Archive for the ‘Korean’ Category

Yakiniku pops up in Liliha

By
September 21st, 2016



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Skirt steak, pork belly and beef tongue on the grill at Ono Sushi & Yakiniku.

The scenery on Liliha Street rarely changes, so I did a double-take two weeks ago when the Korean take-out shop, Ono Sushi & Yakiniku, started looking a little more like a sit-down restaurant and advertising all-you-can-eat yakiniku.

The site had been home to Mama’s Kitchen and Mama’s Korean BBQ, which first-time restaurant owners Victor and Stella Kim purchased two years ago.

The couple earns points for having the creativity to turn part of their take-out menu into a more elaborate experience in a bedroom community where there are few sitdown options.

Start with the eatery’s plate lunches, such as kalbi ($13.99), BBQ beef ($11.99), spicy pork ($11.99) and BBQ chicken ($11.99), and if you like those, you can opt for the experience of cooking these to-go items yourself at the table.

The all-you-can-eat yakiniku dinner starts with a round of all of the above, plus pork belly, inner and outer skirt steak and beef tongue, at a cost of $29.99 per person for a minimum of two people (it’s $24.99 for lunch), and $15.99 per child between the ages of 3 and 10.

After you finish the first round, you can order more of the meat you like. Basic buffet rules apply, especially, don't order more than you can finish on the spot.

The all-you-can-eat yakiniku special starts with a round of eight different kinds of meat.

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Ono Sushi & Yakiniku is at 1805 Liliha St. Open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays. Call (808) 524-0024.

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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.

Sea Dragon finally worth a visit

By
August 10th, 2016



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Sea Dragon Cold Noodle House's namesake cold noodles with ban chan including fishcake, fantastic roasted eggplant, beansprouts and daikon kim chee.

I wasn't very interested in Sea Dragon's various shape-shifting evolutions, from Sea Dragon Table to Chukaya Sea Dragon Table, because I just didn't find the Japan-style Chinese cuisine as good as our own. After one visit, I just never went back. Even when the name changed slightly every few years, that old "once bitten-twice shy" phobia had set in and I wasn't going back until a major rehaul happened.

So I was surprised when a friend wanted to take me there, saying it had changed to Korean cuisine. The Sea Dragon name is still there, but attached to it is Cold Noodle Restaurant. The perfect draw for another hot summer.

And it turns out, the food is the best being offered on this site since the Shanghai dumpling restaurant Jin Din Rou brought this corner to life in 2011. My review is in the paper today.
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Sea Dragon Cold Noodle House is at 1491 S. King St. Call 941-2929.

I've been seeing "L.A. galbi" popping up on more Korean menus lately, which is what this bone-in cut is called in Korea. But it's also been Hawaii's style for years due to the proliferation of Korean fast-food and casual restaurants, vs. the all-meat wang galbi, or "king's cut" galbi available only at high-end restaurants. Sea Dragon's is plenty meaty for our taste.

The start of the spicy pork stone pot bi bim bap, before all the ingredients are mixed together on the skillet to make what is essentially fried rice with nice crispy crust.

One thing I didn't care for here was the steamed mandoo, veggies served in a Chinese-style bao bun. Too much carbs without an equal flavor payoff.

Goat stew is not for everyone because the meat is as gamey as lamb. The goat meat shares the pot with sesame seeds, green onions, chives, water parsley and kkaenip, also called sesame leaf in Korea, although it is more closely related to mint than sesame, and has a strong herbal taste that I liked less than the goat.


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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.

One-woman show at Sara's

By
May 25th, 2016



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Chili pepper lovers can test their endurance with Sara's Cafe's spicy fried chicken wings. The bits of red and yellow are Thai chilis and their seeds in a honeyed shell. Don't even try this if you can't drink in something as mild as Sriracha.

Korean women have a reputation for toughness, and some prove it by being masters of their domain in the restaurant biz. It's a difficult enterprise even when many hands are involved, yet these strong women are willing to go it alone.

Those who miss the Angry Korean Lady behind Ah-Lang, who's now on hiatus, might try heading to Sara's Cafe. There, Sara Kim is similarly a one-woman act, doing all the cooking, waitressing and cleanup. (Now that she knows my newspaper column is coming out, she may call on some extra hands and see how it goes.)

But, unlike Angry Korean Lady, Kim is quite the opposite, doing her best to be accommodating. If she seems to ignore you when you walk in, it's just because she's juggling dozens of other details. It's not only in-house customers who need tending. There are also phone and take-out orders to deal with.

Their cooking styles also differ, with Kim providing more casual, simple home-style Korean dishes, along with the comfort of knowing you won't get yelled at. Whew!

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Sara's Cafe is at 1551 S Beretania St., on the ground level of the Kualana Hale senior housing building. Call 955-1353. Hours are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays, 5 to 10 p.m. Mondays to Thursdays, and 5 to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Look for these street signs on Beretania Street, on the ground level of the Kualana Hale senior housing building.

Look for these street signs on Beretania Street, on the ground level of the Kualana Hale senior housing building.

The living room ambience has the feel of being at your aunty's house.

The living room ambience has the feel of being at your aunty's house.

Sara Kim rules the kitchen.

TOP 3

Here are my top three dishes. Keep in mind that my personal biases have no bearing on these choices that I think best reflect the restaurant's strengths. For instance, I love Korean spicy pork, but it's not a dish that defines this restaurant:

No. 1
The spicy fried chicken wings at the top of the page. Sorry some of you will not be able to withstand the heat.

No. 2
(Tie) Depending on your preference for seafood or veggies, a soft egg-y texture, or crisp flour-based pancake.

Among Sara's specialties are her pajeon, scallion pancakes, including this seafood version. Killer with accompanying sauce of vinegar, shoyu, Thai chilies and pickled onions.

In contrast to the egg-y seafood pajeon, a kim chee pancake had a beautiful crisp finish.

No. 3

Sara's kalbi looks like typical teriyaki-style shortribs, but the sauce is Korean, with shoyu and plenty of chopped onions lending natural sweetness to the sauce.

MORE DISHES

Banchan is limited here, but requests for seconds, and thirds of the zucchini jun were accommodated.

Kim prepares Korean home-style cuisine, but how many people make sone pot bi bim bap at home?. A real treat.

Home-style sautéed garlic shrimp is served with lettuce topped with Caesar dressing.

Korean-style hamburger steak is not hamburger as we know it, but a lighter combo of beef, pork and tofu dipped in egg batter.

A comforting pot of soondubu.

Spicy pork with gochujang sauce.

Shrimp fried rice didn't have much shrimp in it, but was still enjoyable, and a great accompaniment to all the meat on the menu.

I ordered half portions of meat jun and spicy squid that turned out to be least favorites. Some might appreciate the generous slices of ribeye, but it was too chewy, and there was little dimension to the squid. It would be fine for non-tasters.

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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.

Last supper at Angry Korean Lady

By
March 1st, 2016



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

 

Angry Korean Lady Won Nam shoots me a dirty look because my phone is in her face.

Stopped by Feb. 26 for a last supper at Ah-Lang, a k a Angry Korean Lady, as the restaurant came to be known over the years due to the fiery nature of proprietor Won Nam. I'd heard she planned to close at the end of February, but fans are in luck, as she now puts the date somewhere between March 15 and 31.

Sorry. At the risk of a slap on the head, I wasn't about to pressure her into being more precise.

The restaurant opened in 2007, and Nam, though hot-tempered, wasn't particularly angry at the time. "Stupid" customers who didn't understand food and inundated her with hundreds of basic questions, brought out her explosive temper.

When I interviewed her in 2010, she said, "I love to cook and I want people to enjoy it. I don't want people who only want to fill up their stomach. It's not worth my time. I want to tell them, 'Get out!'"

And so she did, developing a brand identity before self-branding went mainstream. Instructions on her table read, "I'm already angry...don't make me more angry." And in my review of the restaurant at the time, I said, "Those who expect four-star service from restaurants would be best advised to take their prissy, soft hands and delicate hides elsewhere. At this small restaurant in the Imperial Plaza, there is no one to greet you, no one to take your order or bring you drinks."

In this one-woman shop, it was all about self-service and BYOB, and keeping those stupid questions to a minimum. This was before the age of restrictive diets, so you can imagine what would happen if, heaven forbid, someone walked in and requested food substitutions.

Beyond the cult of personality, Won is a terrific cook, so the restaurant was not merely about gimmick. Her kalbi, seafood pancake and chicken wings will be missed. The wings are saturated with flavor from having been marinated 48 hours, fried, then finished with a spicy garlic sauce.

She may be back after taking a break from customers who vex her so much. I'm hoping the hiatus will be brief, but the bruised may be thankful for the recovery period.

Even so, people seem to love punishment. I shot a couple of 'scopes during the evening, and the hearts only came toward the end of the videos, when people were getting roughed up!
Here's one: https://katch.me/nadinekam/v/3eb5dd85-8cd9-3625-9be4-497ab98d171f

We had no idea what to expect for the $50 per person meal, so didn't know how to pace ourselves, and no one was brave enough to ask what or how much food was coming. We were at Nam's mercy, and here's what she served:

Veggie and egg gimbap.

 

Potato and chicken stew.

 

Stack of kalbi.

 

Stuffed mushrooms served with the chili sauce below.

 

akl chili

Choi sum.

 

S

Spicy fried chicken.

 

Zucchini jun.

Zucchini jun.

 

Pah jun.

 

Gochujang sauced ribs.

 

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