Archive for the ‘Seafood’ Category

Hyatt Regency's SHOR launches Chef's Table

March 11th, 2014
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hyattjarAquarium in a mason jar at SHOR's Chef's Table at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa.Nadine Kam photos

SHOR American Seafood Grill in Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa, hosted an introduction March 6 to its new Chef’s Table menu available Thursdays through Sundays, with reservations 48 hours in advance.

The exclusive event puts the services of chef Jake Andrews team at your service to create a five-course menu highlighted by fresh island ingredients purchased from the Hyatt's Thursday Farmers Market, downstairs in the Grand Atrium from 4  to 8 p.m. Five wines are also paired with the dishes and chef will discuss each course and selection throughout the meal.

The aim was to create something special for anniversaries, birthdays, and other special occasions when people are looking for a combination of memorable venue, food and company.

The cost is $500 for four people, and $150 for each additional person up to 12 people.  Reservations may be made by calling (808) 237-6145.

SHOR is known for offering sustainable seafood and shellfish, as well as beef from the Big Island and many other locally sourced ingredients.

This particular press event started with a handful of pupu at Japengo, before moving on to SHOR.
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SHOR American Seafood Grill is in the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa, 2424 Kalakaua Ave.

hshooterWe started out with a few appetizers at Japengo that are not on the regular menu, such as this seafood shooter with Kumamoto oyster.

hyattSpicy Singapore crab omelette.

hyattchipSalmon skin rice cracker topped with seafood salad.

hyattbeesAfter the warmup, we were able to visit the Hyatt's beehives, tended by Michael Kliks, owner of Manoa Honey Co. and president of the Hawai'i Beekeepers' Association. While we were safely behind glass, he pointed out the queen bee and didn't care how many times he got stung. Ouch!

hyatttableSHOR's Chef's Table is set in casual, fun style, as if you were setting up a spur-of-the-moment dinner party for friends at home.

hyattplatingJon Matsubara plates the ahi portion of the crudo dish, presented on brown paper in keeping with the casual vibe of the event.

hyattcrudoIsland crudo with smoked bonito and sesame granola. A dollop of avocado and wasabi gelato was added prior to serving. (more…)

First course: Awash in abalone

February 18th, 2014
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abatraysShingo Ochi shows two sizes of Kona Abalone. The approximately 4-inch specimens at left are about 4 years old. At right, shells of 1-1/2 year olds measure about two inches.Nadine Kam photos

Kona Abalone is among the most popular vendors at the Saturday morning Farmers Market at Kapiolani Community College because chowhounds find the succulent, lightly salted pieces of grilled locally grown abalone worth a wait in line.

Now, those who could never make it over to the market in time early enough to enjoy the abalone don't have to worry about setting their alarm clock. Kona Abalone has opened a flagship store at the Makai
Market Food Court at Ala Moana.

The shop, at the Diamond Head end of the food court, offers more than the simple grilled abalone sold at the Farmers Market. The store will also sell packaged abalone, including canned and vacuum-packed versions that are travel proofed for premium made-in-Hawaii gift giving.

If you're wondering how they can keep up with demand, The Big Island Abalone Corp. maintains an inventory of more than 4 million abalone on its 10-acre site.

ababentoA sampler of smoked salmon, ocean salad with abalone and two pieces of abalone. Two pieces of the abalone are more filling than expected, and left me feeling light and energized.

abagrillGrilled abalone, packaged and ready to go at prices ranging from $10 to $15 depending on the abalone's size and numbers. For example, one large abalone is $10, two medium size is $11, three smalls are $11, and a pack with three large runs $15.

BIAC raises a premium stock of Ezo (Northern Japanese) abalone. The success of Kona Abalone is the result of 16 years of research that led to important findings about abalone habitat and innovations in farm feeding practices.

CEO Hiroshi Arai said there were many setbacks in the process, but all along, he maintained faith in the viability of abalone he considers to be the best in the world because of the controlled environment in which they are raised, that allow the mollusks to thrive.

The farming system uses a constant supply of pure, cold, nutrient-rich Pacific Ocean sea water, pumped from a depth of more than 3,000 feet by the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA).

BIAC's facilities include a hatchery, a nursery and abalone grow-out tanks, ensuring that BIAC controls the quality of the abalone from the start of the mollusks' growth cycle. The abalone is fed a proprietary red algae (dulse), also bred onsite to optimize the abalone's flavor, nutrition, texture, color, and even shell characteristics.
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Big Island Abalone is in the Ala Moana Center Makai Market Food Court, 1450 Ala Moana Blvd. Call 808.941.4120. Open 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays, and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays, except center holidays. www.bigislandabalone.com

abaceoCEO Hiroshi Arai shows premium canned Kona Abalone. (more…)

First course: Plenty to savor at Sushi Ginza Onodera

February 12th, 2014
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onoyellowSushi of yellowtail that was marinated five hours in a light blend of soy sauce, shiitake, mirin and sake and lightly seared. Topped with daikon and aged negi. True bliss, at Sushi Ginza Onodera.Nadine Kam photos

Honolulu has always been a great city for sushi lovers because of our access to great catch and resulting numbers of sushi bars. But Sushi Ginza Onodera is a game-changer in this town because nothing else is comparable. Sushi here is exceptional, accented here and there with a bit of yuzu, ginger, seasoned salt or a brushstroke of soy sauce and fresh grated wasabi to bring out the seafood's best attributes.

For that, you'll pay a price. Onodera's omakase meals are set at $160, $200 and $250. For $160, you get one appetizer and 13 pieces of nigiri sushi. The $200 menu features four appetizers and about 11 pieces of sushi. For $250, you get five appetizers and about 13 pieces of sushi. The $200 menu seemed like a happy medium for the variety of appetizers that are subject to change on a daily, seasonal basis. On the plus side, as in Japan, you don't have to pay a gratuity.

The experience could prove to be a life changer as well. For myself:

Fallacy No. 1: I would rather spend money on fashion than food. Most of us are not millionaires, so we make sacrifices to acquire and do the things we want, whether to travel, take classes, dine out or acquire the latest shoe or handbag. To eat here again, friends tell me I have to sacrifice buying one new handbag, and I find myself willing to do just that.

Fallacy No. 2: I don’t like uni. My late husband loved uni, so it was great when we ordered nigiri sets. He could claim the one piece that I wanted no part of. He often urged me to try it, and I would take a nibble. I never changed my mind. It was always too strong and pungent to be palatable. After trying it in Tokyo last year, I realized not all uni is created equally. There, it was mild and sweet. A local fisherman friend suggested it may be because of the urchins' diet. The purple and bafun uni here are also sweet and creamy, both with distinctive flavor. I ate up every single bit of both, and may have finally become a true believer.

Here is an array from the $200 omakase:

onoyamAmuse: Yamaimo with a touch of soy sauce, okra and shaved bonito, over a layer of delicate cucumber froth.

The appetizers:

onosashimiSashimi of sea bass and yellowtail, marinated as sushi at top.

onoappWhole, thumb-size firefly squid from Kyoga prefecture, Japan, and steamed Big Island abalone at its most delicious, sweet and tender. With fresh grated wasabi.

onosacWaxy shirako, or cod sperm sac with a pinch of scallop-shiitake salt.

onocrabHokkaido hairy crab chawanmushi.

The nigiri+:

ononigiriBig-eye tuna and gizzard shad. (more…)

'Ilima Awards 2012: The way we dined

October 11th, 2012
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ikissNadine Kam photos
PR woman Kristin Jackson, left, in her other life as Kiss My Grits restaurateur, with Kim Oswald. Kiss My Grits was a double winner in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser's 'Ilima Awards. The public voted it "Best New Restaurant," and critics gave it one of 22 Critics Choice Awards.

Work on the annual Diamond Head Theatre and Honolulu Star-Advertiser 'Ilima Awards officially begins in June, but the work actually continues all year as we eat our way through many, many restaurants and take notes on what was memorable and what we liked best.

June is when I and fellow food and entertainment writers—Joleen Oshiro, Nina Wu, Elizabeth Kieszowski, Jason Genegabus and Betty Shimabukuro—start comparing notes in advance of the October announcement of award winners, and soon after, we start fanning out to make sure the restaurants are continuing to perform well.

ilimaWe try to include mix of restaurants high, low and spots in between for diversity that reflects the entire dining scene. Of course, for the restaurants, it helps to have a visible profile throughout the year to remind us who's out there. There are many more restaurateurs who go about running their restaurants in a low-key way, and I admit we always miss a few of these. I already have a few in mind that didn't make the book this year but deserve another look next year. And, of course, it helps to open before August, when our decisions are finalized.

Click book for a look inside.

If you're wondering why I disappear from Facebook and Twitter all summer, it's because of the extra task of helping to write the book. The reward is the annual 'Ilima Awards ceremony that took place Oct. 8, a benefit for the theater, that begins with cocktails and a DHT song and dance performance honoring the award winners.

This year marks the 17th annual awards, which started in partnership with the Honolulu Advertiser before our papers merged.

On stage, Loretta Ables Sayre—straight from her star turn in "South Pacific" on Broadway—joined the cast and cracked up the audience with a particularly suggestive number sung to the tune of "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You," which had her getting up close and personal with a few of the representatives from Kiss My Grits, Prima, Lahaina Grill and Amasia, which included the Lahaina Grill rep burying his head in her bosom.

Other highlights included "Funny Girl" star Isabelle Decauwert singing about food to the tune of the musical's "Don't Rain on My Parade," and Tricia Marciel bringing hilarity to the otherwise bittersweet tune of "The Way We Were," sung as "The Way We Dined."

And, a representative from 3660 on the Rise provided one of the most entertaining moments of the night during the finale, when the members of the youth ensemble Shooting Stars got him to his feet and he joined in, rather well, on matching their dance moves.

Then, it was all about tasting, and the ultimate reward was hearing from guests that they enjoyed sampling from restaurants that they hadn't heard of prior to that night.

isouthernKiss My Grits offered a generous combination of catfish, okra and black-eyed peas, along with grits and hush puppies, below, that all threatened to fill a diner up before hitting any other booth. I missed the bread pudding that came later.

igrits

ibistroAlan Takasaki, left, is the chef-owner of this year's Critic's Choice of Best Restaurant, Le Bistro. He was cooking up shortribs, below:

ishortrib

imatsubaraAzure executive chef Jon Matsubara with his inspired sambal clam banh mi and liquid brandade.

iazureDiners accustomed to grabbing a plate were caught off guard when Matsubara placed the cracker-style "banh mi" in their hands, instructing them to take a bite, then follow with a sip of the chowdery salt cod brandade.

icupsThe stack of small brandade cups caught the eye of our 'Ilima Awards book page designer Joe Guinto, who admired their architectural form. (more…)

Karai Crab heats up the scene

September 26th, 2012
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karai

I was excited by the possibility of heat and spice promised in the name Karai Crab, but it's only after I sat down and saw the restaurant's crab logo and that fiery furnace of a mouth that I felt a little scared by just how much heat would arrive.

I like spicy food, and can practically drink Sriracha, but things are a quite a bit hotter here. I slipped in before a media preview Sept. 21, and this half order of "No Mess" (that is, peeled) shrimp nearly killed my tastebuds with its so-called "medium" cayenne-pepper heat. If this was medium, I don't know if I really wanted to explore spicy (habanero heat) or extra spicy (ghost pepper heat).

Luckily, I had ordered mussels with habanero sauce before trying the cayenne, and I liked the habañero much more, which here, is more of a glowy, citrusy heat than a burning one like the cayenne.

karai cayenneNadine Kam photos
No Mess shrimp really absorbed the heat. I and my dinner companion could only manage one apiece, so the rest went to waste.

I was afraid to tackle the ghost pepper heat, but took a tentative bite later on at the media lunch that followed the restaurant's blessing. And I liked that too. Even so, it did have a sting so I had to alternate between dipping pieces of king crab leg in habañero and ghost pepper sauces that were served on the side, along with garlic butter.

Before visiting the restaurant, I wondered how it would find its niche, considering its latecomer status as the fourth crab restaurant to open within six months. But, the flavors are delicious and they're working to differentiate themselves from the pack with chef's specials and new sauces that will keep visits interesting over time. And, you can see the clean presentation, sans plastic bags:

karaidungenessDungeness crab is tasty, if not quite as cute as Karai Crab's logo, top of page.

karai maileAfter a blessing by kahu Cordell Kekoa, from left, Karai Crab manager Garrett Kamei, executive chef Miles Miyamoto and Michael J. Robinson from Kapiolani Medical Center untie the maile lei. A portion of proceeds from food service through Sept. 30 will be donated to Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children.

karailaFor a person who writes about food, Lindsey Muraoka of the Honolulu Pulse blog Food La La is really squeamish about pulling a crab apart getting her hands dirty. She tackles a Karai Combo ($25) with crab legs available separately at market price.

karaiclamsLike the other shellfish, you can add one of six seasonings to an order of clams, then add spice, or no spice if you can't take the heat.

karai saltpepperI was lucky to be dining on a day they were experimenting with salt-pepper shrimp in the kitchen. Everyone in the restaurant at the time was lucky to get a sample of the crisp shrimp that was just as good, if not better, than the Chinatown originals, though without the sprinkling of green onions, garlic and chilies. If it's not on the menu by now, they'd better add it quick!

karai cornAn order of corn is $3, and the portion is small, but it's really sweet and not soggy at all.

karaiKing crab legs added to a Karai combo bowl of shrimp, clams, crawfish, mussels, potato, corn and sausage.

karai cornbreadBacon-jalapeno cornbread is good for cutting the heat of the chilies.

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Karai Crab is at The Willows, with separate makai building and entrance, 901 Hausten St. Call 952-6990.