Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Hula Grill shows its support for farms and the community

March 29th, 2016



Makaweli Ranch tenderloin tartare with pickled ho'io, pecorino, Ululoa amaranth and truffle was my favorite dish of the evening at the "Hula Grill Digs Farmers" farm-to-table event, paired with Ocean Vodka.

Hula Grill Waikiki paid tribute to Hawaii’s ranchers and paniolo during "Hula Grill Digs Farmers," a farm-to-table event that took place at the restaurant on March 23.

Chef Matt Young's menu highlighted the Kauai-based Makaweli Meat Co., with five stations offering food and drink pairings at $65 per person.

A portion of ticket sale proceeds will be donated to the Royal Order of Kamehameha, which supports the Paʻu Riders of the King Kamehameha Floral Parade. June 11, 2016, marks the 100th anniversary of the parade that will begin at Iolani Palace and continue down Kalakaua Avenue to concludes at the Waikiki Bandstand.

Guests included several pa'u riders, including pa'u queen Gayle Fujita Ramsey.

The event is part of Hula Grill’s charitable Legacy of Aloha program, supporting local non-profit organizations that foster sustainability in our communities and/or preserve the Hawaiian culture and the culinary arts.

The view from Hula Grill.

For this paniolo-themed event, even the Lanikai Brewing Co. bottles dressed for the occasion. Excuse the spelling of "paniolo" on the inset caption. I was playing with Snapchat and the booboos are impossible to fix!

A snap of Ocean organic vodka. I promise to get a stylus so my handwriting is better!

A different kind of loco moco, made with burger topped with roasted Hamakua mushroom and bordelaise sauce, with 146-degree poached Ka Lei egg and rosemary arancini. Paired with Deep Island Hawaiian Rum.


Red curry-marinated Makaweli skirt steak was accompanied by coconut-braised taro, Ho Farms cherry tomatoes, and toasted peanuts. Pairing: Lanikai Brewing Co. Imperial Red Ale with Ginger.

Niihau lamb ragu with handmade pappardelle, tomatoes, melted leeks and Naked Cow Dairy feta. Pairing: Lanikai Brewing Co. Pillbox Porter.

Dessert came in a paper bag, accompanied by a Lanikai Brewing Co. Haupia Imperial Stout and Okole Maluna chocolate gelato milkshake. I promise to get a stylus so my handwriting is better.

hula bag2

Easy Chinese cooking, Popo style

March 22nd, 2016


Spareribs in black bean sauce was cooking when June Tong presented a cooking demonstration for the See Dai Doo Society.

In Chinese four pillars astrology, my bazi chart is heavy on water. Water flows. Water can be as gentle as a brook or raging like a tsunami. It's one of the strongest of the elements, seeping into crevices to break rocks apart. In relation to the other elements, water douses fires, rusts metal, causes seeds to sprout from the earth, and nourishes wood.

Because water is an unstoppable force, I love freedom and hate being put in a box. I disdain authority, which is represented by metal.

There is no metal in my sign. So, the surest way to make me do something is to tell me I can't do it.

I was in Shanghai a few years ago and met a designer from Brooklyn who, after starting his business in China, became fluent in Mandarin. A disciplined sort in contrast to my free spirit, he dared me to learn the language and wanted to bet that I could not do it in a year.

Whoa, them's fighting words! So next thing you know, I started attending Mandarin classes offered by the See Dai Doo Society. Difficult, serious stuff, but it's not all about how hard work. The society's programs extend to other cultural pursuits such as Chinese cooking.

Start with three pounds of ribs that have been parboiled and lightly dredged in flour.

On March 20, the society welcomed "Popo's Kitchen" cookbook author June Tong for a demonstration of her black bean sparerib, mochi rice and dau lau recipes.

I was interested in the dau lau, or mochi balls, because it's something my mom made when I was a child and over the years, everyone got busy, moved away from home, and I forgot all about dau lau until my memory was sparked by seeing it again at a new year festival at the now-shuttered Grand Café.

It is a new year treat that can be enjoyed anytime of year. Unlike anything in Western cuisine, every element of the dau lau is symbolic, starting with the white of the mochi rice flour, representing purity, according to society member Sharlene Chun. Its spherical shape represents infinity, with no beginning and no end. The stickiness of the mochi rice also represents family cohesion, and toppings of coconut represent good health, peanuts stand for longevity because of the length of the vines and the nuts' enduring quality, sesame seeds reflect an abundance of sons and wealth, and the sweetness of brown sugar is equal to the sweetness of life.

There's a reason the "Popo's Kitchen" cookbooks have held up over time. The recipes are simple to make and delicious. For the spareribs, for example, all the ingredients went into a wok and simmered for 45 minutes, with all the magic happening while the cook rests.

Then, of course, the best part of the demo was the feast that followed. While Tong and her assistants demonstrated cooking in small batches, more work was being done in the society's kitchen, where volunteers humbly cooked up what they called a "snack," but the rest of us would call a meal, for about 50 lucky souls. Xie xie!

Recipes follow!

Leonard Kam prepares to add garlic and black beans to James Acopan's wok.

Cookbook author June Tong passes the finished dau lau to Dwayne Wong for sampling.

Dau lau in a coating of shredded coconut, peanuts and brown sugar. Each of the ingredients holds meaning.

3 pounds spareribs, cut up
3 tablespoons cooking oil
1/2 cup flour

Black bean mixture
2 tablespoons black bean (dau see)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce

1 tablespoon sugar
1 can chicken broth
1 cup water
1 cube chicken bouillon

Cornstarch mixture
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup water

Parboil spareribs. Rinse and drain well. Lightly dredge in flour.
Heat oil in heavy pan. Stir-fry black bean mixture. Add spareribs and brown.
Add seasonings while browning spareribs. Add broth and bring to boil. Cover with lid, lower heat and simmer 45 minutes.
Thicken with cornstarch mixture. Place on platter and garnish with green onions and Chinese parsley.

Flour mixture
1 pound mochi flour
16 ounces water

Topping mixture
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup peanuts, chopped
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Combine flour mixture and mix well. Pinch dough to form approximately inch-size balls.
Boil a pot of water. Drop mochi balls into rapidly boiling water. When dough floats to the top, remove with a slotted spoon. Roll cooled balls in topping mixture.

Mochi rice mixture
4 cups mochi rice
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon hondashi

Filling mixture
1/2 cup dry baby shrimp, washed and hard-boiled
1 cup lup cheong, cooked and diced fine
1/2 cup smoked ham or roast pork, diced fine
1 cup black mushrooms, soaked, par-boiled and diced fine
1 cup green onions, diced fine
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon five spice

Cook rice in rice cooker according to directions. Heat wok, adding 3 tablespoons of oil. Stir fry filling mixture. Combine rice and filling mixture as soon as rice cooker shifts to "warm." Mix well and let steam 30 minutes or more. Drizzle on soy sauce to taste, if desired, and mix well.

Y. Hata looks forward to next 100 years

April 4th, 2013

hataNadine Kam photos
A dessert flan bears the Y. Hata & Co. logo in white chocolate. The company is marking its centennial.

Y. Hata & Co. is marking its 100th anniversary as a wholesaler of dry, chilled and frozen food products, supplying Hawaii's food industry. As they put it, "Every time you quench your thirst at Jamba Juice of sit down to a meal at Zippy's, a burger at Teddy's or a sumptuous spread at Aulani, you're enjoying Y. Hata products."

Additionally, Y. Hata also supplies schools and military personnel daily.

To mark the occasion and in looking forward to the next 100 years, Y. Hata has undergone a 100th birthday renovation and refresh, with restyling by Cathy Lee Style, and held an open house April 3 with pau hana pupu and drinks showcasing some of the company's products.

Included in the revamp is third-generation chairman and CEO Russel Hata's gift to the company's 200 employees, a Google-inspired employee lounge constructed from a pair of shipping containers, and furnished with flat-screen television, game table, dart board and foosball table.

hata loungeA peek into the new Lounge @ Y. Hata, an employee lounge constructed from two shipping containers and styled by Cathy Lee Designs.

Also foremost in the renovation is the prominent display of the company's core values: Partners first, continuous improvement, ohana empowerment, ohana pride, candid communications, and live aloha, give aloha.

It was nice to see a business with a philosophy of putting people first, and I'm sure a lot of companies could learn from the example. Quite a few guests, after getting the workplace tour, were ready to fill out job applications!

Y. Hata & Co. had humble Hilo origins, starting in Yoichi and Naeko Hata's garage, after the couple immigrated from Japan. The company continues to be run by family. Russell is the son of chairman emeritus Frank Hata, the youngest of Yoichi and Naeko's 10 children.

And the company continues to look forward in ways beneficial to the aina and community, as a supporter of Kapiolani Culinary Institute of the Pacific, sponsor of culinary scholarships and CIP's national teams, and as home to a green, rooftop photovoltaic system.

Also of interest to many people will be the fact that they operate a retail store where anyone can shop for bulk food items, catering-size pans for parties and events, professional knives and cookware.

Among the most popular items are bags of McCormick chicken seasoning ($11.99) for deep-fry chicken and pork, and marinated kalbi, great considerations for your next big back-yard celebration. The shop is open from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays to Fridays, and 7:30 a.m. to noon Saturdays at 285 Sand Island Access Road.

Congratulations for 100 years of success and the next 100 to come!

hata1Y. Hata's third-generation chairman and CEO Russell Hata, with interior designer Cathy Lee.

hata spaceCathy said both genders were thrilled with the lounge, with the female employees immediately seeing it as a place for bridal and baby showers, and the men looking at it as a place to enjoy the Superbowl and other televised sports events.

hata wallA table for lunch or board games. All areas reflect Y. Hata corporate colors.

hata gamesEmployees can take a break for darts and board games, but they are never far from posters reflecting the company's mission and core values.

hata boardA dry erase board in the lounge provides a place for messages and brainstorming ideas. Outlets provide a place to plug in computers and other personal electronic devices.

hata entryA visitor entry also puts core values up front with retro and shoji-like touches reflecting Y. Hata's history and Japanese heritage.

hata lunchroomSitting area in one of the employee lunchrooms. Most of us wished we could live in such an environment.

hata nextA stairwell wallpaper poster offers encouragement in striving for the next 100 years of success.

On the menu prepared by Y. Hata executive chef Ernest Limcaco:

hatabeefBraised Sterling Silver chuck flat jardiniere with roast baby potatoes. There was also
seared Russian scallops in shellfish oil on mesclun, but I guess I was so anxious to try it I forgot to snap a photo.

hata pork

hata pork2Confit of Sterling Silver pork belly with lilikoi-mango glaze on foccaccia. The pork was so delicious. In spite of all the TV commercials, I never tried it at Times Supermarket but will be looking for it now! The chuck was also amazingly tender.

hata shrimpPil pil shrimp on sourdough crostini. It didn't start out spicy, but when someone else told the chef it wasn't spicy enough, they seemed to double up on the chili pepper flakes, so mine turned out to be extra spicy.

hata studentsThe company is also committed to bringing up the next generation of chefs, and among its interns from Assets School are Louie Coronado, left, and Croix Koenig.

hata dessertsI missed these desserts made from Albert Uster Imports mixes when Y. Hata participated in the recent Hawaii Foodbank "Great Chefs" event. At the time I was too full to sample, so was happy for this second chance. Included were a chocolate pots de creme topped with cubed haupia and toasted coconut, and panna cotta topped with champagne jelly.

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:


A new URL for Take a Bite

March 6th, 2012

Welcome to my new home at

Thanks to all those who followed Take a Bite at for two-and-a-half years.

A lot has happened in the newspaper business in that time. I started this blog with the Honolulu Star-Bulletin in August 2009. The following year, the Star-Bulletin’s parent company, Oahu Publications, purchased The Honolulu Advertiser to create one paper, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser — but my blog retained its old Star-Bulletin URL. That made it more difficult to find, but we were cautious about losing any of the photos and posts of the people and events that comprise Hawaii's dynamic culinary scene. But now it’s time to embrace the change.

Past posts will still be at the former address, but beginning March 7, I'll be starting anew and will have much work to do to build up this site. I hope you’ll add this address to your browser, Google Reader, or now, Flipboard, because there’s a lot more food news to come!

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