Romano’s Macaroni Grill, Honolulu, HI

My first visit to Romano’s Macaroni Grill was years ago when they were a fairly new restaurant. I didn’t have a great experience so I haven’t returned for all these years. Well, I had a recent visit and was pleasantly surprised by my experience. Maybe it’s because I’m older now but I enjoyed the food and thought their menu was of pretty good value! I’m looking forward to my next visit.

White Peach Sangria | $9.75
romano’s bianco white wine, peach puree, sparkling white wine

Good drink! Not great but not bad, worth another order!

Spicy Ricotta Meatballs | $10.00
house-made beef, veal, pork + ricotta meatballs, caramelized onions, red chile, arrabbiata.

One of my few complaints? No complimentary bread! You can order bread but shoot, why would I want to do that?? Man some nice crusty bread would have been great with these meatballs, they were delish!

Lobster Ravioli | $24.95
lobster-filled fresh pasta, roma tomatoes, asparagus, lemon butter, shrimp
Shrimp Scampi | $24.95
sauteed jumbo shrimp, capellini, garlic, rosemary butter, roma tomatoes

Can’t comment too much on the lobster ravioli since this shrimp scampi was mine. How was it? How can you go wrong with copious amounts of garlic, butter, cheese and shrimp? It was delicious. Very rich. I don’t do so hot with rich foods anymore but am willing to risk it!

New York Style Cheesecake | $8.95
shortbread crust, fresh strawberries
Lemon Passion | $7.95
citrus cake, lemon curd, whipped cream

My dessert! I loved this dish. Looks super rich but the citrus really cuts through the richness. And when they say citrus cake, they mean it. The cake is like sopping wet, lol. It’s okay, I don’t mind an (extremely) moist cake. Love lemon curd, love the caramel sauce surrounding the cake. I would definitely order this again!

Arancino at the Kahala – Kahala, HI

I got treated to a wonderful lunch course at Arancino for my birthday. A belated birthday celebration and it was very nice, a bit awkward when they brought out the birthday dessert (my birthday was in August, lol) but it was nice that they asked if we were celebrating anything! I think the lunch course is a pretty good deal, I heard dinner is pretty pricey. Well, you are paying for their rent at a high end hotel! If you want to try them for dinner, you should try their other locations. Let’s take a look at their lunch course though!

Fresco Hawaiiano | $6.00
hawaiian pineapple juice, blood orange, soda

What a wonderful and refreshing drink. I don’t care much for alcohol in general so I appreciate a good variety in non-alcoholic drinks.

Complimentary Bread

Rosemary bread! Isn’t it the cutest? They serve you olive oil with the bread but you can ask for balsamic vinegar and even butter, free of charge!

Bagna Cauda | $17.00
fresh vegetable crudites, warm anchovy garlic dip

Well, doesn’t this look…appetizing? LOL, where do I begin? The anchovy garlic dip is warmed by a tea light candle. The veggies are delicious, anything dipped in garlic is good. So the “soil” is not edible, I don’t know why I was hoping it was like sauteed mushrooms or something. It’s just…rocks.

Tartare di Mare | $21.00
fresh ahi, kona kampachi, avocado tartare, tobiko

Okay, I’m a little silly. We had a wonderful server by the way, he was very nice and respectful and attentive! I had to giggle to myself when he described the dish…at the avocado tartare part. I mean, I guess to me avocado is always tartare. This was a delicious appetizer! I would get it again.

Spaghetti con Tobiko e Calamari | $22.00
flying fish roe, calamari, garlic olive oil sauce

They are known for their uni pasta and I actually usually get it. Unfortunately, uni pasta can be quite rich and my tummy can’t take it well anymore. If you get the uni pasta as part of the three course meal, you have to add $8.00.

So how was this dish? It was good! The calamari was nice and soft and I loved crunching on the black tobiko. I enjoyed it!

Pizza Funghi e Tartufo | $27.00
eryngii, shimeji, maitake, mozzarella, gorgonzola, marscapone, parmigiano reggiano, white truffle oil

Okay, I know I should have enjoyed this. This is a seasonal pizza and includes so much mushrooms and cheeses! For me, it was lacking a little something. Possibly spice? Just very bland to me and I could hardly taste the truffle oil. They do offer red pepper flakes if you want it…

Bonet | $12.00
chocolate & amaretti custard, caramel, amaretto disaronno, house made whipped cream

Isn’t this dessert beautiful? Well it tasted great too! Sinfully rich and chocolate-ly, you can’t go wrong. I would recommend this dessert!

Complimentary Birthday Dessert

The secret’s out, my name really is Jenny, not just maybe. Ah well, I’ll keep this domain anyway. Isn’t this the cutest? Thankfully they bring it out but don’t make all their staff members sing to you. Whew. I didn’t realize they sprinkle silver flakes all over the plate and I went a little overzealous blowing out the candle. My apologies for the mess.

I don’t know the name of this dessert but it was a very nice meringue/baked baked alaskan pie type dessert. There was a nice chocolate cake within the meringue. Delish!

Do you see all the prices with the dishes? That’s ala carte prices, these dishes are actually included as part of a three course special lunch (appetizer, entree, dessert) for $43 each person. That’s a good deal considering the prices of these dishes individually!

Max’s of Manila – Kalihi, HI

Knock, knock…is anyone still here? I took quite a long and unannounced sabbatical. October is probably my busiest month and this time, it dipped deep into November. This is the first weekend where I haven’t been stressed about the upcoming week. That may have to do with the three day work week coming up, yay!

Updates? I got a new laptop! Yay! I have a trip planned for December, yay! And yes, I did not stop eating during my sabbatical. Here is a recent meal I had at Max’s of Manila by Costco. I have been to Max’s once, years ago. I didn’t come into this restaurant with high hopes but left feeling pretty good! The reviews on yelp cite bad service, we had very good service so I will not echo those sentiments. On to the food!

Pancit Palabok | $10.50
thick rice noodles in a delicious shrimp, squid and ground pork sauce, garnished with garlic bits, ground pork cracklings, green onions and sliced hard boiled egg.

I enjoyed the dish, it wasn’t great but it definitely wasn’t bad! My dining companion didn’t like it so I got to eat most of it. Hahaha! I will say I’ve tried it here and at Jollibee’s but I like it better here.

Garlic Rice | $4.25 (small)
jasmine rice deliciously stir fried in golden garlic bits

You read that right. This is the small order of garlic rice. How was it? Well, kind of bland. I think I could have gotten white rice and been okay.

Kare-Kare (Beef Peanut Stew) | $15.50
beef shank and oxtail with vegetables simmered in thick peanut sauce, served with shrimp paste on the side.
Shrimp paste with the Kare-Kare – I love it!

Yet another dish my companion did not enjoy but I did! I enjoyed the oxtail with the peanut-ty sauce and the shrimp paste, oh boy, that really adds a nice umami kick. I enjoyed it!

Max’s Fried Chicken (Half) | $9.75

Their famous fried chicken. Was it good? Well…the skin is certainly nice and crispy. The meat inside? Well, kind of dry and blah. I rather eat Popeye’s fried chicken, sorry! Don’t hurt me!

Mixed Plate

What is she up to now?

The finished product looks a bit blah huh? So here’s what I did. I wanted to make one pan of brownies with half regular fudge brownies and half fudge brownies with oreos. So I cut a piece of cardboard and wrapped it with foil while I poured the batter with oreo in, held the cardboard in place as I poured the regular batter in. Then, I just lifted the board out and baked it! The batter is thick enough that it won’t mix into one another…and even if it did…it’s all brownie batter!

I made it for a student training and they ate it all so I’m guessing it was good! Glad it worked!

You’ve heard about the craze. Plant based burgers all over the place. A bit late in posting this but I tried this a few weeks ago. It was good! It tastes just like a whopper, I can’t taste the difference. But honestly, if you think about it, a whopper tastes more like the veggies (onion, tomato, pickles, lettuce) than anything else.

A video blogger did a video about the impossible burger and she asked her location if they fry it on the same grill as the meat burgers and they said they do. WELL, OF COURSE THE IMPOSSIBLE BURGERS WILL TASTE GOOD THEN. Don’t you agree? Would I order it again? Sure! I like these meat alternatives!

Waioli Grill & Cafe – Kapahulu, HI

When I first saw posts and pictures of Waioli Grill & Cafe, I got super excited! Their menu looked pretty good and I was excited to try a brand new restaurant, Hawaiian sounding name but it’s actually a Japanese owned (I think?) restaurant. I got super excited to try the Bone Marrow Bi Bim Bap…how was it? Well…

US Prime Boneless Short Rib (3.5 oz) | $14.00

Hey guys, this was $14.00. Why don’t I just go to Yummy’s Korean BBQ and get like triple the amount of food. Not worth it. This dish also took the longest to come out (like a ridiculous amount of time). What took so long? Who knows? The meat is sliced so thin, it couldn’t have been the cooking time.

Bone Marrow Bibimbap | $18.00

This dish came out first and it was a bit of a bubble pop. Would have been great to get a picture of it before it was mixed but the waiter just went for it before I could take a picture. You can check out their Yelp page for the pictures of it before. Looks pretty good with the big bone full of marrow. How did this taste? Well, once they mix the bone marrow into the rice, it just looks like fried rice. You can’t really taste the marrow so it was a bit deflating for me. Sorry…

Yuzu Sorbet | $4.00 (was free for us)

The wait for our boneless short rib was so long that they brought us free dessert. Thought it would cool down our madness but it didn’t. Although, if you like yuzu, you would love this sorbet. Very strong and fresh taste of yuzu, would recommend if you like yuzu and wanna pay $4.00 for a scoop of it.

In the end, I felt like this restaurant was more of a trendy hipsterish restaurant. The food was just okay but was not worth the prices. They share their very small parking lot with a laundromat and a pizza place so parking was not great. We lucked out that someone was leaving just as we arrived! I don’t plan on coming back anytime soon.

Japanese BBQ Yoshi – Honolulu, HI

Do you want to find a place where you can get high quality Japanese meat at low price? No? How about a place with high quality Japanese meat and high prices? Yes? Okay, Japanese BBQ Yoshi is your place, lol. And I’m not saying this to be a smart mouth, they really do offer up high quality stuff but you’ll be paying a price for that quality. So unless you can afford that big slab of meat at J-Shop for like almost $1000, settle into this post! Wait, does J-Shop still sell those cuts of meat? Hmmm…

Iichiko Set (x2) | $24.00 each
pork belly, prime kalbi, flat iron steak, thin cut steak

I hope I got the meats right on this set. Was it good? Sure. Was it so great and mind blowing? Eh, honestly this set wasn’t anything special. It wasn’t like the meat was melt in your mouth. And for $24 a person, not great at all. By the way, it’s actually $25 set because you could pay $1 for a cup of Iichiko (hence the name). I don’t drink so they said I could get soda, which I got charged the same rate as I would have for Iichiko (hmmm…)

Garlic Kimchee Fried Rice | $12.00

Was this good? Yes, it was tasty! Was it worth $12? Hmm…a lot of hmm’s…in this post.

Yukke | $27.00

I think you know where I’m going with this…but you’re wrong! I won’t say it was too pricey. Okay, practically, it was. But…for me, any meat dish that can be consumed raw and deliciously will cost more! It’s hard to find meat that is safe to eat raw here in Hawaii. Yukke is a Korean dish, basically an Asian seasoned beef tartar dish. The yukhoe dish from Cali still tops the list!

Wagyu Beef Nigiri “Zukke” | $20.00 (2 pcs)

I know, I know. Another pricey dish. $20 for two pieces of sushi?? This is definitely an extravagant dish. This is the one my cousin and I absolutely love and is why we come to this restaurant. Honestly, we could just order this and leave but I don’t know how much the restaurant would appreciate that. What is it with us and raw beef? I don’t know but it is absolutely delicious. So soft and tender…mmm…

This restaurant is definitely more of a treat meal, maybe once a year? Once a lifetime? I don’t know. You see the prices we paid. By the way, the meat set we got was just for the meat. It does not come with any sides which is why we had to pay for the the kimchee fried rice. The end.

Pho King – Wahiawa, HI

I had to do it. I had to go to the restaurant called Pho King. Yes, I am childish. Do you know why I am being immature? Say the restaurant name outloud fast kine and you will understand. I am sure they totally know what they did in naming this restaurant and fully embrace it.

All jokes aside, I actually wanted to try this restaurant because people rave about their food! They are closed on Saturdays which is a boo from me, that’s one of the only days I can make it out there! Well, I took a weekday off for vacation and made the trek out there. Small hole in the wall shop, how was it?

Nice assortment of greens for our pho! Yum! They give a lot of lemon, lol.

Pretty generous with the rare beef! This is the serving of beef you get when you order the pho with just meatballs and rare beef. Nice!

Beef and Meatball Pho | $12.95

Delicious! Great broth with depth in flavor. Looks at all those onions and green onions, can’t go wrong there. Each bowl was licked clean.

Oxtail Pho | $17.50
contains peanuts and carrots

This is my pho! Yes! Oxtail pho! I enjoyed it. Well, not sure what I was expected. Honestly, if you’re expecting it to taste like the oxtail soup you get from Asahi Grill, you will be disappointed. I actually found that the broth and oxtail was much milder in seasoning. I don’t mind that because I love using their hot sauces. They were pretty generous with the cuts of meat, I would definitely order this again!

Lemongrass Chicken Sandwich | $8.75
served on french bread and contains mayonnaise, cucumber, chinese parsley, pickled daikon and carrots

I had to try their banh mi since I don’t know when I would be out here again! I ate this sandwich way later in the day and it held up okay. The bread was a bit chewy but I knew that going in. My biggest complaint was the veggies. Do you see how big the carrots and daikon are? My god, it was like eating my sandwich with carrot sticks inside. They were not seasoned enough or preserved enough, they need to slice their carrots and daikon thinner! The chicken was marinated perfect and tasted great.

Recipe: Nori Chicken

Chicken marinated, ready to be fried up!
Nori sheets cut and ready to wrap the chicken…
Taking a swim…

Like, I didn’t even remember to take a picture of the finished product so you can look to the left of this picture for a slight view. How did it go? Really well. The people I fed enjoyed it! It’s a nice recipe and it’s basically mochiko chicken with some nori on top. Can’t go wrong there. Would I make it again? Perhaps for a party, it’s best eaten fresh out of the oil.

Nori Chicken

Marinade:
– 1/4 cup mochiko (sweet rice flour)
– 1/4 cup cornstarch
– 1/4 cup sugar
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 6 cloves garlic, grated or chopped
– 2 eggs
– 1/3 cup shoyu (Soy Sauce – I used Yamasa)

– 2 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
– Oil for frying
– Nori (Japanese dried seaweed ) – cut into strips

Mix marinade ingredients with chicken and soak for at least 4 hours, the longer you soak chicken the better. Wrap a small piece of nori around each piece of chicken and deep fry.

Recipe inspired by: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wAkICflo9E

Tori Ton – Honolulu, HI

Tori Ton is one of my favorite Japanese restaurants and you will see why as I share pictures of the food! While I recommend this restaurant, the parking lot is abysmal! I usually chance it and drive to the parking lot to see if I can score a spot before I call and inquire about a reservation. So far, when I have found a parking spot, I’ve been lucky enough to get a reservation when I call. Sometimes, it’s with a warning that I would have to leave within a certain amount of time, which has always been reasonable! They share a parking lot with Sweet Home Cafe which explains the crazy full parking lot.

Yummy Cucumber Sesame Flavored | $3.90

Hands down, my favorite cucumber pupu ever. And Tori Ton is the one that sparked my love for it. The seasoning is always good, not always consistent. Sometimes it’s saltier but it’s okay because I always get the next dish…

TKG Rice | $3.90
premium rice with fresh egg from ok poultry

Pretty sure that’s the price, it might be wrong by like 10 cents, haha. Fresh Waimana TKG egg to mix in with the hot rice. They give you the seasoned soy sauce to mix in and well, it’s just heaven in a bowl. No need to worry about raw eggs here, it’s all so good and I have never gotten sick. Funny story, I must have looked like I was struggling because I pour the egg straight into the rice and enjoy stirring it together. One of the waitresses told me it might be easier to scramble up the egg in its bowl before pouring it into the rice to mix. Funny how I never thought of that. Also, I am stubborn and like mixing the whole egg into the rice. Maybe it looks like I was having hard time. On an unrelated note, I think there are many times that I look like I need help (no jokes please) because people always try to help me. Can’t figure out if that’s a good or bad thing.

On a related note! Have you folks been watching the new season of Terrace House? Oh my, this new season is so good and fast moving. But there was quite a chatter about TKG rice in it since one of the cast members said she never tried it before the show! What the what! Anyway, I recommend this dish.

Anchovy Potato | $4.90

Another must-have pupu for me. It’s really just french fries sprinkled with like an anchovy aji? Anchovy dashi powder? I don’t know, it’s just so good. I love it. Perfect with a beer (I don’t drink beer lol).

Assorted Sashimi | $13?
3 items chef’s selection

Ah, so sorry for the crappy price keeping this time. I am pretty sure it is 12 something but I can’t say for sure. When we first started coming here, it was $9.80, what a deal right? 12 something is still okay but I can’t forget how much it USED to be. Anyway, basic, nothing special so it’s not something I’m raving about.

Pork Wrapped Flavored Quail Eggs | $2.90 (each)

The quail eggs are perfectly seasoned and cooked. I love biting into this and the yolk is creamy. And let’s be real, it’s basically an egg wrapped in bacon so how can one go wrong? Delish.

Pork Wrapped Japanese Premium Rice | $3.90 (each)

Okay, haha another pork dish! More raw egg! I mean the title of the dish says it all. I’m just finding more excuses to eat more raw egg and this dish checks all the marks.

Whole Tomato w/Root Vegetable Salad | $8.90
broccoli, lotus roots, whole tomato, sprouts, mizuna, mushrooms, burdock, paprika (bell pepper), yamaimo (mountain yam)

This salad is a recent addition to my usual dishes at this restaurant and WHAT TOOK ME SO LONG? $9 bucks and look at all the guts you get. You wanna eat salad? You want to eat healthy? Hey, I think 9 bucks for a salad like this is a pretty good deal right. It’s a very interesting salad, no romaine lettuce, sorry to all you lettuce lovers. It’s certainly packed full of fiber…and it’s all dressed in a goma dressing. And yes, it really is a whole tomato smack dab in the middle. But you know what’s cool? It’s a peeled tomato!

Everything in this salad just works together so well, I would love it if they added natto. I just love all the slimy foods! If the ingredients listed above appeal to you, give the salad a try! Give Tori Ton a try if you haven’t been!

Yellow Cab Pizza Co. – Kalihi, HI

Funny story time! Sort of. Don’t get your hopes too high. Okay so Yellow Cab Pizza Co. is located in the Costco Iwilei parking lot and we know how nuts Costco is…all the time. So Labor Day comes along and Costco is closed, yes! I decided this was the perfect chance to drive to Yellow Cab and see if they are open…gonna have choke parking.

I was right. Well first of all, everyone stopped knowing how to use their phones because so many cars are zooming in and out because they don’t know Costco is closed. So anyway, I parked my car near Yellow Cab and noticed staffers and the lights on inside. Then I see from my car that their open/closed sign says closed! Oh no! We go to the door and they have a paper sign that shares their Labor Day hours, they were open! Mind you, they were “open” from 10:30 am and I was there at about 2:30 pm (yes, late lunch). So I open the door and walk to the front counter and ask the young worker, are you folks open? He says yes and I told him, your sign says closed. He is completely surprised and runs out immediately to turn the sign around.

Let’s think about this a little bit. It took them 4 hours to realize their sign said closed, and yes I was the only customer in there. I just think about how many customers they lost that day because get plenty people driving through the lot seeing the closed sign along with a closed Costco and just driving away! *facepalm* Anyway, after I order and am waiting for my food, a huge group of tourists come in to order. I don’t want to say I’m a hero, but I’m just gonna say not all heroes wear capes. Okay haha, let’s check out the food!

10″ Manhattan Meatlovers Pizza | $11.95
italian sausage, ham, pepperoni, bacon, ground beef, and salami

Wasn’t my meal but man if you like meat, what meat is missing from this pizza? You would love it!! It was gobbled up.

Charlie Chan Chicken Pasta | $8.95
tender chicken strips, shiitake mushrooms and roasted peanuts sauteed in a spicy oriental sauce garnished with spring onions…uniquely our own!

First off, offended by the name of the pasta. Weren’t the films portrayed by a Caucasian actor? Okay, let’s not go down a rabbit hole. This pasta is very good, I enjoyed it. I should have asked for no peanuts. There were too many nuts. You see a bunch here but there was a whole bunch throughout the pasta too!

Shrimp Alfredo | $10.95
shrimp, black olives, and pasta tossed in a made-to-order creamy alfredo sauce

Not my dish, it was once again enjoyed by the diner. I don’t think it’s worth it for $11, they have a chicken version for $8.95, probably more worth the money.

Garlic Parmesan Wings | $6.95

Oooh, these chicken wings are good! You know, looking at chicken wings on other menus…they are pricey yeah?? I thought this was a pretty good price compared to the other wings places. And it’s delicious! Could really taste the garlic and parmesan seasoning.

Now we turn to the “this stuff can only happen to me” news segment, remember how I told you that the parking lot is EMPTY because Costco is closed? And remember how I told you a big group of tourists came in after us? Check out this picture.

You can’t make this stuff up. My car is the blue one. THEY PARKED THEIR BIG VAN RIGHT NEXT TO MY CAR. IN AN EMPTY LOT. YES, I KNOW THERE IS A CAR A FEW SPOTS DOWN BUT THAT CAR WASN’T THERE EARLIER EITHER. SO WHY OH WHY OF ALL STALLS, DID THIS BIG VAN HAVE TO PARK RIGHT NEXT TO ME.

Okay, sorry for the yelling. I laugh now about it but boy was I peeved when I first saw it! They could have at least left one spot in between us! Plenty people had to jump out of this van!!! Okay guys, have a good Monday, lol.