Breakfast at Marination Ma Kai (Seattle)


As soon as you step off the water taxi at Seacrest Park, Marination Ma Kai is directly in front of you, slightly to the right. It’s hard to miss since it’s the only building on the dock. The two women (Kamala Saxton, who hails from Hawaii, and Roz Edison) responsible for this restaurant first began business with Marination Mobile, which in 2009 was named by Good Morning America as the best food truck in America and then followed by a succession of praise from the local media and even a plug from Anthony Bourdain. The mobile truck has had a fanatical following since its inception. Marination Station soon followed in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, a brick-and-mortar operation that presumably came about because Seattle’s strict regulations made it difficult to run a food truck operation there. Marination Ma Kai is the third and latest undertaking in the mini-empire. Incidentally, ma kai (makai) is the Hawaiian word for “toward the ocean” when giving directions (mauka meaning “toward the mountain”), no doubt a reference to the restaurant’s location.

The food served by all three can be loosely described as Hawaiian-Korean-Mexican fusion. Think, for example, of Korean tacos, a version of which was made famous in the LA area by Kogi. Marination fills their corn tortillas with a choice of kalbi, miso-ginger chicken, spicy pork or tofu, along with slaw, pickled jalapeños and their special, commercially available Nunya sauce. There is also Kimchi Quesadilla and fish tacos featuring grilled miso-sake fish and Nunya sauce. You get the picture.

Marination Ma Kai has a breakfast menu that none of the other outlets offers, which we partook of as soon as we arrived in West Seattle in the morning.

Situated on the pier, Marination has a spectacular view of the Seattle skyline to the east. There are plenty of park picnic tables outside to enjoy the view and take in warm, sunny weather. Inside there is seating for more people, including a bar facing the south-facing windows. Customers place their orders at the counter, given portable wireless alerts, and pick up their orders when ready.

Awesome is the word for the Double Coconut Muffins (☆☆☆☆). Served warm, they were tender on the inside, nicely browned on the top, insanely buttery and filled with generous shreds of coconut, an outstanding muffin.

Double Coconut Muffin

Double Coconut Muffin

Since we’re not loco moco fans, the two remaining savory choices were Sunrise Burrito and Breakfast Sliders. Rolled inside the burrito (☆☆½) were Portuguese sausage, scrambled egg, potatoes, green onions and crema. The sausage is housemade. Unlike typical Portuguese sausage, it isn’t dry but rather like a crumbled patty, which had a hint of clove flavor. While my wife didn’t care for the kimchi addition, I thought it added a distinct Korean/Hawaiian stamp. We both agreed that the crema, which seemed like a variation of Nunya sauce, made the burrito too wet. A wedge of lime came with the burrito, which to us added too much acidity. Still, it was an innovative burrito.

Sunrise Burrito

Sunrise Burrito

The same Portuguese sausage was used for the Breakfast Sliders (☆☆☆), sandwiched between Hawaiian-style housemade sweet buns that were not as sweet as King’s. Shredded Cheddar and Jack cheese, fried egg and Nunya sauce completed the ingredients in this rather good breakfast sandwich.

Breakfast Sliders

Breakfast Sliders

Exactly what is Nunya sauce, you ask? Marination will not reveal all of its ingredients, outside of mayo, kojuchang and garlic. What other spices are used is a closely guarded secret, as in “nunya business.” You can purchase the sauce in jars though as well as T-shirts and undies.

Undies

Undies

In the afternoon, while waiting for the water taxi back to Pier 50, we decided to have a shave ice (☆☆) from Marination. Two problems. The ice was too crunchy, not shaved finely enough—a snow-like quality that defines the best Hawaiian shave ice—and passion fruit and mango syrups that were timidly fruity, making this the equal of any other shave ice we’ve had locally, namely, meh. Why can’t anyone do this right? For starters, you have to have the right ice machine. Still, the ice cold refreshment hit the spot after a long day of walking around in rather warm, humid weather.

Shave ice with passion fruit and mango syrups

Shave ice with passion fruit and mango syrups

Marination Ma Kai
1660 Harbor Ave SW
Seattle, WA
206.328.8226
Menu

Portuguese Sausage and Eggs at Eggs ‘N Things (Honolulu, HI)


portuguese_sausage_and_eggs

One of our favorite breakfast spots in Waikiki is Eggs ‘n Things. It also happens to be hugely popular with Japanese tourists who easily could make up over 75 percent of the clientele. Last time, we got seated within 15 minutes after we arrived just before 8. Thinking I had discovered the secret, my wife and I were disappointed instead by a much longer wait. This time, we got into the restaurant almost an hour later. Regardless of when you arrive, a long wait is virtually guaranteed, except when the doors first open at 6am, according to the person taking names. By 6:30, lines already gather. It seems that not even the addition of two branches, one on Kalakaua near Kuhio Beach and another in Ala Moana Shopping Center (open since last October), has eased the situation.

We really like their Portuguese sausage. Our waitress revealed to us that it is specially made for them, a simple enough answer that we didn’t get from two separate waiters on our last visit, who pretended ignorance. We come here for the Portuguese sausage with fried eggs and one (big) scoop of rice. Another possibility for a future visit is Minced Meat (including Portuguese sausage) with Green Onions and Scrambled Eggs, one of my favorite ways that Holiday Bowl in LA used to make it. A large number of customers seem to order the so-called whip pancakes piled with fruit and an obscene amount of whipped cream that sits on top like Marge Simpson’s hair. It was enough for me to sample one of their very good regular pancakes with coconut syrup, which was cloyingly sweet.

Eggs ‘N Things would easily be our go-to breakfast place if it weren’t for the crowds. Is any breakfast worth an hour’s wait? If we really had to, we could always eat breakfast later in the day when the human onslaught is not nearly so bad.

Eggs ‘n Things
343 Saratoga Road
Honolulu, HI 96815
808.923.3447
 

Breakfast at Eggs ‘N Things (Honolulu, HI)


Portuguese sausage with scrambled eggs and pan-fried potatoes

There are so many Japanese customers at Eggs ‘N Things that the lady taking names at the door for the waiting list speaks fluent nihongo, though she’s obviously a local. In fact, when she handed me the hand-held pager, she gave me instructions in Japanese, obviously not noticing my USC T-shirt. The word was that there is always a line out the door to get seated. While you wait, you can pre-purchase coffee in paper cups, which will be re-filled when you get seated. We arrived a little before 8am, and that is probably a good bit of advice for anyone. Our wait was no more than 15 minutes; we climbed the outside stairway to the second floor where the restaurant actually is located.

Their specialties are the pancakes, waffles and omelets, which can be ordered with a variety of toppings, including a light house-made cream. Pancakes can also be topped with their own coconut or mango syrup. The menu indicates which items are the most popular (ahi & eggs, Portuguese sausage & eggs, minced pork [the pork meaning a choice of sausage, ham, Spam or bacon] & scrambled eggs, sour cream blueberry crepes, mac nut pancakes, etc.). Both of us wanted the Portuguese sausage and eggs, mine with scrambled and pan-fried potatoes, my wife’s with fried eggs and rice. Without question, the sausages were the best we’ve ever eaten anywhere, though it could be that Holiday Bowl’s (in LA) were as good, our memories admittedly having dimmed considerably. Though we asked two separate waiters what brand the restaurant uses, both said, “I have no idea.” Yeah, oh-kay…. My potatoes were mealy on the inside. Next time, I go with rice and scrambled eggs.

Overall, a great place to get breakfast if you’re willing to wait. It’s a cut above the Wailana Coffee House.

Eggs ‘N Things
2464 Kalakaua Avenue
Honolulu Hawaii 96815
808.926.3447
Menu