From The Honolulu Advertiser


Comment from: Kevin [Visitor] When I was at Washington Intermediate there was a little Mom & Pop store known as “back store” that made the best burger God ever gave man. It was a very unassuming burger with just a few condiments, sold for 75 cents when I was in school in the ‘70’s, but man it had the best flavuh! Kids would buy 2 or 3 of them for breakfast before school. I doubt that store is there anymore the very nice couple that ran it were probably in there 70’s then that would make them over a 100 today, huh.
Permalink 08/11/06 @ 10:40


From the Star Bulletin starbulletin.com | Features | /2006/04/26/ Vol. 11, Issue 116 - Wednesday, April 26, 2006


The Waiola Burger is making a comeback. The tasty hamburger, created by Richard (above) and Ellen Ishii, is being re-created by their grandson Jonathan and will be served at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii's "Kodomo no Hi: Keiki Fun Fest" Sunday.

Waiola Burgers return

If you remember the '60s, you probably remember Waiola Burgers, served at a place the kids from Washington Intermediate called "the Candy Shop" or "the Back Store."

Good news: they're making a comeback. Jonathan Ishii, a chef and graduate of the Los Angeles Culinary Institute, has moved back to Oahu to carry on the tradition of his grandparents, Richard and Ellen Ishii.

He re-created their burger recipe and is selling the spice package for $3 online (www.dabackstore.com).

Mix with a pound of ground round, an egg, soy sauce and hot sauce. Of course, the bun has "gotta be Love's," says Ishii.

He is scouting locations for an old-style hamburger restaurant, but for now you can catch him at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii's "Kodomo no Hi: Keiki Fun Fest" Sunday, cooking burgers and selling Waiola Store T-shirts ($13). The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call 945-7633.

Posted on: Wednesday, November 22, 2006

As we approach Thanksgiving, local foodies reminisce about memorable meals.

Thanksgiving is for counting our blessings, reflecting on what made you thankful in the past year.

When we asked readers and friends in the food business to think about the meals for which they were most thankful, we got some interesting answers. And very little of it had to do with food.

Jonathan Ishii thought of his grandparents, the late Richard and Ellen Ishii. His Waiola Burger company is named for the signature dish at their shop, The Candy Shop, better known to the neighborhood as "Da Backstore." "The most memorable meal I served this year was to one of my grandmother's old customers. He loved the burgers so much he used to jump the fence from Washington Intermediate School. (One time), the principal was coming over to fetch him. My grandmother told him to jump over the counter, and she hid him until the principal left." Ishii said hearing these treasured old stories makes all the work worthwhile. (Taste a Waiola Burger at the Waipahu Marauder Craft Fair, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 2, Waipahu High School. Or buy the hamburger mix from http://dabackstore.com.)

Chef Alan Wong, said that, when he focused on the word thankful, "I immediately went to Peru in my memory." Visiting there, he noticed the poor neighborhoods, where people lived in cardboard houses without proper roofing. That night, he saw the chef with whom he was working reach into his own pocket to pay for a doctor for the child of one of the cooks. The youngster had fallen ill from being constantly exposed to the elements. "We take a lot of things for granted and sometimes need to take a step back and appreciate what we do have," wrote Wong.

Catherine Tarleton of the Big Island said the food was great at the "Last Sunday of the Month Barbecue" she shared with her friends a couple of weeks after the Oct. 15 earthquakes. "I looked around the tables at everyone acting normally — normally for someone dressed as a black cat or an inflatable ghost or in the case of two guys who won't be named, hula-skirted dancers with coconut bras — and relaxed and appreciated my friends. And acknowledged how very lucky we all are. A couple of weeks ago, for 15 seconds, everything was in question. Now we were poking fun at fear."

For chef Mark Noguchi of Kona Village Resort, it's not the eating, it's the making. He recalled his mother's mother Sunday shabu-shabu (Japanese hot pot) dinners. "The dessert was when our father took the leftover broth and made either udon noodles or zosui (a savory, porridgelike dish made with leftover rice). ...When we told him how great it was, he'd just grunt, or give a single 'harummph.' ... Today, I cook professionally and the memory of my father's udon and zosui are with me often. To be able to take humble ingredients, let them shine and make people smile fulfills me."

Charlie Aldinger's thoughts went to a little Italian place in Boston's North End. The waiters spoke Italian; the bread was crusty and the menu was full of marvelous choices. But what made it memorable was that the O'ahu woman was sharing dinner with her daughter and a group of her Punahou friends, then college seniors. Recalling them as giggling young girls, she wrote, "They had grown into articulate, self-confident, worldly wise young adults ... (with) their eyes wide open and their dreams grounded in the reality of war and corruption, global economics and the politics of power. They want to help build a better world, they want to make a difference, they want to serve humanity. I pushed away from the table with a full belly and a heart full of hope."

Young chef Tiffanie Luke of Honolulu had a similar experience from the other side of the table. "One of my memorable meals was with my father, Russell Luke, at Ichiriki, the new nabe restaurant near Ala Moana. Of course, the food and service were terrific, but what I remember most was getting the chance to sit down with my dad and have a heart-to-heart talk with him. For the first time, I actually felt like an adult, not just 'one of the kids.' "

For Joyce Afiler, the most memorable meal of the year came at McDonald's in Hilo. She was sitting across from her grade-school sweetheart, the first one to break her heart. Forty-four years later, the pain was still in her heart, she wrote. But by the end of lunch, all was forgiven. "With laughter and tears we shared our life stories. ... I am most thankful for this meal because I was able to forgive him, and it lifted my spirits. We became friends."

For wine expert and Advertiser columnist Lisa Gmur, the meal that leapt to mind was one that was most memorable for the agony of anticipation that preceded it. She had won a sales trip to Napa Valley. Since it happened to fall near their wedding anniversary, she and her husband decided to make a long weekend of it and try to get a reservation at The French Laundry, one of America's best — and one of the hardest to get into. It was January, and they were traveling in March. She dialed the reservation line with little hope but got on the waiting list. She considered alternatives, but her heart wasn't in it. Every few days, she'd call to ask if a table had come open. Finally, just before they were to leave, the call came. "We were in! ... Our nine-course tasting menu with individually paired wines did not disappoint. ... Of course, when our French Laundry ticket arrived with its grand total, we kept reminding ourselves that it was without a doubt, a meal to remember."

Reach Wanda A. Adams at wadams@honoluluadvertiser.com.