Archive for the ‘Downtown Honolulu’ Category

Cook with See Dai Doo Society

By
September 19th, 2016



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Pork belly and Chinese taro are covered in sauce, then topped with scallion and cilantro before being steamed to make kau yuk.

Kau yuk, ip jai, an East-West stir-fry of beef and bok choy, and vegetarian spaghetti, were on the menu when the See Dai Doo Society presented a cooking demonstration at its social hall on Sept. 18. (The recipe for kau yuk follows.)

I had been hearing about the event for months during Mandarin classes, where everyone was especially enthusiastic about biting into the ip jai, or steamed mochi dumplings, which few people make these days, save for special occasions.

Ip jai filled with black sugar. Below is a more savory version of the steamed mochi dumplings, filled with a mixture of ham, mushrooms, dried shrimp and water chestnuts.

sdd-ip

Charlene Chang led the demos for the ip jai and kau yuk (pot roast pork), before the men took over the burners to round out the feast to come. Bixby Ho showed how to make easy vegetarian pasta, while See Dai Doo president Wesley Fong, with the help of daughter Cecilia, showed how to make a simple stir-fry of flank steak and bok choy.

He offered up one of the Chinese secrets for tenderizing meat, which is to soak it in water with a little baking soda and massage it for 5 minutes.

He said, "The reason I cook is because I was told all good Chinese husbands cook."

See Dai Doo Society president Wesley Fong, with daughter Cecilia, takes a hands-on approach to leadership. He prepared an East-West stir-fry of flank steak and bok choy. People kidded him later, "What was West?" because beef and bok choy are both eaten by Chinese.

Fong's finished dish.

My father cooked, even if his idea of cooking meant getting an assist from Hamburger Helper.

That we were all there to enjoy the event is the result of the foresight of forebears more than a century ago. The society was founded by 18 men, immigrants from the See Doo (Sidu) and Dai Doo (Dadu) districts of Zhongshan county in Guangdong, on May 10, 1905.

As a matter of survival and mutual support in overseas communities that did not always welcome them, clan groups formed to provide banking and loan services, secure housing, host social events and invest for the future.

In 1910, See Dai Doo members contributed what was then a fortune, $5,000, for the purchase of the Wong Siu Kin School building at 285 N. Vineyard St. to serve as the group's headquarters. Today, rentals provide income that allows the society to function, and public events such as the cooking demo are their way of preserving their heritage and giving back to the community.

When the demos were pau, it was time to eat. The demos represent a two-day commitment, because food prep to feed the crowd took place a day ahead.

Someone brought sliced sugar cane for dessert and for the taking. It was so good and sweet. Not like the dried out canes often inserted into tourist cocktails. I grew up in Waipahu, so we were very familiar with sugar cane.

It all starts with pork belly.

KAU YUK
Recipe courtesy Charlene Chang

1-1/2 pounds pork belly, cut into approximately 2-inch-by-3/4-inch slices
1 half Chinese taro, cut into 2-inch-by-1/2-inch slices
1/2 bottle red nam yi (red fermented bean curd
1/2 bottle white nam yi
Oyster sauce, to taste
Brown sugar, to taste
1/4 cup whiskey or cooking wine
Scallion and cilantro (Chinese parsley) stems

In a bowl, mix red and white nam yi, brown sugar, oyster sauce and cooking wine. Set aside. Sprinkle a little sugar on the pot belly. In a skillet, brown the pork belly on all sides on medium heat.

Arrange alternating slices of pork belly (skin side down) and taro in a large bowl. Pour the wet ingredients on top of the pork belly and taro. Layer scallion and cilantro stems on top of arrangement.

Place in hot steamer; steam at least 1-1/2 hours. Allow kau yuk to sit in the pot for another 1/2 hour.

Lift the bowl out of the steamer and pour the sauce out. Place a platter or plate on top of the bowl. Turn the bowl over so the skin side up is facing up and ready to serve.

Pork belly and taro are arranged in alternating slices before sauce is added and it all goes into a steamer.

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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.

Tea Drops simplifies art of tea

By
July 25th, 2016



PHOTO COURTESY TEA DROPS

Tea Drops provide a convenient, portable way for tea lovers to enjoy a their favorite beverage whereever they go. In the cup is a tumeric tea drop. They come in a variety of shapes and flavors.

I love tea, but I'm also lazy, and that's a problem. Because, good tea requires a lot of implements, whether it's a bamboo whisk for your matcha powder or infuser for leaf teas. Then there's cleanup. There are a lot of times I'll pass in favor of an easy sugar-saturated juice instead.

Sashee Chandran also found it difficult to enjoy a fresh pot of tea while working in an office. But, unlike me, she was determined to do something about it, because tea is in her blood. She grew up steeped in tea culture east and west. Her mother is Chinese, and her father is Sri Lankan, raised in the British tea tradition.

"I realized how difficult it is for people to make tea, but there are a lot of people who would drink tea if the process could be simplified, so I spent 2-1/2 years experimenting in my kitchen," said Chandran, who was in town to share her creation at the Hawaii Lodging, Hospitality & Food Service Expo that took place July 13 and 14 at the Blaisdell Center.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Sashee Chandran spent two-and-a-half years perfecting her recipes in her kitchen.

The result is Tea Drops, organic teas and spices ground fine compressed into a variety of shapes, that can simply be dropped into a cup of hot water any place, any time. The drop dissolves in hot water, and voilá, hot (or cold) tea in flavors such as Cardamom Spice, Chocolate Earl Grey, and Citrus Ginger, all with a touch of organic sugar. (Sugar-free options are coming in fall.)

I have to say I was confused when someone gave me a couple of drops with no instructions. I placed it in my cup, expecting it to dissolve into loose leaves. When it just disappeared, I was like, "What is this?" It all came clear when I was able to sit down with Chandran—how else?—Over cups of tea.

Although tea fanatics in Hawaii prefer their teas sugar-free, Chandran said she loves chai and the British tradition of adding milk to any tea, so her first impulse was to recreate that combination of sweetened milk tea spiced with cardamom, cinnamon and cloves.

"I'm the last person who should have been experimenting in the kitchen. I have no chemistry background, no food service background, but I did know how to make a good cup of tea because I've been drinking it all my life. The hardest part was finding the right proportion of tea vs. spices and organic cane sugar to make it balanced."

Tea Drops come in paper or reusable and gift ready wood boxes. When done, the boxes can be upcycled in myriad ways, including finding a second life as a desktop or windowsill planter for your cacti garden.

She made the first batches just for herself, which she dropped into cups of hot water while working at eBay. Co-workers who witnessed it started asking, "What's that?" Pretty soon, they wanted them for themselves and Chandran was in business. With her background in ecommerce, she launched an online shop and within a couple of months was able to leave her full-time job.

Tea has now become part of her philosophy toward promoting a happy, healthy and sustainable lifestyle. Tea Drops all-in-one recipes eliminate the need for teabags and sweetener packets. The boxes are 100 percent biodegradable and compostable. Paulownia wood boxes can be repurposed for storage or used as planters.

She has also been experimenting with adding tea drops to cookies, soups, and making tea-infused soaps.

"I feel like this is the right time for it. People are into organic, they're into tumeric and matcha. There's something for everyone. Each tea has its own medicinal properties."

Turmeric, for example, has been used for centuries to treat wounds and infections. Modern science has shown that its main ingredient, curcumin, has antibiotic and antioxidant properties. According to WebMD, other chemicals in turmeric are anti-inflammatory, considered beneficial for overall health.

Her teas are now available in 200 small boutiques across the nation, including Nic's Island Cafe in Kukui Plaza. They are offered in single-flavor boxes at $16.50 for 10 drops, or a giftable wood box that can be customized with eight drops, for $18. It has been a popular seller during holidays, for both individuals and corporate gift givers looking for something new that also happens to be thoughtful, healthful, time-saving and beautiful.
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Look for Tea Drops at Nic's Island Cafe at 50 S. Beretania St. Call 200-7416. Or visit myteadrop.com.

PHOTOS COURTESY TEA DROPS

Ground tea leaves are compressed into different shapes, in just the right amount to create an 8-ounce cup of tea when water is added. The heart shape represents Sweet Peppermint.

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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.

Pastries hot out of the oven

By
July 1st, 2016



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Neko pan is one of the delightful new pastry selections at the new BRUG Bakery at Ala Moana Center.

Pastry lovers can get more than their share of daily bread now that BRUG Bakery and Kai Coffee have opened new locations.

First up, since the closing of the Shirokiya store on the Diamond Head end of Ala Moana Center, BRUG is now a solo act, moving into the lower level mauka side of the center between Lupicia and the Sanrio store.

It opened its doors June 25, offering a range of sweet and savory options, including fruit danishes, ratatouille cake, sausage rolls and adorable neko pan, complete with bread tails.

The bakery also has plans to open at Pearlridge in November, followed by the addition of a downtown branch.
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BRUG Bakery is on the mauka side street level of Ala Moana Center, next to Lupicia. Open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays, and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays. Call 945-2200 or visit brugbakery.com.

The Japanese name for this pastry translates as "North Country," in honor of BRUG's Hokkaido roots. The foccaccia is topped with fresh local produce that BRUG Bakery Hawaii president Miho Choi said is evocative of the fresh produce Hokkaido is also known for.

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SECOND SITE FOR KAI COFFEE

Bing cherry and honey ricotta soustenir from Kai Coffee.

Bing cherry and honey ricotta soustenir from Kai Coffee.

Once downtown, the bakery will find company. On the same day of Brug's opening, Kai Coffee opened the doors to its second location in downtown Honolulu's Arcade Building.

In addition to serving craft-brewed coffees ranging from cortados to lattes, the new café also marks the debut of a menu featuring Kai Coffee's own in-house baked goods, which produces dozens of savory and sweet pastries.

In addition to cafe basics such as croissants, scones and cakes, those hungry for a quick breakfast or lunch bite will find items such as banana bread and soustenirs—ciabatta and focaccia breads baked with toppings such as pastrami and onion, Black Forest ham and cheddar cheese, or baked fruit. A few salads and stew selections will round out the menu.

A sampling of peanut butter, honey and chocolate croissants.

Responsible for producing all these baked goods is Antonio Domingo who spent 26 years as executive pastry chef at the Hawaii Prince Hotel, while simultaneously working as a pastry chef at the Hilton Hawaiian Village 24 years, learning on the job after moving here from the Philippines.

"I always liked cooking and baking," he said, knowing it was unusual in the macho culture of the Philippines for a little boy to prefer helping his mom in the kitchen than playing outside.

Coffee love, inside the new Kai Coffee in downtown Honolulu.

Samples of Domingo's work were in abundance during a grand opening celebration ahead June 24, where it looked like a wedding day when local founders Samuel and Natalie Suiter cut into a congratulatory cake baked for the occasion. Only this time, it wasn't Natalie who got splattered by cake. Frosting flew around the room as Sam hacked away, saying, "I always wanted to do that."

Sam and Natalier Suiter made the grand opening celebration look like a wedding day as they cut the celebratory cake.

The couple opened the first Kai Coffee in the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa two years ago to showcase the best Hawaii regional and international coffee.

Now with its own in-house bakery, what started as a coffee bar is well on it's way to becoming a full-fledged dining café.
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Kai Coffee's new location, at 207 S. King St., will be open from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays to Fridays. Call 537-3415 or visit kaicoffeehawaii.com.

A view of Kai Coffee from the street.


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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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