Furikake Chips

One of the extras of Hawaiian Airlines service is the Pau Hana snack bar area at the rear of the airplane. There, you can purchase a variety of beverages and snacks or even pick up a gift or two, including leis. I was curious about the concept, so I went to check it out soon after the announcement was made that the snack bar was open. Two flight attendants were busy ringing up purchases.

One of the snacks I noticed in the basket were Kona Furikake Potato Chips, which I’d never heard of. Being a fan of furikake, I was intrigued and bought a bag. It would be easy to overdo a product like this, especially since furikake, a condiment used for sprinkling on steamed rice, by itself is pretty salty and almost always contains MSG. So my first thought was that the chips likewise would be over-seasoned. Instead, the recipe is an example of restraint. While the marketing on the bag claims a special process to reduce oil and enhance crispiness, the chips to the naked eye appeared to be no less oily than any other fried chip, though they didn’t leave big oil stains on a napkin like some. The flavor, on the other hand, was quite good. With the right amount of salt, they had a hint of sweetness and sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds. Finally, to justify the furikake label, each chip was dusted with powdered seaweed flakes (aonori) that rounded out its taste profile. That’s it, no other ingredients.

Kona Furikake Potato Chips

Kona Furikake Potato Chips

When I get back to Honolulu later in the trip, I’ll have to look for the product at Foodland, where by the way you can pick up Ted’s chocolate haupia pie.

Trans-Pacific Surprise

I was pleasantly surprised in a most unlikely circumstance.

Nowadays, you eat a meal on an airplane flight just to help pass the time, to get your mind off the cattle car roundup in the cabin, engine noise, TSA, and the other discomforts of modern-day flight. The last thing I thought I’d ever blog about is airplane food. And yet, here I sat on a flight from Honolulu to Auckland with a slight grin on my face. Did my taste buds awaken ever so slightly?

Hawaiian Airlines likes to brag that it is one of the few remaining airlines in the world to serve meals on all its flights (except for short-haul). While breakfast between Seattle and Honolulu was forgettable, the dinner on economy on the leg to Auckland was a mild surprise. Mind you, we’re not talking about restaurant-quality food here, but what normally rouses grunts of resignation turned out to be a decent repast of chicken with rice. The bird, a small cut of breast that might’ve been brined, had light teriyaki chicken flavors and pleasant smoke flavor from grilling, topped with a tasty if limp mango-red bell pepper salsa. Rather than Uncle Ben’s, the rice was steamed Japanese short-grain rice. It was good to the extent that pre-cooked rice shuttled from kitchen to airplane tray can be, a little mushy, not ideal but decent. Oh, and the mango cheesecake was a pleasant surprise.

At the risk of harboring false impressions, the so-called Hawaiian Tea served an hour outside Auckland featured an unimpressive chicken salad sandwiched in a cold kaiser roll, which our neighboring passenger sniffed at, put back in the meal box and enjoyed her pre-purchased spam musubi instead—my kind of people!

Auckland Airport Sandwich Display—or Is This Italy?

Kiwis seem to make food displays a form of art. This was noticeable whether I was in the North or South Island. Pastries, pies, sandwiches, it didn’t matter. I didn’t take real notice until my family and I saw the beautiful displays at Copenhagen Bakery last year. I wasn’t so much interested in the confectionary arrangements as I was with the savory ones. The sandwiches there were so attractively presented that it was tempting to grab one of those rather than their meat pies, which turned out to be so delicious.

Even at Auckland International Airport, I admired the sandwiches at SumoSalad. The only other time sandwich displays made such a visual impact was all over Italy where the marriage of bread and Italian cold cuts is celebrated. But in the interest of sampling something distinctively Kiwi, I got savory pies from another concessionaire (Spotless), this time not so good a decision.

When we return to Auckland airport, it will be a no-brainer.