Tuesday, June 30, 2009

hawaii sights and shops

On Friday, I bought a tiny tin of Diva Chocolate's Mocha Java Grilling Rub (US$8+tax). Awhile back I had seen this on another blog and was interested in getting some. I looked online and found out that a local shop, It's Chili in Hawaii sells them.

I knew that they were on King Street but hadn't realized that they had moved to Waialae Avenue. It was a good thing I had called to find out where they were located and also to make sure they had some.

When I went to purchase the rub, the owner remembered my call and also mentioned that this rub smells awesome when grilling. I hope it tastes good too...will update when I try this.

Lastly, the reason I love coming home (besides seeing family and friends)...to see these...rainbows. Stretching across the sky. Smiling back at you. Hope you have a great week.

It's Chili in Hawaii
3133 Waialae Avenue (inside of Shipping Shack)
Honolulu, Hawaii
Phone: 808.945.7070
Open Tuesday-Saturday 9:00-16:00

UPDATE: 09/06/09 the website for Diva Chocolate states that they are no longer in business (due to the economy), but notes an email in case you need to contact them. (sad to see them go!)

09/23/09: just read that It's Chili in Hawaii will be moving out of the Shipping Shack (because the Shipping Shack will be moving) and will mostly be at the swap meet and trade shows, if you want to be added to their mailing list, email them at chiliinhawaii@gmail.com

Monday, June 29, 2009

cpk & big city diner

How many times a day could you eat pizza? Me? nowadays maybe once, but in college, many times a day...even for breakfast. We would order pizza from a place called "2 for 1", you order a pizza (US$4) and you get the same type and size free.

Great for our budgets back then, and paired with a B&J wine cooler (do they still make those?). The next morning, since we had no microwave or toaster in our room, cold pizza for breakfast...ah, dorm life.

So, I re-lived that memory the other day, when I had leftover pizza for breakfast. The pizza was my leftover from the previous day's lunch. Spicy Italian sausage, pepperoni, a thin crispy crust....yum!

When I worked for Lion Coffee, my supervisor said that you could tell if something was good if you ate/drank something cold that was supposed to be eaten/drunken when it was hot and it tasted good. A good pizza is definitely good cold.

Of course, my mom, not wanting me to have all bad calories from the beginning of the day and also freaking out because I was eating the pizza cold, gave me a third of a freshly ripened papaya....so sweet, so good!

That same day, I walked with my Aunty M to Ala Moana Shopping Center to have dinner at CPK.

CPK is one my favorites when I come home and I wished they had one in Osaka, I've heard they have one in Tokyo or Yokohama.

Anyway, we tried their new Moroccan chicken salad. Lots of Moroccan spiced chicken, fresh beets, avocado, hard boiled eggs, almonds, butternut squash and a champagne vinaigrette. Kind of like a Cobb salad, but with Moroccan spices and the light dressing. I liked it but my aunty thought it was a bit messy looking. Still it had fresh flavors and was delicious.

We also tried their Pear with Gorgonzola pizza. This is my Aunty's favorite. It was my first time to try it and it was good, lots of Gorgonzola cheese, caramelized onions, hazelnuts, pear and greens on top.

I also had a Guinness but wished the cup they served it in would have stayed cold longer.

Satoshi is here for a couple of days on business, poor guy, by the time he gets adjusted to the time he'll be back in Japan.

We didn't get to see each other much since he stayed in Waikiki to be near the office, but were able to get some of the family together for breakfast at Big City Diner on Saturday.

He had his favorite...loco moco...1/2 pound hamburger patty, with an over easy egg on top and fried rice...after taking his first bite he said, "now this is a loco moco!"...then ate it all.

I had the keiki (kid's) menu...big silver dollar pancakes with choice of bacon or link sausage, I chose bacon. I also added haupia (coconut) creme sauce.

They aren't joking when they say big silver dollar...those pancakes were actually normal sized and was just the right amount. You should have seen the adult sized pancakes...the size of the plate! Way too big and too much to eat...

Lots of food over the past couple of days, hope your weekend is going well.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

la gelateria and other stuff

Just noticed this imprint of Hello Kitty on my MAC lipstick. My friend Gaye gave this to me for Christmas or was it for my birthday? (sorry, I can't remember, sad yeah??) and I only noticed the imprint now...

Changing the subject...I followed one of my readers, Shirley Lou's advice and checked out La Gelateria after lunch on Thursday, since we were in the area. I had the black sesame seed gelato which she recommended (their last one in a cup!)...mmm! creamy and nutty, loved it! (Thanks!)

Mom had pineapple and Dad had the mango, they both enjoyed theirs too (in fact, they finished before I did! must have been good.). At US$2 a cup it was just the right amount. We ate ours on their chairs in front of the store.

The other day we picked out a small watermelon from Times (a local supermarket). The watermelon was grown in Kunia by Sugarland and it was so sweet and delicious!

La Gelateria
819 Cedar Street
Honolulu, Hawaii
Phone: 808.591.1133
Open Monday-Friday 8:00-17:00
Closed Saturdays & Sundays

What have you been enjoying this summer?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

marukai and other stuff

I don't know about you, but the first thing that needs to get adjusted (besides my internal clock) when I come home are my feet (sorry for the ugly pic of my ugly feet). Not wearing slippers a.k.a. zori or anything similar for long periods of time in Japan, makes itself apparent with blisters between my big and 2nd toes as well as on the sides of my feet where the zori straps touch.

I power walked the length of Ala Moana Shopping Center the other day in a wooden thong and ow...that is what happened...oh, the remnant sunburn line?? That is what happens when you wear ballerina flats on a scorching Spring day in Kyoto...amazing how tan I can get on my feet but nowhere else...

Wednesday's lunch was from Marukai...Mini korean chicken US$2.59 + tax...7 pieces of super crunchy chicken slathered with a spicy sauce. Musubi made from gobo, red ginger and some edamame, and a few slices of takuan...so cheap and so good!

How green is your house? Ours got greener last year. Not only do we have solar panels (which I found out we've had since 1979!), but mom just installed some photovoltaic (sp?) cells.

She had been wanting to install some but was waiting for the price to go down and for someone to start installing them on homes (apparently when they first came out they were only installing them for businesses) She said her electric bill is super low now (US$30 a month). (Way to go Mom! I wish our apartment building in Japan would do something similar.)

Friday, June 26, 2009

hawaii shops

Some chocolatey finds here...

Fran's gray salt caramels from Foodland (R Fields section)...I picked up a box of three for US$2.99, these were on sale because the expiry date is coming up soon.

I loved these, gooey caramel covered in dark chocolate then topped with some gray salt. The salty-sweet combination is wonderful. (as you can see, these will not be making the trip back to Japan..ahem!)

Whole Foods opened in Kahala earlier this year, but my mom waited until I came home so that we could check it out together! We were excited to check out their chocolate section, because we'd heard so much from people who visited them on the mainland.

But upon going there, we were disappointed with the selection of chocolates. I did manage to find some ThinkProducts (non-chocolate). I think these are organic fruit bars/nut bars, which I saw in a health magazine. Before going, I had downloaded a coupon from their website. Hope these are good.

I also bought Vosges' Naga bar---curry, coconut flakes and deep milk chocolate. I've tried some of their other deep milk chocolate bars and loved them, so this is probably going to be just as good. (I was tempted to pick up another Mo's bar (the one with the salt and bacon), but resisted! I have a feeling that this Naga bar and the Thinkbars will be consumed in Hawaii!)

Whole Foods is a great place to buy "hard-to-find" ingredients for cooking, but my mom and I felt their chocolate selection was a bit weak.

Guess we'll have to keep hunting at our other stomping grounds for different chocolates.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

the counter

Tuesday, my mom met up with her foodie friends for a get together, and I was lucky enough to be able to tag along.

The place...the Counter. A build-your-own burger shop in the Kahala Mall.

This shop is actually a franchise and recently opened here this year, so there may be a location near you.

Owned by a popular local chef (with investors like an actor from LOST), this shop has an array of burgers, toppings and lots of deliciousness!

We ordered the Trio, it isn't on the menu but our server was kind enough to tell us about it. It is a basket of their sweet potato fries, onion strings and french fries. It comes with barbecue sauce, ranch and horseradish mayo.

My favorite was the sweet potato fries with the onion strings coming in a close second, and the barbecue sauce...mmm! (how I miss this kind of bbq sauce in Japan!)

You are given a checklist as to what type of burger you want, the cheese, 4 toppings, a sauce and a bun.

Here is my burger...1/3 pound beef burger with herb goat cheese spread, roasted red peppers, grilled onions, carrot strings, mixed baby greens on a honey wheat bun and a caramelized onion marmalade on the side...I was a bit disappointed with the marmalade, but happy with the rest of my burger.

My mom ordered the 1/3 pound beef burger with swiss cheese, carrot strings, grilled onions, tomatoes, mixed baby greens on a honey wheat bun and a honey mustard sauce on the side.

You could also choose to have your burger in a bowl (without the bun) which is how one of my mom's friends ordered and we felt that the next time we go this is how we would order too. (You get more veggies that way.)

The total was US$14 per person (with tip)....It was nice to see her friends again and we all had a filling but great lunch.

The Counter
Kahala Mall (2 doors down from Whole Foods)
Honolulu, Hawaii
Phone: 808.739.5100

p.s. we also got a caramel chocolate brownie to bring home for my dad, who was nice enough to share with my mom and me...it was rich, chocolatey with ooey gooey caramel...yum!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

cake couture

Yesterday I met my friend Carroll for a lunch of egg drop soup, honey glazed walnut shrimp, honey glazed spare ribs, spicy potstickers, garlic choi sum & coconut tapioca at Beijing in the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center.

We had a nice lunch and despite the bad economy, it was nice to see the restaurant packed with people. (Thanks Carroll!)

After lunch, she had to go back to work, so I drove out to Aina Haina to Cake Couture.

This shop was featured in a local magazine called "Honolulu" in their "best of" issue. I had made a note "to visit" on my last trip home.

Last year, my blog friend, Deb, in the meantime, had checked them out here and here.

Since this trip home there are only my parents and me, I picked out 3 cupcakes for us to try.....I chose Red Velvet, Lemon and Chocolate.

I split each one in half, and split the other half into another half giving each of us one half plus two one-fourths of a different flavor (complicated?? maybe).

So, we got to try one whole cupcake with three flavors...mmm. My favorite was lemon, then red velvet then chocolate.

The cupcakes were so moist and all the frostings seemed to be flavored buttercream...delicious! My mother, who usually scrapes off the frosting from the cakes and throws them away (because they are mostly made from sugar and oil and are tasteless), ate every bit, so you know it was good!

They also had flavors like cookies 'n cream, vanilla, chocolate mint and a special cupcake that looked like a Hostess cupcake only more decadent because they used bittersweet ganache (OMG!...Deb have you tried this one??). I think some of their flavors change daily, so check out their website for more info.

If this shop weren't too far, I would be back often!, but this was a special trip, my parents 46th wedding anniversary is today, a great excuse for some cake, don't you think?!

Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad!

Cake Couture
Aina Haina Shopping Center
820 West Hind Drive
Honolulu, Hawaii
Phone: 808.373.9750
Closed Sundays

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


I think I've mentioned before that we get together with family for Sunday dinners. My mother and her sisters take turns cooking and we gather at the house which dinner is being cooked.

Last night was my Aunty M1's turn to cook, so we gathered at her house. Her husband is Swiss so we had a Swiss dish called Zurcher Geschnetzeltes, which is like beef stroganoff except it uses veal, or in this case, she used pork. It was delicious though I thought the gravy could have been a little thicker. We also had salad and some sauteed beans.

Dessert was this fabulous tart, made with fresh berries. The colors of the berries were so deep and the fruits were ripe and delicious. On top of that, the crust was perfect! nice and flaky.

It was nice to see my Aunty too, she and her husband travel a lot, so they are usually on the go.

I hope your Sunday was just as nice.

Monday, June 22, 2009

around the house

An interesting colored cymbidium that I found around the house yesterday.

It is also Father's Day here, hope all you fathers have a great day!

Have a nice week.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Got up really early to meet up with my aunties and uncles on my father's side of the family.

The thing about Hawaii is that many businesses are open really early, so it is perfect to get an jump start on things. This is one thing I had to get used to in Japan because almost no businesses opens before 10:00 am.

So, we all met up at Zippy's, a local family eatery. It had been awhile since I'd eaten there for breakfast.

I chose the small portion hot cake sandwich, US$5.60 (I think). It came with 1 hot cake and your choice of meat, I chose portuguese sausage.

This was the perfect sized breakfast for me...and the best part, free refills on coffee (which is non-existent in Japan).

It was a nice chance to see my relatives and we all had lots to talk about.

UPDATE: I was reminded by my blog friend Martin, that Mr Donut offers coffee refills and that if you ask at some Japanese restaurants for another bowl of rice you often get them free.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

hawaii eats

The thing I love about Hawaii is that there are so many different cultures, which can only mean that there are many different cuisines.

We often give our neighbors fruits or other food items and in return receive something that they have made or food that they have in abundance.

Many people who are friends of the family are called "aunty" or "uncle", something you most never see in Japan (at least where I live anyway).

So our "Aunty" recently gave us a big tub of her homemade guisantes, a Filipino dish. Pork, peas, pimentos, maybe some tomato sauce??...I am not sure how this was made, and this was my first time trying it and mmm...loved it!

My father, who almost always chooses Filipino food when we go to the food courts, loves this dish....I can see why. (Thanks Aunty!)

Friday, June 19, 2009

jal & mon chou chou

It had been ages since flying with JAL. The amount of direct flights from Kansai International to Hawaii have been getting lesser and lesser as the years pass.

I usually fly United in order to accumulate mileage, but since they only fly out from Narita now, and there were talks of maybe them merging companies and maybe discontinuing the mileage program, we decided to use up our United mileage and join JAL's mileage program instead.

I try not to eat on board, the food isn't always good, and then if we hit turbulence...well, you get the picture.

So, I was all ready to skip my meal on board when I saw this orange box...Mon chou chou's Dojima roll cake. This cake is so popular in Osaka that there are lines to buy them.

Of course, not having tried it in Osaka I had to eat it...after eating some veggies and fruit, the entree was nothing spectacular.

The soft sponge cake is jammed with whipped cream....there is more cream than cake...delicious. I can see why there are lines for this.

Before our meal, everyone also received slippers and wipes for perspiration.

The thing that surprised me was that as soon as they cleared our dinner trays, they passed out these bags filled with a bottle of water, an anpan (sweet bean filled bun) & a milk bread...our breakfast.

The flight was long (close to 8 hours), but at least I was able to sleep.

I am glad that the tradewinds are back, I've heard it has been quite miserable for the pass couple of days.

Hope you have a great weekend.

p.s. my dates and times will be posted in Japan time.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

odds & ends

Cleaning out some photos...

My tofu container bought at the dollar store in Hawaii, the meshed container is where you put your tofu, the container under it is where you put water, this keeps your tofu fresh. I also put cheesecloth in the meshed container to strain water out of yogurt for dressings/sauces.

A pork katsu (cutlet) sandwich at Hanayashiki. I've written about this place before. The little old man behind the counter is still there. Expect to wait for your meal or coffee, he does everything himself. This sandwich was delicious, not greasy. Satoshi had the katsu curry, which I've had before. He said he enjoyed this too.

Down the street from Hanayashiki is Boulangerie An. It was our first visit, I picked up some scones...I think they had way too much baking powder in it because it left a weird feeling in my mouth (I wouldn't choose this again). Satoshi tried their egg sandwich and rolled cake, he said he liked these.

Trip to Starbucks, I tried their Choco-mint pie...the mint filling is whipped cream with flecks of chocolate...crust could be crisper but overall delicious.

On another trip to Starbucks, I tried their dacquoise and marble chocolates....meh, both not worth it. The green marble chocolates were supposed to be matcha (green tea), but weren't anywhere near green tea in taste. The brown marble chocolates are coffee flavored, I think the coffee flavor overpowers what little green tea flavor when eating the two together. The dacquoise didn't have much flavor and was really sweet.

Pafonte's chocolate cream...a hunk of chocolate bread split just enough to fill it with some whipped cream then dipped in chocolate...only 126 yen (about US$1.26)...definitely worth it!

Mior's rose dessert....custard, strawberry preserves and whipped cream, an edible rose tops the dessert. Delicious!

Ginza ichigoza...Satoshi brought some back when he went to Tokyo on business. This is the same company that makes that Tokyo Banana dessert. A baked manju outside filled with strawberry cream flavored bean paste and strawberry jelly, covered with strawberry flavored chocolate....think strawberry newton!

Ferdinand's chicken curry lunch...the curry wasn't spicy in fact it sort of reminded me more of shoyu chicken than curry, but it was very filling!

Stinky bleu cheese...gorgonzola, stilton and roquefort...mmm.

Family Mart's (a convenience store) private label or as the Japanese call it "pb" (private brand), coconut milk with black tapioca. The coconut milk was a bit watery but the tapioca really chewy.

Morinaga's chocolate mint au lait, which just came out in the convenience stores. (I found this at Daily Yamazaki) I loved the combination of chocolate milk and mint, reminded me of the ice cream or Andes mints.

p.s. Get ready for "hawaii eats" posts...I'm off to visit friends and family, talk to you soon!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


What do you usually eat for lunch? I think I've asked you before, but recently, I've been picking up a sandwich or some breads with cheese, ham in it. Or sometimes these chinese bentos from Daiei, I like these because they usually give you 3 items and only 320 yen (about US$3.20). There is also a sozai-ya (cooked foods) store in our shopping arcade, in Hawaii we call them okazuya, where I pick up some prepared foods.

Here are some of my lunches...

From Daiei, their chinese bento, filled with spicy renkon (lotus root), hoikorou (bell pepper stirfried with beef and sweet and sour pork.

From the sozaiya, a whole ika (squid) grilled with teriyaki sauce 250 yen (about US$2.50). I bought this and a musubi 105 yen (about US$1.05) the other day. It was the first time I saw a whole ika at this shop. It was delicious.

From Ferdinand, their smoked salmon sandwich 300 yen (about US$3). Smoked salmon, cream cheese, some thinly sliced onion and colored bell pepper with a little Italian dressing. I really love their bread!

And from Boulangerie Burdigala, I usually stop in for lunch or pick-up something to take home for lunch after French class.

Here are some of the things I've tried. The lentil sandwich, it was kind of messy but delicious.

Cheese roll with sun dried tomato reminded me of pizza.

Ham, tomato, camembert and avocado, now that was a hunk of avocado!

Bacon, tomato and basil, simple but so delicious.

I also sometimes pick up some sweets for my 3 o'clock tea time.

Burdigala's pain au chocolat...look at those flaky layers...too bad they don't have enough chocolate in it though.

And their orange brioche...soft brioche with orange peel bits here and there, the top is sugary, when you take a bite be prepared to get messy!

What have you been eating for lunch?