Archive for the ‘Cuisines’ Category

Sabb Thai delivers authenticity

By
September 28th, 2016



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

A Laotian specialty, nam khao tod ($12), or crispy rice salad, is on the menu at Sabb Thai. Mint, cilantro, fermented pork, scallions, fish sauce, peanuts are tossed with the rice, and plenty of lime juice gives the dish its distinctive sour note. It's served with lettuce leaves for wrapping.

Thai cuisine evolved over 30 years in Hawaii to suit our love of sweet, fatty, savory flavors, and downplay the sour aspects you’d find in Southeast Asia. Sabb Thai comes closest to the real deal.

The small mom-and-pop restaurant sits across from Palama Market near Don Quijote, in the space that formerly housed Tae Teppanyaki. A small roster of plate lunches accommodates local preferences for the simple charms of garlic chicken ($10), sautéed shrimp ($14), grilled steak ($13), and calamari ($14).

But the restaurant’s individuality shows in its a la carte menu. It’s owners are Thai and Laotian, so a handful of Lao dishes also make an appearance.

Here's a look at a few of the dishes:

Fish sauce, garlic and salt and pepper marinated ribs are delicious here.

Khao piak sen (currently $10), is a Lao chicken udon soup. Rice flour and tapioca noodles add starch to the chicken broth, giving it more body than its American counterpart. The soup also features cubes of boiled blood cakes as silky as almond pudding or soft tofu.

Rolled beef is a nod to former tenant Tae Teppanyaki, but it's very plain, geared toward those who like no-frills dining.

A basic Thai red curry is another dish for those who don't care to venture far from the tried-and-true. An ample amount of bamboo shoots made it stinkier than most.

Thai pork sausage usually contains a lot of pieces of fat, which tends not to sit well with Americans who grow up averse to visible fat. It is otherwise delicious, but my friends and I ended up with piles of fatty globs on the side of our plates.

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Sabb Thai is at 1666 Kalauokalani Way. Open 1 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays. Call 445-3882.

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Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her food coverage in print in Wednesday's Crave section. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

Yakiniku pops up in Liliha

By
September 21st, 2016



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Skirt steak, pork belly and beef tongue on the grill at Ono Sushi & Yakiniku.

The scenery on Liliha Street rarely changes, so I did a double-take two weeks ago when the Korean take-out shop, Ono Sushi & Yakiniku, started looking a little more like a sit-down restaurant and advertising all-you-can-eat yakiniku.

The site had been home to Mama’s Kitchen and Mama’s Korean BBQ, which first-time restaurant owners Victor and Stella Kim purchased two years ago.

The couple earns points for having the creativity to turn part of their take-out menu into a more elaborate experience in a bedroom community where there are few sitdown options.

Start with the eatery’s plate lunches, such as kalbi ($13.99), BBQ beef ($11.99), spicy pork ($11.99) and BBQ chicken ($11.99), and if you like those, you can opt for the experience of cooking these to-go items yourself at the table.

The all-you-can-eat yakiniku dinner starts with a round of all of the above, plus pork belly, inner and outer skirt steak and beef tongue, at a cost of $29.99 per person for a minimum of two people (it’s $24.99 for lunch), and $15.99 per child between the ages of 3 and 10.

After you finish the first round, you can order more of the meat you like. Basic buffet rules apply, especially, don't order more than you can finish on the spot.

The all-you-can-eat yakiniku special starts with a round of eight different kinds of meat.

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Ono Sushi & Yakiniku is at 1805 Liliha St. Open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays. Call (808) 524-0024.

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Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her food coverage in print in Wednesday's Crave section. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

Cook with See Dai Doo Society

By
September 19th, 2016



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Pork belly and Chinese taro are covered in sauce, then topped with scallion and cilantro before being steamed to make kau yuk.

Kau yuk, ip jai, an East-West stir-fry of beef and bok choy, and vegetarian spaghetti, were on the menu when the See Dai Doo Society presented a cooking demonstration at its social hall on Sept. 18. (The recipe for kau yuk follows.)

I had been hearing about the event for months during Mandarin classes, where everyone was especially enthusiastic about biting into the ip jai, or steamed mochi dumplings, which few people make these days, save for special occasions.

Ip jai filled with black sugar. Below is a more savory version of the steamed mochi dumplings, filled with a mixture of ham, mushrooms, dried shrimp and water chestnuts.

sdd-ip

Charlene Chang led the demos for the ip jai and kau yuk (pot roast pork), before the men took over the burners to round out the feast to come. Bixby Ho showed how to make easy vegetarian pasta, while See Dai Doo president Wesley Fong, with the help of daughter Cecilia, showed how to make a simple stir-fry of flank steak and bok choy.

He offered up one of the Chinese secrets for tenderizing meat, which is to soak it in water with a little cornstarch and massage it for 5 minutes.

He said, "The reason I cook is because I was told all good Chinese husbands cook."

See Dai Doo Society president Wesley Fong, with daughter Cecilia, takes a hands-on approach to leadership. He prepared an East-West stir-fry of flank steak and bok choy. People kidded him later, "What was West?" because beef and bok choy are both eaten by Chinese.

Fong's finished dish.

My father cooked, even if his idea of cooking meant getting an assist from Hamburger Helper.

That we were all there to enjoy the event is the result of the foresight of forebears more than a century ago. The society was founded by 18 men, immigrants from the See Doo (Sidu) and Dai Doo (Dadu) districts of Zhongshan county in Guangdong, on May 10, 1905.

As a matter of survival and mutual support in overseas communities that did not always welcome them, clan groups formed to provide banking and loan services, secure housing, host social events and invest for the future.

In 1910, See Dai Doo members contributed what was then a fortune, $5,000, for the purchase of the Wong Siu Kin School building at 285 N. Vineyard St. to serve as the group's headquarters. Today, rentals provide income that allows the society to function, and public events such as the cooking demo are their way of preserving their heritage and giving back to the community.

When the demos were pau, it was time to eat. The demos represent a two-day commitment, because food prep to feed the crowd took place a day ahead.

Someone brought sliced sugar cane for dessert and for the taking. It was so good and sweet. Not like the dried out canes often inserted into tourist cocktails. I grew up in Waipahu, so we were very familiar with sugar cane.

It all starts with pork belly.

KAU YUK
Recipe courtesy Charlene Chang

1-1/2 pounds pork belly, cut into approximately 2-inch-by-3/4-inch slices
1 half Chinese taro, cut into 2-inch-by-1/2-inch slices
1/2 bottle red nam yi (red fermented bean curd
1/2 bottle white nam yi
Oyster sauce, to taste
Brown sugar, to taste
1/4 cup whiskey or cooking wine
Scallion and cilantro (Chinese parsley) stems

In a bowl, mix red and white nam yi, brown sugar, oyster sauce and cooking wine. Set aside. Sprinkle a little sugar on the pot belly. In a skillet, brown the pork belly on all sides on medium heat.

Arrange alternating slices of pork belly (skin side down) and taro in a large bowl. Pour the wet ingredients on top of the pork belly and taro. Layer scallion and cilantro stems on top of arrangement.

Place in hot steamer; steam at least 1-1/2 hours. Allow kau yuk to sit in the pot for another 1/2 hour.

Lift the bowl out of the steamer and pour the sauce out. Place a platter or plate on top of the bowl. Turn the bowl over so the skin side up is facing up and ready to serve.

Pork belly and taro are arranged in alternating slices before sauce is added and it all goes into a steamer.

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Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her food coverage in print in Wednesday's Crave section. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

The Kahala meets Asia streets

By
September 12th, 2016



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Satay skewers sizzle on the grill during The Kahala's Asian Street Food event Friday.

Inspired by the bustling street and night markets of Asia, The Kahala hosted its first Asian Street Food event on Sept. 9.

Guests were welcome to visit stations set up on the beachfront lawn outside Plumeria Beach House for drinks and food selections like wok-fried garlic prawns, satay skewers, Indonesian corn fritters, and dim sum with Tsingtao and Taj Mahal beers, wines and more.

Woks and grills set up on the lawn brought some of the street sizzle to the venue, that is decidedly cleaner and much more serene than the markets of Singapore or Bangkok. This being The Kahala, diners also had the run of the restaurant for seating, so everyone could dine comfortably without the usual struggle to juggle drinks and plates as at other street-oriented events.

<p align="left">A selection of Indian beef curry and Thai chicken curry kept warm on the grill.

In between bites, diners could stop by calligraphy and a craft station, where I was able to make an origami box. With most people focused on eating however, little origami kits with instructions were offered for those who wanted to try their hand at making boxes, lucky stars and cranes at home.

It was a great relaxing evening, and though no decisions have been made over future pop-up dining events, I hope they will continue offering new themes and dishes, especially ones hard to find locally. (Hint: Being there gave me a craving for Singapore chili crab and prawn mi over the weekend so I finally made it from a box mix I had purchased there. But sadly, it wasn't the same as the real deal.)

Tibetan prayer flags fluttered between coconut trees, while tables were graced with Chinese lanterns.

Singapore noodles tossed in a wok on the lawn. The finished dish below:

asia-sing

Satay skewers and delicious Indonesian corn fritters.

Korean BBQ beef shortrib sliders.

It was hard for them to keep the pork hash tray full. These were made fresh with juicy diced pork.

Chinese chow funn.

People who needed to give their stomach a brief rest, could get a mini origami lesson from Casey—whose father, Alan Arita, went table to table performing magician's tricks—or visit a calligraphy station.

A make-and-take origami box and crane.

After the event, I had a craving for Singapore chili crab, and made it from a box mix I purchased when I was in Singapore, but I always prefer to have someone else do the cooking for me.

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Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her food coverage in print in Wednesday's Crave section. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

Fish House rolls out taco truck

By
September 8th, 2016



PHOTOS BY GLENN YOZA / Courtesy Four Seasons Resort

Chef Ray German's tacos will star during Taco Tuesday, when the Four Seasons food truck appears at Ko Olina's Lagoon 1.

When I wrote my formal print review of Fish House at The Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina, I mentioned there's nothing stodgy about the restaurant, the opposite of what one might expect from a brand built on connotations of grace, elegance and discernment. Well, the fun vibe continues now that chef Ray German has introduced Taco Tuesday.

Beach goers don't need to bother getting dressed for the occasion when they can enjoy tacos from the Four Seasons Food Truck every Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Lagoon 1.

Items on the menu include tacos al pastor, North Shore shrimp tacos, Hulihuli chicken tacos, elotes (Mexican street corn) and "Guacamole Madness," at prices of $3 to $4.75 per item. (Love that corn! Wondering if the truck can make a town run one day a week? A month?)

In the hot sun, you're bound to get thirsty, so rehydrate with agua fresca of watermelon lime mint ($1.50), or head over to happy hour at Fish House for cocktails priced at $3 at 3 p.m., $4 at 4 p.m., and $5 at 5 p.m., plus a special 50 percent off food menu offered from 3 to 5 p.m. daily.

A sampling of what's on the menu.

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Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her food coverage in print in Wednesday's Crave section. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

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