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Haute chocolate at Pierre Marcolini

By
January 27th, 2016



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comValentine's Day is coming up, and I know I would want a few treats from Pierre Marcolini. Pictured are Pierre Marcolini's signature ganache with the finest chocolate from Venezuela, Ghana and Peru, flavored with fresh vanilla, and Coeur Framboise, raspberry ganache coated in white chocolate.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Valentine's Day is coming up, and I know I would want a few treats from Pierre Marcolini. Pictured are Pierre Marcolini's signature ganache with the finest chocolate from Venezuela, Ghana and Peru, flavored with fresh vanilla, and Coeur Framboise, raspberry ganache coated in white chocolate.

You think you know what your favorite chocolate is. Think again. Belgian chocolatier Pierre Marcolini will change your mind when he welcomes chocolate lovers to his new boutique in the new Ala Moana Center Ewa Wing, for a grand opening celebration from 10 to 11 a.m. Jan. 30.

The acclaimed chocolatier was named grand winner in his class at the “Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie” (World Champion of Pastry) in 1995. Since then, he has earned several accolades, including being inducted into “Le Salon du Chocolate Hall of Fame” in Paris in 2014, and becoming a new certified supplier to the Belgian royal family last month.

You don't feed royals anything less than pure chocolate ganaches. Biting into each delicate piece, you'll be able to taste the distinctive notes of chocolate sourced from independent farmers in Ecuador, Brazil, Peru, Venezuela, Madagascar, Ghana, Vietnam, Java, Cameroon, Cuba and Mexico. All the chocolates are made in Brussels.

PHOTO COURTESY PIERRE MARCOLINI Pierre Marcolini talks story with one of his cacao growers. The chocolatier recently opened shop at Ala Moana Center's new Ewa Wing and will be in town to meet fans of his fine chocolate.

PHOTO COURTESY PIERRE MARCOLINI

Pierre Marcolini talks story with one of his cacao growers. The chocolatier recently opened shop at Ala Moana Center's new Ewa Wing and will be in town to meet fans of his fine chocolate.

Visit marcolini-hawaii.com or call (808) 951-0456.

Here's a peek at what is being offered at the new chocolate boutique, and it's just in time for Valentine's Day.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

A selection of Hawaii-exclusive "Marine Life" chocolates is priced at $23 for seven pieces presented in a boxed collection, below.

marcolini assort

You will cast your Nutella aside after sampling Pierre Marcolini's Casse-Noisette Pâte à Tartiner, a creamy spread of cocoa and roasted Piedmont hazelnuts.[/caption]

You will cast your Nutella aside after sampling Pierre Marcolini's Casse-Noisette Pâte à Tartiner, a creamy spread of cocoa and roasted Piedmont hazelnuts.

One of Pierre Marcolini's chocolate tablets.

One of Pierre Marcolini's chocolate tablets.

The Pierre Marcolini window on the third floor of Ala Moana Center's Ewa Wing.

The Pierre Marcolini window on the third floor of Ala Moana Center's Ewa Wing.

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Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage is in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

Google, Zagat show how we eat out

By
January 26th, 2016



GRAPHICS COURTESY ZAGAT Americans love Sriracha; green juice, not so much.

GRAPHICS COURTESY ZAGAT

Americans love Sriracha; green juice, not so much.

Google launched a study in cooperation with Zagat today regarding dining in cities across the United States, including Honolulu, and here are some of the findings on our dining out habits and preferences:

Respondents in Honolulu estimated they eat out (for breakfast, lunch or dinner) approximately 5.8 times a week.

Honolulu residents spend an average of $32.12 per person for a dinner out at a restaurant, tipping approximately 18.5 percent for service. In comparison, the national average per person is $36.30 and average tip is 18.9 percent.

Given Hawaii's higher cost of living, this came as a surprise to me, but maybe this is how we are compensating for the higher cost of housing.

The No. 1 complaint about dining out is service (30 percent), followed by crowds (17 percent), parking (15 percent), noise (13 percent), and prices (13 percent).

The favorite cuisine of choice for Honolulu diners is Japanese (28 percent), proceeded by American (14 percent), Italian (13 percent), Thai (10 percent), steakhouses (9 percent), and Korean (6 percent). Nationally, Italian is the favorite cuisine.

Although Honolulans tend to eat out frequently, we're not big spenders on a per-visit basis, spending $32.12 per person, when compared to our fellow Americans' expenditure.

Although Honolulans tend to eat out frequently, we're not big spenders on a per-visit basis, spending $32.12 per person, when compared to our fellow Americans' expenditure.

More numbers:

— 51 percent of Honolulu residents make reservations by calling the restaurant while just 36% use the Internet.

— 67 percent of Honolulu residents think that using cellphones at the table is OK in moderation, whereas 22 percent believe it is completely unacceptable. Only 7 percent think it is perfectly acceptable.

— 82 percent of Honolulu diners have planned or would plan a getaway to eat at a specific restaurant.

— The top dining deal-breaker in Honolulu is a cash-only policy (45 percent), followed by communal tables (44 percent) and jacket required establishments (40 percent).

— And, 69 percent of Honolulu respondents consider themselves foodies, compared to 40 percent of Americans who think of themselves as foodies.

We're not the biggest tippers either, ranking close to the bottom with our 18.5 percent average tip.

We're not the biggest tippers either, ranking close to the bottom with our 18.5 percent average tip.

That is not a shocker, but a pretty high number considering that I speak to many of these self-proclaimed "foodies" who won't even eat fish and many other basic ingredients, not due to any health or allergy reason, but just ... because.

I would say a foodie needs to have a willingness to try all food, which is necessary to form a baseline of culinary experience and flavor profile knowledge. I know people with aversion to onions, for example, who will never understand the alchemy of raw onions in a hamburger, or those who won't eat cilantro, who can't appreciate how much it adds to salsa.

You can find a link to the survey at zagat.com/diningtrends, or take a look at the video below.

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Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage is in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

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It's back! Kam Bowl ready to launch

By
January 22nd, 2016



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comKam Bowl's famous oxtail soup.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Kam Bowl's famous oxtail soup.

Kam Bowl restaurant quietly opened its doors with a blessing and trial run of its meal service today, ahead of its official opening day Jan. 27, when will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. for breakfast and lunch through Feb. 2.

Beginning Feb. 3, the restaurant hours will be 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

The restaurant moved into the space once filled by Kenny's Coffee House, in the Kamehameha Shopping Center, across the street from the original Kam Bowl bowling alley that closed in 2007.

It was sad to see an island institution like Kenny's close. Living in the neighborhood, I often had breakfast there. When these restaurants close, they're often replaced by much more contemporary cafés that often leave us with more lost than gained.

So it's great to see something of a merging of the two kama'aina brands, a sort of "best of" arrangement that will see the return of Kenny's Chinese chicken salad, and Kam Bowl's oxtail soup.

I'll be back when the restaurant hits full speed in about three weeks, when a grand opening celebration is planned. Call the restaurant at 841-0931 for more information.

Credible kalbi outside of a Korean restaurant.

Credible kalbi outside of a Korean restaurant.

Lup cheong fried rice comes in $7.50 or $9.50 portions with choice of one or two, respectively, eggs prepared your way. Here, scrambled.

Lup cheong fried rice comes in $7.50 or $9.50 portions with choice of one or two, respectively, eggs prepared your way. Here, scrambled.

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Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

Noi Thai's grand opening fête

By
January 22nd, 2016



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comImagery of Thai shadow puppets line the space designated as the "inner palace" at Noi Thai Cuisine, with an interior modeled on the concept of the Thai royal palace.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Imagery of Thai shadow puppets line the space designated as the "inner palace" at Noi Thai Cuisine, with an interior modeled on the concept of the Thai royal palace.

Noi Thai Cuisine hosted a grand opening Celebration last night, with festivities continuing through Jan. 30 to benefit Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children.

It was a fun evening if you consider there was plenty of food and drink to go around in the beautiful space, Thai music and dance, and interactive puppetry, even if one puppet got a little out of hand in feeling up the guests. Naughty!

Ten percent of all proceeds from meals through Jan. 29 will be donated to Kapiolani. Then from 5 to 9 p.m. Jan. 30, local celebs will be the servers, with all gratuities turned over to Kapiolani.

Noi Thai's Golden Pavilion, a private room seating eight to 10, is decorated with bo leaves representing the Bodhi tree under which Siddartha Gautama found enlightenment.

Noi Thai's Golden Pavilion, a private room seating eight to 10, is decorated with bo leaves representing the Bodhi tree under which Siddartha Gautama found enlightenment.

The restaurant is the first upscale establishment from the Bai Tong family of six restaurants in the Pacific Northwest. The original Bai Tong in Seattle was a favorite stop for Thai Airways crews at Sea-Tac airport.

During a trip to Hawaii, co-owner Chadillada "Noi" Lapangkura fell in love with the islands and longed to bring her family’s Thai dishes here, envisioning a royal experience. The restaurant is build with the idea of the Thai palace in mind. The space is divided into outer, central and inner palace spaces, including a protected "War Room," which serves as a private dining/meeting room, as well as a Pavilion Room festooned with golden bo leaves symbolic of the Bodhi tree under which the Buddha found enlightenment.

Minimums apply for meals in two private rooms, the Golden Pavilion and the War Room, accommodating eight to 10 people, with advance reservations

Among Thai specialties offered during the grand opening were egg yolk sweets tong yod (golden drops) and foy tong (golden threads). Their golden color symbolizes wealth, fame and fortune. Those flowers are carved from vegetables, by the way. And the sweets look a lot like those I saw when I was in Bangkok.

Among Thai specialties offered during the grand opening were egg yolk sweets tong yod (golden drops) and foy tong (golden threads). Their golden color symbolizes wealth, fame and fortune. Those flowers are carved from vegetables, by the way. And the sweets look a lot like those I saw when I was in Bangkok. A little peek here.

There is also a chef's table that offers an up-close view of the kitchen, where co-owner/executive chef Settapong “Pag” Nilket, head chef Jutamas Kanjanamai and sous chef Jamrus Singduang aim to present cuisine worthy of Thailand's royal family, for whom they have cooked. Those who request this glass-enclosed private room will enjoy a special off-the-menu meal prepared for up to six guests.

Since testing the Noi Thai concept in Hawaii beginning with its soft opening in October, the family is proceeding to open next month in Downtown Seattle, near Pike Place Market, and a third is planned for San Francisco later this year.

Food for the event was presented in pupu form, such as this ahi salad. Below is salad as presented when I first visited in November.

Food for the event was presented in pupu form, such as this ahi salad. Below is salad as presented when I first visited in November.

During regular dinner service, the ahi salad is presented on a lotus leaf and lotus petals, which are edible.

During regular dinner service, the ahi salad is presented on a lotus leaf and lotus petals, which are edible.

The room was filled with examples of their vegetable- and fruit-carving skills.

The room was filled with examples of their vegetable- and fruit-carving skills.

Presentation here is elaborate. This is the first look at a dish of tom yum lobster; $32. Where's the soup, you ask? ...

Presentation here is elaborate. This is the first look at a dish of tom yum lobster; $32. Where's the soup, you ask? ...

... The spicy sour soup is presented in this device that sends the steaming broth up to meet the mixture of kaffir lime leaf, lemongrass, cilantro and onion for infused flavors eventually poured over the lobster.

... The spicy sour soup is presented in this device that sends the steaming broth up to meet the mixture of kaffir lime leaf, lemongrass, cilantro and onion for infused flavors eventually poured over the lobster.

Grand opening pupu of goat cheese wonton with injection of red chili sauce.

Grand opening pupu of goat cheese wonton with injection of red chili sauce.

Prawn pad Thai is $29 on the regular menu.

Prawn pad Thai is $29 on the regular menu.

A regular dessert of green banana simmered in coconut milk.

A regular dessert of green banana simmered in coconut milk.

If you wish, you may ask to light a candle, symbolic of letting go of transgressions and negative thoughts, and opening oneself up to wishes coming true, as I am trying to do here.

If you wish, you may ask to light a candle, symbolic of letting go of transgressions and negative thoughts, and opening oneself up to wishes coming true, as I am trying to do here.

What I saw.

What I saw.

The private chef's table overlooking the kitchen, where you can arrange for a special feast of dishes that aren't on the regular menu.

The private chef's table overlooking the kitchen, where you can arrange for a special feast of dishes that aren't on the regular menu.

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Noi Thai Cuisine is on the third floor at the Royal Hawaiian Center Building C, above Cheesecake Factory, at 2301 Kalakaua Ave. Open 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. or lunch, 5 to 11 p.m. for dinner, and 3 p.m. to closing for happy hour. Call (808) 664-4039 or visit opentable.com. Information: Noithaicuisine.com

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Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

What's cooking on Maui at Rua pop-up

By
January 21st, 2016



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comFriends Jayse Sato, left, and Grant Oura of Rua Catering team up to bring weekend pop-ups to the site of Vineyard Food Co., in Wailuku, Maui.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Friends Jayse Sato, left, and Grant Oura of Rua Catering team up to bring weekend pop-ups to the site of Vineyard Food Co., in Wailuku, Maui.

When faced with a surplus of seafood last summer, the friends behind Rua Catering did what they know best. They threw a party.

Grant Oura and Jayse Sato’s backyard parties in Wailuku, Maui, drew friends family and neighbors to sample nigiri sushi at $1 a piece, which made them the most popular guys in town.

Those popular impromptu bashes soon turned into an occasional pop-up at Vineyard Food Co., in Wailuku town, a space that serves as a commercial kitchen for a handful of small catering companies and food preparers.

With an eye toward testing restaurant feasibility in that space, the friends are now bringing their pop-up to the site from 5 to 10 p.m. every Friday and Saturday. I was able to check it out Jan. 16.

Japanese noodles with day catch of Hana spiny lobster head broth, topped with salmon belly, with accents of basil oil.

Japanese noodles with day catch of Hana spiny lobster head broth, topped with salmon belly, with accents of basil oil.

Jayse Sato shapes nigiri of snapper in the kitchen.

Jayse Sato shapes nigiri of snapper in the kitchen.

Sato, who worked in Seattle before returning home to work as a sushi chef at Nuka, still provides the sushi on the menu, while Oura tends to the hot entrées.

Trained in the kitchens of Sam Choy, Bev Gannon and Alan Wong’s Amasia, Oura, who also worked at Nuka, prepares some dishes I have yet to see on Oahu, including an oxtail katsu and miso-Buffalo wings.

The two combine their efforts in putting their own spin on local favorites, such as a dish of pastele stew over a gandule rice and crab roll ($12), and lechón roll ($10), made better by adding a few drops of the spicy ponzu from an oyster shooter ($5).

Their focus is on fresh ingredients, with as much as possible made from scratch, including soy sauce, azuki bean paste and kinako ice cream.

For as much work put into the food, a la carte prices are reasonable, starting with that $5 shooter, $6 to $8 for two pieces of nigiri sushi, $10 to $17 for sushi rolls, and $10 to $16 for entrées. Menus will change with availability of seasonal ingredients.

Dishes were accompanied by a light show as a combination of LED ice cubes and sparklers lighted up eyes during the presentation of several courses.

Vineyard Food Co. is at 1951 E. Vineyard St., Wailuku, Maui. No reservations are taken.

Rua's Surf 'N Turf Roll presents the challenge of stuffing this lobster and ginger roll topped with seared rib eye, truffle butter, kabayaki sauce and micro basil into your mouth. Recently, $17.

Rua's Surf 'N Turf Roll presents the challenge of stuffing this lobster and ginger roll topped with seared rib eye, truffle butter, kabayaki sauce and micro basil into your mouth. Recently, $17.

A pastele stew roll was one of the hits of the evening, with the stew layered over gandule rice and crab roll. The stew is more Hawaiian style than Puerto Rican, with more of an emphasis on pork and tomato than green bananas. Made festive with a sparkler; recently $12.

A pastele stew roll was one of the hits of the evening, with the stew layered over gandule rice and crab roll. The stew is more Hawaiian style than Puerto Rican, with more of an emphasis on pork and tomato than green bananas. Made festive with a sparkler candle; recently $12.

A trio of Kobe burger sliders topped with bacon jam, tomato, brie and onion cream sauce, with buns made by Four Sisters Bakery across the street from the Vineyard Food Co. This was presented under glass with LED light and a cloud of hickory smoke. Recently priced at $15.

A trio of Kobe burger sliders topped with bacon jam, tomato, brie and onion cream sauce, with buns made by Four Sisters Bakery across the street from the Vineyard Food Co. This was presented under glass with LED light and a cloud of hickory smoke. Recently priced at $15.

Garlic, Parmesan, truffle fries are a natural complement for the sliders, at $7.

Garlic, Parmesan, truffle fries are a natural complement for the sliders, at $7.

I was a little scared of the aquarium gravel colors of the shrimp tempura roll ($15), until discovering these were the crispy bits that turned sushi of spicy tuna, shrimp and hamachi into a tempura roll.

I was a little scared of the aquarium gravel colors of the shrimp tempura roll ($15), until discovering these were the crispy bits that turned sushi of spicy tuna, shrimp and hamachi into a tempura roll.

Looking down into the glass of an oyster shooter with tomato, onion, green onions, masago and very spicy ponzu, photographed over an LED ice cube glowing red. Don't slurp this down all at once. Tell you why next.

Looking down into the glass of an oyster shooter with tomato, onion, green onions, masago and very spicy ponzu, photographed over an LED ice cube glowing red. Don't slurp this down all at once. Tell you why next.

A lechon roll of pork belly topped with tomatoes and onions, was completed with a dash of the spicy ponzu from the oyster shooter, which was a little too spicy to chug all at once; $10.

A lechon roll of pork belly topped with tomatoes and onions, was completed with a dash of the spicy ponzu from the oyster shooter, which was a little too spicy to chug all at once; $10.

Hamachi carpaccio served in a glass with ginger, green onion, garlic, ponzu and micro cilantro.

Hamachi carpaccio served in a glass with ginger, green onion, garlic, ponzu and micro cilantro.

I've never seen oxtail katsu on Oahu, but here it is on Maui, $16 with limited availability. In the background is tonkotsu-style ramen served with spicy miso. Can't compete with ramen on Oahu, though.

I've never seen oxtail katsu on Oahu, but here it is on Maui, $16 with limited availability. In the background is tonkotsu-style ramen served with spicy miso. Can't compete with ramen on Oahu, though.

Miso Buffalo chicken wings are very assertive, with bold salty, sweet, sour, spicy flavors that explode in your mouth, but if you like strong flavors, these will be very addictive, at $10 per order.

Miso Buffalo chicken wings are very assertive, with bold salty, sweet, sour, spicy flavors that explode in your mouth, but if you like strong flavors, these will be very addictive, at $10 per order.

Dessert of homemade kinako ice cream tempura layered over homemade anko.

Dessert of homemade kinako ice cream tempura layered over homemade anko.

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Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage is in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

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