Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Shorten your wait: App speeds food order at lantern ceremony

May 27th, 2016

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
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.

Sushi on rails at Genki Sushi

July 9th, 2013

Nadine Kam photos

Sushi arrives via Space Shuttles on Bullet Trains on a magnetic track at the newly renovated Genki Sushi at Ala Moana Center, which opens to the public July 10. If it all runs well at Ala Moana, the next stop for the Genki rail will be Waikele.

Rail may be a long way off for the city of Honolulu, but it’s up and running at the newly renovated Genki Sushi, on the mall level, mauka side of Ala Moana Center.

Leave it to the Japanese to bring the latest magnetic technology to sushi delivery. (Why are we even talking old steel-on-steel rail in Honolulu when the rest of the world has gone magnetic?)

The restaurant revealed America’s first double-rail sushi delivery system to the press this morning, and will open to the public tomorrow, allowing diners to place their orders at a touch-screen panel, then have their meal arrive by Bullet Train, F-1 Race Cars, Surf Board, Space Shuttle, and more.


Gary Hofheimer photo

The system cost more than $1 million to install and it's both novel and fun. No more waiting and watching the old conveyor belts make their slow loop, and seeing someone else pick up the one dish you were ogling. I never realized how much we needed this. If you thought lines to get in here were long before, I imagine they'll be even longer as people rush in to try the new system.

If you can use an iPad and navigate your phone, you'll find the system easy to use. The pictorial screen is easy to read and use. You can opt for nigiri, sushi rolls, other items (i.e. deep-fried and cooked items) and desserts. Different pages show individual items, and you press a yellow tab to order. Plus signs add another of the same dish, and if you hit it by accident, just hit the minus button.

If you're too short to reach the touch screen, it can be detached and passed around so everyone can examine the menu and place their own orders.

Luddites, don't worry. There is still an old-fashioned conveyor line in place, so you can still grab what you want as the plates pass by.

This kind of system has been in use in Japan for three years. I think we should put a few of Japan’s engineers and restaurateurs in charge of Honolulu's rail project, and blast a few dozen our bureaucrats off via Space Shuttle where they can do no more harm.

Genki Sushi is open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Call 942-9102.


The touch screen shows your customer or table number on the top right. You can choose your items and hit the yellow button on the screen to order. The plus and minus signs are to adjust the quantity of plates. Your order is rushed to you and once you remove your plates, hit a yellow button on the rail to send your train or car back to the kitchen.


Robyn Gee places an order.


These guests debate the many options.


An order arrives via Space Shuttle. Each order is limited to four plates.


Seared salmon we ordered through the touchscreen arrived on a surfboard.

On hand for the renovated restaurant's blessing were, at left, Yasumasa Sudo, president of Genki Sushi USA, Inc. and senior managing director of Japan-based Genki Sushi Co., Ltd., and Yoko Kato, director and managing director of Genki Sushi Co., Ltd.


Staffers surround the restaurant's entrance for the blessing.


Dessert showed "sold out" on the touch screens, and were delivered the old-fashioned way, via waiter.

Open Table to acquire Foodspotting

January 29th, 2013

Due to some interest on Twitter, I'm posting the entire release about Open Table's pending acquisition of one of my favorite food social media sites, Foodspotting.

I didn't like the site's redesign, which complicated what started as streamlined and easy. Who knows what this new partnership will bring, but this is the company's rationale:

  1. "SAN FRANCISCO – January 29, 2013 – OpenTable, Inc. (NASDAQ: OPEN), a leading provider of free, real-time online restaurant reservations for diners and reservation and guest management solutions for restaurants, today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Foodspotting, an app for finding and sharing great dishes at restaurants, for approximately $10 million in cash pursuant to a stock purchase agreement. The completion of the acquisition is subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions.“We’re proud to welcome the talented Foodspotting team to the OpenTable family,” said Matt Roberts, Chief Executive Officer of OpenTable.   “The Foodspotting team is as passionate about dining as we are, and we’re looking forward to leveraging their unique expertise in the areas of imagery and social sharing to enrich the OpenTable experience for diners and restaurants in new and exciting ways. By adding more visually compelling content to help people decide where to dine and discover dishes they’ll love, we hope to make it even easier to find the perfect table for any occasion.” (more…)

HFWF Day 2: Geek and foodie culture meet

September 12th, 2012

hfwf2kitchitNadine Kam photos
Brendan Marshall, founder of Kitchit, the home of bespoke dining, makes a bid for investor dollars during Sept. 7's "Afternoon with 500 Startups: Battle of the Food Geeks,"  for investor dollars.

A day session on Day 2 of the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival Sept. 7, aimed to show the connections between food, agriculture, community and technology.

I had an early lunch meeting that day, so couldn't make it to the first event,
Building a Sense of Plate and Place."  Ed Kenney was the moderator of a panel that included presenters Keone Kealoha of Malama Kauai, Michelle Galimba of Kuahiwi Ranch, Mark Noguchi and special guest Josh Feathers, who shared their stories on building food communities.

Afterward, there was a smackdown that pitted Masaharu Morimoto against Ming Tsai, as a prelude to "Hawaii in a Bowl: From Poi Bowl to Pho Chefs" lunch featuring pa'i'ai from Mana Ai, phó from Charles Phan of The Slanted Door, fish from Colin Hazama of The Sheraton Waikiki, abalone from "Iron Chef" Hiroyuki Sakai, and creations by Side Street Inn's Colin Nishida, and Foodland's Keoni Chang.

crabI had a lunch meeting at Mariposa before heading to The Modern for the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival's day event. I had the soft shell crab salad, so wasn't particularly hungry when I arrived.

hfwf2sakaiThen I heard Chef Sakai was serving abalone, and I couldn't resist trying it, having missed out on chef Chai Chaowasaree's abalone the night before.


Then, in the afternoon, the "Battle of the Food Geeks" pit a handful of food-oriented startups in a pitch war to gain favor with Dave McClure and his panel of chef judges: Sang Yoon of Lukshon and Father's Office; Susan Feniger of Border Grill and Street; Lee Anne Wong of Cooking Channel's "Unique Eats"; event co-founder Roy Yamaguchi of Roy's Restaurants; and Christina Grdovic, publisher of Food & Wine magazine.

McClure is a founding partner of 500 Startups, an Internet startup seed fund and accelerator program based in Mountain View, Calif. One tends to think of old-time geeks as building their Internet companies over pizzas and Chinese takeout, but as geeks have become successful, they've become eager students of  the better things in life, and McClure said, "We're not accustomed to working with food startups but ... All of a sudden, food has become a geeky pursuit."

Who knew, only five years ago, that so many would take so much pleasure in photographing their food and sharing those pictures on several social media sites? They want to take the next food startup to the next level.

hfwf2colinAlso couldn't pass up Colin Hazama's skewered fish.

First to present was Brendan Marshall, founder of Kitchit, the home of bespoke dining. The former investment banker is seeking to democratize private dining by giving restaurant chefs a way to connect with people who want to hire them for a dinner party. So chefs like Marcel Vigneron or Dan Kluger of ABC Kitchen could come to your house and cook for you. Of course, the most famous can also command appearance fees of $25,000 or more on top of the price of your meal. Of course the question raised by the panel was, what's to stop a client from just calling the chef? Which is, of course, how things are done in Hawaii.

Also presenting was Tealet's Elyse Peterson, whose site puts tea lovers in touch with premium tea growers, cutting out the middle man to offer the buyer a purer and less expensive product. Then came Abby Sturges of Culture Kitchen, which packages recipes and ingredients for authentic ethnic cuisines to destinations where such ingredients are hard to come by.

It was interesting to sit there and consider if you would back any of these businesses with your own dollars.

hfwf2tealetElyse Peterson talks up Tealet before the judges.

hfwf2phoIngredients for Charles Phan's phó. A dish was made for me, but I got up to take a photo, and when I returned, someone else was eating my phó.

hfwf2townRelaxing after the morning session were Town's David Caldiero, left, and Ed Kenney, with his mom Beverly Noa and wife Kristen.

App aims to make search for local produce a breeze

July 31st, 2012

leimNadine Kam photos
From left, YWCA of Oahu CEO Kimberly Miyazawa Frank, Café Julia chef Lance Kosaka and app developer Melanie Kosaka, at the beta launch of Lei Fresh.

The YWCA's new Café Julia was the setting for the beta launch of Melanie Kosaka's latest app venture, Lei Fresh.

The Hawaii-grown, interactive mobile app will help conscientious shoppers find and share local products as they pop up in grocery stores and farmer's markets throughout the islands.

The app will be available Aug. 15 as a free download in Apple's App store. In the meantime, you can take a look at a video posted at

It was a no-brainer that the event take place at the cafe, where Melanie's brother Lance is the chef, who also represents Laniakea Catering. He was offering an array of artisan pizzas including one with butter, tomatoes and arugula, and others topped with smoked pork, and another with adobo and chicharrón.

Neighboring restaurants also serving their specialties included 'Umeke Market, Mix Cafe and Brasserie Du Vin.

leisNatalie Aczon of Whole Foods Market, with Stephanie Chang of Design Ink, who created the logo for Lei Fresh.

leipizzaLaniakea Catering's adobo and chicharrón pizza.

leimeatloaf'Umeke Market's kimchee meatloaf made with Big Island grass-fed beef.

leibrunoMix Cafe and Bruno's Forno chef Bruno Iezzi mixes his lemon rigatoni, with Wu Qin He.

carrot1The Whole Foods display included some of the misshapen carrots you don't get to see in their perfect in-store displays. This one looks like a claw or the bottom half of a grotesque doll. Natalie Aczon said the employees pull odd ones all the time that look downright pornographic.

carrot2This one looks like a pig's foot. After the event, the produce was available for the taking. I don't know who got these carrots.

leicAmong the guests, Sean Morris and a homecoming Candice Kraughto, briefly back from Shanghai.

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