Archive for the ‘Restaurants’ Category

Brasa cooking the highlight at Harbor Restaurant at Pier 38

June 15th, 2016
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PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

The view from Harbor Restaurant at Pier 38.

Here's a look at what's on the table at the newly open Harbor Restaurant at Pier 38, built around the concept of brasa cookery.

Its centerpiece is two charcoal- and wood-burning brasa ovens that allow chefs to achieve the flavor of the summer grill, therefore opening with perfect timing.

My full review is in today's paper.
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Harbor Restaurant at Pier 38 is at 1129 N. Nimitz Highway (above Nico’s restaurant). Open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m. daily. Copper Top Bar open 3 to 6 p.m. daily. Call (808) 550-3740.

TOP 3 DISHES
From those I've tried so far:

Cracked papper chicken wings are like crack. Smoky, crisp-skinned, juicy inside, with a nice sprinkling of salt and pepper. Yums.

Smoky brasa-grilled Pacific swordfish is served on a Nicoise-style salad; recently $17. I'm usually not a fan of swordfish, but this was delicious.

The bourbon bacon cheddar burger gets extra points for those golden, crispy waffle chips.

The banquet space above Nico's has been transformed, the room expanded to swallow up what had been an outside patio deck.

A seafood paella has the potential to rise to the ranks of top dishes if the seafood weren't so dry and flavorless. The rice itself, with soccarat!, is terrific.

Entrée salads are great for lunch. This one combines shrimp, avocado and cucumbers over a bed of arugula; recently $18.

A delicious appetizer of grilled eggplant topped with garlic and shaved Parmesan.

Spanish grilled octopus is sliced and served over arugula as an appetizer. It's a better option than the Spanish-style poke here.

Breaking into the egg served over brasa-roasted mushrooms with garlic and Parmesan.

Prime rib was as drab as its gray color. This one was cut up pupu style in the kitchen for sharing. Others had a much better experience. Chalk it up to the restaurant's newness. I'm sure they'll get it right consistently in time.

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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.

Chefs on stage at Kapalua festival

June 14th, 2016
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PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Sautéed Kona lobster with wild mushroom brodetto was one of the dishes prepared by chef Michele Mazza at the Kapalua Wine & Food Festival June 11 at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua. This dish was paired with 2011 Il Fauno di Arcanum Super Tuscan.

Chefs and wine experts at the four-day, 35th annual Kapalua Wine & Food Festival that ended June 12, have a strong message for aspiring young chefs: less is more.

Chef Hugh Acheson, the Ottawa, Canada, born chef hailed as the James Beard Awards' 2012 Best Chef, Southeast, said during his June 12 cooking demo that much of the hubris in restaurants today is the result of the rise of molecular gastronomy that set thousands of young chefs on a mission to emulate culinary geniuses like Ferran Adría and Grant Achatz. The problem is, he said, that most of them will never get there because they don't even know how to cook the perfect roast chicken.

"You have to walk before you can run," he said.

Mazza gamely got up from his own meal to pose for photos after his demonstration.

A deconstructed seafood lasagna was another dish presented by Mazza.

A deconstructed seafood lasagna was another dish presented by Mazza. It was paired with 2013 Tenuta di Arceno Chianti Classico from Tuscany, Italy.

Panna cotta with blood orange granita was dessert, paired with an intense golden and raisony 2013 Tenuta di Castellaro, Malvasia delle Lipari, Italy.

To the audience of culinary geeks, he cautioned, "Be wary of chefs who want to cook for themselves. I want to cook for you. I want to make people happy, not threaten them with the idea that they may not get what I'm doing."

He added that he's noticed young chefs tend to cook on high heat. "I'm like, you guys don't need to do that. It has a dial."

Sharing his knowledge a day earlier, chef Michele Mazza of New York's Il Mulino and Trattoria Il Mulino, also said the biggest mistake home chefs make is to cook on high heat. He believes in roasting over low heat for a long time, and he prefers a wood-burning oven instead of an electric or gas range.

He, too, had a word for young chefs whose penchant is for excess. The tomato sauce for his lasagna was very simple, seasoned only with salt, basil and oregano. Mushrooms accompanying his lobster dish were seasoned only with rosemary and oregano.

He said use of specific herbs for particular dishes is what defines the dish. Echoing his sentiments, host Master Sommelier Michael Jordan said, "Wherever you go in the world, that is what the better chefs are doing."

Both chefs shared some tips for demystifying their craft to get people cooking again, and part of what they had to share included breaking down the process into simple math, such as the vinaigrette ratio of three parts oil to one part acid, and revealing a family secret, Mazza said the perfect pasta involves using six eggs plus six yolks for every pound of flour. "The rest is elbow grease."

When sautéing fish to achieve the perfect crisp, Acheson said most people, including his wife, have a tendency to be impatient and push food around in the pan. "Don't push it around, let it sit."

Acheson will be back in fall for the Hawai'i Food & Wine Festival.

Chef Hugh Acheson served up his new Southern cooking with a hefty dose of humor.

The first of his dishes was a simple grilled corn salad of tender romaine also with chilies, basil and lime.

His second dish was crispy kampachi topped with a field pea ragout and herb salad. The dish was apired with 2014 Heron Chardonnay.

Acheson's seafood stew with fennel-topped crouton, and farro. Paired with 2014 Heron Pinot Noir.

Dessert was an unusual pairing of pepper and strawberries served with vanilla bean ice cream and paired with 2012 Eroica Gold Riesling from Columbia Valley.

Fans lined up for an audience with the chef after his demonstration.


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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.

A taste of West Maui at Kapalua Wine & Food Festival 2016

June 14th, 2016
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PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

From the Hyatt Regency Maui, Japengo sushi chef Jin Hosono took a photo break from serving up his seared kampachi on a mountain yam chip.

Hundreds converged on The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua's Aloha Garden Pavilion for a Seafood Festival June 12, the finale of the 35th annual Kapalua Wine & Food Festival featuring 17 restaurants and dozens of wine purveyors.

Funds raised benefit the Maui Culinary Academy, helping to provide scholarships and awards for deserving students, funding student participation in culinary competitions, allowing for purchase of kitchen equipment and enhancing opportunities for study abroad internships in France, China, Korea and New Zealand.

It's apparently money well spent because the students presented a couple of impressive dishes, showing exactly why they deserve such support.

The entrance to the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, Beach House Lawn, where the finale Seafood Festival took place.

The Ritz-Carlton had its dessert bar set up right at the entrance so diners knew they would be saving room for desserts of bananas foster, coconut-ginger, chocolate-salt caramel and peanut butter cupcakes with, respectively, infusions of dark rum, Malibu rum, Bailey's and Kahlua.

In addition to cupcakes, Ritz-Carlton executive pastry chef Yoshikazu Kizu was serving up Surfing Goat Dairy chevre and Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream made on the spot with liquid nitrogen, and served with poha berry compote and salted coconut crunch. It was worth saving room for.

From Japengo, chef Hosono's seared kampachi on mountain yam cracker also featured shichimi, ikura, uni, arare, shiso, housemade eel sauce and saikyo miso vinaigrette. It was one of my favorite dishes of the evening.

Not to be outdone, Japengo chef de cuisine Gevin Utrillo had a more local-style offering of "Ono Katsu," a sushi rice cake layered with fish katsu, lobster cream, pomegranate soy and tobiko.

Two more of my favorite dishes came, not from the pros, but students of Maui Culinary Academy, Here, students add cherry wood smoke to a dish of Kumamoto oyster with yuzu gelée and compressed Asian pears. Look out KCC. The students also prepared Kauai shrimp and lemongrass custard with kaffir lime crème fraîche.

Messy looking but tasty, Makena Beach & Golf Resort's butter-poached snow crab and Maine lobster with squid ink gnocchi and black truffle cream.

There was easy access to wines at the center of the venue.

Spago presented its signature spicy tuna tartare in sesame miso cones.

Mark Ellman's Honu/Mala/Frida's trio of restaurants teamed up to offer a kim chee panini and pasta Bolognese.

Pacific'O offered an ahi tartare Napoleon and below, a seared diver scallop over saffron O'o farm beet risotto.

kw scallop

Gannon's offered ginger shoyu oxtail in steamed buns with a malassada and lobster bisque.

After tasting, guests could vote for their favorite restaurant.

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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.

Icing lessons at Magnolia Bakery

June 11th, 2016
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omMagnolia Bakery celebrated the launch of its new rainbow-colored Aloha cupcake June 9 .

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Magnolia Bakery celebrated the launch of its new rainbow-colored Aloha cupcake June 9.

A class in how to ice a cupcake at Magnolia Bakery Cafe turned into confirmation that I should never work at a bakery.

Coinciding with the bakery's launch of its Hawaii-only Aloha cupcake, a coconut cream-filled lilikoi confection topped with rainbow-colored meringue frosting, a bunch of writers and photographers were tasked with recreating the signature buttercream swirl that tops the cupcake.

Pastry sous chef Alison Yokouchi led a session in how to ice a cupcake with an icing spatula she referred to as her "magic wand."

Our initial results were mostly disastrous, and pastry sous chef Alison Yokouchi assured it took her about 20 hours to perfect her skills.

Maybe golfers will appreciate that one also has to be pretty flexible and limber to perfect the swirl that calls for a nearly 360-degree flick of the wrists.

I ended up digging too deep in the icing and scalping my cupcake. Oh well, with Magnolia here, I have no reason to ever do such work myself.

For those who want to try their hand at the task, Magnolia is offering icing classes for private parties, with a minimum of six participants. Each participant will take home six cupcakes they have created, plus recipes for Magnolia’s best-selling vanilla cupcake and vanilla buttercream frosting. The cost per person is $75.

If you can't get a group together, public classes for set days and times are being planned.
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Magnolia Bakery Cafe is at Ala Moana Center. For more information on the classes, call 942-4132.

This is the swirl we were aiming for.

Yotaro Takenaka with his cupcake finished with candy sprinkles.

Emi Hart was pleased with her creation, after four tries.

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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.

A peek at Japan Village Walk

June 2nd, 2016
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PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

 

Pork ramen is one of the specialties of Kobe-based Gashoken Ramen, among the 30 to 40 eateries that will be a part of Shirokiya's Japan Village Walk, slated to open June 25 on the ground level of Ala Moana Center's Ewa Wing.

A handful of restaurants in the soon-to-open Japan Village Walk at Ala Moana Center, were testing the facilities and recipes June 1 and needed a few guinea pigs to dispatch the food. I was happy to do so while getting a sneak peek into Shirokiya's newest food concept.

Shirokiya's former Yataimura was just a warmup act for this colossal food court, set to house about 30 to 40 different food vendors.

The layout is clean and orderly, but will also be a grid-like maze of boxy take-out counters. It will be easy enough for adults to navigate, but parents will have to hold on to their children, who may get confused by the sameness of the setting—sort of like townies driving around Mililani or Kapolei.

God-san will offer a variety of yakisoba dishes, such as these bentos featuring omelet and shrimp, and omelet, bacon and fried egg.

 

So far so good as far as the equipment testing. Deep-fried croquettes and tonkatsu were turning out crisp and light. Ramen from Gashoken was perfection. But with many more vendors set to move in, JVW won't be open until June 25, when everyone is confident they'll be ready.

Vintage Cave Honolulu will be introducing Wagyu Plaza featuring six boutique restaurants; Seafood Plaza featuring eight bistros; and Vintage Cave Bakery. The original Vintage Cave remains at its current location in Ala Moana Center’s Diamond Head Wing.

 

Adding to the foodcentric venue, Vintage Cave Café, is set to open next to JVW in October. The Italian-inspired café will feature an array of seafood dishes, Milan style pasta, Napoli style pizza, Wagyu steak and more, in a room mimicking the look and feel of an Italian Cathedral, complete with dome ceiling, murals, and sculptures from Italy. The 9,000-square-foot venue will seat 150 and include four private rooms.

A sukiyaki bowl from Yakiniku Tamura.

 

A spicy poke and avocado bowl from Hale Mai.

 

Shinogu Sato and Yotaro Takenaka made the most of the tasting.

 

$1 beers will be among the draws.

 

Also from Gashoken, shrimp ramen with intense shrimp broth. Love it!

 

Gashoken's introductory menu.

 

Promising sweet treats to come, these faux fruit-filled and creme brulée crepes were on display at one of the vendor booths.

 

jvw rest

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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.