Hawaii Food Blogger 'Aku Eats' Publishes First Book

Whether you live in or plan on visiting Oahu and are looking where to find the best grinds in town from a local’s point-of-view, look no further than ‘Island Flavors’, a new book authored by Hawaii food blogger ‘Aku Eats‘. Shown above is the cover of the book, which was so graciously sent to me as a pre-release copy by the author himself.

It’s basically an Oahu restaurant guide written from a local food blogger’s perspective, featuring places as high profile as Alan Wong’s and Zippy’s, to such low-key hole-in-the-wall places like W&M and Happy Day.

The featured restaurants are categorized in the book pretty much how you would find them on AkuEats.com, yet considerably extended from there. The ‘Local Specialty Items’ chapter is especially interesting, for me anyway. This part features the best eateries in town for popular dishes such as Saimin, Manapua ‘n things, Poke, Crack Seed, Spam Musubi, Huli-Huli Chicken, Oxtail Soup, Shave Ice and Malasadas. I think I’ve already covered most of them right here on my blog, yet it’s always interesting to read another local’s point of view.

From there, it’s categorized by ethnic cuisine, including every corner of the globe from America to Mexico, Cuba, Japan, Vietnam, India, France and the Mediterranean, just to name a few.

Say you’re in the mood for Indian cuisine. Aku  mentions having a good friend from Pakistan that used to cook up some mighty fine curries. With that, Aku has set off for the all the Indian restaurants in town to get his curry fix and more as he explains his recommendations on the menu at such places as Maharani, Bombay, India Cafe, Taj Mahal, India Bazaar and India House.

How about Italian? ‘Island Flavors’ got that covered as well, with 6 pages of restaurants, including Mediterraneo, Sergio’s, Cafe Sistina, Assagio’s and Longhi’s, just to name a few!

Most importantly,  you can tell he’s actually eaten at all these restaurants as he goes into such details of what’s on the menu and which dishes he enjoyed. Quite remarkable to have dined at and covered so many places on the island! I don’t think I’ve been to even half of where he’s visited.

As you might expect with any book covering food, there’s a wealth of photos within, including 32 (16 back-to-back) pages in full color.

To note, there’s one photo in there sourced right here from The Tasty Island. That would be the black and white photo of the Rice Cake, Pork Hash and Half Moon from Libby Manapua Shop on page 53.

I already mentioned to ‘Aku’ that I have a couple of problems with the book’s design. Number one is the typeface selection, which I find hard on the eyes. Especially where it’s italicized. Here’s a page inside so you can see what I’m talking about…

That font is what’s considered a “display” or “ornamental” font, and, in my opinion, shouldn’t be used for entire bodies of text, but only as a design element for logos and headers. Italicizing a display font makes it that much harder to read. Plus, the leading (space between each line of text) is too tight.

There’s also too much space in the gutter margin, along with NO margin within each text box. *scratches head*.

Also, each restaurant within their respective category aren’t listed in alphabetical order, but are in completely random order.

Lastly, I suggested he should have named the book simply ‘Aku Eats’. ‘Island Flavors’ sound rather generic, and ‘Aku’ did mention that Sam Choy already has a cookbook titled ‘Island Flavors’.

Those design gripes aside, the content and writing that ‘Aku’ provides are truly valuable, having you feel as if you’re having a personal conversation with the author himself about the best places to eat around the island, coming from someone who’s actually eaten there before.

Folks from the mainland and abroad planning their visit to the islands frequently email me asking for a list of my favorite places to eat on Oahu, and now I can simply just point them in the direction of ‘Island Flavors’ by Aku Eats. It’s got it all covered!

‘Island Flavors’ from the creator of akueat.com will be available soon at Hawaii Costco, Walmart, Borders and Barnes & Nobles locations. You can also purchase it online at the Aku store at www.akueats.com.

Could there be a ‘Tasty Island’ Honolulu Food Blogger book authored by yours truly in the working? I dunno’. You’ll have to hit me up on that if you’re interested in helping me out!

What? ‘Island Flavors’
from the creator of akueats.com
What is this book about? It’s an Oahu restaurant and local grindz guide
Where did you buy it and how much did it cost? It was given to me by the author (see above where you can buy it)
Big shaka to: Excellent writing and very valuable information about where to eat on Oahu from a local food blogger’s persepective. Beautiful color photos on 32 pages (16 back-to-back) within.
No shaka to: Bad use of typeface. Margins off. Title of book should have been ‘Aku Eats’.

The Tasty Island rating:

(4) Excellent. Worth another visit or purchase. (Winnahz!)

Catering by Boston's North End Pizza

This past week it was that time again for an office luncheon, this time with the grindz provided by Boston’s North End Pizza Bakery. Boston’s currently has eight locations on Oahu, including Kaimuki, Kaneohe, Kailua, Manoa, Hawaii Kai, Pearlridge, Kapolei and Wahiawa.

The spread presented here today is from their newest location in Kaneohe, located in Windward Centre, a small strip mall adjacent to the Makai side of  Windward Mall, right behind Zippy’s. Thankfully the Kaneohe location delivers, which was a nice touch for us busy bodies. What can I say? Kaneohe rules! You know it. lol

Getting right to it, our spread from Boston’s North End Pizza included a simple tossed green salad…

Boston’s North End Pizza – Tossed Green Salad

This included a basic Italian dressing..

Notice there’s Ranch dressing packed in that set as well, which is intended to accompany Boston’s Buffalo Wings…

Boston’s North End Pizza – Buffalo Wings

Now let’s REALLY get to business, starting with our first “pie”, which is actually considered Boston’s “Cheese Sticks”, the Mozzarella…

Boston’s North End Pizza – Mozzarella Cheese Sticks

Notice, unlike the rest of the pizzas following this, the Mozzarella Cheese Pie is cut into rectangles, making each serving a “stick” instead of a “slice”.

Now let’s talk Pizza!…

Boston’s North End Pizza – “Big Papi”

As you can see, this is a “meat lovers” special, including ham, peperoni and Portuguese sausage. Whoah!

Absolutely my favorite of the bunch is the “Big Red”…

Boston’s North End Pizza – “Big Red”: a unique pizza loaded with spinach, garlic, tomatoes and mushrooms

Boston’s Special…

Boston’s Special

Back-to-basics ‘Roni ‘n Cheese…

Boston’s “Roni”

Boston’s “RMBO”, which would be an acronym for “Roni, Mushrooms, B? and Olives

If you click on the RMBO photo, my apologies: I forgot to reduce the image size for the typical computer monitor you’re reading this on. Hence you’ll be dealing with a whopping 3072×2304 pixel image. Whoah! But really, that’s actually the scale of these pizzas. THEY’RE HUGE! While I didn’t take a tape measure to them, I’m estimating (now that I do have a tape measure) that they measure at least 20″ in diameter each. Take out your tape measure or yard stick and measure 20″. If that isn’t a massive pizza to you, than I dunno’. That’s massive to me.

Also consider that there were two to three identical pizzas stacked in boxes beneath each one shown. Folks, we’re talkin’ major PIZZAFEST!

Finally, we have a basic Cheese Pie…

Boston’s Cheese Pie

That rounds up the grindz supplied by Boston’s North End Pizza Bakery. But really, is that enough food for you? Nah, I didn’t think so. So along with that, we also had this fantastic fruit bowl to compliment the meal…

Diner C’s “Masarap” Fruit Bowl: (nicely ripe ‘n sweet!) Melon, Watermelon and Canteloupe

And for dessert, a Sundae Ice Cream Station! Wheeeee-haaaaawwwwww!!!!! lol…

You gotta’ love these here Keebler® brand sweet waffle cone ice cream bowls….

Kawaii nei?! lol

The ice cream we served with this was Meadow Gold’s back-to-basics Vanilla, the one they sell at Costco for like $7 per 1.25 gallon tub. Worked out GREAT!

Well, let’s plate it up and sample some, cuz!…

Boston’s Tossed Green Salad, Buffalo Wings and Diner C’s “Masarap” Fruits

And the stars of the show (<—click to view alternate angle)…

Boston’s North End Pizza – Cheese Stick, “Big Red” (Spinach, Garlic, Mushrooms ‘n Olives), Boston’s Special and slice of Pepperoni with Mushrooms and Olives

Finally for dessert, my idea of what an Ice Cream Sundae should look like, given the toppings provided…

Pomai’s Ice Cream Sundae

It would have been nice if there were Maraschino Cherries to top it off, but who am I to say? Beggers can’t be choosers. lol

So how is it? The t0ssed green salad was very fresh and crispy, with a basic what tasted liked bottled Italian Vinaigrette dressing.

The buffalo wings were very moist and tender, although I didn’t care for the breading, which was heavily fortified with what tasted like Ceyenne Pepper. Zoinks! I rather have the classic style Buffalo wings that are simply deep fried with no breading and then tossed with “Wing Sauce”.

Diner C’s “Masarap” fruits were, as advertised, MASARAP! (delicious in Filipino)

All the pizzas were also delicioso. I particularly enjoyed the “Big Red”, which is the one with generous helpings of Spinach, Garlic, Tomatoes and Mushrooms. YUMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!

Diner A had a problem with the middle of the crust on all the pizzas, which he complained was too soggy and undercooked, but that didn’t bother me. I think what it is, is that being Boston’s crust is very thin, this pizza is best eaten fresh out of the oven. While they arrived at our office still piping hot, the steaming effect probably caused the inner part of the crust to get soggy. I didn’t notice that, but he did.

I also really enjoyed their Mozzarella “Cheese Sticks”, which were heavily laced with Italian herbs. Another YUMMMMMM to that!

This was a nice change to our usual Pizza Hut Pizza parties. Personally, I’m more of a deep-dish pizza fan, so Pizza Hut, as “generic” as it is, is still my favorite all-around go-to Pizza. Yet Boston’s North End Pizza is a refreshing thin crust change.

It must also be noted that the Kaneohe Boston’s location gave us a $5 discount on each pie due to our bulk order. Nice.

With that, I give Boston’s North End Pizza a satisfactory 3-SPAM Musubi rating.

My ichiban pick for the perfect “pie” on Oahu still goes to North Shore Farms Neapolitan Grilled Pizza…

North Shore Farms Pizza Margherita

Good gosh, now I’m craving pizza. Aren’t you? lol

Boston’s North End Pizza
Kaneohe location in Windward Centre, on the Makai side near (not in) Windward Mall
46-028 Kawa St.
Kaneohe, Hawaii 96744

Tel. 235-7756

The Tasty Island Rating:

(3) Very Good. Considerable of another visit or purchase. (Supah’ Ono!)

Hyatt Waikiki Eats: Ciao Mein

Ciao Mein – Tiramisu dessert

Last Sunday we had dinner with “Maui Mom & Dad” at Ciao Mein, which as this clever name implies, is a hybrid concept restaurant featuring both Italian and Chinese cuisine on one menu. Yet we can’t quite describe it as ‘fusion cusine’, as most of the dishes on the menu are either Chinese or Italian in and of themselves. While there’s just one small section titled ‘Collision Cuisine’, which is described as “A unique combination of Italian and Chinese Cuisine”. Whatever the difference in meaning between the moniker “Collision” and “Fusion” is beyond me at the moment.

Before we move on to the menu, first let’s look exactly where we’re at, which would be the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Resort & Spa…

Ciao Mein is located on the third floor below the Ewa Tower…

Here’s the main entrance to Ciao Mein…

Many more of those beautiful bronze statues are positioned in various locations throughout the restaurant….

…making the experience at Ciao Mein feel almost as if you’re in an Art Gallery, both from a 3-dimensional, as well as culinary aspect.

Here’s more….

Getting to our table, here’s how the setting is presented upon arrival…

As you walk through Ciao Mein, you’ll find a mini labyrinth of private dining rooms, followed by one main open dining room, which is where we were seated…

As you see (or may not), the room is dimly-lit, making it ideal for that romantic night out with your special someone.

So that’s the place, now let’s see what’s for dinner! Starting with our Ciao Mein Appetizer Platter, which was specially selected and prepared for us by the Chef….

Ciao Mein – Chef Ching’s Special Appetizer Platter: (clockwise from top) Focaccia, Schezuan Eggplant, Shrimp Spring Rolls and Black Bean Alaskan King Crab Legs

Our wonderful server treated us like royalty, personally plating each appetizer for us…

So here you see a little of that “collision” happening, as along with the three Chinese appetizers, you have one Italian dish with the Focaccia, which happened to be my favorite of the four. Every one was fantastic, but the Focaccia stood out for me with its flavor-packed and complimentary combination of Sauteed Plum Tomatoes, Fresh Oregano and Smoked Mozzarella. Simple yet so delicioso!

Here’s a closer look at that Focaccia with my ever-so-lovely-to-look-at “bite-through view” lol…

Ciao Mein – Focaccia: Sauteed Plum Tomatoes, Fresh Oregano and Smoked Mozzarella

Here’s another plating of the same set of four appetizers…

I was also diggin’ the Black Bean Alaskan King Crab Legs as a well, noting the abundance of garlic also in there. Who wouldn’t dig that?!

Like every finer dining meal, Ciao Mein provides a complimentary basket of dinner bread to go along with the meal…

Ciao Mein – Complimentary Dinner Bread Basket: Olive and Cheese Ciabatta Rolls and Bread Sticks

This is accompanied with a sweet pepper jelly and tradional Italian Pesto sauce…

Ciao Mein – Pesto and Sweet Garlic Chili Sauce condiments for the Dinner Bread

The rather rustic Olive (the other one is cheese) Ciabatta Roll had great flavor and texture, but I just wish it were served warm or hot. As it was, it was at room temperature. That warmth really brings out the nuances of the bread you just can’t taste and enjoy when it’s at room temp’. Ya’ know? Minor, but still.

Moving on, let’s check out the main course! First up we have the Honey Walnut Shrimp…

Ciao Mein – Honey Walnut Shrimp: Shrimp and Sugar Snap Beans with Honey-Glazed Walnuts, $28

Looks good. Next we have Chef Ching’s Beef…

Ciao Mein – Chef Ching’s Beef, $28

Yum. That looks great too. Rounding it out, we have the Steamed Tai Snapper…

Ciao Mein – Steamed Tai Snapper with Soy-Ginger Sauce, market price

This steamed snapper is presented piping hot table side, as our wonderful server meticulously removed the main bone and once again dished out each plate with nothing but the moist and tender meat and some skin for those wanted it. Here he first severs the head from the main spine (sounds lovely, doesn’t it?)…

Steamed Tai Snapper prepared for service tableside

After some “fishin’ around” under the snapper meat with his fork and spoon, the entire spine and rib bones are removed in one piece…

Of course there’s a still a few pinbones in the meat, which the diners are reminded to be careful of when eating it.

Here James gets ready to dish some for one of our guests…

For starch, we ordered a bowl of Jasmine Rice.

With that, here’s my plate with everything for the main course dished up…

Ciao Mein – Main course: Honey Walnut Shrimp, Chef Ching’s Beef and Steamed Tai Snapper with Ginger-Soy Sauce, along with Jasmine Rice

Obviously as seen so much attention I focused on it, the steamed Tai Snapper with Ginger-Soy Sauce was my favorite of the three main dishes. It really is an easy dish that anyone can make at home, but of course when it’s done for you by a celebrated chef in a fine dining restaurant such as Ciao Mein, it’s that much better. And it was ONOLICIOUS!

The Honey Walnut Shrimp was delicious, although nothing that stood out any more than I could have got from the neighborhood Chinese restaurant down the street. Chef Ching’s Beef was great. Loved that too. Very tender, with an interesting, slighty sweet, slightly spicy, yet super-savory sauce.

So I give 3 SPAM to the Honey Walnut Shrimp, 4 SPAM to Chef Ching’s Beef and 4 SPAM to the Steamed Tai Snapper with Ginger-Soy Sauce.

For the appetizers, I give 4 SPAM to the Focaccia with Tomatoes and Smoked Mozzarella, 4 SPAM to the Black Bean Alaskan King Crab Legs, and 3 SPAM each to the Schezuan Eggplant and Shrimp Egg Rolls.

Oh, we enjoyed our meal with a glass each of Cabernet Sauvignon. Worked out great with each dish. Any red is fine with me.

What? No room for dessert? Of course we have room! Especially when you’re talking about Ciao Mein’s absolutely delicious take on the classic Italian favorite, Tiramisu…

Ciao Mein – Tiramisu

We also sampled a plate of the other Italian (specifically Secilian) dessert classic, Canolli…

Ciao Mein – Canolli

It was hard to discern the lady fingers in the Tiramisu or the other individual parts of its sum, but all I can say is that was one fantastic “love fest” on a plate. Fantastic.

The canolli on the other hand needs work. Mainly the Canolli shells themselves, which you could tell were taken straight out of the freezer, having a hard, stale texture to them. The least they could do is pop them in a toaster oven to crips them up before service.

With that I give Ciao Mein’s Tiramisu a solid 4 SPAM Musubi rating, and the Canolli barely making 1.

Like most trendy Chinese-American restaurants, Ciao Mein also provides complimentary Fortune Cookies to their guests…

Dig that porcelain Chinese take-out container serving “bowl”. I’d read you my fortune, but then it won’t come true! “Ancient Chinese secret!” lol

Once again, the service on our visit on this evening was second to none. We were treated like royalty, making that alone a reason to visit Ciao Mein again and again. On top of that, aside of a few bumps in the ride, our trip to China and Italy via the work of Chef Ching makes Ciao Mein a highly recommended restaurant, and one to consider, whether for that special romantic occasion, or to entertain in or out-of-town guests.

Before I cap off this review, here’s a few more dishes that were conveniently placed on a service tray near our table, awaiting service for guests at other tables, so I got some of photos of them to share here!.

Straight from the “Collision Cuisine” Italian-meets-Chinese menu, here’s the Spicy Ginger Garlic Shrimp…

Ciao Mein – Spicy Ginger Garlic Shrimp: Shrimp, Angel Hair Pasta, Ginger and Garlic, $28

Ciao Mein – Risotto: Italian Arborio Rice with Chef’s Daily Selection of Ingredients, $9

Ciao Mein – Raviolo Aperto: Sea Scallops sauteed with Pancetta, Cream and Air-Dried Tomatoes, $24

Ciao Mein – Saltimbocca Di Vitello: Veal Scallopini topped with Sage, Sliced Prosciutto and Fontina Cheese, $29

OMG! I’m so try that Saltimbocca on a return visit. Yum-oh!

Another classic favorite…

Ciao Mein – Fetuccini Alfredo: White Cream Sauce with Julienne of Prosciutto, $20

A back-to-basics Chinese dish…

Ciao Mein – Garlic Choy Sum: Stir-fried Choy Sum, Garlic and Sherry, $15

Here’s the man behind all these creative dishes, Chef James Ching…

Ciao Mein Chef James Ching

Ciao Mein
Creative Italian and Chinese Cuisine
Hyatt Regency Waikiki Resort & Spa
Third Floor, Ewa Tower
Tel. 923-CIAO (2426)

The Tasty Island Rating:

(4) Excellent. Worth another visit or purchase. (Winnahz!)

P.S. Opting to walk home instead of riding in the car, I stopped by and checked out this amazing street performer on Kalakaua avenue in Waikiki. Her name is Kiana and let me tell you, this girl is going places. She’s destined for stardom. She has to be. Talk about a VOICE!…

Singer, Guitarist and Song Writer Kiana

Singer, Guitarist and Song Writer Kiana

Her beautiful and exotic looks are thanks to her mother being Japanese and father being Irish and German. She speaks fluent Nihongo (Japanese language), which you could tell had some Nihongin tourists a little taken by surprise.

I’d say her voice and style is an eclectic mixture between Sarah McLachlan, Ann Wilson of Heart and Bjork. Plus she’s a fantastic guitarist as well, being a one-woman band.

Check out Kiana at her MySpace page here: www.MySpace.com/KianaMusic

Seriously, if you’re a big time music producer looking for that next big talent, RUN, don’t walk to Waikiki and look for Kiana. She’ll absolutely have your jaw on the ground. Mines was. Almost tear moving.

Kiana sings with the voice of an Angel

Waikiki Eats: Wailana Coffee House

Yesterday morning I had breakfast with “Maui Mom & Dad” (my girlfriend’s parents) at Wailana Coffee House, where as you see, and as expected on a Sunday morning,  there was a considerable line of folks waiting to get in. After about a 20 minute wait, we got a table.

Established in 1970, Wailana Coffee House is one of very few restaurants in Waikiki open 24 hours a day, making it a popular destination for post-partying clubbers and graveyard shift workers in the area. It’s a casual diner serving up all the usual breakfast, lunch and dinner all-American favorites, along with a few local twists at very reasonable prices.

The dining room makes you feel right at home with comfortable, semi-private booth seating…

Getting right to it, we’re starving, so let’s see what’s for breakfast!…

“Maui Dad” chose the “Hawaiian Style Breakfast”…

Wailana Coffee House –  Hawaiian Style Breakfast: Corned Beef Hash, Two Eggs and Butter-Grilled Banana, $6.95 along with a Hash Brown, $1.60

Most of Wailana’s breakfast plates include a side of toast…

Wailana Coffee House – Toast (toast!)

Something about  back-to-basics TOAST served in a restaurant always looks so much better than the one I make at home. I think it’s just the fact that I didn’t make it. Or is it the plate?

The toast is already buttered, while they provide 3 kinds of jelly, jam and marmalade for the finishing touch.

“Maui Mom” wasn’t that hungry, opting for just a side dish of English Muffins and Portuguese Sausage…

Wailana Coffee House – Toasted English Muffin, $2.25

plus this…

Wailana Coffee House – Portuguese Sausage, $3.50

She noted the brand as tasting like Purity, which we’re both highly favorable of. I must admit though, for the life of me, would NEVER think of ordering a combination of English Muffins and Portuguese Sausage. Very interesting. She ended up “borrowing” (code word for donate) one of the buttered banana slices from “Maui Dad’s” plate and made quite a nice-lookin’ sandwich out of it all.

See, so even as “plain jane” as this looks and sounds so far, we already came up with something sort of “Fusion” in the form of a Portuguese Sausage English Muffin Sandwich with Buttered Banana slice. All it takes is a little imagination and creativity. lol

Finally, while the all-you-eat pancakes including 2 eggs and bacon for just $5.75 looked like the deal of the day on the menu (actually that deal is available all day and night every day!), yours truly couldn’t resist the ever-so-decadent Eggs Benedict…

Wailana Coffee House – Eggs Benedict: Toasted English Muffin, Smoked Ham, Turkey Breakfast, Poached Eggs, Hollandaise Sauce, Hashed Browns, $8.95

Moving beyond the classic Eggs Benedict featuring Canadian Bacon, this one also includes a generous helping of sliced, very moist turkey breast…

Sliced turkey breast – check

And of course that smokey ham (otherwise usually Canadian Bacon) and toasted English Muffin….

Smoked Ham and Toasted English Muffin – check

Then of course you got that flavor-packed runny yolk just waiting to burst out of the perfectly-poached egg…

Ooey-gooey runny poached egg yolk – check

Then you make the love happen by combining the Hollandaise sauce along with everything on the plate and go for it!…

An Eggs Benedict “love fest”

Oh yes, you know want a bite of that. MM-MM-MMM! So good!

It must be noted that I could taste lemon and a hint of nutmeg in the Hollandaise, so they certainly didn’t cut any corners, making some “jiffy sauce”.  It was exactly how authentic Hollandaise should both taste and feel on the palate, while being smooth as silk  and having just the right “stick” and richness to it, without making me worry too much about my next doctor’s visit. Ha! You can tell  Wailana’s cook takes pride and pays attention to detail in preparing this sauce.

While I won’t hand Wailana’s Eggs Benedict the “best I’ve ever had” award, at least on this particular visit, I have no complaints. Solid 4 SPAM Musubi.

“Maui Dad” still makes THE BEST EGGS BENEDICT I’ve ever had, and while that may seem biased, there’s a lot of credential behind that, which perhaps I’ll get to later.

“Maui Dad’ gave his “Hawaiian Style Breakfast” plate a solid satisfactory 3 SPAM Musubi, backing up that claim by pretty much polishing the plate. I actually couldn’t finish my Eggs Benedict as I was full after getting through three-fourths of it, so the portions are certainly decent here.

Ah, that was good.

There’s ample parking in the basement (entrance located on Ena Road) for just 50 cents with validation.

Wailana Coffee House offers good food, great value and a wide variety of selections on the menu to satisfy just about everyone in your party, at a convenient, easy-to-find location right in Waikiki.

Wailana Coffee House
1860 Ala Moana Blvd Lbby
Honolulu, HI 96815
(808) 955-1764

The Tasty Island rating:

(3) Very Good. Considerable of another visit or purchase. (Supah’ Ono!)

Related links:
Wailana Coffee House – Yelp user reviews
Wailana Coffee House – Ono Kine Grindz review

P.S. Here’s the completed Trump International Hotel Waikiki, taken yesterday as I walked down Kalakaua avenue…

Trump International Hotel Waikiki – August 24, 2009

It’s so new to Waikiki’s skyline, you’d almost think this is an illustration, but nope, that’s the real deal.

Kahai Street Kitchen: Ocean Scallops 'n Kalbi

Kahai Street Kitchen – Deep Fried Ocean Scallops: Dusted With Furikake and Shichimi & Sun Dried Tomato Tartar Sauce, Tossed Green Salad and Brown Rice, $8.95

Falling under the “Hana Hou” category (loosely translated as  “one more time” or “encore” in Hawaiian), yesterday we returned for some Aloha Friday lunchtime grindz from Kahai Street Kitchen, which has now become a regular favorite of ours.

As you see by the plate shown above, I decided to try their Deep Fried Ocean Scallops, which are dusted With Furikake and Shichimi & served with Sun-dried Tomato Tartar Sauce. This is one of their specials of the day, and as with many of their other offerings, this sounds like a dish that would fit right in on the menu at Roy’s, albeit at plate lunch prices. Sounds good to me!

Similar to a winning choice he made the last time from KSK, this time Diner A had da’ “onos” for the Korean Style Kalbi with Kim Chee…

Korean Style Kalbi with Kim Chee: Served with Potato Mac, $8.50

It’s kinda’ funny to call it “Korean Style Kalbi”. That’s like saying “Hawaiian Style Laulau” or “Filipino Style Pinakbet”. I mean, if you seen Kalbi on a menu, wouldn’t you immediately assume it’s a Korean dish? I surely would, but I suppose owner/Chef Nao (Iwata) had to keep that as top-of-mind as stated on the menu for patrons, perhaps so they don’t question or become confused why it tastes a little different than Japanese style Teriyaki, as the Korean Kalbi marinade has the addition of garlic, chili pepper and sesame oil in it.

Speaking of which, check out how the generous portion of tender boneless Kalbi shortribs are just soaked in Kalbi sauce…

See that pool of char-flavored Kalbi sauce pooled on the bottom of the plate towards the back? That my friends is where the LOVE happens. Dip some of the mac sal’ in that and OMG, BLISS! We even tried dipping my deep fried Ocean Scallops in this absolutely to-die-for Kalbi sauce and it was even better than the Sun-Dried Tomato Tartar Sauce it’s served with. Awesome with the Scallops! So next time I go there, if there’s a deep-fried seafood dish, I’ll order that and request they give me this Kalbi sauce for dipping instead of whatever other sauce it is that’s on the menu. That Kalbi sauce is a winnah!

Here you can see they’re done medium to medium-rare inside…

…while also being quite tender considering the cut. Really, this is as good as boneless Kalbi gets, which is noteworthy considering this isn’t even a Korean restaurant. The only thing that could improve it would be if it actually did have the bones in, which obviously would add even more flavor.

Also check out this heaping pile of Potato Mac’ Sal’ (Macaroni Salad) they put on the plate…

…and that’s after Diner A had already dug through a little more than an eighth of it. Really, just this alone could have been a meal in itself. And it was PERFECT’: simple, cool, creamy and seasoned just right, with the addition of the fork-tender potatoes helping to “tight it up”, versus if it were only macaroni, which would probably be a little more “loose”. Great strategy and a good tip for anyone looking to make the perfect Mac’ Sal’. The addition of potatoes look to be the secret.

While the Kim Chee side dish (banchan) doesn’t look that great, in flavor Diner A said it was actually spot-on, having all the flavor and texture elements of a good Kim Chee. And you know me when it comes to entrees: I MUST have the proper sides to make my meal complete. Wouldn’t wanna’ have it any other way. Hawaiian food MUST be accompanied with POI. Japanese food MUST be accompanied with Tsukemono and Miso Soup, and Korean food MUST be accompanied with Banchan, or at the very least, KIM CHEE!

Summing it up, Diner A gives Kahai Street Kitchen’s “Korean Style” Kalbi with Kim Chee a rock solid 4 SPAM Musubi rating. From what I tasted from his dish, I concur.

Now let’s have a taste of them Deep Fried Ocean Scallops…

Deep Fried Ocean Scallops: Dusted With Furikake and Shichimi & Sun Dried Tomato Tartar Sauce, Tossed Green Salad and Brown Rice

As advertised, these aren’t them tiny Bay Scallops either; they’re the jumbo-sized Ocean Scallops, a.k.a. Giant Scallops, which are coated in Panko, deep fried then dusted with Furikake, Shichimi (Japanese hot red pepper flakes) and what also looked and tasted like sauteed garlic. Yum!

Here’s a cross-cut view of the Panko-coated deep-fried Ocean Scallops…

That black thing on there is a Nori flake from the Furikake. What you can’t really tell just by looking at the photo is how tender and SWEET these babies were. I mean they practically fell apart on my fork. So good. The Sun-Dried Tomato Tartar Sauce works, but as noted earlier, if you ever order this from there, request that they substitute (or add) the Char-flavored Kalbi sauce in a container with your plate. I tell you, the flavor of the mildly clam-like, tender and sweet Scallops along with the Shoyu, ginger, garlic and sesame in the Kalbi sauce is DYNAMITE! Thanks to the creative mind of Diner A for suggesting we try that!

See, mixing dishes like that is how we end up with great culinary hybrids such as Hurricane Popcorn and SPAM Musubi. Coming soon to a restaurant near you: Deep-Fried Kalbi Ocean Scallops. Ha!

Also notice how many of these giant Ocean Scallops are on the plate: 5 to be exact. So many, that it took me a “second wind” to get through all of them. The half scallop that Diner A tried ended up in the Kalbi sauce.

Continuing with the generous portions, the tossed green salad was also substantial in quantity as well, as you see it fills almost the entire area under the lid of my plate…

Judging by its appearance and the absolutely fresh, flavorful quality of it, I’m guessing these are mixed greens from ‘Nalo Farms. I remember seeing bags of this stuff for sale at Nalo Farms’ booth at the KCC Farmers Market. Very reasonably-priced, too. Good stuff.

Also very good – actually supah’ ono! – was the vinaigrette dressing it came with, which reminded me of the Parisian dressing that comes with that salad kit from Costco. The one with the crumbled cheese, dried cranberries and candied nuts included in it.  You know which one I’m talking about? Love that stuff. This had the same creamy, well-balanced kick of sweet and acidic, with all the right herbs and spices adding some groove to the party. In all its simplicity, this is probably the best tossed green salad I’ve had from a plate lunch joint yet.

Lest I not call Kahai Street Kitchen a “plate lunch joint”, as that would almost be an insult to what really are being offered here are more fit for service at a luxury resort. Just add porcelain dishware, white tablecloths and ocean views. Yet as it is, Kahai Street Kitchen is indeed disguised as a plate lunch joint, tucked away in “industrially-scenic” Kalihi Kai. lol

Kahai Street Kitchen @ 237 Kalihi Street. You enter in that door on the corner there.haa

Kahai Street Kitchen religiously posts their daily specials on their website.

Here were the daily specials on this particular visit:


Kahai Street Kitchen Specials of the Day for Friday, August 22, 2009:

Garlic Chicken……………………………………………………………….….……..…$7.95
Marinated Morsels of Chicken in Our Special Sauce. Choice of White or Brown Rice & Potato Mac or Tossed Salad.

Korean Style Kalbi with Kim Chee……………………….…………………….….…….$8.50
Served with White or Brown Rice & Potato Mac or Tossed Salad. (Diner A’s choice)

Guava BBQ Pork Ribs…….…………….………………………………………………….$8.75
Served with White or Brown Rice & Potato Mac or Tossed Salad. SOLD OUT!

Nori Wrapped Ahi Katsu…………………….……………………………….…….………$8.00
With Tri Colored Tobikko Horseradish Aioli Garnished with Radish Sprouts & Ponzu on the side. Served with White or Brown Rice & Potato Mac or Tossed Salad.  SOLD OUT!

Braised Boneless Short Rib Osso Bucco Style……………………………….…….….…$8.75
Served with White or Brown Rice & Potato Mac or Tossed Salad .

Deep Fried Ocean Scallops……………………………………………………….……….$8.95
Dusted With Furikake and Shichimi & Sun Dried Tomato Tartar Sauce. Choice of White or Brown Rice & Potato Mac or Tossed Salad. (Diner P’s choice)

Kahai Street Combo..……….………………….……………….…………………..…….…$8.75
Hamburger Steak & Beef Curry. Served with White or Brown Rice & Potato Mac or Tossed Salad.

Charbroiled Rib Steak………………………………………………………………………..$9.50
Topped with Sautéed Mushrooms and Onions Au Jus & with Guava Horseradish on the side. Choice of White or Brown Rice & Potato Mac or Tossed Salad.

Sautéed Mahi Mahi Piccata..……………………………………………….…..……………$8.50
Served on a bed of Linguine with Garlic Bread.

Ham, Turkey & Cheese Sandwich on Whole Wheat………………………………………$5.95
Served with Tossed Salad.

Fish of the Day:
Sautéed Opakapaka with Lemon Butter & Caper Sauce…………………………..……..$9.50
Served with White or brown rice & Potato Mac or Tossed Salad.

Chocolate Mousse Cheese Cake……………………………………………………………$2.75


I know, I know, all you ladies are gonna’ get on my case now for not ordering the Chocolate Mousse Cheese Cake. lol

As I mentioned at the start, Kahai Street Kitchen has become a regular favorite of ours, and I highly recommend – out of all the competition there may be within proximity – you seek them out for lunch if you’re in the Kalihi Kai area. The parking is limited to none, but their food is worth that obstacle. They also cater, and excel at that as well, as you may read about in several features right here on The Tasty Island.

Kahai Street Kitchen
237 Kalihi St.
Honolulu, HI  96819
Tel: 845-0320
Fax: 842-4273
Website: www.kahaistreet-kitchen.com
Business hours: LUNCH Mon ~ Fri 10:30am to 1:30pm

The Tasty Island rating (based on the two dishes reviewed above):

(4) Excellent. Worth another visit or purchase. (Winnahz!)

Related links:
Kalihi Eats: Two Plates from Kahai Street Kitchen
Catering Excellent Continues from Kahai Street Kitcen
Catering Excellence from Kahai Street Kitchen
The Catered Bento Lunch Hunt
In Kalihi, Hi-End Eats at Plate Lunch Prices – Honolulu Advertiser

Kapolei Eats: Chun Wah Kam Noodle Factory

Chun Wah Kam Kapolei: Charsiu Manapua, BBQ Chicken Manapua, Chow Fun & Pork Hash

Diner A recently treated our office to lunch, bringing us this scrumptious spread of Dim Sum delights from Chun Wah Kam Noodle Factory’s new restaurant location in the also new Crossroads to Kapolei Shopping Center.

Nothing beats a piping-hot ‘n fresh box of steamed Manapua….

Under the lid we have 3 steamed charsiu and 3 BBQ Chicken Manapua…

Chun Wah Kam @ Kapolei – Steamed Char Siu Manapua ($1.50 each) and BBQ Chicken Manapua ($1.75 each; indicated with the black dots)

Here we have a tray of their Pork Hash…

Chun Wah Kam @ Kapolei – Pork Hash, 75 cents each

Notice how yellow the wonton wrappers are. Chun Wah Kam sells fresh wonton wrappers locally at most supermarkets. Their main competitor is Sun Noodle, along with other frozen brands such as Shirokiku.

Finally we have a tray of Chow Funn noodles….

Chun Wah Kam @ Kapolei – Chow Funn noodles, $4

Let’s plate ’em up and sample some cuz!…

Notice I also have a serving of Kaiulani’s absolutely ono Exotic Curry Fried Rice with Cranberries on the plate, which I brought to share with everyone in the office as well.

I’m very impressed with Chun Wah Kam’s Manapua, arguably making them now my favorite Manapua shop. I used to rank Libby’s #1 and Char Hung Sut a close second, but it seems lately Libby’s really been skimping on their Charsiu. As you see, Chun Wah Kam’s charsiu filing is adequately generous, very moist and spot-on true to how local style charsiu manapua filling should taste. Just a really good Manapua. That BBQ Chicken version was pretty darned good too. Different, that’s for sure. Not one I’d get on a regular basis, but ono never-the-less!

Their pork hash is “a-aight”. Just O.K.. I’d say Libby’s Pork Hash is better. Although I really wanna’ try Chun Wah Kam’s deep-fried Pork Hash, which Diner A previously raved about.

The Chow Funn is also a-aight. Filling for sure and packed with what tasted like Hoisin flavor. Personally I prefer the simpler and more subtle Okazuya style Chow Funn, but this works.

Overall a very simple-yet-satisfying Dim Sum lunch, and big mahalos to Diner A for the lunchtime grindz aloha! You da’ man!

Chun Wah Kam now has three locations, with the food you see here from their new restaurant in the also-new Crossroads at Kapolei Shopping Center, being an anchor tenant alongside neighboring Simply Organized,

Chun Wah Kam Noodle Factory
in the Crossroads at Kapolei
885 Kamokila Blvd.
Kapolei, HI 96707
(808) 693-8838
Take-out Menu (<—download PDF at that link; current as of 1/09).

The Tasty Island Rating:

(3) Very Good. Considerable of another visit or purchase. (Supah’ Ono!)

Related links:
Sneak Peek: New Chun Wah Kam in Kapolei
Chun Wah Kam Noodle Factory – Yelp User Reviews

Aloha 'Oe Felicia

My household Emergency Preparedness Kit

As you see by the items shown above, my household was well-prepared for what was at one point designated a category 3 hurricane named Felicia. Fortunately she fizzled out by the time she hit cooler waters while approaching the northern central Pacific, bringing nothing more than some humidity and scattered rain showers to our islands, which the latter of we needed anyway.

Due to the return of El Nino, this has been an active Hurricane season in the pacific, yet again Hawaii’s had the good fortune to “dodge the bullet” of damage that Felicia could have been.

We’re still keeping our eye on Hurricane Guillermo, which as of this writing is located 20.1 N 138.77W, heading in a west-northwest pattern at 15mph, packing sustained winds at 100 mph. Based on NOAA’s current “cone of error” track, it’s expected to blow far north of Hawaii and fizzle out as well once it hits cooler waters. Knock on wood.

This was Hurricane Felicia’s NOAA track posted on August 8th…

Hurricane Felicia NOAA track on August 8, 2009

Here’s Hurricane Felicia barelling towards Hawaii on August 9th as a category 3 storm…

Hurricane Felicia as a category 3 storm on August 9, 2009

Within the same day (and night), she weakened considerably as she moved over cooler northern tropical waters, going from cat-3 to cat-2, to cat-1 Hurricane force winds within 24 hours…

Hurricane Felicia as a category 2 storm on August 9, 2009

Notice how the once-prominent “eye” in the center disappeared. A good sign indeed.

Again, we’re still watching Guillermo closely, yet optimistic this one will pass us without much effect. Knock on wood.

The south-eastern side of the US is now being threatened with 3 systems: Claudette, Ana and Bill. My prayers go out to you folks that these will have minimal impact.

Looking back once again, you see our Emergency Preparedness “kit” is well stocked and ready in case there’s an event they may be needed…

• Wine (lol)
• Beer (lol)
• A portable Butane Stove
• Butane fuel canisters for the stove
• A 3-LED flashlight
• A 4-D cell Maglight
• Extra Alkaline Batteries
• Basic hand tools
• Tape (for windows)
• First Aid Kit (contains various bandages, cleaning wipes, antibiotic ointment, burn ointment, tweezers, aspirin, etc.)
• Candles
• Matches
• Juice (the 1 gallon plastic jugs they’re in are useful afterwards for water storage for flushing the toilet)
• Bottled Drinking Water
• Cup Noodles (just add hot water)
• Instant Canned Chicken Soup
• Oatmeal Snack Bars (relatively healthy and good for energy; requires no heating to eat)
• Battery-operated AM/FM (this one doesn’t have weatherband) Radio

We also have plenty of magazines and books to read to tick the time away when there isn’t anything else to do.

NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association) recommends every household have the following items:

• Water – at least 1 gallon daily per person for 3 to 7 days
• Food – at least enough for 3 to 7 days:
— non-perishable packaged or canned food / juices
— foods for infants or the elderly
— snack foods
— non-electric can opener
— cooking tools / fuel
— paper plates / plastic utensils
• Blankets / Pillows, etc.
• Clothing – seasonal / rain gear/ sturdy shoes
• First Aid Kit / Medicines / Prescription Drugs
• Special Items – for babies and the elderly
• Toiletries / Hygiene items / Moisture wipes
• Flashlight / Batteries
• Radio – Battery operated and NOAA weather radio
• Telephones – Fully charged cell phone with extra battery and a traditional (not cordless) telephone set
• Cash (with some small bills) and Credit Cards – Banks and ATMs may not be available for extended periods
• Keys
• Toys, Books and Games
• Important documents – in a waterproof container or watertight resealable plastic bag:
— insurance, medical records, bank account numbers, Social Security card, etc.
• Tools – keep a set with you during the storm
• Vehicle fuel tanks filled
• Pet care items:
— proper identification / immunization records / medications
— ample supply of food and water
— a carrier or cage
— muzzle and leash

Well, once again it’s a beautiful sunny day today here in Hawaii nei, so I’m off to the beach!