Posts Tagged ‘Ala Moana Center’

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I’m going to keep this post short and sweet. If you love ramen, then check out the Shirokiya Yataimura Quality Food Court the next time you’re at Ala Moana Center. Order the Shiroton Charsiu Sibori ramen (pictured above) from the place with the huge “Ramen Noodle” sign and enjoy. I’m addicted!

The delicious and cloudy pork broth is my favorite part of the experience, although the noodles are quite enjoyable too. There are a variety of different options to dress up your bowl of ramen depending on your mood that day. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

I’ll admit I’m not a ramen expert by any means, but I know when I’ve discovered something that’s “broke da mout” and worthy of returning time and again to satisfy my noodle craving.

Bon appetit!

-NGK

Yataimura Quality Food Court at Shirokiya
Ala Moana Center
1450 Ala Moana Boulevard, #2250
Honolulu, HI 96841
Phone: 808-973-9111
Hours: Monday – Sunday: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

IMG_2027Inside the Vintage Cave dining room which was built with more than 170,000 bricks from Pennsylvania and features original artwork by Picasso and many other artists worth millions.

I have to say 2012 was a hell of year filled with great eating! From Hawaii to Memphis and New York City, those who follow me on Foodspotting, Twitter, and Instagram know very well there was an abundance of deliciousness enjoyed at restaurants off all varieties. I’m sure the last 12 months were equally palate pleasing for you.

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But for me, there was one meal that stood out from the rest and that was a 19 course gastronomic experience at the Vintage Cave Honolulu. Let me briefly explain why.

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I first met Vintage Cave Executive Chef Chris Kajioka (pictured above with Pastry Chef Rachel Murai) a little more than two years ago when he was cooking at Roy’s Waikiki. Many friends spoke highly of his culinary talents and passion for his craft having worked at many fine restaurants across the U.S., including the three-star Michelin Per Se in New York City and one-star Michelin Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco. I never had a chance to taste Kajioka’s food before he left Roy’s to return to San Francisco to cook at Aziza, but did have the opportunity to get to know the chef better on a trip to Chicago in 2010 to promote Hawaii. It was on that trip we dined at one of the best restaurants in the world, Alinea, and from there stayed in touch.

In future trips to the Bay Area, we made Aziza a regular stop to see how Kajioka was doing enjoying many great meals there. About a year later, I learned that he was returning to the Ritz-Carlton to team up once again with Ron Siegel at Parallel 37. After a short stint there, Kajioka made the decision to return home after getting married with no firm job in place.

That got many Hawaii foodies excited with anticipation at what Kajioka might have in store. In the end, he landed the Executive Chef position at The Vintage Cave and has assembled a team that’s doing some amazing things in the kitchen and using some of the best ingredients from Hawaii and around the world.

The result, in my opinion, is a dining experience that rivals any Michelin-starred restaurant in the country in terms of culinary creativity, service, and ambiance. Those who ask me what eating there is like, I can only describe it as “theater on a plate” featuring skillful, modern cooking techniques and delicious flavors honoring Asia, Europe, and beyond. It’s the kind of place where it’s quality over quantity, but after 19 courses that range from one to three bites, you leave satisfied and transformed at how delicious food can be.

That seems like enough of my raving in this post. Let me let the pictures speak for themselves. I was fortunate to be hosted to two tastings prior to the restaurant’s opening in December. The following photos (and this video by Mari Taketa of Nonstop Honolulu) are of a special media dinner served on November 30 featuring a total of 30 delicious bites.

IMG_2362For $295/person (exclusive of tax, gratuity, and wine pairings), the tasting menu is a creative and dazzling feast for the senses.

IMG_2035OYSTER hibiscus shiso ginger

IMG_2042sweet smoked PAIN AU LAIT

IMG_2036fish skin CRACKER black bean clam lime

IMG_2039MERINGUE tomato basil

IMG_2356vanilla bean macaroon CAVIAR

IMG_2358cold smoked TORO red onion jicama
KONA KAMPACHI lemon radish shiso
UNI ham film black truffle
AMA EBI fennel
AJI smoked onion pear

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IMG_2361HAKUREI TURNIP asian pear yogurt sumac

IMG_2046golden osetra CAVIAR smoked tuna gel

IMG_2053HOKKAIDO IKURA potato green apple cress

IMG_2055charred CABBAGE leaves miso konbu dill anchovy
(One of my favorite dishes.)

IMG_2059jidori EGG YOLK celery root truffle ham parmesan
(Another of my favorite dishes.)

IMG_2061FOIE GRAS maple syrup corn blueberries celery

IMG_2058japan AMADAI kabocha pickled garlic escabeche

IMG_2366PORK BELLY & NECK berbere jus kale chips

IMG_2367bread from CHRIS SY white soy wakame
(We’ve become big fans of Chris’ Breadshop artisan breads.)

IMG_2064HIRABARA FARMS pineapple vinegar

IMG_2069BEEF from sylvia prizant spinach sunchoke charred scallion sancho pepper
(Quite possibly the best beef I’ve ever tasted!)

IMG_2369onion rice PORRIDGE samoan crab white truffle
(This dish reminded me of grandma’s jook on steroids. Delicious!)

IMG_2072SHIO KOJI ice cream
(This was my first time having a savory ice cream. Oishi!)

IMG_2371blackberry sorbet PEPPERED BEET AIR mascapone sponge
(As one who loves beets, this was an amazing dessert!)

IMG_2077CHOCOLATE GANACHE charred pineapple aged balsamic sesame

IMG_2078CANELE rum glace
(I’m told the only place in Hawaii doing canales.)

IMG_2374BLACK TRUFFLE macaroons

IMG_2373My apologies for forgetting what this one was called, but delicious!

IMG_2375RASPBERRY meringue

IMG_2376GRAPE and finger lime
(An explosion of deliciousness in your mouth!)

Having eaten at the Cave three times now, the question everyones asks me is “Is it worth the money?” My quick answer is “It depends.” While pricey at $295/person, if you’re they type that will travel to the world for a great meal, this is certainly a must experience. And think about it, you don’t have to factor in the air, hotel and ground transportation into the equation. It’s definitely a meal worth saving up for that special occasion.

If you’re idea of a great meal is quantity versus quality and you’re not into art and theater on the plate, I’d take you’re money elsewhere. Buy that iPad instead or go enjoy your favorite restaurant a bunch of times. Just being honest here as you’ll probably think it’s overpriced and not worth the experience.

If Kajioka and his team continue to do what they are doing, I can see this restaurant becoming a destination for many across the globe. Will it become one of the best restaurants in the country never to earn a Michelin star (since Hawaii doesn’t get rated)? Only time will tell. But knowing Kajioka, he’s going to continue pushing himself (only 29 years old) and his young team and that’s a good thing for Hawaii.

In the culinary world of highly coveted Michelin stars, “Three stars reward exceptional cuisine where diners eat extremely well, often superbly. Distinctive dishes are precisely executed, using superlative ingredients. Worth a special journey.” Vintage Cave certainly has the philosophy and the resources to continue striving for this kind of distinction. It has definitely been a treat eating there and I hope I have the chance to do so again in 2013.

Happy New Year to you all and here’s to many more delicious meals with family and friends.

Aloha,
Nathan

Vintage Cave Honolulu
1450 Ala Moana Boulevard, #2250
Honolulu, HI 96814
(located in the basement of Shirokiya at Ala Moana Center)
Phone: 808-441-1744
Hours: Monday – Saturday, 5:30-11 p.m.; Closed Sundays
Note: Vintage Cave gives priority seating in its bar lounge and dining room to members before the general public. Reservations are required and limited.

You know what’s amazing about Lego? It’s simplicity and complexity. Have you seen the creations at the Lego Store in Ala Moana Center? The fact that you can make these amazing pieces of art out of squares, rectangles, flat, and colorful pieces is genius. And the Lego people are awesome too. Don’t you want to just grab that big Lego Man from the Lego Store and bolt! I do!

What’s also amazing is the same toy I loved playing with growing up is now being loved by our soon-to-be 3-year-old son Ensen. He can’t get enough of it and has become quite a fanatic. His grandparents, aunties and uncles, friends, and okay, even his parents, have bought him a few too many. But that’s okay…because what really rocks is the Lego pieces I played with are still usable today…some 25+ years later. Because of that, Ensen has been able to amass a nice little Lego collection of his own without us dishing out a lot of $$$. Sweet!

He loves the people and creating airplanes, monster trucks, and really anything with wheels. He also enjoys my old school collection, like the airplane below, which was hiding in my bedroom closet in Kona. It was like getting a “brand new” 20-year-old Lego. ;-)

But his fascination continues to grow and his collection continues to expand. Fire trucks have been the latest loves, along with a garbage truck and a few other cars.

It’s safe to say when we get to the West Coast, a stop at Lego Land will definitely be on our itinerary. Until then, we’ll keep building things in our living room one block at a time…and taking silly photos of Lego people and our timeless creations.

[All photos taken by me with my stock Canon EOS Rebel T1i.]

-NGK

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Ensen and Kailua Grandpa at Tagami and Powell Gallery. Taken with my iPhone.

Ensen and Kailua Grandpa at Tagami & Powell Gallery. Taken with my iPhone.

It’s been a busy couple months for the family and I’ve been neglecting the blog of cute and random Ensen posts. I’m surprised my mom hasn’t scolded me. Hehehehehe. So this post is to make amends with those who visit frequently to see the little superstar of our family. So without further ado…I present to you Ensen’s excellent adventures.

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Ensen modeling the most delicious Ah Fook’s Portuguese sausage from Maui and getting ready to play a little football.

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Ensen with Kailua Grandma and Grandma Myles at Uncle Les’ kanreki party at Hee Hing Restaurant.

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Checking out the awesome play area at Windward Mall.

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Hanging with Uncle Jon and Uncle Kochan!

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Ensen getting silly with his pal Lia and Maui Grandma.

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Posing with the Jabb-ster!

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Enjoying the rides at Chuck E. Cheese with his pal Abigail.

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Getting his pearly whites cleaned at the dentist.

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On the hunt for Easter eggs with his cousins at Aunty Steph’s house.

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Having fun with Kona Grandpa at Ala Moana Center.

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Ensen’s newest obsession is his Thomas The Train set Aunty Kim got for him.

-NGK

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5 Ways To Wear A Suit

Posted: October 15, 2008 by Nathan Kam in On The Job
Tags: , ,

To be completely honest, I had no idea there was more than one way to wear a suit. But anyone who knows me and my lack of any fashion sense understands why I just said that. So this mixer event being put on by PRSA Hawaii at Club Monaco on October 29 might be a good thing for me to attend. Plus it’s free.

Wait, do they have guys stuff at this place? Thew, yes they do…

-NGK

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In my last “Restaurant Ramblings” post, I confessed that I wasn’t a big fan of buffets. So what do we do this weekend with my mom in town? That’s right…we headed to Tsukiji Fish Market and Restaurant at Ala Moana Center to try its brunch BUFFET! To my credit though, it was my mom that really wanted to try this place. So off we went with the family, my mom Rhonda (sans my father who’s busy being “retired” on the Big Island working four side jobs…I’m still trying to figure that out), my sister Erin, and her boyfriend Craig.

The verdict? REALLY, REALLY GOOD! Tsukiji is a nice restaurant with a lot of space to spread out and navigate the buffet lines which feature Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and “local” fare. After being seated, I immediately headed for the sushi table which offered a nice assortment of ahi, salmon, hamachi, tamago (egg), ebi (shrimp), squid and an assortment of different rolls. All very fresh and very delicious. Check out the sushi station below.

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Moving down the line, a variety of hot entrees awaited and I must say all were very well done…everything from chop steak and loco moco, to delicious kalbi ribs and shrimp and vegetable tempura. There was also selection of yummy Japanese style vegetables to feast on like kinpira (gobo) and dikon. Check out my plate above.

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Mom and Erin digging in. Craig and Kelly enjoying loco moko and tempura. Ensen kicking back and enjoying the ambiance.

No buffet would be complete without dessert and Tsukiji had a nice assortment of cakes, fresh fruit, and SHAVE ICE!!! We all couldn’t resist a bowl of strawberry shave ice with condensed milk on the top. Simple…but delicious and just the right thing to end a wonderful meal.

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All in all, another awesome buffet experience. In fact, I think I’m starting to enjoy them more and more. Tsukiji does a great job all around…great food, friendly staff, and a nice, clean restaurant to enjoy a fabulous meal with the family. Whoevever is reading this blog, I highly recommend you give it a try. Sunday brunch is only $18.95 for adults! Enjoy!

Tsukiji Fish Market and Restaurant
808-237-5444
TsukijiFishMarket.com

-NGK