The secret is in the grunge on the grill. This is why teri pork bought late in the day at Diners tastes better than the first batch in the morning. And this is why your teri pork won't taste like Diners', even if you use the same formula.
Gunky grill adds
lots of flavor
Iva Kinimaka, the former entertainer who now runs Diners in Kalihi as well as Iva's Komplete Katering, emphasizes his grill is scraped clean between orders, but some nice "gunk" does accumulate, "and somehow what builds up on the grill adds a lot of flavor."
It's all that sauce, reducing and strengthening as it hits the heat. "Every time you fry another piece of meat in that same spot it gets better."
You're welcome to try at home, though, in your frying pan. Kinimaka offers his recipe, which is standard teriyaki fare (sugar, soy sauce, ginger, garlic) with the addition of a little sherry. Diners uses the same formula for teri chicken, teri beef and kalbi (with sesame oil added).
Richey Kobayashi asked specifically for the Diners' teri pork and macaroni salad recipes. "I really miss them as I now live in California."
It was the Diners on Keeaumoku that was Kobayashi's haunt, now long gone. Kinimaka took over the Kalihi branch four years ago from the original owner and says the recipes are still pretty much the same.
Both these recipes are approximations, as Kinimaka works in huge quantities, carrying the formulas in his head, and there's a lot of eye-balling and "to taste" in his proportions.
So these versions are substantially reduced (his mac salad, for example, starts with 20 pounds of noodles). I made up a 1-pound batch of the salad and compared it directly to a Diners' batch. Theirs had more mayonnaise and fewer veggies. Also, mine turned yellow from the carrots. The recipe below is adjusted to make it more like Diners'.
If you like a less creamy salad with more crunch, my first version had half the mayo and double the veggies and was quite good.
There are two keys to this recipe: First, it has to be Best Foods mayonnaise, Kinimaka insists. Second, grate the onion very, very fine. It will actually be soupy. This allows the flavor to really blend into the noodles.
On a personal note, for those who remember Kinimaka's singing days at Duke's, C'est Si Bon and on dinner cruises -- "It was fun, but I was on the boats about 10 years and I was getting water-logged" -- his singing is now restricted to karaoke bars.
He is hoping, though, to open a Hawaiian sit-down restaurant near the Kalihi Diner's, where he'd be the singing cook.
Diners Macaroni Salad1 pound macaroni, cookedCombine all ingredients, mix well and refrigerate at least one hour to allow flavors to mix and mellow. Serves 10.
2-1/2 to 3 cups mayonnaise
1/2 cup watercress, in 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup very finely grated onion
1/4 cup finely diced celery
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving, based on 2-1/2 cups mayonnaise: 560 calories, 45 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 30 mg cholesterol, 370 mg sodium.*
Pork Teriyaki3-4 pounds boneless pork butt, sliced 1/4-inch thickCombine marinade ingredients and pour over pork. Marinate in the refrigerator at least 24 hours. Grill in skillet or on a flat grill. Makes 8 servings, 5-1/2 to 6 ounces each.
1-1/2 cups water
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup sugar
2-1/2 teaspoons sherry
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 thick, 1-inch piece ginger, crushed
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving, based on 3 pounds pork: 500 calories, 27 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 110 mg cholesterol, greater than 1,500 mg sodium.*
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Asterisk (*) after nutritional analyses in the
Body & Soul section indicates calculations by
Joannie Dobbs of Exploring New Concepts,
a nutritional consulting firm.