After returning from a trip from Hawaii a few years back, Randy and Madeline Padin did what many tourists do — immediately dream of going back.
In lieu of that, the Padins, who have 35 years of food and beverage experience between them from places such as Caesars Atlantic City, the Hilton and Planet Hollywood, chose to recreate their trip, and opened the colorful Hawaiian Food Shack in Ocean City over Memorial Day Weekend so that others, too, can experience a little bit of Hawaii.(tncms-asset)24fa3a02-520a-11e7-a018-00163ec2aa77(/tncms-asset)
“We developed a place that is uniquely ‘ohana,’ which means ‘family’,” Randy says. “It’s a place where people can come with their families and make great memories.
“After so many years of bringing food and beverage to others, we wanted to bring it to the community in a different way. We wanted to be different from anything Ocean City has to offer, not just dining, but an experience.”
A little ‘aloha’ in every bite
Randy, a St. Croix native with two Master’s degrees from Cornell University, created the menu based on his and Madeline’s “love for Hawaii,” with the freshness, tropical flavors and visual appeal that was served there.(tncms-asset)30329b50-83d4-5b04-b3d9-13fbf702a53e(/tncms-asset)
“Madeline and I talk about having a little bit of ‘aloha’ in every bite,” Randy says. “Aloha has a lot of meanings: hello, sunshine, welcome, happiness … we want our food to have that same feeling of welcoming and happiness every time you bite into it.”
‘I don’t know where I’m a gonna go …’
HFS has a creative “mocktail” menu that should not be passed up. Sure, they have a great virgin pina colada ($7), but it’s the two “Volcano” drinks that really have customers stoked.
The Shark Attack and Blue Hawaiian Ocean ($7 each) are poured right in front of you. The ice starts to rumble and shake creating … ahem, tiny bubbles … while “smoke” begins to rise from the top of your hurricane glass.
“When you think of Hawaii, you think of … volcanoes. We wanted a drink that represented that formation of land,” Randy says.(tncms-asset)cf83ada4-552b-11e7-af06-00163ec2aa77(/tncms-asset)
Both beverages are garnished with colorful gummy fish. Both are true Instagram moments.
Other mocktails here may not “erupt,” but have other fun aspects, like toppings of either Pop Rocks or cotton candy.
Broke da mouth
A Hawaiian term that means “delicious,” broke da mouth can describe just about anything here, from the Loko wings app with a mango Sriracha sauce ($10) to the certified black Angus Aloha Burger with grilled pineapple on a potato roll ($10). But it’s the seafood that really shines. The warm fish tacos app with grilled tilapia drizzled with papaya Sriracha ($7) and the mahi mahi entree with creamed spinach and mashed potatoes ($16) rival those at just about any fine-dining establishment.
The truck stops here
Hawaii is known for its food trucks that serve more than just snacks — entrees are huge at these. To that end, this grass-awninged eatery created Shrimp Truck Scampi with sautéed shrimp in Riesling garlic butter served over capellini ($18). It’s truckin’ awesome.
There’s lobster mac n’ cheese, then there’s lobster mac n’ cheese. This freshly baked mac n’ cheese, with its own proprietary blend of cheeses and chunks of lobster, is served with a rock lobster tail on top ($18). Yes, you read that correctly. Lobster is in — and on — this bad boy.
Shake, rattle and be rolled out the door
Desserts here are a work of art.
“When you have a kid who’s a foodie, you have to be creative,” says Madeline of her inventiveness to appeal to son Brandon. “He critiques everything — and he’s refreshingly honest.”
Big groups will enjoy The Ohana ($14), a family-sized bowl of six scoops of strawberry, vanilla and chocolate ice cream, smothered with whipped cream, bananas, chocolate syrup and sprinkles.(tncms-asset)73f82d5f-2979-54ea-8bbd-d8df81471efc(/tncms-asset)
But for those with a real sweet tooth — and a touch of indecisiveness — a must-try is the Cheesecake Shake ($9), which is exactly what it sounds like. Presented in a mason jar covered in frozen chocolate, sprinkles and M&Ms, the yummy milkshake, garnished with a rainbow lollipop, a cherry and whipped cream, has a slice of New York cheesecake skewered on top.
“Milkshakes are a cross-generational dessert,” says Randy of the popular frozen dessert. “And who doesn’t love cheesecake?”