Archive for the ‘Wine and spirits’ Category

'Passport' to culinary adventures await at Pacific Beach Hotel

July 11th, 2013


Nadine Kam photos
Sashimi at Pacific Beach Hotel. Just kidding! A mermaid greeted diners at the launch of Pacific Beach Hotel's new Passport to Wine & Dine Summer Series.

The Pacific Beach Hotel launched its Passport to Wine & Dine Summer Series on  June 27 in the second-floor Neptune Room. Part 1 of the series was themed “Taste of the Mediterranean,” with a selection of marinated olives and red bell peppers, risotto with seared scallop, braised shortribs over mashed potatoes, oysters and wines to match various courses.

There were stations set up for food, and servers moved through the crowd with trays of pizza and bruschetta.

Also among the highlights were an array of fabulous desserts by Fenton Lee, former executive pastry chef for such luxury resorts as the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Waikaloa Hilton Resort, Hyatt Regency Kauai, and Grand Wailea. While the desserts, including fresh fruit in champagne gelée, were elegant, befitting a fine resort, guests were able to leave with one of his more earthy confections, the croissada, which I wrote about in the paper, causing a rush on the Aloha Center Cafe.

The pastry is described by Lee as a “delicate blend of a croissant and malasada” filled with a Polynesian vanilla Bavarian cream.


Pacific Beach Hotel photo

From the outside it definitely looks like a malasada, with its crisp golden brown exterior, rolled in granulated sugar. Inside it’s flaky like a croissant, and the cream filling reminded me of a long john pastry, which actually seems to make this three pastries rolled into one.

The next Passport to Wine & Dine event is coming up 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. July 25. "Taste of Australia will feature the cuisine and wines of Australia. Tickets are $55.

The menu will include lemon pepper-dusted Australian baramundi, guava-glazed "shrimp on the barbie" on ciabatta, sweet basil gnocchi, roasted Australian lamb rack, Tasmanian salmon brulée, shiraz-braised ostrich ragout, gooseberry trifle with Anzac biscuits, Outback s'mores, and more.

Wines to be featured are Greg Norman pinot noir, Alice White Lexia moscato, Penfolds Thomas Hyland shiraz and Nobilo sauvignon blanc from New Zealand.

For tickets, visit or call the Catering Party Hotline at 921-6137. Pacific Beach Hotel is at 2490 Kalakaua Ave.


Braised shortribs were on the menu at "Taste of the Mediterranean."


A selection of marinated olives, bell peppers, asparagus and roasted beets.


Roasted fingerling and red potatoes on the rocks.


Pear tartlets by executive chef Fenton Lee were ah-mazing, as were all the other dessert selections.


Servers had their hands full bearing bruschetta, pictured, and pizzas to complement food available at various stations. (more…)

HASR Bistro celebrates grand opening

January 22nd, 2013

hasrrodNadine Kam photos
Chef Rodney Uyehara was working hard in the kitchen turning out dishes like the spiced ahi nachos and shrimp spring rolls shown here (in more detail, later). He's with Anita Rhee of Mama Nita Scones, who was offering samples of the scones she bakes up mornings in the HASR Bistro kitchen, and taking orders for Valentine's Day.

HASR Bistro owner Terry Kakazu promised to enliven the downtown dining scene with her party spirit and has been delivering since the restaurant's fall opening.

With the busy holiday season out of the way, she finally made time for her own grand opening Sunday, welcoming dozens of friends and well-wishers for an evening of noshing, music and imbibing some of the best selections offered at her next door wine store,  HASR Wine Co., which started her on her oenophile/foodie journey.

hasrterryHASR Wine Co. and Bistro's Terry Kakazu, left, at one of the wine bars with Walter Calinawan.

She's also the owner of Terry’s Place in the Chinatown Cultural Plaza, which has come to be known as a musician’s playground, and there were a lot of musicians in the house taking turns jamming with The Groove and members of the Society of Seven.

Some of the music has gravitated over to HASR, where you can enjoy music in the courtyard from 7 to 10 p.m. every Friday and Saturday.

Executive chef Rodney Uyehara put together a casual menu of pupu, some on the bistro's menu, some not, many deserving a spot on the regular menu.

Special events coming up include a Chinese New Year Celebration from 5 to 10 p.m. Feb. 1; Mansfield Wine dinner on Feb. 13; and of course, reservations are being taken for Valentine's Day dinner from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Feb. 14.

Here's the performance schedule through February:
Jan. 25: Jeff Rassmusen
Jan. 26: Toma-Natto
Feb. 1: SUMMER
Feb. 2: Gail Mack Duo
Feb. 8: Jeff Rassmussen
Feb. 9: Toma-Natto
Feb. 15: Glenn Mediero
Feb. 16: Gail Mack Duo
Feb. 22: Glenn Medeiros
Feb. 23: Toma-Natto

The restaurant is at 31 N. Pauahi St. (where Grand Cafe used to be). Call 533-HASR (4277).

hasrriibsChef Rodney's fall-off-the-bone, fork-tender Mongolian babyback ribs were the best I've tasted in a while. This needs to be a regular offering.

hasrchickenWing dings with celery and blue cheese dip.

hasrchipOne of the spicy ahi nachos with avocado, green onions, and missing from this one I tried to make pretty for the picture, bonito flakes.

hasrshrimpLoved the shrimp spring rolls with sweet chili mint sauce, on the lunch appetizer menu at $9 though of course, you're not going to get this portion for $9!

hasrtasteInside HASR Wine Co., guests were able to sample some of the highly allocated wines that gave the business its name.

hasrfoyCathy Foy Mahi was among the singers who joined SOS members for a song. She dedicated "My Funny Valentine" to Terry.

hasrvalAnita Rhee introduced packaging for her scones for Valentine's Day, birthdays, bridal favors (with fresh flowers) and other occasions. Flavors range from her every day apple, caramel and almonds; orange and chocolate; strawberry and chocolate, banana macadamia nut; and more; to special flavors such as currant; lemon and cream cheese; lemon, strawberry and mint; and spiced chai. A Valentine's Day box of 8 scones is $21; 12 scones is $29. An individual scone in a clear purse container topped by a V-Day heart is $3.40 each. You can reach her at, or visit

A taste of Chaîne menu at Oahu Country Club

October 13th, 2012

occahiNadine Kam photos
The first course from Ryan Manaut's Chaîne des Rôtisseurs' Jeune Commis International Competition menu at Oahu Country Club: ahi tartar with tempura asparagus tips, prawn ceviche, lime gelee and wasabi foam. Guests were to mix the accompanying ogo, green onion, white onion and kukui nut in with the fish. This was paired with Brancott Estate Sauvignon Blanc, 2011.

Ryan Manaut, a young chef that joined the staff of executive chef Alfred Cabacungan at Oahu Country Club, was a winner in the prestigious Chaîne des Rôtisseurs' Jeune Commis International Competition, and tomorrow is the last day members can sample the menu he presented in Berlin—with a few tweaks, considering chefs are constantly trying to improve their work— along with fantastic wine pairings by sommelier Randy Ching.

After winning the Hawaii competition, followed by the national competition in May, he traveled to Berlin last month, and in his first international competition, placed 4th among entrants from 22 countries. This marked the first time that any young chef from Hawaii has competed in the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs' Jeune Commis International Competition.

Like the cooking shows "Iron Chef" and "Chopped," chefs in the competition were presented with mystery baskets full of ingredients from which they were to create their meals. After winning the Hawaii competition, Manaut was coached by Kapiolani Community College Culinary Arts associate professor Alan Tsuchiyama, who also sent him several lists of ingredients weekly to prepare Manaut for anything that might come up.

At the competition, chefs—working alone in the kitchen—had a half hour to come up with their menus, and three hours to cook. Manaut said Tsuchiyama had tried to stump him with ingredients like sauerkraut, Jerusalem artichoke and pike, but in practice, he said he was able to come up with a menu in less than half an hour each time.

In competition, the ingredients may have stumped other chefs, but most turned out to be daily fare for any local chef. All chefs were given the same ingredients, and they had to incorporate all in a three-course meal: two racks of Irish lamb, 12 shrimp, 600 grams of ahi, raspberries, blueberries, kalamansi, baby spinach, Thai asparagus, mini carrots, mini zucchini, snow peas, Kenya beans, 12 eggs, 11 Tablespoons of cream, and chocolate. Typical pantry ingredients were also made available to them.

Before entering the competition kitchen, all chefs' belongings were checked to ensure no one sneaked in any secret ingredients.

occryanRyan Manaut in the Oahu Country Club kitchen with his dessert of chocolate-raspberry layered cake with blueberry semifreddo, candied kalamansi and Chambord whipped cream.

The challenges, he said, were that "all the stove top burners were electric, not the standard gas burners we use. That made temperature controls very hard when trying to make my dessert. I ended up overcooking the semifreddo once, wasting valuable time doing it again.

"I also wasn't used to their little combi-ovens. These are great little ovens that can both bake and steam your product. However, all the directions for the oven were in German so I had to just press buttons and hope for the best. That tactic resulted in burning my cake, so once again, I had to waste time remaking it. Even retrieving spices from the pantry was a chore since they were all labeled in German. I had to open each container to see what was inside."

But, it all turned out well, and considering that prepping and completing the competition has filled three-quarters of his year, he said he's taking a break from thinking about any more contests for now.

In the meantime, I was fortunate to be able to sample the menu as a guest of Chaîne Honolulu chapter Vice Charge de Missions Dr. Thomas Sakoda and his wife Ryuko.

occamuseThe OCC dinner began with pork gyoza with kabayaki glaze.

occlambFollowing the appetizer at top of page, we were presented with the entree of roasted balsamic crusted rack of lamb roulade with lamb jus, roasted peppers and basil, and mashed potatoes, baby courgette (zucchini) and carrot. This was paired with Gigondas, Les Pallieres "Les Racines," 2008.

occplatingRyan plates the semifreddo. The experience of the chocolate-raspberry layered cake and blueberry semifreddo were enhanced by Randy Ching's pairing of Banyuls, Domaine La Tour Vieille, 2010.

occgrandRyan's grandmother Alison Manaut said she was always happy to be one of the guinea pigs for his cooking experiments when he was growing up.

occchocolateDinner ended with OCC's Belgian chocolates.


The dinner marked my second visit to OCC in a week. Earlier, I'd been invited to lunch by a member, and we tried one of the newer items on the menu, a lobster-avocado sandwich.

occamuse2Amuse bouche of fried prosciutto with avocado puree.

occpastaPasta with mushrooms and basil.

occlobsterThe lobster sandwich.

HFWF Day 1: Enter the MODERN Dragon

September 12th, 2012

hfwfdragonNadine Kam photos
Marking the Year of the Dragon, the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival aimed harness some of the creature's power of energy and prosperity for the benefit of diners, culinary education and pursuit of sustainability.

Last year's inaugural Hawaii Food & Wine Festival got off to an impressive start, feeding more than 1,000 foodies—many who showed up at more than one event—and welcoming more than a dozen celebrity and master chefs, plus winemakers, master sommeliers and mixologists, who joined homegrown talent on stage and under the stars for what eager participants considered food heaven.

Just when we thought it couldn't get any better, early news was that the second HFWF would feature double the star power, and the event delivered, with 63 participating chefs, four master sommeliers, representatives from 11 wineries, eight mixologists, three sake brewers, 24 farmers and food distributors.

The event opened Sept. 6 with "Enter the MODERN Dragon: Morimoto & Friend" at The Modern Honolulu. Unfortunately for me, the event coincided with Fashion's Night Out at Ala Moana Center, where I spent two hours at fashion shows before zipping down the street. It was much easier last year when the event started in October, far from the biggest fashion week of the year, coinciding with the start of New York Fashion Week. Most people I know picked one or the other. Only a few ADHDs like me tried to do both over four days.

Figuring VIPs were eating since 5 p.m., I wondered whether, at 7:30 p.m., there would be any food left to sample. It's not like you can even hit the ground eating while trying to take pictures, gabbing, etc. While hitting up my first three stations, I heard from about four people that Chai Chaowasaree's abalone was the best dish of the evening. The last person said he'd stopped serving but he had a secret stash and surely I would be able to wrangle a piece.

hfwfgogiRoy Choi of Kogi BBQ and Chego, in L.A., takes a break from slicing pork belly.

Alas, the secret stash was just legend, but what I had was a lot of ceviche-style dishes, delicious pork belly from Kogi BBQ's Roy Choi, and I caught one of the last plates of Ming Tsai's foie gras fried rice.

With stations shutting down fast, students from the Culinary Institute of the Pacific, who were assigned to assist the chefs, were gravitating over to friends' stations, and I overheard them telling each other, "My chef swears a lot!"

"So does mine!"

Welcome to the real world, kids!

hfwfchaiThe Slanted Door's Charles Phan, left, and Michelle Mah with Chai's Island Bistro's Chai Chaowasaree.

Later, I caught up with executive director Denise Hayashi, who explained, regarding the new timing of HFWF, that they also have to make sure they're not competing with Food & Wine magazine's New York City Wine & Food Festival for chef talent. But understanding the conflict, she said they'll try to push HFWF a little later next year. Crossing fingers.

Funds raised from the event will benefit culinary education in the islands, as well as organizations working toward long-term sustainability and agricultural integrity. This year's beneficiaries are: Hawai'i Agricultural Foundation, Culinary Institute of the Pacific, Leeward Community College, Paepae o He'eia, and Papahana Kuaola.

Roy Choi of Kogi BBQ and Chego, in L.A., takes a break from slicing pork belly.

hfwf4Co-founder Roy Yamaguchi, third from left, welcomed special presenter Adam Richman of "Man vs. Food," Sang Yoon of Lukshon and Father's Office in Culver City, Calif., and Neil Hannahs of Kamehameha Schools.

hfwffishContemporary ceviche from Sang Yoon.

hfwf1Stacked avocado and hamachi from chef Scott Toner of the Modern Honolulu.

hfwffritterApple fritter topped with fruit and greens.

hfwfwongCo-founder Alan Wong and entourage.

hfwfmingMing Tsai, with his foie gras fried rice plus ahi, below. I got one of the last plates.


hfwfonoFor dessert, Josh Lanthier-Welch was offering several flavors of OnoPops, including an off-the-menu milk chocolate paleta.

Bon Appetit! A tribute to Julia Child at the Kahala

August 8th, 2012

jcNadine Kam photos
The Kahala executive chef Wayne Hirabayashi, left, with one of his interns from the Kapi 'olani Culinary Arts Program, general manager Roseann Grippo and Hoku's manager and event coordinator Dante Camara

Julia Child's 100th birthday is being marked by celebrations around the country in honor of the woman who awakened the first foodie stirrings in many an American housewife in the 1960s, by sharing her passion for French cooking in her debut cookbook, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," written with Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, and television programs including "The French Chef," which premiered in 1963. She opened the door to what was then the unfamiliar, paving the way for every generation of chefs to come.

The Kahala Hotel has devoted a month of menus in honor of Child and the glories of French cooking, highlighted by "A Tribute to Julia Child" James Beard Foundation benefit dinner Aug. 12; and the Aug. 18 "Kahala Food and Wine Festival: A Celebration of France"; and participation in the national Julia Child Restaurant Week ending Aug. 15, but that here will continue through the end of the month. During the Aug. 12 dinner, special guest Mitchell Davis, executive vice president of the James Beard Foundation in New York will share his personal anecdotes and reminisces about Julia Child.

The hotel hosted a media preview Aug. 7, with executive chef Wayne Hirabayashi cooking up Julia's boeuf bourguignon in the hotel's lobby, dressed to replicate Child's mid-20th century kitchen, from blue pegboard for her pots and pans, to hand-painted cabinetry and vintage appliances.

As nice as it would be to taste food as Julia cooked it, Hirabayashi said the recipes had to be adapted because, frankly, our tastes have evolved over 50 to 60 years and most of us would be unable to stomach the amounts of butter and cream she used in her recipes, not over several courses anyway. He marveled that she died two days shy of her 92nd birthday in 2004, living to old age in spite of those ingredients we've come to consider bad for us. We surmised it had a little to do with a combination of enjoying life and great meals accompanied by red wine.

jcpotChef Hirabayashi's boeuf bourguignon.

jckitchenAn area of The Kahala's lobby has been redone to replicate the ambience of Julia's kitchen. General manager Roseann Grippo said many of the utensils and equipment came from her home, though her kitchen does not look like Julia's at all.


jcvintageOne of the countertops was set with a vintage Hamilton Beach milkshake mixer, circa 1940s and other mixers and kitchenware from the era.

jccakeThe Kahala's pastry chef Michael Moorhouse's cake celebrating Julia will be done up in three rectangular tiers during the James Beard dinner Aug. 12.

jcsigMoorhouse had two close encounters with Julia Child. One was at the James Beard House where he was representing the Drake Hotel's Restaurant Lafeyette. He remembers she attended the dinner with her husband Paul and wore a Chanel suit. The second time, he was lucky enough to get her autograph.


In talking up the five-course dinner benefiting the James Beard Foundation from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Aug. 12 in the Maile Ballroom, general manager Roseann Grippo tempted us with promise of a "three-story" cake created by pastry chef Michael Moorhouse, but he clarified later that it will be a three-tier cake and he's experimenting with Julia's recipe for a Chocolate Marquise cake with orange buttercream between the layers, and fondant finished with a fleur-de-lis flourish.

But before dessert, guests will enjoy:

Hors d’Oeuvres:
>> Escargots and Shrimps a la Bourguignonne in Puff Pastry by chef Warren Uchida, Kapiolani Community College Culinary Program instructor.
>> Kona Crab Beignet, Local Mango Mustard and Sumida Farms Baby Watercress from chef Colin Hazama of the Sheraton Waikiki.
>> Smoked duck rillette, li hing cherries, gingered apricot gel, peppered almonds from chef Ryan Loo, returning home from the W Hotel Seattle for the event. He's also offering Five Mother Sauces served with appropriate sides.
>> Wines: Vine Cliff Vineyards Napa Valley

Amuse bouche:
Big Island Abalone Confit Poke, uni, morels, Waialua asparagus, Meyer lemon from chef Loo; paired with Armand de Brignac, Ace of Spades, Gold Brut NV.

Homard Aux Aromates with Beurre d’Estragon and Citron (Butter poached Kona Maine Lobster with Beurre Blanc with Tarragon) Waipoli island greens and Champagne Vanilla Bean vinaigrette from chef Uchida; paired with Hartford Court, Russian River, Chardonnay, 2010

Demi main:
>> Slow-cooked Hawaii kampachi with lapsang souchong, lime pickle puree, kiawe white honey lavender buttermilk Ka’u orange and Ho Farms tomato marmalade from chef Hazama; paired with
Domaine Laroche, Petite Chablis, 2010.

Peach carpaccio with lemon-basil sorbet from Hirabayashi; paired with Foley, Steel, Chardonnay, 2009.

Main course:
Tournedos Rossini (beef filets) with foie gras, truffles and Madeira sauce, Molokai sweet potato balls sauteed in Plugra butter, buttered peas, Wailua asparagus, and braised Manoa lettuce by Hirabayashi; paired with Guigal, Crozes Hermitage, Syrah, 2007

Point Reyes blue cheese soufflé with date chutney and hazelnuts from Moorhouse; paired with Edmeades, Late Harvest Zinfandel, 2006.

Classic strawberry bioche birthday cake and strawberry sorbet by Moorhouse; paired with Schramsberg, Cremant Demi-Sec 2007

The cost is $325 per person. Call 739-8760.

The tribute will continues with the "Kahala Food and Wine Festival: A Celebration of France," open to the general public from 7 to 10 p.m. Aug. 18, at a cost of $100 general and $150 VIP entry an hour earlier, with advance reservations. General admission at the door will be $125.

During the event, 10 chefs will offer up their Paris-meets-Hawaii take on classic French dishes, such as chef Hardy Kintscher's (Michel's) escargot Hamakua mushroom papilotte and chef Kanani Lincoln's (Hale Aina Catering) honey-soy duck beast with celeriac puree, li-hing cherry demi glace and Shinsato pork papardelle with turned vegetables and fine herbs.

Other participants: Chai Chaowasaree (Chai's Island Bistro), Russell Siu (3660 on the Rise), Colin Nishida (Side Street Inn), Goran Streng (Tangö Contemporary Cafe), Kevin Hanney (12th Ave Grill and SALT), Ronnie Nasuti (Tiki's Bar & Grill), William Chen Beachhouse at the Moana Surfrider), and Jon Matsubara Azure).

For those who prefer being in the kitchen, Kahala's "Université Pattiserie–Better with Butter" will offer the ins and outs of French cooking, from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturdays at Hoku's. Classes coming up are:
Aug. 11: French desserts
Aug. 25: Braising and basting techniques.
Sessions will be followed by Tea in The Veranda lounge from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The cost is $85 for adults (includes graduation certificate, apron and The Veranda Classic Tea experience). Call (739-8760 or e-mail for reservations.

Check the for details on nightly "Parisian Pleasures" dinners at The Veranda, "Better With Butter" teas Aug. 25 and 26, the Hoku's Chef's Table: A Grand Experience offered Thursdays andSundays, "Bounty of the Seven Seas: The Regions of France buffets Friday and Saturday evenings at Plumeria Beach House, and more.


From Young’s Market Company of Hawaii, general manager Philana Bouvier and master sommelier Patrick Okubo were there to share wines, including the Chateau Lassegue Saint-Emilion Grand Cru 2006 accompanying the boeuf bourguignon.

jcnicoiseSeared ahi niçoise with pumpkin and tomato.

jcmacaronsA selection of macarons from Moorhouse had fillings of pistachio and apricot, lilikoi and chocolate yuzu.

jcovenSitting atop the stove were Le Creuset French ovens.

Here's a link to all the events: