Archive for February, 2016

Umami at work at Bombay Palace

By
February 24th, 2016



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comSpicy tandoori chicken wings at Bombay Palace. You pretty much must love cilantro, what they call dhaniya, because it tops or is incorporated into almost every dish.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Spicy tandoori chicken wings at Bombay Palace. You pretty much must love cilantro, what they call dhaniya, because it tops or is incorporated into almost every dish.

If you're on a diet, you might want to eat more Middle Eastern cuisine. I'd read about the effects of umami on satiety before, but at Bombay Palace, I experienced this science at work firsthand.

Basically, my mouth was saying, "More, more, more." But my brain and stomach were saying, "You can stop now." The food is so delicious I wanted to keep savoring every bite, but, as I mentioned in my restaurant review, in three visits I was pretty much done after eating a papadum, a single jumbo prawn, a few nibbles of tandoori chicken, and a couple of spoonfuls of curry.

It was a shocker because I'm accustomed to eating much more than that in one sitting, and in eying the small serving pots, my initial thought was, "That's not going to feed four people." And yet, four people could not finish half of four pots.

What gives?

Umami is described as the fifth taste after the basic flavor sensations of sweet, salty, bitter and sour. It encompasses the experience of savory, rich, meaty, full-bodied flavors indicative of the presence of the amino acid glutamate. When combined with proteins it delivers a satisfying mouthfeel that speeds satiety so you eat less, and feel fuller faster.

The vegetarian/vegan set will find a lot of options, including baingan bhartha, roasted eggplant, one of my favorite dishes, along with aloo matar, a simple stew of potatoes and green peas.

This all meant I ate less of my favorite cuisine than I would have liked, but there's always return trips.

Bombay Palace took over the space in Discovery Bay that was formerly home to Monsoon India. Owner Imran Khan (not the cricket star turned politician) adopted an India-related name for his restaurant for continuity and familiarity. But many of the dishes we think of as being Indian are also common in his native Pakistan, due to the nations’ shared history, before splitting into two independent nations in 1947.

In addition to the curries they share in common with neighboring Afghanistan and Iran, Pakistani cuisine incorporates the sweet-sour notes of pomegranate seeds, and in keeping with the nation’s predominately Muslim culture, there is no pork—forbidden by faith—on the menu.

Why are Middle Eastern curries some of my favorite dishes? I love the complexity of the spice and herb combinations used, and an article that appeared last March in the Washington Post explained the phenomenon. You can read the article here. But in a nutshell, although these dishes may contain only seven ingredients, their chemical compounds and the way they interact amount to almost 200 out of the roughly 381 distinct flavors known around the world.

Come and taste! And no, I didn't eat all this in one sitting. Here's what I tried over four visits:

Love the kadhai, a Pakistani dish of lamb sautéed with onions and bell peppers, served on a sizzling platter. There is also a chicken option, but I think the lamb is more flavorful. Recently $18.95.

Speaking of lamb, marinated lamb chops are also wonderful, but the cost is nearly double, at $34.

I don't typically order samosas because I often find them dry. Here, samosa chana chaat is the solution. They're topped with chopped onions and tomatoes, than drizzled with yogurt and house blends of tamarind sauce and mint chutney. It's all chopped and mixed together at the table for a moist, filling appetizer.

Curries can be eaten with rice, but I prefer to use my hands, scooping it up with a variety of delicious naan, this one flavored with garlic and cheese.

Steam rises from jumbo prawns straight from the tandoor.

Fans of coconut curries will like the savory one served here, with shrimp (pictured), chicken or mahimahi options.

Beyond kulfi, a dense ice cream, I am not a big fan of desserts from this region. Gulab jamun are housemade doughnut balls soaked in honey syrup. Would you do this to andagi? It's treacly sweet on the outside and dry on the inside.

A light, grainy rice pudding was a little better.


Taste of Tuscany at Halekulani

By
February 23rd, 2016



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Osteria Di Passignano executive chef Nicola Damiani, right, and sous chef Nearco Boninsegni enjoy conversing with guests following their "Evening with Osteria di Passignano" dinner at the Halekulani.

Halekulani welcomed Osteria Di Passignano’s Michelin-star executive chef Nicola Damiani and sous chef Nearco Boninsegni for a taste of Tuscany at the Hau Terrace on Feb. 19.

Osteria di Passignano is housed in the Abbey of Passignano within the Chianti Classico region of Tuscany. The monastery dates back to 395, when it was established by the archbishop of Florence, and it is still inhabited by monks of the Vallombrosian Order.

The restaurant is relatively young, founded in 2000 by Marcello Crini, a connoisseur of Tuscan cuisine and wine culture; and Allegra Antinori, whose family owns the vineyards around the Abbey, from which the Chianti Classico Reserve wine “Badia a Passignano” is produced, and which is aged in the cellars beneath the monastery.

"An Evening with Osteria di Passignano" highlighted Damiani's cuisine paired with Antinori wines.

PHOTO BY ALESSANDRO MOGGI A long way from home, this is a look at the interior of Osteria Di Passignano, housed in a more than 1,600-year-old Tuscan abbey.

PHOTO BY ALESSANDRO MOGGI

A long way from home, this is a look at the interior of Osteria Di Passignano, housed in a 1,600-year-old Tuscan abbey.

Transported across both Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and in an environment of coconut trees and sand instead of 1,600-year-old stone, we experienced the delicacy of the chefs' work, and assumed they brought some of their own specially ground flour for pillowy gnocchi and other dishes. But no, they used only ingredients sourced from here, once again dashing the myth that some Hawaii chefs try to perpetuate, that they are limited by climate (baking) and ingredients available to them. Oh no, no. After savoring beautiful, light tomato sauces made from local tomatoes that the chefs say are sweeter than ones back home, no one can use that excuse with me anymore.

I was particularly captivated by cacciucco accented with thin ribbons of cuttlefish, or ika, noodles, and asked Boninsegni how they're made. It turns out to be an eight hour process that starts with a good cleaning, sous vide cooking, freezing and shaving the frozen ika with a mandoline. The seafood "pasta" is then rolled up to prevent curling of the edges. The texture was amazing.

Here's what was on the menu:

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Redfish cacciucco with cuttlefish tagliatelle and crispy quinoa. Paired with Tenuta Guado al Tasso, Vermentino Bolgheri D.O.C. 2014.

Heavenly lemon-scented potato gnocchi with fennel, squid and clams. Pairing: Castello Della Sala, Cervaro Della Sala 2012.

Wine and roses. The Cervara. Look at them legs!

Fresh pasta tortelli stuffed with pappa al pomodoro over basil sauce. Pairing: Badia A Passignano Chianti Classico D.O.C.G. "Gran Selezione" 2009.

By the time the breaded veal sirloin arrived, over red pepper fondant with eggplant and zucchini, I was full, but really didn't want the meal to end. Pairing: Tenuta Guado Al Tasso Bolgheri 2010 and Marchesi Antinori Solaia 2012. I liked the Solaia best in this matchup.

By the time the breaded veal sirloin arrived, over red pepper fondant with eggplant and zucchini, I was full, but really didn't want the meal to end. Pairing: Tenuta Guado Al Tasso Bolgheri 2010 and Marchesi Antinori Solaia 2012. I liked the Solaia best in this matchup.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Dessert of chocolate clafoutis was paired with Tenuta Marchesi Antinori, Vinsanto del Chianti Classico D.O.C. 2010.

W

When the mignardises arrived, a tablemate said he knew which one I would pick. I was like, "You don't know." So he said he would write it down and darn he was right! I'm not telling you so you can guess too and I might fill you in on a later date.

After dinner, the empties.

Localicious supports Hawaii ag

By
February 23rd, 2016



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Teachers from August Ahrens Elementary School in Waipahu earned certificates for their participation in the Hawaii Agricultural Foundation's Veggie U educational program.

Some of Hawaii's top chefs gathered at Chef Zone on Monday for the launch of the 2016 "Localicious Hawaii" campaign that encourages diners to "Eat Local."

Chefs Roy Yamaguchi, Alan Wong, Vikram Garg, and Y. Hata & Co./Chef Zone's Matt Small cooked up dishes highlighting locally sourced ingredients that are the main attraction of the Localicious campaign, now in its third year.

For a month beginning March 1, participating restaurants will donate $1 for every Localicious dish ordered from their menus to the Hawaii Agricultural Foundation's Veggie U educational program supporting agricultural education in public schools. Restaurants that raise $500 are able to adopt a classroom, by offering a $500 garden kit.

The event recognized some of the teachers and restaurateurs involved in the program. This year, 148 restaurants statewide are participating in the monthlong campaign and 113 Hawaii public schools have received garden kits to foster the awareness of agriculture and food safety issues.

Denise Hayashi Yamaguchi, executive director of HAF, introduced Dean Okimoto of 'Nalo Farms, to speak in response to Andrew Gomes story in the Star-Advertiser that day, regarding a 101-page report from the state Department of Agriculture that shows where agricultural activity was lost over the last 35 years and where future crop opportunities might lie.

What’s glaring, he reported, "is the drop in the number of acres devoted to agriculture between 1980 and 2015: a decline of 200,000 acres of cropland and 340,000 acres of pastureland, representing drops of 57 percent and 31 percent, respectively."

During the event, guests enjoyed dishes featuring local ingredients such as Roy Yamaguchi's U-10 scallops with ume honey, blistered Kahuku corn and Maui onion pohole fern poke in a sauce of truffled mascarpone and tofu.

Even as sugar plantations close and food producers' costs rise, Okimoto said, food prices have not increased as much as other expenses such as utilities and "Louis Vuitton bags," a subject that hits home when he gets an earful from those very same luxury buyers when he raises the prices of his produce by 25 cents.

As a matter of complying with food safety issues, he said costs to the consumer will have to rise in the future and he said, "Without support, agriculture is not going to survive."

Speaking of the partnership between restaurants and farmers that has been taking place since the 1980s, and support of organizations such as the Hawai'i Food & Wine Festival, he said, "In Hawaii, everything we do should be together. The key for the future is these partnerships."

Putting young hands to work, Yamaguchi got an assist from, left, Hoku Hulihee, Cole Matsukawa and Remy Ah Quin.

As for Veggie U, chef Alan Wong told of being a fourth grade student at Wahiawa Elementary, and seeing the intermediate school band come to play for them. "When you're that age, you're impressionable," he said, so when it came time to choose classes in intermediate school, he chose band, and expressed the hope that by exposing youths to class gardens, the role of farmers and healthy foods, "maybe one becomes a future farmer," or at least understand and support agricultural endeavors.

Okimoto also said there's room for more dialog with the public. He said that although some people are happy to see big agriculture and plantations disappear, without them, there's "less infrastructure for everyone else to survive."

Plantation closures means that those in peripheral businesses, such as selling fertilizers, are unable to make a living, and as they go, smaller farmers may struggle to import the tools and materials they need at reasonable cost.

For the roster of restaurants participating in Localicious, visit localicioushawaii.com.

Other bites included:

Matt Small's sous vide rosemary skirt steak.

Vikram Garg's tamarind cured ahi in a pool of hearts of palm velouté.

Putting the finishing mint and basil touches on Alan Wong's Niihau lamb on house foccaccia.

Wong's finished mini sandwich.

Matt Small's dessert of orange blossom panna cotta with white ohi'a honey yuzu compound topped with candied orange peel and crystalized clover honey.

Larb sticky rice burger pops up

By
February 18th, 2016



COURTESY WANG CHUNG'S

Homestyle Meals larb sticky rice burger was served up during a popup at Wang Chung's in Waikiki.

Leave it to Wang Chung's owner Danny Chang to come up with another attention-grabbing invitation to his popup with Homestyle Meals Ashley Thaira. With her larb sticky rice burger as the star attraction, his headline read: "Me Larb You Long Time," in luring the hungry to sample a $12 Lao-themed family dinner that took place Feb. 11.

It's one of many homey, family style popups he has planned for his fun pau hana pupu and karaoke bar, because he's a natural-born social director who just loves bringing all kinds of people together.

As for this particular event, Chung, our hi-energy host with the most, explained that he was celebrating the Chinese New Year in Chinatown when he came upon Thaira's booth serving "the most delicious home-style Lao cooking. They had unique dishes that you don't find here in Hawaii such as Nam Khao Tod (Lao crispy rice ball salad) and this amazing larb sticky rice burger."

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Look mom, no wheat! Gluten-free rejoice! The larb sticky rice burger was the highlight of a popup at Wang Chung's.

Ashley Thaira shows her green papaya salad, also below.

larb salad

The burger is of minced pork, and the patty is dipped in a sweetened fish sauce before being layered with cucumber, cilantro and green onions between two sticky rice buns. Yummers! What's more, it's perfect for this gluten-free era.

Also on the menu was a green papaya salad, Nam Van, a dessert of fresh fruit and tapioca in coconut milk, and Sa Dok Bua, lotus tea scented with pandan leaves.

Beyond the popup, Homestyle Meals and Thaira's $8 larb sticky rice burger can be found at the Mahiku Farmers Market at Iroquis Point 3 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays at 5105 Iroquois Ave. She's looking for more venues in downtown Honolulu. Let's hope that happens soon and I'll keep you posted when that happens.

Wang Chung's is in the Stay boutique hotel at 2424 Koa Ave. in Waikiki, behind the Hyatt Regency Waikiki. Open 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily. Call (808) 921-9176.

Inside Wang Chung's.

———
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.

Playing mixologist for an eve

By
February 15th, 2016



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comI was on the winning team of foodies that came up with a jalapeño-accented Phoenix Rising cocktail for the Year of the Monkey.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

I was on the winning team of foodies that came up with a jalapeño-accented Phoenix Rising cocktail for the Year of the Monkey.

Most people would jump at the opportunity to play mixologist for an evening, and the Moana Surfrider is providing just that with the launch of "Love of Libations: Mixology 101."

The first installment took place Feb. 12, with hosts from Southern Wine & Spirits, Micah Suderman and director of mixology Chandra Lucariello, who offered up her own cocktails before setting guests free to concoct their own libations. It's not every day one is set loose to play with all the booze they want!

We were divided into four teams with the aim of coming up with a cocktail. On my team were Sean Morris, Pam Davis, Emi Hart and Catherine Toth. Pam had a thirst for ginger beer, so going from there, we had to figure out what would work with ginger.

PHOTO BY RITSUKO KUKONU / poohko hawaiiMioxologist Chandra Lucariello gave a demonstration and instructions before setting novices loose with alcohol and other ingredients.

PHOTO BY RITSUKO KUKONU / poohko hawaii

Mioxologist Chandra Lucariello gave a demonstration and instructions before setting novices loose with alcohol and other ingredients.

I know from years of writing about food that themes and the naming of things are as important as the flavor of a dish, so based on timing so close to the Lunar New Year, I wanted a drink with an Asian orientation.

At the ingredient bar, we pulled together raspberries and limes that would work with ginger, going outfield by using basil instead of the more expected basil. Next, we pulled kaffir lime leaves from a display. It all smelled good after muddling, but Sean decided to try one slice of jalapeño. That proved to be the stroke of genius. I loved the heat and it differentiated the cocktail from all others. Immediately, I thought of the name Firebird, which became Phoenix Rising for the new year.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comKaffir lime leaves from the event display helped put our drink on top.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Kaffir lime leaves from the event display helped put our drink on top.


We added neutral vodka to the mix, and after straining into a martini glass, we topped it off with the ginger beer. After tasting the rest of the competition, with standard fruit or cucumber flavors, I knew we had a winner on our hands, and so it was!

I was so excited. I never had dreams of trying mixology because I'm not a big boozer, but apparently, if you can imagine the flavors of ingredients together, you're not far from creating winning cocktails. The competition was fun but I could never be a mixologist IRL. It requires speed and I'm not into the live theater aspects of the work.

The next event takes place 6 to 9 p.m. March 11 as part of the Moana's 115th birthday bash. The cost is $75 and includes light fare and beverages provided by Koko Head Cafe, Mac 24/7, MW Restaurant, The Pig and the Lady, RumFire, Scratch Kitchen & Bakeshop and Square Barrels. Proceeds will benefit the Life Foundation and tickets are available at honoluluboxoffice.com.

With shelves of ingredients to choose from, we were drawn to the raspberries and limes.

With shelves of ingredients to choose from, we were drawn to the raspberries and limes.

I wanted to use bacon but when that wasn't happening, I did the next best thing and ate some.

I wanted to use bacon but when that wasn't happening, I did the next best thing and ate some.

More ingredients, including basil that went into our  Phoenix Rising cocktail.

More ingredients, including basil that went into our Phoenix Rising cocktail.


———
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.

Recent Posts

Recent Comments

Archives