Wednesday, February 28, 2007

"new" waikiki (part 3)

Today, I got together with several friends, Chad, Val & Greg for lunch at a new restaurant in Waikiki called Yard House. This restaurant is from the mainland. If you like beer and loud music, this is the place for you. They have tons of beer on tap, did someone mention 100?!

Anyway, I ordered the portobello burger (US $10.73), since I have never seen portobellos in Japan. And I love these guys in sandwiches! The sandwich (and the portions of the rest of the menu) was huge!

Tomatoes, basil, portobello mushroom, roasted red peppers, sauteed eggplant, feta cheese and a sun dried tomato mayo sandwiched between onion poppyseed buns....delicious!

Since I'm the only one "retired" (the others are still working)...we only had an hour for lunch. Still, it was a nice get together since I hadn't seen Chad for almost 5 years...thanks for lunch, Chad!

Yard House
226 Lewers Street
Honolulu
Phone: 808.923.9273

and then there was NO light

Last night, I was watching Oprah's Dream Academy Program when the lights flickered and went out.

It wasn't only our house, it was our residential area, plus neighboring areas too! We scrambled for candles and our hand-crank-solar cell-emergency radio.

No radio programs could give us any information on the power outage and the electric company was working on the problem.

I guess you really don't realize how much electricity rules your life until something like this happens.

And hour and a half later the power was restored, I'm thankful that we weren't in freezing conditions. I'm also thankful that they are re-broadcasting Oprah's program this weekend, so hopefully our local station will show it too and I'll be able to see it in its entirety.

Hope your week is going well.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

french teas

I'm not sure what draws me to French things...maybe I was French in another life?

Anyway, I was very pleased to come upon this blog, Paris Breakfasts, a beautiful blog with lots of watercolor painting by the author, Carol, and lots of beautiful photos of Paris and everything French. She has a "Things I Love" list on her sidebar, which gives me insight to books and some food items.

One of the food items, Kusmi Tea, caught my eye. I had seen this tea in Dean & Deluca when I visited Tokyo last year and on my host-sister, Tomoko's website. Kusmi Tea or Kousmichoff Tea originated in 1867 in St. Petersburg, Russia. The Kousmichoff family fled to France when the Bolshevic Revolution took place and have continued to blend their teas ever since. The Russian blend canisters are pre-Bolshevic designs and very pretty.

I bought two teas from the Russian Blends line in Caramel and Spicy Chocolate and can't wait to try them.

Another item, which was on one of Carol's posts was Hediard tea. These little red cans are eye-catching. I got the Melange Hediard--a blend of Chinese tea with bergamot, lemon and sweet orange oils. This one sounds delicious too.

Carol listed most of these items from Amazon.com, but since they won't deliver these items to Hawaii, I went to Amazon's source, Cybercucina. Although shipping was pretty expensive, I still think it was a good buy.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

hawaii eats (part 4)

Today my Aunty asked if I would like to tag along with her on her errands, so I did. After her errands, we were going to have lunch in Chinatown, but couldn't seem to find any parking, so we headed to Pier 38.

Pier 38 is the home of the Honolulu Fish Auction and a place that I had heard of called Nico's Pier 38. We happened to get there at the peak lunching hour so it was PACKED!

As you enter the place, there are many tables under a huge awning, where you can check out what everyone else is noshing on.

Then you enter the building to order your food, be prepared to wait in line (especially at lunch time), I think at some times the line was 4 or 5 deep! They have a wide selection of items on their menu and they are reasonably priced. Be sure to try the catch of the day items; since they are next to the fish auction, you know they will be fresh! After placing your order you'll be given a pager-like thing that will light up when your order is ready.

You can either wait inside, if there aren't too many people ordering, or in the dining area. You'll also have to find your own seats since there isn't any wait service.

We took our lunch right across to some picnic tables which are along the pier.

My aunty and I tried their Catch Salad of the Day--seared ahi(tuna) poke on greens with a plum vinaigrette--US$8.11. The portion was perfect and ono!

Have a great weekend!

Nico's
1133 N. Nimitz Hwy. (UPDATE: moved to 1129 N. Nimitz Hwy)
Honolulu
Phone: 808.540.1377
Open: M-F 6:30-18:00
S 6:30-14:30

Friday, February 23, 2007

hawaii eats (part 3)

Back in November, I got an e-mail from a guy named Nate. He was from Hawaii, but worked in Okinawa. He wanted to find out more about starting a blog as well as how to blog. So after giving him some advice, he started his blog, HWN PAKE IN OKINAWA. Today, I got to meet him for the first time and to lunch with him.

We met at a place that he's been wanting to try...Poke Stop. This restaurant is owned by Elmer Gusman, a guy who used to cook with greats such as Emeril, Alan Wong and Sam Choy.

The shop was rather tiny, but the menu was quite large, so it was definitely hard to decide. The eating area is outside, so try not to go on a windy day! (or be prepared to hold down your food while you eat!)

Nate had their Surf & Turf (US $9.42)--boneless korean style short ribs, with their garlic jumbo shrimp, 1 scoop of rice and Puna's potato salad. He liked this except the meat wasn't too tender.

I had their Deconstructed Sushi Bowl (US $10.42)--Cajun seasoned blackened ahi(tuna), kim chee style tako (octopus), creamy chili aioli remoulade mixed with ahi (tuna) poke, a large scoop of tobiko(flying fish roe) and a garlic shrimp all on top of sushi rice, topped with furikake and ginger--though eating the shrimp was a bit messy, this dish was worth every penny!

It was nice having lunch with my blogging friend and to have finally met face to face.

Poke Stop
Waipahu Town Center
94-050 Farrington Hwy.
Phone: 808.676.8100
Open everyday:
M-S 8-7
Su 8-5

Thursday, February 22, 2007

"new" waikiki (part 2)

Today I met my friends, Val & Greg for lunch in Waikiki. Val had talked about going to a sandwich shop which just opened called Mondo Gelato. It is a franchise store which originated in Canada. (UPDATE: the company is now called by another name, and no longer is at this location)

This place opened in an area of Waikiki called the Waikiki Beach Walk. There are some boutiques and eateries in this area as well as hotels.

We ordered from the 3 different panini (grilled sandwiches) that they had, unfortunately, they didn't get their delivery of veggies for the day, so we had VERY plain sandwiches (just the meat and the cheese) :( And for the price we had to pay US$7.96 (this is with a kama'aina (locals) discount), I didn't think it was really worth it.

The star of the meal was, of course, dessert. As you can tell by the name, this shop specializes in what else...gelato! Gelato is Italian for ice cream, but unlike the ice cream that we know in the US, it is a little softer. I tried their Bacio (pronounced BAH-cho)--chocolate gelato with bits (they say chunks, but it was bits) of hazelnuts mixed in...piccolo portion (small) for US$3.93...delicious.

I guess I should have expected lunch to be expensive since I was in Waikiki...at least the company was nice.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

local foodie kind of weekend

Saturday, we checked out the Farmer's Market at KCC (Kapiolani Community College). There were all sorts of food items as well as potted plants and cut flowers. One item which I purchased was made by a local company called Honolulu Fudge Sauce Company. They have several different flavors mostly made with Guittard chocolates, but the one that caught my eye was their Premium Hawaiian made from 100% Hawaiian chocolate grown on the Big Island. With a name like "Spoonalicious" you know it has to be good!

Another item which I picked up was locally made honey. There is a co-op (which I didn't know about) called the Hawaiian Honeybee Co-op which makes different kinds of honeys in different parts of the islands. This particular honey was made in Enchanted Lakes (Kailua, Oahu) from a variety of flowers.

Sunday was the start of the Chinese New Year, to which you should greet others saying "Kung Hee Fat Choy" or "Happy New Year". It is the year of the Boar and a Golden Boar at that, which supposedly only comes around every 600 years! It is supposed to be a very lucky year, but also one for many natural disasters, so please be careful everyone!

I also got together with two of my friends, Wen & Steph for some shopping and noshing. It was a great time. At one of the shopping malls we went to, I searched for the Sahale Snacks, but still haven't found any :( Oh well, I guess I'll just enjoy the one flavor (Sing Buri) that I did find.

Next year or maybe at the end of this year, Whole Foods Market will be opening here, so I'm looking forward to more foodie finds on my next trip back home.

Monday was President's Day--a State & Federal holiday here. We got together with some of my relatives for dinner and a kanikapila (playing the ukelele (hawaiian musical instrument) and singing). It was great!

And lastly, today is Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras--the day before Lent in which rich ingredients such as flour, eggs and milk are supposed to be used up.

Even though my religion does not observe Lent, it gave me a good excuse to get some of my favorite--Champion Malasadas.

Hope you have a great week!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

"new" waikiki

If you haven't been to Hawaii lately, Waikiki is getting a MAJOR face lift. Older hotels have been torn down, new ones are coming up. There is even a condo produced by Donald Trump which I've heard sold out within the first few hours of coming onto the market! It is kind of chaotic with all the construction going on.

Today, I was in Waikiki lunching with my friend, Carroll. She took me to Atlantis Seafood & Steak. This restaurant and other retail shops and eateries sits on the grounds of the old Waikiki 3 movie theater.

The restaurant has a lanai area with tables and ceiling fans. Perfect for hot Hawaiian days.

For starters, I had a salad. I still can't get over the portions here in the U.S.! but, I loved the thinly sliced beets on top.

My main dish was fish moco--a variation of loco moco. They grilled mahimahi (dolphin fish) and topped it off with an over-easy egg and their original gravy. I think it could have be served without the benishoga (red ginger) on top, though.

And for dessert, coconut haupia pie. Haupia is a local dessert that is the consistency of hardened gelatin but tastes like coconut. This was served with raspberry and caramel drizzles.

Everything was delicious and of course, the company and conversation was great!


And in the early evening, while riding on the freeway, we were able to catch a bit of paradise...a rainbow.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Atlantis Seafood & Steak
2284 Kalakaua Avenue Suite 201
Honolulu
Phone: 808.922.6868

Friday, February 16, 2007

hawaii eats (part 2)

As I look back, growing up in Hawaii was great, because of all the different kinds of foods you can get your hands on. Not only can you buy them as take out, but with all the different ingredients found at the local supermarkets, you can also make a lot of these foods too.

So, coming home for me is a chance to re-connect with all the foods that I loved while growing up.

Recently, my mom made a batch of Portuguese bean soup. I'm not too sure if it actually is a Portuguese dish, but one of the main ingredients is the spicy Portuguese sausage or linguisa. Linguisa is similar to chorizo. And although living in Hawaii doesn't always have soup eating climates, this soup is perfect for those wet, rainy days.

Another of my favorites is Korean food...kal-bi, mandoo, meat jun, kim chee...yum! Today I had lunch with my friend, Gaye. We ate at the Y'kele Korean BBQ at the Waikele Premium Outlet. For US$6.27, you can get this huge portion of Bi Bim Kook Soo--a cold somen noodle in a sweet broth, with lots of "namul" (a kind of marinade) veggies and a piece of barbecued beef on top. So filling and very delicious.

Y'kele Korean BBQ
Waikele Premium Outlets
94-799 Lumiaina
Phone: 808.676.0988

Thursday, February 15, 2007

happy v-day

Happy V-day everyone!

Today we had lunch at a Japanese restaurant called Shokudo. Shokudo means "dining room" in Japanese. This restaurant actually combines different cuisines like Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Italian together.

We had their tofu (soy bean curd) salad. My mom says that they make their own tofu. It was dressed with fried won ton strips and nori (seaweed) and came with a goma (sesame seed) dressing for the tofu and a shoyu (soy sauce) based dressing for the greens.

Ishiyaki (stone cooked) garlic shrimp. This is kind of like America's version of shrimp scampi only served in a heated stone bowl. It was a bit oily, but still delicious.

The rainbow roll. Sushi filled with crab, avocado and lettuce then topped with different sashimi (sliced raw fish)

And garlic pork riblet. A panko (bread crumb) mixture with sliced chilies and garlic covered these riblets. Delicious. (there was also grilled herb chicken, but I forgot to photograph it!)

And to end our meal we headed to Ben & Jerry's at the Ward Center. I had their NY Super Fudge Chunk-chocolate ice cream with white and dark fudge chunks, pecan, walnuts and fudge covered almonds.

Although, I wasn't able to spend V-day with Satoshi, I was happy to be able to spend it with my family.

Hope you all have a great V-day.

Shokudo
1585 Kapiolani Blvd, Suite 814
Phone: 808.941.3701

Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream
Ward Center
Phone: 808.593.7090---CLOSED as of 7/2009.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

aloha & mahalo

Yesterday, I said "Aloha" to an old friend...(In Hawaii, "Aloha" can mean different things--hello, good-bye, love).

My friend helped me finish the 1998 Honolulu Marathon, as well as many other walking and running events that year. And in recent years, helped me take early morning walks whenever I came home.

"Mahalo" (thank you!) dear friend.

Changing the subject, on my recent trip to Hilo, we found these purple sweet potato at the Farmer's Market. A whole bag (with about 5 or 6 in it) for only US$1.00! Before steaming them, they were a light lavender color, and afterwards became this vibrant blueish-purple color. Super sweet and delicious!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

local wedding

Yesterday we went to my cousin's wedding and I thought it was quite elaborate--they had 300-something guests, a video "slide show", an open bar and a string quartet.

The centerpieces and floral decor were simple but beautiful--A mix of tropical, western and asian influences.

Out of town guests and some family received lei. (Ginger buds are woven to make this lei and tuberose is strung to make the lei in the center)--I love the fragrance of both flowers and the lei are now hung in our bathroom making it smell wonderful!

The wedding cake was topped with fresh flowers--cymbidiums, a type of orchid.

There was also a pupu (appetizer) bar before the lunch was served--(boiled peanuts, edamame (soy beans), makizushi (rolled sushi) & inarizushi (sushi rice stuffed into a fried tofu (soy bean curd) pouch)and poke (fresh tuna marinated with shoyu (soy sauce), onions, ogo (seaweed) and sesame oil)

And the favors were dark chocolate dipped fortune cookies from my favorite place, Honolulu Chocolate Company.

It was a beautiful day and a nice chance to visit with relatives.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

hawaii eats

Longan is a Chinese fruit that is similar to lychee except it doesn't have the bumpy skin. This fruit is also known as "dragon eyes", well, because when you peel them....

They look like them.

This fruit is quite sweet and the "meat" of the fruit quite firm. These were sent by my mom's cousin on the Big Island. (Thank you!)

Tonight's dinner....kalua pig and cabbage.

For special occasions, an imu (underground oven) is dug and hot stones are placed at the bottom. A whole pig is then salted and wrapped with ti leaf and then burlap, and the whole thing is placed into the imu to steam all day. After the pig is cooked, the meat is then shredded. This is called Kalua pig or Kalua pork.

Locals usually combine the shredded pork with sliced cabbage and onions, salt and pepper to create kalua pig and cabbage. Fast, easy and ono!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

hilo (part 3)

Hawaii is not only a place for foodies, but also a place to enjoy nature. We were very lucky to be able to see Mauna Kea from the lanai of our hotel at sunrise one morning.

And a really faint rainbow--I've never seen one in Japan!

During our trip, my grandma went to visit with her friends at a senior center she used to frequent. Not only do they play "cards"--a Japanese game called Hanafuda...

Some were learning the hula, while others were sitting around chatting.

We also got together with some relatives who put together a delicious dinner filled with lots of local favorites, like pork tofu casserole...

California roll...

Crispy gau gee mein (no photo of the crispy gau gee..sorry~!) and there were other favorites like kal bi and mandoo, but I was too busy eating to take photos...sorry!

My grandma knew of a place that sold baked goods made with okara (soy bean lees) called Sputniks.

On Thursdays, they sell okara bread. These fluffy loaves come in 1/4 lb, 1/2 lb and 1 lb. We were able to place an order to be picked up the next day. Sputniks also sells plate lunches and okara cookies. And from other customers waiting in line, they also sell the best buttermilk donuts too!

The okara cookies were really crispy and delicious! Sputniks was also kind enough to pack up our order in a box. When travelling between the islands, a lot of businesses are kind enough to do this, you just have to ask.

Sputniks
811 Laukapu Street
Hilo
Phone: 808.961.2066

Another place to find good local food is KTA supermarket--the local market on the Big Island. Here in their deli section, they have freshly made makizushi (rolled sushi), inarizushi (sushi rice stuffed into fried tofu (soy bean curd) pouches.

And their original ogo namasu--seaweed prepared with bean sprouts, onion, sesame seed oil, shoyu, vinegar, sugar and chili pepper.

This was a great trip and I'm glad my grandma invited me to come along. (Thanks Grandma!) I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!