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Akamai Oatcakes, Andy’s Sandwiches, and A Not So Delicious Pumpkin Bar

July 31, 2007


You already know about my ubashful love for Starbuck’s oatcakes, only found on Oahu. But that was nearly a year ago. And love is fickle. You see, my Starbucks oatcake has been replaced by another contender: the Akamai Oatcake. I found this oatcake a while back when the KCC Farmer’s Market first opened. And I liked it. I liked it a lot. It came in a whole bunch of flavors, mango-pecan with pumpkin, cranberry-walnut, banana-chocolate chip, and the one above, carrot-pineapple. This oatcake was far more moist than Starbucks, more relative to a bran muffin than a hockey puck. And guess what? Coming in at 260 calories each, it has half the calories of a Starbucks oatcake. The ingredients are clean and pure, no preservatives, and most importantly, pleasing to the tastebuds.

But at first it was inconvenient. You could only buy them on Saturdays. What if I wanted one for Thursday breakfast? Would I have to, gasp, eat an old oatcake? So on weekends I’d eat the Akamai ones, and on weekdays I’d patronize Starbucks. But then word took hold and Akamai starting getting quite popular among the locals. Before you knew it, those oatcakes could be found seemingly everywhere: Times Supermarket, Down to Earth, Diamond Head Market, and even 7-11 and Costco! So now I have completely switched over to the other side. Starbucks oatcakes no more, I’m all for the raisin studded mounds from Akamai.

A few hours later I made a short drive to Andy’s Sandwiches in Manoa for lunch. Andy’s is close enough so that I could walk there, but I’m feeling rather laaazzzy today, so we’ll just drive. I love Andy’s. And so should you. When you pop in during the lunch hour, the lines at this family run shop goes out the door, packed with people from local businesses nearby and students and teachers from Punahou. Back in high school, we made lunchtime runs to Andy’s for a smoothie or sandwich, often running into our gym teacher, or worse, the guy who was responsible for making sure that students without a junior/senior privilege card didn’t leave campus!

The menu is well…everywhere…just look at that! But it all revolves around sandwiches with a daily special and smoothies. Prices are reasonable, most menu items running about $5. The fare is light and healthy, and the counter service is welcoming – you sandwich is always made with a smile. A sandwich leaves you satisfied, not full.

It’s quite ‘homemade’ looking, wouldn’t you say? They make it right in front of you while you wait, so you can see and know exactly what goes into your sandwich. I had the mushroom medley today ($5.85). Moving from bottom up on a base of whole wheat bread are sliced mushrooms, melted American cheese, sunflower seeds, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce and alfalfa. But that’s not all. Oh no. Because if this was all, then nothing would set Andy’s apart from other sandwich shops except for their freshly baked bread.

But Andy’s got something else up his sleeves. Two something else’s’ as a matter of fact! First is the house made papaya seed dressing, vinegary and light, served in a separate container for your own sandwich dipping desires. Second you have their mix. The what? It’s the mix. Why everyone who goes to Andy’s knows about the mix! It’s this mix of things, of powdery things, of spices, all mixed together in those Coctco size containers that hold ground pepper and steak seasoning. And you bet your bottoms that some steak seasoning goes in there, along with paprika, pepper, and a bunch more other things which I do not know but really like to eat. Right before layering on the top slice of bread, they do a quick shake of the container and a dusting of the deep red mix falls upon your sandwich most gently. What goes in the mix, we shall not know. It’s a secret. And that’s Andy’s for you, healthy sandwiches gone local! I heard the blueberry pancakes they serve for breakfast are definitely worth stopping by for…one more to add to my list of places to eat!

Later on in the day I ate something that didn’t taste very good, running the streak of very tasty goods I was eating for the day. The culprit was Down to Earth. Figures. I was in a health store. Nothing wrong with a health store, mind you, it’s just that I would be much happier in a bakery or patisserie. But I was curious – a health food & vegan bakery counter? And curiosity, especially my type of curiosity, is hard to kill. You’re best off satisfying it.

My pumpkin bar ($1.99) looks nice, even moist, delicious? Maybe. But it was not! It was dry, strangely sweet and had bitter undertones that were definitely not pumpkin. It made me sad, and made me wish I had a falafel or bread pudding, or something I really like, to make me feel better. But instead I ate the entire pumpkin bar in spite of its mediocrity. Because I’m Chinese. And Chinese people have a tendency to polish off their food. And then I got mad. And resolved to never eat baked goods from a health food store.

Andy’s Sandwiches & Smoothies

2904 East Manoa Road

Honolulu, Hawaii 96822

(808) 988-6161

Down to Earth

2525 South King Street

Honolulu, HI 96826

(808) 947-7678

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