Cafe Lani – Ala Moana, HI

The wait is over. I am back for one post and will disappear again for a long time. Well, I don’t purposely do it and I appreciate anyone who still visits this blog. I sincerely do. I had something unreal happen to me again the other week but didn’t rush over to post it because it’s almost becoming too much of a thing to come on here only to complain. I think one thing that has made it harder for me to update is that I purchased a new computer and I have not had the time to properly transfer all my files over to the new computer. I’m also switching from an Apple back to PC so that’s a whole different headache. I enjoy Apple but I think I prefer PC just a little more.

I am still working away and schooling myself! Two classes again this semester. I’m really trying to push myself to get that degree. I should have time this summer, I might take a class for three weeks. Three weeks where we meet Monday through Thursday from 4:30 pm to 7:00 pm. I am silently crying already. We will see if I take it.

Today, I wanted to share my experience at Cafe Lani. You know the restaurant. If you go to Ala Moana, you will see a crazy line for this restaurant. Why? Beats me. The newest fad? I mean the restaurant looks great. The windows are from ceiling to floor so you can see inside and see the cute beachy feel of the restaurant…and they have a window where you can watch the bakers make fresh bread. That’s the draw for this restaurant, free unlimited fresh bread for you. You’re not filling up on carbs that will inhibit your ability to eat your weight in food at a buffet, you’re just filling up on delicious carbs.

I could never come on a weekend and wait for a seat, I bet it would take over an hour to get one. The restaurant reminds me a lot of the restaurants in Japan that specialize in American cuisine. Biggest sign? They have a steak dish that is served with foie gras on top. I had that exact dish in Japan. They also have the fake foods on display in front, how much more Japanese can you get? I came on a Thursday night and the wait was only 15 minutes. I was game to try it. Let’s take a look at the food!

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160305-02Right when you sit down, they set down this plate of “sauces” for your bread. This plate is for you to share with your dining companion.

160305-03My favorite sauce of the evening. It’s really just a sweet fruit jelly, it went very well with the fresh croissants.

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Butter

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Chocolate Sauce

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Cream Cheese

160305-07Winner bread of the night? This perfect croissant. What perfection. Right out of the oven, flaky, buttery, delicious. It was so good. I had three. Sorry, not sorry. They had other breads afterwards which included a cheese roll (not a fan) and a cheese danish. The danish was a bit weird to be served with dinner…

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Panko Crusted Mustard Opah

My initial thoughts? Did panko go up in price? I expected the fish to be covered with a panko crust but I must say, the fish was good. It was cooked to perfection. Want proof?

160305-10Look at how juicy the inside of the fish is! It was delicious. I forgive the panko-less crust.

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160305-12Seafood Doria – my friend is allergic to shrimp so we received extra mussels. This dish usually comes with shrimp as well.

This dish was good! Seafood, cheese, veggies and marinara sauce baked over buttered rice. Who can complain about butter?

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“Cheesecake” Parfait

So why did I put cheesecake in quotes? Because other than the very top thin layer, the rest of the dessert was vanilla ice cream. I don’t like vanilla ice cream so I wasn’t a big fan. In all honesty, we shouldn’t have ordered dessert because we were SO full off the bread and dinner. I was game to get the dessert because it looks so good and I wasn’t sure when (or if) I would ever be back. The middle of the parfait is filled with corn flakes. Why? We could not finish this dessert and I did not feel bad about that.

All in all, my experience here was lackluster. The food was okay but overpriced. Our waitress was not nice or genuine. She basically ignored us from the middle to end of our meal. Anytime she talked to us, she had the perfect tone of voice and words yet she would be looking elsewhere when talking to us. There were two young Japanese ladies from Japan dining next to us. We finished about the same time and as our waitress returned with their change, she sternly told them about 10 times that their payment did not include tip. Boy that was uncomfortable. I got a sense the young ladies did understand but the repeated words of the waitress did not seem to bode well with the visitors. I think I would be offended too. Maybe the waitress was not given tip a lot by these visitors, but with the service we received from her, maybe she didn’t receive tip for several reasons.

Anyway, I can’t recommend this restaurant. The pictures in their menu are a bit deceiving. Their rib eye steak in their menu looks so nice and thick but the actual piece you get is so thin. It’s little things like that, that make me wonder why the restaurant is so popular. I really think it’s because they are the newest kids on the block in a shiny new space, it’s mediocre at best and I don’t think it’s worth it at this point.

Recipe: Almond Cookies

One day, I was feeling like some almond cookies. Since I was in a cooking mood, I decided to make the almond cookies myself. To my surprise, the cookies were very easy to make and delicious! I have never used Crisco before this and was pleasantly pleased with how the cookies came out. You definitely need to use Crisco or the cookies won’t have the same crunchy texture.

160109-01Doesn’t this look yummy??

160109-02Cookies from scratch. I sifted all the ingredients together.

160109-03Wish I had round edges on my chopsticks, the red dot would have been more like a circle…

160109-04Here is how the cookie will look if you try to move it right after taking it out of the oven. You need to let the cookies cool on the pan for at least 5 minutes before you can move them. The cooling will allow the cookies to harden, fresh out of the oven will be too soft in texture.

160109-05Perfect Almond Cookie!

I followed the recipe exactly from House of Annie: Chinese Almond Cookie Recipe.

Ireh Restaurant – Keeaumoku, HI

Ireh Restaurant is one of my favorite Korean restaurants. They recently opened a new spot in McCully Shopping Center but I prefer the Keeaumoku location, the original. We did try to check out the McCully location but they have a very different menu from the other location. The biggest change I noticed from McCully is that they do not carry jook (congee), not quite sure why. I bet McCully has a bigger kitchen even! Just wanted to share food from a recent trip.

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Pickled Onion and Daikon – it’s delicious! Sweet and crunchy. No raw onion bite at all.

160107-02Homemade Kimchee Cabbage. Delish!

160107-03Pan-Fried Dumpling – $11.95

I love their mandoo, it’s stuffed full with filling and delicious. I always try to order this when I go there!

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160107-05Rabokki (Topokki + Ramen) – $11.95

So delicious. They do their topokki dish perfectly and you can request for less spicy if needed. I think we asked for mild this time but if I was alone, I would go for spicy.

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160107-07Rice Topped with Mushroom – $12.95

This was definitely the surprise dish of the day. We have never had this before but it was so delicious. They have at least three different types of mushrooms in this dish. This dish was light but flavorful over a perfect bed of rice. I can’t wait to order this again.

New Wing

Have you folks been to the new wing at Ala Moana yet? It’s quite beautiful to look at, but not much to browse through. The stores that are currently open don’t really appeal to me and I guess almost half of the stores to be opened have not yet. I took these pictures a few weeks ago right before the frenzy of holiday shopping and they had the decorations up already! Oh how I will miss Christmas. I am happy that we still have cooler weather though!

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A lot of nice sitting areas! I walked by this weekend and there was a performer on the stage which was nice.

160105-02Okay, so what’s up with this? On many occasions, I’ve seen kids playing with the koi fish. Literally. I’ve seen kids petting the koi fish which I am sure is unhygienic for both the child and the fish. I don’t know if you see it in this picture but the kid in the gray shirt is poking the fish with a stick! And what do the parents do? Just sit there. No reprimanding at all! Gosh, where is the respect nowadays? The parents should be teaching it! If not, how are the kids going to learn? Ah vent over. Hope all is well.

Thankful

Every year, my co-worker, Linda feeds our office to our very brim. Well, this year was a bittersweet experience. Linda retired last week but before she left, she cooked us one final feast. Well her husband did but does that really matter? They went all out, turkey, homemade dressing (a deluxe style stuffing), homemade gravy and garlic mashed potatoes. I’m drooling just thinking about it…and I didn’t have turkey this past Thanksgiving so it was perfection.

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The delicious lupcheong dressing and turkey.

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Look at that! He sliced up the turkey perfectly and separated the white and dark meat. I like the dark meat, how about you folks?

160103-03Dressing made from scratch? Yes, please.

160103-04Perfect mashed potatoes. I like my mashed potatoes smooth but these had great texture.

160103-05Gravy from the drippings, flavorful and not too salty at all.

160103-06Speaking of homemade, my other co-worker made cookies for everyone. They tasted great, sorry I didn’t get a picture of the cookies! It was two shortbread cookies drizzled with caramel. It was wrapped in parchment paper and tied up with twine, how rustic! It’s little things like this that warm the heart…

160103-08Here’s something I experimented as a Christmas Eve treat for my office. Chichi Dango Mochi with a chichi dango heart. I made a two layered mochi (green and white for christmas) and topped it with a red heart (or as red as I could get it). Chichi Dango definitely takes a bit of effort in making and cutting (oh the cutting!) but the effort was totally worth it. I’m so glad I got it to work!

160103-07Extra hearts? Thank god for Katakuriko. Aren’t these hearts the cutest? I can’t wait to experiment more with this mochi recipe, I bet it would sell well in a craft fair too! Ahhh…if anyone wants the recipe, let me know and I’ll try to post it up!

Sushi Bistro Shun – Honolulu, HI

Happy 2016 everyone! Gosh, 2016. Where does the time go? Well, 2016 is a nice even number. How have your holidays been this past year? I’ve had a pretty good holiday season, relaxed. I always do my holiday shopping online and it’s great. And luckily for me, I received all my packages before the holiday so it all worked out well. Christmas is always my favorite holiday but I find myself every year saying, I didn’t get to enjoy it as much as I could have. It’s really too bad. I spend the first half of December stressing out so much about school that when finals are over, I spend the rest of my time recovering. But what’s best for recovering? Eating. Folks, I have not stopped eating. I haven’t been able to update regularly but I have been capturing all the good eats. My latest share is from Sushi Bistro Shun, have you been? It’s located on King Street just after Gyotaku, it’s quite a gem of a restaurant. If you haven’t been there yet, I highly recommend it!

160101-01Special Tsukune – $3.75

Oh my, this dish was d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s. I think many people will be freaked out by the raw egg. You mix the egg with the shoyu based sauce in the plate and dip the meat ball in the sauce as you eat it. Oh it was so delicious. And surprisingly, all the sauce disappeared with the meatball. The sauce looks plentiful but it was perfect.

160101-02Diced Steak – $9.00

Served with a delicious daikon sauce. Delish!

160101-03Bacon-wrapped Asparagus – $3.00 (each)

I liked the way this was cooked. The asparagus was still very firm and crunchy and the bacon wasn’t too hard. I’m one of the minority that enjoys a soft bacon versus a crispy dried up piece of bacon. So those who want the crispy bacon, you won’t like the bacon on this stick.

160101-04Kabocha Tempura – $6.95

Yum. Cooked to a perfect crisp. Sliced perfect, sometimes restaurants cut the slices too thick. This one had a good flesh and crispy skin ratio. I loved it. They have a specials board and may not always remember to bring it by but ask them for it! It’s an actual board with pinned notes of all the specials. It includes this kabocha tempura and a white peach chu-hi that I like. 

160101-05Four Types of Sausages – $13.00

How can I explain this dish past its title? It is four different types of sausage. I don’t quite know how to explain the four, we weren’t given a description so I will try my best. From left to right, spicy sausage, chicken basil sausage, arabiki sausage and tomato italian sausage. I thought the sausages were alright but the thing is, they brought this out way at the end. After we finished all our food. This is definitely better as a starter, not a great ender to the meal. I wouldn’t order this again.

160101-06Sashimi Platter A – $31.00

I’ve heard this twice already. To get a better bang for your buck, order a sashimi set and get a side order of rice. You can then control the amount of rice you have with your fish and some say it’s cheaper this way too. My friend does not like wasabi so this will help him in eating just the sashimi and rice without having to constantly ask for no wasabi. I think this is a good idea all around! 

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Special Shun Chirashi – $23.00

What can I say? I’m a sucker for a great chirashi. This one is made up of very different ingredients which come together to create a delicious bite. If you don’t like natto or yamaimo, you won’t like this bowl. If you do, this would be heavenly! I left that whole chunk of wasabi in this bowl so I definitely cleared some of my sinuses up during this meal. I loved it though. I definitely think this restaurant is a hidden gem and will definitely return. 

She is alive!

Bad blogger, bad bad blogger. Gomen! You folks must be tired of hearing this by now. This semester has been rough. I don’t know if you folks have ever taken a statistics course but it certainly has kicked my butt. Tonight was the submission of my final paper. Of course with a stats class, I get to take a final exam next week. Oh boy. Wish me luck, I need it. I’ve been cooking quite a bit but not as much journaling of my cooking. I still take a lot of pictures of food so I may just photo bomb you folks with random pictures of food. So glad the break is coming up soon! I hope you all are doing great.

I leave you with a picture I recently colored. Yes, adult coloring books are the latest rage and I am totally into it! Take care folks.

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Recipe: Harako-Meshi

Two posts in a week?! Wow. I stayed after work today and did a few hours of studying, I’m pretty proud of myself. Next week is the last big event and then I’ll still be consistently busy but not as crazy busy. Fingers crossed. So I made this dish last week! Check out this picture…

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Looks professional yeah? Salmon rice with ikura and shiso leaf. Yum…shiso leaf goes so well with salmon!

150930-02I don’t have an earthen-ware pot so I used my rice cooker. I seared the salmon in a pan really quick and then added it to the raw rice. The raw rice is filled to the right water line which I then added two tablespoons each of shoyu and mirin. I think I could have added at least 3 tablespoons of each.

150930-03Here is the rice all ready! I made a slight mistake on this recipe, I didn’t debone it completely so I didn’t share it with anyone. Leftovers store well! I used a rice paddle and flaked the salmon right into the rice.

150930-04Mmm the ikura makes such a difference. I went to Nijiya last week so I got the salmon, ikura and shiso leaf from there. This dish was ono! I got the recipe from here. If you don’t follow him on YouTube, you must! He is crazy great at cooking and if he makes like an udon dish, he will make the noodles from scratch. I admire him so much. I didn’t have time to make the shoyu marinated ikura but it tasted great anyhow. I also left the skin on my salmon while he removed the skin on his. I like the skin so I didn’t mind keeping it on!

 

Recipe: Creamy Shrimp and Mushroom Pasta

I made a new recipe today and made it my absolute goal to share it with you folks. I was very excited to try this recipe and realized only when I started cooking what it called for. 10 TABLESPOONS OF BUTTER. TEN. And umm…then I looked at the amount of pasta. 6 OUNCES. What? That’s insane. I don’t know about you folks but I prefer recipes that go by the box because I just rather use it all then save it for later and remember how many ounces are left. I’m lazy that way. So I made many adjustments, wrong adjustments but I can kind of share what I did. I definitely did not add more butter even though I used more pasta…is this how Italian restaurants cook??

150928-01How does this look? This was before I made a few adjustments because…bugga was RICH. Looks pretty right?

150928-02You can never have enough garlic. Never.

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Crimini Mushrooms

150928-05Does it help that two of the ten tablespoons of butter is used to saute the mushrooms? I didn’t think so.

150928-06Don’t these shrimp look great? Sorry, I just feel so proud at how I cooked them. I got them from Don Quijote on sale.

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Chiffonade of Basil (yes, I had to look up that word)

150928-08What makes this sauce creamy? Cream cheese. All cream cheese. Oh yeah, there’s the butter in this pan. Along with garlic and basil, smelled so ono.

150928-09It will be super lumpy until you throw in the pasta water, then it smoothes out real quick!

150928-10Here is everything mixed together….mmm….

150928-11So what did I do after I ate this and didn’t like it? I added chicken broth. A LOT of chicken broth to thin out the sauce. I also added more cracked black pepper and squeezed a lemon in there. Cream sauces are so tricky, especially for reheating. I packed a couple of containers for lunch this week and poured in more chicken broth to help it not be a clumpy mess when I reheat them.

I got the recipe here. I know I didn’t sell it too well in this post but if you want to make the recipe, please do! I think I messed it up by adding my own quantities. If any of you do want to know the quantities I used, let me know and I can share it. Have a great week folks!

Beware: Ramblings

There’s a feeling I can’t shake tonight and since it’s bothering me, I just wanted to share it out. I just feel so bothered. Sometimes I have lunch with a friend during my lunch hour and she comes to campus and parks in my parking stall as I drive us out to our destination of choice. When I come back, she leaves and I take my spot back. It’s not exactly against the law but certainly used for my convenience.

Parking at my work is a nightmare. Our parking lot is always full and always has cars sitting on the side waiting to pick kids up. Anyway, I return today and there were two cars in the lot stopped on the side. Both cars are parked past the stall. My friend gets in her car as I am sitting before this stall with my blinker on. When she drives off, I back into the stall. So as I’m backing into the stall, I see the driver lady’s arms go up in anger in the car that is 4 stalls away from me. But honestly, they were past this stall and just sitting there so how was I to know? As I’m finishing my parking, her male passenger gets out of the car and starts yelling at me. I hate confrontation and I certainly don’t appreciate a male yelling at a female over a parking stall. He yells something about them waiting for such a long time in the lot. I don’t get out of the car but I decided to be cool about it and say that I’m going to move my car. He doesn’t hear me obviously cause my windows are up and he yells WHAT at me like with such anger and disdain…I didn’t care to aggravate the situation so I move my car and start looking for another stall. We all pay money for permits to park in our zone and there were stalls available outside of this specific lot but I guess they refused to park farther. I found a stall right outside of this lot and walked back to work, they had already parked and left their vehicle. Thank god, I didn’t want to run into them.

Anyway, I’m glad I did what I did. I don’t think I was even wrong in the beginning, isn’t it the rule that if you’re past the parking stall that frees up, it’s no longer your spot? I guess I feel unsettled because I didn’t appreciate the confrontation and the fact is, we now continue to share the same parking lot. I feel uneasy and really hope nothing comes of it. If any type of revenge is exacted on my car from today events, I think I’ll really reach a breaking point. It’s been such a hard few months and I’m just mentally and physically exhausted. Sorry for an all text and all venting post, I can’t even sleep thinking about this right now. My coworker unsettled me more after I got back telling me to watch out for them. Ahhhh! I tell myself that it should be okay since I did give them the spot, I just hope nothing further comes from this.

150220-02Okay, I lied. Not an all text post because I’m posting this picture again because I really love this picture and wish I could just fall into this snow and have a nice slumber (especially with this humid weather). Thanks Connie for the picture.