Archive for July, 2015

Going bananas at Hawaiian Pie Co.

By
July 31st, 2015



PHOTO BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comBanana pie is August's pie of the month at Hawaiian Pie Co., where the pies will be available beginning tomorrow.

NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Banana pie is August's pie of the month at Hawaiian Pie Co.

If you're among the hundreds who fell in love with Hawaiian Pie Co.'s July pie of the month, the POG pie, you'd better get there today for the last of your fill before it makes way for August's special.

Working their way through the compendium of local fruit, the Hori clan settled on a wonderful three-pound, deep-dish buttery banana pie that will be available during the month of August. The cost is $23 frozen, or $24 baked.

While picking up the last of the POG pies today, you'll also spot Grandpa Yasu's grab-and-go pastele pans ($3.50). If that's hard to imagine, think baked manapua with a pastele filling of pork, olives and spices. Yummers, and perfect for a quick lunch.

Hawaiian Pie Co. is located at 508 Waiakamilo Road. Call (808) 988-7828.

———

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.

A 'Stand' for contemporary Korean

By
July 29th, 2015



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comK-ramen is one of the specialties at Red Stand, a new contemporary Korean restaurant in the Samsung Plaza.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

K-ramen is one of the specialties at Red Stand, a new contemporary Korean restaurant in the Samsung Plaza.

Locals are accustomed to Korean meals with a centerpiece of grilled meat, but a new wave of contemporary Korean restaurants is veering from that format.

The latest is Red Stand, where carbs form a large part of the menu, with meat taking a secondary role.

It will probably take a while to adjust, but enter by day and you will find an array of grab-and-go fare, such as Spam musubi ($1.90) and its Korean equivalent, samgak kimbap, triangular musubi packed with such ingredients as kim chee and tuna, beef bulgogi, spicy pork, and spicy squid, at $2.25 each. It's like a smaller version of Mana Bu's.

The restaurant is small and cozy.

The restaurant is small and cozy.

If you choose to stay, dining here is like being fed by your mom, starting with the tidy bentos packed to-go—sending you off to a day at school or work—to tableside service as staffers, currently all women, carefully stir dishes of tteokbokki (spicy rice cake) and stews so you don’t go splattering red gochujang sauce all over yourselves.

There is a definite feminine vibe to the room that is cozy, clean and appointed with floral touches and teddy bears dressed in Red Stand logo shirts. The bears are gifts to customers who spend a minimum of $50.

And the gluten-free demographic may appreciate the presence of rice burgers, with white rice buns standing in for the usual wheat bun. The combination of rice, with centers of kalbi ($3.95), beef bulgogi, spicy chicken, and spicy pork ($3.75 per burger), amounts to eating a giant musubi or a hand-held plate lunch.

Spend $50 on a meal, and the small bear in the logo tee is yours.

Spend $50 on a meal, and the small bear in the logo tee is yours.

For the gluten averse, there are rice burgers, such as this one with kalbi center ($3.95). It's like eating a giant musubi, or plate lunch in your hands.

For the gluten averse, there are rice burgers, such as this one with kalbi center ($3.95). It's like eating a giant musubi, or plate lunch in your hands.

One of my favorite dishes here is the shrimp fried rice, the rice flavored with seafood broth to give it beautiful depth.

One of my favorite dishes here is the shrimp fried rice, the rice flavored with seafood broth to give it beautiful depth.

Mini set bentos can be prepared for those looking for a quick, simple and inexpensive breakfast or lunch. The smallest is a combo of Spam musubi and scrambled egg, accompanied by your choice of kim chee, miso or corn soup, for $4.50. There's nothing particularly exciting about it, but it's polished and comforting.

If you're a diehard meat eater, this probably won't be the place for you. You won't find the heaps of grilled chicken, kalbi and other meats associated with old-school Korean take-out spots. In their place you'll find more carbs in the form of fried rice, tteokbokki and K-ramen (read: instant, which is what's popular in Korea, where they have yet to embrace the notion of artisan noodles) and stews that serve two or three, cooked over a hot plate.

In spite of the instant status of the noodles, the broth, like most of what's served here, is cooked from scratch and the ramen is beautifully presented in a covered pot. Seafood ramen ($7.95) is topped with shrimp, squid and negi. Other ramen options are topped with spicy beansprouts ($5.95), cheese ($5.95), kim chee ($6.95), and ham ($5.95).

Many who dine here gravitate toward the tteokbokki, also known by the more Western-user friendly name topokki. I've mentioned before that I'm not a big fan of carbs, so generally steer clear of these thick, tubular rice cakes. At most places, they're usually reconstituted from dry form with the tendency to be hard and chewy. No thanks. But Red Stand makes its rice cakes from scratch so they're much softer and pillowy. One order of tteokbokki, at $9.95 to $18.95, generally serves two. A large serving will serve three to four, at $15.95 to $27.95.

The restaurant also specializes in housemade tteokbokki, also known by the more Western user-friendly name toppoki. This is the seafood version with shrimp, clams, mussels and fishcake.

The restaurant also specializes in housemade tteokbokki, also known by the more Western user-friendly name toppoki. This is the seafood version with shrimp, clams, mussels and fishcake.

Spicy sausage stew might better be described as a lunch meat stew. The meat comprises ham, Vienna sausage and Spam, cooked over a hot plate with bean sprouts, green and white onions, cabbage, carrots, beans and tofu.

Spicy sausage stew might better be described as a lunch meat stew. The meat comprises ham, Vienna sausage and Spam, cooked over a hot plate with bean sprouts, green and white onions, cabbage, carrots, beans and tofu.

A twist on bi bim bap, with the rice swapped out for noodles.

A twist on bi bim bap, with the rice swapped out for noodles.

Sujebi, a soup with filling-less "dumplings" is a specialty that I just don't get because I don't crave unnecessary carbs.

Sujebi, a soup with filling-less dumplings is a specialty that I just don't get because I don't crave carbs.

The seafood version ($18.95/$27.95) features shrimp, mussels, clams and thin sheets of fishcake, with cabbage, carrots and negi. To these ingredients you can add on such extras as ramen ($3) added to the broth at the end of the meal, hard-boiled egg ($1 each), cheese ($2) or fried mandoo ($2.50). The mandoo features a housemade wrap, so it arrives looking more like a misshapen pancake, with filling that's milder than usual, without as much of the oil and salt component of typical dumplings.

The spicy sausage stew ($27) might be considered a Hawaiian lunch meat special because of the array of processed meat in it: Portuguese sausage, Spam, Vienna sausage, ham, and one of my friends swears he tasted a slice of bologne, beautifully arranged before it's tossed with tofu, negi, cabbage, bean sprouts, onion, cabbage and beans.

Finish a meal, or simply stop in for dessert of bing soo, or Korean shave ice ($7.25), with green tea, strawberry or red bean granite topped with pastel mochi, slivered almonds, dried cranberries and fresh fruit. It's one more way to cool off this summer.

Korean-style shave ice, or bing soo, is available for dessert. Options include strawberry, green tea, mango and coffee flavors for $7.25 to $8.95. This one is green tea.

Korean-style shave ice, or bing soo, is available for dessert. Options include strawberry, green tea, mango and coffee flavors for $7.25 to $8.95. This one is green tea.

Red Stand is in the Samsung Plaza, 655 Keeaumoku St., open 7 to 10 p.m. daily (subject to change). Call (808) 947-7272.

———

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.

Beat the heat at Taormina

By
July 29th, 2015



PHOTOS COURTESY TAORMINA SICILIAN CUISINE The colors of summer are on the plate at Taormina Sicilian Cuisine, where a chilled spaghettini with avocado, tomatoes and dill is one of the new mid-summer menu additions.

PHOTOS COURTESY TAORMINA SICILIAN CUISINE

The colors of summer are on the plate at Taormina Sicilian Cuisine, where a chilled spaghettini with avocado, tomatoes and dill is one of the new mid-summer menu additions.

Taormina Sicilian Cuisine has added a handful of midsummer dishes to its menu to take some of the heat out of 90-degree days.

The offerings begin with a refreshing peach bellini ($21) of champagne and peach puree, followed by executive chef Hiroyuki Mimura’s light, chilled summer spaghettini ($19) that won’t weigh you down. The pasta is tossed with a light tomato sauce, avocado, arugula, tomatoes and dill.

A peach compote ($12) over orange granite is a fantastic meal ender that won’t leave you in need of a siesta.

If you can stomach heavier dishes, a truffle-topped carbonara ($48) and tender slow-baked chicken with brown butter-caper sauce ($24) are not to be missed.

Start your meal by cooling off with a peach bellini.

Start your meal by cooling off with a peach bellini.

The $75 Trinacria Collection starts with a first course of mini puff pastry and chilled pea soup, folloowed by seared ahi with pickled hearts of palm.

The $75 Trinacria Collection starts with a first course of mini puff pastry and chilled pea soup, folloowed by seared ahi with pickled hearts of palm.


Chef Hiroyuki Mimura, below, shaves truffle over carbonara ($48 seasonal pricing).

Chef Hiroyuki Mimura, below, shaves truffle over carbonara ($48 seasonal pricing).

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Even a simple dish of chicken with brown butter-caper sauce is a standout here.

Even a simple dish of chicken with brown butter-caper sauce is a standout here.

Not new but ordered for the food porn effect, was the restaurant's classic Italian Ricci Di Mare Uni pasta ($33).

Not new but ordered for the food porn effect, was the restaurant's classic Italian Ricci Di Mare Uni pasta ($33).

We swooned over this dessert of a poached white peach with ice cream, over orange granite. So wonderfully refreshing!

We swooned over this dessert of a poached white peach with ice cream, over orange granite. So wonderfully refreshing!

Taormina is at Waikiki Beach Walk, 227 Lewers St. Call (808) 926-5050.

———

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.

RELATED VIDEO:

Veggie burger smackdown

By
July 23rd, 2015



PHOTOS COURTESY PHYSICIANS COMMITTEE FOR RESPONSIBLE MEDICINEEquinox chef/owner Todd Gray created four new sauces and toppings for his FLOTUS burger, in honor of Capitol Hill vegetarians, including Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

PHOTOS COURTESY PHYSICIANS COMMITTEE FOR RESPONSIBLE MEDICINE

Equinox chef/owner Todd Gray created four new sauces and toppings for his FLOTUS burger, in honor of Capitol Hill vegetarians, including Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

Proceedings on Capitol Hill can be dry, but the inaugural Congressional Veggie Burger Smackdown that took place yesterday brought some levity to the serious subject of the correlation between food and health.

The nonprofit Physicians Committee teamed up with the bipartisan Vegetarian Caucus to host the smackdown for Hill staffers looking for a healthful alternative to the North American Meat Institute's annual Hot Dog Lunch that took place the same day, just ahead of today, designated National Hot Dog Day.

Equinox chef Todd Gray's vegan FLOTUS burger was topped with a new caramelized black pepper-pineapple topping to honor the Hawaii state fruit, and vegetarian Congresswoman Rep Tulsi Gabbard.

Chef Gray found inspiration in the state's fruits and vegetables, including the pineapple for his Hawaii sauce, created in honor of Tulsi Gabbard.

Chef Gray found inspiration in the state's fruits and vegetables, including the pineapple for his Hawaii burger, created in honor of Tulsi Gabbard.


Gray also prepared a slow-cooked tomato sauce to honor Gabbard's fellow Congress vegetarians Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.); roasted corn and sweet pepper salsa for Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), and a savory blend of shredded carrot and orange jam for Rep. Ted Deutch (Fla.)

The FLOTUS burger comprises a mix of mushrooms, black beans and quinoa. It is a veggie version of chef Spike Mendelsohn's Prez Obama Burgers. Members of Congress and their staff were able to sample the FLOTUS burgers and vote on their favorite sauce.

When the votes were tallied, New Jersey took first place with 36 percent of the votes, followed by Hawaii with 35 percent of the votes, then Florida, with 15 percent of the votes.

Noting that personalities like Beyoncé and former president Bill Clinton dramatically improved their health by opting for vegetarian fare, the Physicians Committee wants to extend this trend by calling attention to other individuals who embrace a plant-based diet, and showing that healthful foods can taste delicious.

The event was staged to offer a healthier alternative to the annual American Meat Institute Hot Dog Lunch that took place the same day.

The event was staged to offer a healthier alternative to the annual American Meat Institute Hot Dog Lunch that took place the same day.

bline

The physicians group also wanted to educate attendees about the dangers of hot dogs and other processed meats, warning that studies show that processed meats are linked to cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and that ingestimg hot dogs, bacon and sausage may increase colorectal cancer by 21 percent.

A panel of America's top nutrition experts recently warned against processed meat products and encouraged the U.S. government to exclude them from the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The panel also found that 89 percent of Americans fall short on daily vegetable consumption.

While Democrats and Republicans rarely see eye to eye, Neal Barnard, M.D., Physicians Committee president, said in a press release statement: "I think both sides of the aisle can agree that fruits and veggies should replace disease-causing hot dogs on Capitol Hill and in the American diet.

"It's never too early or too late to plant the seed about foods that have the power to transform your health, and in many cases, transform your life."

The Physicians Committee was founded in 1985, and comprises more than 12,000 doctor members. The organization promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.

A salad and fruit kebabs accompanied the vegan FLOTUS burger.

A salad and fruit kebabs accompanied the vegan FLOTUS burger.

bfruit

Votes for the best sauce were cast with marbles, with Hawaii's pineapple burger taking second place.

Votes for the best sauce were cast with marbles, with Hawaii's pineapple burger taking second place.

Here is the recipe for both burger and pineapple topping:

Chef Todd Gray's FLOTUS Burger

Ingredients:

» 1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil

» 1/2 medium onion, minced

» 2 cloves garlic, minced

» 8 shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, and sliced

» 1 tablespoon chili powder

» 1 teaspoon onion powder

» 1 teaspoon garlic powder

» 1/2 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika (pimenton)

» 1 cup cooked or canned no-salt-added black beans

» 1 cup cooked red quinoa

» 1/2 cup rolled oats (do not use instant)

» 2 cups plain panko

» Kosher salt

» Freshly ground black pepper

» 2 tablespoons egg replacer, such as Ener-G

» 1 cup water

» 5 multigrain vegan buns, toasted

Instructions:

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, stir in the onion and garlic. Cook for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, then add the mushrooms; cook for 5 minutes, then add the chili, onion and garlic powders, and the smoked paprika; cook for 2 minutes, stirring to distribute evenly.

Transfer the mixture to a food processor. Add the black beans, quinoa, oats, and 1/2 cup of the panko; pulse to a coarse-paste consistency, then transfer to a mixing bowl. Season lightly with salt and pepper; stir to incorporate. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, and up to 1 day.

Whisk together the egg replacer and water in a medium bowl.

When ready to cook, form the chilled burger mixture into 4 equal-size patties. Spread the remaining 1-1/2 cups of panko on a plate. Whisk together the egg-replacer and water in a medium bowl to form a smooth slurry.

Briefly dip each patty into the egg replacer slurry so it's coated on both sides, then gently press into the panko until evenly coated on all sides. (Discard excess slurry and panko.)

Heat a medium cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Generously grease with cooking oil spray, then add the burgers. Cook about 5 minutes on each side, reducing the heat as needed to avoid scorching, until a nicely browned crust forms. Use more cooking oil spray as needed-including on the burgers themselves-to keep the burgers from sticking or becoming too dry.

Place the burgers on the bottom buns. Top each burger with equal portions of your favorite sauce and condiments. Makes 5 servings.

Caramelized Pineapple with Cracked Pepper

Ingredients:

» 1 pineapple, cored and sliced (1/8-inch thick)

» Sugar, for dusting

» Fresh cracked black pepper

Instructions:

Preheat broiler to 500 F.

Place sliced pineapple on cookie sheet. Dust with sugar and top with cracked black pepper, and place under preheated broiler until golden brown (about 3-4 minutes).

Place rings on veggie burger. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

———

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.

The mother lode of loco moco

By
July 22nd, 2015



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comThe prime rib loco moco is one of eight loco moco options offered daily at Aloha Terrace.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

The prime rib loco moco is one of eight loco moco options offered daily at Aloha Terrace.

Maybe you haven’t noticed, but the loco moco has become an object of adoration over the past decade — to the Japanese.

The height, breadth and girth of the dish, the audacity of layers of messy ingredients, the decadent pool of brown gravy topped with a fried egg yolk eye staring back at you, has runaway appeal to imaginations generally tamped down by generations of decorum and finesse. In Japan, there is poetry in cuisine, which is very different from American pursuit summed up here as "mo' biggah, mo' bettah."

Meanwhile, Japan's pursuit of simple elegance is evidenced by tidy mounds of sushi, compact domes of bean-paste filled mochi, and the delicacy of mousse-filled cakes in miniature.

Their obsession is our gain because there is fatigue in the same old, so it doesn’t take long for hunger for the next big thing to set in.

Chefs have been happy to offer up their enhanced versions of this local staple to keep the fascination alive for residents and travelers alike. These would include a shortrib version at Moena Cafe in Koko Marina Shopping Center; a sous vide filet mignon, Hamakua mushroom and foie gras loco moco at Japengo in the Hyatt Regency Waikiki; a smoked meat breakfast loco moco at Holoholo Bar & Grill; and prime rib loco moco at Yogurstory. (An Italian variation from another prominent restaurant is coming at the end of the month.)

For most of these places, just one loco moco on the menu suffices for their clientele, but a new cafe puts the spotlight on eight variations of the loco moco daily. Chef Keola Kanamu came up with 30 iterations for Aloha Terrace but left it up to the cafe’s owners to choose those that made it onto the daily menu. The others will appear from time to time as specials.

Kanamu said every dish is a reflection of the things he likes to eat, saying, "I make every dish as if I'm going to eat it myself. Otherwise, why bother serving it?"

If you're not in the mood for loco moco, misoyaki chicken and below, teriyaki-style mochiko beef are among the plate-lunch offerings.

If you're not in the mood for loco moco, misoyaki chicken and below, teriyaki-style mochiko beef are among the plate-lunch offerings.

aloha mochiko

The Aloha Loco Moco is the local classic. Elsewhere on the menu, you will find prime rib, plastic fork-tender braised shortribs, curry stew, beef stew and more to replace the original ground beef patty.

It’s enough to make those with weaker stomachs groan, but don’t knock it until you try it. With his classical culinary education, Kanamu starts all his dishes from scratch and there’s delicacy to his brown gravy that’s not all salt and cornstarch or powder-based as may be the case at fast-food outlets. I’m also generally not a fan of runny local-style beef stew and curry, but Kanamu’s full-bodied stews are an exception. Tender beef, potatoes, carrots and onions all maintain their fresh-from-the-market integrity, and are not reduced to mush as often the case elsewhere.

The price structure is easy to remember. For now, every plate is $10, soft drink included, with your choice of white rice or kim chee fried rice, and a choice of white spaghetti noodle pasta salad or tossed greens. The kim chee fried rice is steller, with the saturated flavors of gochujang, kim chee, Sriracha, garlic, onion, bacon and a bit of sesame oil.

If you’re not in the mood for the loco moco, half of the protein choices are available sans egg and brown gravy, in plate-lunch form. Other plate-lunch options are misoyaki chicken, mochiko chicken and mochiko beef.

Some of the dishes are nostalgic odes to area restaurants that are no longer here, said Kanamu, who grew up in Kapahulu and still makes his home there. Some of these dishes are the misoyaki chicken and shortribs inspired by Good to Grill, and mochiko beef from long-gone KK Plate Lunch, a sort of chicken fried steak infused with teriyaki flavor. It comes with a wasabi sauce for extra kick, but if you prefer a different flavor, there’s Sriracha and other communal condiments available.

The miso glaze of the misoyaki chicken doesn’t have as much of an impact on chicken as on fish, but I appreciated the light hand.

Kanamu said some have complained about the size of the plate lunches before realizing that the compact takeout container still packs in the requisite two scoops of white or kim chee fried rice, just in compressed form. If you eat until it’s all gone, you may end up over-stuffed, but the flavors make it near impossible to stop eating. Whenever I’ve eaten here for lunch, I’ve been able to skip dinner.

Aloha Terrace is located at 740 Kapahulu Ave. (at Kamuela Avenue), open for now from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. They're aiming to extend hours from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. when fully staffed. Call (808) 737-7505.

Coincidentally, this 2014 BuzzFeed video shows mainlanders' reactions to trying loco moco and other local foods for the first time. My question is, who did the prep? I think they need to come here to try it.

———

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.

Recent Posts

Recent Comments

Archives