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.

ZIGU – Honolulu, HI

Zigu is a brand spanking new Japanese restaurant. I found it on a Twitter post and didn’t realize I came to check them out before they were even listed as “Hot and New” on Yelp. Huh?? I like trying new restaurants but not usually before some solid and legit reviews come online. It’s okay, I was able to make a reservation on Open Table and the food pictures looked pretty good. So I’ll share right now, this restaurant is good. Pricey, but good. Definitely worth it. They even validate parking at Hyatt Centric. So what’s Zigu’s deal? Well, they try to find as much locally sourced ingredients as possible to serve up their Japanese dishes. A confession, I’ve been there twice in one month. Yah, was that good. But I’m a bit Zigu’ed out for now. My first outing, they seated me at the counter in front of the chefs. I was upset at first, I’m not a counter type of girl and I’m not real chatty…and feel a bit insecure being watched by the chefs. But I warmed up to the counter because I got to watch the masters at work and got to see how other dishes looked! The menu is currently not very visual so it’s hard to decide on dishes since I like to see the visual first. Let’s take a look…

Shochu Mojito • $11.00
Mari’s garden shiso, fresh lime, strawberry, blueberry, shochu

This is an awesome drink, sounds as refreshing as it is described. I loved it! I loved the addition of fresh fruit, the only bit of disappointment? There is a shiso leaf but it’s just sitting in the drink. I wonder if the drink could be improved if the shiso was muddled into the drink…hmm, I should become a bartender, j/k!

Local Ahi and Kona Kanpachi Poke Sushi • $12.00
sea asparagus, seaweed, yuzu pepper

How’s the look of these guys? I mean worth the price just looking at them right? Okay, just kidding, but they were delicious. I had the honor watching the sushi chef carefully put them together. You take the nori and fold over the ahi to make like a sushi sandwich to eat it. Just smash the lotus chip onto the ahi before you do that, it’s awesome. I was afraid the lotus chip would be too hard and crunchy. No, it’s light and crispy. Absolutely delicious.

Local Farm Egg Dashimaki Rolled Omelette • $7.00

Anytime you can get me a dashimaki egg, I will be your forever friend. Oh wait, did a bunch of people run away? It’s okay, I can just order this on my own. Love it. I’m not a fan of the local sweet omelette, I’m more of a savory fan myself. Delish!

Grated Local Daikon and Ponzu Diced Beef Steak • $26.00

Okay guys, I know what you’re thinking. $26 bucks for that? It doesn’t look like much does it? Well it is much, thank you very much. Usually when I’m served diced steak on one of these hot plates, I know I’m in for some hard core chewing. Not this time. Every piece of this steak was super tender and delicious. Even the pieces at the end that were sitting on the hot grill for how long…loved the daikon and shiso leaf on top. I would definitely recommend this dish!

Grilled Saikyo Miso Salmon • $19.00

Not much entree but I can ensure it was highly enjoyed, and take a look at that salmon. Always a risk to order fish in restaurants but they cooked it nicely, not dry!

Cold Udon Noodle with Local Cilantro and Chicken • $15.00

Oh man, I was super looking forward to this dish. They make their noodles in house, with kale! Oh hello, gotta get noodles, I’m crazy for noodles. I am also a fiend for fresh cilantro. I never thought I would ever say this…but there was too much cilantro on this. I can’t believe I said that. I think they give you a full bunch of cilantro on this dish…hmm…may that’s where my $15 went. A nice light dressing, chicken, avocado, cilantro…was delicious.

Local Basil Pesto Udon Noodle with Watercress • $13.00

Your eyes are not deceiving you. And no, we did not already eat half of this dish when I took this picture. That’s all you get when you get this dish. Bummers to share this brah cause the portion is kind of small ah? The pesto sauce tasted good, liked the nice chew of the noodles and the crunch of the raw watercress. Worth a try but beware of the serving size…

Chicken Teriyaki with Local Vegetables • $18.00
sauteed kale, fried purple sweet potato

Okay, I never ate this dish but I figured out at the end that I should have been taking pictures of the entrees as they had it ready! Gosh! Why did I think of it so late?? Would have loved to grab some quick shots for you folks. I’m not one that ever orders teriyaki anything…but the way the chef prepared it looked so dang ono. I certainly wouldn’t mind trying it on a next visit!

 

Kani Doraku – Osaka, Japan

Okay, I have to be honest here. This post won’t be very detailed because I don’t remember a lot of details but took a picture of each dish. Kani Doraku is the famous crab restaurant you see all over Japan, you’ll recognize the big huge crab on their restaurant buildings like the one below. We both ordered our own sets but I realized soon after that I don’t think we needed to, I’m pretty sure I saw other girls share a set. Man! Honestly, we ate our way through Dotonbori all day so I was not hungry for dinner here. What a waste! If you make it a day at Dotonbori and would like to end with dinner at Kani Doraku, I highly suggest stopping at the restaurant to make your reservation as early as you can, they fill up EARLY.

Well, I learned of a new allergy this trip. I cannot eat raw crab. 🙁 Itchy throat. Or was it not properly cleaned? Hmm…

Nabe before and after. It was a fail in making the hot pot look nice for the picture, I am not a food stylist.

This was an interesting preparation, it was like a tomato/marinara type sauce. It even came with pieces of crusty bread and I just wanted to eat it all. Yes, I wasted stomach space for bread dipped in tomato sauce. I’m crazy.

Ugh, we were so full by the time this was brought out. This is done at the end. WHY OH WHY do they always save delish rice dishes for the end? Sigh…

I ate the fresh fruit, was good. The vanilla ice cream with the green tea/sauce looked great, I didn’t have any but I was told it is good!

The Social Honolulu Eatery & Bar – Honolulu, HI

I have been wanting to try The Social Honolulu Eatery & Bar for a while now. I have this thing about trying uni pasta at various restaurants, I don’t know what the deal is because when I eat it…I don’t even love it. I just want to love it so I always try it. Also, like I mentioned in a previous post, I’m not big on bars but we came here so early that we were one of the only customers in the place. The waiter was good because he was super chill and not in our face about anything. Here is what we had!

Maui Mule • $10.00

pau maui vodka, passion fruit puree and ginger beer

This was my drink and it was gooood. I love myself a good mule drink, Maui style? I’m there.

Truffle Parmesan Fries (Happy Hour) • $7.00

fries tossed in truffle oil, parmesan cheese and house seasoning

Oh yum. These fries were great, anything tossed in truffle oil is good in my book. I really enjoyed this.

Fried Calamari • $7.00

crispy fried calamari sticks served with cocktail sauce

Okay, we over-ordered. By this point, I wanted to save room for my pasta. What you see is right, little baby calamari served up on skewers. Was good! Just shouldn’t have gotten two appetizers…

Fried Pork Chops • $18.00

breaded and deep fried pork shops topped with sauteed mushrooms and onions

Not my dish but it seemed to be enjoyed!

Uni Mentaiko Pasta • $16.00

our signature pasta made with spaghetti, uni, and mentaiko cream sauce topped with ikura and kizami nori

This was a good pasta! I love both uni and mentaiko….and the ikura was a nice touch! Can’t really taste the uni, it’s mostly melted into the sauce. I enjoyed it but I think as an entree, it’s just too rich on it’s own. Maybe it’s a good entree to order and share….order a protein on the side to share too…something to vary things up!

Chingu – Honolulu, HI

I’m not big on the bar scene, but it’s hard to resist some bars because they seem to serve up some of the most delicious looking grub! I went to two bars in May, that’s pretty big for me. But not to worry, I am not a bar fly by any means…we have gone when they open at 5. We have literally been the only customers in the bar and we basically eat the food…haha. Probably their worst type of customer, but hey, we’re still paying customers! The first bar I’m going to feature is Chingu, brand new place that serves up some delicious Korean food and soju concoctions! There was a bit of confusion when we walked in, a bunch of workers who seemed to point to the table right next to the bar…but now that I reflect back, I think they were saying we could sit anywhere. I would have totally sat in the corner if I had known that….not smack dab in the middle fronting their area. *facepalm*

Chingu = friend

Fresh Fruit Cocktail Soju (Strawberry Lemonade) • $20.00

Big portion! And yes, the soju is not weak in this drink so it’s a pretty good price. I know $20 sounds like a lot but you’re getting a lot of drink for it. At first, I enjoyed the lemon and strawberry pulp in the drink…signals the freshness. After a while, I wanted a non-chunky drink…haha.

Kalbi • $23.00

48 hour marinated/flame grilled

Hmm…didn’t realize we paid $23 for this. Could I tell this dish was 48 hour marinated? Is that even a difficult step to do? I think the kalbi was good, but it’s the same taste and quality you get from any Korean food joint.

Dukk Bokki • $15.00

Udon/Fried Eggs/Fish Cakes

Hmmm…this dish was pretty good! The sauce was a bit spicy but also sweet. I liked the fried eggs on top and the large pieces of fish cake. Biggest complaint? The udon noodles! The noodles were completely broken and they could have given more noodles, I mean aren’t the udon noodles the cheapest part of the dish?

Chicken n Cheese • $22.00

Thai Gochujang Glaze/Mozzarella Cheese

This is the dish that I wanted to come here for. If you go to their Yelp page, it’s like picture after picture of this dish. Koreans have an obsession with cheese in their dishes and I just really really really wanted to dip some of this spicy chicken into the velvety cheese. They bring this dish out on a metal cooking plate on a butane portable stove.

That’s the shot I was waiting for! The cheese melted and ready to eat. I guess this is like a form of fondue huh? This dish was good! But definitely great fresh…we couldn’t finish the food so I got to eat this as leftovers at home. Well the cheese did not melt that great the second time around. The service was good and the manager came around to talk to every customer, he was very nice. He mentioned that it’s best to come with 4-6 folks because the food and drink portions are best shared! He’s right. So I got here right when they opened and they have space for 3 stalls in front of their restaurant. When I finished, some person parked right butt up against my car. It was rude, I don’t know how he/she got out of his car…both driver side doors were blocked by each other! I had to climb into my car through the passenger side…it was a great sight to see with my skirt! Sorry for the free show Kapiolani Boulevard!

 

Update: Current Hobby

Hey folks! This past week has been a doozy, in a good way! My office has been a complete and utter mess, the past few years, I’ve had the “excuse” of being in grad school to avoid cleaning. Well, it’s been a year since I graduated and I finally found the motivation to clean. It really did feel cathartic. There are some things that I’ve held onto for sentimental reasons, I decided to let go of some for my sanity! I cleared out at least 3 garbage bags and my office now looks great. I had at least two people mention they didn’t know I had two chairs in my office, that is pretty bad. I’ll have to try to keep it up, wish me luck!

Also within the last week, I started to build miniatures. I’ve always liked doing crafts and projects by hand so this was a natural progression. For those who know me well, know that I absolutely love miniatures. I’ve been watching tutorials on YouTube and decided to take the leap…buying all the supplies I need to start-up. If you’re looking for a starting point, please allow me to recommend The Square to Spare, she is awesome and gives great tutorials along with what materials to buy. I don’t know where I would be without her channel. The room divider I made below is based on this video. So anyway, no food today…just some pieces I made thus far…

First attempt! The cutting board with knife. The cutting board was from this tutorial. The knife, I carved out myself using wooden coffee stirrers.

Progress on the room divider. I messed it up but I messed up consistently so it turned out okay. I learned a lot of lessons doing this piece…

I’ve never done well with measuring and exact dimensions, I’m going to have to learn to be! I drew this cherry blossom tree free hand! Not the prettiest but I am still proud…

There are uneven pieces here, I learned the hard way that wooden coffee stirrers are not all the same size and shape…haha.

Dollhouse hinges! Yes! This divider can be opened and closed! Yay!

Can you tell what this one is? This was done on my own, no tutorials.

It’s inspired by those big floor lantern lights! Custom art by Jenny. Well, I printed out templates to trace onto parchment paper…still wasn’t super easy but so worth it. Koi fish, turtles and lotus flowers. I made this as a gift for my friend, I really hope he likes it.

Izakaya Danji – Honolulu, HI

A new izakaya on the scene? I’m there. I’m a sucker for izakayas and Izakaya Danji is the newest one! The ratings on Yelp so far, quite mixed. We decided to give them a try anyway! We went in on Saturday night, right after they opened. I did call in to ask for a reservation and the waiter basically said, no need because they had a lot of tables open. Yes, yes they did. Some Yelp reviews state junk service and slow food service, well I experienced none of that! Great service and the food came out pretty quick!

Smashed Cucumber • $3.50

We’ve been really into smashed cucumbers lately and love that we find it in almost all the izakayas. How was the one here? Thumbs down. Absolutely no flavor. They seriously just smashed a few pieces of cucumber, dusted it with sesame seed powder and added a dollop of gochujjang on the side. No thank you. In fact, this flavorless dish inspired me to make my own smashed cucumbers the day after. I made a pretty good go at it, will probably post a recipe up when I perfect it. 🙂

Assorted Sashimi • $20.00

Another bummer of a dish! And for $20, I expected more. I mean…where’s the salmon?? Ahi, hamachi, hirame, katsuo (bonito), and fresh tako from Japan. The sashimi pieces were just okay, nothing to wow about. Wouldn’t order this again.

Corn • $4.25

Okay, this was one of my favorite dishes. Yes, corn. I liked that they sliced it off the cob…this corn is cooked on the grill and slathered in a nice teriyaki type sauce. Loved the smokiness from the grill and the sweetness from the sauce, it was a nice balance. You still technically have to eat this corn off the cob, but in a more dainty manner and with your chopsticks. I would order this again!

Seafood Bowl (Sesame Soy Sauce) • $14.50

Another bummer. Why? It’s basically the same fish as the assorted sashimi, plus a few pieces of cooked fish here and there. Not a fan of the pieces of fish, but the rice and the sauce was good. Would order again if I knew what types of fish were in for that day.

Kakuni (Japanese Style Pork Stew) • $11.25

Droolll…look when is this dish ever wrong? Oh wait, it can go wrong. If they don’t cook the pork down enough, the meat isn’t tender enough. The first two pieces were plenty tender, the last piece wasn’t. Now that I see the price tag again for the dish, I wouldn’t recommend it. Also wish the dish came with a little bit of rice for all that sauce….

Chicken Wings (Salt and Pepper) • $5.99

Hands down another favorite of the night. They do a great job seasoning and frying up these wings. It’s too bad this dish was near the end, I would have liked it earlier so I could have saved room in my tummy for another order. Heh.

Salmon Fried Rice (Special of the Day) • $9.95 (?)

This dish wasn’t mine but it was highly enjoyed – so if you see it on the specials for the day, get it!

Tan Tan Udon (Szechuan Sesame Soup Udon) • $10.25

Okay, my dish! So, I had two things that affected me and this dish. Firstly, the picture in the menu is hard to see so I thought this udon dish was sauced, versus served in soup. That was a bit of a surprise…though the title says soup so I guess it’s my fault. Also, this dish comes with a level 1 to 5 spice. I chose 3 to be safe, well 3 might as well be called mild. My friend tried some soup and he can’t even handle spice and felt this dish was mild. LEVEL THREE. I guess if I get this dish again, I would ask for level 5, but I’ll bet it will be weak sauce. I should ask for a level 10…

So what did I think of the restaurant? Well, it was okay. It wasn’t great nor was it bad. The food wasn’t anything special so I think I will still stick to my usual izakayas. Don’t just take my word for it, try it yourself! By the way, the parking lot attached to this restaurant is open for customer parking even though the sign says clinic parking only – I checked with the waiter.

Ginger & Garlic – Chinatown, HI

Formerly Gold Fortune, Ginger & Garlic is now under new management and still serving up some good dim sum! And if you get the chance, spot out the guy with the majestic long hair. He’s almost like a unicorn to me, you don’t see much Chinese dudes with long wavy hair. He seems to take on different roles, I wonder if he’s an owner? Please enlighten me if you do know!

Seafood Bundle in Bead Curd • $4.95

One of my absolute favorite dim sum dishes. The bean curd wrapping is soft and holds together succulent morsels of seafood and a shiitake mushroom. I recommend this dish!

Shrimp Dumpling with Chives • $3.45

I like this dish, it’s not a must have for me but I like the thin skin of the dumpling and the shrimp and chives complement each other so well.

Shrimp Dumpling • $3.45

A staple in dim sum dining! It’s good here, not great.

Siu Mai • $3.45

This is my all time favorite dim sum dish. Nothing like the local kine (from da manapua man) – this is the real thing. I love it and they do it great here.

Seafood Chow Mein • $10.95

I have a soft spot for Seafood Chow Mein, not sure why. I think it stems from the Chinese parties I attended as a child, this was always a dish served to show wealth I’m sure. Every restaurant serves it up differently but I always enjoy it. While the crispy noodles are good, I actually like it when the noodles get soft under the gravy. Mmm…now I’m craving dim sum again…