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John Heckathorn Reports...


(page 5 of 9)

As Yim points out, being of mixed race is increasingly commonplace in the Islands. We now take it for granted. Walk in any preschool, and it seems every child is some kind of hapa or another. …

On the other hand, the hapa explosion is something we’ve hardly come to grips with—especially in print. … So loaded are matters of race in our society that it’s hardly safe to say anything at all about them. But as I read Yim’s work, the phrase melting pot popped into my head. Nobody’s supposed to believe in the melting pot anymore—it became politically incorrect three decades ago. But what else are you going to call a Hawaii where more than a third of the population is already some kind of hapa and half of all new marriages are mixed? …

[W]e might not be heading to a melting pot exactly—perhaps some kind of a stew in which all the ingredients hold on to their identities. But certainly even a melting pot in which ethnic identities are blurred seems preferable to, say, Rwanda.

So I looked at my brown daughter and my white daughter sitting at the dinner table and hoped I was seeing the future of the planet.


On the Opening of Roy’s

“Location, Location, Location,” Dining, July 1989

The last location I stumbled upon was not a museum; instead, it was in an office building in that graveyard of restaurants, Hawaii Kai. Roy’s opened up in the Hawaii Kai Corporate Plaza last December. By now, the eatery’s no longer a secret, partly because it has a high-powered L.A. public relations firm, and partly because it’s a terrific restaurant. I had to phone 10 days ahead to get a 7 p.m. Saturday night reservation. …

The star of the evening—as far as I was concerned—was the mesquite smoked crispy duck. Yamaguchi somehow gets most of the fat out of the duck, sweetens the skin, smokes the meat to a delicate flavor and carves it off the bone. Then he fans out the pieces on top of a zingy passion fruit barbecue sauce. Not only did the duck have taste, texture and presentation going for it, but there was also something fun about the dish—it didn’t take itself too seriously.


On the Perils of Being a Critic

“The Invasion of Maui,” Dining, November 1994

Every time I fly over to Maui to eat, I feel like I’ve parachuted behind enemy lines. Over the years, I’ve been forthright on the failings of the Maui restaurant scene (trendy and overpriced are two words that leap to mind). So now, I’m always half afraid that I’ll be recognized in a Maui eatery, dragged into a back alley and shot.

Fortunately, these days Maui is being invaded by more than the likes of me. A number of aggressive, young, entrepreneurial chefs have realized that if a restaurant on one island is good, then a restaurant on two islands is better.


On Drinking Like Hemingway

“Aloha Ups and Downs,” Dining, February 1995

Across from Hooters is Sloppy Joe’s. The two share a pierside view, but they seem worlds apart. Hooters makes you think like this: After me and Ike finished the haying, we took the pickup to town to get a gander at them Hooter Girls and their hooters, haha.

But Sloppy Joe’s has a portrait of Ernest Hemingway over its door. A whole wall holds pictures of Papa fishing, Papa boxing, Papa at the bullfights, Papa hobnobbing with the rich and famous. Under that influence, we felt our dialogue tighten.

“The food is hot,” said the young writer.

“Too hot,” said the older.

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