Archive for October, 2012

The Whole Ox gets kudos from Zagat

October 10th, 2012

Straight from his win for "Best Casual Restaurant" in our 2012 'Ilima Awards, Robert McGee of The Whole Ox Deli has made the Zagat Blog as one of its "Destination Delis: 8 Sandwich-Slingers Worth Traveling For."

I got the heads up from a reader who happens to be vegan and said, "I don't eat there, but am proud of our food culture."

I am always so grateful for the day that Bob decided to leave Portland, Ore., and settle here.

Read the article by Linnea Covington, here.

The Whole Ox is at 327 Keawe St.

Kahala Nui welcomes Healthy-licious ideas

October 10th, 2012

kccwinNadine Kam photos
Kapiolani Community College Healthy-licious cooking competition winners Shianti Leighton, left, and Vanesa Lyn Agustin, were congratulated by Pat Duarte, CEO of Kahala Nui, a Life Care retirement community. The students were charged with coming up with a nutritious and tasty meal worthy of the community.

Kahala Nui, the senior retirement community, hosted its second annual Healthy-licious contest on Oct. 6, presenting Kapiolani Community College Culinary Culinary Institute of the Pacific students with creating unique healthy recipes for seniors.

As Kahala Nui CEO Pat Duarte explained, the elder demographic presents a growing niche in the culinary world, as physical changes demand rethinking the way people eat.

"Nutritionists tell us all this delicious food we eat is not good for us. As we age, this all catches up with us," he said, adding that the ideas of living a healthy lifestyle and enjoying life are not mutually exclusive.

Many would be loathe to give up deliciousness to buy two or three more years of life, so he said the aim of the competition is to encourage young chefs to develop dishes that are both healthy and flavorful, adding that there will likely be increasing demand for their talents in the healthcare industry, whether in the kitchen of senior living homes, hospitals or nursing homes.

kccwindishWinners Vanesa Lyn Agustin and Shianti Leighton presented garlic lemon chicken topped with lemon zest and accompanied by sauteed red cabbage, butternut squash and soy beans. They said they chose bright colors to compensate for seniors' diminished palate, believing that seniors would see the visually stimulating colors and remember what these foods tasted like when they were younger.

kccwinportionThe judges' tasting portion of the dish.

He said we need chefs who will change the perception of nutrition, so that in the future we have "good food and ono food," he said.

I was one of the judges of the event, along with The Pacific Club executive chef Eric Leterc, Kahala Nui board member Roy King Jr., and clinical dietition Grant Itomitsu, a nutrition instructor at KCC.

We were given front-row seats for the tastings, also provided for approximately 100 seniors, while four teams of two culinary students demonstrated putting their dishes together. The students chosen to present their dishes were chosen by blind essay, and each was tasked with presenting a chicken dish.

Of course dishes had to taste good and be beautifully presented, but to encourage people to prepare such meals at home, dishes were also judged on simplicity (the fewer number of ingredients and ease of cooking technique) and nutrition. While delivering their presentations, students were also given marks for selection of nutritious ingredients and knowledge of nutritional benefits correlated to senior health concerns.

Judging was tough, and in addition to the four individual judges, the votes of all the seniors were also heard, comprising one-fifth of the vote.

In the end, the winners were Shianti Leighton and Vanesa Lyn Agustin, who were enthusiastic and earnest in their presentation, outlining the benefits of their chicken and slaw dish on osteoporosis and other conditions. They each received $500 scholarships for their work.

kcckimKim Gennaula emceed the event, which included tastings of all the competitors' dishes for 100 seniors and judges in the front row.

kccrouladeHyun Chong Kim and Edwin Choy, below, presented a delicious roulade with kabocha mushroom sauce.


kccingredThese are some of the ingredients that went into Alexander Quach and Vin Lui's ginseng ginger chicken. Clockwise from top left: red dates, ginger, rock sugar, shiitake, garlic, ginseng and green onion.


New 'Chinatown Market' opens

October 4th, 2012

chiNadine Kam photos
Chinatown Market Place is open for business.

The Chinatown Market Place has opened at City Square, offering the affordability of downtown Chinatown's markets, without the parking hassles or crowds (yet), and, being new, a sanitary looking interior.

Current hours are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays to Saturdays (closed Tuesdays), and 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays.

City Square is at 1199 Dillingham Boulevard at Kohou Street. The market is next door to Chuck E. Cheese.

Here's a look at some of the offerings:

chibitterStacks of Japanese eggplant as high as a Whole Foods display (though not quite as even). Shown with bitter melon and green beans in tidy sections.

chibanThai bananas were $1.19 per pound.

chitilTilapia so fresh they were flipping all over, including leaping onto the floor.


chicrabThe Maryland blue crab at center was feisty, ready to attack the camera lens.

chifishMore fish.

chisausagesSweet and vinegared langonisa were available.


chionionsPlenty of onions, one of the building blocks of cooking.

Rice Fest has a new champ

October 3rd, 2012

ricedessertNadine Kam photos
Ricecake and waffles for dessert, from YogurStory's executive chef Andy Dalan, winner of the 2012 Rice Fest Riceipe contest.

The 3rd annual Rice Fest took place Sept. 29 at Ward Warehouse, celebrating Hawaii's No. 1 table staple.

A highlight of the event was the weigh-in of the giant Spam musubi built on site throughout the day. At 628 pounds, it smashed the current Guinness World Record for "Largest Spam Musubi" of 286 pounds earned by Rice Fest last year, and registered by Worldwide Ed Ed Sugimoto, who says all the documentation will be submitted to the Guinness committee for consideration again.

For the third year in a row, I was one of the judges for the event's Riceipe contest, and I'm always impressed by the way the chefs elevate the humble grain.

Two-time Riceipe winner Hideaki "Santa" Miyoshi of Tokkuri-Tei was back to defend his title, and impressed us with his lavish chirashi, as beautiful to taste as see.

ricefinishingTokkuri-Tei chef/owner Hideaki “Santa” Miyoshi puts the finishing touches on his chirashi rice entry for the Riceipe contest. The rice contained chopped fish and cucumbers, with a layer of tobiko and roses of salmon, hamachi and scallops. The shrimp made it look like candles on a birthday cake.

rice2Here's what the judge's portions were like. After the contest ended, we went back to eating Santa's dish. Couldn't let good fish and rice go to waste.

ricemusubiSanta also surprised and amused us with the smallest Spam musubi ever, each comprising a single grain of rice. 'Scuse my dirty fork.

But, he faced some stiff competition from Ward Warehouse home chef Erich Goodhew, from Kincaid's, as well as newcomers Andy Dalan of YogurStory and Jonny Mack of the Eat the Street food truck Caribbean Spice.

It was clear that Goodhew was cooking up creamy risotto. I didn't know what Dalan was making but I was intrigued by the presence of a waffle iron at his cooking station, and, while the other chefs worked solo, he brought in some team mates, Justin Gaddi and Dexter Mina.

I was intrigued by the tantalizing ingredients—among them purple sweet potato, coconut milk, curry spices, habañero peppers and white truffle oil—and scents emanating from Mack's station and couldn't wait to taste his portabello caramel coconut oxtail pulao, a fusion of South Asian and Trinidad and Tobago cuisine. He owes his palate to his mixed cultural heritage, having been born in Trinidad and Tobago and growing up on Middle Eastern fare cooked up by his French Moroccan and Israeli mother. Layered on that upbringing was the family business of running Chinese restaurants.

To scare the judges sitting behind him, he turned around at one point, grinning mischievously before dropping a habañero into his pot of oxtails, mushrooms, chicken and rice. A lot of spices went into the pot earlier and I wondered just how hot his rice concoction was going to be. It turned out not very hot at all, but very savory with South Asian-meets-tropical curry flavor that was accompanied by a helping of mango and cilantro chutney he also cooked up on the spot.

When the competition was over, only two points separated Santa's score from new champ Dalan, who built an intriguing "Naughty & Rice" dessert of waffle astride a chewy flattened rice cake, finished with whipped cream, pomegranate puree, pomegranate rice paper petals and mince of fresh pineapple and kiwi.

Waffles and rice together? Who knew?

rice eatingMiss Chinatown Hawaii 2013 Crystal Lee was one of the judges. Even though we enjoy mochi and rice is enjoyed as a dessert ingredient throughout Asia, she couldn't get over the idea of rice as dessert, and couldn't stop raving about YogurStory's creation.

ricespiceCaribbean Spice's Jonny Mack at work, and also below, with photographers crowding in as he plates his dish of portabello caramel coconut oxtail pulao.


ricecaribJonny Mack's creation, with mango chutney, but minus a habañero, below, that was on the other four judges' plates, because he added mine to his pot before serving.

ricehabaneros (more…)

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