Snapshots From Hawaii: Spam Musubi


Leaving our parkas behind in the snowdrifts of western Massachusetts, eight of us descended onto Honolulu for Spring Break: Hawaii. Okay, so before you conjure up visions of wet t-shirts, body shots, and mortified mothers all over the country watching MTV, think again. Well, almost (sorry Mom!).

But really, we surely did more eating than anything else. Lucky for us, our friend Tommy was born and raised in Honolulu, so not only was he so generous to house our raucous bunch at his mountainous bamboo forest abode, we were promised the best eats the island has to offer. Most importantly, he took us to the same spots he rushes to the moment he returns home from school. Our college budgets called for cheap and our stomachs called for delicious—and that's what we got.

Ever since Robyn posted on the Spam Musubi Smackdown, this canned meat sushi was on the top of my Hawaii eats list. The first one I had was at 4 a.m. at the 7-Eleven and it was everything that I had hoped for. Our flights had gotten in that night and instead of going to bed, we decided to fight the jet lag with Zip Pacs and fried saimin at Zippy's before a bout of midnight kayaking. At about 4 a.m., asleep in the car, Tommy, my ever-faithful Hawaiiian food guide, woke me up for a 7-Eleven Spam musubi snack. Next to Zippy's, it's the best late night nosh you can find for just $1.19. For a couple quarters more, I could have splurged for the "deluxe" version that includes cooked egg, but I had to opt for the original.

What I learned from my trip is that not all Spam musubi are created equal. The musubi pictured here is from the L & L at the Ward Center and for just a buck more, the quality and size were substantially improved. As a new islander, I also learned that different L & Ls can vary greatly in quality and menu offerings when the musubi I bought at the Waikiki spot was more akin to the 7-Eleven variety.

During the trip, I became worried by how much I was becoming addicted to Spam. I craved the magical meat, relishing it in every morsel of musubi and fried saimin. My friends looked at me as if I had gone crazy when I replaced the hunk of fried chicken in my Zip Pac for a single slab of fried Spam. Like what ratatouille did to Anton Ego, it hearkened me back to the days of when my grandma would make me Spam fried rice and top my Ramen with it.

Late-night, cheap, and delicious Hawaiian fast food was a great start to two weeks of eating , beaches, karaoke, and more eating. From malasadas, limu and shoyu ahi poke, loco moco, and massive Korean plate lunches, to even all the places Anthony Bourdain recently hit up on No Reservations, there was some serious island eating. At the end of the trip, I couldn't be too surprised that the same jeans I wore out to Honolulu were a wee too tight. Definitely worth it.