Mixed Plate

MEAT LOAF. I know this is considered whatever kine food for people but I really enjoy it and find it comforting. I also like the making of the meat loaf. I love putting all the ingredients together in the bowl in a pretty way and then mixing it. Looks good ah? Well not delicious good, just good good.

Meat Loaf, Rice and…can you guess what the yellow and red thing is? It’s a bit shameful actually…

I found a recipe online for a quick elote corn. Um, don’t do that. First off, I didn’t have lime, only lemon so that was a big mistake on my part. And crushed up flaming hot cheetos on top? What was I thinking? Don’t follow any kine recipe okay? Next time I will leave out the cheetos, find some limes…and make it GOOD.

Okay let’s move to something I am proud of. Look at this refreshing and absolutely delicious watermelon dessert I made! I drew inspiration from this video, he made it look so good. I had to improvise. I found mini seedless watermelons from Costco. Bought some strawberry popping boba from Don Q and the scene was set! Balled up some melon, crushed up the leftover flesh to create watermelon juice. Poured the juice back into the melon shell, added the balled melon on top…topped it with condensed milk and then the popping boba. Sugar bomb? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely yes!

Aloha Steak House – Waikiki, HI

Here’s a fair warning. We did not have a good experience at Aloha Steak House. I didn’t even get all the pictures of the food because they seated us at this small little square table and we have to order everything ala carte (like a real steakhouse) but it couldn’t even fit on our table (huh??). I’ll try to break things down in digestable chunks.

Parking: They offer free validated parking at Hyatt Centric. The parking lot is located about two blocks away. Validation is for 2 hours – stay within the two hours! It is $4.00 for every half hour after that. Our service was so slow that we made it out with less than a handful of minutes to spare.

Service: Oh boy, where do I start? Our waitress was both the host and waitress for the entire restaurant. Why? I don’t know. There were about 4 other workers who only ran food out? HUH? Why? It led to huge backlogs in seating and ordering. She had a young man following her all night but he was not allowed to do anything. She forgot our waters and totally forgot one of our desserts.

She certainly turned on her charm for certain tables. And the restaurant was so small that we could hear it all. She was giving out free watermelon ice cream to the other tables. Dumb ole me actually went to this restaurant wanting to try the ice cream so obviously we didn’t get the free sample. In the end, as we were trying to pay out our check, she was too busy cutting up tomahawk steaks at the other tables. Once again, I saw other food runners doing it too so why did she as the only host/waitress do it?

Here’s the best part, we finally flagged down another person to swipe our credit card. A food runner came by to do it and she storms up and tells him not to and that he should not listen to whoever told him to do it and muttered to herself that no one should be running her checks (well, maybe don’t take 30 mins to run a credit card but okay). The only good part of service was that she gave us (and all kamaaina) 10% off our total check.

1/2 LB US Rib Eye Steak | $23.40

The menu is a bit confusing, it says there are two ways to have your steak on a bed of rice or salad. But the steak doesn’t come with that! You have to order those things ala carte, a bit misleading if you ask me. So yes, when you order steak – this is what you get. The meat you order and some corn.

US Rib Eye Steak & Garlic Shrimps | $29.70

This was my dish. I enjoyed it! Good steak, great shrimp and good corn too. Ha.

SIDES:

Garlic Fries ($6.00): Meh. Cold fries served with some golden fried minced garlic. Not great, would not order it again.

Creamed Spinach ($6.00): Are you serious? I have never had such bad creamed spinach in my life. It tasted like they boiled up some frozen spinach, added a teaspoon of cream and no seasoning. Awful.

Mashed Potato ($6.00): Finally a side done right. Was it instant? I don’t think so? I guess the consistency and texture could be mistaken for instant but the taste was good! If you are looking for a mash with some good lumps, this ain’t it.

Watermelon Ice Cream | $7.50

The infamous ice cream! Okay, I was super excited to try this and was a bit disappointed. It wasn’t the ice cream’s fault, I guess I was wanting more of a sorbet but it was definitely a vanilla ice cream with a light hint of watermelon. If you know me, I don’t like plain vanilla ice cream so it was a bit of a downer for me. Cute idea though!

Mixed Plate

Fried Saimin Combo (Garlic Shrimp) | $14.00

This Mixed Plate thing may become a weekly Friday post, gotta post these somewhere! Kau Kau Grill is located in Mapunapuna, get plenty business even though they have very little parking. I felt like some fried saimin during this lunch order and boy oh boy…did I not expect a scoop or rice and mac salad too. I mean…really? Why wouldn’t you just serve this as an all fried saimin plate? I would be okay with the same amount of shrimp, the rice and mac salad? Too much going on! The noodles and shrimp was good.

Singapore Rice Noodles | $10.50

Have you had Singapore noodles before? I never tried making it but I enjoy the light curry flavor in these noodles and all the veggies and shrimp thrown in! These skinny noodles are also one of my faves so it’s all around a great dish! I got this one from Kukui Cafe in Chinatown. Delish!

Passion Fruit Mille Crêpes | $9.00

Have you heard of Lady M? I’m most familiar with them in Asia and was excited to hear that Hawaii now has it! Waikiki Tea is a little teahouse located on Beachwalk (no parking, boo) so we ran in and grabbed a slice for ourselves! Well, I was super disappointed in my slice. The crepes tasted super dry and spongy. It was definitely not worth $9. I think these get shipped into Hawaii and well, it tasted like it was shipped to Hawaii. Do not recommend.

Rigo Hawaii – Kapahulu, HI

Rigo Hawaii is a great new Spanish/Italian restaurant located in the old Genki Sushi Kapahulu location. While the outside of the building looks the same, the renovations they made inside are INCREDIBLE. It’s a gorgeous restaurant and I am glad to report that although I went to this restaurant in it’s early days, we had a great time! We got seated in a very nice table (this never happens to me!), the food and service was great and I’m excited to share this with you! Quick tips:

Parking: Currently, parking is valet for $5.00. I scored the last street parking fronting the restaurant, what a great start to the evening!

Bathroom: JAPANESE TOILETS. Do I need to say more? Have a great bi-det (get it?).

Sangria | $7.00
seasonal fruit, orange juice, cranberry juice & red wine

I was super excited to see that they have a cocktail menu! Their website only lists wines and I don’t drink that…well I don’t know how to appreciate them just yet. Was super excited to see sangria on the menu but I was’t a fan of their sangria. Could be a bit sweeter and it had a bit of sour cream cheese taste? Weird right? Maybe that’s just me but I tasted something off!

Rigo Caesar Salad | $6.00 (Small)
romaine wedge with creamy homemade caesar dressing, croutons and black sesame tuile

Check out this salad. Fancy right? Well. Not a big fan of having to cut the leaves myself, haha. Yes, lazy plays a part in this but also because as I was trying to cut the leaves, the dressing was flying all over the place. I ended up just eating the whole leaves bite by bite on my fork. You see the black chunks all over? I thought it was something burnt but it’s not! It’s the black sesame tuile and it tasted nicely caramelized. What a nice surprise! The salad was pretty enjoyable.

Garlic Parmesan Bread | $5.00
out of the oven! garlic and parmesan bread for your starter, salad or soup!

Well, this place does not have complimentary bread. Sorry folks. We ordered this bread, it was alright. Four slices which we used to dip into our appetizer so I think I would have preferred some plain white bread…

Ajillo | $9.00
prawn fried with italian parsley butter

Look, these prawns are just swimming in butter. Can you go wrong? No. Did we want some (free?) plain bread to dip in the sauce? Yes. Great appetizer.

Andalucia Mojito | $8.00
rum, mint, lime, soda & sweet sherry

Redemption! After I finished my sangria, I went for my next go-to drink, a mojito. Can I just say? This was a great mojito, one of the best I’ve had! So glad I could find a good drink!

Seafood Paella | $23.00
manila clams, kauai shrimp, squid, carnaroli rice and seafood stock

This is one of their signature dishes and almost every table was getting it! This dish does take a while to cook so order it if you are not in a rush. I feel like we waited for about 20-30 minutes for it. The appetizers came out quick but the wait for this one dragged on a bit. The dish tasted good but I gotta say, the portion (especially the rice) was too little. I think the waiter said this can be a shared entree. No, I don’t think so – unless you guys are sharing more than one entree!

Carbonara with Portobello Fritto | $16.00
homemade fresh spaghetti with pancetta, onion, fresh cream, egg yolk, pepper, garlic, olive oil and portobello fritto

Pretty good dish, not a fan of rich cream based pastas usually but this was a nice choice for the evening. The portobello fritto was a nice contrast. You know what I would have loved? Maybe just a touch of truffle. I’m just a sucker for truffle.

Classic Tiramisu | $7.00
homemade creamy tiramisu made with coffee and mascapone cheese

This was a surprising dish for me. I’m not usually a fan of tiramisu but something about the pictures I saw online made me want to get this. I gotta say, while it’s not my favorite dessert, this was pretty good! I think I would have liked more mascapone cheese mixed in with the cream filling. Strong coffee flavor! If you like tiramisu, you will like this dessert!

Mixed Plate

Just a random post with various eats that won’t make a whole post on it’s own. First off, Whole Foods Market, when Jalna shared about the 2/$5 deal! Thanks so much! Now I check my amazon app all the to check the deals. The pizza was pretty good, the garlic and spinach one was mine. Plenty garlic so I liked it a lot!

Ninja Crispy Chicken Bento | $12.49

Chi Chop is located in the Ala Moana Food Court, not great. The fried chicken is seasoned with quite a bit of five spice powder if that’s your thing. I also think it was quite pricey for $13!

Two Combo Plate (Spicy BBQ Chicken & Fish Jun) | $16.50

Korean Hibiscus BBQ! Oh boy, what a deal. A cute and sweet couple run this shop and the portions are generous! The taste was great and do you see? Two pieces of fried mandoo too! I do have to say, MSG galore, I was thirsty all night!

Izakaya Naru – Honolulu, HI

Izakaya Naru is a bit of a non-descript restaurant located in the same lot as Sushi King. They are more of an Okinawan restaurant but they like to make special twists on certain dishes which are quite enjoyable! They have extensive drinks on the menu along with an extensive pupu menu. Reservations are highly recommended since they are very small. How was the food?

Look at this cute welcome sign! I called to make a reservation and this greeted me when we were seated! Love it!

Shiso Awamori | $7.25

I can’t be taken at my word on this, I didn’t like this drink. I am also not an expert on alcoholic drinks. The reviews on Yelp seem to review this positively so I assume it tastes good? I was not a fan and the shiso taste wasn’t strong. I should stick to soda or cocktails.

Homemade Peanuts Tofu | $6.00

Oh my, one of my favorites of the night. I loved this. I think tofu throws off the diner’s expectation. It’s not tofu mixed with peanuts – I think it’s peanuts mixed with a kudzu starch to resemble tofu. The taste and the aroma of the peanuts was mildly roasted, it was perfect. The tofu itself isn’t really seasoned, the sauce on top tastes like a thick kabayaki sauce. It’s perfection, I would definitely order this again.

Hamachi Carpaccio w/Okinawan Lime Sauce | $12.00

Great cuts of Hamachi and a nice light lime sauce, not at all sour…just a quick jolt of citrus. Very good!

Rolled Fried Egg (Dashimaki!) | $6.50

Okay, I’ve been experimenting with dashimaki tamago at home so I’m a bit biased with my version! This one was okay, I think I would have preferred a stronger dashi taste. Also, $6.50 is a bit steep in price for me.

Homemade Okinawa Soba w/Shoyu Pork Belly | $10.75

Nice dish! A pretty good sized pork belly with slightly al dente okinawa soba (in a good way!). A nice comforting dish.

Garlic Fried Rice w/Squid | $9.50

One of their famous dishes is their taco rice in a stone pot but we were feeling more like squid and garlic fried rice this day and boy am I glad we did! I haven’t tried this before but am very happy we did. Another one of the favorites of the night with very tender morsels of squid, I would recommend this!

Sukiyaki Pizza | $9.00

Okay, so they have a gyoza pizza which is popular but once again, I wanted to try another pizza! The sukiyaki pizza is interesting, did I taste an obvious sukiyaki flavor? Not really, I actually likened it more to like a lightly smoked kalua pig. The mayo on top contains a hint of wasabi which I enjoyed. I enjoyed this dish a lot but I wouldn’t have any sukiyaki expectations when I order it.

Anytime Cafe – Honolulu, HI

If you’re an old fut like me, you will remember a Banana Leaf Italian Restaurant in Market City Shopping Center. I was kind of sad when they closed but soon realized the same owners opened up Anytime Cafe. Anytime Cafe has some pasta dishes still but I think their menu most resembles a Hong Kong Cafe which I enjoy a lot! I wouldn’t mind a few more Hong Kong favorites on the menu but I will take what I can! So how was the food?

Iced Tea with Lemon | $4.95

My favorite type of iced tea, Hong Kong style. This was great! And simple syrup is served on the side so you can sweeten your drink to your preference.

Beef Brisket & Tendon | $14.95

Beef Brisket noodles are a Chinese comfort food. This wasn’t my dish but I got to try a bit and they have the seasoning down. I usually eat this dish with a rice noodle but they serve it here with the thin egg/shrimp noodles. I like that type of noodle best so winners on that.

Hainan Chicken Rice | $14.95 (add $2 to substitute thigh meat)

Only in Hawaii will you find an extra cost for the thigh meat!! $2! Did I pay for that? Yes. I am Chinese and I want the juicy dark meat, of course. No shame in my game.

Soup Broth – It has a nice dried shrimp flavor, went great with the set!

The rice is probably my favorite part of the dish. It may look plain here but it is actually cooked with broth and garlic and maybe other seasonings. If they cook it the way I’ve seen on videos, there may be chicken fat involved too. Mmm…

Dipping Sauces! The traditional ginger green onion sauce and oh! A surprise dipping sauce for me! I don’t quite know what it is…a sort of vinegar with chili and garlic sauce? My favorite! My cousin informed me it tastes the same as the sauce they serve with pig trotters in Chinese restaurants and she is right! I need to learn how to make this sauce.

The chicken. How was it? Ehh…a bit of a letdown answer huh? There’s something about the way this chicken was prepared. I wanna say they prepared it like a drunken chicken and I don’t like that. I want Hainan Chicken in it’s purest form, slowly poached in its own broth. I don’t think I would order this dish again but there is definitely many other dishes I would try!

Masa’s Cafeteria – Honolulu, HI

If I worked in Salt Lake/Mapunapuna, I’d be in food heaven. So many great choices out there but I love the old school choices. I wish these places were open all weekend long so I could give them a whirl. I was in the Salt Lake area around lunch time so we checked out Masa’s Cafeteria for lunch! Oh it was awesome. I was a bit sad we weren’t there during the Baked Spaghetti day (comfort food to the max).

Hawaiian Plate w/ Rice | $11.25
~comes with laulau and lomi salmon
~choice of tripe stew or chicken long rice or beef stew

How can you lose with this plate and the price? It was ono brah! The beef stew was local style with big chunks of tender meat. The laulau had great taste, along with the lomi salmon and rice, you can’t lose! Man I wish I could eat here more often!

Lam’s Kitchen – Honolulu, HI

Who doesn’t enjoy beef brisket noodle? If you answered no, you may want to skip this read. I think Lam’s Kitchen serves up some of the best on the island. If you are willing to make the trek out to Chinatown, find your own parking, and wait out the line, give them a try!

Cheong Fun (Look Fun Roll) | $5.50

This meal is major carbo loaded. We couldn’t help ourselves, they serve up such great look fun. The menu is a bit confusing, I just wanted a small portion of it so I tried to get the side order of it which costs $1.00 or $1.50, I honestly don’t now what the difference is. The waitress turned over my menu and pointed at this one for $5.50 so I just said…okay. I guess this is the one you have to get for dine in? I don’t know. It’s fine. It’s delicious. The sauces are on the table, spread some of that peanut sauce and hoisin sauce on top and you are golden. Delish!

Beef Flank & Tendon Look Fun | $8.99

My dining companion does not like tendon so she asked for beef flank only. Well, I’m used to this now but the wait staff always gives pause when she orders it like this. I guess for us Chinese, tendon is like gold! Why say no? Hahaha but everyone has their own tastes right?

Beef Chow Fun (Dry) | $8.99

Why oh why do I get the beef chow fun here? Yes, it’s just such a basic dish but I really enjoy the way they make it. Hard to explain but they have a way of seasoning it…is it the char of the wok they use? It’s a taste I remember from really good chow fun I had back in China so I just eat this right up. Yes, I left the plate CLEAN. Great stuff.

Saying Goodbye…

Okay, misleading title…no I am not the one saying goodbye! This post is focused on bidding goodbye to an employee of mine. While I am sad to see her go, I am excited for her new adventures and her move to the mainland! Now, she is a graphic designer so I knew I wanted to personalize her gift with something handmade…and well…if you know me, you also know I am obsessed with miniatures so guess what I did…

I made a miniature of her office! Yes, this was all done by hand from scratch…I wanted to help her to commemorate her first ever office space as well.
Made her bookshelf, mirror (yes her mirror is blue!), art work…
Of course the iPad box contains an iPad inside too! Gotta focus on the details!
Did I? Yes, these are real books in her shelf that I scanned the covers of to create the books! Sorry I didn’t get to show a book inside, but the pages are text lined! Loved creating these mini books!!
One of my favorites in this project, creating the cork bulletin board! Yes, the pictures were the same as the ones on her real board!
Created the blinds in her office with the exact view out of her window…and yes, the blinds move!

I put a lot of work into this piece and while I had my moments of insanity (mainly because I am so focused and detailed), it was all worth it because she loved it! Ugh…I love miniatures so much…

Of course I had to cook for the going away party! I made homemade pancit because it’s one of her favorite foods. Very nervous making this because it’s just such a good dish and the taste is key! I gotta admit, I did a test run myself before this day and did not like the first test. I revamped the recipe I worked with and I think it came out great! My coworkers seemed to like it so I am super happy!

If you follow Kat, you would have noticed she talked about Butterfly Pea Flower tea the other week! It was such a coincidence because I had just ordered the dried flowers online and was prepping to make this drink! So you steep the flowers and the water turns into a very bright blue color. When mixed with acid, it changes color! I made a fresh lemonade (first time, was good!) and poured the drinks at the party. It was so fun to see it turn purple and pink! The tea itself doesn’t have a strong taste or any taste, it’s hard to explain. I would pour maybe 3/4 of lemonade to 1/4 of the tea. Tastes great!