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

Roy's Beach House now open

By
August 4th, 2016



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Roy's Beach House has opened its doors at the Turtle Bay Resort.

Roy Yamaguchi is a busy man on a roll this year, slated to open four Hawaii restaurants. First to debut is Roy's Beach House at Turtle Bay Resort, which opened its doors Aug. 2.

During a preview dinner a day ahead of the opening, I was able to sample some of the resort menu at the beachfront restaurant and bar that replaced Ola restaurant.

Given the beachfront setting, surprisingly the first in Roy's 28-year history in the islands, the chef offers fare worthy of Hawaii's royals who once swam and relaxed at Kuilima Cove, and honors Hawaii's hotelier history with dishes like pineapple upside-down cake and Surf & Turf, that attempted to introduce a little bit of Hawaii's culinary fare to westbound visitors. We've come a long way since then, but those dishes do stir a pleasant sense of nostalgia.

Next up will be his Eating House 1849 restaurant, which pays homage to Hawaii's plantation past, set to open in the revamped International Market Place, followed by openings in Kapolei and on Maui. Can't wait for all of International Market Place to open, but for now, photos below show little of what you can expect from a visit to Roy's Beach House.
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Roy's Beach House at Turtle Bay Resort is open daily for lunch from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. Call (808) 293-7697.

A glorious beach setting is always a welcome sight.

Another welcome sight after a long drive, Beach House sangria and Just Because cocktail of rum, passionfruit and lilikoi purée and mint, topped with coconut flakes. So ono!

I love that Kualoa Ranch is able to produce oysters, served here with wasabi cocktail sauce, Tabasco-tequila mignonette and jalapeño ponzu.

Island-style poke over your choice of brown or white rice is $20.

TOP 3 DISHES

Here are my dinner picks to date, though I need to go back and reaccess before a formal review.

Maybe because it's summer, and it's so hot outside, this Hau'ula tomato salad ($16) was light and fresh, just what I needed.

Again, because there was so much meat on the table, silky misoyaki butterfish ($38) with sizzled Ho Farms tomato sauce offered respite from heavier dishes.

I loved the idea of retro pineapple upside-down cake and the mellow sweetness of the caramelized pineapple. Not a sour note here.

MORE DISHES

This photo doesn't begin to show how large this Tuscan braised lamb shank is. Let's just say it was shared by eight people and I had enough leftovers for two meals. Beans could have had less salt.

Macadamia nut mahimahi is a stock dish that gets an upgrade from an accompaniment of lobster Pernod essence, like a concentrated lobster bisque.

When the mahi reappeared with braised shortribs on a Surf & Turf plate ($37), we didn't know the sauce was the lobster essence for the fish, so dipped the beef in it. The shellfish-beef combo was a winner with the men at the table.

Thai chicken was layered with curry sauce and a sprinkling of peanuts. Served with pineapple chutney and jasmine rice.

Chocolate souffle cake is always a favorite of chocoholics.

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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.

Bozu's dozens of temptations

By
July 27th, 2016



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Beef in a decadent (and telegenic) appetizer of mountain yam and sea urchin beef roll (currently $15.75 for three) at the newly open Bozu Japanese Restaurant at McCully Shopping Center was rather chewy, but if you're the type who swallows your sushi in one gulp, this should pose no problem. The leaf is shiso. The dab of green on top is wasabi.

Hoshi Katsu has stepped out of the kitchen of other Japanese restaurants around town, most notably Imanas Tei, to open Bozu Japanese Restaurant on the second floor at McCully Shopping Center, and there are a lot of foodies around town who are going to be happy that he did.

His izakaya is a joy, with many a jewel of a dish leaving me with a hunger to try what's next, and next. Portions are small, but mostly reasonable when shared. It's best to try it with at least three friends in tow so you can explore the range of hot-cold, seafood-meat, grill-saute, raw-cooked specialties.

Then there are the things that can't be shared, like chilled chawanmushi or crab miso soup. Get your own.

And, my best piece of advice is, keep your eyes open for what's going out to other tables. It's a little bit like "When Harry Met Sally." "I want what she's having," without the moaning. Chances are you'll see lots you want to try, even if you'd already filled your belly and it means booking your next reservation before walking out the door.

My full review is in the paper today. Here's a snapshot of dishes sampled:

TOP 3 DISHES

Chilled chawanmushi is a refreshing summer treat, with the flavors of the ocean, including bursts of salt from fresh ikura pearls. Currently $7.50 per glass, roughly about twice the size of a shot glass.

Slices of juicy, grilled black pork tontoro. You may need more than one of these $8 servings. Portions tend to be small here, which works for those who want to cover as much of the varied menu as possible.

Chicken liver mousse had us clamoring for more bread to scoop up every delicious bite.

LEAST FAVORITE

Tsukune, tare style, was tasty on the outside, but lacked flavor on the inside, though I appreciated the attempt to make it more interesting with a crunchy mince of lotus root inside.

A special of crab miso soup looked divine but the crab required too much hard work without enough of a payoff.

A crab mayo whitefish roll with avocado seemed promising but it was rather dry and fell

A crab mayo whitefish roll with avocado seemed promising but it was rather dry and fell apart. It was incongruously paired with tomato sauce.

THE REST

I have often mentioned how little I care for rice. What I do love are potatoes, and Bozu's tangy potato salad.

What's better than french fries? Fries sprinkled with garlic and housemade anchovy sauce. Not everyone will appreciate the fishiness, but I do. I wish someone here would make fish paste fried chicken the way it's done in Singapore. Yummers!

For others who don't care for rice, Bozu has a cucumber wrap, riceless "sushi" with a center of ahi, yellowtail, salmon, whitefish, cab and avocado. I loved the combination with crunch, but didn't photograph it. This is the house Bozu Roll with rice, and all of the above plus shrimp.

Chef/owner Hoshi Katsu at work, plating the masterpiece below. Sorry, I don't know what it was. A lot of things were going out to other tables after I ordered, on every occasion. Which is what I mean about wanting more every time you see a dish go by.

bozudisplay

Can anybody ever go wrong with hamachi kama?

A dish of fried chicken and eggplant is Bozu's nod to Chinese cuisine. The sauce was rather heavy and I liked the dish's crunchy zucchini best. It was unscathed by the sauce.

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Someone once told me they missed aku poke. So I decided to see what I was missing and try the aku tataki. Now I know why ahi is the fish of choice. The texture is better.

Mirugai kushiyaki was one of about 20 daily seafood specials. This was $5.75 per skewer.

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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.

4th of July Four Seasons-style

By
July 6th, 2016



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Glen Almazan oversaw a raw bar featuring crab claws and snow crab legs, and different kinds of poke.

All across the nation, the 4th of July is celebrated with an All-American backyard bash. In Hawaii, the beach cookout is another popular option. So the Four Seasons Oahu at Ko Olina made it a double celebration when it hosted a grand opening party for 500 with a backyard barbecue extraordinaire, complete with a view of the resortwide fireworks show at the end of the evening.

Guests were welcomed with cocktails and treated to music by Tahiti Rey while enjoying food from a raw bar, seafood paella, bone-in prime rib, roast pork, and grilled corn on the cob which my friends and I were calling magic corn after enjoying a version of it during a visit to the resort's Fish House restaurant. (This was a pared down version, so you'll just have to go to the restaurant to get the full impact of just how good it is.)

Fireworks above the palm trees.

In addition to his welcoming remarks, Jeff Stone, founder of The Resort Group behind the development of the Four Seasons property, formerly the Ihilani Resort. Looking to Maui for inspiration, he said he envisions Ko Olina as "Wailea on Oahu," as a draw for travelers, with the aim of creating another economic engine for Hawaii.

Well, they certainly started with a bang!

Biggest wok ever.

Welcoming cocktails.

A table set with bone-in prime rib and tomato and arugula salad.

Roast herbed potatoes and a view of the beachfront lawn.

More prime rib making its way to other stations across the lawn.

Paella for 500.

Grilled corn being plated for service.

I had a view of the fireworks from the adult pool deck.

PHOTO BY MELISSA CHANG

Gangsta pose at the end of the night with Sean Morris, with Four Seasons caps added to our red, white and blue outfits.


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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: Inside Fish House, at the new Four Seasons Ko Olina

By
June 29th, 2016



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

It took three to bring this three-tiered Fish House Tower to the table. From left, Four Seasons Ko Olina general manager Sanjiv Hulugalle, Fish House chef Ray German and Fish House general manager Thomas Stone.

I've been so busy keeping my eye on soon-to-open restaurants in Waikik that I overlooked what was going on in Ko Olina, where The Four Seasons Resort Oahu has opened to all in need of an escape from their daily routines.

To celebrate, the resort at Ko Olina is offering Hawaii residents (with valid ID) a 50 percent off best available room rate (about $595 per night to date) from June 29 through Dec. 19, 2016, with complimentary amenities including valet parking and Internet access throughout the resort.

Coinciding with the hotel opening is the debut of dining areas on site, including the Hokule'a Coffee Bar, the luxury Italian restaurant Noe, and the casual-luxe, beach-front, line-to-table restaurant, Fish House.

The restaurants opened to hotel guests yesterday before opening to the public today. A visit to Fish House netted an abundance of seafood and other dishes with chef Ray German's signature Latin flair.

In spite of all the luxury the Four Seasons stands for, this place is far from stodgy. Dishes of burgers, steaks and seafood are presented in a room with a rustic, beachy vibe that suits the location mere steps from sand and sea.

Here's a quick peek that doesn't begin to give a complete picture of the number of dishes and sides available. This being the Four Seasons, sandwiches are $22, 8- to 14-oz. steaks are about $48. Budget accordingly.

A fish scale pattern graces the bar at Fish House.

To the side of this lounge area is a pool table.

To the side of this lounge area is a pool table.

An amuse of cubed mango topped with black sea salt, with lardon and uni.

At a restaurant named Fish House, your first thought may be to get the Fish House Tower, configured to suit your party size, and starting at $35 for four seafood selections for one to two. This is essentially a large ($125 for four to five people) with the addition of two whole Keahole lobsters at $55 each.

The large tower also comes with two kinds of poke, here the traditional ahi with ogo and onions, and one of the specials for the summer's day was ceviche with lime, orange slices and avocado.

Kim Shibata wanted an overhead vantage of the feast.

Libations include many a craft cocktail, beer, wine, kombucha, cold-pressed juices and this Pineapple Elyx-ir of local pineapple juice, pomegranate, hibiscus, champagne, bitters and vodka. Share it with friends, or not.

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The Fish House salad is a cross between a wedge salad and old-fashioned shrimp-and-crab Louie, topped with shaved bonito. Mix in the poached egg.

A

As good as all the dishes were, no one could get enough of the spiced-up North Shore corn on the cob with lime, smoked paprika, creamy condensed milk aioli and Parmesan cheese. The corn itself was so fresh and sweet, the perfect texture. A definite OMG moment.

Grilled onaga was served with chili water and flavored vinegar.

A healthful starter of chilled avocado drizzled with quinoa and hazelnut crumble, and cider vinegar.

One of the entrances to the restaurant.

Looking down from the lobby level to one of three pools. Fish House restaurant is next to the pool.

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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.

Rice Place's fresh take on a basic

By
June 28th, 2016



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Imperial Rolls are filled with a mix of juicy shrimp and pork in a delicate rice paper wrap at Rice Place. Delicious! They're part of a larger dinner appetizer platter that also includes bulgogi rolls and Bae Bae Cakes of sticky rice topped with char siu and lup cheong.

Rice Place owner Trinh Vo notes that in many cultures, to say "Let's eat," literally means to eat rice.

Indeed, those were among the first words I learned when studying Cantonese in college, and again now that I am studying Mandarin. "Sik faan" translates literally in Cantonese as "eat rice," and to ask, "Sik faan mei ah?" or, "Have you eaten yet?," is the equivalent of saying hello. It's the same when you ask, "Ni chi le ma?" in Mandarin.

And so, Vo's restaurant is a celebration of Asia's rice tradition, with many of the dishes offering her fresh, contemporary take on Vietnamese cuisine, while other dishes take their cues from Chinese, Japanese and Thai cuisine.

Some people who read my columns may remember that I have an aversion to rice that started in infancy, when, as a young food critic, I refused to eat a mixture of rice and chopped steak that my parents were attempting to pass off as food. At 1, I would sit in my high chair for what felt like hours, while my dad tried to coax then force me to swallow that squishy wad of food. I wouldn't do it, so dinner time always proved to be a traumatic experience for both of us.


Rice Place owner Trinh Vo must be good at getting her kids to eat, because I gladly ate two things at her restaurant that I don't usually enjoy, rice and cucumbers. She made cucumbers palatable in this dish of Refresher Deluxe, the cucumber "noodles" tossed with grilled ika and poached shrimp in a light vinaigrette.

As I grew older, all my suspicions about that white, flavorless, flabby material were confirmed, that polished white rice was devoid of nutrition and was simply filler material for lack of better ingredients.

At Rice Place, though, it ain't like that. Instead, Vo explores the world of rice flours, noodles and fine lacy rice papers that she treats with utmost respect.

Although she describes herself as a home cook, that doesn't take into account the fact that she grew up in the business. Her mother ran a catering business and at one point, five food trucks in the San Francisco Bay Area, and Vo—who eventually grew up to work in the fashion industry—always provided an extra hand. Unlike her two other siblings, she found food preparation fun instead of a chore.

This is not street fare, so flavors are more muted than your typical Chinatown Vietnamese restaurant. At times I miss the intensity of in-your-face fish sauce and Asian herbs heaped on unapologetically, but there is a spare elegance at work here that is a breath of fresh air and gives us a glimpse of Asian cuisine of the future.
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The Rice Place is at 725 Kapiolani Boulevard, C119B, where Ah-Lang, or Angry Korean Lady, used to be. Open 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5:30 to 9 p.m. Mondays to Fridays, Saturday brunch from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and dinner 6 to 9:30 p.m. Call 799-6959. Visit thericeplace808.com.

TOP 5 DISHES

Usually I narrow my choices to Top 3 dishes, but I couldn't do it here. I liked so many of them, so here's my Top 5:

Báhn xèo, described on the menu as "Lettuce Wrap Rice Flour Crepe" looks like an egg crepe, but the rice batter cooks up extra crispy, a nice counterpoint to soft savory fillings of shrimp, pork belly and bean sprouts. It's served with lettuce and mint for wrapping, plus a mild sweet garlic chili sauce for dipping.

The Imperial Rolls star in a dish of Noodles and Rolls served with steamed rice noodle cakes and lettuce for wrapping. Taste the rolls solo too.

The Imperial Rolls star in a dish of Noodles and Rolls served with steamed rice noodle cakes and lettuce for wrapping. Taste the rolls solo too.

Flat, translucent rice noodles are a joy in this dish of pesto boat noodles. The housemade pesto contains no nuts ito address those with nut allergies.

The Asian Cajun makes my list because I love spicy food. Others will find this tom yum version of a Louisiana seafood boil way too hot to handle. Due to the delicacy of the other dishes, when ordering, eat this last.

Housemade condensed milk gelato is rich and creamy as expected, served with housemade azuki beans with a touch of lemon for preserving texture, and housemade mochi that's soft, not as chewy as the commercial variety. It melts quickly, so work fast.

MORE DISHES

Though we've seen many a rice bun over the past two years, the rice is usually too soft, the texture flabby. Not so the scaled down crispy rice buns of Rice Place's Go! Go! Rice Burger Sliders of beef bulgogi and cucumbers. The perfectly crisped rice was the best part.

The Rice Place offers daily stew specials. I didn't quite get this one with bean sprouts, look funn rolls and baked pork with side of broth. I felt like they were disparate ingredients in need of a binder. Hold out for beef brisket stew. Now that one's a keeper!

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner is a take on Hainanese chicken rice, a dish I find boring. It's perfect for those who can't stomach spices and herbs.

The Carnitarian dish comprises ribeye wrapped asparagus with a thickened teriyaki sauce. I found it less interesting than the Vietnamese- and Thai-style dishes.

Sticky rice and mango for dessert.

A rice cream sandwich dessert with green tea ice cream is tricky to share because the ice cream oozes out when you try to cut it.

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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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