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The New Aloha: Island fever is sweeping Silicon Valley, and while there's plenty of traditional aloha to go around, it's not all hula and tiki. San Jose's One Groove is a cornerstone of the Hawaiian scene that's been buzzing locally and all over California. Far from traditional, their mix of Hawaiian music and reggae is being called everything from "island reggae" to "Jawaiian." It's drawing a younger crowd, but it's not turning off the grass-skirt set, either. One Groove, who've been together five years and just released their debut CD Make Your Move, are a hot property on Honolulu radio stations and have stormed the Hawaiian music charts. Yeah, they do play luaus, but who knows for how long? Their official record-release party is at the Avalon in Santa Clara on April 2. (Photograph by Felipe Buitrago)

No Ka Oi

The South Bay is a displaced Hawaiian stronghold

By Todd 'Hanabata Boy' Inoue

Talk story with anyone from Hawaii and the topic of music and food eventually comes up. Both Hawaiian music and food are revered if acquired tastes, and ironically, it sometimes takes leaving the islands to appreciate both fully.

The South Bay is blessed with a high concentration of displaced islanders—it's sunny, we're close to the ocean, the airport and Las Vegas (the California Casino is an honorary Hawaiian territory). If you want to be down with Hawaiian culture, here's the short list.

Music and Culture

Aloha Friday
Friday mornings, 7am. KKUP-FM (91.5).
Aloha Friday is a weekly Hawaiian music program that is broadcast from Cupertino. Hosts Uncle Vernon Chang and Auntie Luana Helm pull from their extensive record collections a steady stream of traditional and contemporary favorites and rarities. Catch the Internet broadcast at www.cocontyrls.com.

Sun Jose Hawaii
Couldn't fit the pikake print fabric and kukui nut necklace in your luggage during your last trip? It's probably here. With the area's most extensive collection of aloha shirts, sundresses, T-shirts, jewelry, music, textiles, snacks and exotica, Sun Jose Hawaii blows away many Waikiki beach shops. It's also one of the few South Bay places where Zippy's frozen chili and Hawaiian Sun soda are available. 410 West Capitol Expwy., San Jose. 408.281.9262.

With an islander-friendly menu and live music, Hukilau has emerged as the hottest nightspot in J-Town. Hawaiian bands play contemporary and classic music to a festive audience every Friday and Saturday. The drink list and extensive menu keep the party going. 230 Jackson St., San Jose. 408.279.4888. Also: 642 Ramona St., Palo Alto. 650.329.9533.

Nikkei Traditions
Lots of Hawaiian music, clothing, trinkets, cookbooks. Ukulele prodigy Jake Shimabukuro did an in-store signing here. 219 Jackson St., San Jose. 408.297.7554.

Sonny's Place Hawaiian Shop
Specializing in snacks, clothing, fabrics, leis (shell, nut, silk and ribbon) and books. Hula classes on-site Monday-Thursday. 10065 E. Estates Dr., Cupertino. 408.873.9778.


Want to see an offensive tackle from Waianae get misty? Nothing makes a Hawaii transplant homesick faster than talking, thinking or craving Hawaiian food. The cuisine has evolved from traditional items (kalua pig, poi, etc.) to creations that reflect the inhabitants: Spam musubi, saimin noodle soup, Portuguese sausage, malasadas, ahi poke and the monstrosity that is the Loco Moco—hamburger patty served over rice with two eggs, macaroni salad and gravy. Who would have thought poi and Loco Moco would fall under the same Hawaiian cuisine banner? Until Sam Choy opens a restaurant here, here are some good locals keeping carb-counters awake at night. My favorite? A fully-loaded saimin with Spam musubi on the side.

Plate Lunches
Hawaii's venerable plate lunch—Styrofoam shells packed with marinated meat or fish, macaroni salad, pickled vegetables, steamed rice and optional brown gravy—hearkens back to the plantation days. Immigrant workers tending the sugar cane and pineapple fields would break for kau kau and peek into each other's pots. Japanese brought tonkatsu, musubi, teriyaki and fish; Chinese had char siu and chow mein; Koreans brought kalbi and kimchi; Portuguese had the linguiça. Everyone had Spam (a shelf-friendly meat that stays good in humid temps, which explains its nascent popularity in Hawaii), rice and tea. Today, plate lunches are quick, filling and a metaphor for the multicultural stew pot that is Hawaii. The plate lunch legacy lives on in mom and pop drive-throughs and the ever-present L&L franchise. Thanks to some enterprising folks, the plate lunch is finally gaining popularity stateside.

Da Kitchen
1477 Plymouth St., Unit E, Mountain View. 650.960.6906.

Hawaii'z Island Grill
7121 Monterey Rd., Gilroy. 408.848.1648.

J&J Hawaiian Barbecue
1170 Alma St., Menlo Park. 650.323.6137.

Mahalo Hawaii Barbecue
4750 Almaden Expwy., Unit F, San Jose. 408.269.8793.

Ono Hawaiian Grill
3048 N. Cabrillo Highway, Half Moon Bay. 650.726.8114.

506 Showers Dr., Mountain View. 650.948.8388.

Hawaiian Drive-In
711 El Camino Real, Redwood City. 650.369.0396.

A Touch of Aloha Restaurant
One of the few Bay Area buffets that serve a full luau spread daily: kalua pig, chicken long rice, lomi salmon, haupia and the taro root condiment/wall spackling, poi. A Touch of Aloha hosts the occasional tour stops by island performers like Sean Na'uauo. 148 North Milpitas Blvd., Milpitas. 408.946.9260.

Shuei-do Manju Shop
The venerable J-town dessert factory also runs a seasonal side business selling authentic Hawaiian shaved ice with azuki beans and vanilla ice cream. The line gets long during Obon and Nikkei Matsuri street festivals and summer Sundays, where Buddhist and Methodist church-goers line up for a sticky treat. 217 Jackson St., San Jose. 408.294.4148.

Aki's Bakery
Has there been a get-together with six or more Hawaiian folks without a guava chiffon cake from Aki's? Doubtful. The guava cake from this longtime San Jose bakery is an institution. 355 Meridian Ave., San Jose. 408.287.5404.

Clubs/Hula Halaus

Hawaii clubs at local universities provide a viable support network for homesick freshman. Halaus are groups dedicated to the preservation of the state dance, the hula.

Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University boasts one of the largest concentrations of island kids achieving higher learning. Its Kamana'o O Hawaii club has a membership over 100 and puts on luaus and tailgates. www.scu.edu/SCU/Programs/Diversity/hawaii.html.

Menlo College Hawaii Club
Its 14th annual luau with performances by Three Plus and Konane happens April 9. Visit http://hawaiiclub.Menlo.edu for more information.

Stanford Hawaii Club

Halau Na Wai Ola
Contact: Keala Ching and Kaui Isa-Kahaku ([email protected]). 10065 East Estates Dr., Cupertino.

Hula Halau 'O Kanela No'eau
Contact: Sandy Schiffbauer. San Jose. 408.226.2676.

Hula Halau 'O Pi'ilani
Contact: Linda Pi'ilani Danek ([email protected] pacbell.net). 3530 Lochinvar Ave., Santa Clara. 408.247.0500.

The Ladies of Moani Ke 'Ala O Ka Mailelauli'i The Men of Ka Iho Makawalu A Ka Ua Kipu'upu'u
Contact: Clark Kahekemalamalamaika'aina Bolivar, Jr. ([email protected]), Santa Clara.

Na Kamali'i O Lehuanani
Contact: Carmina Chua (lehuananidance[email protected]), 929 Deer Meadow Court, San Jose. 408.403.1495.

Pa Hula Ohana
Contact: Makalea Kim ([email protected] aol.com) P. O. Box 53716, San Jose. 408.390.13930.

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From the March 16-22, 2005 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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