Best of Honolulu 2012 – Ray’s Fried Chicken
Hollywood and The Chick were in Hawaii taking some well deserved time off with family and friends. The trip involved birthday celebrations, surfing, tasty shrimp trucks, swimming with dolphins and turtles, kayaking and, yes you guessed it, some Hawaiian Fried Chicken. We made time for two tasty excursions for Ono fried chicken and the more classic southern style.
Waikane Store – Ono fried chicken
We were staying in Hau’ula along the Eastern shore of Oahu. We noticed an “Ono fried chicken” sign on the Kamehameha Highway and we decided to see how it compares to our beloved Melbourne Fried Chicken.
Waikane Store – “Ono” Fried Chicken and Famous “Sushi”. Keep your eye open or you’ll miss the sign on your way to the Big Waves on the North Shore
We asked for an order of the fried chicken to share and skipped the spam sushi which was also on offer. It was served in a small paper container consisting of 4 small thigh pieces with plastic wrapping.
“Ono” Fried Chicken wrapped up in the s basket with the Famous Spam “Sushi” – that ain’t a slice of tuna!
The deboned chicken seemed pan fried because the bottom was a bit blackened and crispy compared to the top. The chicken pieces were the right amount of greasy and had a bit of a sweet taste which we enjoyed. It seemed to be cooked earlier in the day and reheated but that didn’t stop it from being full of yumminess.
There was no seating – so we ate on the boot.
A sweet piece of Korean? Fried Chicken.
We were told that the recipe is an old Korean family recipe but it didn’t seem like any Korean Fried Chicken we’ve ever had. The Chick felt it tasted more like roasted chicken than fried, probably because the skin wasn’t very crispy.
We paired the savoury chicken with a couple of sweet bananas from the near by fruit stand which had an authentic roadside stink of old cigarettes and was run by a gravelly voiced old woman. We definitely recommend grabbing a quick cluck from this road side market if you are travelling the East coast of Oahu.
Sweet mini-bananas. Perfect combo.
Roadside fruit stands were our favorite stops on this tour.
Just watch for wild cluckers when parking, they need those for the next batch.
We came to know about Ray’s Cafe through the webby web (Yelp) and after reading so many positive reviews we decided we had to get a taste of their fried chooks.
Door Open = Open. Door Closed = Closed. Gotta love the simplicity.
Ray’s is located on North King St in Honolulu in a very local neighbourhood with no parking. It’s a hole in the wall with humongous portions sizes. The menu on the wall boasts the best of diner fare: greasy breakfast plates, steaks, ribs, burgers, ahi tuna steaks, a lobster special, and of course – fried chicken. There were options for family-sized buckets, but we opted for a single serving.
The Specials all sounded wonderful and looked filling.
For the family.
We opted for the small portion – without the Hamburger Steak.
While waiting for the main, we received a bowl of fresh, crisp lettuce and a squeeze bottle of ranch dressing. The Chick was thrilled as it satisfied her craving for green foods.
American version of a salad – we skipped the bottle of ranch dressing, and found the lettuce was crisp and refreshing.
While waiting we saw plates of ahi tuna steaks and macaroni salad (Hawaiian specialty) go by and watched a man dig into a huge steak with classic crinkle fries in a basket. The chicken can be paired with steak, but our order of fried chicken consisted of 3 big, very hot, thigh pieces with two mounds of white rice. The chicken was single coated and very crispy, almost no breading, but the skin was perfectly fried. It was so hot that we had to let it rest for a bit to cool down. We struggled between burning fingers and the desire to bite in, and in the end had to use a fork. Extra points for truly fresh cooking, it was worth the wait. We added a bit of tabasco sauce to get a bit of kick, but the chicken was tasty on its own. Overall the pieces were big, juicy, and steamy and we enjoyed our experience at Ray’s. Hollywood has his eyes set on the Ray’s ribs and cheeseburgers for the next visit.
The rice was perfect – and the chicken was finger burning fresh.
The chicken was so hot we had to resort to a fork – the chicken came off a bit stringy, but didn’t taste dry.
The skin was not overly spiced, so a little hot sauce kicked it up a notch.
Plenty of hot chicken and very crispy skin.
Ray’s is like a Classic American greasy spoon with Hawaiian and Asian touches which all made for a unique culinary experience. Certainly worth a trip off the beach, but beware, you may lose your beach-ready bod along the way.