Archive for April, 2015

Goka celebrates 100th

By
April 21st, 2015



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comGladys Goka chose Hawaii Prince Hotel's Prince Court restaurant to be the setting for her 100th birthday party. She's with her daughter Gladys Aanerud.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Gladys Goka chose Hawaii Prince Hotel's Prince Court restaurant to be the setting for her 100th birthday party. She's with her daughter Gladys Aanerud.

Gladys Goka celebrated her 100th birthday in style at the Hawaii Prince Hotel's Prince Court restaurant on April 11.

Gladys Goka shows the letter of recognition from the state House of Representatives, honoring her 100th birthday.

Gladys Goka shows the letter of recognition from the state House of Representatives, honoring her 100th birthday.

I met the centenarian in 2008 while working on a story on the fashionable Bon Ton Girls who worked in downtown Honolulu's biggest department stores in the 1930s and '40s, Bon Ton and Bon Marche.

They were the eras It Girls, who caused a stir everywhere they went because of their youth and aura of glamour that followed them. They served as models for the store, role models in the community, and partied together.

Over the years, their lives took them in different directions, but funerals of friends brought the remaining Bon Ton Girls back together in the early 1990s, and they began to reunite once a year at various restaurants around town.

After meeting some of the Bon Ton Girls in 2008 for a feature story in the Star-Bulletin, I guess I became an honorary member and they invited me to join them at lunches hosted by Dr. Thomas Sakoda, the son of their former boss, Horace Sakoda, who served as general manager at Bon Ton.

With the few remaining Bon Ton Girls in care homes or suffering from dementia, the reunions stopped in 2013, but Gladys is still feisty and going strong.

"I feel young," she said. "I feel like I'm 80."

She shared some of her advice for living a long and healthy life, which includes working hard and eating healthfully. True to her advice, while the rest of us feasted on Prince Court's Hawaii-style buffet with laulau, chicken long rice, oxtail soup, and much, much more, Gladys enjoyed a plate of fresh fruit before her birthday cake arrived. She plans to come back to the Prince for her 101st birthday.

About 75 family and friends turned out to celebrate her milestone birthday, and on display were congratulatory messages from Gov. David Ige, the state House of Representatives, and President Barack Obama.

Happy birthday Gladys!

Gladys with her daughter Gladys, son George and granddaughter, left, Shari Spring.

Gladys with her daughter Gladys, son George and granddaughter, left, Shari Spring.

Customizable oxtail soup on the Prince Court buffet. I love cilantro! Passed on the ginger.

Customizable oxtail soup on the Prince Court buffet. I love cilantro! Passed on the ginger.

Kalua pork.

Kalua pork.

Loads of shrimp and vegetable tempura.

Loads of shrimp and vegetable tempura.

Steamed fish, Chinese style, with lup cheong and more cilantro.

Steamed fish, Chinese style, with lup cheong and more cilantro.

Slurping good chicken long rice.

Slurping good chicken long rice.

They have some remarkably light and wonderful desserts here including these fruit tarts, and below, Japanese-style cheesecake.

They have some remarkably light and wonderful desserts here including these fruit tarts, and below, Japanese-style cheesecake.

gladys cheesecake

The Hawaii Prince is at 100 Holomoana St. The Prince Court Buffet is open for breakfast 6 to 10:30 a.m. Mondays to Saturdays and 6 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. Sundays ; Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; lunch 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays, and seafood dinner buffet 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. daily. Call (808) 944-4494. View menu details here.

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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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Food & Wine Fest adds Maui events

By
April 14th, 2015



Shep Gordon, left, will be honored for his contributions to Hawaii's food scene during an industry event during an event at the Hyatt Regency Maui. He was serving onion and ginger soup with John Dittmar, of Pinnacle Entertainment.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Shep Gordon, left, will be honored for his contributions to Hawaii's food scene during an industry event during an event at the Hyatt Regency Maui. He was serving onion and ginger soup with John Dittmar, of Pinnacle Entertainment.

I was wondering why a putting contest would be part of the 2015 Hawai'i Food & Wine Festival launch party that took place Monday at the Halekulani. All came clear when it was announced of the event's expansion to three days on the island of Maui, with the participation of the Kaanapali Beach Resort Association.

In the fifth anniversary year of the event founded by chefs Roy Yamaguchi and Alan Wong, the festival is expected to welcome more than 10,000 attendees on Hawai‘i island, Maui and O‘ahu over two weeks this fall, beginning Aug. 29. Tickets are available at www.HFWF.me.

Among the four events slated for Maui will the Hawai‘i Food & Wine Festival Roy’s Annual Golf Classic beginning at noon Sept. 4 on the Kaanapali Golf Course. Tickets start at $600 for the opportunity to tee off with celebrity chefs, winemakers and golf pros, with gourmet food, beer and cocktails available throughout the course.

During last night's event, I showed off my form of one-handed no aim putting that delivers holes in one in the newsroom. Alas, in the newsroom, the cup for the ball is backed against a file cabinet. There was no stopper at the Halekulani so my ball sailed directly over the hole. I guess I don't know my own strength. My second ball veered off immediately to the side, like my bowling form. I don't think I will be golfing during the festival.

Here's what was on the table on Monday:

Pili Group's Mark Noguchi's kajiki-stuffed bread with kako'o roots.

Pili Group's Mark Noguchi's kajiki-stuffed bread with kako'o roots.

Gooch also presented spicy Ni'ihau eland over soft tofu, with crispy rice and green onions. What's funny is everyone thought they were eating beef, not a genus of antelope.

Gooch also presented spicy Ni'ihau eland over soft tofu, with crispy rice and green onions. What's funny is everyone thought they were eating beef, not a genus of antelope.

Guests loved Hank's Haute Dogs mushroom dog. Also offered was a Hawaiian dog with pineapple relish.

Guests loved Hank's Haute Dogs mushroom dog. Also offered was a Hawaiian dog with pineapple relish.

Koko Head Cafe's Lee Anne Wong combined the best of both worlds, savory and sweet, with her banana foie gras cake topped with bacon caramel. So good my friend had to have two!

Koko Head Cafe's Lee Anne Wong combined the best of both worlds, savory and sweet, with her banana foie gras cake topped with bacon caramel. So good my friend had to have two!

Lee Anne Wong also presented spicy Niihau Ranch lamb laab, or larb, in a lettuce wrap.

Lee Anne Wong also presented spicy Niihau Ranch lamb laab, or larb, in a lettuce wrap.

Loved this dessert from Halekulani pastry chef Mark Freischidt: coconut centerpiece with lychee sorbet, lime gelée and meringues. So delicate, but flavorful.

Loved this dessert from Halekulani pastry chef Mark Freischidt: coconut centerpiece with lychee sorbet, lime gelée and meringues. So delicate, but flavorful.

Coffee drinkers would probably have preferred Freischmidt's peaberry coffee orb with hazelnut cream center, chocolate biscotti and blueberry crumb.

Coffee drinkers would probably have preferred Freischmidt's peaberry coffee orb with hazelnut cream center, chocolate biscotti and blueberry crumb.

We could also eat the Halekulani display of chocolate branches accented with gold leaf.

We could also eat the Halekulani display of chocolate branches accented with gold leaf.

Another Maui highlight will be Hawaiian Airlines Presents Legend of Shep Gordon from 5 to 9:30 p.m. Sept. 6 at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa in Lahaina. Ticket prices are $250 general admission, $500 for VIP access to the screening of "Supermensch: Legend of Shep Gordon," produced in 2013 by Mike Meyers to honor the man who has coached, counseled, supported and helped many of his friends in the entertainment and culinary industries.

The festival will honor Gordon with a six-course dinner created by six of his chef friends: Robert Del Grande (RDG + Bar Annie, Houston), Celestino Drago (Drago Restaurant Group, Los Angeles), Dean Fearing (Fearing’s, Dallas), Greg Grohowski (Hyatt Maui, Lahaina),Nancy Silverton (Mozza, Los Angeles), Mark Tarbell (Tarbell’s, Phoenix).

In opening remarks, the festival's executive director Denise Yamaguchi said that from the beginning, Roy Yamaguchi stressed the event would not work unless it was world class, so they sought to bring in internationally respected and celebrity chefs who would eventually go home and share word of Hawaii's food scene and bounty of fresh ingredients, produce and value-added products sourced from local farmers, fishermen and food purveyors.

She stressed that lives touched by the event are not exclusive to the industry, but the airlines, hotels, tech companies, media and more.

On Oahu, one of the new events will be an Urban Luau at SALT in Kaka'ako, featuring chefs with connections to the area, including Peter Merriman, who got his start on Hawaii Island, and since has conquered the island chain. He will be opening a new concept at SALT. Other participants are Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar, Haili's Hawaiian Food, Helena's Hawaiian Food, Highway Inn, Paepae o He‘eia, and more.

The event will also mark the first-time participation of the Kahala Hotel, which will be hosting an industry event, "Dream a Bigger Dream."

Otherwise, popular events from past years return, including the fifth annual Halekulani Culinary Masters Gala Series: Indulge 5 to 10 p.m. Sept. 11 (tickets are $1,000 each); Hawaiian Airlines Presents Corks & Forks Pacific Coast 5 to 9 p.m. Sept. 12 at Hawai'i Convention Center; and closing event Beauty & the Feast from 5 to 9 p.m. Sept. 13 at Ko Olina Resort with Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa.

But no event got more of a buzz from the crowd than the unexpected announcement of a yoga and cocktail event on Oahu, with details to come.

With a multi-year partnership with First Hawaiian Bank and MasterCard, those booking events with Mastercard will receive preferred access to select events.

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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.

Koko Head Cafe's secret menu

By
April 1st, 2015



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comLee Anne Wong spoons sauce over Volcano Meatballs on focaccia during a Secret Menu dinner. No, it wasn't spicy, just red as lava.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Lee Anne Wong spoons sauce over Volcano Meatballs on focaccia during a Secret Menu dinner. No, it wasn't spicy, just red as lava.

Koko Head Cafe was the site of the second in food writer Sean Morris' Secret Menu dining series. As a culinary insider, he's privvy to dishes chefs are able to pull together with ingredients in their kitchen, that are not on their formal menus. These dishes are generally available by request, staff time permitting.

The dishes they build are often the things they like to eat themselves, and at Koko Head Cafe represent, that meant a no-holds barred feeding frenzy far more decadent than anything you could create for yourself at home, considering what they're starting with. Imagine: A whole deep-fried Jidori chicken karaage burger topped with sugar-coated billionaire's bacon and rich mushroom gravy, on sweetbread bun, arriving halfway through the meal.

Then there was Donburi Chen, named after fellow chef William Chen, who helped Koko Head Cafe chef Lee Anne Wong in preparations for her book, "Dumplings All Day Wong." After preparing a meal for all who helped her, Chen insisted he put this particular dish on her menu, a sweet chili glazed pork and egg combo over greens with black garlic "soil."

With chefs trying to outdo each other with each dinner presented, there was a generous amount of food, and with nine similarly weighted courses, there was plenty of to-go boxes being handed out at the end of the meal.

If you are intrigued by any of these dishes, it doesn't hurt to inquire about availability. I was particularly enamored of another over-the-top course of a kim chee hash brown Reuben, which I would love to have again ... next time starting with an empty stomach!

The Parmesan and basil finished meatballs.

The Parmesan and basil finished meatballs.

Haloa gnocchi, comprising luau leaf and pa'i'ai, with coconut cream.

Haloa gnocchi, comprising luau leaf and pa'i'ai, with coconut cream.

Call it over the top, but the kim chee hash brown Reuben was my favorite dish of the evening. I will definitely be back for this. The slaw makes it healthy, right?

Call it over the top, but the kim chee hash brown Reuben was my favorite dish of the evening. I will definitely be back for this. The slaw makes it healthy, right?

The Koko Head Cafe staff gets creative in building their daily "kitchen sink salads." On this night it was all about fried tofu on a bed of greens beautifully garnished with Ali'i mushrooms, watermelon and timely Easter egg radishes, with the crunch of bubu arare.

The Koko Head Cafe staff gets creative in building their daily "kitchen sink salads." On this night it was all about fried tofu on a bed of greens beautifully garnished with Ali'i mushrooms, watermelon and timely Easter egg radishes, with the crunch of bubu arare.

By the time the Jidori chicken sandwich arrived, people were beginning to feel stuffed and we could not believe we each received a whole sandwich. We thought they would be quartered, because that's all I could handle of this mochiko fried chicken topped with cheese, billionaire's bacon and mushroom gravy on sweetbread bun. Oy! This proved to be a favorite of many. I loved the gravy the most, with all its glorious mushroom essence. Because our table of four shared a couple of sandwiches, I was able to take home 3/4 of mine to enjoy the next day. (It was just as good!)

By the time the Jidori chicken sandwich arrived, people were beginning to feel stuffed and we could not believe we each received a whole sandwich. We thought they would be quartered, because that's all I could handle of this mochiko fried chicken topped with cheese, billionaire's bacon and mushroom gravy on sweetbread bun. Oy! This proved to be a favorite of many. I loved the gravy the most, with all its glorious mushroom essence. Because our table of four shared a couple of sandwiches, I was able to take home 3/4 of mine to enjoy the next day. (It was just as good!)

Next up was a soothing bowl of jook topped with scallions and scallion sauce, chili flakes, bubu arare, chili oil and Indonesian sweet soy sauce, all meant to be stirred in. A pinch more salt and heat would have been nice.

Next up was a soothing bowl of jook topped with scallions and scallion sauce, chili flakes, bubu arare, chili oil and Indonesian sweet soy sauce, all meant to be stirred in. Because the shoyu was more sweet than salty, a pinch more salt, and heat, would have been nice.

By the time Donburi Chen—named after fellow chef William Chen who prompted Wong to add it to her menu—arrived, I was sad I had but one stomach. As delicious as this sweet chili glazed pork and egg combo was, I could not finish.

By the time the Donburi Chen arrived, I was sad I had but one stomach. As delicious as this sweet chili glazed pork and egg combo was, I could not finish.

I could not finish the pork belly and certainly couldn't add carbs to my opu so a course of Okinawan soba with miso smoked pork and caramelized and crispy fried onions also came home with me.

I could not finish the pork belly and certainly couldn't add carbs to my opu so a course of Okinawan soba with miso smoked pork and caramelized and crispy fried onions also came home with me.

Dessert was cornflake-crusted banana drizzled with lehua honey, that Wong said we should be able to finish in one bite, but no, after the feast that came before, I could only nibble. This is one instance in which I wish I could have started with dessert.

Dessert was cornflake-crusted banana drizzled with lehua honey, that Wong said we should be able to finish in one bite, but no, after the feast that came before, I could only nibble. This is one instance in which I wish I could have started with dessert.

During the evening, chef Lee Anne Wong took the opportunity to give shoutouts to her kitchen staff, including Clark Neugold and chef de cuisine Nicole Anderson, who will take over duties at Koko Head to allow Wong to focus on her newest endeavor, a ramen bar slated to open before summer.

———

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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