Posts Tagged ‘Hawaii’

Beautiful Wailea, Maui!

Posted: September 30, 2013 by Nathan Kam in Hawaiian Islands, Maui, Maui, Travel
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Wailea

This view from the new Andaz Maui at Wailea is proof positive why so many travelers enjoy staying on Maui’s south shore. Beautiful beach with incredible scenery. Makes me wish I could play “tourist” more often.

-NGK

Despite growing up on Hawaii island (a.k.a. the Big Island), I’m continually amazed and inspired by its rawness and awesomeness. It is not only home to that famous national park with its erupting volcano, but also two national historical parks, a national historic site and a national historic trail, all featuring dazzling natural and cultural riches that share Hawaii’s story like nothing else.

This video feature above produced for Hawaiian Airlines Hawaiian Skies inflight entertainment provides some “chicken skin” stories about Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Kaloko-Honokohau National Historic Park, Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail, Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site, and Puuhonua O Honaunau National Historic Park. It does a great job highlighting what makes each place so special and worthy of a visit.

I hope you enjoy this piece as much as I do. I’m already planning to visit all five parks and trails again the next time I visit my parents on Hawaii island.

-NKG

Better Than Any Day at the Office

Posted: June 30, 2013 by Nathan Kam in Oahu
Tags: , , ,

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As the saying goes, a day on the golf course is better than any day at the office. In this case, it was a round at New Ewa Beach Golf Course. Lucky we live Hawaii!

-NGK

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It’s been an incredibly fun week traveling to Kauai and Maui with the TODAY Show crew to shoot the opening travelogue introducing the Hawaiian Islands. All done on behalf of my client, the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau.

The show goes live tomorrow, Monday, May 20 at 1 a.m. from The Royal Hawaiian in Waikiki.

The public is welcome to view the live broadcast starting from Waikiki Beach. Special hotel access will only be given to guests. Make your signs and head on down for a chance to be on TV.

The photo above was taken on Monday at National Tropical Botanical Garden’s McBryde Garden with Kumu Kapu Kinimaka-Alquiza and her beautiful halau. The photo below was taken on Wednesday as we watched the sunrise on Haleakala.

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I won’t give away anymore. I hear there’s lots of fun planned for the thee hours. You’ll have to tune in to see where the start of TODAY’s Great American Adventure takes them in the islands of aloha. All five hosts are here too having a good time. Don’t believe me? Follow the hashtag #TODAYinHawaii on Twitter and Facebook and see for yourself.

Head to bed now, set your alarm for 11 p.m., and enjoy the show!

-NGK

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The Kam Family enjoyed a much needed “staycation” at Aulani, a Disney Resort this past weekend. We used the occasion to celebrate Avery’s 3rd birthday and took full advantage of most of the resort’s amenities. It was a wonderful two-night stay gifted to us by my awesome mom. More on all of this in a future post. But for now, I share with you a photo taken from our ocean view room #1046. That pool below was definitely a highlight.

To give you an idea of how much fun we had, the first words out of Avery’s mouth when she woke from her nap was “Why are we home? I want to go back to Aulani.” Without question, we’ll be returning and hopefully soon.

-NGK

Photo by Ed Morita

Pictured from left: Dean Okimoto, president of the Hawaii Agricultural Foundation, Hiilei Kawelo, executive director of Paepae o Heeia, Rick Barboza, hanaola director of Papahana Kuaola, HFWF co-chairs Alan Wong and Roy Yamaguchi, Michael Pecsok, vice chancellor for academic affairs and chief academic officer at Leeward Community College, and John Morton, vice president for community colleges for the University of Hawaii. [Photo Credit: Hawaii Food & Wine Festival]

The Hawaii Food & Wine Festival (HFWF), the state’s premier culinary event now in its third year, presented checks to five local nonprofit beneficiaries totaling $210,000 on Monday, February 4, in a special presentation at Kapiolani Community College’s Ka Ikena dining room.

The net proceeds raised during the 2012 festival went to the Hawaii Agricultural Foundation ($80,000), Culinary Institute of the Pacific ($80,000), Leeward Community College Culinary Arts Program ($30,000), Paepae o Heeia ($10,000), and Papahana Kuaola ($10,000). Since its inception in 2011, HFWF has raised nearly $500,000 for these organizations.

“In partnership with the tourism industry, we created this festival in 2011 to give travelers to Hawaii and residents alike a world-class food festival featuring top chefs and wine makers from around the globe, while showcasing the bounty of incredible ingredients the islands have to offer,” said Roy Yamaguchi, HFWF co-chair and owner of Roy’s Restaurants. “As a result of the festival’s success the past two years, we’ve been able to fulfill the festival’s equally important mission of providing our beneficiaries funding to support their important food sustainability, cultural, and educational efforts.“

HFWF co-chairs and chefs Yamaguchi and Alan Wong, owner of Alan Wong’s Restaurants, presented the checks during a Mahalo Reception thanking the festival’s partners and participants for making last year’s festival a sold out success.

“The support from the visitor industry and local community has been tremendous and instrumental in our ability to offer unique events that sets our festival apart from others across the country,” Wong said. “The guest chefs love coming to Hawaii to cook, attendees really enjoy the opportunity to learn about where the food comes from and meet the chefs, and everyone leaves inspired by the experience. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.”

Through the industry’s efforts in 2012, more than 4,000 visitors and residents from around the world attended 15 events at six venues on Oahu featuring 61 chefs, four master sommeliers, 25 top-tier winemakers and 31 local farmers, artisan food producers and innovators. These chefs and participants shared their expertise and skills with more than 200 culinary students from Kapiolani Community College, Leeward Community College, Maui College, and Kauai Community College who were able to work side-by-side with some of the most respected names in the industry for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“We are very grateful to receive this donation which will help finance the construction of the Culinary Institute of the Pacific (CIP) at Diamond Head, an advance culinary/pastry facility that will offer students new opportunities currently unavailable in Hawaii,” said Conrad Nonaka, CIP director. “The University of Hawaii community colleges offer a two-year associate degree for culinary students through its six culinary training programs on the four major islands. However, the CIP will provide students the opportunity to gain their third year professional certificate, as well as the ability to earn a Bachelor of Applied Science Degree through UH West Oahu.”

“The Bounty of Heeia event allows us to showcase our premise and education programs to a much broader audience that we would not otherwise reach and this generous donation will go towards our aina based education programs increasing our capacity to serve the community,” said Rick Barboza, hanaola director of Papahana Kuaola. “As a member of Papahana Kuaola, I would like to extend my sincerest aloha and mahalo to all the people from the festival, in particular Roy and Denise Yamaguchi and Alan Wong for including our organization in this spectacular event.”

The 2013 Hawaii Food & Wine Festival is set for Sept. 1-8, 2013, and will kick off with an event on Maui (Sept. 1) before returning to Oahu (Sept. 5-8) for the main events. For more information, please visit HawaiiFoodandWineFestival.com or follow the festival via social media on TwitterInstagram  and Facebook for updates.

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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.