I have little or no experience with “fountains”. My curiosity started from the Hawaii episode of “No Reservations”. In that episode, Anthony Bourdain visits New Uptown Fountain (now closed) for a Spam-fest. I wasn’t curious about Spam (I’m already a fan), it was the old-time mom and pop fountains that serve meals, old school style (my experience is more with chop sueys and drive ins).
So I’m browsing through Yelp.com and come across a fountain that is still open, Jane’s Fountain (1719 Liliha Street, Honolulu, Hawaii). See reviews here: http://www.yelp.com/biz/janes-fountain-honolulu. Two that pique my interest are by Kenneth K. and Michael C. So much so that I want to try Jane’s.
I drive by Jane’s a couple of times, no parking. Last Saturday, I luck out and find a space in front of the fountain, and the experience begins.
The reviews are correct, stepping through the front is like walking through a portal of time. Red vinyl benches, formica? tables, juke box, menu on the walls (you get the picture). Although some of the entrees sound interesting (pork squash, oxtail soup, pork with bitter melon, liver and onions, etc.) it’s the saimin or won ton min and hamburger or cheeseburger that I’m after. I order a large won ton min and a hamburger deluxe.
Nothing fancy, noodles, won ton, slices of Spam (straight from the can), kamaboko, and charsiu, and a sprinkling of green onions.
No hot sauce, sriracha, or chili sauce/paste on the table. A dish of Chinese hot mustard is served (I think made from Colman’s mustard powder (there a story there too, not now). A splash of soy sauce and a shake of black pepper into the broth and we’re good to go (old-school local-style to the extreme).
As Michael C. and Kenneth K put it:
If you want good honest old fashioned saimin this place is great, doughy and thick how it should be. The cheeseburger deluxe is so mouth watering delicious mere words couldn’t begin to describe it for me. (Michael C.)
Saimin. This is ooold school curly noodle style saimin harkening back to the days from the 1920′s when Japanese and Okinawan Mom and pop diners could be found in most neighborhoods. The broth is a clear shrimp based soup that is light and savory. A pinch of green onion, a pinch of char siu and a pinch of kamaboko….that’s it…perfection in a bowl. This is how it used to be, go here if you remember and long for this taste and texture. If you don’t remember, then go and experience what your grandparents did.
Hamburger sandwich. Home made patty spiced just right, tender like meat loaf. Pan fried and put on a simple toasted bun with mayo and lettuce leaf. (Kenneth K.)
For me, while the food was good, it didn’t knock my socks off. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t bad, it’s just that I don’t have their reference point. I prefer my “old fashion” local style won ton mein from a chop suey house. I liked the hamburger more. A homemade patty mixed with breadcrumbs and bits of chopped onion.
The juke box was broken the day I visited, so I couldn’t get the full experience. Very glad I visited. If I ever hook us with either of these guys, I wouldn’t mind eating at Jane’s again to see the place through their eyes.