Archive for the ‘Casual’ 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.

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.

Noodle soup your way at Aunty's

June 1st, 2016
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PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

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.
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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.

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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.

Shorten your wait: App speeds food order at lantern ceremony

May 27th, 2016
By



L & L Hawaiian Barbecue, the official concessionaire of Ala Moana Beach Park, will be offering a special pre-ordering opportunity for those expected to attend the Lantern Festival Hawaii on Memorial Day, May 30. Pre-orders will be accepted via the Dodecki mobile app.

If you are one of the 40,000 people expected to attend the festival, reserve your meal and avoid long lines by ordering ahead of time. All who pre-order will receive a free gift and be entered to win prizes from L&L and Dodecki. Pre-orders will be accepted until 3 p.m. on May 29 for the following items:

Mini bento: Includes shrimp, teri beef, teri chicken and rice, for $6.99.
Deluxe bento: Includes fish, chicken katsu, teri chicken, Spam and rice, for $8.99.
Drinks: Bottled water, Coke-brand bottled drinks, at $1.99 each.

All pre-orders must be picked-up within a two-hour window of time (determined by customer at the time of ordering). The designated pick-up area for pre-orders will be at the Ala Moana Beach Park Concession nearest the Diamond Head end close to Magic Island.

To pre-order, install and open the Dodecki mobile app on your smartphone and find the special L&L menu under the "Deals+Rewards" section in the navigation bar on the left. You’ll be able to build your order and pay in advance to avoid Monday's lines.

Dodecki is a Hawaii-based smartphone ordering app that gives people options for ordering food from a variety of restaurants via their mobile phones. Learn more at dodecki.com.
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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.

Beyond burgers at The Counter

May 27th, 2016
By



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Korean BBQ steak fills one of the new sandwiches at The Counter, and it is da bomb!

If you haven't been to The Counter Custom Burgers in a while, it may be time for another visit. The Kahala Mall restaurant specializing in create-your-own burgers has launched a new menu that includes a handful of options to the beef burger, just because many diners want a little more variety in their lives.

New protein options on the create-your-own burger menu include a jumbo lump crabcake, Southern fried chicken and Korean BBQ grilled skirt steak that's a new favorite of mine. In chef Matthew Lindblom's hands, it's true to local expectations. Order these your way with your pick of dozens of toppings and sauces, or order it their way as described in the photos below.

Also new are:

WTF ("Why the Face" sandwich): A ground turkey patty is topped with provolone, applewood-smoked bacon, pickles, and house mustard on a Hawaiian bun, accompanied by salt &and vinegar kettle chips. Currently $12.50.

Crab Encounter: a jumbo lump crab cake sits atop a salad of organic mixed greens, tomatoes, roasted red peppers, applewood-smoked bacon, scallions and chopped egg, with honey dijon dressing.

Loaded tots:

The Counter's loaded tots are rolled in pimento cheese with bits of applewood smoked bacon, sprinkled with green onions and served with buttermilk ranch sauce.

And, although alcohol is served here, it's still a kid-friendly place, with an activity book and crayons for little ones with excess energy.
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The Counter Custom Burgers is at Kahala Mall, 4211 Waialae Ave. Call 739-5100.

Following the flirtation with Korea, it's back to the U.S. and Southern inspiration with this buttermilk-brined fried chicken sandwich with jalapeño jack, coleslaw, fresh jalapeños, and honey dijon on a brioche bun. Recently, $14.

The "Bison & Brie" salad is great for carnivores who want to balance their meat-eating habit with greens once in a while. The brie blankets the organic bison patty that sits atop a kale salad with accents of carrots, cranberries and jalapeño slices.

The "Holy Crab" sandwich comprises a thick housemade crabcake topped with jalapeño jack, tomatoes, pickles, coleslaw, sliced jalapeños and housemade Thousand Island dressing on a sweet Hawaiian bun. Recently, $17.

There's more than one way to drink in one of The Counter's shakes. Brandon Maxwell tackles the "Birthday Cake" that includes confetti cake mix and rainbow sprinkles. Other options include the "Pineapple Upside Down," "Caramel Java Malt," "Apple Crumble" or "Nutella & Salted Pretzel." Spiked shakes are also available, or just make your own from their roster of ingredients.

OLDER FAVORITES

Housemade fried dill pickles are served with apricot sauce, but for those who don't do sweet-sour, request the ranch.

There's a nice spice to grilled wings drenched in a sweet Sriracha sauce, then served with celery and a Sriracha dipping sauce that really isn't necessary. There's plenty of flavor in the wings. There's also a standard Buffalo-style option.

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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.