Wednesday, April 26, 2006

"things" around the house...

If you ever visit the rural and suburban areas of Hawaii, you'll quickly realize that most people have LOTS of different types of plants, flowers and trees growing in their yards.

Most people I know have at least a fruit tree like papaya, mango, lychee or orange, flowers such as pikake(jasmine), plumeria(frangipani) or orchids and plants such as ti leaf and aloe; growing in their yards.

If you ever brewed a cup of jasmine tea, you'll notice these cute little white flowers mixed in with the tea, this is pikake.

This orchid is called honohono and has a very delicate fragrance.

Aloe is a really great plant to have in your yard or nearby, especially when you burn yourself while cooking or after a day at the beach! Plus, this plant doesn't need much water because it is a succulent.

Ti leaf is a kind of Hawaiian "omamori" (good luck charm) and is thought to ward off evil spirits when planted around the property, its also great to line your pan when steaming fish or making laulau (a Hawaiian dish that looks like a little purse consisting of pork, chicken and fish wrapped in taro leaves then wrapped again in ti leaf. This packet is then steamed in a pit in the ground called an imu).

Our pikake plant is the double variety and smells wonderful.

We also have 2 kinds of plumeria, a yellow and a red type. I couldn't get a picture of the red one, because the blooms were up too high.

Also while growing up, we used to have gardenia, hibiscus and bird of paradise.

My grandma used to live on the Big Island and her garden used to have all kinds of things: macadamia nut, lychee, orange, papaya, bamboo shoots, kabocha(pumpkin), hyotan(wintermelon) & pineapple. As well as, orchids and anthuriums. I know she misses her old house and especially her garden, I miss going there too.

The great thing about having all these plants and trees is that when the fruits ripen you often have more than you can eat and share with your neighbors and friends, they in turn share what goodies they have, sometimes it isn't fruits or vegetables, it is sometimes part of a big pot of stew or soup that they made or whatever! I think that might be part of what we call the "aloha spirit".

On this trip home, I am amazed at all the "friends" that I've made walking in the morning. As I cross paths with others, we say "Good Morning" to each other or just wave. This is something you will rarely see in Japan.

Makes me appreciate my hometown even more.

Just wanted to share a foodie experience. I had lunch with some friends that I used to work with, Val & Greg. We had lunch at Beijing. It is a Chinese restaurant located in the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center. Most areas of the center is closed for this massive renovation.

I had the Chicken with chili XO sauce lunch special. It comes with Hot & Sour soup. This soup started off sour in your mouth then the heat from the chilies took over--it was a very nice starter.

Next came the fried tofu and my entree. The chicken was kind of pale but very flavorful. And the tofu's sauce was also really tasty.

Lastly, we had an almond float (almond tofu or annindofu), but I didn't particularly care for it...

Well, the warm weather is back, but at least we have the tradewinds to keep us cool!

Beijing Restaurant
Royal Hawaiian SC 3rd floor above Cheesecake Factory
Phone: 808- 971-8833

Monday, April 24, 2006

some new foodie places

Over the past couple of weeks, I've been trying some new places and have re-connected with a couple too.

Last night, I went to dinner with my friend, Mineko. We went to a place called the 12th Ave. Grill. (I found out about this place from the blog, Ono kine grindz and was eager to try it)

We ordered and the first course came, as I took out my camera to snap a picture of the food, my camera said "no memory stick". I had taken it out earlier to download a couple of photos and had forgotten it in the computer!! I could have kicked, let me just tell you what we had...

We split the ahi salad nicoise (their famous smoked ahi spread surrounded by nicoise vegetables (nee-SWAHZ vegetables consists of tomato, black olive, french green beans and a hard boiled egg). The smoky ahi spread was really delicious especially with the fresh veggies and garlic toast. I chose my entree from the small plates area and had the crab and corn cakes this was atop warabi (fiddleheads), red onion and tomato. This dish was really creamy and delicious. Mineko had the kim chee steak. This is a skirt steak marinated in homemade kimchee and served on rice. This was a very spicy and tangy dish although I thought the steak was a bit on the tough side. And lastly, dessert...Mineko had the lemon pound cake with whipped cream and spring berries (this was a bundt style cake and a very generous portion. It was very lemony and went well with the strawberries and I think marionberries). I had the vanilla bean cheesecake (this was also a very generous slice) with a caramel sauce and almond brittle crumbs (chunks) on top....hope you could visualize all of this, everything was delicious...the place was packed, so make sure you make reservations before you go!

12th Ave. Grill (UPDATE: moved to 1120 12th Avenue, phone number the same :2021 closed)
1145C 12th Avenue
Honolulu, Hawaii 96816
Phone: 808-732-9469
Open only for Dinner: Monday thru Thursday 5:30-10:00
Friday & Saturday 5:30-11:00
Sunday 5:00-10:00

The next foodie place is Wahoo's Fish Tacos. I also learned about this place from Ono kine grindz. This place is actually a franchise that started on the West Coast. The food is kind of pricey here. But, we enjoyed the Wahoo salad with cajun spiced fish and a balsamic dressing. And nachos.

Wahoo's Fish Tacos
970 Auahi Street
Honolulu, Hawaii 96814
Phone: 808-591-1646

If you're craving a local style diner atmosphere, you should definitely try Rocky's in Waipahu.

This restaurant has been around for awhile, my mom knew about this place and we decided to check it out recently. They are known for their pancakes. On the menu there is the short stack and hotcake. The hotcake is just one pancake using the batter of three, the short stack are three small pancakes. I had the short stack with crispy bacon. Satoshi had their loco moco. Everything is very reasonable and the food is great. And for you working people, they open at 4:30am, 7 days a week! Go early because their regulars line-up for a seat!

Rocky's Coffee Shop
94-314 Waipahu Depot Road
Waipahu, Hawaii 96797
Phone: 808-677-3842

Plate lunches and other foodie things can be found at the next two places: Tanioka's Fish Market and Jurison's. Jurison's has a lot of different and interesting plate lunches and sandwiches. One thing that I tried here before was their furikake salmon (Salmon is coated with "furikake"(dried seaweed and other seasonings usually put onto rice) and then grilled). This was really good. Here's what we tried the other day, kimchee with teriyaki beef on a bun. It was called Jurison's Original Teri beef kimchee burger. It comes with your choice of tossed salad, macaroni salad or french fries for only $5.95. I really liked the combination of the spicy kimchee and the sweetness of the teri beef.

Tanioka's is the place to pick up different kinds of poke,local style plate lunches and bentos. Poke is diced or sliced up raw fish or seafood seasoned with Hawaiian sea salt and sometimes chili pepper, limu (a type of seaweed), shoyu (soy sauce) and sesame oil. These LARGE poi andagi can also be found here. They are made from poi (mashed taro), a staple in Hawaiian food, andagi is an Okinawan style donut.

Jurison's Inn (UPDATE: this closed in 12/2013)
94-799 Lumiaina #2H
Waipahu, Hawaii 96797
Phone: 808-676-1171

Tanioka's Fish Market
94-903 Farrington Highway
Waipahu, Hawaii 96797
Phone: 808-671-3779

Hawaii is definitely the place to eat foods from different cultures!

Enjoy your week!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

earth day

Tomorrow is Earth Day. Here's just a sample of what I'm enjoying here in Hawaii:

A GREEN Diamond Head (this is what occurs after 44 days of non-stop rain!)

The blue ocean off of Diamond Head lookout.

A lagoon near the Ko'olina Marina Club.

A type of akulikuli (sesuvium or sea purslane). This flower is used in many haku lei in Hawaii. Haku lei can be seen on the bases of straw hats or as a choker around ones neck or even as a wristlet or anklet. The plant is used as ground cover and even as a water purifier on some rivers in Hawaii.

The naupaka(scaevola or dwarf naupaka). This unusual flower can be found in the mountains as well as near the seashores. It is said that there were two lovers whose love was forbidden. They were turned into half flowers. One was sent to the mountains and the other to the ocean. Only if you bring one half from the mountain and re-join it to the one from the ocean can they re-connect with each other.

Enjoy your beautiful surroundings and thank Mother Nature for all that she has given us.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Since most of us “kids” come home during the Christmas holidays, the party was in its planning stages since September of 2005.

My Aunty M1 did most of the planning and created a wonderful slide show, my Aunty M helped with invitations and other details. My mom helped by baking all the cookies for the “goodie bags” and helped to bring my Grandma to the party.

This was the "goodie bag", assorted cookies in a "jubako" (lacquered box).

The story to my Grandma was that all her grandkids (the 4 of us) were coming home to help her celebrate. Little did she know that some of her relatives and extended family members were also invited. (Satoshi was also able to fly in the day before the party.)

The party was held at Kyo-ya. This is a Japanese restaurant that has been in business since 1958. The restaurant, which looks like a tea house in Japan, was renovated in 1991 and is a very popular place for parties and other gatherings.

We all got to the restaurant before 6:00pm and waited to surprise her. She was speechless. We were amazed that she didn’t have an inkling as to what we were up to. (I think she was almost going cry! I know I was!) She was happy to see her relatives and friends. It was sad that her younger sister couldn't make the trip over...

Our first course was the tako sunomono (octopus in a vinegar/mirin sauce), sansai (mountain vegetation—warabi (fiddle heads), kinoko (mushrooms), takenoko (bamboo shoots)

Next came the sashimi (sliced raw fish)—I think there was some maguro (tuna), and hamachi? or tai (?? or snapper ). The fish was so fresh and delicious!!

Entrees were grilled butterfish and a NY steak with garlic chips and a Maui onion steak sauce.

Assorted tempura (fried shrimp and assorted veggies) This was good because they brought it out as soon as it came out of the fryer! And tsukemono (pickled veggies).

Lastly, we had the birthday cake made by Mary-Catherine’s. Now I understand why this bakery charges such high prices! This cake was so light and delicious! And green tea ice cream.

The centerpieces were beautifully done by a relatively new florist called Flower Blooms.

It was a wonderful celebration filled with good food, good conversation and good times!

2057 Kalakaua Avenue
Honolulu, Hawaii 96815
Phone: 808-947-3911---->as of 2007, Kyo-ya has since closed for business

Mary-Catherine’s Bakery
2820 South King Street
Honolulu, Hawaii 96826
Phone:808-946-4333 --->as of 2012, this bakery is no longer in business

Flower Blooms : Yumiko Yamagami
Around the corner from Minatoya Eye Clinic
Pensacola & King
Phone: 808-597-1189

Thursday, April 13, 2006's a secret...

My Grandma is going to be 90 tomorrow. She has lived through some really tough times. She's very strong spirited and I don't think I would be able to survive the same things that she went through.

We're getting together for a little celebration this Saturday...what she doesn't know, is that we're also getting some of her friends and relatives to help in the celebration.

My Aunty M1 has done most of the planning and coordinating, she's even worked really hard on a little slide show which showcases different moments in my Grandma's life.

Here's just a sample of the cookies that my mom baked to give to the attending guests--kind of like a "goodie bag".

Everyone will start coming home tomorrow...

Hopefully we can pull off the surprise!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


I got some new household cleaning items, which I recently read about on Treehugger. This company doesn't use a lot of chemicals to create their products, just water along with essential oils. I checked out the Mrs Meyer's Clean Day website and they have all kinds of products. Their products come in 3 fragrances: lavender, lemon verbena and geranium. I checked out their store locator and found out that they were selling their products at Foodland in Market City on Oahu, but it turned out to be old information... I happened to be walking through Ala Moana Shopping Center and came across them at a kitchen gadget store called, the Complete Kitchen...but they were selling these products for twice the price on the web!

I checked back on the site and found out that the info was changed to the S. Beretania store, so, I called and put some products on hold...I got the ironing spray and dish soap all were $6.49 each, can't wait to try these out!

Here's my new gadget...a pastry brush made by Pyrex (and I thought they only made glassware...) Can you believe that they have a 25 year warranty on their products? I don't think this brush will last that long...

One thing that is different about Japan and Hawaii are the food portions. I went out for lunch with my grandma yesterday. We went to a restaurant called Tadashi. (I think it opened about a year ago?) It is in the Pearl Kai Shopping Center. This shopping center is right across the street from Pearlridge Shopping Center. I had the teriyaki chicken teishoku (complete meal) and my grandma had their butterfish teishoku. Her fish was SO big! And look how much chicken I had...could have fed 2 people with that amount! And we ate it ALL...

After lunch, we went to meet my aunties to see an exhibit being held at the Convention center. The Convention center opened about 5 years ago. Isn't the architecture neat? Palm tree pillars. The Maitreya Project is a non-profit organization which is bringing the relics of buddhist priest all around the country. When some of these priests passed away, they were cremated and in their ashes, these tiny white bead-like stones were found. When the Buddha was cremated red bead-like stones were found. It was a very interesting and sacred exhibit.

This is my new friend, Debi (I'm only showing you part of her face for privacy purposes...) We met through blogging. She also lives in Hawaii and emailed me to get together for coffee. Since we didn't know much about each other or what the other looked like, the idea was a bit off the wall, but I'm glad we were able to meet. She is a very nice person and we were able to chat about all kinds of things! I'm glad I was able to make a new friend.

Hope you have a great week!

Pearl Kai Shopping Center
98-199 Kamehameha Hwy. Suite C-5
Aiea, Hawaii 96701
Phone: 808-485-8535
Lunch: 11:00-14:30
Dinner: 17:00-21:30

Saturday, April 08, 2006

books, books & tea

Coming home to Hawaii means my days can start REALLY early and finish early too. (Some stores open before 8 a.m. and some are even 24 hours! Definitely different from the stores in Japan. And I can go to bed by 11 p.m. Definitely different from my bedtime in Japan.)

In Hawaii, my day starts at about 5 a.m. , this is when I go walking. It is about a 40 minute walk from my house up and around a "block" of our neighborhood. Walking at this early hour can be a bit scary, especially since most houses have dogs. Not the cute, fru-fru kind of dogs that yip and yap, but big steam snorting kind of dogs--the kind that could probably stop your heart! They are the kind that you can hear, but cannot see (because it is still dark), they are charging and barking towards you as you pass by their house. I often pray silently that the fence or chain which is between me and him/her will hold...oh, and if the dog barks a lot, chances are he's telling his friend that you're coming their way.

You can also see many stars (and constellations...sigh...if only I paid more attention in Astronomy...) and falling stars too(make a wish!). And from where we live, you can also see the freeway all lit up with the headlights of cars making their way into town (which could be seen as beautiful to some--unless you were the one sitting in traffic...) You can also hear many roosters cock-a-doodle dooing and people waking up to start their days. (Some aren't morning people, as the ever ringing alarm clock will suggest as you pass by)...but all in all, it is a really nice walk especially since you definitely won't be getting sunburnt!

Okay, so when I ordered from, I REALLY had to pare down my choices. If I could, I would get EVERY choice on my wish list, but financials along with luggage weight restrictions by the airlines, made it tough for me to decide...This is because I wanted to get cookbooks, and books to read about food as well as the fiction kind, plus I wanted to get my birthday and christmas gifts for Satoshi--DVD's on baseball stuff (shh...don't tell him...unless he's reading this right now...)

Anyway, here is my latest choice..."Chocolate Desserts" by Pierre Herme & Dorie Greenspan. (Photo by (I wanted to also get the book, "Desserts" by Pierre Herme & Dorie Greenspan, but decided to go with my love for...CHOCOLATE!...maybe I'll get this one next time.)

I've read on other blogs about this book and the recipes seem a bit intense but as the back cover says "it's like taking an acting class from Olivier". I can't wait to try something from this book!

Another interesting thing that I ordered was from Republic of Tea were some of their Be Well Red teas. This is a Rooibos (ROY-boss) based tea. The two that I wanted to try were "get lost" and "get clean". "Get lost" is an herbal tea that is supposed to help you curb your sweet tooth, not only does it have cinnamon in it to balance your blood sugars, but also carob to curb the urge. "Get clean" is an herbal tea which uses dandelion, milk thistle and burdock to re-balance you when you feel the need to de-tox. Another interesting tea that I bought was their Fair Trade Certified Ginger Lemon Grass. This tea pairs ginger and lemon grass with fine green tea. They say that ginger and lemon grass help with digestion and that green tea has many healthful properties. I love the teas that I have bought from them in the past and can't wait to try these!

Yesterday, while roaming the aisles of Wal-Mart, I came across these two new types of Reese's peanut butter cups. Now, while I wish they would only make them in DARK CHOCOLATE, I was curious to try their caramel and double chocolate versions. The double chocolate was actually chocolate mixed with their peanut butter centers (no real difference)...the caramel had just a touch of caramel at the bottom of the peanut butter center, but it was WAY too sweet...sigh...a bit of a disappointment for me.

Well, the weather has been overcast with a little drizzle here and there for the past week.

Hopefully the weekend will be a sunny one here and where you are!

Monday, April 03, 2006

books, books and chocolate!

The weather gave us a reprieve for just ONE day...we are back to thunderstorms, but hopefully not more r***...

One of the first things I do when I come home is jump onto my mom's computer and order up myself a ton of books from These books are usually cheaper than buying them from your neighborhood bookstore, PLUS shipping and handling are FREE (if you order over $25 worth...)

I am so happy when I hear a horn tooting out in front of our house. It lets me know that the mailperson has brought me something that I've bought over the internet!

Take for example the package the other day...I was napping, when the FedEx guy tooted his horn, I went(ran) out with my umbrella into the rain, to take the package from him...the box contained...The Silver Spoon! I have read on several blogs that this is a great book...and since I love Italian food, I had to get a copy for myself.

The back cover says, "The Silver Spoon is the bible of authentic Italian cooking. Italy's best-selling cookbook for the last fifty years, it features traditional dishes alongside specially written menus by celebrated chefs. Now translated for the first time into English, The Silver Spoon's 2000 recipes make it an essential classic for everyone who loves good food."

This cookbook is REALLY huge! The book starts out with explanations of terms. There is also a ribbon bookmark built into the book! I can't wait to try out some of the recipes.

Another thing I do is shop for grains that I can't find in Japan-- stuff usually from the health food stores & for DARK CHOCOLATE! I found these at a local health food store called "Down to Earth". Dagoba chocolates are really tasty. I had bought the lavender/blueberry one previously and loved it! I decided to try two more different flavors, Mon Cherri--dark chocolate with cherries and vanilla (with a cacao content of 74%) and Xocolatl--dark chocolate with chilies and nibs(with a cacao content of 72%). I also got their Concado 73%, this is a organic forest grown chocolate from the Dominican Republic. It is Fair Trade and USDA organic certified. Dagoba can be found in Japan, but definitely not worth the price they are charging for it! (I think it may be twice the amount that I pay for in Hawaii...)

Hope you have sunshine where you are...we're still trying to dry out!

Have a great week!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

totally addicting!

I love boiled peanuts.

They also bring back childhood memories of days/evenings spent at the old Honolulu Stadium on King Street. We used to go to watch baseball and football games there (although I'm pretty sure my main intentions were to have some kind of stadium treat and of course to eat the boiled peanuts!)

Once you've tried them, you will be hooked!

In Hawaii, there are two kinds boiled peanuts (that's the only kinds I know of anyway), ones that are "wet" and the kind that are dried. The dried version is apparently just the wet version dried out (sorry no recipe for the dry one). When you bite into the shell to get to the peanuts the sweet salty juices ooze out making it kind of messy but oh so addicting! Perfect to take to any athletic event.

I got these from the "Taste of Hongwanji" and they were only a dollar for a sandwich bag filled to the brim!

I also found this recipe for the wet version on the internet on a site called Recipe Goldmine.

Boiled Peanuts
2 pounds raw peanuts
2 tablespoons Hawaiian rock salt
1 whole bhat gok (star anise)

Soak peanuts in water overnight, weighing down the peanuts with a dish and a weight, like a large can of pork and beans.

The next day, wash and rub peanuts until the water is clear. Put peanuts in a pot with water about 1 1/2 inches above the peanuts. (Hold peanuts down with your hand.)
Add salt and bhat gok. Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer for 30 minutes.

Taste for doneness. Peanut should be medium to soft, depending on the taster. Cook 30 minutes longer for a softer peanut. Let peanuts stand in water for 1 hour.
Pour off excess water. Package and refrigerate. Boiled peanuts may be frozen until ready to use or eaten right away.