Adela’s Country Eatery: Find Fresh Noodles Made with ‘Ulu, Kalo, Ube and Moringa at this Kāne‘ohe Hole In The Wall
The noodles resemble ramen, but the preparations are Italian-ish, with a good dose of Filipino and other local flavors, like garlic ‘ulu and a lechon malunggay pasta—plus a fried chicken that beats KFC.
Photos: Sarah Burchard
It was standing room only when we entered Adela’s Country Eatery on a muggy Saturday night. With only three tables, this primarily takeout joint fills up fast. For here, in this tiny restaurant, owner Millie Chan makes fresh Hokkaido-style ramen noodles with local ingredients: ‘ulu, ube, kalo, avocado and moringa.
The noodles resemble ramen, but the preparations are Italian-ish, with a good dose of Filipino and other local flavors, like garlic ‘ulu and a lechon malunggay pasta. The garlic ‘ulu pasta, reminiscent of carbonara, with portobello mushroom ($15.99) was comforting, but it’s those charred, earthy mushrooms that kept calling me back.
Chan recommended the taro noodles with shrimp, lū‘au leaves, mushrooms and coconut cream sauce ($16.99). Pairing the leaf of the taro plant with the root created a cohesive dish. Each bite of noodles carried a whisper of sweet poi.
Lechon malunggay pasta ($16.99) is also a must-try. The shamrock-green noodles are stir-fried with crunchy chunks of garlic and roasted pork belly. The fresh chopped tomato, scallion and red onion that top the dish provide a welcome contrast to the noodles lightly coated in pork drippings.
The avocado noodles were softer than the other varieties but offered enough chew not to feel mushy. Adela’s also serves angel hair and Hokkaido ramen. For clientele on the keto diet, the restaurant offers green beans or vegetables as a substitute for pasta.
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We were head-down devouring our noodles when a pink doughnut box appeared containing the house-special fried chicken. Order it by the half ($15.99) or whole ($29.99) with a slew of sides and your choice of sauce.
I peered inside to find a treasure chest full of crispy fried chicken—juicy and moist from a 20-hour brine—creamy coleslaw; gravy; buttered and toasted Hawaiian sweetbread made in-house; and deep-fried gooey, stretchy mozzarella wrapped in wonton skins. I pulled out each component with excitement, like a kid opening a box of Lego. Don’t skip the spicy, creamy mango sauce.
I heard that the staff was considering taking the chicken off the menu. I may or may not have talked them out of it, so keep ordering this far-superior alternative to KFC if you want to see it last.
Chan opened Adela’s Country Eatery earlier this year and named it after Adela Visitacion, her friend of 25 years and a baker. The noodles sprung out of a chance trip to Japan—a Hokkaido radio station broadcasting from Waikīkī was so impressed by Visitacion’s mac nut shortbread, that it invited Chan and Visitacion to the northern Japanese islands. There, the duo wanted to learn about ramen, so they worked for five days at a small three-generation-old noodle factory before returning to Oʻahu with a ramen machine of their own.
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Then they customized the recipe for Hawaiʻi. Because of weather differences between Hokkaido and Oʻahu, they adjusted amounts of flour and water until they perfected the texture.
“Nonstop every day, I keep looking and tasting and finding new flavors and new techniques,” Chan says.
Some, though, are old, tried and true. The Hawaiian sweetbread recipe belonged to the Portuguese grandmother of Chan’s husband, Richard (Richard owns I Love Country Café). The secret to its soft, pillowy texture is the slow proofing time.
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Desserts (all $6.95) honor what most locals have grown up with, Millie says. Favorites include mac nut cheesecake and Okinawan sweet potato-haupia pie. “Everything we’re doing is from the heart,” she says.
Sometimes, when the dining room fills up, the Chans invite people into the kitchen to eat at the counter, as they did with us. “We treat everyone here like family,” Richard says.
Those family vibes linger in the air at Adela’s like fog atop the Koʻolau. You can see it in the way that Millie nurtures her staff and the team treats its customers. She and her husband talk story with guests as they dine, pick up orders, and even as they mosey back to their cars.
Adela’s also supports local farmers by paying retail prices instead of wholesale for their produce—a rarity in the restaurant industry.
Enticing restaurants cover Oʻahu. It is Adela’s commitment to quality and its celebration of local culture and community ambience that win my support.
Adela’s Country Eatery, 45-1151 Kamehameha Highway, Kāne‘ohe, open 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Saturday, (808) 236-2366, adelascountryeatery.com
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