Aloha Family Restaurant
Marian and Richard Nashiro, homesick Waianae
expatriates, opened Aloha Family Restaurant in Milpitas,
south of San Francisco. They are celebrating five years
of Hawaiian food in the Bay Area.
of aloha in California
Isle transplantsBy Catherine Kekoa Enomoto
mark five years as an oasis
WHADDYA do if you've lived in Milpitas, Calif., for 26 years without being able to go out for saimin? If you're Waianae expatriates Richard and Marian Nashiro, you open a restaurant serving a full-on Hawaiian buffet every day of the week -- plus saimin.
Next month, the Nashiros celebrate the fifth anniversary of A Touch of Aloha Family Restaurant and Catering (148 N. Milpitas Blvd., phone (408) 946-9260). The Feb. 23 bash features their signature prime rib lu'au buffet plus Hawaiian entertainment. 'Ono price is $12.50 per adult, $7.95 per keiki.
"Everything gotta be so authentic -- poi, lu'au leaf," said Richard Nashiro, a retired 30-year Lockheed staffer and 1961 Waianae High grad. "Some people, what they use in laulau is spinach. No, no, no. My lu'au leaf come from Hawaii.
"Of course opihi, even the 'ahi, they cost," he said by phone from his 100-seat restaurant. "Local foods used to be 25 percent higher 'cause we ship 'em in. Now it's the opposite way. Now Hawaii chefs come up this side (for ingredients). They gotta ship everything in from the mainland; so I'm in reverse -- I do all of my life in reverse."
Aloha Family Restaurant
Hawaii-born Sumotori Akebono (Chad Rowan) held
a party for his Basho at Aloha Family Restaurant.
Here he poses with the restaurant's Chef Noe.
The lu'au buffet features more than 15 local favorites, including teriyaki chicken, lomilomi salmon, macaroni salad and rice for $8.95 per adult at lunch, $12.50 at dinner.
"I just have to have somethin' for everybody. On the buffet we change everything every day. Kalua pig and chicken long rice are always there, but we change the main entree. We use beef bourguignonne; on Fridays we might have mahimahi. Every day there are different entrees so you don't have to say, 'I already ate that.' Oh yeah, some people come three or four times a week."
A la carte offerings include Spam, eggs and rice ($5.95), kalua pig breakfast ($6.50), loco moco ($6.25), won ton mein ($6.26 or $8.25), bentos, mango ice cream shakes, and shave ice with ice cream and azuki beans.
There's also free karaoke, big-screen Hawaii videos, and catering starting at $10 a head -- offering laulau, Korean barbecue kal bi, Filipino adobo and lumpia, and a Polynesian show.
Nashiro recalled pre-Aloha Restaurant days when "the best we could do was S and S saimin.
"When we came here no more even saimin. We cannot even go out and eat. My wife is a restaurant management graduate. She's been a restaurant manager and worked in hotels; so finally we opened.
"When we opened we were going wild. Everything people say they want, we get 'em. We even get malassadas. You wouldn't believe: At the Sunday champagne brunch we have Spam sushi and malassadas -- on the buffet, you know.
The upcoming Valentine's Day and anniversary buffets also include prime rib, poke, poi, kim chee, champagne, Kona blend coffee and haupia. And, chocolate-dipped strawberries -- hey, this is California strawberry country.
So, where's A Touch of Aloha Family Restaurant? If you know the way to San Jose, it's the next town north on the Road Atlas map -- about 60 miles southeast of San Francisco. (Or, see web site http://www.menehune.com/aloha)
Then, check out Milpitas malassadas. "They're the old style," Nashiro said, "not Leonard's. This is squeeze-'em-out-of-your-hand malassadas. They kinda look like andagi."
See also "Aloha Worldwide"
for locals living away.