Archive for February, 2015

Tiki's welcomes SKYYInfusions

By
February 27th, 2015



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comTiki's Grill & Bar hosted hosted the launch of SKYY Vodka's new Skyy Vodka's new Texas Grapefruit and Pacific Blueberry SkyyInfusions.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Tiki's Grill & Bar hosted the launch of SKYY Vodka's new Texas Grapefruit and Pacific Blueberry SKYYInfusions.

Tiki's Grill & Bar hosted the launch of SKYY Vodka's new Texas Grapefruit and Pacific Blueberry SKYYInfusions on Tuesday.

The new fruit-infused vodkas lend themselves to spring and summertime cocktails, with no muddling involved, and guests were invited to a quartet of drinks made from the SKYYInfusions, including Texas Toast, with the Texas Grapefruit, lemon-lime soda, grenadine and fresh lime, and Blueberry Blush, with the Pacific Blueberry, cranberry juice, lime juice and simple syrup.

In keeping with the event's theme, Tiki's executive chef Ronnie Nasuti came up with a handful of dishes incorporating the fruits of the day, including blueberry-sauced ribs and ahi crudo with avocado and grapefruit, for a yummy evening.

Chef Ronnie Nasuti cooks up a saute of smoked meat, fruit and onions.

Chef Ronnie Nasuti cooks up a saute of smoked meat, fruit and onions.

Grapefruit- and blueberry-infused water.

Grapefruit- and blueberry-infused water.

Some of the SKYYInfusion cocktails were served in Tiki's signature ceramic glasses.

Some of the SKYYInfusion cocktails were served in Tiki's signature ceramic glasses.

Nasuti's menu played off the fruit theme, and included such pupu as ribs with blueberry sauce and a fiery kick. Yum!

Nasuti's menu played off the fruit theme, and included such pupu as ribs with blueberry sauce and a fiery kick. Yum!

Watermelon topped with feta and onions, with a sprinkling of blueberries.

Watermelon topped with feta and onions, with a sprinkling of blueberries.

Ahi crudo with avocado, grapefruit and caviar.

Ahi crudo with avocado, grapefruit and caviar.

Tiki's Grill and Bar is located at 2570 Kalakaua Ave. Call (808) 923-8454.

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

Pacific Tea Garden teas now at NM

By
February 26th, 2015



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comThe Chinese New Year season marked the debut of the Neiman Marcus Tea Collection by The Pacific Tea Garden.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

The Chinese New Year season marked the debut of the Neiman Marcus Tea Collection by The Pacific Tea Garden.

The Pacific Place Tea Garden on the fourth floor of Ala Moana Center was always a pleasant oasis for tea and sweets or sandwiches and other beverages and shave ice, before becoming a casualty of the center's expansion plans.

But owner Lynette Jee, known around town as The Tea Lady, has been hard at work on other projects, including a new curated selection of artisan teas for former neighbor Neiman Marcus.

The Neiman Marcus Tea Collection by The Pacific Tea Garden made its debut during a Lunar New Year tea tasting that took place Feb. 20 in NM's Mermaid Bar. Tins sell for $14 for Lychee Black Tea or Chai, to $24 for Superior Green Oolong.

Samples of teas and fruit tisanes were passed around the room to allow us to breathe in their fragrance before steeping.

Samples of teas and fruit tisanes were passed around the room to allow us to breathe in their fragrance before steeping.

Tisane with coconut gau and li see envelope containing chocolate.

Tisane with coconut gau and li see envelope containing chocolate.

On the evening's tasting menu were four of the teas, alongside New Year's gau and other treats.

First up for sipping was the sweet, elegant "Pink Ginger Forest," fruit-and-vegetable tisane comprising passionfruit, beets, organic bamboo, pineapple and lemon.

Jee demonstrated the gong fu ritual of using a gaiwan, or lidded tea cup, for making tea, and passed around samples that allowed comparison between the aromas of the dry teas and the scent of the steeped tea inside the emptied gaiwan.

She also passed around a brick of Yunnan Pu-erh, an earthy, incense-like three-year-aged reddish-brown tea associated with good health because of its antioxidant content. It takes work prying the leaves from the brick, so we sampled the loose-leaf version.

The third tea was the popular Dragon Phoenix Jasmine Pearls from Fujian. Each leaf is rolled into an orb the size of pearls, resulting in intense fragrance released with the pearl's blossoming in hot water. There were many requests for seconds.

Superior Green Oolong from Fu Shou Shan, Taiwan, offered a mellow finish, representative of spring harvest leaves with floral notes.

In addition to the traditional Chinese teas, the collection also features Darjeeling, Earl Grey, English Breakfast teas and a handful inspired by Hawaii, including Queen Emma Rose, Summer Palace and Mango Hawaii.

There is also a teabag selection that includes flavors of Mango Hawaii, Pineapple Plantation, Rainbow Hawaii and PassionBerry Iced Tea.

Pu-erh tea is often sold in brick form. The compressed tea leaves almost resemble the cloud patterns in Asian art.

Pu-erh tea is often sold in brick form. The compressed tea leaves almost resemble the cloud patterns in Asian art.

Jasmine pearls open and release their perfume while steeping.

Jasmine pearls open and release their perfume while steeping.

Timed for the Chinese, or Lunar New Year, symbols of long life, luck and wealth filled The Mermaid Bar, including narcissus plants, and below, oranges.

Timed for the Chinese, or Lunar New Year, symbols of long life, luck and wealth filled The Mermaid Bar, including narcissus plants, and below, oranges.

tea orange

For more about the traditional Chinese tea ritual, here's one of my earlier posts from a trip to Shanghai.

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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.

All about the beef at Yoshi

By
February 25th, 2015



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comCrazy Rib Eye Yoshi Style is one of the highlights of Japanese B.B.Q. Restaurant Yoshi, Japan wagyu shot through with its streaks of monounsaturated (bad cholesterol-reducing) fat.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Crazy Rib Eye Yoshi Style is one of the highlights of Japanese B.B.Q. Restaurant Yoshi, Japan wagyu shot through with its streaks of monounsaturated (bad cholesterol-reducing) fat.

The new year is already shaping up to be like the last with the trending of the Japanese restaurant, with multiple new entries around town.

Restaurants out of Japan tend to be backed by quality, but the trend is toward more specialization and transparency in sourcing in response to equally growing sophistification of diners.

With guidance from knowledgeable staffers formerly from Hiroshi, another lauded yakiniku house, the Japanese B.B.Q. Yoshi experience manages to be both delicious and educational. You’ll want to pay close attention to grasp differences between various cuts of ribeye, outside skirt steak ($16) and inside skirt steak ($14), knuckles ($38) and more. It all adds up to a carnivore's paradise.

Typical of Japanese-style yakiniku, the meat portions that arrive at Yoshi are quite small, and cook down to little nothings that leave you wanting more. But my near iron-clad stomach from years of professional eating did not prepare me for this much richness. If you don’t normally eat rich food, you may not want to overindulge on your first visit.

The star of the menu is superb A5-grade Japan wagyu, Crazy Rib Eye Yoshi ($32), with its candy-stripe streaks of red meat and white fat. Connoisseurs consider A5 wagyu the best in the world, and Yoshi showcases it beautifully. Have some patience. Trying the other cuts before graduating to this beef will be enlightening. A visit here is not about stuffing your face, but ultimately about appreciation.

p align="left">If you're a fan of cow tongue, nodotomo is the tenderest part closest to the throat.

If you're a fan of cow tongue, nodotomo is the tenderest part closest to the throat.

A Grade ribeye yakisuki is grilled then slathered with a mixture of yamaimo and egg to increase the silkiness quotient.

A Grade ribeye yakisuki is grilled then slathered with a mixture of yamaimo and egg to increase the silkiness quotient.

p align="left">Anchang nakaochi kalbi, left, and skirt steak.

Anchang nakaochi kalbi, left, and skirt steak.

p align="left">Rib steak.

Rib steak.

Flap meat yukke was delicious.

Flap meat yukke was delicious.

p align="left">Yoshi's chicken wings.

Yoshi's chicken wings.

Yes you will find such things as shrimp, pork and Jidori chicken on the menu, but very little salads or sides. Here, it's all about meat.

Yes you will find such things as shrimp—shown here after being sautéed in butter in this pot on the grill—pork and Jidori chicken on the menu, but very little salads or sides. Here, it's all about meat.

p align="left">Pork jowl was served with wasabi.

Pork jowl was served with wasabi.

The restaurant is at 1316 Young St., open 5:30 to 11 p.m. daily except Wednesdays. Call (808) 784-0067.

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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.

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Regal brings hot pot downtown

By
February 19th, 2015



Hot pot restaurants abound in Honolulu, but beyond a brief trial at the top of Smith Street, which didn't work out, the hot pot hasn't established roots in Chinatown.

Regal Bakery Downtown, in the Chinatown Cultural Plaza, is now giving it a try. The hot pot was introduced to help drive traffic in the evening, a time when the business district empties out. It's also available during the day, although due to the often busy lunch traffic, I find that they don't yet have adequate manpower to address sit-down customers. To date, some patience is required from patrons.

Some selling points include the restaurant's MSG-free broths, including a light jook, and a roster of ingredients that include such local, homespun options as lup cheong, Spam, Vienna sausage and Chinese-style orange beef balls that are not widely available at other hot pot restaurants.

Here's a little of what you can expect:

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comThe Super Deluxe Combo features won bok, mustard cabbage, zucchini, fish balls, enoki and shimeji mushrooms, tofu, clams, shrimp, meatballs, ribeye, chicken and look funn. The cost is $28.95 for this "small" order for two, and $44.95 for large.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

The Super Deluxe Combo features won bok, mustard cabbage, zucchini, fish balls, enoki and shimeji mushrooms, tofu, clams, shrimp, meatballs, ribeye, chicken and look funn. The cost is $28.95 for this small order for two, and $44.95 for large.

Choose from seven MSG-free soups. Pictured on one side is the milky white Healthy Soup with soy broth accented with goji berries, dragon eye fruit, Chinese yam and tangerine peel. On the other is the powerful Hot Spicy soup that will be a joy to fire eaters among us, in all its cough and runny nose-inducing glory. On this visit, we were offered a garlic butter and soy sauce with green onions, that we mixed together as sauce. Depending on your waiter, you may get something else. For instance, on a followup visit, I was offered a choice of four sauces. Like I said, it's a work in progress.

Choose from seven MSG-free soups. Pictured on one side is the milky white Healthy Soup with soy broth accented with goji berries, dragon eye fruit, Chinese yam and tangerine peel. On the other is the powerful Hot Spicy soup that will be a joy to fire eaters among us, in all its cough and runny nose-inducing glory. On this visit, we were given garlic butter and soy sauce with green onions that we mixed together as one sauce. Depending on your waiter, you may get something else. For instance, on a followup visit, I was offered a choice of four sauces. Like I said, it's a work in progress.

The Meat Lover's Combo features a mix of prime rib, chicken and beef balls with assorted vegetables, tofu and look funn. This is the small order, $18.95, which easily serves two. A large order is $34.95.

The Meat Lover's Combo features a mix of prime rib, chicken and beef balls, with assorted vegetables, tofu and look funn. This is the small order, $18.95, which easily serves two. A large order is $34.95.

There are many, many supplemental offerings ranging from local-out Spam, lup cheong and Vienna sausage, to beef tendon, tripe, cow tongue and rib eye. Pictured here are frozen shrimp wontons and lamb. Meat cuts are thicker than most places.

There are many, many supplemental offerings ranging from local-out Spam and lup cheong to beef tendon, tripe, cow tongue and rib eye. Pictured here are frozen shrimp wontons and lamb. Meat cuts are thicker than most places.

The Chinatown Cultural Plaza is at 100 N. Beretania St., and Regal Bakery faces the street. Call (808) 540-1000.

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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.

Sweet vs. savory in OTW food fight

By
February 19th, 2015



In the spirit of fun, Off The Wall Craft Desserts & Kitchen (OTW Craft), tried to get a lover's quarrel started on Valentine's Day.

In a battle for supremecy, #dessertfirst and #foodfirst tied on the Valentine's Day grand opening of Off The Wall Craft. Pictured here are beeramisu desserts, mole sauce ribs and .

In a battle for supremecy, #dessertfirst and #foodfirst tied on the Valentine's Day grand opening of Off The Wall Craft. Pictured here are beeramisu desserts, mole sauce ribs and mocha brisket sliders.

There could be no better opening day to demonstrate its concept than with a Chocolate Lover's Spat party, a food fight pitting those who opt for #DessertFirst vs. the traditionalists who put #FoodFirst.

Perhaps it wasn't entirely fair that dessert and pastry chef Ed Morita had a dominant spot in the dining room, while chef de cuisine Andrew Mitani was off in a side room, busily cooking up mocha brisket sliders, mole-sauced BBQ ribs with daikon gratin and rafute-style sushi with braised Kurobuta pork belly and chocolate-peanut butter-miso glaze. Hmm, that sounds a bit like joining the frenemy.

In the main room, Morita was slicing his chocolate-filled Twinkies and Nutella-roasted banana sandwich rolls, laid out with chocolate-peanut butter crunches, kabochasadas, and a couple of different S'more tarts.

Also offered were sauteed clams, an assortment of salads, flat breads and raw bar.

The new restaurant concept by Off The Wall owner Kyle Matsumoto and Morita, formerly of Highway Inn, Kakaako, was created to offer local-style comfort food with a twist. It also raises awareness of those individuals who can't wait until the end of a meal to order dessert, or who won't risk filling up on other courses before having dessert first. The first time I was with someone who ordered dessert first, I was a little shocked. I admit I've become less of a dessert person over time and the less sugar I eat, the less I crave. But hey, people are entitled to dine the way they prefer, and if they want to start with chocolate and sugar or cake and strawberries, so be it.

Peanut butter crunch desserts.

Chocolate-peanut butter crunch desserts.

It's probably every pastry chef's lament that they feel like second-class citizens in the kitchen. (It's the same in the newsroom when you pit feature writers against news writers, when news simply carries more gravitas than lifestyle coverage.)

Mitani will ward off competition with familiar local cuisine infused with Japanese, Korean, Italian, and French flavors, and the two will be working together to blur the lines between sweet and savory. It's an experience that will challenge your taste buds.

The chefs tested some of their dishes during a preview event that took place Jan. 21:

One of the most interesting aspects of the OTW Craft experience was sampling Morita's smoked honey that goes into cocktails and desserts. From left are Moscow Mule, Manhattan, Sazerac and Falernum-inspired honey. I urged them to offer a flight so that other diners might better appreciate the work behind the desserts. Nuance can sometimes be lost at the table.

One of the most interesting aspects of the OTW Craft experience was sampling Morita's smoked honey that goes into cocktails and desserts. From left are Moscow Mule, Manhattan, Sazerac and Falernum-inspired honey. I urged them to offer a flight so that other diners might better appreciate the work behind the desserts. Nuance is sometimes lost at the table.

Food First: Ahi poke cupcake with sesame-ginger frosting, bubu arare and yuzu tobiko.

Food First: Ahi poke cupcake with sesame-ginger frosting, bubu arare and yuzu tobiko.

Dessert First: Bacon-pecan sticky buns with Manhattan-spiked honey.

Dessert First: Bacon-pecan sticky buns with Manhattan-spiked honey.

Food First: Ozoni pizza.

Food First: Ozoni pizza.

Bacon goat cheese chive puffs with lilikoi and spice glaze.

Bacon goat cheese chive puffs with lilikoi and spice glaze.

A mix of eggplant rolls (back) and Nutella rolls with white chocolate-haupia sauce.

A mix of eggplant rolls (back) and Nutella rolls with white chocolate-haupia sauce.

OTW Craft is in the former Tsunami Nightclub space at 1272 S. King St. Call (808) 591-9255.

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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.

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