Izakaya Nonbei – Honolulu, HI

Izakaya Nonbei has become one of my favorite Japanese restaurants. I don’t want it to get too popular but hey, I also want them to stay in business because they are so good! It’s really sad to see when good restaurants close down and a whole bunch have recently! Izakaya Nonbei has been around for a while and I have been there very few times, but I plan to go back very soon! If you plan to go, I highly suggest reservations.

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Crab Avocado Salad – This salad was heavenly. The yuzu dressing they serve with the salad is out of this world. If you come during happy hour, they have it for a special price! Definite must-order.

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Agedashi Tofu – good, solid dish

160731-3Shoyu Yakimusubi – I tried both the shoyu and miso. Not something I usually order but it tasted good!

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Karei Karaage – this is another signature dish for the restaurant. Crispy fried flounder. The whole fish! It is so fried that you can basically eat the whole fish. It tasted good!

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Nasu Kinoko – this was surprisingly my most favorite dish of the night. This dish was ordered at the recommendation of the waitress, it is eggplant stir-fried with different types of mushrooms. I’m not even a fan of eggplant and this was my favorite. The sauce it was cooked in was like a savory shoyu butter sauce. I just wanted a big bowl of rice and pour this on top of it. I’m salivating just thinking about it…this dish is enough reason to return. For real. Order it, you won’t regret it.

Sea Dragon BBQ Cold Noodle House – Honolulu, HI

Sea Dragon BBQ Cold Noodle House is located at the corner of S. King Street and Kaheka Street. The restaurant location has had a few turnovers in the past few years so we will see how this one goes. I actually went to this restaurant in December of last year and thought it was a nice Korean restaurant. I like that Korean restaurants are adding call buttons to every table, it is hard to flag down wait staff sometimes so this makes it very easy. I enjoyed the food here but I felt it was pricier than other Korean restaurants for the same food. I hope I remember more details as I post…

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Assorted Ban-chan

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Kimchee – good, standard

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I believe this was eggplant and it was delicious!

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Corn Fritters? It wasn’t that great.

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Cucumber Kimchee

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Vinegared Daikon Strips

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Vinegared Wakame and Cucumber

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Naengmyun – I got it spicy. Delicious! Nice and refreshing. I think you get the same from other Korean restaurants.

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Kalbijjim – I guess this is the star of the show. This is not a cheap dish but feeds 2-3 people fine if you accompany it with the noodles. Like I have mentioned before, the dishes taste good but they are a bit pricier than I would like.

Recipe: Cheese Meatballs

Do you folks follow those recipe video pages on Facebook? They make the recipes look so easy and the videos are so short! I follow Cookat and I know it’s a Korean based video company and they make some yummy looking food. Koreans have been into cheesy everything lately and this recipe is no different. I want to get bigger skewers like the video has but I can’t find any in person…and I’m just going to eat it anyway so I did away with the skewers. Here are some pictures, link to their recipe and video follows below.

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Meatball mixture ready to be mixed, rounded and cooked!

160727-02Here are the meatballs ready to go. I bought a fresh mozzarella ball and cut them into squares for these meatballs.

160727-03Sizzling away…look at the cheese coming through the cracks! That’s a mistake but isn’t it a lovely mistake to look at?

160727-04They use bleu cheese dressing on the balls in the video. I used some ranch but really dressing is not needed. The sauce you make for the meatballs is good seasoning enough.

Recipe: Cookat: Cheese Meatball Skewer

Cafe Pesto – Hilo, HI

I am going to end my Hilo food posts with my most favorite meal! Cafe Pesto is an awesome Italian restaurant in downtown Hilo. If the service was good, it would have been a perfect experience! But it’s okay, good food fits the bill for me.

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Started off our dinner with a Hilo Sunrise – this is fresh lemonade with lemongrass, lime leaf and Island honey. It was delicious and comes with complimentary refills!

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Complimentary Bread with Pesto Butter. Delicious! I was so hungry, that bread was devoured.

160725-04Smoked Salmon Alfredo

160725-05Grilled Chicken and Hamakua Mushroom Risotto

I don’t usually order risotto but something about this dish made me want to get it. A lot of the food reviews seemed to like this dish as well so I went for it. I’m so glad I did, it was delicious! The chicken was cooked perfectly especially for chicken breast. I would definitely recommend this!

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Volcano Mist Salad

I don’t usually post the appetizer last but I can’t help it. This was my absolute favorite dish of the trip. And I know what you’re thinking, what salad? Well, buried under the mountain of fried onions and tomatoes, there is a small amount of romaine lettuce…lol. This salad was so delicious. Smoked mozzarella, local tomatoes, crisped onion rings, a citrus balsamic dressing…it just all worked so well together. I was tempted to order this dish to go right before we came home. Mmm…can’t stop thinking about it.

Da Poke Shack – Kailua-Kona, HI

Da Poke Shack was rated the number one place to eat in the U.S. by Yelp. That’s big. That’s huge. Granted it was 2 years ago but I knew that I had to try this place out while in the Big Island. Was it good? Yes, definitely. They are a small shop along the highway, their set-up reminded me a lot of Ono Seafood. They are also next to a small building with very limited parking and only outside seating…which was barely any. We ate in our car. The line to get your plate was LONG. But the front service staff were patient and very kind. As I stood in line, I couldn’t believe the amount of kalua pig plates being ordered. No offense to anyone but I’m not going to Da Poke Shack to get cooked entrees. The poke bowl comes with two choice poke, one scoop rice and one side. I almost went for the plate since I was out there but I don’t think I could have eaten 4 choice poke, 2 choice side and rice. Ah, maybe next time…haha. A reason to return. Their prices are based on market price, their fish is never frozen, only fresh. The bowl was about $14 dollars while the plate was about $26.

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From bottom left to right: Rice (you can get hapa or white, furikake is optional), Pele’s Kiss (spicy), Clams (this was a side dish! Clams!!), Wet Hawaiian (inamona). How was it? Delicious. I loved it, and the spicy one was actually kind of spicy. Wish we had a location here to try more. But lucky we do have Ono Seafood which currently ranks higher than Da Poke Shack on the 2016 list. 

Nori’s Saimin & Snacks – Hilo, HI

We made a grave mistake this night. We didn’t complete our research in full and missed out on bringing home omiyage from Nori’s Saimin & Snacks. Yes, this trip I missed out on my favorite Chocolate Mochi Cake. Maybe it’s for the better, I probably would have gobbled that thing down before sharing it with anyone. The food here? I like the variety on the menu but I am pretty sure it had plenty of MSG because I was thirsty all night. The workers are nice but they were very busy with very little help, it was a bit of a mess. And hot. So hot. I will not miss the lack of air conditioning at restaurants in Hilo, lol. This post will include some random other things since I didn’t have much to share from Nori’s.

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Curly Ramen Won Ton – Large Special

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Special bowls comes with one BBQ chicken stick. The chicken stick was hard, not great.

Next couple of pictures consist of the decor inside of Big Island Candies. I like how detailed they are!

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It’s a bit random to share a shave ice picture but I really really enjoyed this one! I got it from Da Hawaiian Brain Freeze Shave Ice & Ice Cream. How can you go wrong? This is their Keiki Size. KEIKI. Cute they serve it with a genki sushi kine plate underneath. I got lilikoi with li hing powder. It was perfection. Perfectly shaved ice, nice syrup and the li hing powder was not at all sour and complemented the dessert so nicely. I would definitely return here!

Two Ladies Kitchen – Hilo, HI

There are a few staples you must hit up when you go to Hilo. Two Ladies Kitchen is a must. It’s very popular with both locals and tourists alike and for good reason, they make awesome mochi. Here’s a sampling of what I had…

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Here’s what I ordered (from left to right): Peanut Butter (the flower shape), Butter Mochi, Fresh Strawberry Mochi (plus a free one!), and Lilikoi Mochi.

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Start with my least favorite, the butter mochi. Hmm…gritty. I did not enjoy this one.

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Yum! I love lilikoi and this mochi was nice and soft, tart and sweet. Delicious.

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Their star winner, Fresh Strawberry Mochi. It definitely did not disappoint and I was so surprised they gave me a free one too! So good. I wish they were open more than the one day we went…I think I would have gone back daily..haha!

Kawamoto Store – Hilo, HI

The semester ended in May and I have rested until now. Well between then and now, I have traveled to Chicago for a conference and also took a long weekend trip to Hilo. Traveling can be tiring! But I must say, my timing is impeccable because I start a summer course tomorrow which will be an intensive three weeks. I will try my best to schedule some posts out! The next few posts will be from Hilo. I took a trip out there over the Fourth of July weekend and had a great time. Lots of driving. One day was driving out to Kona and the other day was out to North Kohala. Saddle Road used to freak me out a bit but I must say, it was a pleasure to drive through it this time around.

Today, I’d like to share an early morning breakfast we got from Kawamoto Store. Totally old school, totally delicious. I love okazuyas and wish we had more on the island that I could grab food from before work…on the way to work. I was pretty bummed when Gulick closed down on King Street. Kawamoto Store was delightful, the workers were all so nice and patient with us out-of-towners. I’m sure they could totally tell we were townies.

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Ah…what did I select…

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Spam Musubi, Shoyu Chicken, Fried Mahi and Fried Noodles

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And you cannot go to an okazuya without ordering nishime! My breakfast was delicious! My least favorite was the fried fish but generally, you never know how it will be in fried form. This one was a bit dry for my taste. I loved the shoyu chicken, noodles and especially the nishime. They give good portions for good prices, it feels great supporting local.

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Last picture of the day is from the drive on Saddle Road. People who know me know that I drive all the time so it was nice to be a passenger during this trip. I mean look at this awesome shot I got from it! No filter! Have a good one folks.

Odds and Ends

Hey folks. I write this post as a semi-rant but also looking for advice. Not quite sure if I should pursue this further…if you are interested, please read on. If not, feel free to scroll down to some food porn down below. 🙂

I recently took my car into my dealer’s service station to get its last complimentary service done. This service included a required safety check since I hit the two year mark. The customer service representative that signed me in was very nice as he always is. I told him about a loud squeaking when my trunk opens and closes so he said he would look into it.

About mid-morning, I get a voicemail mentioning a few things. Air filters should be replaced but does not need to be done right away, windshield wipers need to be replaced before safety check could be given (who knew?), the trunk issue is covered and they would have to pick up a park to get it fixed (good thing I never spray em with WD-40 ah?) and there was a nail in my rear tire. I called them back and said no to the filter changes, yes to the windshield wiper since I wanted the safety check done and found out the tire patch job was covered by warranty. Great.

Then I get a call at about 3:30 or so that my car is ready so I would be picked up by the shuttle to get my car. The pick-up is very smooth, in fact, the customer service rep lets me know that he took care of the safety check charge so I thought, wow, that’s pretty awesome of them. My services were done, my safety check complete, tire and trunk fixed, I happily left on my merry way to drive back to work.

So I drive out of the dealership and start heading down the road when my car starts ROCKING AND ROLLING. I already knew. Something was wrong with the rear tire they “fixed.” I immediately turned down the next street and fearfully hoped my car would make it back to the dealer. I initially though, the patch was no good, the tire was flat! As I turned on the street, there two cops attending to another accident. One of the cops starts flagging me down and pointing at my tire wildly. I roll down my window and tell him I know but I’m trying to get back to the service station. He tells me, you should really pull over. So I do. Awkwardly.

I get out of the car and look at the tire. I could not believe it. The tire they fixed was hanging on by one lug nut. My tire comes with 5, and here I am looking at my tire barely holding on with one left…and this one was about to come off too. Forreal. So I start calling the service station, no one picks up initially. The cops, bless their souls, both gentlemen were so nice. One of them told me he will drive over to the service station to let them know to come over…I was so close to the service station still. As he goes, I am still calling and they finally pick up. I tell them what happened and of course they panic too and he tells me he’s going to talk to the manager. I say okay and wait there.

Then I see the cop drives back and comes towards me telling me he found two lug nuts on the road. He even had to stop traffic because one of them flew off into the middle lane. This man, what a saint right? I thanked him but I was still very shaken. Both cops were in disbelief that the service station did this. The irony was not lost on me that I drove away with safety check in hand and one tire loose.

The cop that helped me initially told me he was going to leave because he was actually off-duty already but the other cop offered to stay with me since the accident he was assisting with was done. Nice right? Both cops still couldn’t wrap their heads around what happened. One of them even asked if he could take pictures, cause well it’s unreal and I said ok. Shoot, I should have taken pictures too.

So after a little while of waiting, I see one of the service station workers walk over. I really hope this was not the manager because this guy casually walks over cell phone in one hand and coffee cup in the other. I kid you not. Seriously with the coffee? No urgency. He’s on the phone, probably about my car but he doesn’t say a single word to me. Not a single apology. He continues on his phone and when he gets off he just goes straight into what the plan was. They would have to remove the lug nuts from the other tires to put onto this tire so we can drive it back to the station. I hand him the two that was found on the road. Still nothing coming from this guy’s mouth.

Then another service station worker drives in with all the tools they need. They start working on my car to get the tire back on. It’s really the second worker doing all the work. The first one that comes just stands there and then only helps out when it’s obvious someone has to hold the tire as the second worker screws it back in. Jesus. They get the nuts back on and the second worker signals that I can go into my car in the passenger seat, I guess he will be driving my car to the station. The second worker gets in the car with me and apologizes for what happened, I mean, was that so hard for the first guy to do?

We drive to the service station and I get greeted by the customer service rep, he apologizes profusely. I can tell they all shocked by what happened, not as shocked as me of course. He tells me they want to keep the car overnight to check up on it the next day and make sure there was no damage done and that everything is working fine. They issue me a loaner car and I leave.

The next day, I get a call at about 2 in the afternoon. It’s the customer service rep and he’s telling me that the technician is still working on another project and that he would work on my car next. I ask for a timeline because well…it’s already 2 in the afternoon. Give me some timeline on what I would expect. He said it would be the same day. Okay. I get a call at about 4 and my car is ready. I get there with my coworker and we are told they checked everything thoroughly and did a test drive and everything was okay. I asked if anything happened later on, can I bring it in? The answer is yes, as it should be. My coworker asks him if they fell asleep (LOL!) but poor customer rep guy, he’s not the issue. He mentioned that the tire was the last thing they did and it won’t happen again. I don’t know how my tire being the last thing they did was reason for them not to screw on the lug nuts…but once again, I’m not blaming the customer service rep.

My car seems to be working fine. I mean, they should really be thankful I wasn’t heading home. I could have ended up on the freeway and imagine if my wheel flew off in the freeway! And how thankful should they be that the cops were there when I turned to make me stop? I received a voicemail from the customer service rep the day after asking if everything was okay, I didn’t call him back. Sure everything is okay for now. I think I’m more affected emotionally than anything else. I have this paranoia with tires and cars so this certainly did not help at all.

My asking of advice…do you believe I should pursue this further? I don’t mean anything serious but I’ve been told I should write in about this. It was such a dangerous incident and that I should really let upper management know. My coworker mentioned that if they were smart about this, they would minimally offer me an extended warranty. Technically this warranty would not cost them anything especially if the car is okay as they said it was. I’ve been waiting it out to see if they even send me a little of apology but nothing has come. But it can’t be good that I’m sharing this with all my friends and colleagues, and while I’m not sharing their name publicly on my blog right now…word still gets around. Those two cops will certainly tell this story to their friends and family too. Ah, what are your thoughts?

 

Wow, that came out a lot longer than I expected. So sorry! I will reward your patience with some food pictures…

160310-01Homemade Banh Mi

I love the sandwiches from Bale. I’ve always gotten the tuna sandwich for some odd reason, but it just goes so well with the pickled vegetables, cucumbers and cilantro. It’s my go to sandwich. Well I bought the bread from Bale and the pickled veggies from Bale…hahaha. So I don’t know how homemade this is…but I love that I can put as much cilantro as I want in this sandwich. It was delicious!

160310-03Kahlua Chocolate Cake

Did I tell you one of my most favorite desserts is kahlua cake? My coworker makes this every year and the first time I tried it, I fell in love, it is just so moist and chocolate-ty. I made this one in a 13×9 pan but it just isn’t the same. You need to make it in those mini foil pans, which will yield 3 of them. Why? The glaze you pour over soaks up much better in the smaller pans than in one big pan. More edges of the cake mean better glaze distribution. I always look forward to the holidays because of this cake…

160310-02Kahuku Garlic Shrimp

Well not really Kahuku but the recipe is shrimp truck inspired. That is all garlic. All garlic, all the time makes Jenny happy. I found a recipe to make this online and it came out DELICIOUS. Terrible for you considering all the butter but I guess I can say YOLO? Anything that can help me eat more of this. Fresh squeezed lemon and a bowl of steaming white rice and you’re garlic…I mean golden (sorry, Freudian slip).

Rokkaku Hamakatsu – Ala Moana, HI

Do you see my Cafe Lani post below? Let me help you erase that memory and hopefully lure you down the hall to the wonderful restaurant, Rokkaku Hamakatsu. A little Japanese oasis of a restaurant in the hustle and bustle of the Ala Moana mall. I’ve been to Rokkaku once before, years ago. I had a good experience, but I think I was too young to appreciate how wonderful this restaurant was. My only memory was that they have the toilets from Japan and I get a kick out of those. Anyway, I almost feel disrespectful that I could only think about toilets when I thought of this restaurant. That is wrong. Let me show you why…

160308-01Peach Sake

I’m not much of an drinker but this drink was really nice. It was on the sweeter side which is probably why I enjoyed it. Very smooth and easy to drink. Too easy to drink. I understand the aesthetics of this presentation but it felt a bit wasteful. They filled my cup up incredibly full so the box containing the cup had at least half an inch of my drink! Oh! I was so tempted to drink out of that box. I can’t stand to waste, but I could see dust particles in the liquid in the box. I had to resist. I wish they would just give me a bigger cup so I didn’t lose that sake…hehe…

160308-02Sashimi Platter

Oh my, this was delicious. Maguro, Salmon, Kampachi and Saba (forgive me, I forgot the entire title of this one). I don’t know if I have had kampachi as sashimi before but it was delicious. Reminiscent of hamachi. The saba was delicious too! I wasn’t sure if it would be fishy (as we all know saba to be) but it was so clean in taste. The platter was definitely worth it. Delicious.

160308-03Deep fried Baby Octopus – $6.00

As sad as it is to digest anything baby (okay, I wasn’t really sad about it) – this was delicious. Good crispy crust. Great starter.

160308-04Holland Cutlet (2 pcs) – $12.00

What is a holland cutlet you ask? It is cheese wrapped in ground pork and deep fried katsu style. The picture in the menu didn’t quite match what we got. As you can see…the cheese kind of…only stayed in one hole? Hahaha, no matter. This was delicious, I enjoyed it. They certainly do great with tempura and katsu, I think I’d like to try their assorted platter next time to try the other tonkatsu dishes.

160308-05Grilled Prime Beef Tenderloin Steak – $38

Oh. My. God. This dish was to die for. They have a rib eye option and that’s what I usually go for…never know if tenderloin will be as tender and juicy. This does not disappoint. It’s served on a bed of mashed potatoes and topped with fried garlic chips. It was absolutely mouth watering. The steak was melt in your mouth tender….ahhhhh…I wish I could have it again. The mashed potatoes…eh…tasted a bit like box mix but then again I like box mix (sorry).

160308-07I had to show you a slice of the steak. We ordered it medium, I generally like medium rare. I think it came out medium rare and so it was a point for me! So. Good.

160308-06Fresh Wasabi Sauce

This was served with the steak. I took a dab at it with my chopstick and whoa, that’s some potent stuff. If you need your sinuses cleared, I found your solution. The sauce was good but it would have overpowered the steak and honestly, the steak did not need anything. In its simplest form, it was perfect.

 

Is this restaurant kind of pricey? Yes, it is. But the service and food we received was well worth. When you walk into this restaurant, you are so tucked away that you forget you’re in Ala Moana. It’s such a nice ambience inside and the wait staff are very nice and attentive. I highly suggest you try this restaurant! I’d love to return here again soon…once my wallet allows it.

I forgot to take pictures of this but for any of the katsu dishes you get, they give each person a little mortar and pestle bowl full of sesame seeds. You grind the sesame seeds into a paste yourself and then add their homemade katsu sauce to create your dipping sauce. The sauce was pretty good but I don’t know if I’m a huge fan of such a strong sesame taste for my katsu. If you love sesame, you will love this experience though!