Posts Tagged ‘Rick Nakama’

Saimin Adventures – The Search for Hawaii’s Best Saimin – Part I

November 1, 2012

It wasn’t long after wrapping up the final part in my 5 part series on Hawaii’s best ramen, that people started harassing me. “You need to cover saimin now!” “What about Hawaii’s best saimin places!?”

As good as their suggestions were, prior to my interview with Sun Noodle president Hidehito Uki, I was a full-on ramen snob. I would normally only “stoop” to eating saimin out of desperation. At Zippy’s, in a drunken state, during the wee hours of night during our clubbin’ days. When driving to a ramen place in town was too far. Or when your whole group agrees on a saimin place and it’s too late to renege on your previous “up to you” comment.

I’m of course exaggerating (I love anything with noodles!), but Mr. Uki seriously slapped some saimin sense in me with his life changing, epiphanic quote:

“Each area in Japan has their own, unique style of ramen. Kyushu has Hakata style (tonkotsu), Hokkaido has Sapporo style (miso)… Saimin is Hawaii’s style of ramen.”

Sun Noodle's Hidehito Uki during our Hawaii Ramen Quest - Part V interview back in February
Sun Noodle’s Hidehito Uki during our “Hawaii Ramen Quest – Part V” interview back in February

Hellooooo!? The world now made perfect sense to me. And with that, I was no longer a ramen snob, ready to tackle the next noodle adventure around the state. “Saimin Adventures”, here we come!

We start with my favorite saimin place in the state: Shige’s Saimin Stand in Wahiawa.

Shige's Saimin Stand sign
Shige’s Saimin Stand sign

Living and working in the often chilly Central Oahu, it’s easy to pay this place a visit at least once a week to warm the ol’ soul. But it’s not because of convenience that Shige’s tops my list for local style saimin, it’s taste.

Large Wunton Mein
Large Wunton Mein

Although their menu boasts a fair amount of alternatives like Hamburger Steak, Loco Moco, Fried Saimin, Roast Beef Sandwiches, and udon, I *always* order their Wunton Mein. I just can’t bring myself to go to Shige’s and NOT order saimin. The soup base is “clean” & subtle, and not overbearing, while the homemade, signature, flat noodles is always soft and never clumpy (my pet peeve). The balance of noodles to Wunwon/garnishes (another pet peeve of mine) is also jussssst riiiight.

If I’m hungry (or I have someone to share it with), I like to order their BBQ Cheeseburger on the side to round out my meal. She go!

Large Wunton Mein and BBQ Cheeseburger
Large Wunton Mein and BBQ Cheeseburger

I did notice a sudden increase in their prices lately, but I think it’s only because I’ve been spoiled to their 80s style pricing up until now.

Shige’s Saimin Stand
70 Kukui Street
Wahiawa, HI 96786 (Street View)
(808) 621-3621
Mon-Thu: 10am-10pm
Fri & Sat: 10am-midnight
Closed Sundays

The next place has been somewhere I’ve been trying to get to for a long time: Nakai Saimin. There is a family association between Shige’s and Nakai (the noodles are based on the same recipe), and since Shige’s is up there on my list, I wanted to see how Nakai compared. So I enlisted the help of Twitter friends and Nakai regulars Russ Sumida (@ParkRat), Brandon Suyeoka (@WeHeartHawaii) and Rick Nakama (@RickNakama).

Russ Sumida, Brandon Suyeoka and Rick Nakama outside Nakai Saimin
Russ Sumida, Brandon Suyeoka and Rick Nakama outside Nakai Saimin

The first thing you notice is the soup base. It’s clearer with a tad less flavor. And I’m hoping I caught them on a bad day, but remember how I said that my pet peeve was clumpy noodles? There were some elements of clumpiness going on there. It seemed that the noodles and the won ton may’ve been of the previously frozen variety.

Small Won Ton Mein ($5.95)
Small Won Ton Mein ($5.95)

For good measure, I thought I’d give their popular BBQ Stick a try.

BBQ Stick ($2.75)
BBQ Stick ($2.75)

Although it wasn’t as hard/crisp as what I’m used to with BBQ sticks (which may actually be a good thing), this one had good flavor throughout.

I’m willing to go back again for sure, but if I had to pick a winner between Shige’s and Nakai (based on this visit), I would have to give it to Shige’s. The boys didn’t agree with me.

 


Russ Sumida, Brandon Suyeoka and Rick Nakama give their review of Nakai Saimin

Nakai is expanding both their hours (see below) and their footprint. Rumor has it that another Nakai Saimin recently opened up in Haleiwa, the town where it actually all started (their original location was in Haleiwa back in the ’50s).

Nakai Saimin
1329 Nuuanu Ave
Honolulu, HI 96813 (Street View)
(808) 531-9000
Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri: 6am-2:30pm (Breakfast & Lunch)
Fri: 5:30pm-9pm (Dinner)
Sat: 7am-2:30pm (Breakfast & Lunch)
Sat: 5:30pm-9pm (Dinner)
Sun: 7am-3:30pm (Breakfast & Lunch)
Wed: Closed

Lastly, let’s pay a visit to everyone’s favorite late night eatery: Zippy’s! Like Shige’s, it’s difficult for me to go there and NOT get the saimin. In this case, it’s Zippy’s signature favorite: the Zip Min.

Zip Min (Saimin noodles, wun tun, breaded shrimp, choi sum, fishcake, dried seaweed, egg, sweet pork, and green onions.
Zip Min (Saimin noodles, wun tun, breaded shrimp, choi sum, fishcake, dried seaweed, egg, sweet pork, and green onions.

In a recent visit there, the wun tun had a noticeably different (and stronger/”garlic-y”) taste. Over the years, the portions – as with many of the other menu items here – seem to be shrinking while the cost continues to rise. A sign of the economic times I suppose.

Zippy’s
Locations: Varied
Hours: Varied
808-973‑0880

Look for more during our “Saimin Adventures” where we explore the famous noodles from places like Hamura’s on Kauai, Sam Sato’s on Maui and Shiro’s right here on Oahu. If you have any other suggestions for places I should visit (yes, Palace is on my list! 🙂 ), leave a comment for me below.

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

Hawaii Ramen Quest – Part IV

January 1, 2012
Part I | Part II | Part III |  Part IV  | Part V

We’re already 3 deep in our Hawaii Ramen Quest, but before we get all up into the 4th, I wanted to check in with y’all real quick-like, to see how your holiday season went. Didja get to cruise with family and friends and pound ono kine grinds? Ain’t that da best? And what about your resolutions for the new year? Hopefully, one of them wasn’t to lose weight ’cause here comes another flurry of ramen photos to make you hungry! 😉

First up is Kiwami Ramen. I’ve heard a lot about this place (from reputable resources!) and have been dying to go there for the longest time, but Waiks ain’t exactly the easiest place to get to, or park for that matter… So when a meeting in Waikiki recently came about, I planned my lunch around a visit to this authentic tasting ramen shop in Waikiki Shopping Plaza’s food court.

Taking the escalator down to the Waikiki Shopping Plaza's Food Court
Taking the escalator down to the Waikiki Shopping Plaza’s Food Court

At first glance, this place looked legit. Japanese customers (from the muthaland kine) being waited on by a hardcore Japanese wait staff with Ramen Chef Yasuyoshi Sato manning the ship. I kept having to remind myself that d’uh… we were in Waikiki, where most of the Japanese tourists who visit us in this great state, congregate (mate!).

Then came the food. Although we ordered just ramen, we were given a complimentary small bowl of their Charsiu Rice. Wasn’t quite sure if it was because we were kama`aina, super handsome 😉 or if it was complimentary for everyone, but I wasn’t about to question it. Into my trap went the pork!

Small Charsiu (Roast Pork) Rice - $2.50
Small Charsiu (Roast Pork) Rice – $2.50

It wasn’t quite as flavorful and tasty as my favorite from Yotteko-Ya, but it was an ono start nonetheless… and it was FREE! 🙂

Then came my jam-packed order. While most ramens on Kiwami’s menu hover in the $8-$10 range, I saw a big ticket item at the top of the menu, smack dab in the middle. Referred to as the “Special Topping” Ramen, this $13.75 option – which included charsiu, egg, bamboo, corn and green onions – was the one I just had to have.


“Special Topping” Shoyu Ramen – $13.75 (Miso & Shoyu Thick Noodle options are $14.25)

Their soup base comes from a chicken feet & fruit combination that is boiled together for over 5 hours. Chiyu (chicken oil) is also added to select ramen dishes.

My buddy Todd got the Shoyu Thick Noodle ramen option, which resembled the kotteri style of ramen that I was looking for a little more, came with a shoyu based soup with pork fat. Here he is showing off his choice (and trying his best to smile).

Todd with his Shoyu Thick Noodle ramen - $9.25
Todd with his Shoyu Thick Noodle ramen – $9.25

You can really tell their attention to detail when it comes to the flavor and temperature of the soup and the consistency of the noodles. In fact, according to their web site, Chef Sato stands by three simple rules: 1) the ramen must be served quickly, 2) the soup must be hot, and 3) the taste must be consistent. They definitely hit on all three. So much so that I am looking forward to going back to try it again (and again).

Kiwami Ramen
Waikiki Shopping Plaza
2250 Kalakaua Ave, Suite LL102
Honolulu, HI 96815 (Street View)
(808) 924-6744
Daily: 11 am – 2:30 pm (lunch)
Daily: 5 pm – 10 pm (dinner)

 

My earliest memory of pounding ramen in Hawaii was at an Ezogiku, and, looking at their web site, it looks as though I’m right. They opened their first ramen specialty shop here way back in 1974! Wow, that was before some of us were born! Nobody I know, but still… 8)

With only a limited supply of poor quality photos of take out dishes from a previous visit to the Pearl City Ezogiku, I was in dire need of some better looking shots for this piece. Four friends/co-workers stepped up to the plate for me as we took a little field trip to the Ezogiku in Waimalu for some quickie lunch hour fooding.

Maribel, Trina, Wendy and Dennis ready to grind at Ezogiku Waimalu
Maribel, Trina, Wendy and Dennis ready to grind at Ezogiku Waimalu

Afraid that I would tease her for ordering yet another combo (see Hawaii Ramen Quest – Part III) Maribel threw me off the scent by ordering something totally different than her norm. She went with the Seafood Ankake Crispy Noodle.

Seafood Ankake Crispy Noodle - $7.25
Seafood Ankake Crispy Noodle – $7.25

Trina was torn between the Seafood Champon and the Ankake Ramen, but, since she likes her food spicy, she went with a suggestion from aunty (our waitress): the Spicy Ankake Ramen.

Spicy Ankake Ramen - $7.75
Spicy Ankake Ramen – $7.75

Wendy seems to like her fried noodles (see Hawaii Ramen Quest – Part III). She’s not really helping a brutha out on this RAMEN quest is she!? Haha, nah, nah Wen! Variety is good right? Here’s her order of Pork & Vegetable Fried Noodle.

Pork & Vegetable Fried Noodle (yakisoba) - $6.25
Pork & Vegetable Fried Noodle (yakisoba) – $6.25

Ezogiku is known for their Miso. In fact, their miso paste, fermented for over 2 months, is homemade and produced only out of their Honten (Main Branch at Waseda, Tokyo). The recipe, consisting of more than 30 spices, is super secret and is only known by their late Ezogiku chief cook Tomoji Onishi’s successor and founder Kenichiro Mitsui. Whether he knew all of this or not 😛 , Dennis ordered the Miso Ramen like a champ.

Miso Ramen - $6.25
Miso Ramen – $6.25

I went with the other dish that Trina was hung up on: the Seafood Champon Ramen. It was tasty, but reminded me of many of the ramens covered in Part III. Perhaps I’ll go miso next time.

Seafood Champon Ramen - $7.25
Seafood Champon Ramen – $7.25

Although Ezogiku started its Sapporo style ramen in Japan, they have several locations in Hawaii as well as Vancouver, BC. Fun tip: The name Ezogiku derives from the two words Ezo & Giku. Ezo is the original name of the island of Hokkaido (where their Sapporo style ramen originated) and Giku (kiku) means chrysanthemum, the national flower of Japan. You can’t say you never learn anything from my articles now. 😉

Ezogiku
Waimalu Shopping Center
98-020 Kamehameha Hwy
Aiea, HI 96701 (Street View)
(808) 488-9850
Daily: 11am-10pm

 

I noticed this next place when lunching it with my boy Bari one day at our usual hotspot: Mama Woo’s BBQ on South King Street. Located on the backside of this tiny strip mall, the sign and entrance to Chinpei Ramen is rather unassuming.

Sign outside Chinpei Ramen
Sign outside Chinpei Ramen

The interior still has that old school feeling (I remember eating here when it was an old Japanese restaurant long ago), but it is very clean with new tables and chairs, paint and furnishings. One freshly painted wall then takes us back to old school again with hand-written menu items taped haphazardly throughout.

Handwritten menu items at Chinpei Ramen
Handwritten menu items at Chinpei Ramen

I ask the waitress in her native Japanese what the most popular ramen is and she tells me it’s the Samma-Men. Samma-Men it is!

Large Samma-Men (Thick Soup) Ramen - $9.30 ($7.60 - Small / $8.30 - Regular)
Large Samma-Men (Thick Soup) Ramen – $9.30 ($7.60 – Small / $8.30 – Regular)

You can also choose the size of noodle you’d like (Egg Thick Noodle or Thin Noodle) in a variety of styles (udon, yam noodle or shirataki, harusame, or organic flour noodle).

Bari and I were in the mood for Shumai as well so we ordered the 6 piece. Here’s Bari with the Shumai and a mouthful of Samma-Men. Sorry B! 8)

Bari with his Samma-Men and our 6-piece Shumai order ($5.93)
Bari with his Samma-Men and our 6-piece Shumai order ($5.93)

You can order the Shumai and Vegetable Gyoza in quantities of 4, 6, 8, 10 or 12, and the regular Gyoza (Pot Sticker) goes even further with additional quantities of 14, 16, 18, 21, or 24!

Chinpei Ramen
2080 S King Street
Honolulu, HI 96826 (Street View)
(808) 947-5919
Tue-Fri: 11am-2:30pm (lunch)
Tue-Fri: 5pm-10pm (dinner)
Sat: 11am-10pm
Sun: 11am-9pm
Closed: Mondays

 

On a rare drive out to the Windward side, we decided to hit up Rai Rai Ramen in Kailua before taking some hacks on the Bay View Mini-Putt Pali course. I remember the experience (taste) being really good at Rai Rai, with various new and special menu items, and vowing to return again the next time I set foot (or tire) on Oneawa Street.

Rai Rai Ramen (Kailua) sign
Rai Rai Ramen (Kailua) sign

Wifey had the Miso Ramen, which included konbu, wakame, char siu, kamaboko, green onions and garlic chips.

Miso Ramen - $7.50
Miso Ramen – $7.50

I got something off their new (at the time) menu called Hot & Spicy Seafood Ramen. It wasn’t as spicy as I expected, which was a good thing since I am still attending Spicy Training University. 😛

Hot & Spicy Seafood Ramen - $9.75
Hot & Spicy Seafood Ramen – $9.75

I also ordered a side of Fried Oysters for good measure.

Side Order of Fried Oyster (3 Piece) - $3.25
Side Order of Fried Oyster (3 Piece) – $3.25

Rai Rai Ramen (Kailua)
124 Oneawa Street
Kailua, HI 96734
(808) 230-8208
Wed-Mon: 11am-8:30pm
Closed Tuesday

 

I will refer to these final two locations as our one hit wonders. Not necessarily because it’s the only ramen option they got. Quite the opposite actually. More so because it’s the only photo I took at the time. *blush* Check it.

Mr. Ojisan is one of my friend Grant’s favorite restaurants. Amongst a menu chock-full of Japanese eats, they carry 5 different ramens: Miso Charsiu Ramen, Vegetable Charsiu Ramen, Cold Ramen, Tonkotsu Miso Ramen (which I must go back and try!) and the one I got on this particular visit: the Ojisan Ramen.

Ojisan Ramen - $8.95
Ojisan Ramen – $8.95

Mr. Ojisan Japanese Restaurant
1016 Kapahulu Ave #140
Honolulu, HI 96816 (Street View)
(808) 735-4455
Mon-Fri: 11am-1:45pm (Lunch)
Mon-Thu: 5:30pm-10:30pm (Dinner)
Fri-Sat: 5:30pm-12am (Dinner), with Karaoke from 10pm-2am

 

Even though Yakitori Yoshi is primarily a yakitori house, they still have three ramens on their menu: Butter Ramen, Tonkotsu Ramen (which, again, I must try), and the Yoshi Ramen below.

Yoshi Ramen - $5.90
Yoshi Ramen – $5.90

At least I think it’s the Yoshi Ramen. My friend Rick, who was the one who actually ate it, can’t even remember eating at the restaurant, let alone what he ordered that night. LOL! We’ll go with the Yoshi Ramen. 😛

Yakitori Yoshi
1427 Makaloa Street
Honolulu, HI 96814 (Street View)
(808) 941-6891
Daily: 5:30pm-12am

 

And there you have it. Part 4 of the Hawaii Ramen Quest is in the books. Next month, we wrap things up with a visit to Sun Noodle Factory and an interview with the man himself Hidehito Uki. Space permitting, I’ll also try to mention a few must eat ramen spots in the muthaland itself… Japan.

Now get back to your New Year’s diet! 😉

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

Hawaii Ramen Quest – Part II

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

We continue the slurp fest this month with a variety of ramen from Ramen Nakamura, Gomaichi, Goma Tei, Menchanko Tei, and Shokudo. Hungry? We go!

The last time I went to Ramen Nakamura was the day after I got hitched (in 2008). Since we had the hotel room for an additional day, we thought we'd play tourist and walk around to grab a bite to eat.

Ramen Nakamura sign
Ramen Nakamura sign

Ramen Nakamura has been a popular ramen-ya in Waikiki for years. They are known mostly for their Hakata style ramen and their Oxtail Ramen. I got the Oxtail Ramen Combo.

Oxtail Ramen Combo (Shio flavor, small fried rice, 3 pcs gyoza) - $17.20
Oxtail Ramen Combo (Shio flavor, small fried rice, 3 pcs gyoza) – $17.20

Not exactly cheap, but what the hey, we were on pseudo vacation. 😉

Wifey got the Hakata Tonkotsu Ramen.

Hakata Tonkotsu Ramen はかたとんこつラーメン - $8.70
Hakata Tonkotsu Ramen はかたとんこつラーメン – $8.70

Ramen Nakamura ラーメンなかむら
2141 Kalakaua Ave, Suite 1
Honolulu, HI 96815 (map)
(808) 922-7960
Mon-Sun: 11am-11:30pm

For some reason, a lot of people I talk to seem to be crazy about these next two places: Gomaichi and Goma Tei. Don't get me wrong, I think they are both OK, but am not sure if the fanatical nature of their enthusiasm is quite justified IMO.

As the story goes for many of these restaurants with strikingly similar recipes (RE: Boulevard/Dillingham Saimin & Tanaka Saimin, Shige's Saimin & Nakai Saimin, and Genki Ramen & Ramen-Ya), there was a rift between the owners that caused one owner to spin off and create Goma Tei. We'll start with the original: Gomaichi.

One night before heading to the club (yes, it was THAT long ago! 😛 ), we decided that we'd grab a quick bite to eat at Gomaichi (on Keeaumoku). We got the popular Tan Tan Men (of course) as well as the Wakame Tan Tan Men.

Tan Tan Men from Gomaichi たんたんメン - $7.40
Tan Tan Men from Gomaichi たんたんメン – $7.40

Close-up of the Tan Tan Men
Close-up of the Tan Tan Men

Wakame Tan Tan Men (seaweed & half hard boiled egg) わかめたんたんメン - $7.40
Wakame Tan Tan Men (seaweed & half hard boiled egg) わかめたんたんメン – $7.40

Gomaichi Ramen ごまいちラーメン
631 Keeaumoku St
Honolulu, HI 96814 (map)
(808) 951-6666
Mon-Sat: 11am-2pm
Mon-Sat: 5:30pm-9pm

And because I'm such a thorough (and investigative) journalist, I ordered the exact same thing from their Goma Tei counterpart: the Tan Tan and the Wakame. That, or we just always crave the same thing! 😉

Tan Tan Ramen from Goma Tei たんたんラーメン (served with Japanese style char siu and vegetable garnishes) - $8.18
Tan Tan Ramen from Goma Tei たんたんラーメン (served with Japanese style char siu and vegetable garnishes) – $8.18

Wakame Tan Tan Ramen わかめたんたんラーメン (served with wakame, shoyu egg and vegetable garnishes) - $8.48
Wakame Tan Tan Ramen わかめたんたんラーメン (served with wakame, shoyu egg and vegetable garnishes) – $8.48

We also picked up their specialty side dish, the Ban Ban Ji Chicken (which you will also find at Gomaichi).

Ban Ban Ji Chicken (Slices of chicken breast, cooked in a sake scallion and ginger broth then chilled in ice. Served on a bed of thinly sliced cucumber, chilled with a slightly spicy and tangy sesame sauce) バンバンジチキン - $7.48
Ban Ban Ji Chicken (Slices of chicken breast, cooked in a sake scallion and ginger broth then chilled in ice. Served on a bed of thinly sliced cucumber, chilled with a slightly spicy and tangy sesame sauce) バンバンジチキン – $7.48

Goma Tei currently has two locations: one in Ward Center (1st floor near the old Borders), and the other at Ala Moana Center (1st floor in between GNC and ABC Store). These photos were taken at the Ward Center location.

Goma Tei Ramen (Ward Center)
1200 Ala Moana Blvd
Honolulu, HI 96814 (map)
(808) 591-9188
Mon-Thu: 11am-9:30pm
Fri-Sat: 11am-10pm
Sun: 11am-9pm

Goma Tei Ramen (Ala Moana Center)
1450 Ala Moana Blvd
Honolulu, HI 96814 (map)
(808) 947-9188
Mon-Thu: 11am-9:30pm
Fri-Sat: 11am-10pm
Sun: 11am-8:30pm

A friend recommended we check out this next place. It had all the makings of an authentic Japanese ramen experience:

  • in Waikiki
  • menu written in Japanese
  • Hakata style ramen

Wifey outside Menchanko-Tei
Wifey outside Menchanko-Tei

Unfortunately, Menchanko-Tei in the Waikiki Trade Center did not deliver. I'm hoping that it was just an off night though and am willing to go back for another try. Here's what we had that night.

Hakata Pork Broth Ramen 本場博多とんこつらーめん - $8.95
Hakata Pork Broth Ramen 本場博多とんこつらーめん – $8.95

Seafood Menchanko 海の幸めんちゃんこ - $15.95
Seafood Menchanko 海の幸めんちゃんこ – $15.95

Menchanko-Tei
Waikiki Trade Center
2255 Kuhio Ave, Suite S
Honolulu, HI 96815 (map)
(808) 924-8366
Daily 11am-11:30pm

And finally… we end with another Ramen "event" that recently occurred, this time from Shokudo Japanese Restaurant (See my review on Shokudo). Like the "Best of Japan: Ramen & Gyoza Festival" event I featured last month from Shirokiya's Yataimura, Shokudo held a similar event over a four day period, dubbed the "Ultimate Ramen Battle", where only 300 bowls of ramen were made available per day at $10 each. The days and hours were a bit strange (if you blinked, you missed it), but I was able to get to the one I wanted to: Day 2's Ultimate Ramen "Goku" from Japan's Chef Hide Kawahara (on 10/18/11).

The Ultimate Ramen "Goku" from Japan's Chef Hide Kawahara - $10
The Ultimate Ramen "Goku" from Japan's Chef Hide Kawahara – $10

It was served with a spoonful of sizzling sesame seed oil that made the green onions on top snap, crackle and pop. +1 for style points. LOL! And although the local style noodles didn't match that well, the tonkotsu broth was off the chain! I would go as far as to say that it might even be the best base I've tasted in Hawaii so far. It's a shame they won't be serving it again. 😦

Rick Nakama (@RickNakama) tweeting his bowl
Rick Nakama (@RickNakama) tweeting his bowl

Side Note: Although the original invitation called this the Ultimate Ramen "Goku" from Japan's Chef Hide Kawahara, the voting ballot when we got there said it was the Sizzling Tonkotsu Ramen "Goku" from Japan's Chef Yusuke Kawahara FYI.

Day 1 (10/17/11) featured the Premium "Tsukemen" from Japan's Chef Hiroshi Shigematsu, which social media extraordinaire Melissa Chang (@Melissa808) was able to experience.

Premium "Tsukemen" from Japan's Chef Hiroshi Shigematsu [Photo Credit: Melissa Chang - NonstopHonolulu.com]
Premium "Tsukemen" from Japan's Chef Hiroshi Shigematsu [Photo Credit: Melissa Chang – NonstopHonolulu.com]

Day 3 (10/19/11) was the Okinawa So-Ki Soba from Izakaya Naru's Chef Hiro Akiyama. Here's Brandon Suyeoka's (@WeHeartHawaii) shot from that day.

Okinawa So-Ki Soba from Izakaya Naru's Chef Hiro Akiyama [Photo Credit: Brandon Suyeoka]
Okinawa So-Ki Soba from Izakaya Naru's Chef Hiro Akiyama [Photo Credit: Brandon Suyeoka]

Shokudo closed out the battle on Day 4 (10/20/11) with the DaKine Curry Miso Ramen from Shokudo's own Chef Hiro Hosoda. Here's @StarletShay's photo from that day.

DaKine Curry Miso Ramen from Shokudo's own Chef Hiro Hosoda [Photo Credit: @StarletShay]
DaKine Curry Miso Ramen from Shokudo's own Chef Hiro Hosoda [Photo Credit: @StarletShay]

I didn't see any kind of announcement as to who the winner was, but a quick call in to Shokudo told me that Day 3's Okinawa So-Ki Soba from Izakaya Naru's Chef Hiro Akiyama was the ramen that came out on top. Lucky Brandon!

Incidentally, on normal days, Shokudo serves three different types of ramen for $9.95 each: The Spicy Miso Ramen (Ramen noodles served in spicy miso paste broth topped with seasoned pork and Chinese chives), the Tokyo Shoyu Ramen (Ramen noodles served in shoyu broth topped with charsiu, bamboo shoots, onions , and half a hard boiled egg) and the Ox Tail Ramen (Ox tail and assorted vegetables are braised more than 6 hours in house. Ramen noodles are added in for the ultimate comfort food).

Ox Tail Ramen オックステールラーメン (Ox tail and assorted vegetables are braised more than 6 hours in house. Ramen noodles are added in for the ultimate comfort food) - $9.95
Ox Tail Ramen オックステールラーメン (Ox tail and assorted vegetables are braised more than 6 hours in house. Ramen noodles are added in for the ultimate comfort food) – $9.95

Shokudo Japanese Restaurant & Bar
Ala Moana Pacific Center
1585 Kapiolani Blvd
Honolulu, HI 96814
(808) 941-3701
Mon-Thu & Sun 11:30am-1am
Fri-Sat: 11:30am-2am
Twitter: @Shokudo

Wow, two parts already in the books! This series seems to be flying by too quickly! Don't let it ennnnd! 😛

Nah, no worries, I've still got lots of ramen for y'all from Kanpai Bar & Grill, Mr. Ojisan, Yakitori Yoshi, Aiea Bowl, Chinpei, Taiyo, Sumo, Rai Rai, Ichiben, Genki, Ton Ton, Nishi Mon Cho, Ramen-Ya, Ezogiku and Kiwami Ramen!

If you have any other suggestions, post them in the comment area below or send them using the form on the right. Thanks a bunch!

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

Where In the Hawaii is Edward Sugimoto? – October 26, 2011

October 26, 2011

K, if y’all don’t at least get one of these, I don’t know what else fo’ do! LOL! Number two might be hard for the non-golfers out there, but 1 and 3 should be duck soup… No? Hehe! Chance um!

Photo #1
Where In the Hawaii is Edward Sugimoto? - October 26, 2011
Where In the Hawaii is Edward Sugimoto? – October 26, 2011

Points for Photo #1…
* Location: 2 points
* General area?: 1 point
* Closest street(s)?: 1 point each
* Google Street View link?: 2 points
* Significance of the photo: 10 points!
* Month photo was taken?: 1 point
* Day of the month photo was taken?: 1 point
* Day of the week photo was taken?: 1 point
* Year photo was taken?: 1 point
* Exact time photo was taken?: 5 points

Photo #2
Where In the Hawaii is Edward Sugimoto? - October 26, 2011
Where In the Hawaii is Edward Sugimoto? – October 26, 2011

Points for Photo #2…
* Location: 2 points
* General area?: 1 point
* Closest street(s)?: 1 point each
* Google Street View link?: 2 points
* Month photo was taken?: 1 point
* Day of the month photo was taken?: 1 point
* Day of the week photo was taken?: 1 point
* Year photo was taken?: 1 point
* Exact time photo was taken?: 5 points

Photo #3
Where In the Hawaii is Edward Sugimoto? - October 26, 2011
Where In the Hawaii is Edward Sugimoto? – October 26, 2011

Points for Photo #3…
* Location: 2 points
* General area?: 1 point
* Closest street(s)?: 1 point each
* Google Street View link?: 2 points
* Name of dish?: 2 points
* Month photo was taken?: 1 point
* Day of the month photo was taken?: 1 point
* Day of the week photo was taken?: 1 point
* Year photo was taken?: 1 point
* Exact time photo was taken?: 5 points

[Da Leadahboard]

=============================================================

Blog
Blog
(Random stuffs)
Facebook
Facebook
(Add me! 😛 )
Twitter
Twitter
(Follow me!)
AndHere.com
AndHere.com
(Oceanic Mobile)

=============================================================

2nd Annual Hawaii Social Media Summit – Social Media Personality Award Winners:

Last week, I had the great privilege of winning an award at the 2nd Annual Hawaii Social Media Summit held at the Hawaii Convention Center. Known as the Social Media Personality Award it:

“honors the individuals who best portray that of a social media influencer; the people who stay top of mind in the social sphere and is consistent in keeping up with the trends of social media innovation.”

This year was the first year that the Hawaii Social Media Summit held the Socialite Media Awards and they were bombarded with more than 70 nominations. Technology News Bytes (the organizers of #SMSHI) had the difficult task of narrowing it down to the top 15. Wow, what an amazing first class I have been included with and I am very honored to be a part of this inaugural group of social media leaders. They are:

  • Rob Bertholf (@rob) – Founder of ClearlyM LLC
  • Melissa Chang (@Melissa808) – Nonstop Honolulu, Blogger
  • Tara Coomans (@taracoomans) – Social Media Club Hawaii
  • George Del Bario (@HIWellnessMag) – PMG International LLC, CEO
  • L.P. “Neenz” Faleafine (@NEENZ) – Oceanit, Community Developer
  • Esme Infante Nii (@EsmeInfanteNii) – Momsinhawaii.com
  • Nathan Kam (@nathankam) – McNeil Wilson Communications, Vice President, Travel & Tourism
  • Burt Lum (@Bytemarks) – Hawaii Public Radio, Bytemarks Café Host
  • Rick Nakama (@RickNakama) – East Oahu Realty, Inc., Realtor
  • Ryan Ozawa (@hawaii) – Hawaii Information Service, Webmaster
  • Gene Park (@GenePark) – Star Advertiser, Online News Producer
  • Edward Sugimoto (@worldwideed) – Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Oceanic Time Warner Cable, Time Warner Cable Untangled, Blogger
  • Russ Sumida (@ParkRat) – AdStreamz, Inc., President and CEO
  • Toby Tamaye (@atmarketing) – Owner of AT Marketing
  • Valentino Valdez (@valdezign) – Owner of Valdezign

2011 Socialite Media Award Winners
Accepting my award from (the very tall) Miss Hawaii USA 2011 Angela Anela Byrd [Photo Courtesy: Travis K. Okimoto]


Have a happy VH07V Wednesday y’all! Don’t forget to post your guesses below k? Shoooots!

2011 Socialite Media Award Winners #SMSHI

October 19, 2011

This afternoon, I had the great privilege of winning an award at the 2nd Annual Hawaii Social Media Summit held at the Hawaii Convention Center. Known as the Social Media Personality Award it:

“honors the individuals who best portray that of a social media influencer; the people who stay top of mind in the social sphere and is consistent in keeping up with the trends of social media innovation.”

This year was the first year that the Hawaii Social Media Summit held the Socialite Media Awards and they were bombarded with more than 70 nominations. Technology News Bytes (the organizers of #SMSHI) had the difficult task of narrowing it down to the top 15. Wow, what an amazing first class I have been included with and I am very honored to be a part of this inaugural group of social media leaders. They are:

  • Rob Bertholf (@rob) – Founder of ClearlyM LLC
  • Melissa Chang (@Melissa808) – Nonstop Honolulu, Blogger
  • Tara Coomans (@taracoomans) – Social Media Club Hawaii
  • George Del Bario (@HIWellnessMag) – PMG International LLC, CEO
  • L.P. “Neenz” Faleafine (@NEENZ) – Oceanit, Community Developer
  • Esme Infante Nii (@EsmeInfanteNii) – Momsinhawaii.com
  • Nathan Kam (@nathankam) – McNeil Wilson Communications, Vice President, Travel & Tourism
  • Burt Lum (@Bytemarks) – Hawaii Public Radio, Bytemarks Café Host
  • Rick Nakama (@RickNakama) – East Oahu Realty, Inc., Realtor
  • Ryan Ozawa (@hawaii) – Hawaii Information Service, Webmaster
  • Gene Park (@GenePark) – Star Advertiser, Online News Producer
  • Edward Sugimoto (@worldwideed) – Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Oceanic Time Warner Cable, Time Warner Cable Untangled, Blogger
  • Russ Sumida (@ParkRat) – AdStreamz, Inc., President and CEO
  • Toby Tamaye (@atmarketing) – Owner of AT Marketing
  • Valentino Valdez (@valdezign) – Owner of Valdezign

Congratulations to my fellow honorees! 🙂

2011 Socialite Media Award Winners
Accepting my award from (the very tall) Miss Hawaii USA 2011 Angela Anela Byrd [Photo Courtesy: Travis K. Okimoto]

(Official Press Release):

10.21.11
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contacts:
Quincy Solano 808.542.9408
Chimaine Pouteau 808.636.1512

SOCIALITE MEDIA AWARD WINNERS ANNOUNCED

HONOLULU, HI (October 21, 2011) – Technology News Bytes recognized social media gurus who are making waves in the industry at the 2011 Social Media Summit on Wednesday, October 19.

The Social Media Personality Award honors the individual whom best portrays that of a social media influencer. This person stays top of mind in the social sphere and is consistent in keeping up with the trends of social media innovation.

Technology News Bytes had more than 70 nominations, all of which were very deserving of this award. The winners were:

Gene Park – Star Advertiser, Online News Producer
Nathan Kam – McNeil Wilson Communications, Vice President, Travel & Tourism
Valentino Valdez – Owner of Valdezign
Burt Lum – Hawaii Public Radio, Bytemarks Café Host
Russ Sumida – AdStreamz, Inc., President and CEO
Neenz Faleafine –- Oceanit, Community Developer
Ryan Ozawa – Hawaii Information Service, Webmaster
Melissa Chang – Nonstop Honolulu, Blogger
Rick Nakama –East Oahu Realty, Inc., Realtor
Rob Bertholf – Founder of ClearlyM LLC
Toby Tamaye – Owner of AT Marketing
Esme Infante Nii – Momsinhawaii.com
Ed Sugimoto – world-wide-ed.com, Blogger
George Del Bario –t PMG International LLC, CEO
Tara Coomans – Social Media Club Hawaii

For more information please visit tnblive.com
###

Where In the Hawaii is Edward Sugimoto? – October 12, 2011

October 12, 2011

This one’s for all y’all who monku that my pictures stay too hard. Go straight to Photo #3 and thank me later. LOL! Actually, Photos 1 & 2 are kinda easy too. See, I care. Hehe!

Photo #1
Where In the Hawaii is Edward Sugimoto? - October 12, 2011
Where In the Hawaii is Edward Sugimoto? – October 12, 2011

Points for Photo #1…
* Location: 2 points
* General area?: 1 point
* Closest street(s)?: 1 point each
* Google Street View link?: 2 points
* Funny name for group on stage: 3 points
* Funny name for big headed guy who got in my way: 3 points
* Month photo was taken?: 1 point
* Day of the month photo was taken?: 1 point
* Day of the week photo was taken?: 1 point
* Year photo was taken?: 1 point
* Exact time photo was taken?: 5 points

Photo #2
Where In the Hawaii is Edward Sugimoto? - October 12, 2011
Where In the Hawaii is Edward Sugimoto? – October 12, 2011

Points for Photo #2…
* Location: 2 points
* General area?: 1 point
* Closest street(s)?: 1 point each
* Google Street View link?: 2 points
* Name of dish I usually get here?: 2 points
* Month photo was taken?: 1 point
* Day of the month photo was taken?: 1 point
* Day of the week photo was taken?: 1 point
* Year photo was taken?: 1 point
* Exact time photo was taken?: 5 points

Photo #3
Where In the Hawaii is Edward Sugimoto? - October 12, 2011
Where In the Hawaii is Edward Sugimoto? – October 12, 2011

Points for Photo #3…
* Location: 2 points
* General area?: 1 point
* Closest street(s)?: 1 point each
* Google Street View link?: 2 points
* Name of cone?: 2 points
* Funny/Cute name of character on cone?: 3 points
* Month photo was taken?: 1 point
* Day of the month photo was taken?: 1 point
* Day of the week photo was taken?: 1 point
* Year photo was taken?: 1 point
* Exact time photo was taken?: 5 points

[Da Leadahboard]

=============================================================

Blog
Blog
(Random stuffs)
Facebook
Facebook
(Add me! 😛 )
Twitter
Twitter
(Follow me!)
AndHere.com
AndHere.com
(Oceanic Mobile)

=============================================================

IG2 Unboxing Video

My new blog on the corporate “Time Warner Cable Untangled” site is out. It’s an unboxing video (titled You, Party of Eight) of our latest wireless hotspot device, the IG2. Let me know what you guys think! 🙂

IG2 Unboxing


Please “Like” Our Photo!

Last Thursday, some friends and I participated in Lanakila Pacific’s The Good Table, an island-wide dining event to benefit Lanakila Meals on Wheels. Our restaurant was Ola at the Turtle Bay Resort, where we enjoyed each others’ company (with wine in abundance 8) ) and ate some ono kine grindz prepared by Chef Fred DeAngelo. Some of the photos taken that night (from all participating restaurants) were selected by Lanakila Pacific and entered into a photo contest to win a “staycation” package at the Royal Hawaiian valued at $1,500. Ricky Li’s photo from our time at Ola is currently in the lead with 106 Likes. Please “Like” the photo and help him maintain the lead to win himself a nice little staycation (the contest ends this Friday). Rumor has it that he may turn it into a hotel party with all those in the photo. 😆

Lanakila Pacific The Good Table event - with Rick Nakama, Kelli Nakama, Ricky Li, Shay F, myself, & Jessica Ogihara at Ola at the Turtle Bay Resort. [Photo by Ricky Li]
Lanakila Pacific The Good Table event – with Rick Nakama, Kelli Nakama, Ricky Li, Shay F, myself, & Jessica Ogihara at Ola at the Turtle Bay Resort. [Photo by Ricky Li]


Have a happy VH07V Wednesday y’all! Don’t forget to post your guesses below k? Shoooots!

Hawaii Ramen Quest – Part I

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

Anyone who knows anything about me, knows that my love for ramen runs deep. It borders on obsession. So much so that I’m convinced my mom cut her milk with ramen soup before popping the bottle into my mouth.

So it was a no-brainer to follow up my popular “Poke Paradise” series with this here Ramen Quest, a pursuit for the perfect bowl of ramen, right here in Hawaii.

Now when I say ramen (or rahmen / ラーメン as we Nihonjins like to call it), I’m not talking about the localized interpretation of it referred to here as saimin (no offense saimin lovers). I’m talking about the hardcore, straight from the muthaland kine noodle and soup combination that you fantasize of. I’ve tasted some of the best there is in Japan, and have been living to replicate that euphoria ever since. (See, I told you I was obsessed! 8) )

First up is Yotteko-Ya, located on the west end of McCully Shopping Center (opposite Fook Yuen).

Yotteko-Ya entrance
Yotteko-Ya entrance

The specialty here is their Paitan soup base, which is described as a “richer, more flavorful chicken & pork based broth” and simmered for hours. In it, swims their perfectly cooked, al dente (Japanese style) noodles and homemade chashu pork, along with green onions, seaweed and sesame seeds.

Paitan Ramen from Yotteko-Ya
Paitan Ramen from Yotteko-Ya

They also have an amazing Chashu Gohan (which includes chunks of chashu similar to the one in the ramen) that my wife goes absolutely gaga over.

Chashu Gohan
Chashu Gohan

Our go-to meals here are usually the Paitan C Set, which includes the Paitan Ramen, Chashu Gohan (or Mini Yakibuta Chahan), and Gyoza, or the Paitan D Set, which includes the Paitan Ramen, Chashu Gohan (or Mini Yakibuta Chahan), and Karaage (fried chicken).

Paitan D Set: Paitan Ramen, Chashu Gohan, & (Chicken) Karaage - $12.95
Paitan D Set: Paitan Ramen, Chashu Gohan, & (Chicken) Karaage – $12.95

It should come as no surprise that the ramen I featured first in this series is a franchise straight from Japan. In fact, during a trip there in ’08, we actually went to the one in Odaiba.

Yotteko-Ya in Odaiba Japan (Tokyo)
Yotteko-Ya in Odaiba Japan (Tokyo)

Here’s a look at what the Chashu Ramen looked like there.

Chashu ramen from Odaiba's Yotteko-Ya in Tokyo
Chashu ramen from Odaiba’s Yotteko-Ya in Tokyo

Yotteko-Ya
1960 Kapiolani Blvd #214
Honolulu, HI 96826 (map)
(808) 946-2900
Lunch Hours: Mon-Sun: 11am-2pm
Dinner Hours: Mon-Sat: 5pm-11pm, Sun: 5pm-9pm
@ramen_yottekoya

I first covered our next spot back when they were located in Waikiki.

Owner Scott Suzui and his wife Mayumi outside the original Tenkaippin location in Waikiki
Owner Scott Suzui and his wife Mayumi outside the original Tenkaippin location in Waikiki

The restaurant is called Tenkaippin Ramen (which is also a franchise straight from Japan) and is owned by Scott Suzui and his wife Mayumi. If you think they look familiar, they have since become local celebrities of sorts, thanks to their show on OC16 called “Ultimate Japan”.

This is my go-to restaurant whenever I’m in the area, and I usually like to bring along a friend or two. On this occasion, I brought my boy Bari who seems to be enjoying his bowl of ramen just a little too much. 😛

Bari loves his Tenkaippin Ramen
Bari loves his Tenkaippin Ramen

Similar to Yotteko-Ya, Tenkaippin is known for their soup base (known here as kotteri) which is accomplished by stewing chicken and vegetables for over 10 hours. Most ingredients are actually flown in fresh from Japan too!

Tenkaippin's Kotteri Ramen - $8.75
Tenkaippin’s Kotteri Ramen – $8.75

Here’s a peek at what it actually looks like to scoop a mouthful of noodles from this thick, kotteri soup base.

Video of Kotteri Ramen from Tenkaippin’s

 

Tenkaippin Ramen
617 Kapahulu Ave
Honolulu, HI 96815 (map)
(808) 732-1211
Mon-Thu: 11am-10pm
Fri-Sat: 11am-11pm

I had to fly all the way to Waikoloa on the Big Island (FBI!) to get this next bowl of yummy goodness. It’s the D.K.’s Crab Ramen from Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar (Queen’s MarketPlace, Waikoloa Beach Resort).

D.K.'s Crab Ramen and Asian Truffle Broth with King Crab, Cilantro, Thai Basil and Mild Jalapenos - $17.95
D.K.’s Crab Ramen and Asian Truffle Broth with King Crab, Cilantro, Thai Basil and Mild Jalapenos – $17.95

One word of caution. After tantalizing our taste buds with this one while on vacation at Waikoloa, we were excited to have it again (and again) at the Sansei closer to home (Waikiki). It was a HUGE disappointment. It did not come close to what we remember enjoying FBI-style, and, if you take a look at the photo below from Sansei Waikiki, you’ll see that it looked nothing like it either.

Disappointing Crab Ramen from Sansei Waikiki
Disappointing Crab Ramen from Sansei Waikiki

We actually tried our luck again on a trip to Maui, and the one at the Kapalua Resort turned out to also be a letdown.

Disappointing Crab Ramen from Sansei Kapalua
Disappointing Crab Ramen from Sansei Kapalua

We’re actually afraid to go back to try the one at Waikoloa in case it was a McDreamy, one time (all-stars-aligned type of) thing. Sansei peeps, if you’re reading this, what’s the scoops?

Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar (Queens Market Place, Waikoloa Beach Resort)
201 Waikoloa Beach Drive Suite 801
Waikoloa, HI 96738 (map)
(808) 669-6286
Dinner Nightly: 5:30pm-10pm
Late Night Dining: Friday and Saturday: 10pm-1am

And finally, talk about good timing… Shirokiya is in the middle of their “Best of Japan: Ramen & Gyoza Festival”, where they bring in popular ramen (and gyoza) vendors from Japan to be featured at their new Yataimura area for two weeks at a time.

The first in the series (featured from 08/23-09/05) was Menya Ifudoudou Ramen from Osaka who served 7,658 bowls during their two week stint! They presented their Kuroton Shibori (dark) and Akaton Shibori (spicy/red) options. Here’s a look at both:

Kuroton Shibori Ramen from Menya Ifudoudou Ramen from Osaka Japan - $8.95
Kuroton Shibori Ramen from Menya Ifudoudou Ramen from Osaka Japan – $8.95

Akaton Shibori Ramen from Menya Ifudoudou Ramen from Osaka Japan - $8.95
Akaton Shibori Ramen from Menya Ifudoudou Ramen from Osaka Japan – $8.95

I don’t know if it was because it was the last day of the series and they were running low on noodles, but the portions were REALLY skimpy.

The second in the series (featured from 09/06-09/19) was Manshuya Ga Ichiban from Fukuoka who served 9,619 bowls of their “Original” Tonkotsu Shibori Ramen. Due to my crazy life as a new dad, I missed this series, but my buddy Rick Nakama was able to check it out (three times!). Here’s his Takana Shibori bowl:

Takana style Tonkotsu Shibori Ramen from Manshuya Ga Ichiban from Fukuoka - $9.95 [Photo Courtesy: Rick Nakama]
Takana style Tonkotsu Shibori Ramen from Manshuya Ga Ichiban from Fukuoka – $9.95 [Photo Courtesy: Rick Nakama]

Rick’s main complaints were about the quantity (again) and the inconsistency of the ramen noodles and taste.

The third in the series (which is currently being featured as I write this – 09/20-10/03) is Hakata Chouten from Fukuoka. I was most excited for this because some of the best ramen I’ve ever tasted in Japan came from the Hakata area in Fukuoka.

UPDATE: This series served 7,805 customers.

Barikoku Negi Tonkotsu Ramen from Hakata Chouten in Fukuoka - $10.95
Barikoku Negi Tonkotsu Ramen from Hakata Chouten in Fukuoka – $10.95

The soup base was pretty tasty, but, again, the quantity was very minimal compared to what we had to pay: $10.95!

Rick Nakama finishing his bowl while Russ Sumida "poses" with mine. 8)
Rick Nakama finishing his bowl while Russ Sumida “poses” with mine. 8)

The fourth in the series happens from October 4th through the 17th and features Hokkaido’s Sapporo Menya Yoshiki who will have three choices of soup base: shiro (white), kuro (black) and aka (red). Following that will be Fukuoka’s Hide Chan Ramen from October 24th-November 6th.

Shirokiya Yataimura (at Ala Moana Shopping Center)
1450 Ala Moana Blvd, Ste 2250
Honolulu, HI 96814 (map)
(808) 973-9111
Mon-Sat: 9:30am-9pm
Sun: 9:30am-7pm

So there you have it. Some interesting options for ramen here in Hawaii right? And that was just part 1! I still have at least 4 more juicy parts to this series (including Gomaichi, Goma Tei, Menchanko-Tei, Chinpei, Kiwami, etc.), but if you have any others suggestions on where I should hit up, holla atcho boy! Shoots!

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

Ethel’s Grill – Kalihi’s Best Kept Secret

September 1, 2011

Whenever I mention Ethel’s Grill to anyone, the reaction goes one of two ways: sheer excitement, or sheer confusion. Most people either really adore the old school Kalihi eatery or have no idea what I’m talking ’bout (Willis).

Back in the day, when I used to go golfing with my dad and my buddy Reid, we would hit up Ethel’s as our 19th hole. The old school charm and literal "hole-in-the-wall" vibe it gave off was fun and tear-jerkingly nostalgic.

Outside Ethel's Grill in Kalihi
Outside Ethel’s Grill in Kalihi

The food was grindz fo sho, but I never really had that "sheer excitement" sensation that many do… until a recent trip there brought me back to those 19th hole days.

The menu inside Ethel's
The menu inside Ethel’s

A business meeting with a friend Jon, who is ironically, my golfing buddy Reid’s first cousin, brought me back to Ethel’s for the first time in years. I wanted to chat with Jon about some possible synergies between his company and Oceanic Mobile and since Ethel’s is somewhat near his workplace, he suggested we go there. Loves it!

Oceanic Mobile Works at Ethel's Grill
Oceanic Mobile Works at Ethel’s Grill

Jon is a regular there. He knew Ryoko "Ethel" Ishii (owner) and all da oddah uncles and aunties working that day so we were hooked up with all kine stuffs, including a bag of andagi and a complimentary order of their famous tataki sashimi.

Ethel's Famous Tataki Sashimi - fresh tuna lightly seared served on a bed of bean sprouts and drizzled with sesame oil and Ethel's Garlic-Shoyu Sauce ($5)
Ethel’s Famous Tataki Sashimi – fresh tuna lightly seared served on a bed of bean sprouts and drizzled with sesame oil and Ethel’s Garlic-Shoyu Sauce ($5)

Jon ordered the Mochiko Chicken and I ordered the Japanese Hamburger Steak, which are both very popular dishes here.

Mochiko Chicken - Crispy Mochiko fried chicken served with Ethel's Ginger-Ponzu dipping sauce ($7)
Mochiko Chicken – Crispy Mochiko fried chicken served with Ethel’s Ginger-Ponzu dipping sauce ($7)

Japanese Hamburger Steak - Home-style hamburger patty topped with grated daikon, daikon sprouts, and tangy Ponzu sauce ($7.50)
Japanese Hamburger Steak – Home-style hamburger patty topped with grated daikon, daikon sprouts, and tangy Ponzu sauce ($7.50)

Each lunch order includes rice, miso soup, green salad and a choice of punch or iced tea (with one free refill).

Green salad and miso soup
Green salad and miso soup

Here’s a panning video of the salad, miso soup, Tataki Sashimi and my Japanese Hamburger Steak.


Food from Ethel’s Grill

On the other end of the spectrum, there’s my friend Rick. He had never been to or even heard about Ethel’s. So when I suggested we go there after helping him out with his Lanakila Meals on Wheels route one day, it was safe to say that he fell under the "sheer confusion" group I mentioned earlier.

Needless to say, we went and he enjoyed himself. So much so that when I tried to take a picture of him, he wouldn’t sit still as he was too busy stuffing his face.

Rick enjoying his meals at Ethel's
Rick enjoying his meals at Ethel’s

So whether you’re a Jon or a Rick, Ethel’s Grill is a great place to grab some super ono, local, Japanese style eats. Just be prepared for limited parking (small apartment building lot in a busy industrial area) and a long wait (only 20-ish seats max).

Ethel’s Grill
232 Kalihi St
Honolulu, HI 96819
(808) 847-6467
Mon-Sat: 5:30am-2pm

Don’t forget… THIS month…

===========================================
Rice Fest
The 2nd Annual Hawaii Rice Festival
Magic Island at Ala Moana Beach Park
Sunday, September 11, 2011 @ 10am-6pm
For more info: Ricefest.com / Twitter / Facebook
To RSVP: Facebook Event / Twtvite
===========================================

Lanakila Meals on Wheels – Feeding our Seniors, One Meal at a Time

August 1, 2011

When I think of senior citizens, I think of my dear obaachan in Japan. And although she lives on her own, she is never alone. Between her caretakers and her family and friends, she always has somebody to talk to and share a meal with.

For some seniors right here in Hawaii, they are not as fortunate. Many don’t have family or friends to visit and sometimes, they can’t even afford to eat. When I think about a senior citizen missing a meal, it breaks my heart because all I can I think about is what it might be like if my obaachan was in this horrible situation.

Enter Lanakila Pacific and their Meals on Wheels program. What started as a lunch wagon serving hot meals to seniors in need at A`ala Park in the 70’s, the Meals on Wheels program has expanded, serving 250,000 meals each year on over 90 different routes. They also have 18 Kupuna Wellness Centers around Oahu where able bodied seniors can gather, socialize, exercise, etc., in addition to getting their hot meal.

Lanakila Pacific sign
Lanakila Pacific sign

Now in its 40th year, Lanakakila Meals on Wheels is looking more than ever to fill the void of unmet seniors in need of home delivered meals, which the City & County of Honolulu’s Elderly Affairs Division 4-year plan (2007-2011) estimates at 8,587!

I recently sat down with Lanakila Pacific’s Volunteer and Resource Development Coordinator Randi Jeung to talk more about their Meals on Wheels program.

Interview with Randi Jeung

Edward Sugimoto) For those who don’t know, describe what Lanakila Pacific does as an organization, and what your role is here.

Randi Jeung) Lanakila Pacific is a local non-profit organization. This is our 72nd year. We offer programs and services for adults with cognitive, physical, social or age related challenges, and we help them build their independence and help them improve the quality of their lives.

Edward Sugimoto) And what do you do here?

Randi Jeung) I’m on the marketing team, so all the different marketing initiatives, I help with that, but my main role is I’m the volunteer coordinator so I go out to talk to people about volunteer opportunities here and how to get involved.

Edward Sugimoto) One of those programs is Meals on Wheels (and that’s how we know Rick Nakama and other volunteers as well), what is that program exactly?

Randi Jeung) Yeah, we’ve had a lot of social media people come and help us at different events and at different times so we’re very thankful for that. Lanakila Meals on Wheels is probably our best known program. Lanakila Pacific is probably best known for its Meals on Wheels program. It’s Hawaii’s largest and only island-wide meal service for seniors, but it’s so much more than just a meal program. Our volunteers are awesome volunteers. (They) provide them with connections to other local services if they see that the senior has a need or something, they’ll come and let us know and we’ll refer them to other services and they’re just there as a friend because for a lot of our seniors, that volunteer that comes to see them that one time a week sometimes is the only person that they’ll see. Sad situation but it’s the reality and our volunteers are helping us with that.

Edward Sugimoto) Statistically, do you know about how many seniors you help (through Meals on Wheels)?

Randi Jeung) Yes. So as of last week (week of July 10), the count was, each week, we help approximately 2,000 seniors throughout the island of Oahu and that number is only going to get bigger because we’re seeing it happening. Our route sizes have grown, they’ve doubled in size so now what we’re doing is we’re splitting our routes so that it’s a little bit easier on our volunteers when they go out to deliver, but yeah, that number is gonna grow real quick.

Edward Sugimoto) Do you have an interesting or heart-warming story you can share about one of your Meals on Wheels recipients?

Randi Jeung) There are so many stories that come out and you know, I want to save that for volunteers when they come, they’ll have their own stories, but for us, we have a senior that, you know, she lives on her own. She actually lives in a garage and when you go in to see her, and deliver the meals to her, you can see like the garage, you know how the garage door like there’s a space on the top and the bottom, cause it’s not meant to be lived in, it’s just for storage for cars. And so she lives in the garage and she has like all kinds of stuff in the garage… She’s really funny. You would feel bad for her when you see her, she’s just the liveliest little lady and she’s always joking around. Sometimes we have these two younger gentlemen that go to deliver meals to her and she knows that they’re single, so she’ll have like either her niece or her granddaughters that are there, waiting. And you know, she wants to introduce them, so she wants to be a matchmaker. So very good humored and every time we go she’s just so grateful and she just wants to hang onto you and talk story with you, probably for hours if she could.

Edward Sugimoto) So if someone was interested in volunteering for Meals on Wheels, how do they go about doing that?

Randi Jeung) Contact us, just give us a call. Our phone number is (808) 531-0555 or just check out our web site. The URL is www.lanakilapacific.org.

Edward Sugimoto) And for a person in need, is that the same contact information?

Randi Jeung) Same contact information. That phone number is our main line and through that number you can be connected to Meals on Wheels, our TLC program, Workforce Resource program, and even our Kitchen program. So yeah, just call us, visit our web site, with any questions. For seniors coming onto the Meals on Wheels program, the only real requirement that we have is that you’re 60 years of age and above and after that, everybody gets an individual assessment.

Edward Sugimoto) You mentioned the Kitchen. You guys do catering and what other kind of stuff?

Randi Jeung) Yes we do! Lanakila Kitchen is one of our social enterprises, which basically means a small business that’s run out of the non-profit organization, and Lanakila Kitchen is our catering social enterprise so we do catering events anywhere from small business meetings with like 3-5 people, all the way to huge events like keiki’s first birthday or tailgating if you need food for that, or weddings or whatever. We can find a way to get you some really good food.

Edward Sugimoto) Yeah we actually called you guys for a couple of occasions for work at Oceanic and the food was really good!

Randi Jeung) You know I think I saw that. It was on a blog where you guys took pictures of the catering line. Just by doing like the Google search, yeah, I’ve seen it. Thank you very much!

Edward Sugimoto) *laughs* No problem. No problem.

Edward Sugimoto) So in a couple of months Rice Fest is happening and you guys are partners with Rice Fest

Randi Jeung) Yes!

Edward Sugimoto) … Talk a little bit about that and maybe what you’re going to have at the booth.

Randi Jeung) It’s really exciting! Rice Fest, it launched last year and it was a lot of fun. We had it at Aloha Tower at the Waterfront and it drew a lot of people and there was a musubi eating contest and all sorts of fun stuff. This year is the second year and it’s going to be at Ala Moana (Magic Island) this year and we’re very very thankful that Rice Fest has selected Lanakila Meals on Wheels as its beneficiary, and so they are putting a call out to all the people who are coming, that are going to attend the event to bring donations of brown rice and that helps us tremendously. That helps cut down some of our costs so that we can provide more meals for more seniors. We only use brown rice in our meals because it’s healthier and that’s something that we strive in, in Meals on Wheels as well as Lanakila Kitchen. So everybody’s gonna bring donations of brown rice. Last year, we got a huge amount, and so hopefully we’re hoping for the same thing or maybe even better for this year. We’re going to have a booth there, we’re going to have a table there, and we’ll have more information about how to get involved and if you know anybody that might need our services, whether it be Meals on Wheels, or TLC or Workforce Resources, then we’ll have all that information for you there and we’re actually trying to plan a fun little game that people can participate in this year so we’ll have something ready for everybody who stops by our table.

2nd Annual Hawaii Rice Festival
2nd Annual Hawaii Rice Festival
Magic Island at Ala Moana Beach Park
Sunday, September 11, 2011 @ 10am-6pm
For more info: RiceFest.com / Facebook / Twitter
To RSVP: Facebook Event / Twtvite

Edward Sugimoto) OK Randi, thanks very much!

Randi Jeung) Thank you very much. Bye! Come to Rice Fest! September 11th, Ala Moana Park. *waves*

Randi Jeung of Lanakila Pacific
Randi Jeung of Lanakila Pacific

The Lanakila Meals on Wheels program relies heavily on a large group of selfless volunteers to help deliver their meals to the hungry seniors. Since my friend Rick Nakama just so happens to be one of them, I decided to tag along with him several times to get a first hand view of what a volunteer would go through on any given day.

The first thing we did was check in to Lanakila Pacific’s home base at 1809 Bachelot Street (there are also several satellite pick up locations).

Rick Nakama (@RickNakama) and Mark Tam (@marktrc) checking in for their route
Rick Nakama (@RickNakama) and Mark Tam (@marktrc) checking in for their route

They give you a couple of bright orange cooler bags to fill your meals with…

Lanakila Meals on Wheels cooler bags
Lanakila Meals on Wheels cooler bags

… and then you proceed to fill it with your meals of the day.

Rick getting help from Randi Jeung to fill his bag.
Rick getting help from Randi Jeung to fill his bag.

Then you load up your car…

Bags from Lanakila Meals on Wheels loaded up
Bags from Lanakila Meals on Wheels loaded up

… check out your list of stops…

Rick's Nuuanu route (names blacked out for privacy)
Rick’s Nuuanu route (names blacked out for privacy)

… and you’re off!

Each location is different, which makes it somewhat of an adventure. Parking, call boxes, locations… Rick has it down to a science. Sometimes although two addresses on his list are on the very same street, he will hit them at separate times simply because “it’s not the most productive path.”

So when we get to an address, we unload the specified number of meals (according to our list)…

Rick unloading two meals for this particular stop
Rick unloading two meals for this particular stop

… and deliver it to the appropriate home/apartment.

Rick looking up the apartment to get buzzed into the building
Rick looking up the apartment to get buzzed into the building

The entire route doesn’t take more than an hour or two. In addition to the reward of seeing the many smiles on the faces of the seniors in need, you get the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve prevented a senior from going hungry, at least for another day.

The views aren't so bad either
The views aren’t so bad either

After our route, I was able to ask Rick a few questions about why he chooses to volunteer for Lanakila Meals on Wheels.

Interview with Rick Nakama

Edward Sugimoto) Please introduce yourself.

Rick Nakama) I am Rick Nakama, @RickNakama on Twitter.

Edward Sugimoto) How did you hear about the Lanakila Meals on Wheels program?

Rick Nakama) I actually heard about it by attending one of @Melissa808‘s (Melissa Chang) and @ParkRat‘s (Russ Sumida) tweetups for @HawaiiIRL. We had a little tweetup here where a few of us attended, learned what the volunteers do, and got a tour of the facilities at Lanakila Pacific.

Edward Sugimoto) So after that, you were inspired to volunteer yourself?

Rick Nakama) Yeah, I was actually interested in doing this for a while, but it just seemed a little bit complicated to get involved, and then after attending that tweetup, I followed up later and then I realized it’s not really that complicated and I was able to just do this once a week. So I do it on Monday, I do the route on Monday and it takes me about an hour to an hour and a half at the most with someone else helping me.

Edward Sugimoto) How long have you been doing it?

Rick Nakama) I’ve been doing it since about October of last year (2010).

Edward Sugimoto) And you’re liking it so far?

Rick Nakama) Yeah.

Edward Sugimoto) OK, thank you.

Rick Nakama) Alright.

This experience had such an impact on me that I am now on the waiting list for a Meals on Wheels route in my own neighborhood. I don’t want somebody else’s obaachan going hungry after all…

For more information on volunteering yourself, visit the Lanakila Pacific volunteer page.

Lanakila Pacific
1809 Bachelot Street
Honolulu, HI. 96817 (map)
(808) 531-0555
Facebook Page / Twitter (@LanakilaPacific) / YouTube Channel / Vimeo Channel

Cafe Kaila – The Cozy Café You MUST Try-la

April 1, 2011

Geez, it’s only taken me close to 4 years, but I was FINALLY able to check an item off the ol’ (Hawaii eateries) bucket list: “Eat breakfast at Café Kaila.”

Now you’re probably asking yourself 1 of 2 things. 1) “Is Café Kaila really THAT good?” or 2) “4 years!? What is wrong with that guy? Doesn’t he own a car?”

Yep, ever since owner Chrissie Kaila Castillo opened the doors in the Market City Shopping Center in Oct of ’07, I’ve been following their progress in the local eating scene. From positive recommendations from family & friends to glowing reviews across the Interwebs, “the CK” (as I like to call it) has been nothing but dope!

Outside Café Kaila
Outside Café Kaila

So when my buddy Rick Nakama invited me to join his wife Kelli and her friend Sher (@sweetsher17) to eat there during a recent holiday, I was down to pound to get round! (You like that one right? I just made that up! 😛 )

After dropping wifey off at work (poor her!), I headed down to the CK to stand in line. From everything I heard and everything I read, I mentally and physically (hungry tummy) prepared myself to wait in that inevitable line.

Wasn’t too sure if it was because it was a holiday or because I was there fairly early (around 7:30am), but to my surprise (and pleasure), the line was pretty much non-existent. In fact, there were 4 tables still open inside. As I waited outside, one by one, the tables went bye-bye. Finally, with only 2 tables left, I panic-texted Rick and asked him wea he stay. One of the employees must’ve noticed me outside with ants in my pants and asked if I wanted to come in and wait on a table. With the rate of vanishing tables, I thought that would be as good an idea as any.

That good idea quickly turned into another ants in my pants situation. There I sat, all by my lonesome, as the line grew and grew outside. Arrrrgggghhh the guilt! Wea da heck is Ricky Ricardo??? Another several panic-texts later wielded a message from him at 7:53am: “Coming down now. Sweetsher17 is going to meet us too.” Phew!

Although in total, I probably only waited for about half an hour, I swear it seemed like an eternity. 😛 At least I got to be productive and snap an AndHere shot while I waited…

Oceanic Mobile Works Here: Café Kaila (Photo Courtesy: AndHere)
Oceanic Mobile Works Here: Café Kaila (Photo Courtesy: AndHere)

“Sweetsher17”, as mentioned in Rick’s text message, is the Twitter name for Rick’s wife Kelli’s friend, who also happens to work at Café Kaila. Luckily, we got a cool discount on our food as a result, and even had a special dish sent out to us aptly named the “Sheryl Surprise Waffle.”

The
The “Sheryl Surprise” Waffle from Café Kaila

How ’bout dem caramelized apples!? 😉

Personally, I’m a “salty breakfast” kinda person, so I went with the Lox and Eggs Scramble, sans the onions. Mmm, mmm, mmm!

Lox and Eggs Scramble - Scrambled eggs and onions with smoked salmon. ($10.50)
Lox and Eggs Scramble – Scrambled eggs and onions with smoked salmon. ($10.50)

Kelli ordered the Breakfast Quesadilla with Turkey Bacon…

Breakfast Quesadilla - Two flour tortillas grilled with cheese, 2 scrambled eggs and meat of choice. Served with salsa. ($9.50) (Photo Courtesy: Rick Nakama)
Breakfast Quesadilla – Two flour tortillas grilled with cheese, 2 scrambled eggs and meat of choice. Served with salsa. ($9.50) (Photo Courtesy: Rick Nakama)

While Rick went with the popular Belgian Malted Waffle…

Belgian Malted Waffle - a light and crispy waffle dusted with powdered sugar, served with butter and syrup. ($6.95) (Photo Courtesy: Rick Nakama)
Belgian Malted Waffle – a light and crispy waffle dusted with powdered sugar, served with butter and syrup. ($6.95) (Photo Courtesy: Rick Nakama)

With a side of Italian Sausage.

Side order of Italian Sausage. ($3) (Photo Courtesy: Rick Nakama)
Side order of Italian Sausage. ($3) (Photo Courtesy: Rick Nakama)

Sher got a Jack Johnson-esque order of Banana Pancakes.

Buttermilk Pancakes with Bananas - 3 light and fluffy pancakes dusted with powdered sugar, served with butter and syrup. Served with bananas, blueberries, caramelized apples or strawberries $1.50 each. ($6.95 + $1.50)
Buttermilk Pancakes with Bananas – 3 light and fluffy pancakes dusted with powdered sugar, served with butter and syrup. Served with bananas, blueberries, caramelized apples or strawberries $1.50 each. ($6.95 + $1.50)

Prices were fairly reasonable for a boutique-type café. Dishes were packed with fruits and flavor, and it was refreshing to hear that all entrees were made to order from scratch using fresh ingredients and organic when available. As an obsessed fan of corned beef hash for breakfast, I did, however, wish they had some sort of homemade version of this on the menu.

I guess they could always add that item in the future, and, oh, I don’t know, name it after me! “Ed’s Corned Beef Hash Surprise” has a nice ring to it after all, right?

Cafe Kaila (@CafeKaila)
Market City Shopping Center
2919 Kapiolani Blvd
Honolulu, HI 96826 (Street View)
(808) 732-3330
Open Daily: 7am-3pm