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Findings & Conclusion

we had to pick them up the day before the tasting due to their hours of operation. This may have affected the flavor, although stew is known to taste better day or two old cause it soaks in the flavor.
  • We had to reheat some stews in the microwave to save time. I think this dried out some of the stews which may have affected the consistency of the stew. Next time we may use the stove top, but it will take long time. Although Helena's was reheated in the microwave it was still a strong 2nd place. Maybe they would've been first? Judge "Hot For Helena" commented that he did not recognize the Helena's stew because he remembers it having more sauce.

  • I wonder, had these limitations had been addressed, would the results have turned out drastically different? In my opinion, I think the top three would still have been the top three. The only stew that might have moved up in the ranking would be Fort Ruger Market. Their stew was unusually dry at the tasting. From personal experience, their stew usually has a good amount of sauce. I think they would have been ranked much higher had they been heated on the stove top. In any case, the top 3 stews were solid beef stews that earned their ranking despite the limitations they faced in the microwave and being day old. A solid stew is a solid stew.

    One more side thing before we talk about the insights. Were the judge's credible?
    • The judge's seemed to be credible. They put the wildcard control entry (Dinty Moore) at the bottom of the rankings where we predicted it would be especially when compared to some of the most winnah stews on Oahu.

    Now for some insights. So what about all the people that talk about beef stews? What might our results suggest about these sources of information?
    • I guess the James Beard Foundation folks know what their talking bout when it comes to beef stew. They named Helena's Hawaiian Food as a "regional classic" and it ended up ranking #2.
    • In terms of beef stew...when L&L (ranked #7) is named as "best plate lunch" year after year, you might want to take that naming with a grain of salt. L&L get good grinds, but the best...I don't know.
    • The folks from seem like a credible source of foodie wisdom when it comes to beef stew. They made particular mention of our #1 stew (Highway Inn).
    • Our self-proclaimed foodie guru friend who suggested our #2 stew (Sam Choy's BLC) is that much more credible now. Go Sean. We will come to you for suggestions for future taste offs.
    • The Honolulu Advertiser Best Restaurant Guide folks seem to have credible beef stew tasters as they made particular mention of our #4 stew (Brandi's Deli) in 2007-2008 and our #2 stew (Helena's Hawaiian Food) in 2004-2005.
    • The writer who highlighted our #4 stew (Brandi's Deli) seems to have a good palate for beef stew.

    And what kind of insights emerged about our love for local beef stew?
    • Flavorful meat in the stew seems to be important to us. The #1 stew (Highway Inn) and #2 tie (Helena's) seemed to garner comments about the meat being tasty and flavorful. How they make the meat taste good...I like know. There also needs to be a good amount of tasty meat in the stew.
    • We seem to like the sauce consistency to be just right. Not too watery and not to "gelatinous" as Judge "Yamanoha DNA" put it. The #8 stew (Fort Ruger Market) lost points because its sauce was thick, mushy and there wasn't much of it. The judges made particular mention of the "nice consistency" of the top 3 stews.
    • We don't seem to like brownish stews as much as reddish stews. Our only 2 brown stews, Zippy's and Dinty Moore, ranked toward the bottom.
    • The quality of the rice is prime. Sam Choy's BLC lost points with several judges because their rice was hard. I think they would have been vying for 1st place if not for the hard dry rice.
    • We don't seem to like peas in beef stew. Several of the judges thought it was funky to have peas in the Zippy's beef stew.
    • We seem to like stew more traditional and not fancy fancy. The #7 stew (L&L Pearl Kai) seemed to have lost points because it was "different" and "not your traditional beef stew". I think the L&L stew was trying to be tantaran with its sweet and spicy flavor.

    In conclusion, these findings and generalizations are based on the opinions of only the 7 judges involved in the Beef Stew Bonanza. We are making our best guesses about what these results might tell us about the culture of local beef stew fanaticism. We encourage you to go out and try for yourself and form your own opinions. If you get other insights or opinions, create an account and/or login, then leave a comment.