Panya Bistro – Honolulu, HI

Panya Bistro was my last meal before the lockdown. Well last sit-down meal in a restaurant and even though it was pre-lockdown, I was already feeling a bit uneasy eating in the restaurant. I am also a little regretful that I didn’t order my usual, Laksa! But…while their laksa is good, it’s also very expensive and I can get the same dish for half the price at Papa’s Cafe! Let’s get to the food shall we?

Black Pepper Pork Chop | $18.00
Upgrade to Egg Fried Rice | $5.00 (I think!)
fried pork chop with Spicy black pepper sauce

This wasn’t my dish but it looks good ah? Remember how I talked about simple fried rice being best? It looks like this fried rice follows what I talked about, just egg, rice and seasoning. But $5.00 to substitute it from white rice?? Hard pass from me on that.

Indonesian Fried Rice | $20.00
with chicken topped with eggs and green peas

This dish is what veered me off the laksa. I’ve been into Indonesian food (indomie anyone?) so I wanted to try this dish. By the way, why don’t we have an Indonesian restaurant in Hawaii? Not just Indonesian dishes in Chinese restaurants, INDONESIAN RESTAURANT. Ah sorry, how was it? Good, not great. And surprisingly spicier than I expected. I wouldn’t order it again.

Japanese Cheese Cake | $7.00
Lemon Crunch Cream Cake | $5.50

My lemon crunch cake quest continues. How was it? Ehh…more cream than I’d like. I guess I still like Macaroni Grill’s lemon cake most.

Recipe: Fried Garlic Fried Rice

That title is not a a mistake. I am making fried garlic…fried rice. I love the taste of fried garlic and decided to play it up with fried rice one day. I’ve come to the conclusion as of late that simple fried rice is the best. Enough with throwing everything you have into the fried rice. One of my favorite fried rice dishes is just egg and rice tossed together and seasoned with some salt. That’s it. Anyway, this isn’t much of a recipe. I don’t have detailed notes but if there is interest, I can try to type some instructions up.

Garlic is always the star of the show

Spam (optional)

Scrambled 4 eggs until about 80% done

Fry up the spam until crispy

Here comes the best part. Make sure the heat is on medium low, add oil and the garlic. It will take a while to get there but you have to make sure the heat remains low so the garlic fries up not burns up.

Golden morsels of goodness

Add the rice! Look at it…just look at it!!

Add the eggs and begin the breakdown…

Mm hmm mm hmm!

Oh yes. I learned from another recipe that if you want to add sheen to the fried rice, you add just a bit of oil at the end and fry it together. Oh this fried rice was delicious, if you enjoy garlic. It reminded me of the garlic served with the garlic shrimp plates from the North Shore. No need shrimp for me, I could have done without the spam myself but it’s good either way!

Fort Street Café – Honolulu, HI

When I used to work in downtown, I would always walk down Fort Street Mall for goodies. I remember Aloha Sushi used to be in the high rise where you would get your passport (both are gone I think). I’d grab a piroscki from Rada’s Piroscki from their original location, mind you. I’m sad to say that on my rare visit back to downtown, it was just not the same…and it tasted like they used the same oil from where I ate a decade ago lol.

Ah sorry for the tangent, I don’t quite recall if Fort Street Café was around when I worked downtown. But boy am I glad I found them since. We’ve had a few lunch orders here. I recommend the garlic chicken with pad thai and panang curry! Delicious. We used them to cater an office gathering earlier this year, I wish I took better notes on what sized pans we ordered. I will say we either got the Medium or Large. Here’s a link to their catering menu, it’s from 2019 but the prices were still the same for me this year.

Spring Rolls (Chicken)

I have never ordered spring rolls for catering before but can I say that I was pleasantly surprised? I’m pretty sure we got the medium order and look at this presentation! It was delicious too. I would say it was worth it!

Garlic Chicken

You can’t go wrong with garlic so this dish can’t lose! (It didn’t).

Pad Thai Noodles (Shrimp)

Fancy fancy with shrimp but we were ordering garlic chicken on its own so we went for the shrimp. Delicious.

Mix Vegetable (Tofu)

It’s vegetables. Enuff said.

Red Panang Curry (Seafood)

Mmmm panang curry. I love the peanut-y base curry. I could just eat copious amounts of rice with this curry. Like I don’t even need the innards, just the sauce and rice.

So yes, it was a great choice for catering. One thing to consider, how to pick food up. It definitely was a two person operation, one driver who pulls over illegally (somewhere, anywhere close by!). I was the runner and ran into the restaurant to make payment and they had it all ready to go. I had to make several trips back and forth…and fort street mall isn’t the cleanest or safest…haha. It’s okay, worked out okay and we got the food!

Mixed Plate

Gotta have posts like this here and there, I don’t always fully capture my meal so you will have to get it in bits and pieces. 🙂

Romano’s Macaroni Grill
Mama’s Trio | $25.95
chicken parmesan, lasagna bolognese, fettuccine alfredo

Is Mama trying to kill you? Yes, I think so. This wasn’t my dish but look at this…hefty portions of hefty dishes. It was not finished, had to be packed up to take home. No waste!

Romano’s Macaroni Grill
Shrimp Scampi | $24.95
sauteed jumbo shrimp, capellini, garlic, rosemary butter, roma tomatoes

Yeah, I had the shrimp scampi again. So wot? Like fight? Nah, getting it a second time means it was good ah? Was good.

Little Sheep Hot Pot
Half & Half Pot | Original & Spicy

I can’t say I was super impressed when they first opened, I was still a huge fan of Sweet Home Cafe. Well sorry to say, well not really sorry, but I basically only go to Little Sheep now. Love their sauce bar and now they have all you can eat deals for lunch and dinner. Service is hit or miss (you better be willing to flag anyone and everyone down to help you). Delish!

Ja Gal Chi Restaurant
Bossam | $30.99
steamed pork with oysters

Gosh, can anyone help me? There used to be the most bomb bossam restaurant by Ala Moana, it was located where Dowon Chinese Restaurant is now. They specialized in Bossam and it was soo good but alas, like most businesses, the owners decided to retire and they closed for good.

Anyway, I don’t think a lot of Korean restaurants offer this but Ja Gal Chi does and boy oh boy was it a treat. I mean look at it, of course it was a treat. They give you kimchee and the little salted shrimp sauce too. It’s just heaven.

Pancakes & Waffles BLD – Kalihi, HI

Pancakes & Waffles has been around for quite a while. I remember a long time ago, when I came back from an international trip, I asked my ride to take me there to eat. I just had to grind on some pocho sausage, eggs and rice. Don’t worry, I treated her to breakfast too. Anyway, can you believe that I had not tried their fried chicken and waffles until this past visit? The audacity.

Fried Rice Special | $8.25
fried rice, 2 eggs, choice of bacon, link, spam, or portuguese sausage

Your basic special. Nothing great about it but nothing to complain about either.

Grilled Cheese Benedict with Avocado Fries | $11.45
choice of white or wheat bread grilled cheese sandwich, topped with a perfectly poached egg and covered in creamy hollandaise sauce

Seasonal menu item! I only saw the sign near the door, it wasn’t even on their menu when you go up to order. I didn’t actually get this myself but it was gobbled up!

Honey Butter Chicken & Waffles (3 pcs) | $12.95
crispy fried chicken thighs on a golden waffle

The star of the show. Here it is guys. We got our own entrees but got this to share. Well, four people sharing this plate was JUST NOT ENOUGH. Yes, I had to order another plate. We loved the chicken, delicious! Nicely seasoned and so crispy. The waffle, nice to have it there but I don’t need it. I just need the chicken! Highly recommend the chicken. Actually, I think the second one we got was a fried chicken plate because we just wanted the chicken and not the waffle…haha

Recipe: French Onion Bac’n Spinach Dip (Vegan!)

I think I have mentioned this before, I have a vegan worker in my office and it has helped me to push my limits in cooking! I really enjoy feeding people and always try to make dishes that everyone can eat. Well, here is a recipe that was totally sparked through curiosity. I can make choke vegan baked goods but I wanted to serve up a savory dish. So I got the idea for this dip and served it up with crackers/ruffles chips.

How did it go? Surprisingly well, the office folks certainly ate it up. What did I think? Ehhh…I gotta say, I am not a fan of the “fake” bacon bits and to me, that taste overpowers in this dish. I think if I tinkered around with this recipe, I could find a dip I like. Minus the bacon bits…and minus the french onion soup mix. I know I know, that’s not selling this huh? I think the recipe for the sour cream is solid so that’s a good start. Heck, I even give you the recipe for two different vegan sour creams! See below…

First recipe uses raw cashews, gotta be raw!

Gotta soak the cashews at least 4 hours so it’s soft enough for the blender
2nd sour cream uses silken tofu as a base…
Vegan Sour Cream (Silken Tofu Base)
Vegan Sour Cream (Raw Cashew Base)
Ugh!
Started with the cashew sour cream and one mix packet
Added a cup of cooked spinach, water squeezed out

Then I got loopy because it was late at night and didn’t know what I would do with a whole thing of silken tofu sour cream and threw it in…oops

Which then led me to adding another soup packet since I had so much sour cream now…

French Onion Bac’n Spinach Dip (Vegan!)

Ingredients:

32 oz. Vegan Sour Cream (Two recipe versions following this recipe)

1 C chopped spinach and squeezed (heaping cup).

2.2 ounces McCormick Bac’n Bits (bottle sold is 4.4 ounces, I used half a bottle) 

2 packets Lipton Recipe Secrets Soup & Dip Mix Onion (usually two packets come in a box)

Directions:

Mix the sour cream and soup mixes together until blended (by hand). Add spinach and bacon to mix. Best served chilled. 

Notes:

  • Spinach – I used fresh but one package of frozen chopped spinach would be fine. Thaw out the spinach and squeeze out additional water!

Vegan Sour Cream Recipe 1

1.5 c raw cashews (soaked 4 hours)

3/4 c water 

1.5 T lemon juice

1.5 t apple cider vinegar

1/2 t salt

1/2 t Dijon mustard 

Blend all ingredients in blender until creamy, scraping down sides of blender as needed. Produced about 2 cups of sour cream (16 oz.)

Note: My taste preference is for the cashew sour cream.

Vegan Sour Cream Recipe 2

1 package 12 oz. Silken Tofu (soft)

1.5 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

1 clove garlic

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1-2 Tbsp. water to get to the desired consistency

Blend all ingredients in blender until creamy, scraping down sides of blender as needed. Use in recipes such as Creamy Mushroom Stroganoff, or serve on baked potatoes, tacos, or enchiladas. Produced about 2 cups of sour cream (16 oz.)

Sansei Restaurant and Sushi Bar – Waikiki, HI

Do I have to give details about Sansei? Have you all not heard about this restaurant? Great restaurant and they give a pretty generous parking validation for self parking (though their parking lot is junk)…free is free! I know you just wanna see the pictures so here goes…

Panko-crusted Fresh Ahi Sashimi | $14.25
Island fresh ahi tuna wrapped with arugula and spinach, panko crusted and flash fried, served with a soy wasabi butter sauce

This dish is an award winner for a reason. It is absolutely delicious. And that sauce? That buttery rich soy wasabi sauce? It’s to die for. I wanted a whole bowl of rice to lather in the sauce but ended up eating a bunch of gari ginger with it…I was desperate to scoop up that sauce. Funnily, it went pretty well with the gari ginger. A must get dish.

Otoro Sashimi (half-order) | $23.00

You only live once and we always get otoro at the good restaurants. Was it good? Sure. Honestly, it’s much better than the Otoro at Katsumidori. I’m sad about how bad the quality has gotten at Katsumidori, they used to be great quality and a great deal. The best otoro I have had? I would say it would be from Izakaya Torae Torae. I’m just waiting for the quarantine to be done…patiently. Maybe. Anyway, you can pass on this dish.

“Ora King” New Zealand King Salmon (sashimi) | $18.00

This was good. Not mind blowing, but good. Once again, I think Torae Torae has the best King Salmon. Am I just hungry? But am I always hungry? Moreso hungry in this quarantine….I would get this again if I was craving sashimi. If not, you can get it better elsewhere.

DK’s Crab Ramen with Asian Truffle Broth | $19.25
with crab, cilantro, Thai basil and mild jalapenos

Another must have dish. I love noodles. I love crab. I love truffle. How could I not get this dish? I shared it, I’m so nice and they were pretty generous with the crab! I would definitely recommend trying this dish.

Tempura Fried Macadamia Nut Ice Cream | $9.50
vanilla ice cream, buttery pound cake, roasted macadamia nuts, chocolate-caramel sauce

This wasn’t my dish but the diner was expecting little breaded ice cream balls…nuggets if you will. This was just a big serving of ice cream in a big pastry and you have to rush to eat through it or end up with vanilla soup.

Sansei’s “Granny Smith” Apple Tart | $9.50
buttery puff pastry, granny smith apple slices, sansei’s homemade warm caramel, vanilla ice cream

Why is Granny Smith in quotation marks? Are they making a pun? Okay, nice try. This was my dessert. I’ve been on a caramel apple pastry with vanilla ice cream kick lately. Anyone who knows me can tell you, I do not like plain vanilla ice cream but coupled with a flakey apple pastry and caramel sauce (DO YOU SEE THE AMOUNT OF CARAMEL?)…you can’t go wrong. I would definitely recommend this dish!

Recipe: Prime Rib

I should really post my recipes closer to when I make them. I made this back on New Years Day. Oh boy, thinking about that, feels like years ago huh? I hope you folks are holding on together alright during this pandemic. I am grateful that I am able to currently work from home. It’s been a tough few months for me and sometimes it’s not that easy to really reach deep in and be grateful for what I do have.

I have been following the orders to stay home pretty well. If I go out, I am going out to buy groceries (I am trying to stock up as much as I can so the trips are less). Still have TP and hand soap (knocks on wood). Hope you are all doing well.

HELLO BEAUTIFUL

I had my doubts when I first saw this recipe. You “cook” it for a very short time and then let is sit in the oven with the residual heat for 2 hours. The way I calculated it, it would only cook for 25 minutes. That’s nuts! That’s how long it takes to heat up like frozen fries…! Well I held onto my patience and followed through on the directions and behold…it worked! Isn’t it beautiful?

I don’t have a roasting rack so I made a “rack” of vegetables. I was all excited to eat the vegetables after but ummm…they didn’t work. I feel like my carrot was already junk but since the actual cooking time was short…the carrots were still hard. I never like recook them so I just let it go…

I pierce many holes into the meat and stuff each hole with a clove of garlic. Oh…I just love garlic.

Mix that soft butter with all the herbs and spices you want to create a lovely crust on your prime rib!

Can any dish ever go wrong with that much butter? No, I don’t think so. Do I need to remind you to scroll back up to see the first picture? I am tempted to repost it…

Prime Rib With Garlic Herb Butter

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 7 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped (I don’t think I had this so I used dried Italian seasoning)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped (I used dried)
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  • 5 lb boneless ribeye roast, trimmed

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 500°F (260°C).
  2. Mix together the butter, garlic, herbs, salt, and pepper in a bowl until evenly combined.
  3. Rub the herb butter all over the rib roast, then place on a roasting tray with a rack.
  4. Bake for 5 minutes per pound (10 minutes per kilo) of meat, so a 5-pound (2.2 kg) roast would bake for 25 minutes.
  5. Turn off the heat and let the rib roast sit in the oven for 2 hours, making sure you do not open the oven door or else the residual heat will escape.
  6. Once the 2 hours are up, remove the roast from the pan.
  7. Carve the prime rib into ¾-inch (20 mm) slices.
  8. Enjoy!

Notes:

  • This was the main recipe I used but I really just used whatever dried herbs I had, italian seasoning and thyme worked great!
  • I deviated from the recipe by piercing holes into the meat and adding cloves of garlic. How many did I do? Maybe about 15? It’s up to you how much you want to add in!
  • Main recipe inspiration: https://tasty.co/amp/recipe/prime-rib-with-garlic-herb-butter

Recipe: Copycat Zippy’s Chili

If you’re from Hawaii, you love Zippy’s Chili. There’s no if’s, and’s or but’s about it. And if you don’t like Zippy’s Chili, what is wrong with you? Just kidding, sort of. Well, while I love the chili…I certainly don’t love the price tag. It’s pricey at the restaurant and pricey in frozen form at the grocery store.

I found a copycat recipe the other day and decided to try it out during this whole Covid-19 hysteria. I went to Target to shop for some ingredients…and eureka! They had all the ingredients. Well all but one…pinto beans. No pinto beans. I guess in an emergency, people stock up on beans. So what did I find? Garbanzo beans. Uh oh, how will this go? Well let me tell you, it went quite well! Can I say it tastes exactly like Zippy’s, I don’t think so but I can’t pinpoint what is different (maybe because I didn’t have pinto beans). The kids loved the chili and it tastes even better after sitting a day. Mmm…I really enjoyed it and will totally make this again. No need Zippy’s when you can make it at home!

I hope you can make it and let me know how it goes for you! I included pictures of the actual products I used in the recipe, click the linked ingredients for pictures of what I used. I doubled the original recipe which is reflected in the recipe I shared below, feel free to cut it in half to still have a good portion!

Fry up that ground beef! No need oil, it’s plenty greasy.
Remove the ground beef and fry up the onions in the leftover grease
(plenty grease, what did I tell you?)
Tomato sauce and pureed garbanzo beans in the pot!
Beef base, garlic salt, chili powder, the kitchen sink, etc.
Looks like Zippy’s Chili yeah??
That’s a lot of mayo…
I asked IG to guess if this was mayo and sour cream, the winner was sour cream but the winning answer was the losing one! It’s mayo!!!
Gotta have chili with rice!

Copycat Zippy’s Chili Recipe

Ingredients:
2 teaspoons vegetable oil (optional)
2 pounds ground beef (I just buy the one from Costco)
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 (29-ounce) can tomato sauce
2 (15-ounce) cans of low sodium garbanzo beans, pureed, with liquid
2 (16-ounce) cans of light red kidney beans, with liquid
4 teaspoons chili powder
2 tablespoons premium roasted beef base (Better Than Bouillon)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons garlic salt
1 cup mayonnaise

Directions:
In a large pot, break up and fry up ground beef. Remove ground beef, set aside. Fry up onions in leftover oil on medium heat until limp and golden, add the two teaspoons of vegetable oil if there is not enough grease (honestly, there will be).

Transfer beef back to pot along with tomato sauce, pureed garbanzo beans, light red kidney beans, chili powder, beef base, brown sugar and garlic salt. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to medium or medium-low and simmer 15 minutes. Stir in mayonnaise and heat through. Taste and correct seasonings.

Recipe inspired by: Wanda’s Copycat Chili

IPPUDO – Tokyo Disney, Japan

IPPUDO is another famous ramen restaurant in Japan. Well is it? I only say that because I know they have a branch in New York and if that isn’t fancy, I don’t know what is. This brings back wonderful memories because I first had IPPUDO in New York and it was a fantastic meal. We decided to check this place out before our first day in Disney. Have you been to this Ikspiari mall? Their lunch menu is pretty much set so I couldn’t try too many different dishes. A lot of people seemed to have the same idea as us, they ate here before heading out to Disney.

Akamaru Modern | ¥820 (plus tax)
Mentaiko Rice and Gyoza Add-on Set | ¥200 (plus tax)

This picture is a bit misleading, we both got add-on sets and they served both our gyozas on the same serving dish. The ramen, gyoza and rice was good. I still prefer Ichiran, sorry. It would be nice if Ichiran would serve gyoza too but I’ll just eat the ramen if I need to.