Archive for April, 2015

Candy Bar Hawaii opens in Waikiki

By
April 30th, 2015



COURTESY CANDY BAR HAWAIISatisfy your sweet tooth in Waikiki with a visit to Candy Bar Hawaii.

COURTESY CANDY BAR HAWAII

Satisfy your sweet tooth in Waikiki with a visit to Candy Bar Hawaii.

Candy lovers are in for a treat with a visit to Candy Bar Hawaii, the only candy store of its kind in Wai­kiki, with its mix of hard to gummy candies, nostalgic flavors and made-in-Hawaii artisan chocolate bars from Madre Chocolate and Manoa Chocolate.

The locally owned boutique carries 400 types of candy from around the world, stored in bins and glass jars. Customers can mix and match flavors and textures for one flat $19.99 per-pound price.

Flavors range from tropical mango or pineapple to Violet Crumble, and textures of black licorice to multiflavored taffies. The myriad colors and taste sensations are a treat for the eyes and senses.

Those who want to reach back to the past will also find caramel Squirrel Nut Zippers, a candy first made in 1890, and the 1950s peanut butter Chick-O-Sticks.

Candy Bar Hawaii is open 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, on Wai­kiki Beach Walk, at 227 Lewers St., No. 127. Call (808) 798-9072.

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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.

Ethiopian Love opens in Chinatown

By
April 29th, 2015



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comA feast of meat and vegetable tibs and wots served atop injera bread with rolls of injera for grabbing morsels of food.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

A feast of meat and vegetable tibs and wots served atop injera bread with rolls of injera for grabbing morsels of food.

Second chances are a good thing. If not for second chances, I might never have stepped foot in Ethiopian Love after a botched trip to its Kapahulu Avenue pop-up last fall.

Sharing space with a ramen restaurant, only a few tables were designated for Ethiopian food and the lines were for the Ethiopian half of the restaurant.

My friends and I waited about 45 minutes just to be seated, and after trying to place an order about 15 minutes later, we found most of the food on the menu was unavailable. We finally settled on a couple of dishes, and so began a long wait. We were hungry, but no water or drinks were offered, and neither was any sort of light appetizer to assuage that hunger.

By this time, one of our friends had to leave and she was mad she ended up having to eat at a fast-food restaurant.

A half hour after she left, we were informed there was no injera bread, which is the staple of Ethiopian meals. What? Oh well, we would settle for the couple tibs and wots, or wats, we had ordered. At about this point, two other groups of people who were also waiting to be fed decided to walk out.

The restaurant space is beautiful, with imagery and posters reflecting life in Ethiopia.

The restaurant space is beautiful, with imagery and posters reflecting life in Ethiopia.

When no food materialized after another half hour, we were getting nervous. It was closing in on 10 p.m. and we had already been told several times food was coming, but nothing showed up. If we didn't find something to eat, every restaurant would be closed.

So, we left. There was no, "Wait, you could take it out," no apology or anything. Just, "OK, bye!"

Luckily for us, Yakitori Yoshi was still open and we were so happy to be fed, and I never wrote about the Ethiopian restaurant. What's the point if readers could not count on being fed? Maybe if I were on Yelp I would write about the epic fail, but the Honolulu Star-Advertiser is Hawaii's newspaper of record and for a review of record I need to be as fair as possible — and that means repeat visits to get a more complete picture of good and bad.

Earlier this year I heard the Ethiopian restaurant was shopping for a brick-and-mortar site downtown and thought maybe its owners had finally gotten their act together. And so they have had to become more serious. Service is still slow because of the work that goes into the cuisine, which may be problematic for a lunch crowd, but if you have the time, it's worth the wait for the delicious tibs (meat sautés) and wots (stewed meat or vegetables) served atop sour, spongy injera bread, all meant to be eaten with your hand.

I was lucky to have been guided through the process when lived briefly in Washington, D.C. as a loaner to USA Today when Gannett's so-called "The Nation's Newspaper" was being staffed by its network of regional newspapers across the country. There, I enjoyed cuisines from around the world, and in Adams Morgan found Red Sea, an Ethiopian restaurant that has since closed.

Part of the woes of service and availability is that the fermented injera, made of teff flour, is temperamental and batches can go bad. I've read accounts of those who grow up in Ethiopia saying the first batches made at home are never good.

Owner Abraham Samuel is happy to share details of Ethiopian culture and cuisine.

Owner Abraham Samuel is happy to share details of Ethiopian culture and cuisine.

Ethiopian Love owner Abraham Samuel said that the injera did not like Kapahulu's water, causing them to rely on bottled water. They are doing better with Chinatown water, but the sourness does fluctuate. Personally, the less sour the better, to my taste.

Vegetarians will find much to love about this restaurant, with an array of stewed lentil and cabbage dishes, and the romi pictured, a sauté of mushrooms and veggies.

Vegetarians will find much to love about this restaurant, with an array of stewed lentil and cabbage dishes, and the romi pictured, a sauté of mushrooms and veggies.

This Ethio Love lamb special is topped with Ethiopian cheese with the texture of feta, but much lighter flavor.

This Ethio Love lamb special is topped with Ethiopian cheese with the texture of feta, but much lighter flavor. This was one of my favorite dishes, along with alicha wot, a turmeric-braised beef.

I also loved azifa pictured here in the foreground, a refreshing salad of lentils, onions, jalapeño and lemon juice. In the background are doro tibs, sautéed chicken, and awaze tibs, sautéed beef.

I also loved azifa pictured here in the foreground, a refreshing salad of lentils, onions, jalapeño and lemon juice. In the background are doro tibs, sautéed chicken, and awaze tibs, sautéed beef.


I hope people will try this cuisine and the unique aspect of eating with the hands and the practice of gursha, a gesture of love and affection as families sit down to a meal together and feed each other. You don't have to do it if it makes you feel uncomfortable, but it’s said that food from the same plate tastes better with gursha.

It is a practice that can only be possible in a society that prizes friends and family. Here, it's a practice we tend to share only with young children and via the custom of bride and groom feeding each other wedding cake as part of the matrimonial ceremony. In Ethiopia, it’s practiced daily as a means of bringing families close while allowing them to share the details of their day and impart life lessons.

But, it comes with its hazards, as you'll see in the video below, where unpracticed me chomped down on my friend's finger, causing my Twitter followers to quip, "Lucky there's no rabies in Hawaii," and giving me the new title of yakuza-maker!

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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.

Here's an example:

RELATED VIDEO:

Mahaloha now open in Kailua

By
April 23rd, 2015



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comMahaloha Burger's blue cheese bacon combo is $7.25 for a single patty, and $8.25 for a double.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Mahaloha Burger's blue cheese bacon combo is $7.25 for a single patty, and $8.25 for a double.

After building a career on Hawaii's ninth island — Las Vegas — Jesse Aguinaldo returned home to open his startup, Mahaloha Burger.

His first shop is in Royal Hawaiian Center and he just opened a second branch in Kailua, where Windward diners can now enjoy juicy burgers made with grass-fed Parker Ranch beef, sold in single or double patties, and served on buns grilled in caramelized whipped butter.

The flavors are local through and through, and if the basic burger isn't enough, try the loco moco burger ($6.75 single, $7.75 double). I thought the egg could be bigger, but the gravy and burger itself are excellent.

A Hawaii original goes mobile, the loco moco burger.

A Hawaii original goes mobile, the loco moco burger.

They had me at avocado, $7.25 single, and $8.25 double. With a slice of Swiss cheese.

They had me at avocado, $7.25 single, and $8.25 double. With a slice of Swiss cheese.

Those who don't eat beef, can opt for a turkey burger or mahi sandwich instead, $7.25 each.

Then consider a side of Parmaroni fries ($5.95), combining fries, pepperoni and a sprinkling of condiment-style Parmesan cheese.

The dogs are also delish, this one accompanied by a side of Parmaroni fries, with pepperoni and Parmesan, natch.

The dogs are also delish, this one accompanied by a side of Parmaroni fries, with pepperoni and Parmesan, natch.

Aguinaldo said he returned home for more work/life balance.

"It started 50-50 but now it's creeping up to 60-40," he said of the expansion.

Contemporary "hieroglyphics" give the burger house a Hawaii branded appeal. You just know this concept is going places.

Contemporary hieroglyphics give the burger house a Hawaii branded appeal. You just know this concept is going places.

But he isn't stopping. His next move will be west side, in the Ka Makana Ali'i/The Center for West O‘ahu development, and he's considering other sites before pursuing the Asian market.

The new Mahaloha Burger is at 143 Hekili St., Suite 150. Call (808) 263-2777.

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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.

Rotary's crab fest an annual hit

By
April 21st, 2015



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comDungeness crab was the centerpiece of Rotary Club of Ala Moana's annual crab fest.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Dungeness crab was the centerpiece of Rotary Club of Ala Moana's annual crab fest.

The Rotary Club of Ala Moana celebrated its annual fundraising Crab Fest April 11 in Kapiolani Community College's Ohia Cafeteria.

Guests always look forward to this event, still one of a kind on Oahu, with a centerpiece of all-you-can-eat Dungeness crab. The crabs are huge and just one leaves me full. Some people manage three, and I heard the maximum devoured was six, but they would not share the name of this person.

Devotées always plan ahead for this event and come prepared with their own condiments, whether vinegar, ponzu or Tabasco sauce. I like my crab plain with the drawn butter provided. The only other thing needed is Old Bay seasoning, but I'm always running around here and there, too flustered and frenzied to plan.

And, in the everyone's a critic department, people who know how to rip into a crab look askance at newbs or landlubbers who pound the tops of the crabs with their mallets, or let the insides go to waste. Pity.

Soy beans, and below, spring rolls, were some of the starters.

Soy beans, and below, spring rolls, were some of the starters.

crab spring rolls

KCC students served up trays of chowder.

KCC students served up trays of chowder.

Those seated at premium tables had the beautiful presentation at the top of the page. The rest of us plucked our crabs out of aluminum trays. They taste the same either way.

Those seated at premium tables had the beautiful presentation at the top of the page. The rest of us plucked our crabs out of aluminum trays. They taste the same either way.

It's definitely an event you want to attend with people you know well, because there really is no way to eat crab without getting messy, although I always come across some lucky people have spouses or parents happy to put in all the labor of shelling and shredding.

Funds raised from $80 ticket sales and a silent auction of wines and other merchandise will go toward a number of Rotary's local and ambitious international causes, from providing scholarships, books and supplies to Hawaii youths, to providing safe drinking water to villagers in Kenya and Indonesia, to helping to provide pre-natal care and cardiac care to people in Thailand.

Keep tabs on the organization at www.alamoanarotaryclub.com.

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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.

ON VIDEO:

Alan Wong marks 20th year

By
April 21st, 2015



Time flies when you're having fun, and nothing makes me feel older than to witness the anniversaries of food movements and restaurants I've written about from their starts.

Wong, right, and his girlfriend, Alice Inoue, pose for a photo together during Wednesday's anniversary celebration.

BETTY SHIMABUKURO / BETTY@STARADVERTISER.COM

Chef Alan Wong celebrated the 20th anniversary of his eponymous restaurant last week with Alice Inoue.

I was there when Alan Wong opened his eponymous restaurant in 1995, and I was in the room when he celebrated his 20th anniversary April 15, another tax day, just like Day 1!

It's another landmark year for Wong in that, come summer, he'll be opening his first restaurant in China.

As much as I get down on a new generation of chefs who seem to take a nonchalant, somewhat lackadaisical approach to running their businesses — often failing to keep regular hours or opening without training staff or opening with only an outline of a menu — Wong's remarks on his anniversary evening reminded me that today's pros didn't start out perfect either, even if they had a more polished veneer.

He said he remembered being told to put out signs telling motorists passing by his nondescript King Street building that the restaurant would be opening soon. So he put out a sign that said, "Coming Soon," with no indication as to what exactly was coming. And, after the restaurant opened, they forgot to take down the sign for a long time.

In an interview for HILuxury magazine, Wong said, "To tell you the truth, I didn't know what I was doing. The only thing I was envisioning was survival."

Coming to Oahu after working at Lutece in New York City, and opening The Canoe House Restaurant at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows on Hawaii island, he hoped his restaurant would last five years, knowing that within the industry, nine out of 10 restaurants fail in their first year.

Well, he made it, and with a celebratory menu of 14 savory dishes and 11 sweet bites, showed what keeps diners coming back for more. There were about five food and dessert stations set up around the restaurant and lanai, so I thought, "I can handle this."

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comNiihau eland carpaccio with chili Parmesan and Nalo Farms arugula.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Niihau eland carpaccio with chili Parmesan and Nalo Farms arugula.

This was one of my favorite dishes, so refreshing with a fiery kick. Kualoa Ranch poached shrimp wrapped in somen, with kochu jang Asian pear sauce, mint and basil.

This was one of my favorite dishes, so refreshing with a fiery kick. Kualoa Ranch poached shrimp wrapped in somen, with kochu jang Asian pear sauce, mint and basil.

Kombu-cured Hawaiian kampachi with shiso ahi tartare, uni, opihi and ocean foam.

Kombu-cured Hawaiian kampachi with shiso ahi tartare, uni, opihi and ocean foam.

Niihau lamb shoulder moo shu with salsa roja and a choice of toppings from a condiment bar, below. I opted for fresh corn salsa, goat cheese and verde sauce.

Niihau lamb shoulder moo shu with salsa roja and a choice of toppings from a condiment bar, below. I opted for fresh corn salsa, goat cheese and verde sauce.

wong salsa

But, food kept emerging from the kitchen. Sadly, I was able to enjoy only about eight dishes, but they were all wonderful.

Some of the things I missed were a Keahole lobster summer roll, five spice pork with mustard cabbage chimichurri, kim chee porridge, and opakapaka with savoy cabbage daikon broth.

Pork hash "katsu" slider with shredded cabbage and hoisin mustard vinaigrette.

Pork hash "katsu" slider with shredded cabbage and hoisin mustard vinaigrette.

Cambodian kampot black pepper surf and turf with Maui Cattle Co. beef, Hamakua mushrooms and king crab.

Cambodian kampot black pepper surf and turf with Maui Cattle Co. beef, Hamakua mushrooms and king crab.

North Shore Aqua Farms misoyaki tilapia on onigiri.

North Shore Aqua Farms misoyaki tilapia on onigiri.

Macarons and Hawaiian Sun guava fruit jelly.

Macarons and Hawaiian Sun guava fruit jelly.

An assortment of cookies and castella cake with local honey glaze.

An assortment of cookies and castella cake with local honey glaze.

One dish I didn't photograph was Kauai Makaweli Ranch "Flintstone Steak" accompanied by a decadent glob of roasted bone marrow. So silky amazing, I had to have seconds!

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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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