Thursday, January 31, 2008

hawaii eats

I had heard about Wally Ho's last year. There was an event called Oahu Dines. Restaurants participating in the event would donate monies to the Life Foundation and Wally Ho's was one of the restaurants participating. I didn't get around to eating there, so I made a mental note to try it on this trip home.

This place used to be a full-service service station, now they do repairs and they also serve up some good local food.

I met my friend, Tom for lunch. The place was packed but we were lucky to be able to get a seat (there are only 7 tables).

I ordered a mini version of "Lynn's Awesome Meat" (US $7.95) this is a marinated steak cooked to your liking. The plate comes with mac or tossed and you can choose brown or white rice too. This was definitely worth ordering, though the mac salad was a bit too mayonnaise-y for me.

Tom ordered the mini version of fried poke (US $10.95). This also came with mac or tossed and a scoop of rice (brown or white).

The mini plates are a dollar less than the regular sized plates. And the regular plates have two scoops of rice. We were surprised at the size of the mini. It was actually just right for our appetites.

As we were leaving, my eye caught on the words "homemade" and "baked goods". I picked up their lemon bar and super fudgy brownie (US $3 each). I love homemade things and these were very good.

So, if you are driving along Kam Highway, and getting hungry, stop in for some ono(delicious) local food. You won't be disappointed.

Wally Ho's Garage & Grill
98-380 Kamehameha Highway
Aiea, Oahu
Phone: 808.488.2220

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

hawaii eats

Marukai is a Japanese-American grocery store on Oahu. They import foods from Japan, Asia and also have some items which are "local" and imported from the mainland too.

I remember when my mom used to collect the Marukai arare bags to turn in for merchandise...boy, that was way back when.

It used to be that the best part about shopping there for me, was to to be able to buy the Japanese foods and condiments. Anyway, now that I live in Japan, the best part about shopping at Marukai are the bento (boxed meals).

For today's lunch, I got the mochiko chicken and musubi (US$2.29). Mochiko chicken is a local-style fried chicken but the batter is made from mochiko (sweet rice flour).

Just outside of the store you will also find these two ladies cooking up andagi. Andagi is the Okinawan donut (without a hole). They also make Andagi dogs, the Okinawan-American version of the corn dog. (US $2) Both, the bento and andagi dog really hit the spot.

This one looked quite burnt, but actually tasted good and not too oily either. The batter around the dog was sweet, so there was no need for ketchup.

In order to shop inside of Marukai, you need to be a member. (I'm not to sure if they have passes for the day which you can buy if you are just visiting the Islands.)

Marukai
2310 Kamehameha Highway
Honolulu, Hawaii
Phone: 808.845.5051

Sunday, January 27, 2008

you know you're in the u.s. when....

you go to a d.i.y. shop to look for light fixtures and find this....

and I thought the shampoo aisle in Japan was rough....

Saturday, January 26, 2008

salon du chocolat tokyo

I had been wanting to see this event for myself, since last year and also after seeing Paris Breakfasts' many posts. While the Paris and U.S. events are held at convention center like places, the events in Tokyo and Kyoto are held on one floor of a department store.

There were news stories leading up to the first day, with gobs of housewives lining up here and there for chocolates. I knew I would not be able to "leisurely" look around. I had to go in with a "game plan".

The air carrier that I normally fly with no longer flies to Kansai airport, so for me to use that air carrier, I had to fly out of Narita. Since I would be near Tokyo, I scheduled my trip home to coincide with this event.

The place was quite packed when I got there but I was able to buy the Salon du Chocolat selection box and the Chloe selection box.

The Salon selection box featured 12 of the top chocolatiers. Henri Le Roux, Frederic Cassel, Franck Fresson, Hirsinger, Arnaud Larher, Sebastian Bouillet, Franck Kestener, Lac, Thierry Mulhaupt, Jean Charles Rochoux, Daniel Rebert & Maison Ferber. Most of the individual selections were quite pricey, so I figured that this was the best way to get a taste of most of the participants creations in the show.

The Chloe selection box featured 12 chocolates picked by Chloe Doutre-Roussel and were made by 4 top chocolatiers (Fabrice Gillotte, Patrick Roger, Jean-Paul Hevin & Gerard Coleman).

Each box came with its own "chocolate map" and description of each chocolate.

There was also a "chocolat bar" this was an area set aside for you to taste 3 chocolates while having a beverage like coffee or tea. They bring out a menu for you to choose 3 chocolates.

I tried to choose 3 chocolates that were not featured in any of the two boxes that I purchased. Some of my initial choices were sold out, so I ended up trying Maison Ferber's Mirage--a lavender and black pepper bon bon, the lavender infused chocolate is really addicting! Oberweis' signature called Oberweis--an Alsace wine soaked raisins enveloped in a bitter chocolate truffle and then coated with granule sugar and cocoa powder--also addicting! And Gobino's Maximo and Al Cafe--the maximo is a dark gianduja and the al cafe a milk chocolate with coffee.

While waiting for my order this couple came and sat next to me. They both ordered different items and then the lady took out her pocket knife to cut their chocolates in half to share. They are truly chocolate lovers!

There were also opportunities for you to get autographs from the chocolatiers, this is someone getting the autograph of Henri Le Roux.

There were chocolate art and fashion.

Although the space was quite confined, it was still a great event.

Lunch was at a little cafe run by Alain Ducasse called Be (BoulangEpicerie).

This was a duck confit tartine with salad, creme brulee & petit financiers.

I also found some macarons by Sebastian Bouillet. These were quite interesting flavors, barbe a papa rose (rose flavored, though I didn't care too much for the granule sugar on the outsides) & popcorn. My favorite was the popcorn, salty and sweet together.

The other two were called macalyons and were chocolate coated macarons. The silver flecked one was caramel with fleur de sel and the other was a 70% cacao ganache with nibs on top.

I also found a little florist outside of the department store selling these cute flower "sweets". You can't eat them but these look good enough to.

There was so much to see, but I am convinced that Tokyo is the foodie capital of Japan. I hope to be able to check this event out again next year. It was really worth it. I'll post more pics at Flickr. I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did....now it is off to Hawaii!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

odds & ends

Just cleaning out my photos....

A.C. Perch tea. I saw this on QVC Japan and found it at Dean & Deluca Japan. This one is called Copacabana. It is very fruity and has a nice aroma.

A new product from Meiji, Hokkaido choco-potato. Potato sticks covered with milk chocolate. I was hoping the sticks would be bigger and the chocolate darker...I'm going to try making this on my own (later though).

When you go to bars or some restaurants in Japan, you may see bottles with tags on them, like this. They call this "bottle keep"--you pay the bar to hold your bottle of booze. In some restaurants recently, they have "mayonnaise keep"--where they keep your bottle of mayo and "chopstick keep"--where they keep your pair of chopsticks. I'm not sure if this is a Japanese thing or if other cultures do this too.

Bamboo curry spoons from my friend, Kazumi. She got them from a bamboo craft center in Kobe. (Thank you!)

Mentaiko (salted pollack eggs with chili). Satoshi loves this, but I can't bring myself to eating this, it reminds me of tongues. Though I will eat beef tongue...weird? maybe.

Natto (fermented soy beans) I don't eat this either, mainly because it smells. Another of Satoshi's favorites.

Some of our cherry tomatoes. We were lucky to get some even with the cold. I brought the plant into the house and it gave us some tart but delicious tomatoes.

The tuna cans don't have the normal pull tops here. They have been replaced by this thin, but sturdy foil-like top. I'd still be careful though, you probably could still cut yourself on the edges of the foil.

Anyway, I'm off to somewhere warm in a couple of days....tell you about it soon.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

daikan

Last May, Nate sent me a foodie care package filled with goji berries, mayo (Best Foods) and several packets for his herbal chicken soup.

Summer was way too hot to make soup, so I finally made some last night. On the Japanese calendar, January 21st was daikan (literally large cold) which translates to the coldest day. So, what a better way to warm up than with some soup.

I put several pieces of chicken with the skins on, into some water, added the packet contents brought everything to a boil with a nub of ginger and some spinach, then simmered it for one hour.

I added some salt and pepper to taste and then threw in a handful of goji berries at the end.

Then with a fork, I picked out the skin of the chicken (otherwise Satoshi won't eat the soup) and then shredded the chicken. My version didn't come out as soupy as Nate's still, it was a nice, comforting way to warm up on a near freezing night.

Thanks Nate!

Monday, January 21, 2008

foodie kind of weekend...and then some...

What a weekend we had....flurries, and lots of food. Well, there was lots of food before the weekend also...Like this croquette I bought from a sozai (prepared foods) shop. I like how they make this because there are slivers of onion in it.

There was wagyu steak served with chirmol. Look at all that marbling.

A macaron from Starbucks. This one was chocolate and reminded me of a chewy brownie.

I made some chocolate rice pudding and topped it with strawberries one evening. It was rich and a nice way to stay warm while watching television.

Saturday for lunch we went to Hibarigaoka-Hanayashiki, which is about 3 stations away.
There is a tiny coffee shop called Hanayashiki near the train tracks.

Run by the old man in the photo, he makes all the food and coffee (siphon-style). If you don't have a lot of time for lunch, don't go here. I had the katsu curry (pork cutlet curry) and Satoshi had the nameko oroshi pasta (nameko mushroom with grated daikon (white radish) pasta). The specialties of the house seems to be the curry and katsu, so if you go there, be sure to try it. The katsu is fried nicely, it is not oily or heavy tasting and the curry has just the right amount of spices.

Also in Hanayashiki, is an upscale chocolate shop produced by Factory Nakata, a local cake shop. We've tried the cakes in the past, so I was interested in trying the chocolate goodies. I got a dark mendiant, chocolate dacquoise and some dark chocolate bits. The mendiant and bits were delicious, but the dacquoise was a bit too sweet, the middle was filled with thick chocolate. I think it would have been better with something lighter.


Our anniversary dinner was at a neighborhood French restaurant called Parisai. We've known about this restaurant, but had never ventured to try it. And boy, were we disappointed. Usually when we dine out, the food that is brought out is described to us. This restaurant didn't do this and all the food came out so fast that we were done eating within 40 minutes! They also advertised wagon-style desserts, but we didn't get to choose....oh well, we won't be back.

(update:2011 this restaurant is out of business)

Sunday predicted snow, but we were feeling a bit cooped up, so we got on the train and headed to Sakasegawa. This is 3 stations from Takarazuka and they have a large mall. I had heard about a place that makes curry, so we went to check it out. I had the Kobe beef curry and Satoshi had the shrimp curry. I added naan, so my rice portion was lessened and Satoshi had the omori (super size), so his rice portion was bigger as well as the portion of curry. This curry was delicious. The spiciness creeps up on you. Satoshi was perspiring by the end of lunch.

And after all that spiciness, jamoca almond fudge ice cream from Baskin-Robbins, or 31 as it is called here, hit the spot.

Whew...that was a lot of food. Hope your weekend was a good one. Have a nice week.

Friday, January 18, 2008

ishigama bread

Yesterday, the weather was...brrr...freezing. We had flurries off and on during the day. Of course, just the sight of flurries brought a smile to my face.

Growing up in Hawaii, we didn't have snow, so just the sight of flurries makes me jump up and down with joy.

Walking home from the station, the flurries were a bit bigger than the airy ones I've seen and were pelting me, though it felt like being pelted with styrofoam beads.

Anyway, I wanted to show you this big loaf of bread which we got in Nagahama the other day. The store that makes it is called Ishigama (stone oven). Just to the left of the entrance is the 4 shelved stone oven. We were lucky to get a loaf, he only makes 100 a day. (When we went to Nagahama last year, the guy had sold out.)

This bread is delicious. Fluffy and chewy with a light crust. If the crust were thicker, it could pass off as french bread. A real bargain at 630 yen.

Ishigama
5-17 Motohama-cho
Nagahama, Shiga
Phone: 090.4496.8730

Thursday, January 17, 2008

anniversary

Tuesday was our anniversary. Though we plan to celebrate this weekend, I wanted to make something special for dinner, even though we probably wouldn't be able to eat dinner together (because of Satoshi's work hours).

There were beautiful local strawberries in the market. I picked them up and made chocolate dipped strawberries.

I also had some for my mid-afternoon snack as chocolate fondue.

When I was through dipping, I heated some milk and added it to the chocolate, like the matcha fondue place did and had a nice, little chocolat chaud.


So what did I make for dinner? Sweet sour spareribs. The market had a great sale. You could buy two packages of different meats for 1000 yen (about US $10). So, I picked up one package of spareribs and one package of chicken.

These ribs were very meaty and tender.

Happy Anniversary, Satoshi. Thanks for 8 great years, I'm looking forward to the adventures that 2008 will bring us.