Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Something new from someplace old.

Living in Hawaii for my whole life often leaves me feeling as if I've eaten everything that is interesting to have here.  Today I was proven wrong. 

From Two Ladies Kitchen in Hilo, HI I present to you the seasonal Nectarine Mochi! Soft on the outside and crunchy sweet on the inside.  I highly recommend it if you are here soon while supplies last. 

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Friday, July 3, 2015

Actual good food in Waikiki (Goofy Cafe)

With no reservations, we had a 30 minute wait

With the three day weekend here, we were fortunate enough to enjoy a three night stay at a nice hotel in Waikiki.  While fun and full of activity, Waikiki has always suffered from a lack of good eateries for the discerning diner.  Consulting Yelp, we decided to take a chance on a small cafe tucked away in a nearly forgotten corner of this tourist jungle.

Goofy Cafe & Dine seats about 50 and highlights locally sourced food at a price reasonable for it's quality and location.  The highlights of the evening were the Hamakua mushrooms sauteed in garlic and oil as an appetizer and a Pesto pasta with Kahulu Shrimp for the entree. 

Mushrooms and garlic.  Nice and simple

Homemade pesto absolutely made this meal

Both dishes were simple and delicious highlighting the freshness of locally sourced mushrooms and vegetables. 
As they take reservations, I would recommend coming here for those who like non-chain quirky cooking with a charming atmosphere. 
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Saturday, June 6, 2015

Eating the whole house (Eating House 1849 - Koloa, HI)

Being stuck in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, it's not often we get friends fly out to visit.  Oh sure, everyone says "I want to go to Hawaii" or "I should visit you one of these days" but rarely does anyone ever have the time or the money to do so.   This weekend, we were fortunate to have two friends taking a summer vacation on Kauai.  Taking advantage of the opportunity, we hopped on a 27 minute plane ride and had dinner with them at the new Roy Yamaguchi restaurant Eating House 1869.

I liked the nice open seating and open windows to maximize the Kauai landscape

An homage to the first restaurant open in Hawaii (named Eating House), Chef Yamaguchi has found a new voice in expressing his culinary skills with a Nouveau Hawaii Plantation-style of cooking.  There are lots of reinterpreted comfort foods to be had here at prices that invite both tourists and local residents to have a "Roy's" dining experience without the pretentions of his famous flagship restaurant (I dressed in shorts and slippers).

Not too expensive and very accessible to all on Kauai
Since there were 5 of us dining, I was able to have a fairly extensive tasting of the various pupus and entrees without giving myself heartburn.  The highlights of the evening were (in no specific order):

1)  Szechuan Baby Back Ribs - The ribs tasted like the best bao filling you have ever eaten in the back alleys of Taiwan or Shanghai

I was blown away by how tender the beef was and how flavorful the sticky glaze was
2)  Kamameshi Rice w/Butterfish -  A variation of Roy's famous Broiled Butterfish, this dish takes a 4oz fillet of broiled butterfish and places it over kabayaki sauced mixed rice in a hot stone pot (think Japanese/Pacific Rim food meets Bi Bim Bap).  Get it for the fish, stay for the crispy bits of rice.

My kid ordered this and ended up being the most expensive entree for the evening ($31)
3)  Chocolate Souffle Lava Cake -  The one carry-over from Roy's white linen restaurant and a never-miss ending to a fantastic meal.

Lots of places have this now but these guys do it right
After a thorough two hours of eating and drinking, I feel thankful to my close foodie friend for recommending this restaurant to us and feel excited about this new direction that Chef Yamaguchi has taken.  Here are some of the other offerings we ordered tonight.

Mixed fruit salad with goat cheese and arugula

Sizzling poke appetizer.  A delicious umami bomb!

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Friday, June 5, 2015

Lava Fields, Golf, and a Burger

Last week I found myself in Kona for work.  While most people have an image of Hawaii as being lush and green with Coconut trees and beaches, Kona is closer to looking like being on Mars.  It's comprised of miles and miles of old undeveloped lava fields and located on the side of the island that is dry and arid.  Despite this barren landscape I found a decent place to have lunch, King's Grille. 

This is in the middle of a lava field?

King's Grille is the clubhouse restaurant for a golf course built smack-dab in the middle of the previously mentioned lava fields. Not being a golfer I still wanted try the sandwiches having read that they were generous and affordable by Kona standards. 

Yep, it's definitely a golf clubhouse

Feeling hungry, I ordered the Ali'i Burger ($11.95) which comprises of a burger, cheese, bacon, and pastrami.  I was pleasantly surprised by it's generous size and relative juiciness.  They even got the fries right. 

This ended up being as juicy as it looks

While it's not a place to go out of your way for, if you find yourself in Waikoloa, it's worth checking out. 

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Saturday, May 9, 2015

Yelp Check-Kula Lodge

Having the desire for something new while on Maui, I decided to head up the foothills of Haleakala and have lunch at Kula Lodge (3.5 stars on Yelp).

Cute entrance...check

While very pretty and away from the beaches that Maui is famous for, I found myself encouraged the beautiful view, al fresco dining, and outside Keawe wood burning pizza oven.  

Beautiful view...check
Outdoor dining and keawe wood burning pizza oven...check

Unfortunately, I became discouraged the exorbitant prices and sub-par food. Leaving my gold bars at home, I kept it on the lower end (for Kula Lodge) and ordered a French Dip Sandwich for a horse-choking $22!.  I was further disappointed with the presence of cold roast beef, dry hoagie bun, and room temperature au jus. 

Sad looking sandwich.....disappointed

Upon reflection, the high price and 3.5 stars is mostly due to the view.  Taking the food on its own merit I can only give Kula Lodge 2 stars, which is too bad, because it is a really lovely spot for lunch.
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Monday, April 27, 2015

Craving Okonomiyaki

Okonomiyaki is one of those street food dishes that you see everywhere in Japan but is a very personal topic to all involved in making or eating them.  Today I decided to jump into the okonomiyaki pool with my own local Hawaii take on it using what I had in the fridge. 

Affectionately called "Japanese Pizza", okonomiyaki is essentially cabbage, flour, and eggs.  After that you add whatever your taste buds feel like having.  Today, that meant SPAM and mushrooms.

Prepping the "toppings"

I recommend you try this at home.  Once you figure out what you want on your dish, it's pretty simple and satisfying. 

Mix in with your cabbage, flour, water, and eggs
Griddle as you would a hamburger and add bacon
I used yakisoba sauce rather than okonomiyaki sauce as a personal preference
As you can see, the cabbage compacts nicely after it softens. 

Add Kewpie Mayo if you want to feel like you're in Osaka 

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Hidden Gem- Yong's Kal-Bi (Kamuela)

If you've ever been to North Hawaii (not the North Shore) then you'll know that it is a sleepy town with only three stoplights but a dozen B&Bs and one of the most expensive private secondary schools in the state.  What most people don't know is the gem that is Yong's Kal-Bi. 
While most people eat at Merriman's Cafe or the ubiquitous Starbucks, I like coming here.  Why?  First of all, I really enjoy Korean food but can hardly eat it as my family cannot really tolerate the spicy stuff.  Secondly, and most important, this place is owned by a nice couple from Korea that makes their own vegetable dishes and hot sauce from scratch.  You're definitely not going to see that at your local Yummy's BBQ. 
Today, I had the Spicy Pork which was marinated in their homemade gochujang hot sauce
If you happen to be passing by this way take the time to stop here and give it a try.  The prices are reasonable and will mostly be occupied by strictly locals who grew up in the area.
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