Take a Bite
May 30th, 2016

PHOTOS COURTESY JASON KIM

The Kahala Hotel was the setting for Hawai'i Food & Wine Festival's hukilau.

The Kahala Hotel was welcomed into the Hawai'i Food and Wine Festival fold with the presentation of "Hukilau" on the hotel grounds May 27.

The beach cookout featured a contemporary take on the hukilau and Hawaiian cuisine, with food offered by host chef Wayne Hirabayashi, Elmer Guzman of The Poke Stop, Andrew Le of The Pig and the Lady, Alan Wong, Roy Yamaguchi, Vikram Garg, Chef Mavro, Mark Noguchi, Lee Anne Wong, and Ed Kenney and Dave Caldiero, who presented an interesting take on kalua pork and cabbage, with the pork delivered in the form of a sausage. Rounding out the dishes were desserts by The Kahala, and Michelle Karr-Ueoka of MW Restaurant, whose sweet finales included Strawberry Sangria Shaved Ice, Pina Colada Push Pops and Waialua Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwiches.

Chef Vikram Garg served up paella from a giant pan. Even when divided into individual portions, there was a generous amount of fish and shellfish on each plate.

Wines from the cellars of Opus One, Caymus Vineyards, Silver Oak, Patz & Hall, and more, completed the picture.

Before guests were set loose on the beachfront lawn to take their picks from the food and wine booths, Denise Hayashi Yamaguchi introduced representatives from hotel partners who announced the festival's lineup of fall events beginning Oct. 15 with "Kaanapali: A Chef's Paradise" at the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa, and Hawaii Island promises to bring the sizzle with "Hot Lava Hotter Cuisine" taking place Oct. 22 at the Hilton Waikoloa Village.

Among the highlights are "Kamehameha Schools Presents Urban Lū‘au" on Oct. 26, featuring two chefs who have helped to introduce Hawaii cuisine to the rest of the country, Noreetuh's Chung Chow and Liholiho Yacht Club's Ravi Kapur; a new event at The Modern Honolulu, "Hungry Monkey," on Oct. 27; "Sun Noodle Presents Clash of the Ramen" Oct. 28 at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki; and on Oct. 29, "Foodtopia" at Ko Olina, which will welcome 16 chefs, including the first time appearance of Singapore-based pastry chef Janice Wong of 2am:dessertbar, who is a genius at her craft.

When I was there last year, I tried to convince her to come to Hawaii in some capacity. It was a long shot because she is in demand around the world for her edible art installations. So it will be great to see her here because she has a progressive, intellectual take on culinary development that I find rare and inspiring. You can read about her here in a previous post: honolulupulse.com/2015/10/take-a-bite-janice-wong.

You can view the full schedule here: hawaiifoodandwinefestival.com/event-schedule.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Chef Mavro presented his Marseille-style bouillabaisse with onaga.

Chef Elmer Guzman of The Poke Stop was serving up fresh seafood by the sea. Below, the chef with his mixed poke that included opihi. He also offered samples of his torched salmon poke bowl and pulehu tako with chorizo.

hukilau guzman

hukilau poke

From Roy's Restaurants came Pulehu Hawaiian Ranchers Ribeye with Thai chimichurri and crispy Brussels sprouts. Yummy!

Andrew Le stokes the fire for his roast pork, served with ogo, below.

hukilau pork

Chef Lee Anne Wong presented her take on huli huli-style chicken with hoio and mac salad.

Desserts from The Kahala.

Desserts from The Kahala.


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Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her food coverage in print in Wednesday's Crave section. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.


May 27th, 2016

L & L Hawaiian Barbecue, the official concessionaire of Ala Moana Beach Park, will be offering a special pre-ordering opportunity for those expected to attend the Lantern Festival Hawaii on Memorial Day, May 30. Pre-orders will be accepted via the Dodecki mobile app.

If you are one of the 40,000 people expected to attend the festival, reserve your meal and avoid long lines by ordering ahead of time. All who pre-order will receive a free gift and be entered to win prizes from L&L and Dodecki. Pre-orders will be accepted until 3 p.m. on May 29 for the following items:

Mini bento: Includes shrimp, teri beef, teri chicken and rice, for $6.99.
Deluxe bento: Includes fish, chicken katsu, teri chicken, Spam and rice, for $8.99.
Drinks: Bottled water, Coke-brand bottled drinks, at $1.99 each.

All pre-orders must be picked-up within a two-hour window of time (determined by customer at the time of ordering). The designated pick-up area for pre-orders will be at the Ala Moana Beach Park Concession nearest the Diamond Head end close to Magic Island.

To pre-order, install and open the Dodecki mobile app on your smartphone and find the special L&L menu under the "Deals+Rewards" section in the navigation bar on the left. You’ll be able to build your order and pay in advance to avoid Monday's lines.

Dodecki is a Hawaii-based smartphone ordering app that gives people options for ordering food from a variety of restaurants via their mobile phones. Learn more at dodecki.com.
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Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her food coverage in print in Wednesday's Crave section. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.


May 27th, 2016

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Korean BBQ steak fills one of the new sandwiches at The Counter, and it is da bomb!

If you haven't been to The Counter Custom Burgers in a while, it may be time for another visit. The Kahala Mall restaurant specializing in create-your-own burgers has launched a new menu that includes a handful of options to the beef burger, just because many diners want a little more variety in their lives.

New protein options on the create-your-own burger menu include a jumbo lump crabcake, Southern fried chicken and Korean BBQ grilled skirt steak that's a new favorite of mine. In chef Matthew Lindblom's hands, it's true to local expectations. Order these your way with your pick of dozens of toppings and sauces, or order it their way as described in the photos below.

Also new are:

WTF ("Why the Face" sandwich): A ground turkey patty is topped with provolone, applewood-smoked bacon, pickles, and house mustard on a Hawaiian bun, accompanied by salt &and vinegar kettle chips. Currently $12.50.

Crab Encounter: a jumbo lump crab cake sits atop a salad of organic mixed greens, tomatoes, roasted red peppers, applewood-smoked bacon, scallions and chopped egg, with honey dijon dressing.

Loaded tots:

The Counter's loaded tots are rolled in pimento cheese with bits of applewood smoked bacon, sprinkled with green onions and served with buttermilk ranch sauce.

And, although alcohol is served here, it's still a kid-friendly place, with an activity book and crayons for little ones with excess energy.
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The Counter Custom Burgers is at Kahala Mall, 4211 Waialae Ave. Call 739-5100.

Following the flirtation with Korea, it's back to the U.S. and Southern inspiration with this buttermilk-brined fried chicken sandwich with jalapeño jack, coleslaw, fresh jalapeños, and honey dijon on a brioche bun. Recently, $14.

The "Bison & Brie" salad is great for carnivores who want to balance their meat-eating habit with greens once in a while. The brie blankets the organic bison patty that sits atop a kale salad with accents of carrots, cranberries and jalapeño slices.

The "Holy Crab" sandwich comprises a thick housemade crabcake topped with jalapeño jack, tomatoes, pickles, coleslaw, sliced jalapeños and housemade Thousand Island dressing on a sweet Hawaiian bun. Recently, $17.

There's more than one way to drink in one of The Counter's shakes. Brandon Maxwell tackles the "Birthday Cake" that includes confetti cake mix and rainbow sprinkles. Other options include the "Pineapple Upside Down," "Caramel Java Malt," "Apple Crumble" or "Nutella & Salted Pretzel." Spiked shakes are also available, or just make your own from their roster of ingredients.

OLDER FAVORITES

Housemade fried dill pickles are served with apricot sauce, but for those who don't do sweet-sour, request the ranch.

There's a nice spice to grilled wings drenched in a sweet Sriracha sauce, then served with celery and a Sriracha dipping sauce that really isn't necessary. There's plenty of flavor in the wings. There's also a standard Buffalo-style option.

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Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her food coverage in print in Wednesday's Crave section. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.


May 26th, 2016

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Arancino at The Kahala adds a charcuterie platter, Affetato Misto, to its new menu marking its third anniversary at The Kahala Hotel, to be offered beginning June 1. The platter features bresaola, coppa, prosciutto di Parma, salamino piccante, mortadella, Parmigiano Reggianno and coccoli, or bread dough fritters.

Arancino at The Kahala is entering its third year with the introduction of a new menu beginning June 1. The menu includes new dishes and three degustation menus, priced at $60, $90 and $120. Prices with wine pairings are $84, $123 and $160.

The $60 Menu Selezione starts with a lobster bisque, followed by a choice of Caesar or caprese salad, then a choice of one of three primi dishes: Tagliolini al Ricci di Mare, uni pasta with a white wine-garlic-tomato cream sauce; wagyu Bolognese with housemade pappardelle; or housemade orecchiette with sun-dried tomatoes, broccolini and garlic olive oil.

On the high end, the menu features caviar, followed by crudités and bagna cauda, carpaccio di manzo of A5 Miyazaki wagyu, and delectable raviolone alla fonduta con tartufo fresco, a decadent ravioli with fontina and a center of creamy egg yolk, topped with truffles and a light butter sauce. These dishes are followed by grilled branzino and sous vide beef tenderloin with foie gras and truffle mashed potatoes, fried maitake and truffle sauce.

I swoon over chef Hamamoto's ravioli with creamy egg yolk center, fontina, truffles and butter sauce. Heaven on a plate!

I swoon over chef Hamamoto's ravioli with creamy egg yolk center, fontina, truffles and butter sauce. Heaven on a plate!

The restaurant had its soft opening at The Kahala Hotel in 2013, followed by official opening date June 18. It initially offered a luxury tasting menu experience that evolved to include several a la carte dishes to give guests much more variety over repeat visits.

In addition to the set menus, the menu now features 34 a la carte selections ranging from pastas to pizzas, plus satisfying entrées ranging from the seafood stew caciucco, to sous vide beef tenderloin, Colorado lamb, A5 Miyazaki wagyu sirloin and pork loin.

The wagyu as served here is exceptional, but I've always had it cooked, never as carpaccio, and during a media tasting I basically inhaled the carpaccio di manzo. Buttery soft, the raw wagyu nearly melts on the tongue. A must for any visit.

Among the stars of the new offerings is the salt-crusted whole branzino for two. For $58, the fish is presented in its salt crust at the table, where it is cut open and the fish served in the form of two fillets accompanied by rosemary potatoes, lemon and herb topping.

And a charcuterie platter of Affetato Misto (at top of page) manages to be a picture- and palate-perfect intro for any meal.
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Arancino at The Kahala is at The Kahala Hotel, 5000 Kahala Ave. Call 380-4400.

Here's a look at more dishes on the new menu:

Carpaccio di Manzo comprises thin-sliced raw Miyazaki wagyu topped with shaved Parmigiano Reggiano, arugula and olive oil-lemon dressing.

Trofie al Pesto Genovese combines the housemade twisted pasta with slices of potato, haricots verts and Nalo Farms basil pesto.

Baked Pesce al Sale, a salt-crusted whole branzino, is presented at the table before being opened and individually plated.

Chef Daisuke Hamamoto presents a serving of the moist and tender branzino, served with rosemary potatoes, herb topping and lemon.

Dessert of a passionfruit-mascarpone cheesecake is topped with citrus sorbetto and candy brittle with accents of silver leaf.

Another view of dessert that reminded me of a kokeshi doll.


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Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her food coverage in print in Wednesday's Crave section. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.


May 25th, 2016

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Chili pepper lovers can test their endurance with Sara's Cafe's spicy fried chicken wings. The bits of red and yellow are Thai chilis and their seeds in a honeyed shell. Don't even try this if you can't drink in something as mild as Sriracha.

Korean women have a reputation for toughness, and some prove it by being masters of their domain in the restaurant biz. It's a difficult enterprise even when many hands are involved, yet these strong women are willing to go it alone.

Those who miss the Angry Korean Lady behind Ah-Lang, who's now on hiatus, might try heading to Sara's Cafe. There, Sara Kim is similarly a one-woman act, doing all the cooking, waitressing and cleanup. (Now that she knows my newspaper column is coming out, she may call on some extra hands and see how it goes.)

But, unlike Angry Korean Lady, Kim is quite the opposite, doing her best to be accommodating. If she seems to ignore you when you walk in, it's just because she's juggling dozens of other details. It's not only in-house customers who need tending. There are also phone and take-out orders to deal with.

Their cooking styles also differ, with Kim providing more casual, simple home-style Korean dishes, along with the comfort of knowing you won't get yelled at. Whew!

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Sara's Cafe is at 1551 S Beretania St., on the ground level of the Kualana Hale senior housing building. Call 955-1353. Hours are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays, 5 to 10 p.m. Mondays to Thursdays, and 5 to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Look for these street signs on Beretania Street, on the ground level of the Kualana Hale senior housing building.

Look for these street signs on Beretania Street, on the ground level of the Kualana Hale senior housing building.

The living room ambience has the feel of being at your aunty's house.

The living room ambience has the feel of being at your aunty's house.

Sara Kim rules the kitchen.

TOP 3

Here are my top three dishes. Keep in mind that my personal biases have no bearing on these choices that I think best reflect the restaurant's strengths. For instance, I love Korean spicy pork, but it's not a dish that defines this restaurant:

No. 1
The spicy fried chicken wings at the top of the page. Sorry some of you will not be able to withstand the heat.

No. 2
(Tie) Depending on your preference for seafood or veggies, a soft egg-y texture, or crisp flour-based pancake.

Among Sara's specialties are her pajeon, scallion pancakes, including this seafood version. Killer with accompanying sauce of vinegar, shoyu, Thai chilies and pickled onions.

In contrast to the egg-y seafood pajeon, a kim chee pancake had a beautiful crisp finish.

No. 3

Sara's kalbi looks like typical teriyaki-style shortribs, but the sauce is Korean, with shoyu and plenty of chopped onions lending natural sweetness to the sauce.

MORE DISHES

Banchan is limited here, but requests for seconds, and thirds of the zucchini jun were accommodated.

Kim prepares Korean home-style cuisine, but how many people make sone pot bi bim bap at home?. A real treat.

Home-style sautéed garlic shrimp is served with lettuce topped with Caesar dressing.

Korean-style hamburger steak is not hamburger as we know it, but a lighter combo of beef, pork and tofu dipped in egg batter.

A comforting pot of soondubu.

Spicy pork with gochujang sauce.

Shrimp fried rice didn't have much shrimp in it, but was still enjoyable, and a great accompaniment to all the meat on the menu.

I ordered half portions of meat jun and spicy squid that turned out to be least favorites. Some might appreciate the generous slices of ribeye, but it was too chewy, and there was little dimension to the squid. It would be fine for non-tasters.

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Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her food coverage in print in Wednesday's Crave section. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.