Archive for March, 2016

Samples of Magnolia Bakery chocolate banana pudding await

March 31st, 2016


Magnolia Bakery's chocolate banana pudding debuts tomorrow, with free samples while supplies last at the Ala Moana Center shop, no foolin'.

Fans of Magnolia Bakery's classic banana pudding will find a new treat awaits on April Fool's Day. A new chocolate version features layers of chocolate pudding, OREO wafers, banana slices and chocolate shavings.

The chocolate banana pudding launched earlier this month at Magnolia Bakery locations in New York City, Los Angeles and Chicaco, and to mark its arrival in Hawaii, the Ala Moana Center Ewa Wing bakery kiosk will be offering free samples April 1 to 3, while supplies last.

The chocolate banana pudding will be available at the bakery café in small ($3.50), medium ($5), large ($6.50) and 64-ounce party bowls ($35). For more information, call (808) 942-4132.

Kiosk hours are 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays, and 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. Cafe hours are 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays, and 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.

Hula Grill shows its support for farms and the community

March 29th, 2016



Makaweli Ranch tenderloin tartare with pickled ho'io, pecorino, Ululoa amaranth and truffle was my favorite dish of the evening at the "Hula Grill Digs Farmers" farm-to-table event, paired with Ocean Vodka.

Hula Grill Waikiki paid tribute to Hawaii’s ranchers and paniolo during "Hula Grill Digs Farmers," a farm-to-table event that took place at the restaurant on March 23.

Chef Matt Young's menu highlighted the Kauai-based Makaweli Meat Co., with five stations offering food and drink pairings at $65 per person.

A portion of ticket sale proceeds will be donated to the Royal Order of Kamehameha, which supports the Paʻu Riders of the King Kamehameha Floral Parade. June 11, 2016, marks the 100th anniversary of the parade that will begin at Iolani Palace and continue down Kalakaua Avenue to concludes at the Waikiki Bandstand.

Guests included several pa'u riders, including pa'u queen Gayle Fujita Ramsey.

The event is part of Hula Grill’s charitable Legacy of Aloha program, supporting local non-profit organizations that foster sustainability in our communities and/or preserve the Hawaiian culture and the culinary arts.

The view from Hula Grill.

For this paniolo-themed event, even the Lanikai Brewing Co. bottles dressed for the occasion. Excuse the spelling of "paniolo" on the inset caption. I was playing with Snapchat and the booboos are impossible to fix!

A snap of Ocean organic vodka. I promise to get a stylus so my handwriting is better!

A different kind of loco moco, made with burger topped with roasted Hamakua mushroom and bordelaise sauce, with 146-degree poached Ka Lei egg and rosemary arancini. Paired with Deep Island Hawaiian Rum.


Red curry-marinated Makaweli skirt steak was accompanied by coconut-braised taro, Ho Farms cherry tomatoes, and toasted peanuts. Pairing: Lanikai Brewing Co. Imperial Red Ale with Ginger.

Niihau lamb ragu with handmade pappardelle, tomatoes, melted leeks and Naked Cow Dairy feta. Pairing: Lanikai Brewing Co. Pillbox Porter.

Dessert came in a paper bag, accompanied by a Lanikai Brewing Co. Haupia Imperial Stout and Okole Maluna chocolate gelato milkshake. I promise to get a stylus so my handwriting is better.

hula bag2

Hawaii trending: Word from U.K.

March 25th, 2016

It's always fun to read about perceptions of Hawaii from abroad, and while Hawaii food is trending, I'm trying to share some outsiders' takes on our cuisine as I come across stories online.

Click here for a colorful, exuberant U.K. take on poke:

The opening line stood out: "Say aloha to this totally tropical fishy dishy," because it's something cutesy I would never ever write.

Here is an interesting map of the most common jobs, state by state, based on 2014 employment data.

Here is an interesting map of the most common jobs, state by state, based on 2014 employment data. It confirms how vital the restaurant industry is to our economy.

I took note of the map above while reading a story about the pending job losses and societal change when driverless trucks goes mainstream. It's scary, it's coming and it is bad news for small towns across America. You can read the story here.

Future food straight from Japan

March 24th, 2016


Kyushu is known for its hot springs and Beppu shiitake that contains potassium to help lower blood pressure, vitamin D to prevent osteoporosis and bowel cancer, lentinan used in Japan as an anti-tumor medicine, and eritadenine to lower blood cholesterol and help prevent arteriosclerosis.

The Hawaii Restaurant Association welcomed "The 5th Japanese Food Trade Fair" to the Japanese Cultural Center of Honolulu on March 24, showcasing products various companies want to introduce to the local market.

The event, geared toward retailers, wholesalers and restaurants, included more than 100 products by 20 Japan vendors. I'm hoping to see some of them on store shelves in months to come, such as delicate warabi mochi from Kyoto; plum-accented furikake, and vegetable furikake that can be folded into omelettes as well as sprinkled over rice; yogurt-and-strawberry, cream cheese and other wonderful flavors of mochi; and packaged spicy tuna to speed sushi-making at home.

The event was presented with support of the Japan External Trade Organization, and included a mochi tsuki demonstration and sushi-making demonstration.

A second, public "Sunshine Market" will take place March 26 at J-Shop, during which consumers will be able to purchase the products from 10 a.m. until they are sold out. The J-Shop grocery store is at 1513 Young St.

Local boy Travis Miyamoto now works for Hidecho Suisan Co., in Uwajima City, and taught their cooks how to make poke out of the company's fish, including samples of hamachi and tai that he was serving up.

To speed food prep, silver salmon from Aichi prefecture is marinated in mirin lees and miso and packaged. At home, just grill and eat.

The packaged and finished salmon.

One of the most intriguing products is an all-natural liquid that allows caterers or food preparers to freeze sushi and preserve it for a year. Without freezing, use of the preservative will allow sushi to sit for two hours without refrigeration. The quality, when thawed, he said, would be comparable to grocery store sushi.

Sushi made from packaged spicy tuna and salmon.

Popso extra virgin olive oil is spiced with sansho pepper and contains natural rock salt comprising seven to 10 minerals. It contains no trans-fatty acid and no cholesterol. In the background is the spiced oil and popcorn shrimp sautéed in the oil.

Furikake with dehydrated vegetables and the red of plum.

Fresh mochi was made on the spot, starting with the pounding of the rice, shaping and dredging in kinako.


This cheese manju was delicate and delicious.

A guide to flavored manju.

A guide to flavored mochi ranging from chocolate to cream cheese.

'Libations' toasts Moana's 115th

March 23rd, 2016


The Moana Hotel after its completion in 1901.

The Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa, celebrated 115 years since its opening on March 11, 1901, with a March 11 concert by Makana on the Banyan Courtyard stage, where guests have been entertained for more than 100 years.

And, taking place on the Diamond Lawn that night, a peek at the hotel's future with an enhanced edition of "LOL: Love of Libations," with food and drink pairings by the Beach Bar at the Moana Surfrider, RumFire from the Sheraton Waikiki, Scratch Kitchen & Bake Shop, The Pig and the Lady, Koko Head Café, MW Restaurant, MAC 24-7 and Square Barrels. Part of the proceeds from the event will benefit the Life Foundation Hawaii Chapter.

Gathering around the Moana's banyan tree in the early 20th century.

Gathering around the Moana's banyan tree in the early 20th century.


Party 2016 style, during "Love of Libations" on the Diamond Lawn.

In a friendly competition among participants, with guests voting by dropping one coin each for their pick of best dish and best drink, Koko Head Cafe's lemongrass pork, by chef Lee Anne Wong was voted as best dish, and "Ode to 1989" from Jesse Suderman from Beach Bar at the Moana, won the best cocktail honor.

“Ode to 1989” toasts the year the Moana Surfrider reopened after a renovation project. The cocktail will continue to be offered for $12 at the Beach Bar, and is similar to Moana Sands, a signature cocktail that was served in 1989.

The Moana's Beachhouse restaurant will continue to offer, through the end of the month, a $115 Birthday Dinner Special for two that includes a baby romaine Caesar salad and a wagyu tomahawk steak with the choice of two side dishes.

Koko Head Cafe chef Lee Anne Wong's lemongrass pork belly was named best dish via the evening's popular vote.

On the drink side, Koko Head Cafe served up a light and refreshing Moana 2.0 Ocean Vodka cocktail.

The Beach Bar's "Ode to 1989" cocktail earned best drink honors by popular vote. Based on the hotel's 1989 Moana Sands cocktail, it's made with Ocean Vodka and modeled after a piña colada.

The Beach Bar's food offering was a crowd-pleasing poke of ahi, hamachi, salmon and ikura, with crispy ogo and spiced guacamole.

Scratch Kitchen & Bake Shop's 40-hour sous vide shortribs over aged cheddar grits with red eye gravy, and below, the restaurant's kim chee bloody Mary.

lol bloody

MAC 24/7's Ocean vodka-cured kiawe hamachi with ginger-lime vodka quinoa, fried shallots, micro shiso and vodka popcorn glaze.

Vodka tom yum sauce in pipettes that accompanied MAC 24/7's dish, which I thought was the most inspired of the evening.

Square Barrels was serving up a Bishop Sunset cocktail of Ocean Vodka, California Common, Aperol, simple syrup and lemon juice with mint and grape accent.

MW Restaurant's poisson cru-inspired coconut ceviche.

MW Restaurant's poisson cru-inspired coconut ceviche.

Also marking the anniversary, the Moana Lani Spa is offering a 45-minute $115 “Birthday Special” treatment that includes a macadamia nut scalp treatment with additional focus on the neck and shoulders, followed by a warm stone foot massage. The “First Lady of Waikiki” package includes a head-to-toe experience with an express hydra facial, pedicure, shampoo, style and champagne for $240. Reserve at (808) 237-2535.

Sometimes referred to as The First Lady of Waikiki, the hotel was built with an investment of $150,000 and well-heeled guests at the time paid $1.50 per night for a room.

To mark the anniversary, guests who stay at the Moana Surfrider at least four nights will get the last night at $115. Guests who book this package will also receive a $115 resort credit (applicable toward dining or spa services), as well as a welcome basket with a Moana Surfrider historical book and other gifts. The package is good through Dec. 25. To book, visit and book rate plan 115AN. Or, call the hotel at (808) 922-3111.

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 and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

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