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Does Anyone Else Wish for a Puupuu Platter (updated, of course)?

Rumaki, little ribs, shrimp toast, tiny egg rolls...

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  1. I loved them as a child and thought they were the height of sophistication! I still enjoy having various nibbles to choose from.
    I have seen puupuu platters done in recent years in an updated yet retro way. They were good!

    1. I have had them in Hawaii. They are great. I only wish people on the mainland would stop using that description for throwing cheese and crackers on a plate.

      10 Replies
      1. re: kjonyou

        Huh? Mainlander here, and I've NEVER seen cheese and crackers described as a puupuu platter.

        As to the original question, yes, I loved the puupuu platter. They seem to have virtually disappeared along with the mom n' pop Chinese restos. Dam' the super buffets.

        1. re: Perilagu Khan

          I have tacky friends, they live right next to the airport, enough said.

          You should see what they call a steak.

          1. re: Perilagu Khan

            We still have puupuu platters here on Long Island, with the hibachi and all. My husband is a nut for them.

            1. re: coll

              EXACTLY!! I lived in Hawaii 40 years ago and I remember what a real Puupuu platter was like.

                1. re: sandylc

                  It would come on a round wood platter with a small pot of hot oil in the middle set over a burning can of Sterno. Arrayed around the "Puupuu Pot" were various raw vegetables and meats, including fish and I even seem to remember seeing Spam once or twice. You would skewer a mouthful or two of veggies and meat on wood skewers and put it into the pot to cook for a couple of minutes while you and your friends talked and joked and listened to the sound the bubbling cooking pot made (which is where the word puupuu comes from).

                    1. re: Exy00

                      I believe that's called a Hot Pot.

                      1. re: Exy00

                        Looks like a 70s American oil fondue.

            2. re: kjonyou

              Never seen cheese and crackers like you describe.

            3. There's a place near me that serves one with a little iron hibachi in the middle of the platter. Makes me think of something Barney Fife and Thelma Lu would order on a night on the town in Mt. Pilot.

              5 Replies
              1. re: mrbigshotno.1

                Kon Tiki?

                That's where I had my first puu puu platter, the rumaki, all that stuff. i looked for years for one of those tiny cast iron hibachis, I actually bought a couple but they're way too small to be functional, and besides, I can't remember if they were sterno-fueled or had hot charcoal in them..

                1. re: EWSflash

                  No, oddly enough, over all the years I've never been to Kon Tiki

                  1. re: mrbigshotno.1

                    I'm surprised. I went there as a kid with my folks and some of their friends and/or relatives, a wild time was had by all but my sister and me, the only kids. The little flaming hibachis were the high point of my dinners there.

                2. re: mrbigshotno.1

                  That so made me smile.

                  My husband is entranced by hibachi and cooking food in table.

                  I have similar feelings about those Japanese steakhouses where they flip the shrimp onto your plate and your drinks are served in figurines.

                  1. re: Sal Vanilla

                    Guys, like house cats, can be hipmotized by fire.

                3. YES, childhood memories too. But I feel that is a dish best served in a restaurant, where they can seriously deep-fry things and present them with the little sterno flame in the middle!

                  The East Coast Grill in Cambridge MA used to do a tastily updated one, served only in their Lava Lounge. Alas, long gone from the menu.

                  1. All that good bad and fried food, yum!

                    1. OMG, yes!! When my ex-huband and I first started living together, our date nights invariably ended up at a (we thought) high-end Chinese restaunt in a classy, re-gentrified :) part of St. Paul, and dinner always included the pupu platter. I know now that it was purty crapulon food, but at the time, it was the absolute coolest thing evers.
                      I have made an updated version many times since...always a popular choice for smaller dinners.

                      1. This makes me laugh because you all clearly live in places where there is good authentic Chinese food. EVERY Chinese restaurant that I know of near me serves pupu platters as a matter of course. My kids would protest mightily if the couldn't have one on Saturday nights. And every drink is still served with little paper umbrellas.

                        1. We have a Chinese restaurant near us that serves these. DH loves the deep-fried chicken wings (that are huge, there, they find some mighty birds for their appetizers), I claim the beef skewers. I don't care much for steak or burgers, but you can't beat that tough, marinated, beef(?) on a stick flavored by sterno and charred wooden skewers. Maybe I just like playing with fire. They also include sesame seed coated mochi balls stuffed with red bean paste - they're all mine, and I'd sneak them off the puupuu platters of neighboring tables if I wasn't restrained by warning looks.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: afridgetoofar

                            A neighboring diner once tried to snake a riblet off my puupuu platter and got a flamin' skewer through the left earlobe for his trouble. He minded his manners a bit better after that.

                            1. re: afridgetoofar

                              My husband calls those chickens with the big wings "Warbirds". Cracks me up for some reason.

                              1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                Those warbird chickens have been known to pluck infants from unsuspecting mothers and fly away to their eyries. So sad.

                            2. Only if they spell it PooPoo platter then it will be funny

                                1. re: fourunder

                                  You guys in NJ are funny, you spell everything your own way. Italian from Italy don't even understand you anymore.

                                  Bracciole - Brajol
                                  Pignoli - Pingyole
                                  cappicola - gobbagool
                                  pasta fagioli - basta fazool
                                  calamari - galamar
                                  prosciutto - brazhoot
                                  mozzarella - MOOTS-a-RELL
                                  ricotta - rih-gawt
                                  manicotti - mani-gawt
                                  Sfogliatella = shfog-ya-DELL

                                  You like dropping the last part of the word, don't ya.

                                  1. re: kjonyou

                                    You forgot one......Stonato/Stunato - Stunad

                                    "Mi scusi/Scusi" ...."Mi dispiace".

                                    I forgot we were talkin' grub.

                                    Cavatelli - gavadeal

                                    Can you figure this one out....


                                    1. re: fourunder

                                      No, Jew?
                                      (from Woody Allen, I believe)

                                      1. re: Tripeler

                                        Ha. We had a joint in Pittsburgh named J'eet for a few years. They mainly did breakfast / brunch type stuff. But they closed.

                                        1. re: MonMauler

                                          Haha, that's cute. I'm originally from central PA, and J'eet is pretty much the standard greeting in my family. Maybe only second to "grab a beer--in the garage".

                                        2. re: Tripeler

                                          OMG is that what it really means?

                                            1. re: fourunder

                                              My high school French teacher's example of how difficult it is to learn English was this similar one: "d'jeet yet?"

                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                Oh damn, I tend to drop to that level once in a while (I HOPE IT'S ONLY ONCE IN A WHILE).

                                          1. re: Tripeler

                                            Ok..guess this one..."Ok...everybody stop trottin'"

                                      2. I remember them on the menu from Chinese restaurants when I was a young'un, but I have never had one.
                                        I just googled the image, and saw the real Hawaiian versions. And YES! I wish for this thing very much! I had no idea that's what a Pu Pu platter actually looks like.
                                        Luckily, my brother's getting married in Hawaii in June, so I can get one. I'll probably be more excited for that than the wedding :D

                                        20 Replies
                                        1. re: alliegator

                                          If you can find a Tiki restaurant, I'm guessing it will serve a puupuu platter.

                                          1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                            It'll have to wait for Hawaii, though. In the entire Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex, there is not a one. Restauranteurs, take note!

                                            1. re: alliegator

                                              So sad. There used to be a Trader Vick's in DFW. But Tiki restos/bars seem to have fallen out of fashion. It's sure not like their heyday in the 50s, 60s and 70s.

                                              1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                A-men, Remember the one in The Plaza?

                                                1. re: hazelhurst

                                                  Never actually went there; just heard about it. Was it pretty cool?

                                                  1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                    It never changed from its installation in, I guess, the 1950's and it went through phases of popularity and then moribund evenings.. When it was in a slow phase it was thought to be one of the best secrets in town. They must have had some antiquated lease with the hotel that allowed them certain freedoms. There were people who semed to live down there. The most fun was that there was a whiplash effect in going from it to the staid old upstairs Oak Bar (or vice versa..the men's room was downstairs by Trader Vics).

                                                    1. re: hazelhurst

                                                      Too bad I missed it.
                                                      I tracked down a puupuu platter at a place in Austin, but it has just a bunch of Tex-Mex stuff on it. I've actually eaten at the place in the past and that must be why it didn't catch my eye.

                                                      1. re: hazelhurst

                                                        A tiki restaurant shouldn't change, I think. It should forever be lodged in 1963.

                                                        1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                          Yes! A wonderful bit of fantasy - ! (Albeit usually drunken)

                                                          1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                            I looked it up--Trader Vics went to the Plaza in 1965 and lasted until Trump booted them out in 1989 for being "too tacky." there is something VERY wrong with a world in which Donald Trump can pass judgement on tacky.

                                                            I also noted that it was a favorite of Richard Nixon's...draw your own conclusions.

                                                            As I said, it was fun to go from DownThere up to the fairly sedate Oak Room.

                                                            1. re: hazelhurst

                                                              Well, THAT'S an interesting little dab o' history. Tacky, eh? Hmmm. IIRC, the Trader Vic's in Beverly Hills was noted for being a posh celeb hangout. Perhaps the two shops were very different.

                                                              1. re: hazelhurst

                                                                Say what you will about the guy. His hotels are usually pretty nice.

                                                                Radisson in Kuwait has a kon tiki. Come to think of it there are a lot of Polynesian restos in Kuwait. I wonder what gives. No alcohol drinkin there either. I wonder what they serve in those weird mask mugs.

                                                              2. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                There is as you might know a classically tacky (tackily classical?) Tiki bar in the LA County city of Rosemead, on Rosemead Blvd., called Bahookah. Ship parts strewn around the yard, gurgling aquaria separating the cramped wooden booths, and some sort of beaked fish in a tank by the cash register that will bite a stick in half for you if it or the cashier is in the mood. My late pa-in-law requested a trip there, one of several such when he knew time was getting short. The drinks were pretty good and the food adequate if undistinguished, but it was loads of fun and Pops was paying. I do not remember if they offer a pupu platter, but the elders hadn't that much appetite anyway.

                                                                1. re: Will Owen

                                                                  I think tiki restaurants are more about the experience and drinks than the grub anyway. And if you happen to run into a nice pupu platter, all the better.

                                                                  And I'd like to see that fish and see how he'd respond to a strip of beef satay in his tank.

                                                        2. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                          Haven't thought of TV for years. Went to the one in the International Marketplace in Honolulu when I was in the Navy. My buddy and I told the bartender to start with the first drink and keep them coming...we got through about six of them before we were almost blind. But I DO remember the food was good.

                                                    2. re: alliegator

                                                      Be sure to play your Don Ho recordings.Ain't right without "Tiny Bubbles" et alia.

                                                      1. re: hazelhurst

                                                        Mai Tai's, Fog Cutter's...and save the umbrellas...

                                                        1. re: njmarshall55

                                                          Haha! I'll be sure to tuck the umbrellas in my wedding hairstyle as a sign of victory!!!

                                                          1. re: njmarshall55

                                                            Don't forget the Scorpion and the ChiChi

                                                      2. In the Bronx we use to go to a Chinese restaurant nearby and get PuPu platters regularly, i loved them. Haven't had one in awhile. Now I crave it.

                                                        1. Just saw an old ATK where they did "Chinese" BBQd spareribs.

                                                          1. Golly - I think the last one I had was at a long-departed Tiki joint on White Bridge Road in Nashville. That was the night we all stuck straws together so that we could sip sweet-but-deadly drinks from six feet away … ooohh, flaming punch! So please don't ask what was ON the platter. Crab Rangoon for sure …

                                                            My first was one we assembled for guests at Mrs. O's parents' place on Kauai, Christmas 1985. We'd gotten a bunch of goodies from the store, and then she and I made up a bunch of sushi rolls from a book her papa had given me. Steep learning curve!

                                                            1. Yes! One of my few guilty pleasures. I love a good platter.

                                                              1. The only puupuu in my area that I have found so far (but not tried) is in an old scary restaurant that has been there forever. There are online warnings about this place regarding the drinks - they tell you NEVER to drive after consuming one and don't expect quality booze, just quantity!

                                                                The puupuu at this place is likely to be fried in dirty oil and made from goodness-knows-what.

                                                                I have recipes for various components of a kick-ass platter, but am hesitant to go for the huge mess and labor for it!

                                                                6 Replies
                                                                1. re: sandylc

                                                                  Re: Scary Restaurant

                                                                  Go for it! :)

                                                                  Even if the puupuu blows rocks, you'll probably have a good story to tell about the joint.

                                                                  1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                    Ha! Spoken like someone who won't have to pay for it the next day!

                                                                    1. re: sandylc

                                                                      If that happens, the puupuu platter becomes a double entendre. ;)

                                                                    2. re: sandylc

                                                                      Puupuu platters MUST be served with boozy drinks, otherwise what's the point! Our favorite place when we just got married (1970s) used to say two drink minimum on the menu, but they'd always give us a third, and then laugh at how spaced out we'd get. Good times!

                                                                    3. Doesn't the puu puu platter include a few shrimp toasts? I seem to recall grabbing those...gosh haven't had a puu puu platter in decades tho.

                                                                      13 Replies
                                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                                        I have made shrimp toast many times. Yum.

                                                                        1. re: sandylc

                                                                          but sandylc am I remembering correctly, that shrimp toast is included in restaurant pu pu platters because I don't recall rumaki being included.

                                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                                            Yes, we used to get rumaki on them. I think the offerings must have varied from place to place. It's actually where I learned to love rumaki!!!

                                                                        2. re: HillJ

                                                                          I have only had the American Chinese version of the pupu platter but it never had shrimp toasts. In fact, I don't think I've ever had a shrimp toast :)

                                                                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                            sandylc, it must vary place to place because I usually remember details like this and I can't recall if the shrimp toast came on the platter or we ordered some as well.

                                                                            fldhk, you must experience shrimp toast!!

                                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                                              Different place to place and era to era, I'm sure! The current puupuu descriptions online have things like chicken fingers, which I never saw back when!

                                                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                                                Oh gosh, chicken fingers? So out of place...

                                                                                If you have a recipe/method for your own shrimp toast I hope you'll post it on the HC board. it would make for an interesting thread.

                                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                                  Oh yea, thats the standard around here too...well, chicken fingers or chicken wings.

                                                                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                    I don't remember if there were ever chicken wings long ago...if so, I imagine that they would have been in the form of drummies with an Asian-style BBQ coating....just speculation.

                                                                                    1. re: sandylc

                                                                                      I don't remember chicken of any sort on the puupuus of days gone by.

                                                                          2. re: HillJ

                                                                            I've seen puupuu platters that contained shrimp tempura, minus the toasts.

                                                                            1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                              I hate shrimp toast but that was the one thing that always appeared on ours.

                                                                          3. Wow! I have not had a Pupu platter in decades, and your post has brought me back to my childhood when my mom and I would order Chinese food every Saturday and the order always included a Pupu platter. I don't think I've had the traditional Hawaiian version, this was a standard, yet quite delicious and delectable American Chinese food platter with egg rolls, chicken wings, spare ribs, fried shrimp, chicken/beef skewers. It was the perfect prelude to the General Tso's and fried rice that followed. And yes, now I want one.

                                                                            1. Can't say it was a real PuuPuu platter, but my parents took my bro' and I to Hawaii in 1965 where we stayed at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu. We attended a huge luau on the beach and the first platter that arrived was piled with (in my humble recollection) Chinese spare ribs, fried wontons, sesame chicken wings, fried bananas (plantains?) grilled pineapple, little packets of steamed veggies, fruit and meats (lau lau dim sum?) and a few other items accompanied by a coconut shell of warm poi sprinkled with sea salt. Sound authentic anyone.... or was this a Hilton interpretation?

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Chefpaulo

                                                                                Ha - I suspect, but don't recall, that my first puupuu was in Hawaii in 1972.....

                                                                                1. re: Chefpaulo

                                                                                  I can't speak to its authenticity, but it sure sounds delish. And 1965--that was the perfect time for such an experience.

                                                                                  1. re: Chefpaulo

                                                                                    The same thing was served into the '70's...it sure seemed authentic to me.
                                                                                    I also remember breakfast at the Hilton, outside on the beach, with some of the most amazing corned beef hash I've ever eaten since.
                                                                                    Wow, the memories.

                                                                                  2. Why "updated, of course"? If you enjoyed it in the past, I don't see why you wouldn't or shouldn't enjoy it now. I hope I'm misinterpretting, but it almost sounds as though you're embarrassed about liking something old fashioned.

                                                                                    I loved PuPu platters as a child. So much fun. Sadly, none of the chinese restaurants near us have them. I'm sure my son would enjoy it.

                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: fisher

                                                                                      Agreed. "Updating" a puupuu platter would undermine the nature of the thing.

                                                                                      1. re: fisher

                                                                                        You make a good point, fisher. Guilty, as charged. I worry far too much about being attacked by roaming bands of snobs.

                                                                                        1. re: sandylc

                                                                                          <I worry far too much about being attacked by roaming bands of snobs>

                                                                                          Ha. I know what you mean....it happens.

                                                                                        2. re: fisher

                                                                                          DS was about 7 maybe when we ordered a Pupu platter when dining out with friends at a neighborhood Chinese restaurant. He nearly fell out of the booth laughing at the name until it showed up on the table and then it was seriously good eats.

                                                                                          I would not want it updated at all. It was good and fun! He was allowed to play with not only his food but also fire!

                                                                                        3. They just closed recently, but Lani Kai in NYC, one of the top tier cocktail places, had some Amazing Pu-Pu platters the past few years. And fantastic cocktails as well.

                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: JMF

                                                                                            And it went under, eh? Dam' shame.

                                                                                            1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                              I think it's more like Julie decided that she wanted to move on to other things and sold the place.

                                                                                          2. Thought I'd take Hillj's advice a bit furthur and begin a recipe thead: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8867...

                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                I had forgotten entirely about the Foil Chicken, but yep, it was a mainstay on PuPus past.

                                                                                              2. Thanks to this thread, Chinese food landed on my lap tonight!

                                                                                                1. I wish the return of Trader Vic's in Beverly Hills...

                                                                                                  Pu Pu Platter consisted of: Spare ribs, crab rangoon, friend wonton and friend shrimp.
                                                                                                  All with a couple of Mai Tai's and then onto Indonesian Lamb Roast with peanut sauce.
                                                                                                  Nothing needs to be updated....it was pure wonderfulness.

                                                                                                  10 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                    I have heard the term "crab rangoon" forever, but am evidently too lazy to google it....can you fill me in here?

                                                                                                    1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                      Imagine a crispy fried hot wonton and inside was a creamy crab mixture, maybe cream cheese (?) some spices...not spicy just mild.

                                                                                                      1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                        Another thought...

                                                                                                        It didn't fill the entire wonton....only the middle.

                                                                                                          1. re: JMF

                                                                                                            I agreed. I never like those things. They won't be put on the list for the PuuPuu I'm making next weekend.

                                                                                                            1. re: JMF

                                                                                                              Oh, I thought they were and anyone who ordered them, on a regular basis at least once a week, thought so too.

                                                                                                              They went along with the other items on the platter in a Polynesian atmosphere with some of the best drinks in town.

                                                                                                              Another era gone by, for sure.

                                                                                                              1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                There was a following at Trader Vic's in BH, like Chasen's.
                                                                                                                Not real sophisticated food but good food for those who preferred it to the more pretentious places.

                                                                                                                Sadly, it's gone...those places are mostly gone. The chili @ Chasen's and the pu pu platter at Trader Vic's.

                                                                                                                The best food in the world? Nah, not likely. But it was the following, the interesting people, the familiar waitstaff and great service that made it memorable.

                                                                                                                How many places, seriously, can you go today that'll automatically bring you your favorites without asking? That pu pu platter was high on the list of that concept.

                                                                                                        1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                          I've got the Trader Vic's cookbook from '68. A fascinating historical document for a practically extinct cultural phenomenon.

                                                                                                          1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                                            I have one, too. Is yours the one with the sections for other cuisines, too? I'll have to drag mine out again.....

                                                                                                            1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                              'Tis, indeed. It's called Trader Vic's Pacific Island Cookbook, and it's even got a section on Texas. Ha!