Capital Seafood – Los Angeles, CA

Figures my first real meal in Los Angeles would be Chinese food. Not just any Chinese food, dim sum. I think if asked, I would name dim sum as my favorite food. Then again, when I eat dim sum, I order off the regular menu as well (Seafood Chow Mein, y’all!). We ended up at Capital Seafood in Beverly Hills of all neighborhoods. How fancy are we? Not really. We pulled up in our Nissan Sentra and parked on the street, lol.

Not much to explain, it is the same dim sum dishes we can get here in Hawaii. I definitely prefer the dim sum chefs we have here in Hawaii compared to this place. The food was just okay, a bit pricey but considering the neighborhood, I did expect to be helping them pay rent. Good service, good food (good, not great). If you want some Chinese food in a nice setting, this place is it!

Steamed Minced Beef Ball
Shrimp Har Gao
Boiled Beef Tripe
Minced Beef Rice Noodle
Steamed Pork Dumpling

Heavenly Island Lifestyle – Honolulu, HI

Okay, have you folks ever watched Terrace House? I heard about it before but didn’t really start watching it until late last year when I got access to Netflix again (thanks Kyle, lol). I didn’t know where to start so I started on the Hawaii season, out of order I know, but it was kind of neat to watch them go around to local spots. Oh by the way, Terrace House is a reality show much like the Real World, only Japanese so a bit more classy? Haha, is that the word for it? Well, there’s definitely drama up in Terrace House too.

Anyway, Heavenly Island Lifestyle was one of the spots they frequented so I decided to give them a try while I was in Waikiki. The Yelp reviews look great but as I learned in LA, could mean nothing! They seem to focus on healthy and organic foods, so how was it??

Energy Smooth | $7.50

Delicious! This drink includes acai, strawberries, blueberries, banana, and soy milk and it supposed to be good for antioxidant vitamins & good memory. It tastes great so that’s definitely a plus!

Local Eggs Benedict (w/Salmon & Spinach) | $16.00

Homemade hollandaise sauce with lilikoi butter, poached local eggs served with Okinawa purple potato, fresh local salad, and a wheat muffin

Okay, this dish looks too healthy to be good. I get it. Look at the copious amounts of raw kale on the plate. Does one need so much ruffage? Normally I would say no. This time, I must say yes. I usually equate kale as being tough and hard but this kale was so easy to eat. This is the meal I learned about baby kale and boy oh boy, do I love baby kale. The eggs benedict was cooked perfectly as you can see. The kale salad was wonderful with their own dressing. The Okinawan sweet potato was perfection. A little pricey but worth in my opinion.

Heavenly’s Organic Veggie & Beans Loco Moco | $16.50

100% Big Island Kulana beef, local eggs, local ginger soy glaze, and 10 grain rice with local farm green beans, broccoli, organic carrot, organic lentil beans, and organic black beans

Another winner! Not your typical loco moco, no sir. There is no gravy, it is a ginger soy glaze which tastes like comfort home food. Another great dish, I enjoyed it a lot. The veggies was cooked perfectly along with the grains. I enjoyed this new take on loco moco…and Big Island beef? Shoots! I highly recommend this restaurant! They don’t take reservations (for breakfast) and have a bit of a line…but the line moved along pretty quick while I was there.

Bo’s Kitchen – Honolulu, HI

Have you been to Ohana Hale Marketplace yet? I’m still waiting for it to reach it’s full potential! I really hope more vendors jump in and start using that space, it would be like having a craft fair all the time! It’s the perfect venue for new businesses to test the waters, I haven’t had much things to buy the past few visits but they’ve got some pretty cracking food establishments there. The first one I tried is Bo’s Kitchen, I am drawn in by their menu. It’s like Hong Kong street food which we don’t have much of here in Hawaii. I’ve been looking for a restaurant to serve up some good Hainan Chicken and guess who does…

Hainan Chicken

I have wanted to make a homemade Hainan Chicken for years. The chicken you cook is used to infuse almost every element of this dish. You fry up some aromatics in chicken fat to add to the rice as it cooks, you gently poach/cook the whole chicken to get the softest/juiciest meat (even the breast!), use the broth to make a nice little soup to accompany your meal. The sauces for the chicken include a sweet soy sauce, chili sauce and a cold ginger chicken type sauce. Yum.

They do a pretty good job here! I couldn’t eat it right away but it tasted great the next day. I just reheated the rice and kept the chicken cold, didn’t want to overcook it. I would love to return to try their other dishes!

Otoro Hawaii Fusion – Honolulu, HI

When Otoro Hawaii Fusion first opened, I wanted to give it a few months to find it’s footing. I am usually a bit more lenient with new restaurants because I know starting off can be a bit rough. Well, I gotta report the months I waited did not help this restaurant. I think first impressions are everything and my first impressions left a terrible mark. First of all, it’s valet parking. I understand there is not a lot of parking in the area, I also felt bad for the one person valet working that night. I practically parked my own car, and actually retrieved my own car after dinner so…I guess it’s good that it’s free? Still gotta tip the solo worker, he was definitely working hard to get all the other cars parked by himself!

I made my reservations through Open Table and that was great, I wish all restaurants were tapped into an online reservation app. When we arrived in the restaurant, the hostess was a Chinese woman who was noticeably irritated, running around and talking to the other staff in Chinese. Not what I was expecting in a Japanese restaurant, her attitude and demeanor already turned me off from the get go. All the wait staff were conversing in Chinese (don’t get me wrong, I’m Chinese) but their conversations didn’t exactly come off positive which decreases the dining experience.

With the word Otoro in the restaurant name, you’re expecting pretty high-end food and service…
Salmon Skin Salad | $6.50

I kind of expected there to be some lettuce with this salad, like at other restaurants. This tasted okay but would have benefitted with some greens.
Yakitori | $7.00
Tamago | $5.00

Not the dashimaki kind, it’s the sweet omelette
Spicy Tuna Roll | $10.00
Wagyu Beef Fried Rice | $28.00

Let me tell you. Their most popular dishes are their flambe dishes, they bring the dish to your table and light it on fire in front of you. Doesn’t sound scary or dangerous at all, haha. Anyway, they had a wagyu flambe dish but it cost $45 for 2 OUNCES OF MEAT. It’s not A5 meat, so why does it cost $45 for 2 ounces? We didn’t go for it obviously and settled for this fried rice. Well…disappointing too! Most of the “meat” was like the fatty pieces and there was almost no flavor (salt) in this dish. Do not get it.
Otoro Sashimi | $50 (!!!!!!!!!!)

Yes, we ordered otoro. We have ordered otoro from various restaurants and never have we paid SO MUCH for such disappointing quality. Stringy and stingy with the portion. The last bite of the otoro included a bone. COME ON GUYS, GET IT TOGETHER. Especially if this is your namesake and you charge so much. We actually asked the waiter how many slices came in this order and he said 5-6. We got four slices so naturally we asked what happened. He went to ask the sushi bar and came back and apologized that he gave us the wrong answer. All around disappointment.

In the end, I definitely do not recommend this restaurant. They were having a special, if you spent $100 – they gave you a $20 gift card. Wow, that’s pretty nice but we gave that gift card away. Yeah, not worth it.

Ikea – Burbank, CA

Ikea. This store has been a dream of mine to visit for years. We drove out to Burbank to visit this location and I am glad we did. It is a huge store and the street is named after them! I wish I lived in California, I would have bought so much stuff. Not to say I didn’t anyway, I made room for it in my suitcase. I still am holding up hope for it to come to Hawaii one day. Not sure why the this place has such low ratings on Yelp. It’s a nice big store although I’m not a fan of the layout, I guess it’s their way of making you walk through the ENTIRE store. It was a bit of a nightmare for me since I was so unfamiliar with this store, I kept getting lost.

Anyway, my main reason for the visit was also to try the meatballs! Food related, who would have thunk it.

Swedish Meatballs Complete Meal!

I love meatballs, so it doesn’t take much to impress me. I enjoyed it a lot! The gravy was great and the lingonberry jam too! Didn’t need the vegetables or mashed potatoes…give me a big plate of the meatballs and jam and gravy and that would be great. Well, as an Asian give me some rice too, thanks. Something else caught my eye as I lined up…you can see a corner of it in the picture above…

Chocolate Cake

I mean, look at that piece of cake. It’s everything you hope and dream of. It’s like that chocolate cake from Matilda. Mmm yum. I don’t think I need to say much more, just look at it. It looks as it tastes, gooey, moist and delicious. Ikea. Boom.

Ramen Hood – Los Angeles, CA

Ramen Hood is a 100% vegan ramen noodle shop. It is located in the Grand Central Market, which is home to a horde of food shops and fresh markets. Compare it to the Maunakea Marketplace only bigger and possibly cleaner? Anyhow, I tried to plan it perfectly. We would first check out The Broad museum and then grab our brunch/lunch from here. Okay, it kind of worked out. We had to pay for $15 parking for 3 hours of parking at The Broad but the museum took a minimum 1.5 hours to get through. We get to the Market and it is PACKED with people.

I wanted to try two places, Ramen Hood and Eggslut. Eggslut’s line practically wrapped around the market, it was a no go. Ramen Hood was busy too but we were able to order take out. I actually didn’t realize it was a vegan place until I got there…then I got excited, especially about the egg! And let me just say, $2.00 for half an egg…I hope it’s worth it. Let’s check out the food…

Garlic Ramen | $10 (+$2/egg)
Spicy Ramen | $10 (+$2/egg)

Sorry I didn’t get a picture of both bowls with their broths! The broths are great, seriously. Even though there is no meat, there is so much flavor and depth in the broths. A nice kick of umami. We actually drove to Ikea and awkwardly ate this in our rental car in their parking lot, lol. I was also saving my appetite for the Ikea cafeteria so I didn’t finish the bowl of noodles.

If we had more time, we would have eaten it at their bar. That’s the thing about this shop, it isn’t really a sit-down restaurant and they basically have a bar to eat at. So the big question in all your minds, how was the egg? I am coming from a very open and vegan loving place, and with that caveat, I bet you know where I’m heading. I DIDN’T LIKE IT. I really admire their try at a real egg, doesn’t it look realistic? I think the egg white is formed with agar agar and it just…I don’t know, I guess I’m expecting an egg texture and didn’t get it so it just felt odd. Glad I tried it just to know…would I order it again with the egg? Probably not.

Other than that, the ramen is great. Give it a try! And $10 a bowl? What a deal!

Boteaga – Los Angeles, CA

Oh yes, a trip to Los Angeles. Believe it or not, it was my first time to Los Angeles ever. Sure, I’ve been through LAX for connections but never to Los Angeles. It was a last minute booking, limited research and no expectations. I’m glad I went in with no expectations because I had a wonderful time there.

I’ve been through some pretty interesting times in the past few months…including the crashing of my laptop. I was able to restart it but then I lost everything and that certainly puts a cramper on spending time to blog. Some of my entries are long and it takes a bit out of me…so maybe I can try to update with smaller posts. This one is real quick, check out the drink I got from Boteaga:

Pinky Strawberry | $6.00

Isn’t this drink beautiful? I can’t say the motivation for the photograph wasn’t high on my list. How was the drink? Eh….the pink boba balls were much too hard to chew. Other than that, it’s really just a strawberry milk and I am lactose intolerant so I didn’t do myself any favors. Very cute shop located in Japantown Los Angeles. Even the actual cups are cute! But I wouldn’t recommend it.

Tim Ho Wan – Waikiki, HI

I like to think that when I try new restaurants, I can let you folks know if it’s good or not to save you time. Well, let me save you some time. I don’t think Tim Ho Wan is worth it. There’s a bit of hullabaloo because they are a Michelin-star restaurant. Does that apply to all their chain restaurants too? Not too sure…when I visited Hong Kong in December 2017, I got to try them for the first time: click here for that post. They pride themselves on being the most affordable michelin-star dining experience, I don’t think that translates too well in Hawaii. I’m sure the rent they pay here is high, I personally don’t think the dim sum is that great. You can get better in Chinatown. And guess what? Hot tea, it costs $1.50 PER HEAD. When is the last time you heard a Chinese restaurant charging for hot tea? I was a bit perturbed by that. Well, let’s get to the pictures!

A nice pictorial of some menu items (actually this is almost all the menu items)

Full Menu – You mark off what items you want (click on the picture for full size photo)

Steamed Rice with Pork Spare Rib and Chicken Feet • $5.25

Would the description be better described as Steamed Rice with Pork Spare Ribs and Chicken FOOT? Haha, yes, just one foot. I do actually eat chicken feet dim sum…but restaurants usually cut the nails off. That’s a bit off-putting. This dish was just okay, I was hoping for a deeper black bean flavor on the spare ribs – just a real basic bowl.

Steamed Shrimp Dumplings (Har Gow) • $5.25

Again, another basic dish. I thought it was good, but not $5.25 good. They have a nice skin (pi) for their dumplings though.

Steamed Pork Dumplings with Shrimp (Siu Mai) • $5.25

Okay, I didn’t realize it when I was dining there but it’s looking like each dish is at least $5 each. This was just alright, once again, I prefer the siu mai in our Chinatown restaurants. I feel like the good restaurants in Chinatown have perfected the recipe with juicy morsels of the pork, shrimp, mushrooms that are chunked so I can savor each ingredients with each bite. This one just mixes everything a little too well…with each bite becoming a bit non-descript in textures.

Steamed Shrimp and Chives Dumplings • $5.00

This was one of the better dishes, I really enjoy the skin they make for their dim sum. Look at how translucent that skin is! Perfectly soft, almost melt in your mouth kine skin, I would recommend this dish.

Steamed Rice Roll stuffed with Mince Beef • $5.50

Another dish that was average but not bad. Once again, they make some really soft noodles and so it was enjoyable but not memorable.

Baked BBQ Pork Buns • $5.75

I confess, I’m not a big bao person. Not a fan of char siu bao and if I am, it’s definitely baked over steamed. These buns are supposed to be one of their specialties and I can see why. None of my dining companions wanted to eat it (man, baos get a bad rap huh?). I just had to try the buns so I had to order it…and had to eat it all. Well, it was pretty good! The buns are so light and crispy and flaky, which was messy to eat but so nice to eat fresh. The filling is very saucy and a bit sweet, I think I enjoyed the flakiness of the bun coupled with the saucy char siu. I definitely recommend at least trying this if you’re at Tim Ho Wan!

Gochi Grill – Honolulu, Hawaii

Hey folks! Sorry for the unannounced and unexpected blog break, I guess I just needed a bit of time to relax. So…these food posts are a few weeks old! Although Gochi Grill is still considered a new restaurant! I was coordinating a quick order and I kept calling this a Korean restaurant. I don’t know why! It’s not. It’s more of a fusion Japanese/local plate lunch joint. I guess Gochi reminds me a bit of a Korean word and got mixed up from there. I think Gochi Grill is like a more high-end lunch plate. Things may have changed since I’ve written this…their take-out containers are NICE. Like, take home and wash it to reuse kine nice. They are located in downtown so there is absolutely no parking, I did a drive-by pick-up with a friend. They were apparently very busy…and while they have a phone number, they don’t answer it nor do they take lunch orders. Ha! Just like Tsukenjo, phone number that doesn’t work. If you find yourself in downtown, give them a try! They really put a lot of little touches in to make it delicious.

Gochi Lunch Set • $13.50
grilled chicken teriyaki with ginger scallion, yuzu miso salmon, okahara fried noodles, tofu salad and sushi

This lunch set wasn’t mine, but sounds ono yeah? Well, I’ve heard from two different people that the salmon is kind of mushy. I don’t know how to feel about that….better than dry? And they never got sick…so maybe that’s good?

Chicken Katsu • $10.50
brined chicken thighs, cocktail katsu sauce, shaved cabbage, rice and mac salad

Seared Meatloaf • $10.50
slow roasted and seared, with a truffle mushroom gravy, croquette, wilted kale, rice and mac salad

I had to get this. Meatloaf is totally my feel good plate lunch, and how can you go wrong with this description? The meat loaf tasted great, didn’t get too much truffle taste but I enjoyed it anyway. Their mac salad is good, not too mayonnaise-y and they add a nice tsukemono-ish veggie crunch to it. I would get this again.

Zaru Saimin • $7.00
fresh okahara saimin, cold truffled tsuyu, choi sum, hard boiled egg (no gray ring, yes!), tsukemono, green onion

Another dish I tried, I was in a truffle mood and wanted to give this a try. How was it? Well, I could taste the truffle in the dressing. Was it good? Eh…it was just okay. Tasted good but nothing memorable, I wouldn’t get this again.

 

Daiki Suisan Dotonbori – Osaka, Japan

I spent an entire day in Dotonbori. It was a lot. It was a lot of shopping and a lot of eating. And it’s hard because you want to try everything before you leave. What was Daiki Suisan Dotonbori? This was technically lunch but it was eaten VERY VERY close to dinner, but I tried my very best to eat to my full happiness at both meals. But if I had a choice? I would totally come back to this place to eat more next time! Good quality sushi for crazy low prices? Gosh, I could grind all day. I don’t have any prices for you folks…just pictures this time.

I don’t care if my mouth was going to swell up 10 times it’s size, I had to eat this. This was like $1 USD, seriously. I should have gotten more!

This is like a double crab sushi. Crab miso with crab meat. Looks appetizing right? Okay, no it doesn’t. It didn’t taste that great either. I wouldn’t recommend this one.

I’m a sucker for tuna mayo sushi. A little too heavy handed on the mayo, and it’s the same price as the raw shrimp?? What was I thinking getting this??

Had a craving for unagi which is odd since I never do…but it was good! I’m glad I got it.

I’m not even a huge fan of uni but I just had to get it because it was so cheap. Oh, and for the picture! It was actually pretty good…

Look, if you know me, this choice should be of no surprise. Ya, I got a hamburger sushi okay. Hahaha, I was just curious how it would taste…I know this is for kids. And guess what? Was good! And yes, once again, same price as the raw shrimp! I still have no regrets!

Just gonna end the post with two pictures of Dotonbori…here is the famous Glico sign. It’s too bad it wasn’t lit up…

Dotonbori at night! I was so baus tired by this time…if you look to the left, you’ll see the big Don Quijote Ferris Wheel. This Don Quijote is made for omiyage, I got choke snacks from there to bring home.