Posts Tagged ‘Honolulu’

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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Let me just get this out of the way and say I’m not a huge fan of tripe. I didn’t grow up on it, but occasionally enjoy it in stew and pho. However, after eating this Tripe alla Parmigiana dish at Cafe Julia at YWCA recently, I have a whole new respect for the intestine.

Executive Chef Lance Kosaka, formerly of Alan Wong’s Pineapple Room, carefully cleans and cooks the tripe in a magical way that takes out most of the funk. The result is a tender, delicious, and “broke da mout” dish that I can only imagine would have been even better with a cold beer. Tripe in a rich tomato sauce and topped with cheese and a runny egg kept me going in for more. This day at lunch there were two other non-tripe eaters at the table, yet after trying this, we all agreed that it rocked. I would order it again in an instant.

Since opening in the YWCA late last year, and following the closure of the beloved Downtown @ the HiSAM, Cafe Julia has become a hot spot for lunch, pau hana, and weekend brunch. Chef Lance is doing the kind of food reminiscent of childhood days, but on an elevated level. Not to mention, the historic building in which the open-air restaurant is located offers a casual elegance to the ambiance.

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If any of the pot pies happen to be on special, get it. I’m told its a rare site on the menu, so I couldn’t pass up devouring one a couple weeks ago. This was a Mexican-inspired interpretation with beef, beans and a whole lot of goodness in a crisp pastry. So good.

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You can also find some great sandwiches here, like the Korean-Inspired Grilled Pork which was quite tasty.

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Finally, if you have room for dessert, Chef Lance’s version of an ice cream sandwich is worth the calories. He’s making cookies just like his mom made them for him growing up. What’s not to love about that?!

Cafe Julia can get busy at lunch, so I strongly suggest making reservations, especially for larger parties. Check it out next time you find yourself hungry in downtown.

Cafe Julia at YWCA
1040 Richards Street
Honolulu, HI 96813
Phone : 808-533-3334
Breakfast: Sunday only, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Lunch: Monday – Friday, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Pau Hana: Wednesday – Friday, 4-9 p.m.
Parking: One hour validated parking for Alii Palace for diners. It is the closest and cheapest garage located off Alakea Street. Metered street parking is also available along Richards and King streets.
Follow the restaurant on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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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.

I love what Bob McGee and the gang at The Whole Ox Butcher and Deli are doing to elevate the local food scene on Oahu. Their commitment to supporting local farmers and ranchers alone is commendable. However, it’s the passion, technique, quality, and flavors displayed in the food that keeps me coming back for more…and more…and more.

For example, the signature Dry Aged Burger is nothing short of amazing and not for the faint of heart. A thick all local beef patty – no fillers here – is perfectly cooked to your liking and sits atop a soft, lightly toasted brioche bun. Topped simply with grilled onions, it’s all the ingredients for a perfect beefy bite. And I do mean beefy as in flavor and texture. I’m salivating thinking about this burger as I write this post.

This is just one of the great things to eat on the menu. Housemade pastrami, porchetta, salumi, headcheese, salads and more await hungry eaters looking for a solid meal in a casual setting. And by the way, the serve a killer breakfast too. You can bet you’ll be seeing more Whole Ox goodness in future “Eat This” posts.

The Whole Ox Butcher & Deli
327 Keawe Street (corner of Auahi)
Honolulu, HI 96813
Phone: 808-669-6328
Hours: Monday – Saturday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Follow them on Twitter and Facebook

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The name of the restaurant is fun to say all by itself, but Hinone Mizunone is a great spot for solid Japanese food in a casual atmosphere. Our family finally had a chance to try the restaurant last night to celebrate a birthday.

Not only is the food great, like the Sizzling Hamburger Steak and Tempura Teishoku pictured above, but at $17.50 it’s a great value. The hamburger steak is a signature item with a rich, sweet demi glacé over a thick and juicy patty. The tempura was light and delicious. We also enjoyed the Spicy Tuna Roll which had a nice kick. We left full and satisfied.

The staff is friendly and service last night was quick and efficient. Restaurant is also kid friendly. Parking is available but limited, however, there’s plenty of street parking in the area. And the restaurant does get busy, so be prepared to wait or call ahead to make a reservation.

Next time you’re driving down King Street and hungry, consider a stop here for a bite.

4 tips for a novice Oahu bus rider

Posted: April 19, 2011 by Nathan Kam in Hawaiian Islands, Oahu, Travel
Tags: , , ,

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Last week my car was in the auto body shop and I decided to take TheBus to work for the first time. Sure Ensen and I have taken the bus to the mall on the weekend for fun one or two times, but this was my chance to check out our public transportation system in more “serious” terms. Thank goodness TheBus.org uses Google Transit to help you figure out which bus to catch and where to get on.

From Salt Lake, it was as simple as it gets. Get on bus #3 and ride it all the way to downtown. It took just 30 minutes in morning traffic. Sweet.

Aside from realizing how efficient public transportation can be, I also made some observations that may help a novice bus rider enjoy the ride a little more. Here they are:

  • Have exact change – It’s $2.50 for adults to ride. Exact change helps keep the boarding process smooth especially during the morning rush hour. You don’t want to be THAT person holding up the line because you only have a $10 bill.
  • Expect to stand – If you’re taking a busy/popular route, the buses fill up quick during rush hour so you may have to stand. I did. It’s not that bad, but I was expecting to be able to sit and work on my way. Negative. Traveling during non-peak work hours is probably best if you need to sit.
  • Hold on tight and face the side windows – If you have to stand, hold on tight and face the side windows on the bus. It’s easier to keep your balance. I made the mistake of looking forward until I realized everyone else was positioned the other way. I’m just glad I didn’t fall, which almost happened a couple times.
  • Keep moving to the back – As new riders get on, it’s proper bus etiquette for existing riders to keep moving to the back. So don’t just stand in the same spot like I did for two stops. Keep it moving.

Hope these little tips help. Oh, one more thing…don’t forget to pull the cord to let the driver know you want to get off the bus. If you’re not sure, just ask someone around you or the driver when you get on.

Happy riding!

-NGK