Archive for the ‘People’ Category

First Look: Eating House 1849

September 6th, 2016


Chef Roy Yamaguchi was tending to business at his newest Eating House 1849 early in the morning on Aug. 25, opening day of both the International Market Place and his restaurant at the market place's third-floor Grand Lanai.

Not wanting to miss any of the action on opening day, Aug. 25, of the International Market Place, media were among the first people on the property. And chef Roy Yamaguchi was another earlybird, hovering around his newest baby, Eating House 1849, which also opened that morning.

Yamaguchi has been on a roll this year, having opened Roy's Beach House Aug. 2 at Turtle Bay Resort, with two more Eating Houses set to open in Kapolei and Maui.

It's exciting to see him break from his original Roy's Asian fusion formula and explore new territory, even if what's new is inspired by the past. With Eating House 1849, Yamaguchi goes back to the roots of Hawaii's restaurant scene to pay homage to Peter Fernandez, who opened one of Hawaii’s first restaurants in the 19th century, and called it Eating House. Fernandez used ingredients available from local farmers, ranchers, foragers and fishermen, a practice our top chefs are trying to reclaim today, after decades of seeing our palates shaped and restaurants co-opted, by sellers of convenience.

The outdoor patio and bar.

The pork and shrimp gyoza with garlic aioli and spicy XO sauce were so good, we ended up ordering up a second serving because one per person just isn't enough.

Yamaguchi explained that the first food purveyors were likely the equivalent of today's bed and breakfasts, where people seeking room and board were fed simple meals. Entrepreneurs like Fernandez offered an alternative.

Of course, this being Roy, don't expect your great, great, great grandfather's chicken hekka or Porgtuguese bean soup. Though rooted in our plantation heritage and the chef's taste memories of his grandfather's cooking, dishes are thoroughly contemporary to suit today's more adventurous, sophisticated palate. Something like Eating House 1849's "Huli Huli" kim chee pork belly, with its combo of pork belly laced with go chu jang and miso aioli, and draped with kim chee would probably have made your ancestors' heads spin and their eyes pop out of their sockets. The audacity! The explosion of flavors! But for us descendants, it is oh so good.
Eating House 1849 by Roy Yamaguchi is on the third floor Grand Lana at International Market Place, Waikiki. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch and 5 to 10 p.m. for dinner. Call 924-1849.

Most people don't think of vegetables like cauliflower and Brussels sprouts as an adequate pupu, but these are fried with toasted pine nuts, Golden raisins and tossed with balsamic vinegar to become the appetizer of your dreams.

Hawaii's Portuguese heritage is celebrated with this dish of Manila clam and Hawaiian tako cataplana with housemade linguica. The mild tomato sauce left something to be desired, as did the sweet bread, though I get the connection. With more Italian restaurants out there, people just assume red sauce = garlic bread.

After doubling up on the gyoza, it was really tempting to do the same with "Huli Huli" pork belly. This dish with go chu jang, miso aioli, kim chee and green onions amounted to a party in the mouth, in a good way, without trashing the premises. Flavors were balanced and got on well together. So awesome!

Sometimes sequence is everything. After the pork belly, Lola's pork adobo lumpia seemed rather staid; served with a small green papaya salad and sambal tomato that wasn't particularly memorable.

Housemade corned beef reuben gets an assist from local Naked Cow Dairy Swiss cheese, Mul kim chi and the brightness of Thousand Island dressing.

It's not local without a loco moco, and the Hawaii Ranchers beef patty with Hawaiian mushroom gravy makes this one outstanding. So juicy!

Kiawe-smoked ribeye + chimichurri sauce. 'Nuff said.

Dessert of molten lava cake and vanilla bean ice cream will make you appreciate the evolution of restaurants since the days of the original Eating House.

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 and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

Chefs pop up at Avenue's

July 12th, 2016


Berkley Spivey, left, and Eddie Lopez, were in the kitchen at Avenue's Bar + Eatery for a one-night only Chef's Pop-up.

The restaurant pop-up invigorated the food scene beginning around five years ago, but as some of the more successful young chefpreneurs have moved into permanent spaces, it's been a little quiet on the pop-up scene.

So Avenue's Bar + Eatery shook things up a bit with the reunion of its executive chef Robert Paik, and his fellow Vintage Cave teammates and alum, Berkley Spivey and pastry chef Eddie Lopez.


Now in between gigs while waiting for Senia to open, pastry chef Eddie Lopez shared some of the beautiful tarts he's been baking on the side, during a preview event.

Lopez said it takes him only 15 minutes to layer the apples in his caramel apple tart, down from one hour when he started making them. He sells them through social media.

Now in between gigs, Spivey and Lopez said they missed the liveliness and "what will they do next?" excitement that marked the pop-up scene, and wanted to bring back some of that energy.

They were right about bringing the excitement because there were 200 on the wait list for their July 11 Chef's Pop-up event, hoping for a last-minute cancellation.

Spivey and Lopez presented four courses featuring ingredients and recipes that showcase their skill as chefs as well as a bit of personal inspiration, based on their roots.

Spivey grew up in the South, while Lopez grew up in Chicago, mindful of his Mexican heritage, and for guests, it was a treat to discover Lopez's work beyond pastry, as he presented a complex 32-ingredient mole served with grilled tako.

Avenue's Bar + Eatery is at 3605 Waialae Ave. Call (808) 744-7567. Next up for the eatery is Whiskey Wednesday on the 13th. Visit for more information, or see my prior blog post at:

Here's what was on the menu during the pop-up:

Snacks included zucchini sable and delicious smoked celery root macaron.

The first course was Spivey's Maui Cattle Co. cured beef ribeye carpaccio with buttery squid ink crumbled brioche, micro greens, horseradish, lime and mustard seeds.

Then Lopez presented octopus with burnt onion, black mole and cilantro like a work of abstract art. I could eat a tub of that mole!

Spivey's second dish was pork with variations of cabbage, including cabbage sauce, with white beans and brown butter.

Lopez's dessert comprised butter popcorn ice cream with dehydrated chocolate mousse and peanuts.

The presentation ended with mignardises of a pineapple gummy and strawberry-thyme shortbread cookie. I loved the combination of fruit and herb.

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 and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

Boost your whiskey IQ at Avenue's

July 2nd, 2016


Avenue's Bar + Eatery bar manager Joseph Arakawa has a lineup of whiskeys, ryes and bourbons he wants you to try.

Whiskey was once man's domain. No more. One more sign women are taking over the world is that whiskey's resurgence is being fueled by females.

It's no coincidence the new face of Jim Beam is Mila Kunis, when over the past few years stars like Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Christina Hendricks have also shared their affection for the spirit.

Since the 1990s, the number of female whiskey drinkers has increased from 15 to 37 percent, due in part to its sweet character, and in part to the allure of crashing the old boys' club, where whiskey has enjoyed a long-standing association with power as the drink of presidents, diplomats, the rich and the mighty.

Full-bodied whiskies are a match for pork.

At Avenue's Bar + Eatery, where chef Robert Paik and bar manager Joseph Arakawa are preparing to host "Whiskey Wednesday" beginning 5:30 p.m. July 13, Arakawa said, "Men love women who love whiskey," and it's no longer unusual to see men at the bar with a fruity drink while women imbibe heavier distilled spirits.

Arakawa will be offering a lineup of 18 American bourbons, whiskeys and ryes, detailing the differences among them while guests enjoy samples with tasting bites Paik created to accentuate the various grain content of the spirits.

Flights will start at $28 for 1/2-ounce pours of bourbon or rye, and $40 for six side-by-side tastings of both. An aged flight, "The Decades," will feature 10-year-old whiskeys.
Avenue's Bar + Eatery is at 3605 Waialae Ave. Call 744-7567.

Taking his cue from the corn mash-based whiskey, Chef Paik will be baking up some fantastic cakey, griddle cornbread with a light bruléed crust.

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 and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

Noodle soup your way at Aunty's

June 1st, 2016


Aunty's Red Soup appears to be the most fiery of the soup options, but it isn't as spicy as you'd imagine. It starts with a beef base with peppers, ginger, garlic, basil, parsley, celery and onions. Ingredients chosen for this soup were beef, shiitake and enoki mushrooms, beef balls, shrimp balls whole shrimp, and green beans.

Personalization is everywhere and the the build-your-own concept that has been applied to burgers and tacos, has made it's way to soup and noodles.

Over at Hawaii Pot Shabushabu House in the 808 Center, you can now get a personal hot pot. Even so, you're typically sharing ingredients with your dinner date(s), and not everyone always wants the same thing. Maybe you're tired of paying for other people's tripe or shellfish that you're allergic to.

Now, with Aunty's Ramen, Susend Tran (formerly of Sweet Home Cafe) is back with a concept that puts an end to those share days.

Upon entering, get your table assignment, then grab a plastic bowl and start filling it with your favorite ingredients. Next, head to the cashier and take your pick of noodles, soup base and meat. The line for the cashier can be long, but your finished bowl arrives remarkably fast given the crowds this restaurant is seeing.

Only thing is, you'll pay for your chosen ingredients by weight, at $7.50 per half pound, which adds up fairly quickly if you're grabbing such weighty items as any seafood or meatballs, sausages, taro, and pieces of corn on the cob.

Some of my first bowls weighed in at a pound-and-a-half, adding up to $20 and $24. But the last time I got it down to a more manageable $10. You'll learn.
Aunty's Ramen is at 1110 Mccully St., at Young. Closed Tuesdays. Call 946-8686. The small parking lot can get crowded, but $5 parking is available at the American Savings Bank building across the street.

Aunty's Yellow Soup starts with a seafood base with coconut milk and red curry, but it's dominated by yellow curry flavor. Ingredients chose for this soup were lamb, corn, shrimp balls, fish balls and mini spicy sausages. Topped with a sprinkling of cilantro from the sauce bar.

This bowl features shrimp, pork, kabocha, won bok and enoki mushrooms in Aunty's Golden Soup that starts with a creamy seafood base with kabocha, celery, garlic, fresh onions and dried fried onions. The red is the spiced version that aunty recommends.

To get started, grab a basket and tongs and start making your selections from plastic bins in refrigerator cases. Pictured are two sizes of imitation crab, kamaboko, baby corn, squash and Shanghai cabbage, orbok choy.

After making your soup, noodle and meat choices and paying at the cashier, it's time to visit the sauce bar for various chili, sesame and black bean sauces, and other condiments and garnishes.

I usually opt for a blend of cilantro, sesame sauce and a chili sauce or two.

For those ordering udon noodles only, you have the option of turning them into jjajangmyeon (with black bean sauce) for $1 extra.

There is a handful of $5.95 each side order dishes, such as dried fried chicken wings with a shoyu-based sweet, slightly sour Taiwan-style glaze.

Butterflied garlic shrimp is another of the side dishes.

The build-your-own concept also applies to shave ice dessert. Choose from various fruit jellies and fresh fruit. Then hand your bowl over for the ice and condensed milk with brown sugar syrup.

Here's another shave ice with the focus on custards. Clockwise from top are mocha, taro, mango, green tea and almond flavors. The taro tastes more like lychee, and the green tea has a minty finish.

The custards await selection, and it looks like taro and mango are the most popular. I like the mocha and almond for their creamy flavors.

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 and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

Titus Chan still a booster for Chinese cuisine

May 23rd, 2016


Lobster with mochi rice steamed a lotus leaf bowl was among the highlights of a dinner presented at Jade Dynasty by hosts Titus Chan and Kimo Wong.

Once an educator, always an educator. People 40 and older may remember Titus Chan as one of the original television chefs, right up there with "The French Chef" Julia Child, and "The Galloping Gourmet" Graham Kerr.

But few know Chan was a math instructor before finding TV stardom 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 to 200 public television stations across the United States.

It was a combination of ease with instruction and being in front of the cameras, as well as his knowledge of Chinese cooking that got him the gig, and more than 40 years after starting to educate people in the "Chan-ese" way of cooking, he's still a proponent of learning more about Chinese cuisine.

One of the origiinal celebrity TV chefs, Titus Chan.

A frequenter of Chinese restaurants, he says he feels he hasn't done his job when he sees people going to the restaurants and ordering the same old, like beef broccoli and sweet-sour pork, when Chinese fare has evolved so much over the decades.

To prove his point, he teamed up with Kimo Wong to host a nine-course dinner at Jade Dynasty Restaurant, showcasing options beyond beef broccoli, in hope that of encouraging people to step outside their comfort zone and perhaps try one new dish at a time.

Now that it's graduation season, most of these festive dishes can be prepared with 24 hours notice.

In addition, the restaurant in the fourth-level Ho'okipa Terrace offers dim sum offerings during the day, mirroring the latest innovations in Hong Kong and China. Call 947-8818 for reservations or information.

The big reveal for the the lobster on mochi rice:

Jade Dynasty owners Alan and Sylvia Ho with Bank of Hawaii VP Kimo Wong and Titus Chan.

The first course of crisp, juicy pork in egg crepes, and garlic-marinated cucumbers (also plated below), arrived on this lighted vessel.

jade start

Steamed whole wintermelon soup arrived looking like a flower in bloom or burst of fireworks, with the rim of the melon lined with crab meat.

A baked Pacific oyster was topped with shrimp, scallop, spinach and a Portuguese-style curry sauce.

Peking duck and bun.

Crispy Peking duck skin and bun.

The duck meat was presented in lettuce cups.

Sweet, tea-smoked tiger prawns was one of my favorite dishes of the evening.

Braised pork ribs were presented for viewing before being taken back to the kitchen for shredding for individually portioned buns, below.

jade pork bun

Housemade silken tofu was ladled into bowls with ginger nectar for dessert.

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 and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

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