Archive for January, 2015

MW series highlights cacao

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January 28th, 2015



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comThe Evolution of Chocolate dessert highlighted flavors from several aspects of chocolate production, including a tart and fruity sorbet with essence derived from the pulp of the cacao pod.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

The Evolution of Chocolate dessert highlighted flavors from several aspects of chocolate production, including a tart and fruity sorbet with essence derived from the pulp of the cacao pod.

Wade Ueoka and Michelle Karr-Ueoka continue to be the hardest working couple in the restaurant biz. If it seems like I'm always at their MW Restaurant, it's because they are so creative in coming up with new ideas and tireless in their execution.

On the heels of their Secret Menu dinner was Sunday's Chocolate Cafe, the inaugural event for a series that will highlight various island ingredients throughout the year; in this case, chocolate from around the islands.

The event took place in MW's new private dining room, with patrons lining up to indulge in all manner of savory and sweet treats priced from $3 to $18. Orders were taken at the door and chocolate lovers could opt to eat in or take out, though trying to find a table was a squeeze in the 40-seat room.

Dishes proved to be irresistible, but after trying to share a hot chocolate it was so good I wanted my own — and oh boy was that filling! I think all of us were willing to risk a tummy ache later for ambrosia now!

Michelle Karr-Ueoka, friend of cacao.

Michelle Karr-Ueoka, friend of cacao.

Savory items on the menu included a beautiful grilled chicken mole, and below, pork chili.

Savory items on the menu included a beautiful grilled chicken mole, and below, pork chili.

mw chili

Chocolate bruschetta.

Chocolate bruschetta.

Treats packaged to go.

Treats packaged to go.

All items made the long journey from pod to finished form. Among speakers that day was Madre Chocolate's Nat Bletter, who talked of his first time making chocolate in his New York apartment. He now offers a $24.80 .bean-to-bar kit to help guide others in the process.

All items made the long journey from pod to finished form. Among the speakers that day was Madre Chocolate's Nat Bletter, who talked of his first time making chocolate in his New York apartment. He now offers a $24.80 bean-to-bar kit to help guide others in the process.

Plans are to host a themed event once a month, with the next one highlighting products from Naked Cow Dairy and pitting cow vs. goat milk. I have a feeling I would be drawn to the goat team, but with the goods in their capable hands, I may be surprised.

Follow MW on Facebook for updates.

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

Sriracha sauces add spice to table

By
January 28th, 2015



Lee Kum Kee recently added Sriracha Chili Ketchup to its line of Asian condiments, combining the all-American sweet tomato condiment with a touch of heat, which may be a welcome addition to your Superbowl Sunday spread.

PHOTS COURTESY LEE KUM KEEA dish of Super "Chinese" Bowl Chicken Wings incorporates Lee Kum Kee's Sriracha Chili Sauce. Serve it with guacamole spiked with four tablespoons of Lee Kum Kee's garlic sauce.

COURTESY LEE KUM KEE

A dish of Super Chinese Bowl Chicken Wings incorporates Lee Kum Kee's Sriracha Chili Sauce. Serve it with guacamole spiked with four tablespoons of Lee Kum Kee's garlic sauce.

And, many will be happy to note the Sriracha Chili Ketchup is gluten-free and contains no MSG, artificial flavoring, preservatives or colors. An 18-ounce bottle retails for about $3.99 at supermarkets.

Lee Kum Kee provided a few easy recipes to try, using the ketchup and other Lee Kum Kee sauces:

SRIRACHA KETCHUP ROASTED POTATOES

Ingredients:

» 1-1/2 pounds of halved baby potatoes

» 1/2 cup Lee Kum Kee Sriracha Ketchup

» 1/4 cup olive oil

Directions:

Combine the ingredients in a large bowl. Spread in baking dish and roast at 450 degrees for 20 minutes.

HOME-STYLE MEATLOAF

Ingredients:

» 2 eggs, beaten

» 1/2 cup Lee Kum Kee Sriracha Chili Ketchup

» 1/2 cup milk

» 1 cup bread crumbs

» 1/4 cup onion, finely chopped

» 1 pound lean ground beef

» 1/4 cup Lee Kum Kee Sriracha Chili Ketchup (for topping)

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In large bowl, combine all meatloaf ingredients; mix well. Press mixture in ungreased 8-by-4-inch loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

Remove meatloaf from oven. Spread 1/4 cup Sriracha Chili Ketchup evenly over top. Return to oven; bake an additional 15 to 20 minutes or until meat thermometer reaches 160 degrees and beef is thoroughly cooked. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Tip: To make ahead, prepare meatloaf; cover and refrigerate for up to 5 hours. Bake meatloaf just before serving.

SUPER CHINESE BOWL SRIRACHA HOISIN WINGS

Ingredients:

» 22 ounces chicken wings

» 1/3 cup Lee Kum Kee Sriracha Chili Sauce

» 1 cup Lee Kum Kee Hoisin Sauce

» 2/3 teaspoon ground black pepper

» 1 Tablespoon cooking oil

Directions:

Mix half of chili sauce and 2/3 cup of hoisin sauce with pepper and cooking oil as marinade. Marinate wings for 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Bake wings for 45 minutes. Add remaining chili and hoisin sauces in a bowl and add baked wings. Mix well and serve.

———

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

The 'Secret' is out

By
January 27th, 2015



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comMW Restaurant's Secret Menu dinner that took place Jan. 22 started with a quartet of hand-passed canapes.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

MW Restaurant's Secret Menu dinner that took place Jan. 22 started with a quartet of hand-passed canapes.

Foodies are a restless lot. While others are content with their teri beef plates, loco mocos and poke bowls, the foodie is constantly prowling about, sniffing out the best new thing to put in his or her mouth.

Instead of waiting for things to happen, foodie Sean Morris seems to enjoy prodding chefs to make things happen. He's a fan of secret and hidden menus, full of dishes chefs are capable of creating apart from their regular menus, and arranged such a meal at MW restaurant for 10 of his fellow food enthusiasts.

But when he found out Thursday's dinner would be held in the restaurant's new, adjoining private dining room, he thought it might be a waste of owners Wade Ueoka and Michelle Karr-Ueoka's time, so to make it worthwhile, he promised to fill the 40-seat room. A simple post to Facebook did the trick, with fellow foodies shelling out $70 apiece to partake in the special dinner.

MW Restaurant's Wade Ueoka and Michelle Karr-Ueoka introduced the dinner and their secret ingredient.

MW Restaurant's Wade Ueoka and Michelle Karr-Ueoka introduced the dinner and their secret ingredient.

In the spirit of fun and with a little bit of showbiz flair, the Ueokas introduced the dinner with a mystery brown paper bag containing a secret ingredient that would permeate the meal. And, ta-da, from out of the bag, they pulled a foodie favorite, foie gras.

Beyond the main courses, details like housemade Naked Cow milk butter, with its marvelous straight-from-the-farm stinky cow aroma, were well appreciated.

My aim here is not to tease, but inform, so I wanted to let you know you can enjoy any of the secret menu dishes with 48-hour notice. You might also want to note the Kona lobster cannelloni was the consensus savory-side hit of the evening.

Smoked tako canape, and below, arancini. Before dessert's arrival, we were also treated to airy potato beignets.

Smoked tako canape, and below, arancini. Before dessert's arrival, we were also treated to airy potato beignets.

MW secret arancini

Kabayaki unagi over foie gras fried rice was the first of the main courses.

Kabayaki unagi over foie gras fried rice was the first of the main courses.

Kona lobster-filled cannelloni was also crowned with the shellfish and served with a tomato ragout, the savory-side hit of the evening.

Kona lobster-filled cannelloni was also crowned with the shellfish and served with a tomato ragout, the savory-side hit of the evening.

Smoky Kurobuta pork loin in an upscale dish of kalua pig and cabbage was the most filling dish of the evening.

Smoky Kurobuta pork loin in an upscale dish of kalua pig and cabbage was the most filling dish of the evening.

Beneath the chocolate tuille was "one way" of Waialua chocolate mousse served "two ways. " The one in the cup was in standard mousse form, although at first glance I thought it was a souffle and was surprised when I slipped in my spoon. The other "way" was dehydrated mousse.

Beneath the chocolate tuille was "one way" of Waialua chocolate mousse served "two ways." The one in the cup was in standard mousse form, although at first glance I thought it was a souffle and was surprised when I slipped in my spoon. The other "way" was dehydrated mousse.

The evening left many asking when the next secret dinner would take place. There are at least five restaurants interested in hosting the next dinners, and right now, one every other month seems to be a workable goal. And of course they will take place at restaurants Morris — whose taste is most in line with mine out of everybody I know — loves.

You can stay informed by following Morris on Facebook or Twitter.

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

Inside Sand Villa's Wood & Bucket

By
January 27th, 2015



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comOysters presented during Wood & Bucket's Jan. 9 grand opening are $3 apiece, topped with tomato and jalapeño salsa.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Oysters presented during Wood & Bucket's Jan. 9 grand opening are $3 apiece, topped with tomato and jalapeño salsa.

There's something cooking at the Waikiki Sand Villa Hotel. At one time it was home to The Noodle Shop and the comedy/music trio if Frank de Lima and Na Kolohe. Then at some point in the ’90s, or maybe sooner, it went quiet.

Now all of a sudden, there’s been a burst of activity. Perhaps motivated by the popularity of the poolside Il Buco, an unassuming gem of a wine bar, hotel management has gone forward and refurbished the former street front Sand Bar, and rechristened it Wood & Bucket.

Company president Hiroki Shuto was in town to celebrate the bar’s grand opening on Jan. 9, saying he’s wanted to make changes since 1987, and along with the redesign, thought the name change was necessary.

The name Wood & Bucket is one of the most nonsensical I’ve heard lately, and has no deep meaning save for the fact that most of the interior comprises wood, and the menu comprises a bucket of ambitious and far-flung ideas. That is typically the starting point for the naming of a thing, but that is as far as they went. But, should you happen to find yourself there on Super Bowl Sunday or beyond, you will find a casual, no-nonsense setting with some classic bar fare as well as more upscale temptations on shareable big and small plates.

Added bonus No. 1: Night owls will be happy to know it’s open until 4 a.m. daily for those late-night or early morning munchies.

Added bonus No. 2: Before or after a visit, you can rest your feet in the warm water of the hotel’s free ashiyu, or solar-powered foot spa, a pleasant way to end the day.

My favorite dish here was the lamb "lollipops" with five-spice and cumin.

My favorite dish here was the lamb lollipops with five-spice and cumin.

I loved the buttery polenta on a small plate of polenta and "BBQ" shrimp, which was quite bland. The polenta was nice compensation, but may be too rich for some, so I thought the portion was perfect, at $8.

I loved the buttery polenta on a small plate of polenta and BBQ shrimp, which was quite bland. The polenta was nice compensation, but may be too rich for some, so I thought the portion was perfect, at $8.

The kalbi tapa comprises a few pieces of boneless shortrib with sides of kim chee and mac salad, $7.

The kalbi tapa comprises a few pieces of boneless shortrib with sides of kim chee and mac salad, $7.

Tortilla Española with a filling of sliced potatoes and onions was just OK. It could have used a bit of spice and heat. The anchovies on top were not enough to flavor the entire omelet.

Tortilla Española with a filling of sliced potatoes and onions was just OK. It could have used a bit of spice and heat. The anchovies on top were not enough to flavor the entire omelet.

A classic caprese had an extra layer of chorizo, $5.

A classic caprese had an extra layer of chorizo, $5.

Seafood pescatore is one of the bar's entrée plates, at $16. It was rather dry when I was there, and if you want pasta, you will be better off heading to the Waikiki Sand Villa's poolside wine bar, Il Buco.

Seafood pescatore is one of the bar's entrée plates, at $16. It was rather dry when I was there, and if you want pasta, you will be better off heading to the Waikiki Sand Villa's poolside wine bar, Il Buco.

Sizzling New York steak  platter, $17.

Sizzling New York steak platter, $17.

Sweet lilikoi ribs and the polenta and ribs were among the sample dishes at the Jan. 9 grand opening.

Sweet lilikoi ribs and the polenta and ribs were among the sample dishes at the Jan. 9 grand opening.

The Waikiki Sand Villa hotel is located at 2375 Ala Wai Boulevard; cross street is Kanekapolei. Call (808) 922-4744.

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

Gokoku finally goes in right direction

By
January 27th, 2015



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comSashimi arrangement at the Dec. 9 grand opening of Gokoku Sushi.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Sashimi arrangement at the Dec. 9 grand opening of Gokoku Sushi.

Gokoku Sushi had a rough start, though at its grand opening Dec. 9, it held so much promise. I'd heard that people in the vicinity of the restaurant's Koko Marina Center home were starved for sushi, but it turns out, not at the price of $20 for rolls and about $10.25 to $17 for appetizers.

Worst of all was the service of inexperienced high schoolers who milled about like extras on a movie set, roaming here and there without interacting with guests or doing anything constructive like bringing tea or refilling water glasses. I watched one boy set a table by making about 30 trips when perhaps four or five would have sufficed. It took him longer than most because he was grabbing one pair of chopsticks, laying it down, going back to the service area, grabbing another, and so on and so forth with tea cups, plates and napkins.

Oy, and such a shame for a beautiful new restaurant.

After two visits there without improvement, I was about to give up and allow customers' nature to take its course rather than take the fall for its demise. I'd heard the space the restaurant moved into is unlucky.

But then, I started hearing some good things. The service was getting better, and there is about a 50-50 reaction of positives to negatives about the food.

From left, parent company Pierthirty president and CEO Akiyuki Takahashi, executive chef Katsuhisa Inoue, and vice-president Masayoshi Kurita.

From left, parent company Pierthirty president and CEO Akiyuki Takahashi, executive chef Katsuhisa Inoue, and vice-president Masayoshi Kurita.

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 The room is quite pretty, with a mix of traditional and contemporary flourishes.
Chawanmushi served at the restaurant's grand opening was beautiful and special, served in eggshells with the flourish of gold leaf. Not on the menu though.

Chawanmushi served at the restaurant's grand opening was beautiful and special, served in eggshells with the flourish of gold leaf. Not on the menu though.

Chicken and egg udon was a nice comfort dish.

Chicken and egg udon was a nice comfort dish.

There's been a lot of inconsistency in presentation here, from lunch offerings to tempura. I felt cheated when my tempura was missing kabocha, while other plates had it.

There's been a lot of inconsistency in presentation here, from lunch offerings to tempura. I felt cheated when my tempura was missing kabocha, while other plates had it.

Smoked salmon carpaccio is one of the evening appetizers, $16.50.

Smoked salmon carpaccio is one of the evening appetizers, $16.50.

An ahi and salmon poke salad was nothing special, but I loved the accompanying salty/fiery wasabi sorbet.

An ahi and salmon poke salad was nothing special, but I loved the accompanying salty/fiery wasabi sorbet.

Sushi rolls are pricey, but filling. The Dragon Roll is a California with shiso and layers of maguro, salmon and hamachi. I loved the heat and ctirus from the dollop of yuzukosho on top.

Sushi rolls are pricey, but filling. The Dragon Roll is a California with shiso and layers of maguro, salmon and hamachi. I loved the heat and ctirus from the dollop of yuzukosho on top.

Tender chicken nanban with tartar sauce.

Tender chicken nanban with tartar sauce.

Misoyaki lamb wasn't special enough to justify the $48 price tag.

Misoyaki lamb wasn't special enough to justify the $48 price tag.

 Japanese seafood stew can be described as a miso-based bouillabaisse.

Japanese seafood stew can be described as a miso-based bouillabaisse.

There have been other restaurants in town that have gone unreviewed by me while I wait for them to correct their problems. Here, there is hope. And that is crucial because the Japan-based Pierthirty Group — which owns about 200 restaurants in Japan and more in China — aims to open at least 30 restaurants in Hawaii over the next 10 years. All will have different themes, and the next to open may be an Italian restaurant, bakery and tempura shop that will be part of the mix when the new Ala Moana Center additions are completed.

Let's hope those get off to a better start.

———

Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage is 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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