Have I finally found a place that’s Hawaiian through and through…in Alhambra?
Hawaiian food. You’re probably wondering…what is it?
We can speak sociologically, of a blending of the cultures of Polynesia, China and Japan, as well as good ol’ Midwestern United States. We could speak of the annexation of the Islands by the United States, as well as history of the original Hawaiian people.
But…like I said, food. You’re probably wondering.
Me? I’ve been in Los Angeles two decades now My first experience was with Roy’s Hawaiian in Pasadena.
Yeah…my first experience shouldn’t really count.
One my friends is a native Hawaiian. Our current President (at the time of publication) is a Native Hawaiian. And now, I’ve gotten to know, for myself, what is or isn’t really Hawaiian. Let’s be honest, Roy’s is a bit too…well fancy for the Islands. If you want to eat what Hawaiian eats, that stuff is found in Coffee Shops and Diners. It’s a bit more working class than you might realize.
Thus, Aloha Food Factory hits a good sweet spot.
Walking in, the first thing you’re going to think is old Taco Bell converted over. And it’s certainly a cozy space. But the atmosphere is warm…real warm, borderline family-like.
A woman, who I can only presume is the owner welcomed me in like I had been lost for years, and finally found my way home. She sat me down. Took my order. Used words like “okay, Dear”. It was nice.
And it was busy too. Way busy. I’ve got to admit, the place looks kinda dead from the outside. Inside on the other hand, ordered chaos. Barely an empty table in sight.
The food is remarkable as well. Great tasting, containing the most favor and punch of any Hawaiian place I’ve been to in the area. Of course, it’s not the most slimming food in the world. Plenty of fried, sweet and…yes, the sweet sweet meat that is Spam to go along the way.
Aloha Food Factory….you will leave satisfied. You will leave full. Oh lord, will you be full…
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: So I had…the Saimin.
Saimin is a Noodle soup dish with various meats or dumplings introduced from Portugal. The broth is light, and chicken-y, and the meat, in my case, as the Kalua Pig, the sweet pig. It was good, and odd at the same time. Because the rest of the broth is so unextraordinary (and I think intentionally so), sitting in a chicken stock you’ve had a million times before, when that Kalua Pig hits your tongue, it really, really, SUPER stands out. I mean it was sweet. Dessert-level sweet. I can imagine it being off-putting if you’re not prepared for it. I can also imagine you wanting that next hit like a crack-fiend.
And since I’m in a Hawaiian place. No way, I’m walking out of there without having some Spam Musubi. Excellent as always. The best I’ve had so far (though a later visit to the Hawaiianified A-Frame prove as good if not better). But this is treat I’m rapidly falling in love with. More please, and the way Aloha Food Factory does it.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: This is Mama’s place. I didn’t get her name, but she clearly owns and manages the joint. She’s warm and friendly, and treats everyone like family…literally. Because she’s so at the center of everything going on in the restaurant, service can be a little uneven, but you love her so, you just don’t care. Lovely service.
PARKING: Okay. Aloha Food Factory it’s own lot, which curls around from the back of the restaurant toward the side. It’s all free, but it can be a wee bit crowded. Approach from West Valley Blvd. and hang a right and you should find something. Failing that (and odds are you won’t) you can try to park along Cabrillo, and walk a block…at most.
Aloha Food Factory
2990 W. Valley Blvd.
Alhambra, CA 91803
Tel: (626) 308-0215
Tuesday-Sunday: 9:30 AM – 7:30 PM