Archive for February, 2015

On set with 'Cooking Hawaiian Style'

By
February 17th, 2015



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

On set during a taping of "Cooking Hawaiian Style" on Sunday were, from left, Thyra Abraham, chef Lee Anne Wong, "Cooking Hawaiian Style" website founder and producer Frank Abraham, Yolanda Santos-King representing one of the show's sponsors, Island Princess and host Lanai Tabura.

Who knew when Lanai Tabura burst onto the stand-up comedy scene that he would turn out to be such a foodie?

From establishing Look Me in the Eye by Lanai wine company to winning The Food Network's "The Great Food Truck Race" with his Aloha Plate food truck, to hosting "Cooking Hawaiian Style," he now brings a taste of Hawaiian cooking to viewers all over the world.

Talk about being a modern renaissance man.

I was invited, along with other social media guests, to sit in on a taping of the show on Sunday during an episode featuring Koko Head Cafe's Lee Anne Wong — no slouch in the media universe herself, having initially captured the public's attention as a contestant on Bravo's "Top Chef," for which she went on to become a producer.

The event took place at the Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery in Kalihi, a nice promo for their kitchens.

It was an eye-opening experience because I didn't know they had to be so precise in the taping. Because I do a lot of editing and chopping on my quickie videos, I always believed these shows were put together with a lot of takes and editing, but no. Pros that Tabura and Wong are, they're just told they have 18 seconds for their intro. They overshoot the target by eight seconds, so they do another take and fall under. Third time's the charm, and so on.

Dumpling ingredients ready to go.

Dumpling ingredients ready to go.

Mahi poke omelet with masago aioli. Nom nom. Could not get enough of the crunchy goodness, thanks to a coating that includes masago arare.

Mahi poke omelet with masago aioli. Nom nom. Could not get enough of the crunchy goodness, thanks to a coating that includes masago arare.

There's also no redo for the mixing of ingredients. In showing how to create her chicken dumplings in lemongrass-chicken broth, excellent fried poke omelet (recipe below) and dessert of macadamia nut pie, each is demonstrated seamlessly in a matter of minutes. There was no second take because there was no second batch of ingredients to mix! They are crazy good at what they do.

("Crazy good" is my new catchphrase, by the way. Last year it was "WAO!")

Of course, the best part came after the taping — sampling what Wong had made. She was a bit dismayed when she learned we had eaten the dumplings because, being on television, they weren't cooked through for final cut. But after sitting in the lemongrass chicken broth, they were indeed cooked. And ono!

The episode will air sometime in April. You can keep up with the show and view past recipes online.

One of many cameras.

One of many cameras.

The finished chicken dumplings in lemongrass-chicken broth.

The finished chicken dumplings in lemongrass-chicken broth.

Makamae Kahawai scoops up chicken meatballs made from the leftover dumpling filling after the taping.

Makamae Kahawai scoops up chicken meatballs made from the leftover dumpling filling after the taping.

The were gracious enough to share the recipe for the mahi fried poke ahead of the episode's air date. Note that Wong cooks for the masses so the recipe calls for a lot of fish! Adjust to your needs.

LEE ANNE WONG'S FRIED POKE

Ingredients:

» 7 pounds mahi filet, diced

Marinade:

» 1/2 cup shoyu

» 1/2 cup mirin

» 1/2 cup saikyo (white miso)

» 6 Tablespoons sugar

» 1/4 cup sesame oil

» 2 tablespoons Sriracha

Poke Dredge:

» 2 cups cornstarch

» 1/2 cup furikake

» 1 cup masago arare

Instructions:

Combine marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Add fish and toss to coat. Combine dredge ingredients in a large bowl. Add fish in batches and toss to coat. Heat frying oil. Drop in fish in small batches and cook until light brown. Remove and serve with dipping sauce of mayo and masago mixed to taste.

———

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.

Soufflé pancakes star at Aloha Kitchen

By
February 12th, 2015



 PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comThe fruit soufflé pancake is a top seller at Aloha Kitchen. As of this writing, $17.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

The fruit soufflé pancake is a top seller at Aloha Kitchen. As of this writing, $17.

If not for some intrepid chefs’ obsessions, we would not have the innovations in cuisine we have seen over time.

On one trajectory are global culinary movements flowing from nouvelle to fusion to molecular gastronomy. On the other is the simple joy of seeing just how far experimentation can push one particular dish to exalted heights.

Americans are accustomed to seeing pancakes and flapjacks in familiar stackable form because we’re comfortable with the homey sight. Not everyone has the same upbringing, but I associate pancakes with leisurely weekends at home, waking up to the sizzle of the griddle and sitting down with the family and a nice big bottle of Mrs. Butterworth’s syrup. Depending on your family tradition, that stack might have been accompanied by marmalade, jam or jelly, a tradition in no need of a remake.

A side view of this chocolate-banana soufflé pancake gives you an idea of the height of these babies.

A side view of this chocolate-banana soufflé pancake ($15) gives you an idea of the height of these babies.

But for people from Japan, raised on breakfasts of rice, miso soup, fish and natto, a pancake is something foreign that could use improvement. And so the tweaking began. How could they make these flat, flabby, chewy and somewhat leaden discs more exciting?

Enter the new, inflated eggy soufflé pancake. It has reached epic proportions at Aloha Kitchen in Waikiki, owned by Japanese Olympic trainer Toshi­yuki Yamamoto, who also owns a chain of restaurants in Japan.

Just because he trains elite athletes, don’t assume he’s aiming to impose diet restrictions on the rest of us. The proof is in the soufflé pancakes that are equivalent to eating cake for breakfast. These are as big as a cheesecake. Outside, the texture is like a light chiffon cake. Inside, it has a silky, custardy meringue texture that is easy to devour, but much more substantial and satisfying than an egg-white soufflé.

The soufflé pancake is the highlight of the breakfast menu, topped with various fruit combinations. Considering the size and probable calories involved, I assume it’s meant to be shared, though I have no doubt I could eat the whole thing myself.

They do savory breakfasts as well, such as this eggs Benedict with succulent marinated ham.

They do savory breakfasts as well, such as this eggs Benedict with succulent marinated ham.

If you have the stomach for rich foods, the lobster risotto is not to be missed, made with 18-month aged Parmesan and a satisfying helping of lobster; currently $18.

If you have the stomach for rich foods, the lobster risotto is not to be missed, made with 18-month aged Parmesan and a satisfying helping of lobster; currently $18 and available day and night.

A loco moco paled in comparison to the other dishes, but is there for those who enjoy comfort food. I believe they are working on improving the burger patty to make it more Japanese-style tender.

A loco moco paled in comparison to the other dishes, but is there for those who enjoy comfort food. I believe they are working on improving the burger patty to make it more Japanese-style tender.

In the evening, a strawberry, goat cheese and macadamia nut tossed salad is a refreshing light starter.

In the evening, a strawberry, goat cheese and macadamia nut tossed salad is a refreshing light starter.

Spicy garlic edamame could have used more spice and salt.

Spicy garlic edamame could have used more spice and salt.

The pulled pork sandwich is described as being house-smoked, but it's prepared more like rafute, with strong soy-sugar flavor.

The pulled pork sandwich is described as being house-smoked, but it's prepared more like rafute, with strong soy-sugar flavor.

Salmon was flavorless, but I suppose that can be attributed to nature's doing.

Salmon was flavorless, but I suppose some of that can be attributed to nature's doing.

Big Island Beef ribeye is diminished when frites don't measure up. For $26, they can do better.

Big Island Beef ribeye is diminished when frites don't measure up. For $26, they can do better.

A vanilla-filled chocolate crepe with little choco flavor paled when compared to the soufflé pancakes, which are a better dessert option in the evening.

A vanilla-filled chocolate crepe with little choco flavor paled when compared to the soufflé pancakes, which are a better dessert option in the evening.

Aloha Kitchen is at 432 Ena Road. Call (808) 943-6105.

———

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.

Hawaii's most romantic restaurants

By
February 10th, 2015



PHOTOS BY LENI KNIGHT / courtesy Michel'sFrom left, Shige Purdy, Todd Capela and Julio Caetano welcome lovers to Michel's at the Colony Surf on Valentine's Day. The restaurant is one of four that made OpenTable.com's list of 2015 Most Romantic Restaurants in the United States.

PHOTOS COURTESY LENI KNIGHT

From left, Shige Purdy, Todd Capela and Julio Caetano welcome lovers to Michel's at the Colony Surf on Valentine's Day. The restaurant is one of four that made OpenTable.com's list of 2015 Most Romantic Restaurants in the United States.

In time for your Valentine’s Day planning, OpenTable has released its 2015 Diners’ Choice Award winners for the Top 100 Most Romantic Restaurants in America, including four in Hawaii.

Chef Hardy Kintscher’s classic French dishes, often incorporating local ingredients, are crowd pleasers.

Chef Hardy Kintscher’s classic French dishes, often incorporating local ingredients, are crowd pleasers.

The list reflects opinions gleaned from more than 5 million restaurant reviews collected from verified OpenTable diners between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2014, for more than 20,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Hawaii's most romantic, according to OpenTable users are:

» Brown's Beach House at The Fairmont Orchid, Kohala Coast

» Ferraro's Bar e Ristorante, Wailea, Maui

» La Mer at Halekulani Hotel, Waikiki

» Michel's at the Colony Surf, Waikiki

The list comprises restaurants in 31 states and Washington, D.C. California has the greatest number of winners with 15, followed by New York, Texas and Virginia with eight each, and Arizona, Florida and North Carolina with seven apiece, and Nevada with five.

Colorado, Hawaii and Illinois each have four.

I happened to dine at Michel's on Feb. 4, and even though I was with girlfriends, I can vouch for the still-romantic-after-all-these-years vibe of the restaurant, from executive chef Eberhard “Hardy” Kintscher's classic French menu to the mood-setting expanse of beach and sunset, to the hospitality and indulgent service.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comPart of Michel's charm and romance is its beach setting with beautiful sunsets just outside its windows that are open save for blustery days.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Part of Michel's charm and romance is its beach setting with beautiful sunsets just outside its windows that are open save for blustery days.

Few restaurants offer showmanship on the dining room floor these days, but here, the wait staff are called on to risk singed hair for flambé dishes, and to plate and create a sauce as well as any professional chef.

On the menu for Valentine's Day will be an amuse of Scottish smoked salmon and bay shrimp; first course of creamy abalone and wild mushroom chowder; second course choices of Big Island beef carpaccio, warm Maine lobster salad, or Pacific oysters on ice or baked Rockefeller style; main course of bacon-wrapped beef tenderloin or grilled mahimahi; and dessert of white chocolate mascarpone cheesecake or Belgian dark chocolate-strawberry coupe. The cost is $150 excluding tax and tip.

Here's a look at what might be on the table on a more typical day:

The danger of escargot is filling up on bread to get every last drop of butter before the meal even begins.

The danger of escargot is filling up on bread to get every last drop of garlic herbed butter before the meal even begins.

Seared diver scallop in passionfruit-white wine sauce with angel hair and micro cilantro.

Seared diver scallop in passionfruit-white wine sauce with angel hair and micro cilantro.

Beneath this puff pastry dome is a lovely tomato bisque topped with pesto cream.

Beneath this puff pastry dome is a lovely tomato bisque topped with pesto cream.

Foie gras and toast.

Foie gras and toast.

Dolce 2007 Napa Valley Late Harvest Wine accompanied the foie gras.

Dolce 2007 Napa Valley Late Harvest Wine accompanied the foie gras.

Michel's Ocean Bounty en papillote, containing Alaskan diver scallop, prawn, Tristan lobster tail and opakapaka baked with grilled zucchini, roasted tomato, spinach, and okinawan sweet potato, with coconut saffron sauce and lemon butter.

Michel's Ocean Bounty en papillote, containing Alaskan diver scallop, prawn, Tristan lobster tail and opakapaka baked with grilled zucchini, roasted tomato, spinach, and okinawan sweet potato, with coconut saffron sauce and lemon butter.

Leni Knight's picture of me saving the intermezzo of dragonfruit sorbet to my Evernote Food diary.

Leni Knight's picture of me saving the intermezzo of dragonfruit sorbet to my Evernote Food dairy.

Beef tenderloin au poivre flamed in Jack Daniels with black peppercorn crust served with garlic mashed potatoes, vegetables and green peppercorn sauce.

Beef tenderloin au poivre flamed in Jack Daniels with black peppercorn crust served with garlic mashed potatoes, red cabbage and green peppercorn sauce.

Hummingbird cocktail poured over fruit-filled ice cubes.

Hummingbird cocktail poured over fruit-filled ice cubes.

Bing cherries flambéed in cognac and amaretto served with vanilla gelato and Belgian cake with chocolate center.

Bing cherries flambéed in cognac and amaretto served with vanilla gelato and Belgian cake with chocolate center.

Michel's is at 2895 Kalakaua Ave. Call (808) 923-6552.

———

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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It's Aloha Friday at Hula Grill

By
February 6th, 2015



Aloha Friday started in 1962, when the Hawaiian Fashion Guild began to promote the idea of loosening up in the then-starchy workplace by adopting casual Fridays, making aloha shirts acceptable in place of suit and tie.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comHula Grill's new Aloha Friday Luau plate features a mouth-watering sampling of Hawaiian favorites with a twist.

PHOTO BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Hula Grill's new Aloha Friday Luau plate features a mouth-watering sampling of Hawaiian favorites with a twist.

But the idea transcended fashion to become part of our daily lifestyle. Living every day as if it's Aloha Friday, the idea of having one special day to celebrate our relaxed, laidback way of life, seemed to be disappearing from popular consciousness.

Hula Grill Waikiki is bringing back the idea with the launch of its weekly Aloha Friday Luau plate, offering up a taste of the islands with one huge sampler, with a few twists on island favorites, such as kalua pork with a pinch of star anise — I thought it tasted a bit like boiled peanuts — and Maui Gold pineapple dusted with li hing powder.

Also on the plate are lau lau (more fish please), Ho Farm's lomi tomato with Kahuku sea asparagus, ahi poke with He'eia ogo, juicy housemade pipikaula, haupia-purple sweet potato dessert, poi and furikake-topped rice.

It was a little clean for local tastes, which had guests clamoring for chili pepper water. But it was a sweet chili pepper water rather than the expected fiery Thai pepper water, so just add salt.

As a special treat, hosting the festive Dec. 19 launch event was Kimo Kahoano, one the musicians who wrote the song, "It’s Aloha Friday." Kahoano's son Kamuela also performed.

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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.

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Arancino reminds of Valentine's

By
February 4th, 2015



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comInsalata ai Frutti di Mare is the antipasto course on Arancino at The Kahala's Valentine's Day menu. A closer look is available below.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Insalata ai Frutti di Mare is the antipasto course on Arancino at The Kahala's Valentine's Day menu. A closer look is available below.

Time is running out to make your reservations for Valentine's Day. Arancino at The Kahala offered a reminder with a preview of its $89 per person Valentine's Day menu that will be available from from 5 to 9:30 p.m. Feb. 14.

The presentation starts with an amuse and bread platter before launching into the four-course prix fixe menu that hits all the romantic notes, starting with a beautiful aphrodisiac seafood platter, Insalata ai Frutti di Mare, featuring ahi, Kona kampachi, sweet uni, grilled abalone, amaebi and scallop. The plate is ornamented with touches of red and green microgreens, and such is chef Daisuke Hamamoto's deft, artistic eye, that not a leaf is out of place. When I tried to alter his arrangement by moving one leaf for a photo, it looked dreadfully wrong, so I quickly returned the dish to its proper form.

Next up is the primo course which offers a choice of Linguine con Granchio e Pomodoro (king crab and tomato), or Risotto al Vino Rosso con Anatra. Although the latter is not much to look at—even when dressed in thin strips of fried Tokyo negi and a touch of gold leaf—it offers a pleasant departure from typical risotto dishes, colored with wine in the spirit of the holiday associated with the color red. (The result is more purple.) The risotto is topped with a small serving of grilled Muscovy duck.

Decadence arrives with the secondo course of Filetto di Manzo alla Griglia, a strip of grilled organic U.S. Prime tenderloin accompanied by two pieces of sautéed foie gras, two gnocchi-like servings of truffle mashed potatoes, and a red wine reduction sauce. Cut and layered the multiple offerings to reach nirvana.

And, just when you think you're too full to eat another bite, dessert of Torta al Cioccolato arrives as a light and airy chocolate mousse surrounded by a textured sheet of chocolate. Not everyone will notice how different it is from other desserts in town, but I appreciated its barely there delicate candy snap immensely and could not figure out how this was achieved.

Arancino VP Aya Inamura shed some light, explaining the shell is airbrush sprayed chocolate that hardens around the mousse. Bamboo charcoal in the chocolate gives the mixture its deep, mysterious black color.

Here's a look at what's on the table:

Amuse of prosciutto and fig.

Amuse of prosciutto and fig.

The Insalata ai Frutti di Mare is a beautiful melange of maguro, uni, buttery Kona kampachi and scallop sashimi festooned with microgreens.

The Insalata ai Frutti di Mare is a beautiful melange of maguro, uni, buttery Kona kampachi and scallop sashimi festooned with microgreens.

Linguine con Ganchio e Pomodoro (king crab and tomato) is one of two Primo course options.

Linguine con Ganchio e Pomodoro (king crab and tomato) is one of two Primo course options. This dish is paired with Dobbes pinot noir.

The secondo course is a Filetto di Manzo all Griglia, grilled organic U.S. prime tenderloin accompanied by two pieces of sautéed foie gras, truffled mashed potatoes presented like gnocchi, shaved black truffle and red wine reduction. Paired with Gianfranco Bovio barolo. Tableside truffle service by chef Hamamoto will be $20.

The secondo course is a Filetto di Manzo all Griglia, grilled organic U.S. prime tenderloin accompanied by two pieces of sautéed foie gras, truffled mashed potatoes presented like gnocchi, and red wine reduction. Paired with Gianfranco Bovio barolo. Tableside truffle service by chef Hamamoto will be $20 per person.

Dessert of Torta al Cioccolato. I don't even know how they got such a beautiful, delicate chocolate sheath around the mousse. Sublime

Dessert of Torta al Cioccolato. I don't even know how they got such a beautiful, delicate chocolate sheath around the mousse. Sublime. Paired with Branchetto Banfi.

Such is Hamamoto's attention to detail that a close inspection of the plate reveals such details as gold flake and tapioca powder in addition to raspberries and flower petals.

Such is Hamamoto's attention to detail that a close inspection of the plate reveals such details as gold flake and tapioca powder in addition to raspberries and flower petals.

Add wine pairings for the four courses for $29 per person, and for your entertainment, accordion player Wallen Ellingson will perform romantic tunes to set the mood.

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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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