Sunday, December 24, 2006

Lunch at Gina's

teri beef plate

Sunday, December 17, 2006

C & G Luncheons

C & G Luncheons
218 Merchant Street by Alakea

I was having trouble deciding where to eat breakfast this morning; first I went to Great Harvest, but they don't sell Cinnamon bread on Fridays and I didn't feel like a scone again (delicious but a little heavy with all of that cream cheese). Then I went next door to NYC Bagels (also on Merchant) but wasn't impressed with anything they had. It was cheap ($2 for a bagel with egg or cream cheese) but the bagels came out of a plastic bag and were toasted in a mini home toaster oven.

I was going to just go to work and skip breakfast, but then I saw a long line across the street at C&G. For breakfast, they offer breakfast plates (eggs, fried rice, and your choice of breakfast meats), toast, or french toast. I tried the fried rice and a piece of cornbread. The fried rice was pretty boring (a single piece of green onion and a few bits of bacon), I wouldn't go back for that. The cornbread was awesome though, the bisquick variety, like my aunty Mag used to bring to family dinners when I was little. Total: $3.59

*Update: I found out they only bake cornbread on Thursdays & Fridays. And not every Thursday/Friday, last week when I went the sweet worker told me they hadn’t made any that day.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Aunty Mag's Cornbread Muffin Recipe

This recipe is a tradition in our family for the holidays. It’s completely unrelated to real cornbread but SO delicious. It makes a ton of muffins (if you don’t make it in the 9x13” pan), so I would always hide some in the kitchen before I put them out in a basket on the dining table. That way I’d have some for breakfast for the next week.

1 ½ blocks of margarine
4 beaten eggs
2 c. milk
2 c sugar
4 c. bisquick
6 tb. Cornmeal
1 tsp baking soda

1. Melt the margarine, let cool
2. Beat in eggs and milk
3. Stir in dry ingredients
4. Pour into muffin tins or greased 9x13” pan
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Trader Joe's

So I was on the mainland recently and got to shop at Trader Joe’s. Since I know everyone in Hawaii would die to have one here, I thought I’d post some pics of the yummy stuff I got there. (Unfortunately I was in Philadelphia, so there was no ‘2 buck chuck’ since PA doesn’t allow grocery stores to sell alcohol)

In the picture:

Focaccini – I bought these cuz they looked nice and cheesy but I was disappointed

Reduced carb whole wheat tortillas – I’m not into the low-carb diet, but I like these tortillas because they are softer than normal ones

Danish Blue cheese – for salads

Cantare Olive Tapenade – we can get this at Hawaii Costco! (I read in Fortune magazine that Hawaii Costco has the highest per square foot sales of any Costco store in the US)

Trader Joe’s private label Gazpacho – very raw, heavy on the onions

Trader Joe’s private label Dolmas – yum. These are awesome. I threw them into salads. I’d never had refrigerated dolmas, but they held up well.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Review: Hale Vietnam (Kaimuki)

Hale Vietnam.
1140 12th Ave (across from American Savings Bank)

Vietnamese food has been a big trend for me recently. I just crave the hot clear soup broths and the fresh herbs in all of the dishes. Probably the first restaurant I had vietnamese food was at Hale Vietnam. Hale Vietnam (in the popular Kaimuki dining area) is always packed. Having never been to Vietnam, I can't vouch for their authenticity, but I love eating there.

Every single time I’ve been to Hale Vietnam, it’s been packed. The most recent trip we saw 2 tables of Japanese tourists, perhaps HV has made it into the tour guidebooks now. The décor is very casual.

We ordered the sour soup with vegetables, cold noodles with lemongrass chicken, and tofu with peanut sauce. Each dish had a very different flavor, but they all went well together.

*sour soup*

The sour soup is my favorite. It’s a clear broth flavored with lemongrass and galangal that is super sour. It’s a flavor totally unique to Vietnamese cuisine. Then it’s filled with veggies: taro stalk (a spongey green veggie, looks a little like zucchini), tomatoes, onions, and tofu.
*left, chicken bun. right, tofu with peanut sauce*

The tofu with peanut sauce reminded me of a Chinese dish. It had a very peanutty sauce, some onions, and was topped with cilantro. The lemongrass chicken noodles were interesting: cool rice noodles, topped with boneless lemongrass chicken stir fried with celery, and liberally sprinkled with green onions and cilantro. It came with a sweet-spicy chili sauce on the side.

Plus, the giant buddha in the front is just so cool.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Nicos Breakfast Lunch & Seafood

I was looking forward to trying Nicos after hearing so many good things about it. Nicos is an ‘upscale plate lunch’ place, meaning that he offers high-end restaurant quality fish at plate lunch prices.

Nicos opens early in the morning (when the fish market opens!) and closes at 5 pm. I’m not sure what they serve for breakfast, but at lunch it’s fish, fish and fish! (Oh, and I guess they have burgers too).

The day we went, I ordered the furikake crusted seared ahi, and Jennie had the beer battered fish sandwich with French fries. The ahi was excellent; it was completely black with furikake on the outside which went nicely with the rice. The meal came with a mesclun greens salad on the side.

*Seared Ahi*

*Fish Sandwich*

I’m not such a huge fish fan, so I wouldn’t head specially out to Pier 38 for Nicols but I would eat here again. Especially since I haven’t tried the desserts (they only had the chocolate ones left the day we were there, and I hate chocolate.) which I’ve heard are amazing.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Ode to the lilikoi

Smooth round golden globes
Cut open dripping with juice and orange-yellow pulp
Black crunchy seeds
Sweeter than candy
Like sunshine on a summer day

My aunty has one bumper crop of lilikoi this summer. Her vines drop literally at least 20 fruit a day on the grass. It was my job to pick them up while she was on vacation, and I had to go to her yard everyday otherwise the neighborhood pets would prey on the fruit. It was like an easter egg hunt since her garden is on a small hill, tracking down the fruit and seeing where the had rolled.

I tried to make lilikoi butter mochi one day (regular butter mochi, replacing one cup water with one cup lilikoi juice). Here’s a photo. The lilikoi flavor unfortunately did not stand out very well.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Yohei Sushi

Yohei Sushi
1111 Dillingham Blvd

Yohei Sushi is located in a tiny strip mall near Kalihi but looks like it could be found in Tokyo. It was packed on a Thursday night at 6:30 pm when we arrived (get reservations, otherwise you’ll never get a table) and the majority of the staff (sushi chefs and waitresses) appeared to be from Japan.

Yohei is known for its ‘Yohei Sets’: beautiful, elaborate set meals. There are 3 choices ($19-26): unagi, sushi or the ‘sokudo set’ (not sure what that one is).

Here is the Yohei Sushi Zen set:

They also serve dinner sets (tempura, sashimi, grilled fish), donburi, or individual sushi/noodle combinations.

Overall, I’d say that Yohei Sushi has the most beautiful presentation of any meals I’ve had in Hawaii and is also a good value for such an elegant meal.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Review: Saigon Vietnamese Cuisine

Saigon Vietnamese Cuisine
164 N King St.

Had lunch today at Saigon Vietnamese Cuisine in Chinatown. It’s right around the corner from Cuu Long (the ridiculously popular pho restaurant on River St.) but luckily doesn’t have the same long lines.

We got the last empty table. A good sign of an authentic restaurant: almost every table had Vietnamese speakers. A good mix of crowd: families, old men, some young army soldiers, and even some ‘gangstas’ with the sunglasses on indoors and the gelled back hair.

I ordered the tofu & veggie (in beef broth) pho ($6.25), and my dad ordered the beef pho with everything in it ($4.95). Mine came packed with won bok, bok choi, carrots, onions, green onions and sliced tofu. It was awesome. The broth was stellar: not too salty but very flavorful. SVC also offers 3 different hot sauces + plum sauce + shoyu & vinegar to flavor your soup with.

*tofu veggie pho*

*beef pho*

Although I haven’t been to Cuu Long yet to compare, Saigon Vietnamese Cuisine is now my favorite pho in Honolulu. This place is a keeper!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Review: Bac Nam (Kaimuki)

Bac Nam
1117 King St (by Pensacola)

Yummy Yummy Yummy

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingThere’s really nothing else to say about Bac Nam (rated one of Honolulu Magazine’s (or some Hawaii publication…I can’t remember where I saw it) best meals under $20). It’s a no-frills Vietnamese restaurant on King St (near Pensacola).

We arrived around 7 pm on a Friday evening and had to wait about 20 minutes for a table. Unlike Saigon Vietnamese Cuisine (which was packed with Vietnamese) Bac Nam is packed with locals.

The menu is much more extensive than other Vietnamese restaurants I’ve been to. In addition to pho (only one or two varieties here), stir fries and summer rolls, they have soups, hot pot, several grilled lamb dishes, make your own wraps, steamed rice flour meat rolls, and a bunch of other stuff I can’t remember.

We ordered family style (for 4 people) and had the spicy beef soup (I read about it on and had to have it, steamed rice flour meat rolls, bbq chicken bun, and the French beef stew.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingThe spicy beef soup, while not very spicy at all, was wonderful. A rich fragrant beef broth with bits of red floating in it, spaghetti like noodles, random beef parts, and lots of cilantro and green onions floating in it. It also comes with a plate of basil & bean sprouts to put in the soup. I highly recommend this dish.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingThe steamed rice flour meat rolls were interesting as well. It was ground beef seasoned with lots of ginger, garlic, and cooked onions, steamed in mochi-like batter. It arrived as long rolls (similar to look fun) and sprinkled with pickled vegetables and tiny dried shrimps. It’s served with sliced lettuce, cucumber, parboiled bean sprouts, and a vinegary sweet chile sauce. Yum!

BBQ chicken bun is cold vermicelli noodles topped with bbq chicken, lettuce, cucumber and served with the same sauce as the rice flour rolls. This dish was just average.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingThe French beef stew, while a little similar to the spicy beef soup, is a dish I’ve been meaning to try in the past so I figured I’d get it here. It was watery in comparison to American beef stews but the broth was very tasty. It’s normally served with a baguette but they were all out so we had it with rice instead. It was pretty good but a little dull (literally just falling apart stewed beef in an oily soup) so it’s not something I’d order by itself.

Bac Nam is BYOB, and the cutest new wine store just opened up across the street (People’s Wine or People’s Republic of Wine, something like that) so be sure to pick up a bottle before your meal. They also had an awesome selection of specialty beers (Newcastle, Chimay, Sam Cooke and Mehana are the ones that I remember), sold by the bottle for reasonable prices.

Friday, August 04, 2006

This Is It (Downtown)

This is It Too (Downtown)
1001 Bishop St. #102 (Bishop St Plaza)

Owner Steve Gelson and his wife, Mona, have been making bagels in Hawai‘i for 25 years. My family used to go almost every week to Hawaiian Bagel Company in Kaka’ako every weekend when we were little and pick up a big brown bag (a baker’s dozen) of bagels. It was always a huge debate picking out which 13 to order, because they sold so many interesting flavors. I started out loving cinnamon raisin, graduated onto cranberry or blueberry bagels, and finally discovered their salt bagels. Heaven.

When they opened a store in Manoa Marketplace, I’d go there for blueberry scones and coffee. As the first scone I was introduced to, I still judge all other scones by their ultimate standard: not too sweet, lots off fruit, not too fluffy (a scone should not resemble a muffin), and firm enough that it begs to be sliced, not broken off in pieces, to avoid crumbling.

Both stores closed several years ago, and since I was not an obsessive foodie at the time, I never bothered to find out why (googling them today, I found out Steve & Mona’s fascinating battle with Zippy’s). Anyway, to cut to the chase, Hawaiian Bagel Factory has been reincarnated as This is It, and This is It Too downtown, just blocks from my office!! I walked in and was hit with the same fresh bagel smell as in the old days, just in slightly posher digs downtown.

I ordered a blueberry scone (I’d been waiting years to have one of these again). It was so good I almost went back that day for another one (they also have cinnamon raisin or cranberry scones).

Jennie had an everything bagel with lox cream cheese: also to die for. They also serve bagel sandwiches and salads.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Hawaii’s restaurant scene

There was a fascinating article in the August issue of Honolulu Magazine by food critic John Heckathorn describing the restaurant scene in Hawaii and the lack of new creative kitchen talent. He points out that Alan Wong, Sam Choy and Roy Yamaguchi all came along nearly 20 years ago but no one has stepped up recently. (although he does mention the talent of the owners of Sansei, Bev Gannon from Maui, and a few others)

Heckathorn argues that high real estate prices and the popularity of mainland chain restaurants are holding back the industry’s creative growth. (He claims servers can make a guaranteed $150 a night in tips, so new restaurants have difficulty hiring good staff) When I compare the eating out scene between Honolulu and Shanghai (the two cities I have the most experience eating out in), I am disappointed by Honolulu’s seemingly stagnant restaurant choices.

In Shanghai I was spoiled by new restaurants constantly opening, ridiculously cheap restaurant prices, and an international population who demanded a wide range of cuisines. I realize now that in comparison to Honolulu, restauranteurs did have it much easier in Shanghai with relatively cheap real estate, a large number of available spaces, cheap labor (although training them is another story…) and a wide range of fresh produce and meats.

In Shanghai, it seemed like everyone was opening a restaurant. So many of my friends were involved in the business, or knew someone who was. We delighted in eating out regularly and finding new places to try.

Being home in Hawaii, I noticed a few trends:
- people like to go back to the places they know; there isn’t as much stimulus to try out new restaurants
- you have to seek out small, unknown classic restaurants that have been around forever, because there isn’t an influx of new places to see

What would I like to see in the Hawaii food scene? More restaurants like Green Door: non-chain, ethnic food, low prices, and a charming owner.

The same article mentioned that Cheesecake Factory (Waikiki) has over $20 million dollars revenue a year. Unbelievable. Yes, they’re located in Waikiki and have access to the tourists. Yes, they can afford to rent/purchase a huge amount of square footage because they have the financial backing. But why are so many people eating there?? I guess it’s partly our fault too, for choosing to eat at these mainland chain restaurants and not giving local restaurants a chance.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Kaua'i Eating

Kauai Eating

Notice this entry is titled ‘Kauai Eating’ not ‘Kauai Dining.’ That’s because we flew to Kauai to eat, not for fine dining. We wanted to try the best local hole-in-the-walls, shacks on the side of the street, and breweries. Unfortunately we were only there for three days so this list is in no way definitive and is just a tiny sampler.

Best Coffee
Java Kai (Kapa’a)
4-1384 Kuhio Hwy, #105
Kapaa, HI 96746

Totally yuppie (if you’re more of a ‘new age’ type, go next door for the vegan bakery) but unbeatable coffee, Java Kai has something for everyone.

The drink menu puts Starbucks to shame; it’s got to have at least twice as many different drinks, including elaborate coffee-chocolate concoctions and smoothies. While pricey (a small smoothie is $5.35, a small cappuccino is $2.80) the coffee smells divine and tastes even better. The beans are grown locally, roasted in-house, so at least you can feel good about supporting the local economy.

Java Kai also boasts an extensive bakery: 9 flavors of muffins, 2 bar cookies, cheesecake, and a scone of the day. On the day we were there, the scone was lavender & honey, and was absolutely divine, bursting with lavender (the size of caraway seeds) and very moist.

Best Smoothie
Banana Joe’s (near Kapa’a)

Banana Joe’s is a smoothie shack on Kuhio Highway heading toward Kapa’a from Kalihiwai. They offer one flavor (only!?) smoothie, one frosty, and lots of fresh fruit. The day we went, the smoothie was banana/pineapple/mango, and the frosty was pineapple.

A frosty at Banana Joe’s is something you should experience at least once; it’s incredible. They use a Champion Juicer to make it: they feed frozen fruit into it (nothing else! No dairy, no sweeteners) and out comes what looks like soft serve ice cream. I seriously want one of these in my house. I guess it also makes juice, but I just want it to make fresh fruit ‘ice cream’ every day!! The pineapple flavor was OK, but I think it would be to die for with strawberry-banana or mango. I froogled the Champion Juicer ($179-199); we might have to make that investment.

Best Local Food
Hamura Saimin (Lihue: Kress St near Rice St)

*check out the traffic jam outside!*

The first day we went, Hamura’s hadn’t opened (we were there at 8:30 in the morning because we were so excited to try the saimin). The second day we went, it was too late (4:00 pm and heading to the airport for our 4:50 flight) so we weren’t very hungry. The saimin looked amazing though ($4-5 a bowl, $5.50 for won ton soup). There was seriously a traffic jam outside, this place is that popular.

We wanted to order shave ice, but the shave ice counter was closed. (Come on, it was Sunday. Seriously, who closes down the shave ice on the weekends?@!) we checked out the menu anyway: shave ice, halo-halo and lilikoi chiffon pie. Ahhh, definitely have to go back to try those out.

Hanamaulu Café
3-4301 Kuhio Highway, Hanama’ulu

Hanamaulu Café is seriously an old-school Japanese teahouse. I loved the menu and décor – exactly the same as Natsunoya teahouse in Honolulu. We both ordered the special set meal: teri beef or chicken, mixed tempura, miso soup, rice, pickles and salad ($10.50 at lunch, $12.25 at dinner). Hanamaulu Café does not try to remake the wheel; they do what they know best. They serve standard Japanese food so patrons know exactly what they are going to get. The tempura (shrimp, eggplant, broccoli and sweet potato) was served piping hot, very fresh ingredients, and a heavy tempura batter (as opposed to light & flaky). The teri beef was in a sweet teriyaki sauce sprinkled with sesame seeds.

In addition, we ordered a ‘special chef roll’ of sushi to try: spicy scallop. It was disappointing compared to the meal, just raw scallop, cucumber and wasabi.

We were hoping to order the guava sherbet for dessert (supposedly better than Lapper’s) but they had already run out for the day.

Best Omiyage
Lawai Store (Menuhune convenience store in Lawai)

It may say Menehune Store outside but don’t be fooled. This is the Lawai Store. Forget bringing back manju from Maui; the Lawai Store kicks their ass. Inside it looks like a regular convenience store until you see the bakery in the back. Their manju is so popular that when we stopped by on a Saturday at 3 pm, they were sold out and we had to place an order to pick up on Sunday.

Sunday we came back and the bakery racks were full: manju (azuki bean, apple, peach/pineapple, or coconut), pies (apple or custard), mochi, pastries, sushi, spam musubi and fried chicken. Perfect for a picnic or to take back to Honolulu. Reasonably priced as well: $1 spam musubi, $3.50-$5.50 for manju, $0.80 for pastries.

Best Brewery
Waimea Brewing Company (Waimea)
9400 Kaumuali`i Highway
here’s their website

Waimea Brewing Company is a must-see on Kauai. Beautiful setting (plantation cottages), on the beach, dining al fresco, and great beer. What more can a gal ask for? Try the lilikoi brew (the very color of lilikoi juice) or the IPA (6% alcohol, I couldn’t drink it but it was Jane’s favorite) which is so popular they ran out on the day we were there.

The food was pretty standard: burgers, fish, lots of fried appetizers. We ordered the goat cheese & taro leaf dip with pita bread, a poke wrap, and a chicken burger with onion rings. The goat cheese dip sounded fantastic, but tasted more like regular ol’ spinach dip. The poke wrap was a nice idea but the poke was overpowered by the amount of rice in the wrap, and the French fries were soggy. The chicken burger was nice although the sauce and cheese in it were a little heavy.

Review: Gina's Korean BBQ

Gina’s Korean BBQ
2919 Kapiolani Ave

Gina’s is one of my favorite Korean bbq places EVER. I used to go to Myongs (RIP) on Young St., but after it closed I discovered Gina’s. Gina’s is great for a couple of reasons:

a) they LOAD the plate. It’s seriously food for a family or a couple of meals for one person
b) the meat is always marinated & bbq’d to perfection
c) the side dish vegetables are divine. My favorites are kim chi, watercress, rice noodles and tofu, but they have an ever rotating selection

This week I tried the spicy bbq chicken for the first time. It was just like their bbq chicken but had been brushed with a ko chu jang (that sweet red sauce). It was good, not particularly spicy, but I think I’ll stick with the regular bbq chicken in the future.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Kaimuki: Baja Tacos & Tropicana

On Waialae Avenue across the street from City Mill, there's a tiny strip of restaurants including tacos, pizza, sushi and shave ice. I had to go try Baja Tacos as soon as I saw it (always craving a good taco or burrito) and while I was there I spotted amazing looking shave ice right next door.

Baja Tacos
3040 Waialae Av #A-1

Baja Tacos is located close to the University of Hawaii in a cluster of casual restaurants, next to a shave ice store, Boston’s pizza, a sushi place, and some other restaurants.

Here’s a photo of the order counter.

BT offers soft tacos and burritos. The soft tacos are ‘south american’ style: a small, warm corn tortilla topped with your choice of meat. (it reminded me of the tacos downtown at Just Tacos). The burrito, on the other hand, is more what Americans expect at a Mexican restaurant: beans, rice, veggies and meat.

There is a basic salsa bar with fixin’s for your taco/burrito. It has red & green salsas, onions, and some jalapeno peppers.

BT also has 3 fun Mexican drinks: tamarindo (tamarind juide), a hibiscus drink that supposedly tastes like cranberry juice, and horchata, rice milk. I ordered the horchata ($2.00), because I liked the counter staff’s description of the drink: ‘It tastes like the milk at the bottom of a bowl of cinnamon toast crunch.’ 

Here’s my order of chicken soft tacos ($3.75).

3040 Waialae Av #A-1

Tropicana is a cute shave ice stand by the University next to Baja Tacos, Boston Pizza, a sushi restaurant, and some other casual restaurants.

They have a huge shave ice menu: regular shave ice, ice cream, goodie goodie (shave ice, ice cream AND sweetened condensed milk), and then a long list of shave ice sundaes with mochi balls, azuki beans, and different flavors of ice cream/shave ice.

I ordered a regular shave ice (lychee & lilikoi flavors) and li hing mui powder on top. It rocked. The ice was so fine, just like at Waiola’s. Definitely going back to Tropicana again!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Korean BBQ Express

Korean BBQ Express
Korean BBQ Express,
originally uploaded by pia_cristina.
Korean BBQ Express
Ward Warehouse

I went to this (rather generic looking) Korean bbq joint at Ward Warehouse on the recommendation of a Punahou parent, who says that Sam’s Korean BBQ on Nu’uanu Ave has the freshest side dishes, and that this BBQ hut at Ward Warehouse is run by the same owner.

I ordered the tofu soup, which came with rice and 4 choices of sides. I had the kim chi, long rice, cabbage and bean sprouts. I think there were about ten side dishes to choose from. The tofu soup was not quite what I was expecting. I was expecting more of a tofu jiggae soup (thick and spicy) but I got a clear broth. It was spicy, but it tasted strongly of pork bones, as if the soup had been made from a pork butt and boiling all day long. I know that flavor is highly desirable to some people, but I just can’t appreciate it. In the soup were chunks of tofu, onions, and zucchini.

free invisible hit counter

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Review: Town (Kaimuki)

3435 Waialae Avenue

Finally (after hearing about it ALL summer long) we went to Town for dinner tonight! It was great, there were 5 of us, so we got to try a whole bunch of the dishes (the menu isn’t that long, so we got to try almost everything.

The restaurant is right on Waialae Avenue in Kaimuki. As it was Friday night, we couldn’t get a table inside. While it wasn’t unpleasant sitting outdoors (practically on the street), it wasn’t ideal.

*view from the street*

*front door*

*our table*

For starters, we received two types of bread (focaccia & baguette), butter and olives. The bread was a little hard, since neither had been warmed up.

We split three appetizers: ahi tartare on pan-fried risotto cakes, roasted figs with prosciutto and goat cheese, and steamed mussels.


They were each amazing in their own unique way. The ahi tartare was probably my favorite: a mound of the tartar (basically like poke) on top of a ‘cracker’ of risotto. The fig dish looked kind of funny but tasted truly unique: the figs blended so well with the prosciutto, goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette. Finally the mussels were so fresh and came in a lemony broth with leeks and tomatoes.

For our entrees, we shared salmon on risotto, fresh gnocchi, and a side of bitter greens.

*main courses*

I don’t usually like to eat gnocchi, because they can be rather bland lumps of dough. But these gnocchi were something else: soft and airy with a hint of nutmeg or allspice. They were then tossed with baby corn and plum tomatoes. The salmon & risotto was probably my least favorite dish of the night: neither had any unique flavors. The bitter greens, stir fried with golden raisins and pine nuts were excellent, nice and bitter.

Finally, I had to order dessert. We got both the plum crisp with vanilla bean gelato and the buttermilk panna cotta.


The plum crisp was fantastic: bursting plums topped with a nutty oatmeal topping and a big scoop of gelato (which tasted just like vanilla ice cream). The panna cotta, while I would probably choose the crisp again, was more spectacular just because of its unique flavor. It tasted like full milk yogurt combined with Yoplait ‘thick & creamy’ yogurt, but better. It was served with papaya slices and drizzled with local honey.

Overall, that was by far one of the best meals I’ve had in Honolulu. Chef Ed Kenney takes flavors to another level, combining simple ingredients in creative ways that just pop in your mouth. He doesn’t use a lot of ingredients in each dish, but he utilizes such fresh, flavorful ingredients that each different flavor shines through.

Here's the menu in case you are curious: