Friday, July 31, 2009

hawaii shops

The weather has been miserably humid the past couple of days. Probably to remind me of the weather I will be greeted by when I return to Japan. Hope the tradewinds pick up before I leave for one last cool blast!

Needed a pair of slippers...these were the best ones I found. Not like the stiff ones you find at Longs (which are now owned by CVS but scared to change their name for fear of losing business), nor rock hard like the ones I tried at K-mart which ripped part of my toe nail off as I tried them on (OW!)

These are made by a Brazilian company, and were apparently inspired by the Japanese zori.

Man are they soft, really soft...chocolate brown and a little blingy gold paint on them too, and costed a nice pretty penny (or two)!

I am pretty sure they won't cause my feet any woes, but with all the other foodie stuffs I'm bringing home, they barely squeezed into my 22" suitcase.

You should have seen the huge-mongous suitcase I used to come home with (I think it was a 29-inch or something like that)...it would be filled to the gills going back to Japan, plus I would need a box to pack more stuff!

This trip, I tried to keep my "stuff" down to this 22-incher (ahem!)...hopefully TSA won't open it...and if they do...please put everything back in there nicely! (thank you!)

Hope you all had a nice vacation with me, it is back to the heat and humidity of Japan and back into the kitchen.

I had a great time (though it was a shorter trip than my usual 2 months)...got to watch some Food Network and Travel Channel (Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations"). Am bummed that I will miss the Final "Next Food Network Star" episode.

I didn't get to see some of my friends (next time for sure!) and am bummed about that. I was able to check out some new places to eat as well as re-visit some favorites and the best part was being able to spend a LOT of time with family. (Thanks Satoshi for letting me stay a little over a month!)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

hawaii eats

I searched my archives and couldn't believe that I'd never posted on K's (if you find it on my blog, please let me know where it is).

K's Bento-ya is a tiny shop in Waipahu serving 2 types of bento (boxed lunch), small or large.

We always get the small which is always way too much food.

It usually comes with 1 makizushi (rolled sushi), 1 oshizushi (pressed sushi), 1 musubi, 1/2 a hot dog, 1 hash patty, 1 tofu egg roll and 3 pieces of their chicken.

Their chicken is deep fried then dipped in a special garlic shoyu-based sauce...so good!

I'm not sure what is in the large because we've never purchased them.

According to mom, the price has been slowly rising on their bento, but are still under US$5 for the small. If you have a big order, you should call a day in advance, otherwise, you'll have to take your chances getting one during the lunch hour, they sell out kinda fast.

Our bento today didn't have the makizushi but instead 2 oshizushi...still ono (delicious)! though I had to refrain from eating all of the crunchy chicken skin...sigh!

K's Bento-ya
94-164 Awalau Street
Waipahu, Hawaii
Phone: 808.671.0160

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

hawaii eats

Last week, I met my friend Mineko near her workplace for lunch.

Since we didn't know where to go, we went a couple of doors down to Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin.

I had heard about this place from Ono Kine Grindz.

As soon as you walk in, it feels like you've gone to Japan.

We ordered our lunches...I had their tonkatsu sandwich and she had their oroshi katsu (tonkatsu served with grated daikon and ponzu). (sorry no photos)

The katsu was delicious...light not oily feeling, the coating on the outside wasn't thick and it was made to order, not sitting around under a heat lamp.

We had a nice time chatting about what happened over the past year.

An hour was definitely too short to catch up on things, but I am glad I got to see her on this trip back. (Thank you!)

Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin
255 Beachwalk
Honolulu, Hawaii
Phone: 808.926.8082

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

hawaii re-visits

After seeing Deb's post, and remembering several conversations with Satoshi about our elementary schools, I went back to check mine out on one of my morning walks.

There was more fencing around the school than I remembered...lots more grass and trees too.

The jungle gyms and monkey bars were gone and replaced by these huge plastic castle looking things.

I remember in kindergarten climbing on the jungle gym at recess only to be pushed off by an older boy...a 6th grade boy came to my rescue.

The steps weren't as high as I remembered...the cafeteria was all lit up, brought back memories of the delicious school lunches we used to eat for only a quarter (is that dating myself? maybe)...shoyu chicken, meatloaf, cole slaw and those addicting shortbread cookies.

I remember once an obnoxious guy put his hand on the shortbread cookie on my tray and said, "you gonna eat that?" figuring that I would hand the cookie over to him because he was already touching it, but I told him, "yeah, I am!" (though I think I threw it out after because...he touched it...)

With the cost of things these days, they are talking about raising the price of the school lunch from $1-something to $2-something...way more than what I remember paying in school, but still pretty reasonable....I wonder if the quality of the lunch is still as good too? hope so.

Seeing the field brought back memories of running barefoot for track practice...playing kick ball....May Day performances. Growing up having grass under my feet during recess, I was really shocked when I saw the kids in Japan running on hardened sand...not one blade of grass.

Down the hill from my elementary school was the recreation center, run by the City Parks and Recreation. It was here that my dad taught after school classes...stitchery, ukulele, archery, tumbling, seed craft. I think most of these classes were free of charge. My mom used to sign me up for these classes (cheap baby sitting, yeah? maybe). It was a good way for me to spend time with my dad and not have to go home to an empty house.

When my brother started school, my dad was moved to another park, so we used to walk home together with some of the other neighborhood kids and were "latch-key" kids then.

After finishing our homework, we were allowed to go outside to play. My brother usually dilly-dallied with his homework, so it was rare if he got outside (which is why he got really good grades). Me, I rushed to do my homework so I could get out of the house (I got so-so grades).

To this day, I still remember my first day of kindergarten, maybe because it was so traumatizing. I remember somehow spilling my milk into my pork and beans and the lunch mother (a volunteer mother who came to watch us while the teachers ate) Mrs. Fermin, told me to "fish out" the wieners and eat them for lunch...it was traumatizing then but now a good memory.

I don't remember what was taught in the classes, and have forgotten some of the other student's names (sorry!) but what I do remember about elementary was that it was mostly stressless times...good times.

Monday, July 27, 2009

hawaii drinks

My very first trip to Jamba Juice...tried their peanut butter moo'd...yum!

Reminded me of KC Drive Inn's Chocolate Ono Ono Shake (chocolate shake with peanut butter in it). Though KC Drive Inn is no more, I preferred theirs because it had bits of peanut butter in it.

I guess the next time I'm craving an ono ono shake, I'll check out Jamba.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

hawaii eats

I think this may be the last Marukai post for my trip...tried their fried saimin the other day....US$2.69.

Good amount of noodles, ham, kamaboko, some egg and veggies...though it was REALLY salty and the green onions were RAW, which left a really onion-y taste in my mouth.

I tried it...it was okay, don't think I would get it again though...If you get a chance to try this, let me know what you think.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

hawaii shops & eats

Since my grandma moved from Hilo to Oahu, we don't go to the Big Island as much these days, but when we do, we always try to stop in at Big Island Candies (BIC).

They are the original shortbread cookie dippers (chocolate dipped shortbread) and also have lots of interesting but yummy indulgences there. In recent years they have started to dip their shortbread in dark chocolate too. (yeah!)

On our recent trip to Hilo, we made our stop into BIC, it was near closing time so there weren't many people in the store.

I bought some non-dipped shortbread to take back to Japan for my MIL and my host-mom. As well as some other items, one was...their brownies with coconut covered in dark chocolate! (I'll share with you the other item when I eat it!)

8 of these babies for US$10.75 +tax....kind of pricey, but worth every bite and on a humid and hot day like it was yesterday (in some places it was 90F (32C)), it was oozy chocolate finger licking goodness! (Of course, I shared with my mom and dad, so that they could both partake in the indulgence too!)

Have a great weekend!

Friday, July 24, 2009

hawaii eats

Tuesday, I went with my Mom and Dad to check out Burgers on the Edge (BOTE).

This burger place is similar to The Counter (TC), where you can :"build your own burger", I wrote about TC earlier .

Dad couldn't decide and settled for their Classic, US$6.49, 1/3 pound burger with lettuce, tomato, red relish & pickles on their whole wheat w/oats bun.

The guy at the register rattled off what red relish...red peppers, jalapeno and some other ingredients (I couldn't catch them all because he rattled them off really fast), but didn't know if it was spicy...WT??

Mom chose to build her own burger...a 1/3 pound burger with swiss, red relish, tomato slices, applewood smoked bacon, portabella mushrooms & grilled onions...US$6.99.

I also chose to build my own burger...a 1/3 pound burger with pepper jack, smoked hickory bbq sauce, applewood smoked bacon, portabella mushrooms, roasted red peppers & thin crispy onions...US$6.99.

We also got an order of their sweet potato fries...US$4.89.

Things we noticed...the burger at BOTE is larger in diameter than TC, the bun is bigger too.

Way the burger was cooked...TC asks how you want the burger cooked, BOTE didn't.

Toppings...you get way more toppings on your burger at BOTE (because the burger is larger in diameter.)

Sweet Potato Fries...TC has better sweet potato fries. They were way more crispier. Mom also thought that BOTE may be using yam instead of sweet potato, or their cut was too thick to get the fry crisp enough.

Price...you will probably get a more reasonably priced meal at BOTE.

Negatives: My only gripe about my burger at BOTE was that there seemed to be crystals of salt here and there that I kept crunching on, which made those bites way too salty, and I wished the crispy onions that I ordered in my burger were crisp.

Also, the music inside the shop was quite loud so we couldn't have much conversation, but it beat sitting outside with the wind blowing everything around and the noise of the traffic zooming by.

All in all, we're glad we tried this, it was really filling and delicious.

Burgers on the Edge (in the Kapahulu Safeway Complex) UPDATE: as of 2013, this place is closed
888 Kapahulu Avenue
Honolulu, Hawaii
Phone:808.737.8866

Thursday, July 23, 2009

hawaii eats (leftovers)

What do you do with leftover meatloaf? Growing up, we ate them as sandwiches. The leftover meatloaf was never heated. Mayonnaise (Best Foods, of course) and ketchup were the preferred condiments. (I think in a previous post I talked about eating foods cold, this is definitely one that works.)

Nowadays, we eat them on whole grain bread, mayo slightly spread on the bread with a little ketchup. Oh, and the meatloaf was actually a beef/tofu mixture, using leftover tofu.

A little healthier than what I remembered as a kid, but still just as good.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

remembering

It is amazing how time flies, maybe you aren't always necessarily having fun while it flies by, but it does.

Remember I talked about loving rainbows? It is true that they are very scarce where I live, I think out of the 8 years of living in Japan, I've seen it ONCE in Osaka and that was for 5 seconds.

Okay, maybe 5 seconds is exaggerating (but not by much), I didn't even have time to take out my camera to take a shot at it.

Rainbows are also special to me because it reminds me of an uncle, my Uncle Ronald.

It was 19 years ago today that he died in a fishing accident. I still remember driving over to my Aunty's tears in my eyes, being careful not to get into an accident myself.

I'm not sure if it was the day of his funeral or maybe some time afterwards, but everytime I would think of him, a rainbow would appear. To me, it was his way of letting me know that he was there, watching from above.

Though Satoshi never got to meet Uncle Ronald, we talk about him, especially when I tell Satoshi little stories about my childhood.

Uncle Ronald was the "yell first ask questions later" type of guy when something went wrong, but if you were "in the good" with him, he really took good care of you. I was honored to be considered one of his "friends" (he said money was his other friend, so you know it was an honor to be friends with him). He loved to fish, hunt and if I am not mistaken, loved to eat!

I think he would dry fish inside the rear window of his car and once dug an imu (pit) in his yard to roast pig for a birthday party. As a kid, I remember watching all the adults in our family make lau lau and smoked char siu in a huge, used oil drum.

They would also peel pounds and pounds of green mango to make pickled mango. He loved making pork togan (at least I think he made it), though as a kid, I was finicky and usually would give it away to the dog (sorry Uncle!).

Now, whenever I see togan (winter melon) in the store, I pick up a little to make some pork togan. (Interestingly that post for pork togan was also on his memorial day.)

He would make a dish using leftover sashimi (sliced raw fish), marinating it in shoyu and ginger, sandwiching it between rice in a deep bowl, then poured hot barley tea over the whole thing and put a cover on it to steep. Though I never tasted this dish, my cousins (his children) loved this.

Oh, growing up, sashimi in our house was maguro (tuna), nothing more, and only eaten on special occasions. So, you can imagine my surprise when someone asked me in Japan if I eat sashimi and I said "yes", then this whole platter of assorted raw fish came out. At first, I freaked but now can eat almost any type.

It is hard to believe that 19 years has passed, but I think by talking about him, it is a good way to keep his memory alive. (We miss you Uncle!)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

nostalgia

As I took my walk this morning, I was trying to remember the names of my classmates as I passed their houses in my neighborhood.

Some were easy to remember, some were not. I wondered where they were, what they were up to, hoping each of them were well.

Here's hoping your week will be a good one.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

hilo

Friday, I went with my Grandma and Aunty Marian to Hilo. It was the 3rd memorial service for my Grandma's sister.

Arriving in Hilo, it began to drizzle. While my Aunty went to get the rental car, I found this anole and wild orchid. These Hilo anole are so laid back, it let me take its photo and even posed!

After waiting almost 2 hours for our car (there were MAJOR hang-ups!) we were starving for LUNCH!

We drove to the nearest place...Don's Grill.

Luckily the place wasn't too packed and we were able to get seated right away.

It was my first time eating here and I tried their won ton mein. It was hot and the broth was nice, not too oily or salty. Their won ton mein comes with homemade won ton, spam, char siu, won bok, egg & green onion. It really hit the spot.

After lunch, we visited with some of my Grandma's friends and then with our relatives.

What interested me while my Grandma visited with her friend's were their plants...a blazing hibiscus, an anthurium whose "nose" was growing warts (doesn't it look like a cob of corn or a witch's nose?)

And these...bags for your clothes pins. Almost every home in Hawaii has these, handmade to look like a dress, it is hung by a baby's hanger.

Did you know that my mom's cousin is a local celebrity of sorts? He has a show for Seniors which covers Hilo events as well as cooking tips. Pomai of Tasty Island also wrote about him once.

On one of his recent shows, he featured Hi-Ho Mongolian Grill, a new eatery in downtown Hilo, and wanted to take us there for dinner. Apparently this is a franchise, you choose your bowl (little khan, mighty khan and barbarian khan), fill it up with veggies, meat, noodles, and choose a sauce. Take the bowl to the stir-fry area and watch them stir-fry your food.

Each bowl comes with a bowl of rice and soup, and afterwards some pudding and fruit. Everything was flavorful and good. It was a great dinner, even my 93 year old Grandma ate all of her little khan, plus all of her rice and soup!

Of course, second to visiting with the relatives are the wonderful fruits and goodies you can find in Hilo.

My aunty bought these apple and coconut Rainbow Falls Connection pies at KTA (the local supermarket)..these were 6-inch types and my mom thought they were better than the Walaka ones we tried earlier this month.

We got these delicious fruits (pineapple, papaya & mountain apple) from my mom's cousin. (Thank you!)

Oh and that bottom left shot is my breakfast at Hilo Hawaiian, it is their US$4.99 special...bacon cheese muffin, 1/6 of a papaya, 1/3 of a banana and a little chunk of pineapple...everything was so delicious!

The rain didn't let up on Saturday either, we even tried to go to the Kinoole farmer's market, but ended up picking up some flowers then running to our car.

On our flight home, I noticed that a Maddie look-a-like was on board (Rowena, did you know Mads was on vacation without you??), though I think the dog was small kine breaking the rules outside of its carrier bag.

It was a great trip despite the rain, it was nice to see my relatives and I am glad my grandma got to see her friends too.

Hope your weekend was a good one.

Don's Grill
485 Hinano Street
Hilo, Hawaii
Phone: 808.935.9099

Hi-Ho Mongolian Grill (next to Low's International)
194 Kilauea Avenue
Hilo, Hawaii
Phone: 808.961.1777 UPDATE: as of 2012, this place is no longer in business

Rainbow Falls Connection
47 Rainbow Drive
Hilo, Hawaii
Phone: 1.800.397.9902

Saturday, July 18, 2009

hawaii foodie thursday

Yesterday, I met up with Deb for a tasting of some "haute" dogs.

Before meeting her though, I stopped in at the Moanalua 99 (the old 99Ranch Market), I had heard about a tea shop called Bibbitea Bobbitea Brew. They were listed as selling some Revolution teas, as well as other tea items, so I wanted to see what they had.

They had these individually wrapped 1 infuse (1 bag) types, so I picked up some for Deb to try (Earl Grey Lavender & Honeybush Caramel) and also some for me to try (Honeybush Caramel & Sweet Ginger Peach).

As I headed to the parking lot, I noticed that Imari Bento now sells their bento there. On a previous trip home, I was saddened when I noticed they were gone from their Keeaumoku location. Satoshi and I love their Wa-hamba-gu bento (Japanese style hamburger). Hopefully the next time I'm home I'll be able to try their bento again!

Heading into town, I noticed the Emperor of Japan's plane cruising past me as I waited at a light. (I left a little early because I had heard that they stopped traffic when the entourage passed and didn't want to be late.)

I parked on Auahi Street, they have 2 hour metered parking there. If you find parking in front of the shop, their meters are only an hour.

We ordered the Fat Boy (a hot dog wrapped with bacon then deep fried, topped with mayo, lettuce & tomato...think hot dog blt)US$5.95, Buffalo Brat (a smoky brat made from buffalo meat (I am assuming), brown ale and chipotle, topped with pineapple relish, sauerkraut & guiness mustard US$8.50.

Both of these dogs were good, they had a nice crisp snap to them and were very flavorful.

We also ordered their fries US$2.50, onion rings US$3.75 and lilikoi lime sodas (don't remember the price). The lilikoi lime soda was really refreshing, though Deb thought it had a bit more lilikoi the last time she tried it.

We also got their special dipping sauces...curry ketchup and garlic aioli...the curry ketchup had a nice zing to it and the garlic aioli was creamy with a nice garlic taste.

Earlier that morning, the shop was featured on a local morning show, also, Hank's was recently featured in Bon Apetit magazine. We weren't sure which reason the customers were lining up for, but it was nice to see the line. I myself was a bit leery about trying this place, I mean, paying a lot for a hot dog, it has to be good or else...

After eating, we chatted a bit and of course we talked about dessert too....Hank's has a creme brulee....

Instead, we went into Chinatown to the newly opened Otto Cake. This tiny shop, a couple of doors down from Char Hung Sut, sells cheesecake.

Deb and I had a slice US$5 each, I had lemon and she had banana coconut cream.

I loved the citrusy flavor and it was really creamy, oh and the crust was delicious too.

Deb's banana coconut cream, had a subtle banana flavor with coconut shavings on top.

I also bought two slices to take home for my dad (chocolate chocolate chip) and for my mom (banana coconut cream). (UPDATE: dad loved his and mom did too, except she felt that the banana bits in her cheesecake were kinda green.)

They don't really have tables to sit at to enjoy your cheesecake, so we borrowed their bench to enjoy ours.

All in all, it was pricey but a great foodie day. (Thanks Deb!)

Bibbitea Bobbitea Brew (inside old 99Ranch, near post office)
1151 Mapunapuna Street
Honolulu, Hawaii
Phone: 808.834.5323 UPDATE: this shop no longer at this location

Hank's Haute Dogs
324 Coral Street
Honolulu, Hawaii
Phone: 808.532.4265

Otto Cake
1160 Smith Street
Honolulu, Hawaii
Phone: 808.834.OTTO (6886)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

hawaii sights

Let's just take a breather from food (just a day)...actually there was cookie baking yesterday (I was just the helper, mom did all the real work).

It was hot yesterday (84F/28C) with some passing showers so it was a little humid, sitting in our living room, I noticed these clouds.

Once outside, it was cooler. Have been loving the weather here. I wish I could bottle the tradewinds to bring back with me to humid and hot Japan.

Only a couple more weeks and my "vacation" will be over....better take it all in.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

hawaii cooks

Yesterday for dinner we had goya champuru. I've written up about this in the past. My mom got these teeny tiny goya (bittermelon) from a friend. They are supposedly wild...all I know it was a P.I.T.A (pain in the a**) to clean.

We added some portuguese sausage, tofu, onion and egg. Since my mom is watching her salt intake we didn't season it at all.

It was still quite flavorful from the sausage, but these goya slices sure packed a bitter punch!

What did you eat for dinner yesterday?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

hawaii eats (tries to anyway)

You ever had one of those days when nothing is going right?

That was our Sunday morning. (can I drag you along?? if so, keep reading...)

It started out early, we were going to check out the Haleiwa Farmer's Market.

One source noted them as being next to the North Shore Marketplace....not. We ended up driving to the end of the town not seeing much of anything then driving to Waialua. (Their website says they are located at the end of Haleiwa Town more towards the North Shore.)

We wanted to check out the Old Waialua Sugar Mill. There are many small local shops...though they weren't open until 10:00 or maybe they were closed on Sundays too?? dunno...sigh.

So, we went to Wahiawa to check out Sunnyside, maybe we could buy one of their chocolate pies...nope...they don't make pies on Sundays. (insert pouty face)

We backtracked to Kilani Bakery (which we saw on the way to Sunnyside) and picked up some pastries instead.

Mom talked about the Mililani Farmer's market, so we headed to Mililani High School. It was okay, but there were only a handful of vendors.

Getting into the car we talked about going to Poke Stop. Apparently there is a new shop in Mililani...couldn't find it.

So we drove all the way back to Waipahu to the original shop only to find out that they are closed on Sundays. (insert another pouty face)

And so as we were in the car, we talked about getting something from Highway Inn, but decided last minute (making a u-turn in the parking lot of Highway Inn) to go to Tanioka's.

Long lines and a little waiting but we got ourselves some bento. Mom and Aunty Marian got their ahi patty bento. US$4.40.

I got the Spicy Triplet...spicy ahi (tuna), spicy tako (octopus) and spicy marlin with tobiko (flying fish roe) over rice...US$4.95...yum! Vinegared sushi rice topped with these spicy poke.

Lots of driving...no major jumpstart to the economy, but at least we had a nice drive on a gorgeous Hawaiian Sunday and a nice lunch. (Thanks for lunch Aunty!)

Hope your weekend was a good one!

Monday, July 13, 2009

starbucks

I usually try to write good things with regards to places I've eaten, but not all experiences are good and should be shared.

Last week, I tried Starbucks Vivanno, which is their smoothie. US$3.95+tax.

I tried the banana chocolate. On the website it boasts, 1 whole banana, whey protein, fiber powder and milk for the base of their smoothies.

Choosing the banana chocolate, I imagined it would be chocolate based with some banana flavor, instead it was the opposite, banana based with some chocolate flavor...I know, there was that whole banana in there but, gimme more chocolate! (lots more)

I was also disappointed that there was only one size...grande, I wished they had had something smaller and ended up throwing half of it away...meh, I think Starbucks should stick to what they do best...coffee.

I also bought their dark chocolate covered graham crackers, US$1.70+tax...this made up for the disappointing smoothie. Crisp graham crackers covered with dark chocolate...mmm! shared with a friend and some good conversation it was a great ending to a not-so great smoothie.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

hawaii sights & revolution tea

This cute little zebra dove (I found out what it was called on wikipedia) I spotted while sitting in the car waiting for my mom...love the zoom on my point-and-shoot!

I think this is the Waianae range (please correct me if I am wrong). As seen from the bus stop near my parent's home while waiting for the bus. On a really bad voggy (volcanic fog) day, you can't see these mountains...at all.

My neighbor has a papaya tree...with lots of papaya, but up too high to reach...sigh.

In the early evenings and early mornings, we usually get a misting, sometimes a passing shower (or two), love to see these rainbows. When you live in an area where rainbows are scarce, you tend to treasure them more.

And to blog a bit about food...Revolution tea, not sure where I read about them, but was happy to find them in Japan (of all places), bought their earl grey lavender and brought it with me, it is a great balanced flavored tea. I've been sticking a tea bag into a cup of cold water and letting it sit for an hour and enjoying this iced.

What have you been enjoying this summer?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

hawaii foodie thursday

Thursday, I met up with my blog friend, Deb of Kahakai Kitchen. We've emailed and commented on each other's blogs but never met up face to face.

I had also received an email to meet up from another blog friend, Alan of Ma'ona and asked if he wanted to join us. Luckily, he didn't have any last minute meetings and took some time out of his busy schedule to join us.

It was the first time for all of us to meet each other.

We met up at Blue Hawaii Lifestyle Cafe at Ala Moana Shopping Center to try their acai bowl (US$7.50 +tax). It was my first time trying this and I really liked it---a tart acai "sorbet" topped with granola, fruit and some honey...delicious.

We chatted about blogging and other topics then Alan had to return to work. It was really nice putting a face to his blog and I think we all had a nice time.

After our acai bowls, Deb and I headed upstairs to the Pacific Place Tea Garden. The owner of this shop is actually a friend of my friend, Audrey. She had told me about this place awhile back but I had never had the chance to check them out.

Deb had been here before and highly recommended the tea floats, but since we had just eaten the acai bowl, we settled on iced teas and macaron instead.

Deb had their tangerine ginger tea (US$2.95) with a chocolate macaron (US$1.75) and I tried their passion for hawaii tea (US$2.95) with a matcha macaron (US$1.75).

The macaron was good but could have used more green tea flavor, it actually reminded me more of a pistachio flavor. I loved the tea, there was a lot of passion fruit flavor.

Besides taking time out of her busy schedule to spend time with me, Deb was also kind to give me some of her favorites...chocolates from Sweet Paradise Chocolatier, a chocolate shop in Kailua.

I tried them and each one was perfectly flavored and the chocolate surrounding them perfectly matched too. They were all so good that I couldn't pick a favorite....(I actually ate half of each one and saved the other half for my mom...if you were wondering.)

Along with the chocolates, she also included her favorite tea from Teavana. The tea is a rooibos tea flavored with blueberries and other herbs, can't wait to try it...

And as though she weren't generous enough, she also included two magazines.."delicious." and "edible hawaiian islands".

"delicious." is also a favorite of mine, Satoshi had brought a copy back for me from one of his business trips to Australia in the past and I try to buy a copy whenever I'm in Hawaii.

The "edible" magazine was something new to me. This magazine promotes local food and apparently there are many other cities that have publications so check out their website to see if your city has one.

I had a great time meeting Alan and Deb. (Thanks for a great day you two! and thanks for all those great foodie items Deb!)

Pacific Place Tea Garden (UPDATE: 2014, this shop is no longer here)
Top Floor
Ala Moana Shopping Center, concourse near Neiman Marcus
Honolulu, Hawaii
Phone: 808.944.2004

Sweet Paradise Chocolatier
20-A Kainehe Street
Kailua, Hawaii
Phone: 808.230.8228

Friday, July 10, 2009

hawaii volunteers

Yesterday I went to help my mom and some people from her church make tsukemono.

Almost every trip home, I go to help at least once. This usually involves lots of lifting and peeling pounds and pounds of daikon for takuan and kogen (two types of tsukemono (Japanese pickles)). Sometimes it involves other veggies when they are making other types.

Yesterday they were making takuan and kogen...150 pounds of daikon for each type.

With about 20 people we were done in no time. It was interesting listening to the groups of people chatter on about topics like "what they are growing in their garden" to "Michael Jackson".

These pickles will be sold at their upcoming Bon Dance in August.

The bon dance which started in Japan is like a party for you to welcome back your ancestors during the O-bon season in August. There is usually a big taiko (drum), a singer and some other Japanese instruments like a shamisen (looks like a 3 string guitar of sorts) that play various Japanese songs perched on a high stage, while the participants (including you) dance around the high stage.

If I am not mistaken, dancing around the high stage is how you welcome your ancestors back. I do remember while growing up that we had to go at least one time around to get some shave ice. (bribery?? maybe.)

The bon dances in Hawaii have food booths and sometimes games, it may look kind of like a county fair or what we call carnivals. While Japan does not have many bon dances these days, Hawaii seems to preserve what culture our immigrant ancestors brought with them hundreds of years ago.

Satoshi and I have volunteered in the andagi (okinawan donuts) booth at my church and have not forgotten the overwhelming heat and hard work that goes into producing these tasty treats.

I think the Bon Dance season has started in Hawaii, if you have some time you should check it out, the local newspapers usually lists all the bon dance dates and times, it is a great way to get some good local food and welcome your ancestors back.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

hawaii eats

Met up with my cousin and his wife for lunch on Tuesday. They are here for his reunion. It was my first time meeting his wife too.

Whenever they come to Hawaii, they like to eat foods that aren't readily available in Arizona, namely Japanese, Korean and Thai cuisines.

We decided to meet at Sorabol. I'd heard good things about this place but had never been there.

My cousin's wife can speak Korean (I think she is fluent), so she ordered for us, which was great.

My cousin ordered their soon du bu (the spicy hot pot with tofu), my cousin's wife ordered the bulgogi (barbecue pork) and I ordered the jap chae (long rice with beef and veggies).

They brought out banchan (assorted pickles, veggies), seaweed soup and after lunch, a cold ginger tea with rice in it.

Everything was so good that I forgot to take a photo of our lunch.

After lunch, my cousin and his wife mentioned that they wanted to eat shave ice, so we headed to Waiola.

It was my first time there, but I really enjoyed their shave ice. The ice was so fine that it didn't clump up into a hard mess.

I had the small cup with li hing powder and rainbow syrup.

I think my cousin and his wife enjoyed their shave ice too and I hope they enjoy themselves while they are here.

It was great meeting up with them and finally meeting my cousin's wife. (Thank you for lunch and for a great day!)

Sorabol
805 Keeaumoku Street
Honolulu, Hawaii
Phone: 808.947.3113

Waiola Shave Ice
2135 Waiola Street
Honolulu, Hawaii
Phone: 808.949.2269

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

peeled snacks

Recently saw these in a magazine, I think "Health", and wanted to find them locally. After looking at all the places they listed on their website, I came up empty, so I ordered online.

These little packages of fruit and nuts by Peeled Snacks are good. The nuts are packed separately from the fruit so they don't get soggy.

Another good thing is that they don't charge an arm and a leg for the shipping. At US$27.99 (with shipping) for 3 each of 3 "flavors" (total 9 bags), it comes out to a little over US$3 a bag. Each bag is 2 servings.

You may be surprised because there is just 2/3 cup of nuts and fruit in one bag, (maybe a bit pricey??) but it is just the right amount for a snack. (Though it does take some willpower to save the other half of the bag for another snack.)

Here are the "flavors" I got: Bing Bing Cherry (peaches, apples, bing cherries, walnuts & cashews), Plu-what? (white peaches, plums, cashews & pluots), Fig Sated (apricots, figs, dates, almonds & pistachios). So far I've tried the Fig Sated and loved it. All the fruits were moist, not hard like some dried fruits can be. And the nuts a little salty but crunchy.

I'm glad I ordered them and glad I tried them, can't wait to try the other 2 "flavors".

Monday, July 06, 2009

foodie 4th of july weekend

Friday we went to Costco, since they close on the 4th of July, the place was packed with people picking up food/drinks for the long weekend.

While my mom stood in line at the checkout, I ran over to Fat Boy's to pick up our lunch...only to be greeted by a huge line there too.

I had read about Fat Boy's on Lori's blog last year and wanted to check them out. My mom was a bit leery because of their name (wouldn't you be too?).

But we were glad we checked them out. Their food was tasty and the portions very generous. I picked up their garlic chicken bento (US$5.25) 6 pieces of their garlic chicken, rice and furikake.

Their chicken tasted more like mochiko chicken, didn't have much garlic flavor, was crispy but not hard as rock as some deep fried chicken are.

Mom chose the BBQ Mix (US$8.95), this came with a salad, 2 scoops rice, a good sized piece of grilled teri chicken, lots of teri beef and a strip of teri short ribs. I gave my mom some of my chicken and she gave me some of her chicken and short ribs. The teri beef we saved for our lunch on Saturday.

Dad chose the mini beef curry (US$6.50). This came with salad, 1 scoop of rice and the curry. He liked the flavor of the curry but was disappointed at how little beef there was, how huge chunks of celery there was (probably one whole stalk chopped chunky!) and one piece of carrot.

I think Fat Boy's popular items are the grilled items and the garlic chicken. While we probably wouldn't get the garlic chicken again or the curry, we would definitely get the BBQ Mix.

Saturday, we got up early to check out the KCC Farmer's market...it was nice to see the market packed with locals and tourists.

I picked up a small bottle of Wililaiki (Christmas berry) honey from Big Island Bees, US$6. My friend introduced me to them awhile back and I was glad to see them at the market.

All around the island you can see these shower trees in bloom, my Aunty Marian said that they are late this year, they remind me of cherry blossoms.

Saturday evening we gathered at my Aunty Marian's in McCully. She has a pretty good view of the fireworks (well, there are a few buildings in the way), but it beats fighting the crowds and sitting in traffic.

We picked up some grilled KFC (did you know they only serve drumsticks and thighs for their chicken pieces and use the breast for something else? my mom said that when we were kids a bucket of KFC meant getting a whole chicken.)

Anyway, my mom also made baked beans w/portuguese sausage, 3-bean salad, potato salad and grandma bought some sushi. We all agreed that grandma's homemade sushi tasted better than the bought.

Dessert was apple pie and some manju.

Grandma got this ripe mango from a friend and gave it to me. It was my first time peeling a mango and gnawing on the seed (gosh, have I lead a sheltered foodie life or what??) The mango was perfectly ripe, juicy and delicious. I shared it with my parents during lunch.

Sunday dinner was at our house, my mom made my favorite shrimp with pineapple. And we also had leftover salads from the night before.

Dessert was an apple pie from Costco, these pies are huge! but the crust was a disappointment, it seemed raw in some areas. We agreed that the pie the night before was better.

The weekend ended with this beautiful sunset.

It was a great foodie weekend, hope you have a great week!

Fat Boy's
94-1201 Ka Uka Blvd.
Laniakea Plaza
Waipahu, Hawaii
Phone: 808.680.7520