Hawai'i is where all my food memories begin.
I was 2 years old when my pops got stationed at Pearl Harbor. Before that, he worked at his auntie's restaurant in the Philippines to help pay for school, and when he joined the Navy, he wanted to cook. But hearing how fucked up everyone treated the Filipino cooks and wanting to pursue a trade that matched his interest in math and science, he chose the electrician route instead. But he never stopped cooking. His favorite market was Tamashiro's in Kalihi, where he'd cop octopus tentacles that he'd turn into tako kilawin with seaweed we picked ourselves at some random beach. He'd always make me try it but I hated it then. Now, I crave it. And tako anything is always one of the first dishes I look for upon returning to Hawai'i.
Moms also put work in the kitchen, turning food into a side hustle for the fam. Her puto & kutsinta became legendary at the big Filipino weekend parties. Every Friday, she'd cook up batches that aunties would pick up on Saturday and Sunday. My sisters and I got to eat the rejected ones. Our Toyota Corolla hatchback always smelled like something died in it because when moms wasn't hustling pastries, she was hustling fresh shrimp. She'd get a big cooler-full straight from North Shore shrimp farms, then resell 'em to folks in town in smaller batches. On days where I helped her deliver shrimp, she'd give me a little money, which I'd then spend on rap cassette tape singles and comic books.
Even now, 20 years later, cooking Filipino food somewhere in the Northwestern corner of the "mainland," I carry the sights, sounds, tastes and smells of my upbringing in that small island in the middle of the Pacific. The halfway point between where my parents grew up and where we now call home. Every menu of every pop-up Chera and I have done is woven with these stories.
I'm thrilled to bring Food & Sh*t to the place I think of most when I recall the first time I ate many of my favorite dishes. Especially at a place--Fresh Cafe--that blends together all the creative things that fuel me daily: food, music, art, literature, drink. We're bringing with us some of our popular menu items from our Pulutan, Kamayan & Luzviminda pop-ups and tweaking them to reflect local culture using local food products.
What Hawai'i taught me is that every dish is a story you can eat; a past you can remember, a future you can invent. And, sometimes, out of necessity, a hustle. And here I am, a generation later, still hustling shrimp and dessert.
Prix-Fixe Five Course Kamayan Dinner Menu - 40
served w/ white rice
Shrimp Sinigang Shooter
Pomelo & Mango Salad
Tako Kinilaw & Taro Chips
Inasal Pork BBQ Spare Ribs
Chera's Hood-Famous Ube Cheesecake
Pulutan (a la carte)
Balut - 3
Sisig Lumpia - 4
Adobong Gizzard na Manok - 4
Hi! is a prix-fixe Kamayan (hands only) menu dinner with Pulutan (bar food) a la carte menu available for both diners with reservations and walk-in diners. There will be two dinner services, from 530-730pm and 800-1000pm. Guests are welcome to stay for music and entertainment following the later dinner. Reservations and advance payment required. All ages welcome, with bar & alcoholic drinks available for 21+. Seating limited to 40 per dinner. Please make reservations at the link below: