Chuggy’s comfort foods

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It’s been a year since I’ve joined the Nonstop team, and during this time, I’ve eaten some of the best meals of my life and shared them with a fantastic group of people. With big changes upon us, it’s a good time to reflect and look back at the food that brings me back. Way back.

I remember playing with pogs, being frustrated with AOL’s dial-up service, blowing into Super Nintendo cartridges to make them work and watching Pokemon at four in the afternoon. I grew up on school cafeteria pizza, Koala Yummies, Snack Pack Pudding and Raven’s Revenge. Mom would cook quick and easy home meals like hamburger corn, cream of celery and tuna over rice, golden curry and chicken tofu casserole, but never Kraft mac and cheese or Chef Boyardee. I would go to grandpa’s and grandma’s house to watch cable TV, drink Coca Cola, eat Dinty Moore beef stew, TV dinners, Hot Pockets, pizza bagels and Meadow Gold ice cream cups.

Growing up on the Leeward side, I had a very different upbringing than my “townie” friends in high school. They missed out on some of my favorite eats from “our side of the island.” Although we’ll never again be able to run through the aisles of Arakawa General Store or taste the sweet nectar of Pepsi Blue or Sprite Remix, many places remain that have the “hanabata days” charm we often forget living in an age of smart phones, text messaging and cable Internet. To this day, the draw of nostalgic places like Tanioka’s, Sato’s Okazuya, Forty-Niner and Kilani Bakery still pull me in for a taste of childhood.

Long gone are the days of watching Nickelodeon while eating Gushers, but the indelible memories of food shared with mom, dad, grandpa and grandma remains. Here are my comfort food dishes that bring me back to the carefree days.

K's Bento-Ya

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You know how in elementary school you would trade those extras in your lunchbox for food you'd actually eat from your classmates? The most sought after meal on any field trip was a K's bento. With a K's bento, you were able to obtain pretty much any other foods your classmates brought along. A piece of chicken went an especially long way when you wanted dessert, and you could often cut the chicken in half and snag a pudding cup and a pack of Gushers.

The bento is still only $6 after all this time. With three pieces of cayenne chicken, a half hot dog, sushi rice musubi, plain rice musubi and a piece of maki sushi, this bento is a steal. In fact, I still pick them up for my team at work when we have job fairs and need a tasty and filling lunch on the go. Think of it as field trip lunch for grownups.

K's Bento-Ya
94-164 Awalau St., Waipahu