Thursday, January 27, 2011

Food truck festival tonight!

Hey everybody~~looking for somewhere to eat tonight? StreetGrindz is putting on a food truck festival on Kapiolani...bring together all of your favorite food trucks to one central parking lot :)

Can't believe they didn't think of this earlier...

6-9 pm
1637 Kapiolani Blvd

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Old vs. New: Side Street Inn vs. Kaimuki Grill

I was fascinated by Melissa Chang's post on Nonstop Honolulu about top places to take visitors (I would link to it here, but their website is really difficult to search, and I haven't been able to find it). She lists Kaimuki Grill as one place she always takes people, for when she "knows that Side Street Inn will be impossible to get a table."

In opportune timing, Kaimuki Grill was also featured on Groupon, so I snapped up a coupon. I've actually been twice now; the first time with a friend who was visiting from the mainland. I wanted to take her somewhere local, but she'd already been to Side Street on a previous trip. So I thought, "Perfect! I'll take her to Kaimuki Grill." The second time I went with some old friends who'd never been there but wanted to try it. Both times we loved it (although let me warn you...there's nothing light on the menu. Go hungry and ready to eat something that will kill your diet).

And since I am a die-hard Side Street Inn fan, I wanted to compare them side by side.

Side Street's menu is a beast. It takes forever just to read through it. Being a huge fan of Side Street fried rice (my "must-order" whenever I go there), here's the Side Street fried rice.

We also had the side street kal bi - a little tough and hard to get off the bone (not the best date food! haha)
The Kaimuki Grill menu, on the other hand, is much more manageable. Both sides of a simple table tent. Beers are listed separately on the back of the napkin holder. It's tiny in comparison to side street (maybe 8 tables?) but very homey and comfortable.

I thought these lotus furikake chips were unique to Kaimuki Grill, but I also saw them at Shokudo (or was it at Side Street? I'm completely getting them all mixed up). The furikake flavor didn't come across as strongly as I'd hoped.
Garlic - soy salmon...I was expecting this to be grilled, but in true "bar menu" style it was fried.

Kaimuki Grill fried rice - I had to compare to Side Street. This was great, but I'd have to say that Side Street is still my favorite - the rice is a little stickier is the only way I can think of to make the comparison...

Mac n cheese wedges - Kraft mac & cheese formed into cute little triangles and deep fried. If it wasn't Kraft, these might be the most amazing food.
In sum, I'm still a die-hard Side Street fanatic, but Kaimuki Grill is a great option if you're in Kaimuki or looking for smaller (and cheaper) portions than what Side Street offers.

Kaimuki Grill
1108 12th Ave (in the parking lot near Harding)
732-2292 (they take reservations)
Side Street Inn
1225 Hopaka St (by Ala Moana)
591-0253 (don't also take reservations)
Side Street in the Strip
614 Kapahulu Ave

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What I'm wishing for in Hawaii's dining scene in 2011

+ Authentic thai or Laotian, a la Pok Pok in Portland, Oregon

+ South Indian street food (I'll take a restaurant or a food truck)
Dosa, pav bhaji, samosa sandwiches

+ An awesome wine bar that's not in a shopping mall

+ Homestyle Shanghainese or Taiwanese food

Anyone have other things they'd like to see / can tell me where these already exist in Hawaii??

What about you? What are we missing here in Hawaii?

Venturing down to Waikiki: Sansei

When I think of sushi in Hawaii, I think of Sansei. However I realized that I am dating myself...because I also think of Sansei in Restaurant Row turning into a dance club at 10 pm on Friday and Saturday evenings....yikes!

I was meeting a friend from the mainland who is staying in Waikiki for dinner. I'd originally planned to take her to Side Street on the Strip on Kapahulu, but neglected to realize that it was Tostito Bowl BCS championship day, and the bar was COMPLETELY packed. Boo :(

So we walked back towards Waikiki (since we'd already paid for parking in the lot next to Side Street) and went to Sansei, since I was curious how they are doing these days.

It's on the 3rd floor of the Waikiki Beach Marriott (on the Diamond Head end of Waikiki), right next to DK Steakhouse (which are both owned by DK restaurants). The interior looks surprisingly just like Restaurant Row.

The Sansei Special Roll: spicy crab, cilantro and veggies dusted with furikake. Meh.
Kapalua "Butterfry" roll with Ponzu dipping sauce - meh. Where's the rice? Why is it deep fried?

Miso butterfish...delicious, but it's also pretty hard to mess this one up.
Tempura sweet onion rings - nice touch with the tempura batter
Poke - really liked the addition of salad greens here
Overall, I'm glad I went; it definitely satisfied a craving for Sansei-style sushi. But I think next time I'm craving Japanese, I will splurge on Sasabune or Gaku, or hit up a more reasonably priced sushi joint...does anyone have recs for one with fun rolls like Sansei?

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Top meals of 2010

Top meals in Hawaii (I was only here for a few months, so there weren't that many opportunities)

+ Ono to go
This is a new lunch truck, located on Kapiolani Boulevard, run by 3 guys who love the bbq. I loved the combo poke / kalua pig & cabbage bowl with brown rice, but the bbq is ono as well.

+ Ed Kenney (of Town) catering at Punahou...opa with pan-fried pa'i'ai. Despite the fact that he was catering for probably about ~150 people, this was one of the highlights of my year!

**Top meals outside of Hawaii**

+ Azul / Shanghai

Tapas bar in Shanghai, greatest sangria in the city
+ Haiku / Shanghai

I always have my birthday here, and it was one of my last meals in Shanghai. Run by Chinese American, Alan Wong, who imported "california style" fancy sushi rolls to China.

+ Boulcott Street Bistro / Wellington (New Zealand)

I still remember the tenderness of the lamb shank

+ Tamarind Restaurant / Luang Prabang (Laos)

It's a fancy version of local Laotian dishes, but still cheap (I recall less than $10 a meal). The 4 roast veggie dips with the toasty seaweed was amazing.

+ Hunter valley (wine country outside of Sydney)
We ate at the Tuscany bed & breakfast. The Hunter is a wine region outside of Sydney famed for their Semillons (white wine). If you go, definitely visit Tyrell's, Ashley Wilkinson, and de Bortoli wineries.

Eats: oysters (amazing!), cheeses, and mediterranean-inspired dips