A Pacific pleaser



The idea of Hawaiian food promised novelty so, donning my glad rags, and grabbing a bottle of wine we headed to the Pacific Rim Mix Plate in Applecross.

I was definitely overdressed and the wine seemed so pretentious I shoved it deeper into my fortunately large handbag, casting an eye over the scattering of tables crammed together in the tiny space.

Inside and out this joint looks like an old deli but the greeting is of the warm, friendly and relaxed sort synonymous with the Pacific, and the smells wafting past our nostrils were enticing.

Owner Mike Higa makes no apologies for his establishment telling the Herald it’s not a restaurant, nor even a cafe, but more a “fast food” place, with all the casual ambience of his former island home.

But I’d have to emphatically disagree: The food took longer than a Big Mac but by goddess it was well worth waiting for!

Waves of migrants, including Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese and Koreans worked in Hawaii’s sugarcane fields over the past few centuries, adding their own twist to the tropically-inspired Polynesian dishes.

“Mix plate” is part of the Hawaiian lexicon to describe fusion.

Mike was surprised to discover sandgropers were unaware of it, and that most have no idea the Pacific Rim describes countries lapped by the Pacific Ocean (including the east coast of Australia).

“I didn’t realise people here wouldn’t know what it meant,” he sighs.

Mike epitomises the cultural mix of Hawaii, born in northern Japan he grew up in Colorado where he learnt to cook in a Chinese restaurant. Then he lived in Hawaii for 20 years before heading Down Under.

His wife is from Malaysia, which could explain the fantastic vegetarian noodles ($10.90), enjoyed by the D’Angers.

Vegie noodles can be bland, but these were flavour-packed and wonderfully oily.

Mike does most of the cooking and we were able to watch as he deftly cooked up our fresh fish ($11.90), one with tarragon sauce and the other ginger and honey.

Both were superb, the rich yellowish, tarragon sauce creamy and very aromatic, while the deep-fried fish and ginger was crisp with a nice tang and a sweet crunch.

You’ll find Japanese bento boxes on the menu, along with intriguing sounding dishes such as loco chicken katsu, hulihuli chicken and barbecue ribs, but I’m not sure about moko moko, a kind of Hawaiian burger with mushroom gravy.

Don’t forget to say “aloha”, which seems to cover goodbye, hello and a range of things in between, when you drop in. And I thoroughly recommend you do.

Pacific Rim Mix Plate
755 Canning Highway, Applecross (enter off Wilcock Street)
open Tues to Sat for lunch and dinner   

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