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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Spam Sushi's So Much Better When It's Warm

Posted By on Wed, Mar 17, 2010 at 4:52 PM

Hot, processed, and mighty good. - MORE MUSABI VIA CHOTDA/FLICKR
  • More Musabi via Chotda/Flickr
  • Hot, processed, and mighty good.
There are two things you need to accept ― believe in, really ― to enjoy the Spam musubis at Hawaiian Drive-Inn in the Excelsior.

Number one: Spam tastes good. Maybe not on its own. Maybe not even fried with eggs and garlic fried rice. But fried, marinated in teriyaki sauce, and pressed onto rice? You won't even think about the fact that it came in a can.

Number two: Sushi doesn't need to be all about raw fish and marinated vegetables (okay, purists, technically it's not sushi, since the rice isn't vinegared, but you know what we mean). More heretically, some forms of sushi are better off warm.

Because it's the warmth that makes this Excelsior Hawaiian restaurant's musubis so good. Hawaiian Drive-Inn is a no-nonsense plate-lunch joint, where the chicken katsu, kalbi, and beef teriyaki all come with two scoops rice and one scoop creamy mac salad, and a good chunk of the takeout customers are ordering musubis in multiple quantities. They only cost $1.60 a piece, and in varieties such as chicken katsu and Portuguese sausage, so it's easy to enter looking for a small snack and walk out with a sampler bag.

MORE MUSABI VIA CHOTDA/FLICKR

SFoodie has eaten musubis dozens of times before -- it's the Spam, which holds a repellent fascination for me -- and never quite understood why they're so popular on the islands. But they're usually sold cold, even plastic wrapped.

The cooks are used to assemble musubis by the multiple, too, setting the spam slices on the grill to sizzle as they lay out nori sheets and mold the rice into precise rectangles. The moment the Spam is browned, it takes just a few seconds to place, drizzle with sauce, wrap, and bag. So you're eating the musubi as the seaweed is still crisp and papery, the rice is still steaming, and the spiced ham product has the texture of fresh meatloaf. Having tasted Spam musubis warm, we're not sure we will ever pull one from a refrigerated case again.

Hawaiian Drive-Inn 4827 Mission(at France), 586-9382

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Jonathan Kauffman

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