Friday, February 29, 2008

down to earth

I heard about Honest Tea from Kathy's blog and was happy to find some at Down to Earth a couple of weeks ago. Since they were 4 for $5, I bought the Pearfect Tea, Green Dragon Tea with Passion Fruit, Pomegranate Red Tea with Goji Berry, and Mango Acai White Tea. Each are "a tad sweet" and is sweetened with cane sugar. My favorite was the pomegranate red tea.

I also enjoyed the little quotation that was on the inside of each cap. Like "We may all come on different ships, but we're in the same boat now." (Martin Luther King, Jr.) or "Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out" (John Wooden)

I also found more chocolates a couple of weeks ago at Down to Earth and some at Borders bookstore. Mostly Dagoba (single origins and super fruit), some Chocolove (70% & 77%) and Green & Black's (70% and Hazelnut & Currants). As the days are quite warm here, I have them in the refrig.

Hope your week is going well.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

hawaii cooks & eats

Mom made some shoyu pork the other day using a recipe from "What Hawaii Likes To Eat" by Betty Shimabukuro & Muriel Miura.

On the page before the shoyu pork recipe is a recipe for an Oki Dog. (Click on the photo to see the different parts of the Oki Dog)

An Oki Dog was invented by "an Okinawan native, Sakai "Jimmy" Sueyoshi, who opened an Oki Dog stand on Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood and got rich selling a burrito filled with a hot dog, chili and shredded pastrami. In 1989, one of the organizers of the Honolulu's Okinawan Festival met Sueyoshi and brought the idea for his Oki Dog home. It has become a festival staple, although it's made here with Zippy's chili (Zippy's being Okinawan-owned), Okinawan shoyu pork and iceberg lettuce for crunch, with a hot dog at its heart..."

NOTES: Mom didn't follow the recipe for the shoyu pork, just the measurements for the sauce to boil the pork butt in. She can't say how long she boiled it for but thinks it was about an hour and a half.

Here's the measurments for the sauce: from "What Hawaii Likes To Eat"

3 pounds of boneless pork butt.

1/2 cup awamori (Okinawan rice wine)
1 cup sugar
1 cup soy sauce
1 clove garlic
small piece ginger.

The meat comes out really tender and well marinated.

For the Oki Dogs, we didn't use Zippy's chili, we made our own. We used whole wheat flour tortillas (regular size instead of burrito size. If you use a bigger tortilla, you can fit more "stuff" inside). We used homegrown leafy green lettuce instead of iceberg. And we shredded the pork.

To make the Oki Dog:

Lay the tortilla on a flat surface.
Place some chili on the tortilla, place the hot dog on top of the chili.
Fold in one side and the bottom of the tortilla up.
Add the shredded lettuce and shoyu pork.
Roll tightly.

The Oki Dog is messy, but really good.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


There is an okazuya in Waimalu called Kabuki. An okazuya is like a deli but they serve dishes for your bento (boxed meal). Mostly all of the foods sold taste great hot or cold.

In Japan these days, okazuya is called sozaiya. But sozaiya in Japan are different, most of the foods there are pre-made.

Okazuya in Hawaii is something of an icon. Lots of places are run by people who have been in business for a really LONG time. So, if you love your Hawaii grandma's cooking, chances are you'll love the stuff they sell at an okazuya.

At Kabuki, the line starts early in the morning and they usually sell out before lunchtime. Even on a Sunday morning (when I went), there was a line (before and after me).

Since this was my first time going to an okazuya (yes, it was my very first time), I asked the lady in front of me how to order. She wasn't quite sure herself, and she got scolded by the ladies preparing her order...yipes. So, while I ordered, I smiled a lot and apologized to the ladies preparing the orders which saved me from getting the "stink eye" (evil eye)...whew.

On Sunday, I needed to buy lunch for my dad and myself, so I got 4 inari(cone sushi), 2 chorizo, 1 shoyu chicken, 1 butterfish, 2 hash and 1 serving of kinpira gobo...all for (US$10.52 tax included..totally cheap eats!). I thought the inari were like the cute things we have in Japan, but as the lady put the inari in the box, I was shocked...these inari were HUGE and only US$.95 each. (In Japan, I think you'd have to pay at least 300yen(US$3) for one this size.) Everything was delicious.

Most okazuya that I know serve their orders in these paper boxes (cake boxes). Even the older plate lunch places used to put their paper plated lunches into these boxes for take-out. Definitely more earth friendly than those styrofoam containers.

So, if you need something fast for a picnic, breakfast or lunch, check out an okazuya.

Waimalu Shopping Center
Aiea, Hawaii
Phone: 808.487.2424

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

sam choy's blc

Saturday morning the sky was clear, no clouds and the air was crisp. It looked like the makings of a beautiful sunrise.

We met some of my aunties and uncles at Sam Choy BLC (Breakfast, Lunch & Crab) for breakfast.

Every year about this time, my aunty on the mainland sends some monies to another aunty for my dad's birthday breakfast. (Thank you!)

I was surprised at how slow business was there and how high prices have gone. I had the fried rice with 2 eggs (US $6.50 + tax). The fried rice has pretty much everything in there (spam, lup cheong, char siu, kamaboko, green onion). This dish was really filling and delicious. It was nice to be able to take my leftovers home. (In Japan, they don't have "doggie bags", for fear of food poisoning complaints.)

It was nice to be able to visit with some of my relatives on this trip home, while celebrating my dad's birthday.

Sam Choy's BLC : UPDATE 2013, this restaurant is no longer in business
580 N. Nimitz Highway
Phone: 808.545.7979

Monday, February 25, 2008

odds & ends

It's Sunday here. Just wanted to share with you some photos I took in the first week that I came home--it was raining off and on and cold.

The yellow flowers are called "popcorn" orchid. (They do look good enough to eat, yeah? They aren't edible though.) The green plant on the right top corner is called a jade plant.

Hope you are having a wonderful, relaxing Sunday. Have a great week.

Saturday, February 23, 2008


Today, Mom, Dad and Grandma had an appointment in town, so after they were through, we went to Panya at the Ala Moana Shopping Center for lunch.

I remember when Panya had a shop in the McCully Shopping Center. That was many, many moons ago.

Since then, they've gone a bit upscale and now serve foods and even have a bar.

I loved the bakery themed lighting.

I ordered the Vegetarian sandwich with a side order of fries. (US $12.45) Actually, I wasn't prepared for the amount of fries. Wow, they sure give a lot, and with ketchup too. In Japan, you would probably get 10 fries (well, that's what happens at MOS burger, yes I counted).

My poor Dad, he ordered the cup of soup with his sandwich. The cup of soup was placed inside of this bigger bowl.

Then he was given this HUGE spoon. It looked almost as big as a serving spoon (well, the size of serving spoon we have at home).

Then when he asked for a smaller spoon, he got a demi-tasse or a spoon that we have in Japan for ice cream.

He had the hardest time drinking his soup with the teeny spoon and couldn't pick up the cup to drink from it because it was inside of the bigger bowl.

Well, we tried the place, but I don't think we'll be back.

Friday, February 22, 2008

hawaii eats...and shops...

Thursday, I met Nate at Chinatown. It was an amazing adventure, looking at all the different kinds of fish, meats and produce. Most of the stores around Chinatown are of East Asian roots, so you can find pretty much everything you need to cook Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese dishes.
We visited Nate's cousin's shop on Hotel Street, and there he picked up some things to bring back with him to Okinawa. We also checked out some other shops where he picked up more things to bring back with him.
Lunch was at Eastern Food Center, I had the Gau Gee Noodle Soup (US $4.50), a rich, salty broth with Gau Gee, Choi Sum and Hong Kong style noodles (kind of stiff, but I like it that way, better than soggy) was just enough food for me.

Thanks for taking me around Nate, it was a fun, foodie adventure!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

bws cafeteria

My blog friend, Nate, had posted about the BWS Cafeteria awhile back. (BWS stands for Board of Water Supply, by the way.)

Since he's back in the Islands now, we met up there for lunch yesterday.

Just park in the back of the office--the building with the fountain out front on Beretania Street. (Parking is FREE) and check in at the desk. You'll need to show ID, so don't forget something with a photo on it. They'll give you a badge and then you're on your way.

Take the retro looking elevator to the 4th floor and you'll be in the Employee cafeteria.

This cafeteria has many tables and chairs, there is no air conditioning, but you don't need it.

Two guys run the place (whom I understand are brothers). Check out the menu on the wall and be prepared to order, when someone comes out of the kitchen, that's your chance to order. Don't expect to rush in and rush out with your food, they cook mostly everything after you order it.

When your order comes out, pay for it. I loved watching the guy ring it up on the old fashioned cash register, he actually had to punch in the numbers then turn a crank to "ring" it up.

Nate and I tried the ox tail soup (US $7.50). This was the most expensive item on the menu. (They also have breakfast and sandwich items starting from US $2.) It came with rice and tsukemono (pickled veggies). A hearty, rich broth scented with star anise. Chunks of ox tail that are so tender it falls off the bone. I hadn't had this in ages! and was happy with this choice. Nate says he prefers his own version with daikon and mushrooms.

When you're done eating, bring your plates and trays back to the kitchen.

Not many know about this place, it isn't fancy, the water comes out of the water fountain next to the register, but if you want a good meal, at a nice price, this is the perfect hideaway!

BWS Cafeteria
630 S. Beretania Street 4th Floor
Honolulu, Hawaii
Open M-F 8:00-14:00 (except State and Federal holidays)

UPDATE: Nate passed away so his posts are no longer accessible.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

kiawe grill

Sunday, we checked out Kiawe Grill BBQ & Burgers. They have 2 shops in town, one in Kalihi and one in Moiliili.

Recently in Aiea, they opened a 3rd shop and this was the one we checked out. I had read up on the places from here and here.

As soon as you walk in the smell of the barbeque and kiawe wood permeates the place.

Kiawe is also known as the algaroba tree. In Hawaii, we often use this wood in our hibachi (grills) to barbeque with.

The menu was engraved in koa (acacia), a prized wood in the Islands.

We ordered the burgers for lunch.

I took the Kiawe Grill Cheeseburger Deluxe (US $6.25). 6 ounces of beef topped with cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion. Ketchup, mustard and relish. Smokey, meaty and delicious.

Mom had the Salmon Burger Deluxe (US $6.25). A huge piece of salmon kiawe grilled topped with mayo, tomato, lettuce and onion.

Dad had the Kiawe Grill Hamburger Deluxe (US $5.95). 6 ounces of beef topped with lettuce, tomato and onion. Ketchup, mustard and relish.

We also ordered the Kiawe Grill Special with no rice (US $9.75), to be eaten for another meal. The special included 2 pieces of chicken, 2 kalbi and some teriyaki beef. (This plate is actually made for 1 person, but was enough for the 3 of us.)

This plate came with your choice of korean sides, which you could take up to 14 ounces of. We chose mac salad, kim chi, chap chae and korean potato. Everything was good and the kim chi was HOT!

They also have pulehu style foods too. If I'm not mistaken, pulehu means salted.

CONS: The prices were kind of pricey. The girl at the register had no personality.

PROS: The aroma in the car driving home was unbearable. The food was delicious.

Mom says she'll be back when she needs some foods for a picnic.

Kiawe Grill BBQ & Burgers (UPDATE:5/2013 Aiea location no longer exists)
98-080 Kamehameha Hwy.
Phone: 808.488.6006

1311 N. King Street
Phone: 808.841.5577

2334 S. King Street
Phone: 808.955.5500

p.s. Nate went there also, check out his post too! (UPDATE: Nate passed away and his blog no longer exists)

Monday, February 18, 2008


Recently, Paz of The Cooking Adventures of Paz, tagged me for a meme. For this meme, I have to tell 5 things about myself, so here goes.

1. I once applied for the C.I.A. (Central Intelligence Agency) and got a chance to interview. The reason I didn't move forward with the process was because I found out what they were looking for in applicants and didn't think that the job was for me.

2. I also once applied for the F.B.I. and got a chance to take their examination. Boy, I never knew that they had to know so much, like if a missle was launched from a jet going at y-speed how long it would take to hit the target going at x-speed, or something like that! Needless to say, I failed miserably since word problems or math are not my strengths.

3. Part of the exam for the F.B.I. was that you needed to run 2 miles in so many, this started me jogging...Which led me to run in the 1998 Honolulu Marathon. I say run, but actually walked half of it.

4. Since I don't like speaking in front of a group of people, I applied at Lion Coffee to work part-time as a demonstrator to overcome my fears.

5. In college, I worked for a rent-a-car agency and would drive rental cars from the airport to various Waikiki hotels. It was a great experience and now I can drive just about any car, stick shift or automatic.

Thanks Paz, for tagging me. I had fun! I think this meme has gone around, so if you'd like to participate, consider yourself tagged!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

kaka'ako kitchen, palama market

Friday, I met my friend Gaye and we went window shopping. Since she had some errands to run, we didn't get to eat lunch together.

So, on my way home, I picked up some of Kaka'ako Kitchen's bread pudding, which I've heard about from here and here.

A 3-inch by 3-inch hunk of goodness, at (US $3.95 + tax) it is HUGE and worth every penny! I loved the thick pudding and the rich vanilla bean sauce that comes with it--not too sweet, but just enough to settle your sweet tooth.

Since we don't microwave our food, I heated everything in a toaster die for!

I also picked up some kimbap from Palama Supermarket in Kalihi. I wrote about it previously here. Today's roll was only US $3.00! What a bargain!

On a side note, I must say that I am so happy that the Aloha Spirit isn't dead here! The other day at Costco while I was going to put my cart in the cart area, someone who was going to put his cart away, took mine also! And, people actually hold the door open for you and thank you when you do the same...I love my hometown, I love Hawaii.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

more local stuff

I've ordered from Ali'i Kula Lavender before and love their products.

So, while I am back in the Islands, I ordered some of their soaps (Lavender soap & Lavender Coconut with goat milk) and their (lavender, lime and mango) lip balm (sounds good enough to eat, yeah?) to take back with me. (UPDATE: the lip balm is really good even in cold weather, it stays soft and easy to apply with a brush, plus the lime fragrance is really delicious.)

Check out this rainbow that I saw from my Aunty's place, can you see the reflection in the window too?

It's Aloha Friday here, hope your weekend will be a good one.

Friday, February 15, 2008


I first learned about this bar from Chocolate Obsession and then Sourdough Monkey Wrangler tried it.

I made note of it and found it at the Honolulu Chocolate Company, so I picked it up. Kind of a weird combination, right? maybe. It is a 41% deep milk chocolate, with smoked salt and bacon bits.

But, if you're like me, you sometimes crave, sweet and salty things at certain times of the month (too much information? maybe), this is definitely something to soothe those cravings.

As soon as it hit my tongue, I could taste the smoked salt, then the milk chocolate and then some of the bacon. And then I had to put the bar away for fear of eating the whole thing in one sitting.

I liked it. If you get a chance, you should try it.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

henri le roux

Remember I went to the Salon du Chocolat, last month? Well, while I was there, I found Henri Le Roux's counter in the basement of the Shinjuku Isetan Department store (the same store that the event was held at) .

His C.B.S. (Caramel au Beurre Sale) is his most famous item. I had heard of them from my host-brother's wife, she is also a foodie and had given me a package of these which didn't last a day!

In the showcase, he also had other caramels, so I bought an assortment. There was Tartin (apple), Chocolat (chocolate), Framboise (raspberry), Orange & Gingembre (Orange & Ginger), as well as C.B.S. I like the original (C.B.S.) the best.

Today is Valentine's Day in Japan, the day when women give men chocolates, which I think is totally wrong, the giving should be both ways. Women shouldn't have to wait for their gift to be reciprocated (or not) a month later on White Day (March 14).

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

boston's north end pizza

Saturday, I went out with BFF to walk around Windward Mall in Kaneohe. We hadn't been there in ages and boy, were there lots of changes to the Mall and a LOT of people there too.

Since we were getting hungry, we decided to check out Boston's North End Pizza. It had been several years since we ate here and it actually had moved from the location we had known them to be at, to a location closer to Windward Mall.

One thing that hadn't changed was the size of the slice of pizza that you get. It is still HUGE and equals about the size of 4 slices. I got the Boston Special, which is their Supreme. It was delicious and just how I remembered it!

I was surprised at how much the price had gone up (now US$6.90), but for the slice size and taste, I would still say that it was worth it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


I thought we should take a breather from the "eats" for just a bit...I just received my order from They make greeting cards, postcards, notecards, mini cards and stickers from your Flickr photos(for a fee). They also make the cards from your photos on other places too, so check to see if your photo account is listed.

When it comes, it is packaged in a stiff vellum envelope so the cards don't get wet and there is also a thumbnail card with all the photos you chose.

Takes a while to get them (because the company is in England), but definitely worth it.

Monday, February 11, 2008

giovanni's & romy's

Just wanted to share with you some photos which Satoshi sent to me. It apparently has been 11 years since Osaka had 5 centimeters (close to 2 inches) of snow (and I missed it, darn! no really, darn!)

Since I didn't grow up with snow, I love to see it during the winter months in Japan, flurries to snow storms. Satoshi thinks I'm crazy every time it snows or flurries fall and he sees me jumping up and down.

Now, let's warm up with some food...

I had heard about Giovanni's for awhile now, but never taken the initiative to get out to Kahuku. And then there were posts all over the blogosphere.

So on Friday, I talked my family into driving (I was driving) all the way to Kahuku to try Giovanni's and Romy's shrimp. I convinced my mom that we should try both today because "we're only going this once". (Dad and Grandma didn't know what was going on, but happily went along for the ride. Thank goodness the rain let up just enough for us to make the drive out to Kahuku.)

Giovanni's is known for their scampi, so that is what we got. For US$12 tax included, you get 12 shrimp cooked in its shell with lots of garlic and butter (plus an extra paper plate to share). The garlic and butter flavor really comes through and matches really nicely with the spicy sauce (kind of like Tabasco) that they give.

Then about 2 or 3 minutes from Giovanni's up the road is Romy's, their menu is a bit more extensive than Giovanni's.

We ordered the butter & garlic (#1)(so we could compare it to Giovanni's) and the fried shrimp(#3) (each US$11.75 + tax).

Romy's Butter & Garlic shrimp were huge and had lots of flavor, it matched nicely with the spicy shoyu sauce that they gave. It was different from Giovanni's but good in their own way.

The Fried Shrimp are peeled shrimp and are fried in egg roll wrappers. This is served with a gooey sweet chili sauce. Of all entrees, this was the easiest to eat. Jaden has a recipe on her blog similar to this.

Giovanni's gives a LOT of napkins because eating the shrimp will get messy. (Definitely not somewhere to go on your first date!) We ate our plates from both places at Romy's, they had a little sink to wash your hands after you're finished eating.

Talk about finger licking goodness! Both places are good (messy, but good) with their own flavors and followers. Definitely worth the drive out there.

83 Kamehameha Highway (from Waikiki---on the left, just past the old Kahuku Sugar Mill)
Kahuku, Oahu
Phone: 808.293.1839

56-781 Kamehameha Highway (from Waikiki---on the left, a little past the Turtle Bay Resort)
Kahuku, Oahu
Phone: 808.232.2202

Sunday, February 10, 2008

tsukiji fish market

On Thursday, we went to Tsukiji Fish Market's buffet for lunch.

For US$18.95, I was a bit disappointed at what was served. I've never been to the "real" Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, but imagine there is TONS of seafood there.

So, I was disappointed because the only seafood that was there was the assortment of sushi that they had. The rest of the food seemed to lean more towards Korean (kal-bi, kim chee, bi bim kook soo), not that I have anything against Korean food, it is just that if you're going to call your restaurant Tsukiji Fish Market, I would think you should serve more seafood. (Apparently, the dinner buffet is US$32.95 and they have crab, lobster--more of a selection of entrees (more seafood things).)

Anyway, the music in the place was so loud that we really couldn't have much conversation.

Though the food was disappointing, being able to have lunch with my family and some relatives was nice.

Oh, and this rainbow was nice to see too.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

mocha java & satura cakes

Whenever I come home to the Islands, I usually meet up with my working friends during their lunch hour. Wednesday was no exception. I met my friend, Debi for lunch.

We met at Ward Centre's Mocha Java. I hadn't been there in ages. And usually when Satoshi and I went there, it was for breakfast.

There used to be a restaurant called Crepe Fever next to Mocha Java, but that has since closed and the whole area is now Mocha Java.

Since breakfast was served all day, Debi chose the Breakfast Crepe (US $6.95, I think).

I took the Mexican Crepe (US $7.95), just because Mexican food is hard to come by in Japan. Shredded chicken, lots of veggies, and lots of cheese, a salad and a scoop of brown rice. Sadly, it was way too much food for me, and I couldn't finish it.

Before going to lunch, I surfed the internet and there was a website with coupons. Luckily, there was one for Mocha Java, so we each had a free coffee with lunch. We had a nice lunch and lots of conversation. (Thanks Debi!)

Before leaving Ward Centre, I went to check out Satura Cakes. If I'm not mistaken, think this place comes from California and a Japanese guy, from Japan, working in Silicon Valley started it.

They didn't really have much of a selection, so I picked up some strawberry shortcakes (each US $4.50 +tax), since we have some birthdays in our family coming up...meh, it was more expensive than some of the stuff I've bought in Japan and the cake was a little heavier too.

Changing the subject, look what I found outside despite the rain...(it was actually raining while I took this)

Have a great weekend!

UPDATE: Satura Cakes closed in 2010

Friday, February 08, 2008

kung hee fat choy!

It is Chinese New Year today and all around the Islands you can hear and see people wishing each other a Happy New Year with the greeting, "Kung Hee Fat Choy!"

I sometimes I think my mom secretly wanted to be born Chinese, she even told us that she wanted to marry a Chinese chef (in front of my Dad even!)...when we were younger, she used to make baked manapua (char siu bao) for us and for Chinese New Year, she makes gau. Gau is the Chinese version of mochi (rice cake), except that it is made with mochiko(sweet rice flour), dark brown sugar, water and a little oil. (well, that is how she makes it anyway)

First she melted the brown sugar sticks.

Then with all the ingredients mixed together, she steamed them in a steamer. When we were younger, I remember she used to make it in a pressure cooker and you could hear the cooker making that "shucka-shucka-shoo" noise as it cooked.

When it comes out it is still watery, so don't cover it with foil or plastic wrap, instead just put it into a brown paper bag to "dry". If you don't do this, you'll see mold form on it faster than you can say "kung hee fat choy".

Then top each one with a red date (I think she said it is called a hung jo) and some sesame seeds. (When I was still working, one of my Chinese-American friends once told my mom that she makes gau better than some Chinese ladies...he got gau from her every year after that.)

Usually, you can't eat the gau right away because it is too soft. After about two days, the gau firms up and is just the right texture to cut and eat. Some people use grated yam and some people coconut. All the variations are delicious!

We had some dim sum the other day for lunch from Chun Wah Kam. A huge steamed char siu bao or manapua as we call it in Hawaii, pork hash and Hong Kong noodles. Delicious and filling.

I really miss manapua, the Japanese have something called nikuman, but it just doesn't taste the same. I think it is because our char siu is sweeter than the Japanese char siu.

The year of the Rat is the beginning of the Lunar cycle. Let's hope this year will be a good one all around!

Kung Hee Fat Choy!