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. 

Thanks for playing.

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. 
Thanks for playing. 

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!

Thanks for playing 

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.
Thanks for playing.

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.
Thanks for playing

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Not-So-Secret Secret Spot: Kilauea Bakery (Kauai)

Wanting something light for lunch, I headed to a spot that I've always gone to when I want a quiet spot to dine and work.  It's out of the way, hidden of the main roads, and has always had a quiet charm to it. 

Imagine my surprise when I got there this morning and it was crawling with what seemed like the entire population of Kauai.  Every table was taken and there was a long line to order as well. 

Taken during a quiet period before the next rush

While Yelp, blogs like mine, and other forms of social media have made this place popular, and therefore established, it has lost a little if it's intimate charm which makes me a little sad

On the other hand, they still have great food with the best coconut macaroons I've ever had.  

Bagels (salmon cream cheese), coconut macaroons, and coffee

Thanks for playing .

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Yelp Check: Salted Lemon (Liliha)

The other day, probably because it's starting to get hot by mid-morning, I felt the unusual craving for an Acai Bowl for breakfast.  Not having a clue where to get a decent one, I did a quick scan on Yelp to see what was fairly nearby with a decent rating.

Salted Lemon is a juice bar located in the heart of Liliha on Liliha Street.  Having a rating of 4.5 stars on Yelp after 130 ratings, While skeptical of Yelp, I figured it was at least worth a quick look since I needed to be in that area anyway.  Once I found parking on the street (they have no parking of their own), I walked inside to find a charming looking establishment in-between a couple of long-standing businesses in the area.

Once inside, I quickly ordered the Acai Bowl that drew me there.  Although they do have an interesting and fairly varied menu I did find that everything seemed a bit too expensive for a place that is off the beaten food path and doesn't have it's own parking.  

Having received the Acai bowl I ate it in fairly quick fashion and finished it in equally short time as well.  

While it is a very generous portion of Acai (almost a full pound) I did find that the sorbet a little light on flavor and wanted more tartness to match up to the sweetness of the honey and ripe bananas.  What I did enjoy is the layering of granola throughout the bowl so the diner is able to enjoy the complexity of this trendy yet healthy breakfast addition.

So was it worth the 4.5 Yelp stars?  Personally I would give it 4.0 stars taking away a half star for paying a large sum ($9.50) for breakfast without having parking provided to the diner.  All in all, I suppose this does match up closely to the bevy of Yelpers on this round.

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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Butter Coffee? How about salt instead.

There has been a lot of discussion over the last year about Bulletproof Coffee (good and bad).  While I honestly haven't tried it myself, I like to drink coffee for the taste and the few minutes of downtime it allows you to have while catching up with yourself mentally during a busy work day.

Whatever your feelings are around the "butter" coffee fad, I recommend you try "salted" coffee.  Unlike the price of putting cow fat in your cup of joe that requires you to buy all sorts of added ingredients, "salted" coffee is just as advertised.  All you need is a dash of your favorite rock salt, kosher salt, sea sat, (no table salt please) and you'll find the taste to be clearer and sweeter than usual.  Having tried this myself, I can say that it is a nice touch to enhance a good bean (Kona is my choice) and ask that you give this a try.

Thanks for playing!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Vegetarian Salad for a Carnivore

Being an unapologetic meat eater, you'll rarely see me wax poetic the wonderment of a vegan salad.  Nonetheless, this corn black bean salad with lime vinaigrette is a favorite of mine after discovering it's simple pleasures online last summer (recipe here). 
The secret to it's magic is in its simplicity by best utilizing the raw freshness of corn, bell peppers, shallots, and garlic, lifted to completion with the citrus notes of freshly squeezed limes.

I highly recommend the use of fresh corn if available to you

  Needless to say, it's important to buy good ingredients, local if possible, to maximize it's potential. 

Add beans, bell peppers, etc (I cheated with the garlic paste). . .

I like mixing this way so as not to squash any beans

Save those avocados for last and voila!!
I've made this several times over the last year and has become a pool bbq staple.  Maybe this could be a good gateway good to transition you from the doldrums of a long winter to the upcoming warmth of summer. 
Great salad but I still wanted meat (pulled pork on Hawaiian sweet roll and grilled buffalo wings).

Thanks for playing with me today. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Friday Morning (Meat)ing-Verde Kaimuki

This morning I needed to conduct some business in Kaimuki which gave me a great reason to satisfy the everpresent craving for breakfast tacos at
Verde Kaimuki.

What I like about this place is it's no apologies, stuffed to the max, flavor filled breakfast taco that contains only the necessities (tortilla, egg, meat, seasoned potatoes).  Today, I went with the chorizo version, but they also have a bacon our soy-rizo option as well.  I also chose to top it off with their homemade mango habanero salsa which gave it that necessary breakfast taco burn. 

While well established that it is almost impossible to find decent Mexican good in Hawaii (this place is admittedly Cal-Mex), I would recommend it for those in need of a breakfast taco fix. 
(Meat)ing adjourned.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Second Lunch (Tamari)

Before I returned to the airport I wanted to try this place that was touted as authentic and affordable. 
At $4.99 this yakisoba was not only cheap but very delicious.  

The owner/chef prepares all dishes ala minute which only enhances the overall value of the dishes that are being served.

As I was in a rush, I'll have to return on my next trip and try some of the other dishes that have piqued my interest.