Archive for December, 2014

Agu celebrates 1st year

By
December 11th, 2014



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comHisashi "Teddy" Uehara shows the Okinawan rafute that was on the menu celebrating AGU's one-year anniversary.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Hisashi "Teddy" Uehara shows the Okinawan rafute that was on the menu celebrating AGU's one-year anniversary.

AGU — A Ramen Bistro celebrated its first anniversary over two days on Friday and Saturday with a glass of champagne to toast the restaurant and a trio of complimentary appetizers to start meals.

The event started Okinawan shisa (lion-dog) dance, plus music and dance by Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko Hawaii in the AGU parking lot.

Then patrons moved indoors for complimentary appetizers that included Jidori chicken liver påté, a collaboration between AGU chef Hisashi Uehara and Thomas Jones, president of AGU’s parent company, Gyotaku Japanese Restaurants.

Jidori chicken liver påté, topped with a layer of lard to preserve moisture.

Jidori chicken liver påté, topped with a layer of lard to preserve moisture.

Next came Okinawan rafute, nine-hour stewed pork belly with brown sugar, and AGUcini, Uehara’s interpretation of the arancini, with rice and components of the restaurant’s signature “Innovative Hot Mess” rolled in panko and deep-fried.

The Innovative Hot Mess ramen was my pick for favorite food of the year in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser's annual 'Ilima Awards because of the audacity of the decadent creation incorporating pork, se-abura (rendered pork back fat), fresh garlic, black garlic oil, garlic butter, Parmesan cheese, and more.

The AGUcini was made a bit healthier with a persimmon salsa.

The brown sugar-sweetened rafute.

The brown sugar-sweetened rafute.

Uehara is constantly introducing new dishes, and recent specials include Okinawan tebichi (braised pig's feet, $10.75), Hiyashi chilled ramen with jellyfish, egg crepe, menma, cucumbers and char siu served with sesame-ginger sauce ($11.75), and Tebichi tonkotsu ramen with awamori- and ginger-braised Okinawan pig's feet served over bonito-infused shoyu tonkotsu with black sesame paste. Sounds every bit as decadent and dangerous as the Hot Mess, at $19.75.

The AGUcini, served with persimmon salsa, combined some of chef Uehara's favorite ingredients: rice, pork and Parmesan cheese.

The AGUcini, served with persimmon salsa, combined some of chef Uehara's favorite ingredients: rice, pork and Parmesan cheese.

I usually gravitate to heavier tonkotsu ramen, but given the heft of the complimentary appetizers, on this night sought out the lighter Jidori yuzu ramen.

I usually gravitate to heavier tonkotsu ramen, but given the heft of the complimentary appetizers, on this night sought out the lighter Jidori yuzu ramen.

AGU proved popular from Day 1, and coming in early 2015 will be a second location, in Waipahu. Uehara explained they needed a central kitchen big enough to keep up with the demand of making his various, laborious 18-hour ramen broths. In the restaurant’s earliest days, we could not always count on getting the ramen we wanted because if he wasn’t satisfied with the broth, he wouldn’t serve it.

A third location is also in the works.

AGU — A Ramen Bistro is at 925 Isenberg St. (in front of the Saint Louis Alumni Clubhouse). Call (808) 492-1637.

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

RELATED VIDEO:

Sweet treats at Choco le'a

By
December 3rd, 2014



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comChoco le'a milk chocolate-covered macadamia nuts made with a blend of Belgian, Swiss and Hawaiian Waialua Estate chocolate, plus chocolate-dipped strawberries and raspberries.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Choco le'a milk chocolate-covered macadamia nuts made with a blend of Belgian, Swiss and Hawaiian Waialua Estate chocolate, plus chocolate-dipped strawberries and raspberries.

Choco le'a celebrated the grand opening of its first Manoa boutique with an open house and tasting of its artisan chocolates on Nov. 22 at Manoa Square, 2909 Lowrey AVe.

Patrons filed through all day for a sample of some of their varied, handmade chocolate creations—made with a blend of fine European and Hawaiian chocolate—that whet the appetite for more!

The counter is stocked with such truffle creations as fresh mochi on ganache, caramel with Alae'a Hawaiian sea salt, and Guinness beer. There is also an assortment of chocolate-covered Oreos including mint, peanut butter, and peppermint flavors, and other treats such as fresh dipped strawberries.

Co-owners Erin Uehara and her uncle, chocolatier Colins Kawai.

Co-owners Erin Uehara and her uncle, chocolatier Colins Kawai.

With the opening perfectly timed for the the start of the holiday gift-giving season, some of the more festive options include specialty Dom Perignon champagne and Canadian ice wine truffles.

In addition, they launched their European-style sipping chocolate that was served with a handful of potato chips. Delicious, but so rich a little goes a long way.

The kama'aina company started with experimentation by Colins Kawai, marketing director for the University of Hawaii Press, who merely wanted to try to wow friends and family by making truffles as a dinner dessert. People liked it, so he tried new flavors, and before long, dinner guests were requesting to buy them.

Soon he was offering his signature chocolate truffle bar for catered corporate events, parties and weddings, and Kawai now co-owns the business with wife Joan, niece Erin Uehara and her husband Chris.

With a mission of “Bringing peace to our world, one chocolate at a time,” a portion of every sale is donated to charitable organizations.

Choco le'a makes holiday gift-giving easier with your custom picks of such delectables as milk, white or dark chocolate-covered macadamia nuts, chocolate-dipped fruit including mango, pictured, mochi-centered truffles sea salt caramel truffles.

Choco le'a makes holiday gift-giving easier with your custom picks of such delectables as milk, white or dark chocolate-covered macadamia nuts, chocolate-dipped fruit including mango, pictured, mochi-centered truffles sea salt caramel truffles.


The chocolates appear like jewels, ready to be custom packed into gift boxes.

The chocolates appear like jewels, ready to be custom packed into gift boxes.

A tempting array of chocolates awaits at the Chocole'a counter.

A tempting array of chocolates awaits at the Choco le'a counter.

The source: the cacao pod.

The source: the cacao pod.

Choco le'a is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. Call (808) 371-2234, visit chocolea.com or follow the shop on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

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

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