Homemade POG at Boba Guys
Did you know there are lots of Hawaii people in San Francisco?
There are lots of Hawaii people in NYC, but there are lots in San Francisco. The majority of my high school friends moved to the east coast for college. After graduation, most of us stayed on the east coast for work.
In our mid-20s, a few moved to the west coast. Once we hit our 30s, a ton moved to the west coast. (Some that were already on the west coast, moved back to Hawaii full-time). General migration back west!
A lot of the west coast people are in San Francisco. The appeal is easy to see. The weather is nice, there’s good food, and most important…it’s only a five-hour flight to Honolulu (it’s ten-hours from NYC). There’s also lots of Hawaii-inspired food in the city!
Here are a few places to check out:
POG is a seasonal drink at Boba Guys (go before they rotate it out ^_^). POG stands for Passion Fruit-Orange-Guava, and Boba Guys makes their version with a homemade marmalade of the three fruits. It’s super refreshing and more fruity than sweet. I like it with aloe jelly. Another seasonal drink I love is Ube Halaya which has fresh ube shaken with coconut milk. I like that with homemade boba and almond jelly!
P.S. Get a mochi muffin while you’re there.
Garden Creamery always has a few Hawaii flavors on rotation. Think haupia chocolate almond, kalo cream, lilikoi, Kona coffee…they even made nian gao ice cream for Chinese New Year! They are very generous with samples, and the flavors are all so dreamy.
Bonus: one of the topping options are cubes of housemade butter mochi!
Located in Berkeley, stepping into Tokyo Fish Market feels like you’re back in Hawaii! This market feels like a mashup of Honolulu’s beloved Marukai and Tamashiro Market. Among the treasures at Tokyo Fish Market: lots of sashimi grade fish (the easy access to sashimi grade fish in markets is one of the things I love most about Hawaii), chili pepper water, saimin noodles, and even frozen lau lau, and kalua pig! They even carry the poke seasoning packets I mentioned in this poke post, many different Hawaiian salts, haupia mix, local juices including POG, and cookies. Man! This place is a real find.
A real local shave ice pop-up! Always Aloha Shave Ice is the brainwork of Stephanie Iwasaki (local girl from Honolulu!) and her boyfriend Cory Shigeta. Think really fine and fluffy ice, homemade fresh fruit syrups, and toppings that include mochi balls and snowcap (condensed milk drizzle).
Most recently we had a half strawberry-calpico, half cantaloupe-calpico shave ice. Topped with strawberries, mochi, and a snowcap. Hit the spot. So lucky we can get good shave ice here in SF!
Check Always Aloha Shave Ice Instagram for the next pop-up date/location.
Part pinball-hall, part Hawaii-inspired restaurant. Think housemade Spam, hurricane popcorn, and guava-smoked pork on sweet bread (which are also called Hawaiian sweet rolls/buns). Outer Orbit also has loco mocos and mochi waffles at brunch. Don’t forget about malasadas for dessert.
…I just had a plate with mochiko chicken (I love mochiko chicken!) and real nice avocados. In the back, cucumber and bitter melon pickles! Also, a super good slaw. Rice and lots of furikake on the bottom. Sometimes he’ll even make butter mochi and malasadas! Check his Instagram for the next pop-up date/location.
Breadbelly bakes butter mochi with brown butter and coconut milk! Small squares so I like to get a few at a time. (Also, not super Hawaii, but if you’re there try the kaya toast and castella cake with strawberries and cream.)
Trailblazer Tavern is a collaboration between Michael Mina and Michelle and Wade of MW Restaurant (one of my favorite restaurants in Honolulu). It’s like MW but with an SF twist! They have everything from housemade Spam musubi (which has a mochi-crusted pork arabiki meatloaf) topped with quail eggs, to loco moco and kimchee fried rice.
Best part? You can get Michelle’s desserts here! My two favorites:
- Strawberry-hibiscus shave ice (which comes with haupia tapioca, mochi ice cream, and coconut sorbet).
- Coconut cake! Pictured above. Anything Michelle does with coconut is heaven. This one has coconut chiffon cake (we much we love coconut/haupia cakes in Hawaii) layered with haupia pudding, ribbons of compressed pineapple, a kaffir lime-coconut snow and haupia sorbet.
There are lots of Hawaii-inspired dishes all over the menu at Liholiho Yacht Club. You can start with ahi poke over nori crackers and…
…the order an off-menu dish of homemade Spam (three fat slices) over rice with furikake and spicy aioli. I think there’s also some shoyu mixed in there.
I like going to Liholiho on random weekdays and having dinner at the bar. As for dessert? Get the (also) off-menu coconut butter mochi! It’s like the butter mochi we grew up with except there’s a bonus layer of coconut custard on top of the butter mochi.
It’s baked together so it looks like a whole combo piece of butter mochi bottom/coconut custard top. It’s so onolicious ^_^