Katsu, Da Kalua Pig, and Lomi Salmon, served with Asian stir fry. The Chicken Katsu is chicken that is pounded thin and panko breaded and fried. Da Kalua P.I.G. is Hawaiian salted pork, wrapped in banana leaves and mesquite smoked, mixed with shredded cabbage, atop grilled pineapple, with lemon zest and onion jam. Lomi Salmon is Hawaiian salted salmon, tomato, scallion and onion, with firecracker aioli. Mr. Meat and Potatoes says the Lomi Salmon was his favorite component of the dish because it had beautiful texture and an appropriate level of spiciness. I have to agree with him because I tasted his salmon and was really jealous. I would recommend you must get it either as part of the mix plate or on it’s own. This plate was a delicious example of their Hawaiian/Asian fusion. The flavor and texture variety of this dish make it a must try.
I’ve been on a chicken and waffle kick recently so I could not resist ordering the Katsu and Waffle. The Katsu and Waffle consists of panko fried chicken over a purple sweet potato waffle, with charred corn, and pineapple maple sriracha glaze. I love me some Katsu chicken and have a Katsu Chicken Curry recipe I would make every day if it wasn’t so labor intensive. This chicken did not leave me disappointed and the purple sweet potato waffles were perfectly sweet and savory. It’s definitely the first time I’ve ever had charred corn over a waffle. I really enjoyed the dish. It was very heavy though after all the appetizers I consumed so I wasn’t able to finish it if I was going to make it to dessert.
By the time we got to dessert, neither us were in a condition to order separately. Agreeing on dessert is hard for us so we took to the recommendation of our server and ordered the Malasada Puffs. The Malasada Puffs are Portuguese style hole-less fried donuts, coated in cinnamon sugar and filled with custard, served with Kona coffee chocolate sauce. The Kona coffee chocolate sauce had great depth of flavor and consistency. They were pretty tasty, just very messy, and the dish it was presented in made them difficult to eat. I love custard but do prefer it cold. I can’t decide if I would have liked these better if they were fried and then allowed to cool so the custard wasn’t as runny but either way I enjoyed the dish. I just wish I had room to try the Haupia Cheesecake so I will definitely be coming back.
Overall, we really enjoyed our experience at Uncle’s Hawaiian Grindz. The food was fresh and delicious. The meal was well paced and we never felt rushed, just needed larger stomachs. Our server was knowledgeable and attentive and overall the staff were a good representation of the “Aloha Spirit” in the restaurant’s philosophy. I also really love how much they care about supporting their local farmers and their contribution to FoodBridge. Uncle’s Hawaiian Grindz is definitely worth the trip out to Fallston and I know I’ll be making it again.