A restaurant specializing in the flavors of Hawaii is opening in Fort Worth: Aloha Chicken and Shrimpwill open just south of the Medical District, in a former burger stand inside a convenience store at 1945 8th St., tentatively on December 20.
This is the second location for Aloha Chicken and Shrimp, which made its debut in a gas station at 6428 Denton Hwy. in Watauga in October 2018. They've built an avid following of fans who come for dishes such as fried chicken and coconut shrimp, doled out in heaping servings, tasty and filling, and at a nice price.
Signature items on the menu include:
- spam musubi, like Spam sushi with a slice of grilled spam over seasoned rice wrapped in seaweed
- chicken katsu, fried chicken cutlets — often called the Japanese version of fried chicken
- coconut shrimp
They're big on plates, including chicken and shrimp combos. All plates are served with a scoop of macaroni salad, an egg roll, and a bed of steamed white rice.
Their chicken is "mochiko" chicken, a popular Hawaii dish with chicken marinated in a mochiko flour, made from sweet rice. The flour is combined with soy sauce and egg into a batter that creates a crust that is crisp yet slightly chewy, with the flavors an addictive combination of crunchy, salty, and sweet. Some have called mochiko chicken Hawaii's version of popcorn chicken, but better.
They also do a bulgogi beef bowl and a shrimp bowl with coconut shrimp over rice; crab cakes; mozzarella sticks and garlic fries that are intensely garlicky.
Owner Rex Pak is a California native who served in the military and was stationed in Hawaii. That's where he met his wife, who was raised there. They know what they're doing when it comes to this kind of food.
"The spam musubi is a recipe from my wife's aunt," he says. "With something like the chicken katsu, a lot of people take the chicken, season and bread it, then freeze it so they have it prepped. We don't freeze it. We make it fresh."
For the garlic fries, he uses chopped fresh garlic which he mixes into a marinade, which he tosses over the fries after they come out of the fryer.
"Other people use garlic powder, and they give you a small portion," he says. "Our garlic fries, we serve a full tray."
He always conceived of Aloha as a takeout kind of deal, and it turns out he had the right idea during COVID-19 times.
"When the pandemic first hit, we weren't sure how it would go, but as it turned out, we only got more popular," he says. "For a long time, it was only me, kind of a one-man band doing everything, and we'd have up to two-hour waits."
After Fort Worth opens, he says there are more to come.
"Next stop is either Dallas or somewhere in the Frisco, Carrollton, or the Richardson Triangle," he says. "We get so many customers from those areas."