Posts Tagged ‘fried rice’

Aloha Brisbane! – Part I: Hawaiian Airlines Launches Their Newest Route to Australia (#AlohaBNE)

December 5, 2012

 

 Part I  | Part II | Part III

 

Traveling to Australia has always been a dream of mine. I mean, let's face it, they've got so many interesting and unique things going for them…

  • Their seasons are completely opposite from ours.
  • They've got koalas and kangaroos to ogle over.
  • They have cute sayings like "G'day Mate!", "Barbie" (BBQ), and "Oi (Oi Oi)!" (LOL!)
  • Their toilet seats (supposedly) flush in the opposite direction.
  • Regional Beers like Hahn, Tooheys and XXXX.
  • And, uh, Vegemite… I guess.

So when the opportunity arose for me to join Hawaiian Airlines' inaugural flight to Brisbane, I could not say "Yer, mate" fast enough!

On Tuesday, November 27th, of 2012, Hawaiian Airlines launched its newest direct route to Australia's third most populous city: Brisbane. Like some of Hawaiian's previous inaugural flights (Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka, Seoul, New York City and Sapporo), they invited members of the (new) media to help document the journey, every step of the way. The recruits this time around were Melissa Chang (@Melissa808) of NonstopHonolulu.com, Catherine Toth (@thedailydish) of TheCatDish.com, Kaleo Lancaster (@islandtrails) of Island Trails, and myself (@worldwideed) of World-Wide-Ed.com.

 


Hawaiian Airlines Flies to Brisbane, Australia! (via HawaiianAirlines' YouTube channel)

 

It was a whirlwind 3 day, 2-night tour, but we definitely got to experience Brisbane the only way Hawaiian Airlines knows how: with Aloha. Here are some of the sights and sounds that we were fortunate enough to experience.

Hula dancers giving us a nice sendoff
Hula dancers giving us a nice sendoff

HA443 departs Honolulu at 10:20am every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and arrives in Brisbane (BNE) at 4pm the following day.

Blessing by Kahu Richard Kamanu
Blessing by Kahu Richard Kamanu

The awesome Hawaiian Airlines crew for our HA443 flight to Brisbane
The awesome Hawaiian Airlines crew for our HA443 flight to Brisbane

 


On the flight to Brisbane (via AlohaMelissa808's YouTube channel)

 


On the flight to Brisbane (via thedailydish's YouTube channel)

 

After about 10 hours in the air, we finally get to the beautiful city of Brisbane
After about 10 hours in the air, we finally get to the beautiful city of Brisbane

These two (Melissa Chang and Catherine Toth) are happy to be on the ground
These two (Melissa Chang and Catherine Toth) are happy to be on the ground

Our hale for the next few days was the French based luxury hotel chain called Sofitel Brisbane Central Hotel. Conveniently located in the middle of the city, it was in walking distance to quite a few key points during our trip, including ANZAC Square, which was literally across the street. Here's the view from my hotel room window!

Looking down at ANZAC Square from the Sofitel Brisbane Central Hotel
Looking down at ANZAC Square from the Sofitel Brisbane Central Hotel

It wasn't long before we had to get dolled up (I wore a tie!) and head down to the Ballroom Le Grand for the official Welcome Gala.

Hawaiian Airlines Welcome Gala
Hawaiian Airlines Welcome Gala

It was a packed house filled with members of the local (Brisbane) media, tour industry professionals, airline executives, and local entertainers Sean Na`auao and Lehua Kalima (formerly of Na Leo), among others.

 


Lehua Kalima Sings "Waikiki" at the Hawaiian Airlines Welcome Gala

Hawaiian Airlines President and CEO Mark Dunkerley addresses the crowd
Hawaiian Airlines President and CEO Mark Dunkerley addresses the crowd

And of course, we can't forget about the food p0rn shots! 😉

Bomboocha wok of fried rice!
Bomboocha wok of fried rice!

My serving of fried rice
My serving of fried rice

Poke samplers
Poke samplers

Chef Chai's popular Fried Kataifi Prawns
Chef Chai's popular Fried Kataifi Prawns

Following the gala, we decided to take a stroll around our neighborhood.

The Shrine of Remembrance at ANZAC Square
The Shrine of Remembrance at ANZAC Square

Possibly the best named street in all the land: Edward Street. 8)
Possibly the best named street in all the land: Edward Street. 8)

Brisbane's cool CityCycle bike hire program
Brisbane's cool CityCycle bike hire program

We decided to check out a popular local pub called the Pig 'N' Whistle on Queen Street.

Partial beer selection on tap
Partial beer selection on tap

Since we weren't that hungry, we just got a side of "chips" (fries in the U.S.) to share.

Chunky Chips with Garlic Aioli ($8.90)
Chunky Chips with Garlic Aioli ($8.90)

After all that eating and drinking, combined with our jetlag, it was time to call it a night. From the expressions on the ladies' faces, I think they agreed.

Cat and Melissa are either extremely drunk or jetlagged. You decide.
Cat and Melissa are either extremely drunk or jetlagged. You decide.

And that's it for our first night in Brisbane. I'll be back again soon to post more about our adventures including South Bank, King of Kings Seafood Yum Cha Restaurant in Chinatown, Alfred & Constance, koala and kangaroo sightings at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, The Shelter Bar, and our departure.

To view more photos from the trip and get a sneak preview of what's to come:
https://picasaweb.google.com/114302480978989244855/AlohaBrisbaneAlohaBNE

Melissa Chang's #AlohaBNE blogs:
http://www.nonstophonolulu.com/?s=brisbane&searchsubmit=Go

Catherine Toth's #AlohaBNE blogs:
http://www.thecatdish.com/?s=brisbane

Kaleo Lancaster's #AlohaBNE blog:
http://kaleolancaster.blogspot.com/2012/12/brisbane-australia-hawaiian-airlines.html

My #AlohaBNE blogs/posts:
http://www.world-wide-ed.com/?s=brisbane

Instagram search results for #AlohaBNE:
http://web.stagram.com/tag/alohabne/

Twitter search results for #AlohaBNE:
https://twitter.com/search?q=%23AlohaBNE&src=typd

 

 Part I  | Part II | Part III

 

VH07V
VH07V Gear
The latest in Hawaii lifestyle apparel. Check it out!
Advertisements

Hawaii Ramen Quest – Part III

December 1, 2011
Part I | Part II |  Part III  | Part IV | Part V

With winter in full swing and Hawaii’s “chilly” weather freezing everyone to the core 😛 , there’s no better comfort food than a nice, hot, steamy bowl of ramen. And while eating at some of my go-to ramen picks (i.e. Yotteko-Ya, Tenkaippin, etc.) would be ideal, sometimes, patronizing your friendly, neighborhood ramen spots is the way to go to help warm the soul.

This next batch of spots in our Hawaii Ramen Quest consists of some of the more non-traditional, localized interpretations of ramen. Stemming from what appears to be of local Chinese influence (with the use of cabbage, bean sprouts, corn, mapo tofu, etc.), these ramen joints often have multiple locations in very convenient areas around town, and I would venture to guess that they are conceivably some of the most popular amongst the locals. Although I don’t associate any of these with the “straight from tha muthaland” flavor and style of ramen I’m accustomed to, there’s no doubt that I still frequent many of these for my noodle fix on the regular.

First up is Daiichi Ramen & Curry in Aiea.

I don’t usually venture out around lower Aiea too often except when I take a wrong turn from Aiea Bowl or Ice Garden, so when I actually did one day, I noticed a sign with big red letters calling me. It said Daiichi Ramen & Curry and I immediately thought to myself, “Oh, thaaaaat’s where it is!” Now you gotta understand, with a name like that (which means “#1” in Japanese), I will place very high expectations on the ramen coming out of the pots there. But then again, with a name like that (gotta love the confidence BTW!) it has to be good right? I’ve heard a lot about this place before but it wasn’t until a recent check-in by @abaggy earlier this month that my curiosity got the best of me. I dragged co-workers and friends Maribel and Trina to come along for the ride.

Maribel & Trina pose outside Daiichi Ramen & Curry in Aiea Shopping Plaza
Maribel & Trina pose outside Daiichi Ramen & Curry in Aiea Shopping Plaza

The first thing you notice is that it is very clean (perhaps even remodeled). Surprising, as they been around for quite some time. The next thing you notice is the two giant posters hanging on the wall advertising their “new” Tonkotsu and Tan Tan Ramens. Smart choice as those have been the popular styles of ramen here in Hawaii as of late.

Trina and I got one of each, while Maribel got the “Special Combo” with Mini Ramen & Curry choices.

Tan Tan Ramen - Healthy soup cooked for over 12 hours with chicken bones, pork rib bones and fresh ground sesame seeds, made fresh daily. - $7.75
Tan Tan Ramen – Healthy soup cooked for over 12 hours with chicken bones, pork rib bones and fresh ground sesame seeds, made fresh daily. – $7.75

Tonkotsu Ramen - Healthy soup cooked for over 12 hours with soft rib bones made fresh daily. - $7.75
Tonkotsu Ramen – Healthy soup cooked for over 12 hours with soft rib bones made fresh daily. – $7.75

Ramen from the Special Combo, Two choice - $8.75
Ramen from the Special Combo, Two choice – $8.75

Mini Curry Rice from the Special Combo, 2 Choice - $8.75
Mini Curry Rice from the Special Combo, 2 Choice – $8.75

Maribel and Trina posing with our ramens
Maribel and Trina posing with our ramens

The flavor wasn’t quite there for the Tonkotsu ramen, but the Ton Ton definitely had a lot of kick. It made all of us cry just a bit. LOL!

Daiichi Ramen & Curry
Aiea Shopping Plaza
99-080 Kauhale Road, Bldg A
Aiea, HI 96701 (Street View)
(808) 486-7432
Daily: 10:30am-9:30pm

Note: A new location also just opened up at 1029 Makolu Street in Pearl City (808-455-9898), which is the strip mall with Starbucks, Kozo Sushi and Panda Express FYI.

 

Next up is Sumo Ramen & Curry. They’ve got 6 or so locations sprinkled across Oahu now, but the one we visited for this review was the tiny one in the Moanalua 99 food court area.

Sumo Ramen & Curry at Moanalua 99
Sumo Ramen & Curry at Moanalua 99

We had the little one with us so everything had to be ordered in “to go” packaging (… You know, just in case. LOL!), but everything was pretty tasty nonetheless. They have quite an extensive menu with offerings in the curry, fried noodle, udon, fried rice, cold soba and ramen categories, in addition to various appetizers you don’t usually see at a place like this.

Spicy Chicken Wings Appetizer - $3.75
Spicy Chicken Wings Appetizer – $3.75

Wifey ordered the Mochiko Chicken Curry Combo, while I got, what else?, the Tonkotsu Ramen. At least I’m consistent right? 🙂

Tonkotsu Ramen - $7.50
Tonkotsu Ramen – $7.50

Here’s a shot of our entire meal.

Spicy Chicken Wings appetizer ($3.75), Tonkotsu Ramen ($7.50), and wifey's Mochiko Chicken Curry Combo ($9.50)
Spicy Chicken Wings appetizer ($3.75), Tonkotsu Ramen ($7.50), and wifey’s Mochiko Chicken Curry Combo ($9.50)

Sumo Ramen & Curry
Moanalua 99 Food Court
1151 Mapunapuna Street, Suite W-9
Honolulu, HI 96819 (Street View)
(808) 833-3139

 

IchiBen in Pearl City’s Times Square Shopping Center is a somewhat newer addition to the ramen scene, but has quickly gained popularity amongst the locals in the area. They specialize in fried rice, curries Korean style BBQ, and their ramens. The attention to detail with their ramen broth is evident by the meticulous description on their menu:

Our special cooked-from-scratch broth is low-simmered for 8-10 hours, resulting in a clear stock with layers of intense flavor. The ingredients include pork shank bones, chicken, shiitake mushrooms, kombu, dried shrimps and scallops, onions, garlic, ginger and leek. You can choose from Shoyu or Miso flavor. The third choice, Paitan, is kanchi for white soup. This signature pork and chicken soup is slow-boiled for 10 or more hours until the stock turns a milky white color. It is rich in collagen and flavor, also known as tonkotsu, and it’s a regional style from Southern Japan. Ours is delightfully light and smooth, without the greasy taste because of our constant skimming all day. We do not use MSG in our cooking, including the soup stock.

Here’s a shot of the Seafood Ramen with Paitan style broth.

Seafood Ramen with Paitan broth - $8.45
Seafood Ramen with Paitan broth – $8.45

Wifey seemed to be happy with her order of the Shoyu version.

Seafood Ramen with Shoyu broth - $7.95
Seafood Ramen with Shoyu broth – $7.95

On a return visit, I wasn’t really in the mood for ramen (it was hot out), so I read the menu’s description of their “Flaming Grill” options and was sold. I swear, the guy who wrote these should win some kind of award for always making me so hungry! 😛

Our BBQ chicken and Kalbi are marinated in Korean-style sauce with shoyu, sugar, ginger, garlic, black pepper and sesame oil for at least 12 hours to bring out the full flavor. Grilled to perfection and served with steamed rice, macaroni salad and tsukemono.

IchiGrill - 1 fillet of chicken and 2 slices of kalbi short ribs - $9.95
IchiGrill – 1 fillet of chicken and 2 slices of kalbi short ribs – $9.95

I actually liked the Korean BBQ items more than the ramen here. Very flavorful and tasty!

IchiBen
Times Square Shopping Center
98-1254 Kaahumanu Street, Suite B-06
Pearl City, HI 96782 (Street View)
(808) 488-4200
Sun-Thu: 11am-9pm
Fri-Sat: 11am-10pm

 

Mililani natives would know all about our next stop: Genki Ramen, which has a location on each side of the H2 (Mililani Mauka and Mililani town). Working out here in the often chilly-willy Central Oahu locale, it’s easy to make a quick lunch run to either location. Here are co-workers and friends Wendy and Maribel during a recent visit to the Mauka location.

Wendy and Maribel pose with our spread from Genki Ramen
Wendy and Maribel pose with our spread from Genki Ramen

Wendy ordered the Pork Vegetable Fried Noodles, which, ironically (at a ramen shop), is one of my favorite dishes here.

Pork Vegetable Fried Noodle - $7.50
Pork Vegetable Fried Noodle – $7.50

I usually order the Seafood Fried Noodles sans the radioactive looking ginger or the Mabo Tofu Ramen, but since this is a Ramen Quest, I took one for the team and ordered the marquee item on the menu: The New Genki Ramen (Big Bowl)!

New Genki Ramen (Big Bowl) - $9.75
New Genki Ramen (Big Bowl) – $9.75

Although da buggah is HUGE, it’s rather deceiving because, like many of the other ramens on their menu, the noodles seem to always be lacking. To me, they overstuff the bowl with cabbage and bean sprouts and never have enough noodles at the bottom for me to slurp on.

Maribel got the Combo A Set which included a Mini Shoyu Ramen, Fried Rice and 4 pieces of Gyoza.

Combo A Set - Mini Shoyu Ramen, Fried Rice and 4 pieces of Gyoza - $7.75
Combo A Set – Mini Shoyu Ramen, Fried Rice and 4 pieces of Gyoza – $7.75

Genki Ramen II (Mililani Mauka)
95-1840 Meheula Parkway
Mililani, HI 96789 (Street View)
(808) 626-7829

 

Rumor has it that there was some kind of rift (ala Gomaichi and Goma Tei) that caused one owner to leave Genki Ramen to start this next ramen restaurant chain: Ramen Ya. Although there is one in Kahului (Queen Kaahumanu Shopping Center on Maui), and one to open soon in Hawaii Kai, this review is for the somewhat new location in the Pearl Highlands area.

The menu is remarkably identical to Genki Ramen’s one so I went with what I knew best and ordered the Mapo Tofu Ramen. Yep, it’s spelled “Mapo” here.

Mapo Tofu Ramen - $7.25
Mapo Tofu Ramen – $7.25

Co-workers and friends Erin and Diane went curry and ordered the Deep Fried Gyoza Curry Rice and the Curry Ramen respectively.

Deep Fried Gyoza Curry Rice - $7.75
Deep Fried Gyoza Curry Rice – $7.75

Curry Ramen - $7.25
Curry Ramen – $7.25

Erin and Diane with our food at Ramen-Ya
Erin and Diane with our food at Ramen-Ya

If you like Genki Ramen, you’ll like it here as well (and vice versa).

Ramen-Ya
1170 Kuala Street, Suite 308
Pearl City, HI 96782 (Street View)
(808) 456-8868
Daily: 10:30am-9pm

 

I never even knew this next place existed until I did a site visit in the area for work. Since it was lunch time and we were mad hungry, Maribel (yes again) and I decided to scope things out at Ton Ton Ramen.

The menu is fairly extensive with noodle, udon & rice dishes, combos, side orders and a variety of special ramens including the Black Sesame Tan Tan Ramen, Ippin Ramen, Oxtail Ramen, and the one I got, which was the very popular Soft Rib Ramen.

Soft Rib Ramen - Ribs are slowly cooked over 8 hours until tender & juicy. Ramen is served in a garlic shoyu base with traditional half cooked egg. Original Japanese style. - $8
Soft Rib Ramen – Ribs are slowly cooked over 8 hours until tender & juicy. Ramen is served in a garlic shoyu base with traditional half cooked egg. Original Japanese style. – $8

The soft boiled egg was a nice touch, though it wasn’t quite as soft-boiled as I would’ve liked it. The nori was also a good attempt at being authentic. The soup needed more flavor but the soft rib was definitely soft and tasty.

Surprise surprise. Maribel got a combo yet again. LOL! This time around, she got the Mochiko Chicken Combo, which included the Mochiko Chicken, a mini ramen, and gyoza.

A happy looking Maribel with her Mochiko Chicken Combo - $9.45
A happy looking Maribel with her Mochiko Chicken Combo – $9.45

Ton Ton Ramen
94-050 Farrington Highway
Waipahu, HI 96797 (Street View)
(808) 677-5388

 

Back in the day, when we used to go clubbing (yes, THAT long ago), this next stop was one of our staples: Taiyo Ramen, thanks to its late night hours of operation. Located in between the now two defunct Blockbuster and I Love Country Café locations off Piikoi, this ramen joint has stood the test of time and endured the ups and downs of the market.

I don’t have any current prices or photos, but here are a few dishes from way back in 2006.

Gomoku Ramen
Gomoku Ramen

Seafood Udon
Seafood Udon

Soba from Taiyo Ramen
Soba from Taiyo Ramen

Makes me want to get drunk and go there again for old time’s sake. 8)

Taiyo Ramen
451 Piikoi Street, Suite 105
Honolulu, HI 96814 (Street View)
(808) 589-2123
Mon-Thu 10am-1am
Fri-Sat 10am-3am
Sun 10am-9pm

 

And speaking of late night eats, here’s a quickie shot of my Oxtail Ramen from none other than Sanoya’s. Ahhh, the memories…

Oxtail Ramen from Sanoya's
Oxtail Ramen from Sanoya’s

Not exactly gourmet eating, but good enough for those late night cravings.

Sanoya Rahmen
1785 S King Street, Suite 4
Honolulu, HI 96826 (Street View)
(808) 947-6065

 

And finally, here’s a “fast kine” location we recently hit up at the Manoa Marketplace: Nishi Mon Cho Ramen. As you’ll see in the photos, we again ordered everything in take out containers because we had baby with us. Our parents were pretty hungry, but wifey and I weren’t so we decided to share something small. I got the daily (Friday) special, the Curry Beef Rice & 4 pcs Gyoza combo, while wifey got a mini shoyu ramen.

Nishi Mon Cho Friday Special - Curry Beef Rice & 4 pcs Gyoza - $6.99 (with wifey's mini shoyu ramen on the side). Yes, I'm not a fan of cooked carrots. :P
Nishi Mon Cho Friday Special – Curry Beef Rice & 4 pcs Gyoza – $6.99 (with wifey’s mini shoyu ramen on the side). Yes, I’m not a fan of cooked carrots. 😛

Some of the other daily specials at Nishi Mon Cho Ramen
Some of the other daily specials at Nishi Mon Cho Ramen

The warm, fuzzy story behind this visit was that the worker (who appeared to be the owner) was very friendly and accommodating with us, noticing our obvious apprehension (whether to eat in or take out) due to our situation with the little one. She shared information about her own kids and made everyone feel very comfortable.

Nishi Mon Cho Ramen
Manoa Marketplace
2851 E Manoa Road #1-104
Honolulu, HI 96822 (Street View)
(808) 988-9928
Daily: 10:30am-9pm

 

And that’s it! Whew! That was a packed one! If I don’t see or talk to you guys soon, have a safe and happy holiday season. See y’all next month/year! 🙂

Part I | Part II |  Part III  | Part IV | Part V

Banzai to Kanpai! – Kanpai Bar & Grill

June 1, 2009

When I hear someone say “Eh, we go bar!” I picture some dark musky room with sweaty old men drinking cheap booze as they throw popcorn at the TV or complain about their nagging wives.

And although there ARE actually places like this, there are several watering holes around town that are working hard to completely wipe that image from your head. The relatively new Kanpai Bar & Grill (opened in September of 2008) off Ward Avenue is one such place.

“Kanpai” is the Japanese word for “cheers,” or to toast, and there’s definitely reason to raise a glass and give a little banzai to this “higher class” bar.

Kanpai Bar & Grill sign
Kanpai Bar & Grill sign

Why “higher class”? For one, they’ve done a number to the interior of what used to be Dixie Grill and Tio’s. Lots of great “dining” style seating (indoor and outdoor), three dart machines, multiple-touch screen game machines, and 11 or so flat screens showing the most current sporting events all complete the ambience. And we didn’t even mention the food. Not your typical popcorn and peanut collection here yo! It’s real, restaurant quality food and it’s off the hook!

Having owners/partners with many years of experience in the fine dining and food and beverage worlds probably has something to do with it.

The husband and wife dynamic duo of Nadya & Bryan Yamasaki has 17 years of Food & Beverage experience under their belts. Combine that with the culinary mastery of Neil Nakasone, Brandon Hamada, John Estrella, and Jensen Hirota (aptly named Quatro Foods) in the kitchen – with experiences at such places as The Pineapple Room by Alan Wong, Halekulani, Ritz Carlton, Ruth’s Chris, and Tokuname – and you’ve got yourself a winning formula for some of the best bar eats in town.

Two of their best sellers are the signature steaks (wafu or kim chee), and the shortrib loco moco.

Wafu Style Ribeye Steak with Kabayaki Braised Mushrooms and Onions, Daikon Oroshi, Garlic Chips, and Ponzu Sauce (12oz - $16, 16oz - $22)
Wafu Style Ribeye Steak with Kabayaki Braised Mushrooms and Onions, Daikon Oroshi, Garlic Chips, and Ponzu Sauce (12oz – $16, 16oz – $22)

Kim Chee Ribeye Steak with Kim Chee and Two Fried Eggs (12oz - $16, 16oz - $22)
Kim Chee Ribeye Steak with Kim Chee and Two Fried Eggs (12oz – $16, 16oz – $22)

Braised Shortrib Loco Moco With Natural Pan Gravy and Two Eggs - $12
Braised Shortrib Loco Moco With Natural Pan Gravy and Two Eggs – $12

Other customer favorites according to Nadya include the garlic soybeans ($7), ahi belly ($10), and something off of their daily specials menu.

Favorites of this writer include the Spicy Garlic Chicken, Pork Chops, and Fried Rice. What’s a good meal without rice right? Right.

Fried Rice with Two Eggs - $8
Fried Rice with Two Eggs – $8

Spicy Garlic Chicken - $8
Spicy Garlic Chicken – $8

Pork Chops with Sauteed Onions - $14
Pork Chops with Sauteed Onions – $14

Oh, and let’s not forget to mention their Saimin and Kalbi Fried Noodles.

Saimin with all the Fixins - $8
Saimin with all the Fixins – $8

Kalbi Fried Noodles - $10
Kalbi Fried Noodles – $10

How does Kanpai pull all of this off in such turbulent economic times?

Nadya explains, “In today’s economy, quality and value are important factors in any business. Providing good food with good value is a challenge that motivates us to meet and satisfy our customer’s expectations.”

This kind of attitude is what sets Kanpai apart from the rest. It also helps to explain the loyal customer base that packs this place on the regular.

So if you’re tired of eating peanuts with sweaty old men, give Kanpai a try the next time someone says “Eh, we go bar!” Your tummy will thank you.

Kanpai Bar & Grill
404 Ward Ave # 100
Honolulu, HI. 96814 (map)
(808) 593-9202
Open 11am to 2am daily

Boys’ Night Out

January 12, 2009

On Friday, wifey went out for drinks with her friend, so I decided to hang with a couple o’ friends for a good ol’ fashioned BNO (Boys’ Night Out). My friend Dave was flying in from Hilo on a later flight, so I first hooked it up with Bari to do what most straight men like to do together on a Friday night… shop and eat frozen yogurt. Ha!

OK, so before you get any ideas 😛 , here’s why….

In preparation for my BJ Penn/UFC 94 flyaway (yep! I’m goin’!), I had to get some threads that would match the atmosphere I would soon be in: cold and testosteroney with some Vegas flair. And Bari scratched up the lens on his sunglasses so he had to get replacements. See, we had good kine, legit reasons for shopping. The fro-yo date however, I’ve got no excuse for! Nah, nah! We were actually hungry but wanted to wait for Dave to fly in before we full-on ate. So there! 😉

Anyway, our hot date spot of the night would start at Ward Warehouse for some clothes/shades action and then to Menchie’s.

Boys' Night Out

Like its Manoa counterpart (Yogurtland), Menchie’s has a colorful interior…

Boys' Night Out

is self-serve…

Boys' Night Out

and has an assortment of toppings to choose from.

Boys' Night Out

Even though I never plan to, it seems that I always fill my cup to the brim with a bevy of randomness.

Boys' Night Out
A little macro action of my concoction

With the “I just landed” call from Dave, Bari and I walked off our yogurt and headed to Kanpai on Ward. It was bumpin’ when we got there.

Boys' Night Out

We ordered up a storm, including the braised shortrib loco moco…

Boys' Night Out

the spicy garlic chicken…

Boys' Night Out

fried rice with two eggs…

Boys' Night Out

and the Wafu style rib eye steak.

Boys' Night Out

With the eats, we shot the breeze and had a few shots (and a few more). It was overall, a fun night. How did you spend your BNO or GNO this weekend? (Hopefully, it wasn’t a Guy’s Afternoon In. 😛 “The Office” watchers are (hopefully) laughing…)

Talk to me!
* What’d you do for BNO or GNO this weekend?
* Ever been to Menchie’s? What’d you think? Better than Yogurtland?
* Ever been to Kanpai Bar & Grill? What’s your favorite dish?
* Where should I hit up next?

Happy Funday Monday y’all!

Kau Kau Kauai – Part 2

November 1, 2006

Part I | Part II | Part III

OK gangy… We’re back as promised. Albeit a month overdue, we’re back nonetheless. Another exciting round of good eats from our friends on the Garden Isle. *ding ding*

Part 1 brought a lot of feedback and suggestions and I thank you all for that. Hopefully, I’ll make my way back and hit up those hotspots you mentioned to put together Kau Kau Kauai – Part 14. 😛 One place cited repeatedly was Dani’s Restaurant. I won’t be covering them here today (haven’t been there just yet), but I thought I’d give ’em some pub since they seem to have a strong following.

Ready to go for part 2 folks? Let’s do this thang!

Since our last stop was at the Lizard Lounge in Kapa`a, why don’t we start our day there – bright and early for breakfast – at another Kapa`a favorite?

Ono Family Restaurant was suggested to us by the good people at Thrifty Car Rentals. They are well-known for their breakfast. Ono’s, not Thrifty’s! 😉

(! – Always ask the “locals” when looking for restaurant suggestions! They know best.)

Ono Family Restaurant menu
Ono Family Restaurant menu

Located just north of central Kapa`a Town, this quiet, little family style restaurant gives you an old town feel with all the comforts of home.

Inside Ono Family Restaurant
Inside Ono Family Restaurant

Don’t drive too fast when going up Kuhio Highway as it will suddenly and inconspicuously sneak up on you on the right.

On this occasion, we decided to go traditional and order your typical breakfast items: omelette, fried rice, hash browns and corn beef hash.

Yes, not very exciting, I know… Waddayah want from me? I was hungry! *grin*

Mushroom / broccoli omelette with a side scoop of fried rice
Mushroom / broccoli omelette with a side scoop of fried rice

Side order of hash browns and corned beef hash
Side order of hash browns and corned beef hash

With both dishes, they included a mini cup of their (I’m assuming) popular Hollandaise-type sauce. It’s hard to really ruin breakfast, but with Ono’s fresh ingredients, everything was, well, ono!

Ono Family Restaurant
4-1292 Kuhio Highway
Kapaa, HI 96746 (map)
(808) 822-1710

For reasons of proximity, better judgment would tell us that we should go to Bubba’s Burgers located right around the corner (still in Kapa`a), but for reasons of insanity and a strong desire to drive for no reason, let’s take an unnecessarily out of the way drive to Hanalei to visit Bubba’s up north. (Editor’s note: The real reason is because I’ve never visited the Bubba’s in Kapa`a and I didn’t know how else to admit it to you… 😛 ). So let’s take a superfluous drive won’t we!?

Located in the middle of historic Hanalei town, you can’t miss the bright yellow building that houses this popular burger joint.

Patrons ordering at the Bubba's Burger window
Patrons ordering at the Bubba’s Burger window

The entire staff on this day were comprised of scantily clad women, an obvious play towards the Hooters crowd. And, from the look of their web site, I’m sure this day was no exception (you didn’t see me complaining).

Employees at Bubba's Burger in Hanalei
Employees at Bubba’s Burger in Hanalei

Skimpy unis notwithstanding, the burgers (and fries) were actually pretty tasty and delish.

Bubba's Burgers and fries
Bubba’s Burgers and fries

Bubba’s Burger – Hanalei
5-5161 Kuhio Hwy
Hanalei, HI 96714 (map)
(808) 826-7839

Bubba’s Burger – Kapa`a
4-1421 Kuhio Highway
Kapaa, HI 96746 (map)
(808) 823-0069

Both locations open 7 days a week from
10:30am to 8:00 pm
obubba@aloha.net

Before you hear about the location of our next stop, let’s just close our eyes for a second and imagine ourselves back in town. Dream a little dream that tells us that we didn’t just drive a billion miles north only to turn around and drive back for our next meal. Don’t be mad, get glad. 🙂

[insert Wayne’s World teleporting here]

YUM, wasn’t that some burger from the Kapa`a location of Bubba’s Burger!? Just play along! *nudge*

You Kauai natives will love the next stop… The ever so popular Hamura’s Saimin. Like Tasaka Guri Guri in Maui, Big Island Candies or Kona Coffee from the Big Island, or Leonard’s Malasadas or Waiola Shave Ice on Oahu, Hamura’s is synonymous to Kauai. Whenever you return from a trip to Kauai, the first thing someone inevitably asks you is “You wen go Hamura’s or wot?”

Before we head over to this legendary eatery however, let’s first stop by The Fish Express to pick up some poke. It’ll be a yummy supplement to the hot saltiness of the saimin.

Sign outside The Fish Express (and some goon's reflection)
Sign outside The Fish Express (and some goon’s reflection)

Located on Kuhio Highway in Lihue, right across from the Wal-Mart parking lot, this popular fish market sells an assortment of fish treats you’d typically see at other fish markets.

Fish selection at The Fish Express
Fish selection at The Fish Express

I went for a quarter pound of my favorite Ahi Limu today.

My Ahi limu poke sitting atop the table at Hamura's, waiting to be demolished
My Ahi limu poke sitting atop the table at Hamura’s, waiting to be demolished

(! – For those of you like me who care, the fish was of the previously frozen variety. I’m hoping it was only this batch and not always this way.)

The Fish Express
3343 Kuhio Hwy. # 10
Lihue, HI 96766 (map)
(808) 245-9918
Monday-Saturday from 10am-6pm
Sunday from 10am-4pm

With poke in hand, we made our way to Kress Street in Lihue.

(! – If you’re a first-timer to this area, drive slow, as it’s easy to miss.)

Once your circle the block a couple of times looking for that dang street sign, you’ll make your way onto Kress Street and eventually the gem they call Hamura’s Saimin.

They really have to get someone to pencil in that
They really have to get someone to pencil in that “S” (on both sides no less!) on the Hamura’s Saimin sign.

Hamura’s has all the familiar makings of an old world, old town, old Hawaii place making you feel like you’re in an old plantation town taking a break from picking pineapples.

Inside Hamura's
Inside Hamura’s

The reminiscent feel however is also part of its lure.

A look into the kitchen
A look into the kitchen

Grab a seat, check out the menu and order away. They are most known, obviously, for their saimin, but their BBQ beef and chicken sticks also have a strong following. Whatever your tum-tum desires, the simple menu is sure to suffice.

Hamura's simple menu
Hamura’s simple menu

Now, it’s time for the good stuff… Da Food! We ordered a Wuntun Min ($5.50), which comes in only one size, and a Medium (regular) saimin ($4.25).

Wuntun Min ($5.50), which comes in only one size
Wuntun Min ($5.50), which comes in only one size

Medium (regular) saimin ($4.25)
Medium (regular) saimin ($4.25)

Don’t forget the condiments!

Mandatory saimin condiments: pepper, chili sauce, mustard and shoyu
Mandatory saimin condiments: pepper, chili sauce, mustard and shoyu

OK, I know I’m going to be vilified for saying this, but Hamura’s isn’t the best “local style” saimin I’ve ever had. That award goes to Shige’s in Wahiawa (Oahu), my favorite by far. I dunno, maybe I just have strange taste buds compared to all y’all, but I don’t think it’s crazy delish like its popularity merits. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a fun meal and experience… I just don’t want to convey the same “to-die-for” message that everyone else preaches about Hamura’s. It’s just ok for me.

Kenji
Side note: Whenever I give my boy (and Kauai native) Kenji my not-so positive review of Hamura’s, he gives me this angry stare like he’s about to pull out my spleen and rip it in two. The look is so priceless that nowadays, I just cut down Hamura’s in front of him so I can see that look. But he’s not alone with his Soup-Nazi-type love affair for Hamura’s. So don’t take my word for it… Here’s Kenji’s quote about Hamura’s:

“Hole in the wall atmosphere with wooden stools, good prices and the best damn saimin on the planet. What more could anyone ask for?”

Hamura’s Saimin
2956 Kress Street
Lihue, HI 96766 (map)
(808) 245-3271
Open daily at 10am

Since we’ve done nothing but eat our brains out thus far, I think it’s time we head back to the hotel, rest our fat bellies and take a quick power nap. We’ll meet back in 2 and 2 and head over to Pizetta in Kapa`a for din-din.

Now that we’ve had enough time to rest our heavy selves, let’s head on over to Pizzetta’s Italian Family Restaurant on Kuhio Highway in Kapa`a.

Outside Pizzetta's Italian Family Restaurant

As you enter, you are met with a strong Italian energy that starts from the bar that sits up front.

Pizzetta's Italian Family Restaurant Entrance

The energy continues to the kitchen and comes through in the flavors of their foods. On this evening, we ordered their Stuffed Mushrooms appetizer (stuffed with petro & quattro formaggio, baked until golden) for $6.95 and their Penne Siciliano (Penne tossed with homemade marinara, Italian sausage, sauteed green peppers, onions & mushrooms) for $10.95.

Stuffed Mushrooms - stuffed with petro & quattro formaggio, baked until golden for $6.95
Stuffed Mushrooms – stuffed with petro & quattro formaggio, baked until golden for $6.95

Penne Siciliano - Penne tossed with homemade marinara, Italian sausage, sauteed green peppers, onions & mushrooms for $10.95
Penne Siciliano – Penne tossed with homemade marinara, Italian sausage, sauteed green peppers, onions & mushrooms for $10.95

Pizzetta’s Italian Family Restaurant – Kapa`a
4-1387 Kuhio Highway
Kapaa, HI 96746 (map)
(808) 823-8882

Pizzetta’s Italian Family Restaurant – Koloa
5408 Koloa Road
Koloa, HI 96756 (map)
(808) 742 8881
pizzettahawaii@pizzettarestaurant.com

Since we all feel like Jabba the Hutt after stuffing our faces all day long, I promise… no more eats. Let’s end our day, by going to another local favorite bar/hangout in Duke’s.

Located on the sands of Kalapaki Beach in front of the Kauai Marriott Resort, Duke’s Canoe Club Barefoot Bar & Restaurant is a frequent stop for locals and tourists alike.

Duke's Canoe Club - Kauai

Duke’s Canoe Club – Kauai
3610 Rice Street
Lihue, HI 96766 (map)
(808) 246-9599

Shooting the breeze here while dreading that plane ride home tomorrow morning is bittersweet, but we’ll no doubt be back. I think I have enough in my photo arsenal for a 3rd and final part in this Kau Kau Kauai series, so keep an eye out for that. Yeah yeah, I have Brick Oven Pizza, Polynesia Cafe and Sunday Brunch at Cafe Hanalei (among others) lined up so relax tampax… I’ll get to it, guaranz.

Until then, much love for listening. I’ll be coming to a town near ya soon…

P.S. I’m going to Denver–>Las Vegas–>L.A.–>Diego next month, so if you have any hot tips on places to go (I’ve already got Versailles and Pink’s lined up), be sure to let me know. I’ll also make it out to the Big Island one of these weekends so same smell… let me know a-ight?

Part I | Part II | Part III

Tenkaippin – A Taste of Kyoto In the Heart of Waikiki

June 1, 2006

So there you are. Sitting in your teeny little 5′ x 5′ cubicle, with no money or vacation time, daydreaming of getting away to a far away land… Preferably someplace that involves an exciting nightlife and good eats for cheap. No?

Ok, so you’re not like me. Let me repaint the picture for you. There you are, loungin’ in your ergonomically-correct Lay-Z-Boy-like office chair in your colossal suite of an office, with wads of sweaty cash seeping out of your ears. Your administrative assistant meticulously plans the exotic destination of the month that your private jet will take you to. Better?

If this is the case, two things: 1) I hate you and 2) this column is not for you! 🙂 Kidding of course, but this column is geared more for the common folk. You know, the everyday man or woman who likes a good deal and a fun time when he/she sees one. If this is you, come along with me to explore a place serving up a little bit of Kyoto, Japan right in the heart of Waikiki: Tenkaippin Hawaii.

A quick search on your favorite airline reservations web site will give you a round-trip ticket from Honolulu to Japan for anywhere from the upper $600-700s to over $2000! I even saw a ridiculously priced Air France option for a mere $7305! Merrrcy! And, unless you’re lucky enough to have friends or family who live there and are willing to put up with you for a week or two, let’s not forget to include the costs of hotel and daily expenditures. By the time you come back, you’ll be wishing you just went to see the Duke Kahanamoku statue and considered it a vacation.

Duke Kahanamoku statue, Waikiki
Duke Kahanamoku statue, Waikiki

So flying to Japan for 7,000 big ones is not your bag. That’s ok, I feel you. But what is one to do if one desires the pleasures of travel, but lacks the needed time and fundage? Well, your options are simple. Either find yourself a generous sugar momma or daddy or pay a visit to the streets of Waiks.

Ahhh, Waikiki. If you concentrate really really hard, you can almost trick yourself into thinking it’s a vacation in and of itself. The white sandy beaches, the melting pot of cultures and languages, and the multitude of shopping options and eating establishments. Taking a stroll down Kalakaua Avenue will give you a first person’s view of living the life as your typical tourist.

(! – If you’re from these parts pard’ner, I suggest you park your horse ride at one end and walk through Waikiki, rather than drive it. It gives you more of a touristy feel, helps you get circulation through your otherwise dormant legs, and allows you to notice a lot more than you probably would if driving.)

Among the myriad of eateries is an authentic, Japanese noodle-shop style restaurant called Tenkaippin (pronounced as two words, Tenka Ippin) on the more western end of Kalakaua. As part of a chain of restaurants in Japan carrying the same name (www.tenkaippin.co.jp), this little, unassuming shop carries a big chopstick when it comes to taste and popularity, and has been doing so for the last six years.

If you come at just the right time, the first thing you’ll notice is the bright, but welcoming red doors, signage and noren, or door curtains.

Front entrance of Tenkaippin Hawaii
Front entrance of Tenkaippin Hawaii

I say “right” time because this place is almost always crowded. If you come at the wrong time, all you’ll see is a large crowd outside and the sign-in board staring you in the face.

Sign-in board (waiting list) for Tenkaippin
Sign-in board (waiting list) for Tenkaippin

(! – If you can help it, get there early or at off-peak hours to avoid the crowds)

Once you enter, you’ll immediately notice the cleanliness and just-like-home atmosphere the place gives you. The effervescent aroma of the unique soup base also tickles your nasal cavities.

A view of the kitchen with President Scott Suzui hard at work
A view of the kitchen with President Scott Suzui hard at work

Rare open seating with unique condiments adorning the tables
Rare open seating with unique condiments adorning the tables.

Since much of their clientele are those from Japan, you’ll notice that, as you look around, a lot of the signage caters to the them.

Menu options in Japanese
Menu options in Japanese

Even the takoyaki specials are in Japanese!
Even the takoyaki specials are in Japanese!

Information on their specialty: the kotteri rahmen
Information on their specialty: the kotteri rahmen

No worries though, they’ve got an English menu for us gaijin (foreigners) too. And, if you think that that reading thing is overrated, you’re in luck. Just plop down in your seat and announce to the world kotteri onegaishimasu! You’ve just ordered yourself the specialty in which they’re known for, the kotteri rahmen.

The famous Tenkaippin kotteri rahmen
The famous Tenkaippin kotteri rahmen

“The kotteri rahmen is what we’re famous for,” says president Scott Suzui. “It has an unusual taste that’s almost addicting.”

The kotteri rahmen noodles swim in a soup that is very thick and rich. This thickness is accomplished by cooking chicken and assorted vegetables for over ten hours, bringing out the collagen, which Suzui points out is also good for healthy looking skin. Grindz that takes care of the tummy and the face? What more could you ask for!?

It all starts with the thick kotteri soup base
It all starts with the thick kotteri soup base

Amazingly, all of the soup ingredients are flown in directly from Japan. Now that deserves an exclamation point on the end of Authentic!

A couple of words of advice before embarking on your inaugural kotteri adventure:

The kotteri rahmen and soup base is an acquired taste. It’s not your run-of-the-mill, local saimin stand flavoring. If you’re used to eating “real” rahmen from Japan, then you’ll be ok here. If not, consider yourself warned.

Be prepared for some sore limbs, especially on the hand and nether regions! By my 4th bite, the ol’ money makers started to get really tired. The soup is so thick and the noodles are so heavy with the flavoring that it takes a good amount of effort to shovel this delicacy into your pie hole. You may want to consider doing finger bicep curls before trying your hand at this.

Taking a stab at the heavy kotteri noodles
Taking a stab at the heavy kotteri noodles

On your table, you’ll notice an assortment of condiments, some more recognizable than others. Scott recommended using the chili/garlic concoction with my kotteri to enhance the flavor. I’ve never had that before, but YUM! Strong garlic taste, with a hint of spice! And for those who can’t eat garlic (or are part vampire), he recommends using the chili/miso.

Chili/garlic concoction used to add flavor to your meal
Chili/garlic concoction used to add flavor to your meal

For those more in the mood of the mainstream stuff, Tenkaippin also serves up your traditional combo meals like the miso rahmen/fried rice combo below.

Tenkaippin's fried rice
Tenkaippin’s fried rice

Tenkaippin's miso rahmen
Tenkaippin’s miso rahmen

And what’s a virtual vacation to Japan without experiencing a little takoyaki (fried octopus dumpling) on the side?

Half dozen order of takoyaki please!
Half dozen order of takoyaki please!

So you see, going on vacation doesn’t have to take a lot of time or cost very much for that matter. And let’s face it… Avoiding that 8 hour flight ain’t so bad either. Whether you’re daydreaming from a 5×5 or a Lay-Z-Boy, one thing’s for sure… you can find a bit of Kyoto right in the heart of Waikiki. Itadakimasu!

Scott Suzui and wife Mayumi in front of Tenkaippin Restaurant
Scott Suzui and wife Mayumi in front of Tenkaippin Restaurant

Tenkaippin Hawaii
617 Kapahulu Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96815 (map)
(808) 732-1211

2132 Kalakaua Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96815 (map)
(808) 926-1100
(808) 926-1103 – FAX

NOTE: Tenkaippin Has Moved!
New address above (on Kapahulu Avenue, next to Zippy’s and around the corner from Tokkuri-Tei and Dave’s Ice Cream).