Hot!Dining around Oahu

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leethebard
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Re:Dining around Oahu 2014/04/18 13:40:17 (permalink)
Oh I love this stuff!!!!!!!
#31
Ivyhouse
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Re:Dining around Oahu 2014/04/18 13:48:02 (permalink)
The ramen looks wonderful.  I have never had anything like the soups in your photos (just the occasional instant packaged ramen soup mix).  The spoons look more like ladles!  Is this soup spooned over the rice that accompanies it?  Is the rice added to the soup?
#32
kaszeta
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Re:Dining around Oahu 2014/04/18 15:32:20 (permalink)
Ivyhouse
The ramen looks wonderful.  I have never had anything like the soups in your photos (just the occasional instant packaged ramen soup mix).  The spoons look more like ladles!  Is this soup spooned over the rice that accompanies it?  Is the rice added to the soup?

I usually finish all the noodles in the soup, so there is some broth remaining, and then toss the rice in the remaining broth.
 
You should go get some real ramen.  Sooo much better than the packaged stuff.
 
Edited to add:  I see you are in Bethesda.  Go check out Satsuma for some Tonkatsu Ramen.
post edited by kaszeta - 2014/04/18 15:36:45
#33
kaszeta
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Re:Dining around Oahu 2014/04/18 15:59:34 (permalink)
So, speaking of Asian food, one of the nice things about Hawaii is that they have a lot of Japanese influence, and access to the Pacific's fish markets.  Which means, lots of great sushi places. 
 
One of the more interesting recommendations came from my friend Tim from Minneapolis: “Go to Sushi ii, order the omakase, and eat whatever they put in front of you.  You won't regret it”.  Sushi ii is off of most tourists' radars, located in a small strip mall (the “Sam Sung Plaza”) across the street from the Walmart a few blocks north of the Ala Moana mall.  Sushi ii (the “ii” is from the Japanese for “good”, it’s not a Roman “II”) is one of those neighborhood sushi places that somewhat blend into the background: while I may have picked it at random if I was in a sushi mood, I probably wouldn’t have found this place without a good solid recommendation.

Here's a good place to be honest, in that this wasn't a random suggestion.  The chef is the cousin of my friend Tim's wife ("Cousin-in-law"?  Is that a real term?).  But I trust Tim and his wife for food recommendations, so I went with it.  Walking in, it was immediately obvious that we should have had reservations (although if you had seen the generally random nature of our visit, we were mostly “winging it” the entire trip instead of planning things). But as luck had it, they had an open table if we were only going to be there for less than an hour and a half, so we ordered some sake and sat down:

I’ll admit that I’m still a bit under-educated when it comes to really good sushi. I did most of my growing up before the great sushi craze hit, and most of my time has been spent living in places with few sushi restaurants. But I’ve learned over the years that there are some really great sushi chefs out there, serving up both traditional and non-traditional sushi.  I have learned, however, that if it's a good place with a lot of Japanese people eating there, and they offer up omakase, just order it and go with the groove.  So that’s what we ordered: three rounds of the chef’s omakase, and I’m really glad we did. Since it was a whole month ago that I ate there, I’m looking at my photos and having a lot of difficulty recalling exactly what everything we ate was, but overall, this was one of the most enjoyable evenings of sushi I’ve had in a long time. The chefs at sushi ii are really talented: everything that was served up was nigiri style, but were immaculately fresh, and excellently prepared:



For the record, that's two types of toro (raw and seared), aka yagara (cornet fish, which was flavorful but not my textural favorite), torigai (medium-sized cockles), tsubugai (whelk), aka-ebi (raw red shrimp, which was wonderful), New Caledonian prawn (probably the one thing that evening I didn’t care for), shime saba (pickled mackerel), mentaiko (roe, I think from pollack), kurage (jellyfish), tai (red snapper, another favorite), aji (more mackerel), akamutsu (bluefish), and several other items that I can’t actually remember (I sadly should have remembered to grab the full itemized receipt, since it did have most everything identified on it)
The only sad part? I saw a lot of really great food coming off the sushi bar and out of the kitchen that was right off the menu, and the sashimi looked really good as well. I can easily see coming back here to try some of their regular menu as well. While it was rather pricey (well, good sushi usually is), the quality was phenomenal, and we left well pleased.
(Full review here)
#34
Art Deco
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Re:Dining around Oahu 2014/04/18 16:31:17 (permalink)
kaszeta

 

That uni looks divine!!
#35
kaszeta
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Re:Dining around Oahu 2014/04/22 10:35:47 (permalink)
When we weren't eating, we were often either in the water, or hiking, particularly on the east end of the island.  Often, these hikes left us craving a cold, refreshing snack. That’s exactly what shave ice was invented for.
 
Looking up shave ice places on the internet, there’s one clearly popular place (Waiola Shave Ice), but there was another places nearby with particularly good reviews on several sites, the rather cool-named Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha (HOPA):

Nestled into a shopping center set back from the street in the Hawaii Kai part of town, Uncle Clay’s is not the sort of place you’d happen across except by accident without the internet’s help. Entering the place, you immediately get a hearty greeting (on our first visit, from Uncle Clay himself). On the face of it, it looks like your basic shave ice place, with one person shaving the ice, and another applying the syrups, toppings, and the like:

Right away, you can tell that things are a little different at Uncle Clay’s. One of the experiences at most shave ice places is the basking in the bright colors of the syrups (often with the heavy use of food coloring). The palette at the House of Pure Aloha is distinctly more muted, and that’s because all the of the flavors here are house-made syrups, ranging from the simple (pineapple, mango, guava, and strawberry), to the more Hawaiian (Li Hing, coconut, and lilikoi), and even some house flavors like kalespin (a mix of kale and spinach) and even horchata. Quite a good selection, and all of them are made in-house from organic ingredients. The result is quite tasty, even if it mutes the colors a bit.  Myself, I opted for a shave ice with a combination of three syrups: pineapple, horchata, and kalespin (those that know me well know that I have a hard time passing up kale). The result was a splendid bowl of shave ice. First, the ice itself is properly shaved, with a nice fine texture (alas, all too many places don’t do a good shave, and give you something more akin to a sno cone, but the House of Pure Aloha is also the house of properly shaved ice). And then the syrups were dialed in. My pineapple was sweet and tangy, but not cloying, with little pulpy bits. The horchata was also the perfect embodiment of a classic Mexican horchata: a pleasant surprise since “Mexican” is probably the culinary Achilles’ heel of Hawaii. And the kalespin? A perfectly done syrup of kale and spinach with just enough apple and honey to sweeten it, and it was pleasantly herbal and refreshing. Most importantly, this combination also worked out well. This was, without a doubt, the best shave ice I’ve ever had:

 
Carol did well, too, with a nice combination of mango and coconut. The mango was rich and pleasant (and unlike most of the other syrups, this one did retain the bright color), with a perfect mango flavor:

(Full review here)
#36
brisketboy
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Re:Dining around Oahu 2014/04/22 10:59:11 (permalink)
Was that real wasabi? Down here all we get is colored horseradish. I have never had real wasabi and was wondering what it is like. 
#37
kaszeta
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Re:Dining around Oahu 2014/04/22 13:06:48 (permalink)
brisketboy
Was that real wasabi? Down here all we get is colored horseradish. I have never had real wasabi and was wondering what it is like. 

Actually, I should have mentioned that: yes, it was real wasabi, which I don't run into all that often (the last time I think I had it was at Sushi Ran in Sausalito)
#38
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Re:Dining around Oahu 2014/04/22 13:19:38 (permalink)
I am pretty envious. We have a fly away unit that makes bi yearly trips to Yokosuka and they make great inroads to the sushi carousels and tells tales of real wasabi and how it is so much wonderful than the green library paste they pass off as wasabi at the Midori sushi bar here in Austin. 
#39
kaszeta
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Re:Dining around Oahu 2014/04/27 20:08:18 (permalink)
While most mornings in Hawaii we either ate breakfast in our condo, or picked up something on the fly, we did decide one morning to go out and get a full, righteous breakfast. Both of us were craving pancakes, and after reviewing the various options of the North Shore, ended up driving down to Kailua to check out one of the local favorites, Moke’s Bread and Breakfast:

There’s quite a bit of breakfast action going on at Moke’s. The main attraction at Moke’s is pancakes, and in particular the lilikoi pancake is the star. It’s basically a normal pancake, but served up with lilikoi (Hawaiaan for “passion fruit”) syrup, a nice, thick white syrup that’s very strongly passion fruit flavored. But they’ve also got the other basics: eggs just about every way you’d want, a wide variety of breakfast meats (including Portuguese sausage and house-made hash), waffles, French toast, and even a pork chop with gravy.  But we were here for the pancakes… I ordered up a basic pair of pancakes with lilikoi and Portuguese sausage, while Carol opted for the breakfast special with two smaller pancakes, eggs, and sausage:

First of all, the pancakes. While the lilikoi syrup is quite pleasant and a nice departure from the more typical maple and maple-like toppings, I found it to be strong and sweet enough that it actually covered up the underlying pancakes a bit. Which is a bit unfortunate, since the actual pancakes are very, very good: a nice, fluffy, moist and thick pancake, with a nicely-seared and crispy exterior. I’d love these as just plain old pancakes… and the lilikoi sauce goes quite nicely with them as well… just perhaps sparingly applied. Maybe next time I’ll get it on the side.

Similarly, like most places on the island, Moke’s has Portuguese sausage, and it’s very, very good. It’s a nice, flavorful and bold sausage, with a nice, coarse grind. Served up in several generous slices, all nicely crisped up, and it’s the perfect salty and spicy counterpoint to the pancakes:

(Full review here)
post edited by kaszeta - 2014/04/27 20:10:20
#40
kaszeta
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Re:Dining around Oahu 2014/04/27 20:16:57 (permalink)
And finally, our last stop before returning to the Mainland.  For our last meal in Hawaii, we decided to check out Alan Wong’s The Pineapple Room. Alan Wong is one of of several Hawaiian Chefs (along with Sam Choy, Roy Yamaguchi, Peter Merriman, and Bev Gannon, amongst others) that have worked for the last few decades to establish “Hawaiian” as a proper cuisine type. For all my discussion of local Hawaiian food, such as the Loco Moco, the Spam Musubi, and the Plate Lunch, there’s also a lot going on in Hawaiian cuisine in the fine dining sector:

The Pineapple Room is oddly located, by which I mean that it's hidden away inside Ala Moana Mall. Specifically, inside the Women’s department in the Macy’s. However, that means it’s also fairly easy to get reservations there, and you also have a pretty good chance of getting a walk-in seat. 
 
We started off with a pair of one of Alan Wong’s signature drinks, the Plantation Iced Tea. It’s basically a tropical iced tea served with fresh pineapple juice, rum, and a housemade macadamia and ginger syrup. Served up in a mason jar, this is one of those sorts of cocktails I’m going to have to try and recreate, since it was both bold and refreshing:

For my main course, I was tempted to go for another of his signature dishes: a high-rent version of Loco Moco, but having just had one from Zippy’s for lunch, I decided to change it up a bit and try their Jidori Chicken. This was a pleasant dish: roasted chicken served with a pleasant soy glaze with some vegetables in a shiitake miso broth, with a bunch of somen gnocchi. I was particularly impressed with this dish: the chicken itself was a very nicely flavorful bird, and adding in a soy glaze and the nice miso broth gave it a nice, rich flavor. The gnocchi? Good gnocchi are one of my favorite foods, and these somen gnocchi didn’t disappoint: they were pleasant little crisped pockets of somen dough that were just starting to absorb the miso broth:

Carol did well with her choice as well, the Kiawe-grilled (see my earlier comments about Kiawe when I was talking about Huli Huli Chicken) Ahi Tuna. This was basically a slab of really high quality ahi, nicely marinated, and then just lightly seared on each side with just enough kiawe to give it a mesquite-like taste. Add in some Lomi tomatoes and a nice little vinaigrette salad, and this was a light but pleasing dish:

For dessert, we opted to split a fairly simple item: the “chocolate pudding”. But this was no regular chocolate pudding, instead, it was a confection of rich and silky pudding made with David Murdock’s Private Estate 70% Chocolate… the same chocolate we had seen harvested up in Waialua a week earlier. Simple, but quite delicious:

(Full review here)
 
So...  That was Oahu in just over a week.  I really need to go back.  But first, I've got to finish my writeups of stuff done since then (Montreal, Boston, the DC Death March, Denver....)
post edited by kaszeta - 2014/04/27 20:18:59
#41
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Re:Dining around Oahu 2014/04/27 21:04:54 (permalink)
Bring 'em on, son! Enjoyed reading this report very much. Reading this website is as close as I'm likely to get it to Hawaii so I really enjoy reading the reports. Almost felt like I was there. Although I read it sometime back, I remember your Iceland report too. Very nice.
#42
ScreamingChicken
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Re:Dining around Oahu 2014/04/28 12:22:40 (permalink)
kaszeta

This was basically a slab of really high quality ahi, nicely marinated, and then just lightly seared on each side with just enough kiawe to give it a mesquite-like taste. Add in some Lomi tomatoes and a nice little vinaigrette salad, and this was a light but pleasing dish:
 

That looks really good!  What flavors were in the marinade?
#43
kaszeta
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Re:Dining around Oahu 2014/04/28 14:41:02 (permalink)
ScreamingChicken

kaszeta

This was basically a slab of really high quality ahi, nicely marinated, and then just lightly seared on each side with just enough kiawe to give it a mesquite-like taste. Add in some Lomi tomatoes and a nice little vinaigrette salad, and this was a light but pleasing dish:
 

That looks really good!  What flavors were in the marinade?

The marinade was a very light black pepper marinade.
#44
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Re:Dining around Oahu 2014/05/01 18:22:58 (permalink)
Malasadas are prominent in this article on "must try" foods for each island, for the Oahu section.
 
http://www.hawaii.com/tra...ods_on_each_island.php
 
Leonard's Bakery is the ONE.
 
Steven Green
#45
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