Archive for June, 2015

Mizukami hosts pasta pop-up

By
June 25th, 2015



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comChef Jonathan Mizukami created a Pasta Cafe pop-up in MW restaurant's private dining room, with an assist from his 13-year-old son Nalu.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Chef Jonathan Mizukami created a Pasta Cafe pop-up in MW restaurant's private dining room, with an assist from his 13-year-old son Nalu.

It's a shame that more people were not able to experience chef Jonathan Mizukami's food while he was at Vintage Cave, but prices there are prohibitive for most people.

The 99 percent had their opportunity to sample a smidgen of his wide-ranging capabilities when the chef presented a pop-up Pasta Café in the special events room at MW Restaurant on Monday.

The Maui-born chef started his career at Roy’s Nicolina, then Alan Wong’s Restaurant before finding his into the world's top kitchens, including The French Laundry; Ferran Adria's El Bulli during that restaurant's final year in Rosas, Spain; New York's Per Se; Chicago's Alinea; Gordon Ramsay in London; and Petrus (now Marcus), in London.

I had a wonderful birthday dinner at Vintage Cave last year; among the dishes that blew me away was an elegant matsutake royale with juniper brown butter, black trumpet mushrooms and rosemary that conveyed the fall essence of a forest floor. Without knowing his background at the time, I was impressed by his intellectual, well-considered approach to food. Hawaii rarely sees this level of mastery and artistry, one that goes beyond the purely visual.

PHOTO COURTESY JASON KIMJason Kim, a k a @Turkeyboy, lived up to his Twitter name by bringing in his own ground turkey, due to dietary limitations. Chef Mizukami obliged by preparing a simple, but wonderful pasta Bolognese for Kim, below. Of course I couldn't resist taking a bite!

COURTESY JASON KIM

Jason Kim, aka @Turkeyboy, lived up to his Twitter name by bringing in his own ground turkey, due to dietary limitations. Chef Mizukami obliged by preparing a simple, but wonderful pasta Bolognese, below. Of course I couldn't resist taking a bite!

mpop bolog

Guests were delighted by simple but well-executed dishes of gnocchi, hand-cut spaghetti and some dishes we'd never seen offered here, such as pillowy ricotta gnudi that turned out to be a new favorite of many, and toasted semolina cavatelli, a hot dog bun-shaped pasta that—without referring back to the menu—had people thinking they were mushrooms, as I was told.

I tasted it and was like, "This is not mushroom, it's pasta."

Sadly, everything was so good, and because it's hard to keep track of just how much you're eating when multiple small plates are involved, I ate until my stomach hurt.

Hopefully, the next time Mizukami does something like this I'll have more lead time to get the word out.

Mascarpone-enriched sweet pea ravioli with accents of mint and chopped pistachios was among my favorite dishes of the evening.

Mascarpone-enriched sweet pea ravioli with accents of mint and chopped pistachios was among my favorite dishes of the evening.

Also loved the spiciness and crispiness of bacony guanciale topping hand-cut spaghetti with San Marzano sauce.

Also loved the spiciness and crispiness of bacony guanciale topping hand-cut spaghetti with San Marzano sauce.

It took us a long time to order the gnudi, simply because we didn't know what it was, but everyone was pleased to wrap their tongues around this literally "naked" dumpling of ricotta and Parmigiano-Reggiano and hazelnuts, devoid of pasta wrapper. Once we ordered one dish, two more rounds were requested.

It took us a long time to order the gnudi, simply because we didn't know what it was, but everyone was pleased to wrap their tongues around this literally "naked" dumpling of ricotta and Parmigiano-Reggiano and hazelnuts, devoid of pasta wrapper. Once we ordered one dish, two more rounds were requested.

One person at our table said he never understood the appeal of gnocchi, but nevertheless enjoyed his fair share of Mizukamis hand-rolled Russet potato gnocchi with Parmigiano-Reggiano and brown butter. This was another dish that kept coming, about six platefuls for eight people.

One person at our table said he never understood the appeal of gnocchi, but nevertheless enjoyed his fair share of Mizukamis hand-rolled Russet potato gnocchi with Parmigiano-Reggiano and brown butter. This was another dish that kept coming, about six platefuls for eight people.

I also loved the shredded kale salad with bits of apple wood-smoked bacon, shaved Pecorino and the heat of chili flakes.

I also loved the shredded kale salad with bits of apple wood-smoked bacon, shaved Pecorino and the heat of chili flakes.

Black truffle and sea urchin risotto is one of those dishes people like or don't like depending on their affinity for uni. I liked it just fine, but the urchin taste was too strong for some. Enriched with whipped cream and preserved Perigord truffles, it was the priciest dish of the evening, at $40.

Black truffle and sea urchin risotto is one of those dishes people like or don't like depending on their affinity for uni. I liked it just fine, but the urchin taste was too strong for some. Enriched with whipped cream and preserved Perigord truffles, it was the priciest dish of the evening, at $40.

Dessert of Hawaiian vanilla panna cotta topped with farmer's market fruit, including sweet mango.

Dessert of Hawaiian vanilla panna cotta topped with farmer's market fruit, including sweet mango.

Affogato with waffle, strong coffee liqueur and vanilla bean ice cream.

Affogato with waffle, strong coffee liqueur and vanilla bean ice cream.

For now, one of the next MW events to put on your calendars is Brunch! The collab event will feature b. patisserie San Francisco's Belinda Leong and Michel Suas from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Aug. 1 and 2. The cost is $50 per person and reservations are being taken at (808) 955-6505.

This is one you shouldn't miss for the James Beard Award-nominated Leong's divine confections. The two also recently opened B. On the Go cross the street from b. patisserie, to expand production due to popular demand for their kouign amanns and other pastries, as well as grab-and-go sandwiches.

My experience of the kouign amann, was being asked to bring some home from my last trip to San Francisco. Such a pain to stop here and there for stuff and bring them home, right?

So I picked it up en route to the airport at 3 p.m. S.F. time, and while waiting for the plane had a nibble. It was good! The buttery, slow-baked Breton cake is as light as a croissant with a delicate, crisp caramelized sugar crust.

Got home. Headed straight from the airport to a dinner event, kouign amanns in hand. Meal ended at 11 p.m. and three of my friends and I found ourselves in the darkened parking lot surreptitiously gobbling up the pastries like junkies hiding from other dinner guests who might be leaving.

It was well worth the side trip, but will be even better when we can enjoy a taste of b. patisserie by the light of day!

And yes, Belinda will be making those kouign amanns. No guarantee they'll bake up the same in humid Hawaii, but given that it was still extraordinary after 11 hours on the plane and on the ground that one time, I'm guessing it'll be at least as great as I remember.

———

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.

Pancake party

By
June 24th, 2015



Whether you call it a pancake, flapjack or griddle cake, the breakfast staple is a favorite as is, but that doesn’t stop chefs from trying to put their own spin on it.

NADINE KAM / NKAM@STARADVERTISER.COMGreen tea pancakes from Holoholo Bar & Grill.

NADINE KAM / NKAM@STARADVERTISER.COM

Green tea pancakes from Holoholo Bar & Grill.

At Cinnamon’s you’ll find a red velvet version, while at YogurStory it goes deep into purple with purple yam, Okinawan sweet potato and ube-coconut sauce.

And now that Holoholo Bar & Grill has added breakfast to its repertoire, you can find a green tea pancake ($11) inspired by Bubbies green tea ice cream.

Don’t let the color scare you. These pancakes are light and cakey, a dream for those who love the flavor of matcha.

And if pancakes don’t appeal, my other favorite item on Holoholo’s breakfast menu is the Smoke Meat Gahlik Fly Lice. (Can tell they’re local.)

Holoholo Bar & Grill is at 2494 S. Beretania St. Call (808) 369-7297.

Cinnamon's is located at 315 Uluniu St. Call (808) 261-8724.

Yogurstory is located at 815 Keeaumoku St. Call (808) 942-0505.

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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.

BLT Steak serves Kualoa oysters

By
June 18th, 2015



PHOTO COURTESY BLT STEAKOysters from Kualoa Ranch are topped with smoked avocado/caviar as recommended by BLT Steak chef Johan Svensson. He also recommends trying smokey flavored Chipotle Tabasco.

COURTESY BLT STEAK

BLT Steak Waikiki is presenting an exclusive offering of local oysters from Kualoa Ranch, starting today.

Last year, Kualoa Ranch started selling the first locally grown Pacific and Kumamoto oysters in decades. Growing more quickly in Hawaii's temperate weather than on the mainland, these homegrown oysters are described as being savory and kelpy.

The oysters will be sold one to two days a week, depending on availability, at $22 for a half dozen, and $42 for a dozen.

At right, oysters from Kualoa Ranch are topped with smoked avocado and caviar as recommended by Chef Johan Svensson. He also recommends trying them with chipotle-flavored Tabasco.

BLT Steak Waikiki is in the Trump Hotel Waikiki, 223 Saratoga Road. Call (808) 683-7440.

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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.

SKY Waikiki turns job hunt into event

By
June 18th, 2015



PHOTOS COURTESY SKY WAIKIKIAn early rendering of SKY Waikiki interior.

PHOTOS COURTESY SKY WAIKIKI

An early rendering of SKY Waikiki's interior.

After plans to open in Spring 2014, SKY Waikiki is finally set to open Aug. 29 and is gearing up with an unusual two-day hiring event.

To entice applicants to pledge allegiance to what will be a rooftop bistro, lounge and nightclub, there will be entertainment, door prizes and cash giveaways during the search taking place from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday.

Borrowing from big-city playbooks where models are on the front lines of many establishments, head shots of applicants are encouraged, if available. Resumes are required. And all applicants will be entered into a prize drawing to win more than $1,000 in cash and prizes.

The hiring event takes place at Waikiki Shopping Plaza, the lower level at 2250 Kalakaua Ave.

SKY 2

There are positions for:

» Bartenders

» Cocktail Servers

» VIP Hosts

» Hosts/Hostesses

» Security Associates

» Promoters

» Food Runners

» Server Assistants

» Bar Apprentices

» Kitchen Staff

» Maintenance / Day cleaner

For more information, visit www.skywaikiki.com.

———

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.

Food play at Thank Q Pocha

By
June 17th, 2015



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comA whole roast chicken is crowned with squid at Thank Q Pocha.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

A whole roast chicken is crowned with squid at Thank Q Pocha.

Back and forth I go, from serious eats last week to the playful at Thank Q Pocha. Just after I said I have trouble with chefs playing with food, here's a restaurant that carries the idea of play to the extreme.

The difference is, Thank Q Pocha doesn't give the impression of begging "look at me" or trying to reinvent cuisine. It's just inviting the diner to have fun, and putting the diner first is a worthy pursuit.

The pocha is the Korean equivalent of the Japanese izakaya, so bring the party as food and drinks flow from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily.

Drinks are a large part of the pocha experience. Orange and apple soju come in their respective hollowed out fruit "cups."

Drinks are a large part of the pocha experience. Orange and apple soju come in their respective hollowed out fruit "cups."

The spicy Military Stew features phó ingredients over ramen, topped with chap chae-filled blood sausage. Five people could not finish this dish, and the remnants are tossed with rice to create a fried rice more comforting to this westerner than the stew itself.

The spicy Military Stew features phó ingredients over ramen, topped with chap chae-filled blood sausage. Five people could not finish this dish, and the remnants are tossed with rice to create a fried rice more comforting to this westerner than the stew itself.

The premium and literal Shark Attack features strawberry puree blood poured from the mouth of a plastic shark you get to take home.

The premium and literal Shark Attack features strawberry puree "blood" poured from the mouth of a plastic shark you get to take home.

Spoon pizza has a lot more cheese than garlic bread to go with it.

Spoon pizza has a lot more cheese than garlic bread to go with it.

Fresh mandoo and more cheese, with butter and corn, layered over a few grains of rice.

Fresh mandoo and more cheese, with butter and corn, layered over a few grains of rice.

I'm not a big fan of toppoki, the chewy mochi tubes, because I'm not a big carb fan, but someone had to have the basic dish.

I'm not a big fan of toppoki, the chewy mochi tubes, because I'm not a big carb fan, but someone had to have the basic dish.

The restaurant is in the space that was once home to Territorial Savings and later, Sushi San, on Kapiolani Boulevard, near Bank of Hawaii's Ala Moana Center branch. The first time I visited, I thought I was at the wrong place because the first word I saw painted on the glass windows was "Gracias." But look some more, and you'll find thanks in other languages as well.

If you’re after purely Korean flavors, this is not the place. The menu is a fusion of casual Asian and the American fast food, french fries ($5) and onion rings ($6) meets edamame ($5) and toppoki, the tubular, chewy rice cake ($8 to $15), with cheese apparently the newly annointed food crush overseas.

A light, fluffy and giant shareable omelet was one of my favorite dishes.

A light, fluffy and giant shareable omelet was one of my favorite dishes.

Garlic fried chicken was much more flavorful than the sweet-spicy fried chicken, below. When I ordered the latter, it was undersauced so looked nothing like its picture.

Garlic fried chicken was much more flavorful than the sweet-spicy fried chicken, below. When I ordered the latter, it was undersauced so looked nothing like its picture.

q chick

The steam rises above spicy seafood soup, another favorite.

The steam rises above spicy seafood soup, another favorite.

The Korean pancake was more flour than filling. You know how I feel about carbs.

The Korean pancake was more flour than filling. You know how I feel about carbs.

Thank Q is a place for the young, those whose bodies are still able to process those myriad cheese dishes, the fried chicken specialties, carb-laden toppoki and shareable stew platters that fill the menu.

Tolerance of K-Pop is also a must.

Thank Q Pocha is at 1411 Kapiolani Boulevard, open from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily. The cost is about $80 for four, without drinks. Call (808) 954-5384.

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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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