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Head to North Long Beach for Coconut Honey Shrimp Musubis and Kimchi Butter Katsu Chicken

1:09 PM PDT on August 31, 2022

    A lot of us who grew up in L.A.’s ‘hoods share a soft spot for Hawaiian food. It was what we graduated to after years of teriyaki chicken and beef plates; a cold scoop of creamy macaroni salad, served next to steamed rice, felt like the biggest upgrade in the world back then. Besides the poke invasion of Southern California that took place over the last five years, most casual Hawaiian spots have stuck to the same traditional menu, offering just-the-hits. 

    This makes a concept like Shootz all the more exciting.

    “Growing up in Southern California, I was always a big fan of Hawaiian barbecue,” says Christian Solomona, the chef and director of operations for the mini-franchise. 

    Along with his three partners, he just opened Shootz’s third location inside a container at Uptown Commons, a food hall located on the border of Paramount, Compton, and North Long Beach. Solomona, who is of Filipino and American Samoan descent, was born in Long Beach and grew up in the Inland Empire. 

    “My dad’s side is Samoan, and they always did island-style barbecues,” says Solomona. “I grew up having plate lunches with my cousins and have always had a connection to this food.”Since graduating from culinary school, his resume includes everything from catering and Olive Garden, to fine dining like Duane’s Prime Steak and Seafood in downtown Riverside. 

    Kimchi butter chicken katsu. Photo via Shootz.
    Kimchi butter chicken katsu. Photo via Shootz.
    Chicken sandwich at Shootz. Photo via Shootz.
    Chicken sandwich at Shootz. Photo via Shootz.

    Solomona’s diasporic Pacific Islander background and culinary training led the alluringly creative, but still familiar, approach Shootz takes with Hawaiian comfort food. He brulees everyone’s favorite canned luncheon meat for the spam musubi to get a little sweet crispiness, adds tuna to their cold mac salad to up its umami factor, douses katsu chicken with a spicy kimchi butter sauce to add another layer of spicy richness, and wraps his own version of the Chinese American classic of honey walnut shrimp with nori for his honey coconut shrimp musubi. 

    “I still eat honey walnut shrimp to this day, so why not make a musubi out of it?!” he says.

    Shootz was actually the theoretical restaurant he created during his culinary school’s business courses, so it really is his dream come true. 

    “It’s really nice to bring it back to where I grew up,” he says. “It’s cool how Long Beach embraces our slightly different flavors of the classics.” When asked if Solomona and his partners plan to keep expanding, Solomona responds that for now, they just want to focus on making sure their three existing locations. 

    “I think we are cool for right now.” 

    Shootz has three locations in Long Beach, Orange County, and the Inland Empire. Check out their website for addresses.

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