Archive for the ‘Chinatown’ Category

First course: Marukame Udon moves into Chinatown

November 7th, 2013


At the new Marukame Udon Downtown branch, one of the options is Spicy Udon. Sides are sold by the piece, and shown here are sweet potato, shrimp tempura underneath the potato, and signature Onion Bomb.Nadine Kam photos

For two years, Marukame Udon has been drawing visitors to its Kuhio location, and now, a second Downtown aims to lure in the office pool, for quick, cafeteria-style noodles.

A grand opening took place Nov. 4, with guests maneuvering through a short maze to get inside because the shop was still boarded up.

Inside, Teridoll USA Corp./Marukame Udon manager Aaron Yamamoto and President Ken'ya Shiimura welcomed guests with a traditional sake barrel breaking ceremony, and as the hammered wood came flying toward me, I was thinking I might be standing in the wrong spot. But, it turned out to be the right spot, the start of the line for bowls of udon and sides.

At the start of the line, the noodles are laid out in front of you. Pick your broth and toppings before moving on to tempura, musubi and salad selections. The line moves quickly as long as people can make up their minds before reaching the counter, and speed will be one of the key factors in the restaurant's success with the downtown lunch crowd.
The new Murakame Udon is at 1104 Fort Street Mall, open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays, with a take-out window on Hotel Street open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays to  Saturdays. Marukame Udon is also at 2310 Kuhio Ave.


Teridoll USA Corp./Marukame Udon manager Aaron Yamamoto, left, and President Ken'ya Shiimura.


Cracking open the sake barrel in celebration of the opening.


Ordering is done in assembly line fashion. First, pick up your noodles, choose your broth and toppings of green onion and tempura crumbs. It's $2 extra for sweet beef, shabu pork or teri chicken.


Move on to the fried offerings. Here, asparagus, potato croquette and eggplant. The asparagus was woody at the stem end. Hope that gets fixed.


Onion ring lovers will love the Onion Bomb, and the price is right, at $1.50.


Can't have udon without shrimp tempura.


The line forms just beyond the door and moves quickly as long as customers are decisive. Don't be the slug that holds up the line during the Downtown lunch hour.


The menu board.

Titus Chan hosts benefit dinner parties at Won Kee

April 9th, 2013

titusNadine Kam photos
Titus Chan leads a Chinatown Cultural Center tour prior to the start of his benefit dinner for Kapiolani Community College.

Titus Chan, among the TV chef pioneer of the 1960s and early ’70s, is sharing his expertise during "Dinner With Master Chef Titus Chan," a program blending cuisine and culture, at Won Kee restaurant.

The program involves a brief guided tour of the Chinatown Cultural Plaza, followed by a 10-course Chinese dinner hosted by the effervescent chef, who still has the personality and sense of humor that made him one of the original celebrity chefs, before Food TV and The Cooking Channel existed.

Chan rose to fame in 1972, when "Cooking the Chan-ese Way" debuted on KHET, followed by a national PBS release in 1973, introducing the art of Chinese cooking across the United States.

During the dinners, which can accommodate six people and up, each table will include a bottle of "Mui Kwai Lu" Chinese white wine, which, at 96 proof, acts more like vodka. Guests may also bring their own libations, with no corkage fee.

The cost is $194.40 per person, including tax and tip, and Chan is able to work accommodate large parties and groups. A portion of the fee will be donated to Kapiolani Community College’s Culinary Institute of the Pacific to help provide scholarships for culinary students.

Below, Chan hosted a preview dinner to show off his menu.

For information or reservations, call 983-1327.

Won Kee Seafood Restaurant is at Chinatown Cultural Plaza, 100 N. Beretania St. Call 524-6877.

tsunI've walked or driven by the Sun Yat-Sen monument many times, but never stopped to read it. The words highlight the ideas he stood for, including "loyalty," "filial piety," "peace," "pacify the world" and "study the nature of things."

tsashimiThe dinner started with an appetizers of sashimi, and below, deep-fried shrimp toast.


tsoupTofu and scallop soup was the next course.

tiduckCrisp, thin Peking duck skin and buns were served next. When one of the guests asked about the whereabouts of the duck meat, I knew he wasn't Chinese. We all live in such close proximity here, but food traditions are so ingrained into our respective cultures that unless diners make an effort to go exploring, the most basic aspects of a culinary tradition will remain a mystery. Some of my Japanese friends can't fathom the attraction of a salted duck egg.

tfishTwo spotted sea basses are hidden beneath a pile of ginger, green onion and cilantro. Titus said he searched for these fish for four days and had to fight off two other men early in the morning to get these one-and-a-half pounders with their perfect tender meat. Larger fish tend to be tougher, he said.

ttofuThough served at a time when people were getting full, shrimp-stuffed tofu proved so popular that most enjoyed seconds.

tlobsterThe toasted garlic-and-sweet coconut topped Hong Kong Harbor-style lobster was one of the meal's highlights. Garlic prepared this way can be bitter when browned, but it was perfect here.

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