Archive for the ‘First course: What's new’ Category

First course: Sushi Sho shines

By
October 4th, 2016



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Chef Keiji Nakazawa takes center stage at Sushi Sho on the sixth floor at the Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki.

Blame it on "Jiro Dreams of Sushi." The film captured the imagination of sushi afficionados everywhere, setting off many a dream about what the ultimate omakase might be like.

It might look a lot like that at Sushi Sho, where chef/owner Keiji Nakazawa holds court before 10 diners each evening, presenting course upon course of sushi and seafood selections, masterfully combining ancient Edo technique with today's farm-to-table philosophy, to deliver an exacting and progressive dinner experience.

There will be some who will balk at the $300 cost, who say no food could be worth that much. Sorry, but those who have never opened themselves up to such an experience, really have no basis for comparison.

Nakazawa is considered to be one of Tokyo’s most influential sushi chefs due to his mastery of ancient Edo sushi techniques, including the art of fermenting fish by covering it with layers of red vinegar sushi rice.

Skilled hands at work.

Chef Takuya Sato shows some of the day's selection of fish.

Because this is omakase, meaning "chef's choice" of selections, this experience is not for the finicky, squeamish diner. One must be ready to sample anything from basic maguro and salmon, to ankimo, or monkfish liver, and sweet morsels of raw lobster stirred with its tomalley (liver and pancreas).

Another thing that requires adjustment is resisting the urge to reach for a shoyu bottle. Luckily, none was near so none of us can embarrass ourselves with our Hawaii custom of dunking each morsel in the typical blend of soy sauce and wasabi. In Japanese culture, the sushi master is always right in creating a balance of flavors so one is assured that each morsel is perfect as presented.

The omakase changes daily, and when I visited, I had no idea what to expect or how many pieces of sushi the meal would entail. I would have been worried to know 30 pieces were coming, because normally I start getting full on local-style big blocks of rice by piece six. But there was a lightness to the Edo-style aged red vinegar rice, and nigiri were really made to be bite size, so it was completely doable.

The arrival of two kinds of omelet signaled the end was near, just as my tightening belt let me know I was just about done.

An experience like this leaves you with an appreciation for the moment and the beautiful memory that lingers long after the meal is over.

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Sushi Sho is on the lobby level of the Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki, 383 Kalaimoku St. Seatings at 5 and 8 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays. Omakase only. Priced at $300 per person plus tax and gratuity. Call (808) 729-9717 between 2 and 4 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays. Reservations are secured with a credit card.

The following is the entire omakase when I visited:

1. The meal started with a pair of Miyagi and Kumamoto oysters from Washington, splashed with mild dashi and a hint of yuzu.

2. An arranged three-piece "poke" featuring onaga with essence of macadamia nuts and soy sauce, banana leaf-smoked salmon, and ahi with freshly grated wasabi.

3. Baby squid filled with a mixture of sushi rice and minced hearts of palm.

4. Giant clam with Sumida Farms watercress.

5. Shoyu-marinated opah nigiri.

6. Hapupu nigiri, a grouper known as hata in Japan.

7. Washington Kumamoto (smaller) and Shigoku oysters.

8. "Laulau" with taro leaf, salmon and opah skin, topped with vinegar jelly and served with asparagus sauce.

9. Ono nigiri with konbu

10. Baby red snapper dusted with vinegar-cured egg.

11. I wanted a lot more of this shiro (white) mirugai, the side of a giant clam with sesame oil, salt wasabi and Maui onion. So sweet! I thought the onion detracted from the sweetness, so pushed some of it aside.

12. Nigiri of rare white Alaskan salmon.

13. Lobster with tomalley.

14. Nigiri of fermented moi, aged for one week.

15. Chutoro nigiri.

16. Intermezzo of edamame purée with Molokai salt.

17. Grilled opah with fingerlime.

18. Santa Barbara uni sushi.

19. Roll sushi of sama with cucumber, onion and pickled ginger.

20. Aji, or horse mackerel, with green onion.

21. Botan ebi with calamansi.

22. Yellowtail nigiri.

23. Pickled hearts of palm with Maui onion mustard.

24. Chawanmushi with Kona abalone, American caviar and Santa Barbara uni was one of my favorite dishes of the evening. I could eat this every day. A comfort dish turned luxe.

25. Ohagi, sweet rice, with minced maguro and daikon.

26. Ankimo, or monkfish liver, and slice of hearts of palm over rice.

27. Two kinds of omelet, one with minced shrimp and poi, one made with seafood soup.

28. Two kinds of tekka maki, one of monkfish liver, avocado and dried pineapple, and one of kanpyo and aburage.

29. Ahi soup with grilled Tokyo negi.

30. Dessert of kazuki, arrowroot glass noodles on ice with kuromitsu.

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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.</em

Dean & DeLuca opens mañana

By
September 13th, 2016



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Dean & DeLuca will open its doors tomorrow, offering to-go and fast salads and lunches, wine, cheese, charcuterie and its own branded candies, pastas, chips, preserves, and more.

Dean & Deluca will open the doors to its first Hawaii location at the Ritz-Carlton Residences Waikiki Beach at noon Sept. 14.

The gourmet food purveyor first opened in New York City's SoHo district in September 1977 and became known for searching the globe for the finest ingredients and kitchenware, and as a go-to spot for premium food gifts, wine, cheese and charcuterie.

The smaller Hawaii location means its less of a grocery and more of a boutique shop that will also be a site for quick bites to eat, whether purchasing food items by the pound, sandwiches or salads to go, to eat on the spot in a casual outdoor space, or head upstairs to the wine lounge where you can enjoy sips, cheese and charcuterie boards, or panini and bruschetta featuring showcased ingredients. The paninis are wonderful, at about $15 or $16 each.

The curated wine list features unique domestic and international selections with a focus on natural and biodynamic wines where possible. Food is being prepared by sister restaurant BLT Market, upstairs in the Ritz-Carlon Residences, under the leadership of executive chef Johann Svensson.

In addition to Dean & DeLuca-branded artisanal goods, there will also be packaged goods from such local purveyors as Kahala Fresh, Madre Chocolate, Haleakala Creamery, Monkeypod Jam, Choco Le'a, and more.

Dean & DeLuca is in the Ritz-Carlton Residences, 383 Kalaimoku St. and it will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Here's a quick look at some of the selections that await:

Among cheese selections that await in the wine bar are fontina, morbier, port salut and mimolette.

Selections available by the pound downstairs include broccolini with garlic, wild rice with mushrooms, meatloaf, beef rib roast, and below, spinach salad.

dd-salad

Caesar salad with chicken.

Charcuterie available in the wine bar. Sample prices are $12 for 18-month aged prosciutto di parma, $18 for a cheese of the day platter, and $16 for sliced charcuterie and cheese with an assortment that might include prosciutto, coppa, chorizo, salami, cow's milk and goat milk cheeses.

A peek inside the wine bar.

The pastry case and coffee bar downstairs.

Treats for dessert lovers include lilikoi cakes, strawberry shortcake, and macarons, below.

dd-mac

More cheese selections.

Quail eggs.

Dean & DeLuca preserves and products available for purchase downstairs.

Dean & DeLuca branded flatbreads, honey and caramelized onions.

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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.

First Look: Eating House 1849

By
September 6th, 2016



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Chef Roy Yamaguchi was tending to business at his newest Eating House 1849 early in the morning on Aug. 25, opening day of both the International Market Place and his restaurant at the market place's third-floor Grand Lanai.

Not wanting to miss any of the action on opening day, Aug. 25, of the International Market Place, media were among the first people on the property. And chef Roy Yamaguchi was another earlybird, hovering around his newest baby, Eating House 1849, which also opened that morning.

Yamaguchi has been on a roll this year, having opened Roy's Beach House Aug. 2 at Turtle Bay Resort, with two more Eating Houses set to open in Kapolei and Maui.

It's exciting to see him break from his original Roy's Asian fusion formula and explore new territory, even if what's new is inspired by the past. With Eating House 1849, Yamaguchi goes back to the roots of Hawaii's restaurant scene to pay homage to Peter Fernandez, who opened one of Hawaii’s first restaurants in the 19th century, and called it Eating House. Fernandez used ingredients available from local farmers, ranchers, foragers and fishermen, a practice our top chefs are trying to reclaim today, after decades of seeing our palates shaped and restaurants co-opted, by sellers of convenience.

The outdoor patio and bar.

The pork and shrimp gyoza with garlic aioli and spicy XO sauce were so good, we ended up ordering up a second serving because one per person just isn't enough.

Yamaguchi explained that the first food purveyors were likely the equivalent of today's bed and breakfasts, where people seeking room and board were fed simple meals. Entrepreneurs like Fernandez offered an alternative.

Of course, this being Roy, don't expect your great, great, great grandfather's chicken hekka or Porgtuguese bean soup. Though rooted in our plantation heritage and the chef's taste memories of his grandfather's cooking, dishes are thoroughly contemporary to suit today's more adventurous, sophisticated palate. Something like Eating House 1849's "Huli Huli" kim chee pork belly, with its combo of pork belly laced with go chu jang and miso aioli, and draped with kim chee would probably have made your ancestors' heads spin and their eyes pop out of their sockets. The audacity! The explosion of flavors! But for us descendants, it is oh so good.
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Eating House 1849 by Roy Yamaguchi is on the third floor Grand Lana at International Market Place, Waikiki. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch and 5 to 10 p.m. for dinner. Call 924-1849.

Most people don't think of vegetables like cauliflower and Brussels sprouts as an adequate pupu, but these are fried with toasted pine nuts, Golden raisins and tossed with balsamic vinegar to become the appetizer of your dreams.

Hawaii's Portuguese heritage is celebrated with this dish of Manila clam and Hawaiian tako cataplana with housemade linguica. The mild tomato sauce left something to be desired, as did the sweet bread, though I get the connection. With more Italian restaurants out there, people just assume red sauce = garlic bread.

After doubling up on the gyoza, it was really tempting to do the same with "Huli Huli" pork belly. This dish with go chu jang, miso aioli, kim chee and green onions amounted to a party in the mouth, in a good way, without trashing the premises. Flavors were balanced and got on well together. So awesome!

Sometimes sequence is everything. After the pork belly, Lola's pork adobo lumpia seemed rather staid; served with a small green papaya salad and sambal tomato that wasn't particularly memorable.

Housemade corned beef reuben gets an assist from local Naked Cow Dairy Swiss cheese, Mul kim chi and the brightness of Thousand Island dressing.

It's not local without a loco moco, and the Hawaii Ranchers beef patty with Hawaiian mushroom gravy makes this one outstanding. So juicy!

Kiawe-smoked ribeye + chimichurri sauce. 'Nuff said.

Dessert of molten lava cake and vanilla bean ice cream will make you appreciate the evolution of restaurants since the days of the original Eating House.

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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.

First course: Stripsteak

By
August 23rd, 2016



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Michael Mina is excited to be opening his first restaurant in Hawaii. Stripsteak by Michael Mina will open its doors Aug. 25 at International Market Place.

Whereas I have heard some imported chefs dissing Hawaii's cuisine lately, Michael Mina embraces it. He clearly loves everything about Hawaii, saying that he has tried multiple times to open a restaurant here.

And why not? He's practically a part-time resident anyway, traveling here about five times a year to vacation because he "doesn't want to be disappointed," as he has been when traveling elsewhere.

The reason is simple. "I need the time to unwind, and here, I can unwind in a day. Otherwise, it's hard for me."

So he's thrilled to be opening Stripsteak by Michael Mina at the International Market Place. His restaurant will open at lunch time, from 11:30 a.m. Aug. 25, the same day as the market place, and he'll be here through early September to make sure the operation is running smoothly.

COURTESY STRIPSTEAK

The restaurant's interior hews closely to these artist's rendering of Strip Steak's bar and lounge, and dining room.

strip int

"I'm definitely nervous, I'm always nervous when opening a new restaurant," he said. But he said because this is a city where many people pass through, his waitstaff is accustomed to dealing with every type of patron, and he's happy with the team he's assembled, starting with executive chef Ben Jenkins, an 18-year company veteran whose held the top posts in the Mina Group.

The restaurant represents a departure from the traditional steak house in that Mina said he's noted that people no longer embrace the stereotypical notion of walking into a steakhouse and being almost too stuffed to walk out. He said people want to eat lighter and cleaner.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Staffers go through a training session in the dining room, during which Mina Group president Patric Yumul offers serving suggestions and demos the tableside presentation of Michael's ahi tuna (poke).

Michael's ahi tuna (poke) calls for first mixing the egg, then tossing the fish with ancho chili pepper, sweet Asian pear and pine nuts before enjoying on toast points. Different, yet still credible for locals steeped in poke knowledge.

With Stripsteak Waikiki, Mina is merging the best ideas from his Bourbon Steak restaurants and izakaya-style Pabu restaurants, a combination that fits in naturally with Hawaii's diverse culinary scene, where we are accustomed to preceding main courses with raw selections, and of course, surf-and-turf combos.

He said obsession over great product and great technique, binds the steak house with the izakaya, and both concepts suit the modern diner, who enjoys sharing dishes as a path to exploring more of what a menu has to offer. Especially with the addition of distinct regional flavors.

As for prices, starters range from $8 and $12 for charred edamame and blistered shishito peppers, respectively, up to $21 for chilled lobster tacos and $31 for Hudson Valley foie gras with roasted pineapple, brioche, coconut and macadamia nuts.

Japanese A5 striploin is $34 per ounce, 10-ounce prime flat iron steak is $44 and 8-ounce filet mignon is $54.
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Stripsteak by Michael Mina is in the International Market Place, 2330 Kalakaua Ave., Suite 330. Lunch 11:30 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays, dinner from 5:30 p.m. nightly. Call 800-3094.

A blessing of the 8,600 square foot restaurant took place Aug. 23. From left are Kahu Cordell, chef Ben Jenkins, Michael Mina, Mina Group president Patric Yumul and general manager Ron Bonifacio.

A trio of cocktails including the Black Tie, a mai tai reimagined with black sesame paste. Delicious! And duck fat fries, regular and furikake, served with a trio of sauces: ketchup, truffle and tonkatsu.

The market price "Luau Feast" raw platter featuring king crab legs, whole lobster, six oysters, six clams, six shrimp, six pieces of sashimi, two sushi rolls and two kinds of poke, for four to six.

The feast was almost as big as Krislyn Hashimoto.

A "small plate" of Instant Bacon comprised Kurobuta pork belly topped with tempura oyster and black pepper-soy glaze.

Blistered shishito peppers with slivers of espelette pepper and daikon sprouts are served over watermelon carpaccio, just in case you get the hot one. I did!

O

Of course you can't go to Stripsteak and order everything BUT the steak. This market price World Wide Wagyu set features Japanese A5 striploin, American wagyu skirt steak and Australian wagyu shortrib. Yes, the Japanese are hard to beat.

A side of creamed corn with Jalapeño is so ono, $12.

A side of creamed corn with Jalapeño is so ono, $12. At this point, I had to leave for a second dinner, so didn't get a chance to sample dessert. I will make up for it later.


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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.

Chibo moves to Beach Walk

By
August 15th, 2016



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Negiyaki is one of my favorite dishes at Okonomiyaki Chibo.

Okonomiyaki Chibo has a new address, having moved out of Royal Hawaiian Center and onto Beach Walk Avenue, next to Bill's restaurant. The move into what was formerly Bill's downstairs cafe has meant downsizing from more than a hundred seats to fewer than 50, making it a lot cozier.

With the move, there's also been some menu changes, including making a few "hidden" menu options official, with a permanent spot so that everyone can enjoy them, not just those in the know. These dishes have a lot to do with comfort, such as okonomiyaki-style omelet of egg and slices of pork, and potatoes two ways (hash browned and sautéed) with bacon and onions.

They're still acclimating to the change, but for now, below is a sampling of a few dishes available.

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Okonomiyaki Chibo is at 280 Beach Walk Ave., Suite L-106. Open 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 to 10 p.m. daily. Happy hour from 4:30 to 6 p.m.

This hidden menu combo of pork and egg is now on Chibo's menu for good.

This hidden menu combo of pork and egg is now on Chibo's menu for good.

Salads cut the guilt involved with eating out, and Chibo offers several options, including this tofu salad.

A Korean salad features a spicy dressing and sprinkling of sesame seeds over lettuce, beet strings, carrots, red cabbage, onions and fishcake.

A carpaccio trio of maguro, salmon and tako are part of a new tapas menu.

A carpaccio trio of maguro, salmon and tako are part of a new tapas menu.

Paper thin crispy gyoza is one of the specialties at Chibo. That little bit of sauce packs an intensely salty kick.

Grilled opakapaka is a welcome addition to the menu at Chibo.

Fluffy garlic fried rice and miso soup are staples for accompanying any dish.

Potato lovers will be drawn to this duo of hash browns and sautéed potatoes with bacon, though the bacon was rather flabby. Crisp mo' betta.

Well this is an interesting dish for teppan steak lovers with vegan friends. This is faux steak made with konnyaku, or potato gelatin, known for being high in fiber and low in calories. It looks like steak, but its bounce factor is recognizably konnyaku. It's $8 vs. $38 for Prime New York steak here.

A strawberry or pineapple slush is a refreshing treat on a hot day. There's ice cream on the bottom. It's $8.

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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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