Monday, December 26, 2011

Leonard's Bakery: Whaaaat, not the malasadas?

Yummy visit to Leonard's last week when a friend was in town on vacation. We were wondering where to go for dessert after taking her to Ono Hawaiian Food, so I sneakily suggested either Bubbie's or Leonard's, since I'd been hoping to try either (a) the holiday flavor mochi ice cream at Bubbies -- cranberry & pumpking, or (b) the banana cream pie at Leonards. Random, right? Who goes to Leonard's for the pastries? I can't remember where I read about it, but I knew I had to try it.

Malasada menu: Just 90 cents! For Original, cinnamon sugar, or li hing mui (sour plum powder). And just $1.25 for a custard filled malasada (original, chocolate, haupia, or flavor of the month).
Love the schedule of malasada filling: mac nut, pineapple, mango, guava and lilikoi.
 Mmmmm, the squares of banana cream pie. They don't look that good behind the glass pastry case, but man they were worth it.

Inside the bakery

 Some cute holiday cupcakes: poinsettia and snowflake
 All wrapped up to go
 Ooh, I want some of that Portuguese sweet bread next time I am there.
933 Kapahulu Ave
Honolulu, HI 96816
(808) 737-5591

Favorite of the year: Monarch Seafood

Monarch Seafood

Somehow Monarch had flown beneath my radar all of these years. I know that the best grinds are in Kalihi (Ethel’s, Gulick Deli, etc) and I have Kahai Kitchen on my list to try, but never heard about Monarch until my friend Ali brought me a menu and told me I would love it.

She created a monster in I’m obsessed with their crab stuffed ahi and the banana cream pie. And I haven’t even tried their poke yet. Between Tanioka’s and here, these are my two favorite finds since moving home a year ago.
No seating, take out only, but totally worth the drive to Kalihi even if you eat it in the parking lot in your car. And don’t forget the banana cream pie!

Crab stuffed ahi with wasabi sauce -- to die for

Hawaiian plate - along with some of the best poke on the island. You usually get one cup of poke and one of lomi salmon, but we went late and they were all out of lomi salmon.

Monarch Seafood
515 Kalihi St
Honolulu, HI 96819
(808) 841-7877

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Soul food

I cannot get enough of Sean Priester's cooking. It's like crack for me. And I know that there isn't really much good for me in it (hello, it's southern cooking at it's best) but that doesn't keep me away.

BBQ sandwich
 Fried chicken the cornbread, veggie chili and collard greens
 Pecan pie with whipped cream

Every month when I end up at Eat the Street (love to support them, plus it's right by my office in Kaka'ako) I get drawn magnetically to the Soul truck. Even when I want to try all the awesome new trucks.

I've been an original customer at Soul, ever since the Groupon debut, and I became complete obsessed with the cornbread. 
Today I found some competition for Soul...another stick to your ribs, clog your arteries, want to take a kanak attack kind of meal that is so good even though you know all that about it, you can't stop eating good soul food.

Kiss My Grits is a tiny little hole in the wall at Puck's Alley (University Ave) that just opened this fall. They specialize in bbq - North Caroline Style or Southern (Georgia?) style, and also have fried chicken, catfish, shrimp & grits, and more.
Owner Kirstin Jackson moved to Hawaii 17 years ago and was initially working as a very successful publicist but finally gave up her steady job to follow her dream of opening a southern restaurant a few months ago. You can tell that she's thought about all of the small details that go into running a restaurant while she's been hatching her dream, as evidenced by the cute table setting below.
We started with the fried green tomatoes, a recommendation from a friend who was dining there.
Then moved onto our mains: the Dixie Chicken sandwich (which I read about on Yelp and had to try) and the BBQ plate with North Carolina sauce. (vs. a sweeter southern BBQ sauce). The Dixie Chicken is a must-try: a homemade freshly baked biscuit, ham, fried chicken, egg and pimento sauce. To die for.
Then the bbq beef plate: complete with cole slaw, a deviled egg and hush puppies (friend cornmeal dough), served with honey butter! The hush puppy was my highlight.

To end, we had to get the bread pudding, which truly was the best (and most sinful) bread pudding I've ever had. Read this review at Yelp which convinced me. Next time I'm gonna try the banana pudding though, another southern favorite of mine.

Now I'm going to go take a nap...

Kiss My Grits
1035 University Ave
Honolulu, HI 96826

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Revisiting Bangkok Chef (Nu'uanu)

I've tried the super cheap (i.e., the sketch place on the corner of Alakea and King St with the big $5 sign in the window) and the fancier Thai in Honolulu (Phuket Thai, Keo's) but I always come back to Bangkok Chef. While it's not oh-my-god I'm eating in Thailand authentic, it's good, satisfying, always the same, and very affordable.

Here's some pics from the last time I was there (Nu'uanu location)

Tom yum - nice & sour

Pad see ew

Green chicken curry with sticky rice

thai tea and pandan flavored tapioca

strawberry pannacotta
Bangkok Chef
Multiple locations including Manoa, Nimitz and Nu'uanu

Auntie Pasto's on Pensacola

Hadn't been to Auntie Pasto's since high school (ummm, fifteen years ago), but was craving some American-style Italian food. As in, more Italian than the Spaghetti Factory or Buca, but not as fancy / authentic as Assagio's. I still remembered the warm, soft goodness of the bread basket at Auntie Pasto's back in the day (which used to be somewhere other than Pi'ikoi, if I remember correctly? But I can't remember exactly where...)

 Mmm, the bread basket (with pesto now!)
Bread basket
 Mixed greens with walnuts, strawberries and cheese - this was a fantastic salad.

Fancier salad than I'd expect

Eggplant parm
And finally onto the mains: spaghetti with eggplant parm, and a spaghetti with meatballs (my go-to dish, back in the day). The most pleasant surprise of the evening...each was about $8.95! I don't remember exactly, but was shocked at how affordable the place still is. And delicious to boot.
And the classic spaghetti w/ meatballs

Auntie Pasto's
Pi'ikoi near South Beretania

Monday, October 03, 2011

Reviewing Non Stop's Korean eats

Ah Lang - Angry Korean Lady / Seoul Garden Yakiniku / Chodang

My brother was obsessed with Non Stop Honolulu’s write-up on “where the Koreans eat Korean food on Oahu.” Obsessed to the point of creating a spreadsheet to chart which restaurant got the most votes, and what to order at each. If I had a copy I’d put it up here (especially because Non Stop’s slide shows can be a big pain to flip through, since they don’t have links to any specific pages within the slide show, or any mechanism to select a slide. But that’s beside the point).

Here’s the story:

We’d already been to a bunch (Orine, Sorabol, etc). I just realized I’ve never put up Orine on my blog, which I need to get about doing, since that’s one of my favorite Korean finds in Honolulu.

Anyway, we picked three new ones to try: The Angry Korean Lady, Seoul Garden Yakiniku and Chodang. Found two winnahs out of the three, which is pretty good in my book. The only one I wouldn’t head back to is Chodang. It’s good for what it is - super cheap sit down Korean food ($4.99 and $5.99 specials including ban chan? That’s pretty amazing) right outside of Ala Moana shopping center. But the food wasn’t anything amazing.

I’d torn between picking a favorite of Ah Lang (the angry Korean lady) and Seoul Garden. Seoul Garden was probably better overall, and a real restaurant as opposed to a tiny (4 table?) spot in a strip mall in Kakaako, but I am still thinking about the meat jun at Ah Lang as some of the best I’ve ever had.

The proprietress at Ah Lang is know as the “Angry Korean Lady” for a reason. She has very specific opinions about how she runs her restaurant, and she’s made little signs with all of them and hung them up on each wall, just in case you forget.

But aside from her rules, there’s her food.

The ban chan (a step up from a Korean plate lunch)

cold noodles

kal bi

soon du bu

Soon du bu

And this is the meat jun (although I had to borrow the pic from Yelp, since as soon as ours came out, I started eating and forgot to take a pic!)

Bi bim bap (without the stone bowl) - killah

Seoul Garden is one of those places I’ve driven past on Kapiolani a million times but never really noticed before. But when it got such raves on Non Stop, we had to make a trip over there. It seems (to me, at least) to be pretty full-on authentic, with Korean speaking servers, and primarily Koreans eating in the restaurant.

The menu is extensive, so it was hard to pick between favorite stand-bys (kim chee pancake, soon du bu) and new stuff we wanted to try.

For 3 of us, we ended up going with:

pork & kim chee stir fry

“tofu dregs” - like okara


yook kae jang - beef soup - this was my winnah of the day. Nice & spicy.

Expensive for lunch ($20 each) but definitely worth another visit!

Lastly, there's Chodang:

Chodang ban chan

Cho dang meat jun

Kal bi tang