Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Last post of Xmas 2009 trip: Fresh Catch

Fresh Catch
3109 Waialae Ave
Honolulu, HI 96816
(808) 735-7653

After seeing the salmon poke bowl featured in the Advertisers “top meals in a bowl under $7” I had to try Fresh Catch. Housed in a former pizza hut (can’t you tell by the roof, even though it’s been painted blue?), Fresh Catch reminds me of Tamashiro fish market or Poke Stop. Amazingly crowded on a weekday at lunch, all the tables were full. There’s a fridge case of all sorts of pokes (~12 varieties) plus a menu (rotating daily) of hot plate lunch choices.

The salmon poke bowl with brown rice

The spicy smoked tako poke bowl

Monday, January 04, 2010

Pho My Lan – my new favorite pho

Pho My Lan
1160 Maunakea StHonolulu, HI 96817
(808) 528-3663

Upon the recommendation of a Vietnamese tailor in Chinatown, a friend and I checked out Pho My Lan for lunch one day. The tailor praised Pho My Lan for the homemade rice noodles and clear broth (although according to her, they don’t give as much meat as other places).

My bowl of pho – nice clear broth. A little sweet by itself but perfect doused with hot sauce

My favorite part – 3 different types of hot sauce!

A funny sign of the time: Saigon Cafe now offering self-serve frozen yogurt!
Chef Mavro
1969 South King Street
Honolulu, HI 96826
(808) 944-4714
Restaurant website

There are a few restaurants in Hawaii that come to mind when you want to celebrate a special occasion: Roy’s, Hoku’s, Alan Wong’s, and Chef Mavro. Hoku’s is our family’s usual spot for fancy dinners, but for this celebration, we wanted to try something new. I couldn’t get a table before 8:30 pm (on a Tuesday!) at Alan Wong’s, so we ended up at Mavro. They were very accommodating, easily being able to move our reservation back 20 minutes when I called to let them know we were running late.

Of course, people have different standards of fine dining in Hawaii. We overheard an entertaining conversation at the table next to us:

“For fine dining in Hawaii, we have Costco. But then for super fine dining, there’s 7 restaurants that can be considered fine dining.”

I’m still curious which his seven restaurants are.

Mavro only offers a set menu; you can choose the 4 course ($78) or 6 course option. The menu lists the suggested 4 or 6-course option, but they are flexible and let you pick items from the 6-course, even if you are only ordering the 4-course meal. So it’s very “design your own meal.” Between the 4 of us at dinner, we tried practically every dish available.

A complimentary amuse-bouche: a creamy soup with pickled grapes

Maitake mushrooms with watercress and an unidentified veggie (the white shavings that look like a parmesan cheese-green papaya according to the menu) in a lemongrass dressing

Their version of a miso cod

Provencale catch of the day – with capers and olives – note the thyme foam on the top

Deconstructed lobster paella

Wagyu shortribs (left), fried chickpea mash (middle) and wagyu steak (right)

Palate cleanser – honeydew in a champagne jelly

Dessert – lilikoi butter filled malasadas with coconut pineapple ice cream

Having just had a similar special occasion meal at Daniel Boulud’s Maison Boulud in Beijing’s spectacular Legation Quarter, I can say this meal was even superior in terms of food, but the setting (doesn’t look like Mavro has renovated since the restaurant opened over 10 years ago) and service couldn’t quite compare to Boulud’s staff. Was interesting to note that there were only male wait staff working that night – very curious if that is a standard practice or just happened the night we were there.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Dinner @ Mediterraneo

1279 S King St
Honolulu, HI 96814
(808) 593-1466

Usually when I go out to eat a casual dinner with friends in town, we end up at Bac Nam, a friendly little neighborhood Vietnamese joint. Back when People wine store was still in operation, it was the perfect combination – taste some wines, pick up a bottle for dinner, and walk across the street to Bac Nam for bun hue (spicy beef soup) and wrap-your-own summer rolls.

Luckily though I have friends who like to try new restaurants, so I was forced to expand beyond Bac Nam. They introduced me to Bac Nam’s neighbor, a yummy little Italian restaurant, Mediterraneo which is literally steps from Bac Nam.No one was super hungry so we skipped appetizers and went straight for the main courses. They offer a full range of pastas and main courses. Our table tried the roasted lamb, black squid ravioli, lobster pasta, and I had the most amazing seafood cioppino (unfortunately didn't get a good photo; I was trying to avoid using flash in the restaurant, but it obviously didn’t work out).

Saturday, January 02, 2010

A trip back to Nobu

2233 Helumoa Rd
Waikiki Parc Hotel
Honolulu, HI 96815
(808) 237-6999

We got a great Christmas gift from one of my aunties – a gift certificate to Nobu! Both my brother and I had been there before, but this was my parents first trip. On a weekday night between Christmas and New Years, the place was packed (but it seems we’ve had a good tourist season this holiday, Waikiki has been packed every time I’ve been down there this year). The restaurant was a bit of a madhouse – servers bumping into each other, very noise, diners squatting on the super low bar tables at the bar (outside the main dining room) eating dinner.
We started with my favorite dish – yellowtail with jalapeno in a ponzu sauce

Sushi – salmon avocado roll and spicy scallop – yum

“Tacos” – lobster, shrimp, tuna and salmon on tortilla chips--> this was beautiful & delish!

Shitake salad – also a winner

The most famous dish – miso black cod

Tasmanian trout with crispy spinach – this is the only dish that I wouldn’t order again – too greasy and fishy tasting

Mochi ice cream @ Bubbies

1010 University Ave
Honolulu, HI 96826
(808) 949-8984

No trip home is complete without a trip to Bubbies. It always amazes me that while they haven’t expanded (look at Yogurtland or Tutti Fruitti trying to open as many shops as they can) they have continued to maintain a base of loyal patrons and are always packed.

6 mochi ice cream (cost just barely more than a regular cup of Red Mango fro yo with one topping, yet feeds 2!) – lilikoi (the best), guava (weak flavor), lychee, azuki, and Satsuma (cherry blossom)

Lunch @ Downtown


Hawaii State Art Museum
250 S Hotel St

Honolulu, HI 96813
(808) 536-5900

Lunch with my high school girlfriends – we decided to go to Downtown at the Hawaii State Art Museum. Love all the local farms they are supporting – reading through the menu we had to ask is that a new kind of vegetable or the name of the farm (e.g. Sumida Watercress) since the menu descriptions include the farm location of locally sourced produce and meats.

Special of the day – Kahuku prawns, a white fish, and taro cakes

The salad plate – Hamakua mushrooms, orzo with feta and kalamata olives, and long beans with grape tomatoes and mozzarella