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

First course: Plenty to savor at Sushi Ginza Onodera

February 12th, 2014
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onoyellowSushi of yellowtail that was marinated five hours in a light blend of soy sauce, shiitake, mirin and sake and lightly seared. Topped with daikon and aged negi. True bliss, at Sushi Ginza Onodera.Nadine Kam photos

Honolulu has always been a great city for sushi lovers because of our access to great catch and resulting numbers of sushi bars. But Sushi Ginza Onodera is a game-changer in this town because nothing else is comparable. Sushi here is exceptional, accented here and there with a bit of yuzu, ginger, seasoned salt or a brushstroke of soy sauce and fresh grated wasabi to bring out the seafood's best attributes.

For that, you'll pay a price. Onodera's omakase meals are set at $160, $200 and $250. For $160, you get one appetizer and 13 pieces of nigiri sushi. The $200 menu features four appetizers and about 11 pieces of sushi. For $250, you get five appetizers and about 13 pieces of sushi. The $200 menu seemed like a happy medium for the variety of appetizers that are subject to change on a daily, seasonal basis. On the plus side, as in Japan, you don't have to pay a gratuity.

The experience could prove to be a life changer as well. For myself:

Fallacy No. 1: I would rather spend money on fashion than food. Most of us are not millionaires, so we make sacrifices to acquire and do the things we want, whether to travel, take classes, dine out or acquire the latest shoe or handbag. To eat here again, friends tell me I have to sacrifice buying one new handbag, and I find myself willing to do just that.

Fallacy No. 2: I don’t like uni. My late husband loved uni, so it was great when we ordered nigiri sets. He could claim the one piece that I wanted no part of. He often urged me to try it, and I would take a nibble. I never changed my mind. It was always too strong and pungent to be palatable. After trying it in Tokyo last year, I realized not all uni is created equally. There, it was mild and sweet. A local fisherman friend suggested it may be because of the urchins' diet. The purple and bafun uni here are also sweet and creamy, both with distinctive flavor. I ate up every single bit of both, and may have finally become a true believer.

Here is an array from the $200 omakase:

onoyamAmuse: Yamaimo with a touch of soy sauce, okra and shaved bonito, over a layer of delicate cucumber froth.

The appetizers:

onosashimiSashimi of sea bass and yellowtail, marinated as sushi at top.

onoappWhole, thumb-size firefly squid from Kyoga prefecture, Japan, and steamed Big Island abalone at its most delicious, sweet and tender. With fresh grated wasabi.

onosacWaxy shirako, or cod sperm sac with a pinch of scallop-shiitake salt.

onocrabHokkaido hairy crab chawanmushi.

The nigiri+:

ononigiriBig-eye tuna and gizzard shad. (more…)

First course: Goofy Cafe embraces local

February 6th, 2014
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goofyfishGrilled mahimahi with chardonnay butter and local vegetables. — Nadine Kam photos

In the old model of national invasions, the conquerors would plow over native cultures and instill their own set of values and traditions. The current tide of Japanese investment in our islands is much more respectful. It would seem they like us, they really do, and many, like Goofy Cafe—which I reviewed Feb. 5 in the Star-Advertiser—are doing what they can to help us negotiate a changing world to preserve what we can of our land, sea and culture.

I feel a similar protective instinct toward China. If I had the proper global standing, I would have told their leaders 20 years ago, look at us and learn from our mistakes. Don't promote the automobile. Don't build super highways. Keep your bikes; promote public transportation. They did the opposite to the detriment of their air and quality of life.

At the front of executive chef Keigo Yoshimoto's menu is Goofy's Traceability Report, as well as its food policy, which is "Local first, organic whenever possible." About 80 percent of its food and condiments are sourced locally, from the basics of Kunia tomatoes, Ewa onions and Big Island Kulana Ranch beef, to rum from Lahaina, and honey and vanilla from the Big Island.

The surf-themed cafe is very comfy, done up in rustic style with a warm wood interior. "Goofy" is a surf/skate/board sport reference to that small proportion of goofy-footed boarders who lead with their right, instead of more common left, foot.

These right-footed folks are viewed as being more artistic and rebellious, terms that reflect nicely on the cafe. Here's a look at a few of the dishes.
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Goofy Cafe is at 1831 Ala Moana Boulevard, Suite 201, in front of the Grand Waikikian Hotel. Call 808.943.0077. Open 7 to 11 a.m. for breakfast, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for lunch, and 4 to 11 p.m. for dinner. Also www.goofy-honolulu.com

goofykaleKale namul.

goofyajilloA special of Big Island abalone ajillo, with plenty of garlic cloves. There is also a Hamakua mushroom version available daily. The textures are similar.

goofycornKahuku corn penne with cream sauce. (more…)

First course: Kaiseki returns to Hiroshi

February 5th, 2014
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hitakoBraised island tako was the second course served up during the inaugural New Age Kaiseki dinner at Hiroshi Eurasion Tapas. — Nadine Kam photos

The kaiseki dinner has long been a draw at Hiroshi Eurasion Tapas, but the concept was put on hold after namesake chef Hiroshi Fukui's departure last August.

With the new year, the kaiseki dinner returned on Jan. 28, now showcasing the work of executive chef John Iha, exec sous chef Axelrod Colobang, and pastry chef Cherie Pascua, a former James Beard nominee.

The trio honed their skills in Hiroshi’s kitchen, and are moving beyond “Eurasion”— a fusion of European and Asian aesthetic, opening the menu to a world of flavors and ingredients. Even so, the menu is rooted in local meat, seafood and produce in the belief that helping local producers enriches the entire community in terms of sustainability and livelihood.

The nine-course "New Age Kaiseki" dinner was priced at $75 per person, with six-course wine pairing set at $25.

To get on the mailing list for future dinners, email cgomez@dkresturants.com.

Here's what was on the inaugural menu:

carpaccioFirst course: Mekajiki carpaccio with sesame oil-chive relish, chili pepper water vinaigrette, micro greens and truffle oil. Accompanied by Birichino Malvasia Bianca. (more…)

First course: 2 new tenants at Shirokiya Yataimura

January 21st, 2014
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sukiyaki
All sukiyaki bowls—regular, large and extra large—will be one price, $4.90, on Jan. 22, to celebrate Matsuzaka-Tei's grand opening at Shirokiya's Yataimura.
Nadine Kam photos

Shirokiya's  Yataimura  welcomed two new tenants this morning, Kitanoya, specializing in Hakkaido king and snow crab, and Matsuzaka-Tei, offering inexpensive comfort meals of sukiyaki.

Both will celebrate their shared grand opening on Jan. 22, with an all-day special.

At Matsuzaka-Tei, all sizes of sukiyaki bowls—regular, large and extra large—will be $4.90. The regular prices are $4.90, $5.90 and $6.90. There probably won't be many orders for the small size tomorrow!

In Japan, sukiyaki is available as an inexpensive comfort food, and it comes as a complete meal here with miso soup (the soup is not available for take-out). The tender slices of beef and onions, also called gyu-don, is marinated in a mildly sweet sauce and served over rice.  It's juicy and satisfying.

Add-on toppings are also available for $1 each. They include ontama (half boiled egg), cheese, green onions, kim chee, natto, okra and tororo (Japanese yam).

Kitanoya will be offering a 10 percent discount off all its crab and rice bentos on Jan. 22. Regular prices range from $9.85 to $26 depending on the amount of crab offered. After opening day, only 50 $9.85 bentos will be offered daily.

Kitanoya specializes in crab imported directly from Hokkaido, renowned for its seafood, farm and dairy industries.

shcrab

You can't miss the sign indicating Kitanoya crab.

crabbasic
Only 50 of these $9.85 crab bentos will be available daily. Options are shredded crab with ikura, or shredded crab with a larger piece of crab leg.

crab2
Much more crab is offered in the $26 bento.

shsukiyaki
A steer marks the site of Matsuzaka-Tei on the mauka side of Shirokiya's second floor.

shyogurt

After the main course, cross the aisle to  5&2 Yogurt for dessert. Here, frozen yogurt is buried under fruit, nut and candy options. A smaller sampling of acai-flavored yogurt, below. One plain, one covered with chocolate yogurt, M&Ms and gummy candy.

dessert

 

First course: Cake Envy opens in downtown Honolulu

January 16th, 2014
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cheesecakeA vast selection of cheesecakes awaits at Cake Envy, which opened this morning in downtown Honolulu, next door to the Fighting Eel boutique.Nadine Kam photos

Otto Cake's departure for Kaimuki left a cheesecake void in downtown Honolulu, which paved the way for the opening of Cake Envy, featuring fluffy confections baked up by chef/owner Amy Brookes, who's been baking for restaurants, events and TV productions since 2002.

This is her first storefront, at 1129 Bethel St., in a former floral shop next door to the Fighting Eel boutique.

Her refrigerator shelves are full of her 9-inch creations (enough for 12 to 16 people, according to her, though I'm sure some can eat more than their share), made with locally sourced ingredients whenever possible, such as Kona coffee and mango. Then there are classics by category, such as "Lust for Chocolate," including mocha and "Death by Chocolate" cakes, "Sinful Fruits," "Imposters" inspired by other desserts, and "Indulgence" such as Baileys, mojito and maple bacon flavors. Call ahead to see what's available on a particular day.

The 924-square-foot space has 25 seats for those who want to sit and enjoy dessert, whether after lunch, dinner or as a pre- or post-Hawaii Theatre treat.

A "Slice of Heaven," in any flavor, is $6. A whole cheesecake is $50. A sampler of three or four flavors is $60.

For special orders, allow 48 hours notice.
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Cake Envy is at 1129 Bethel St., open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays. Call 599-8900, or visit www.cakeenvy.net

cakeenvy
Chef-owner Amy Brookes with her Strawberry Silk cheesecake.

cake delish
The interior was done by Cathy Lee, of Cathy Lee Style, who turned some negative feaatures into positives, incorporating pipes into quaint decor, or covering them, such as the pipe shown, with the "L" in "Delish," which beckons passersby to stop in.

cakedeath

cakecara
On opening night, Jan. 15, guests enjoyed small bites, including this Salted Caramel cheesecake. Truly delish, as the wall reads. (more…)