Papa’s Cafe – Honolulu, HI

My quest to find the best bowl of laksa never ends! Have you ever had laksa? My first obsession was when I watched a clip of someone making the dish on a show called Food Safari. I tell you, all the good food shows are for Asia. Check out this Laksa clip, I’ve been on the search for laksa paste ever since with no luck. I guess I’ll have to settle for restaurants serving laksa. In the past, the only place I knew of that served this dish was Panya. Well guess what? I found another! Papa’s Cafe is located in Chinatown, not in a great location with no parking. Is it worth it? For me, yeah, I will brave Chinatown for it!

Seafood Laska • $11.95

Absolutely delicious! Great broth and you have a choice of noodles, I get it with lai funn (which is the default). I would definitely take this over Panya’s laksa anytime.

Salt and Pepper Calamari • $6.95

Hands down, the best calamari dish I have ever tried. The batter is light and crispy, the salt and pepper seasoning is on point. I love that they serve it atop shredded lettuce. Don’t you love when they place fried food on top of the shredded vegetables and it wilts a bit from the heat and takes on the seasonings? Delish!

 

Hong Kong Disneyland – Hong Kong

So we went to Disneyland on a weekday on purpose, we didn’t want to deal with huge crowds. Well, while Disneyland still had plenty of people, apparently Hong Kong Disney doesn’t open up all their food carts on weekdays. Why?? I was so disappointed as I walked by one empty cart after another. I could not find a proper turkey or soya chicken leg anywhere. What is a Disney experience without that?

Hong Kong Style Lemon Iced Tea

Red Bean Ice Drink

We had dim sum for breakfast so we weren’t too hungry at Disney. For lunch, we decided to try Explorer’s Club Restaurant. I already picked this place out before even getting to Hong Kong because I wanted to try Hainanese Chicken and Nasi Goreng! Check out the price…and it didn’t even include the drink!

Hainanese Chicken Rice Set • $139 HKD ($18 USD)

Nasi Goreng Set • $139 HKD ($18 USD)

Both dishes were good! Mine was the Nasi Goreng Set, it’s like Indonesian fried rice. You see the white thing behind the fried rice cone thing? It’s like a big fried shrimp chip, it was pretty good.

We came to Hong Kong in early December, perfect. Great weather and all the Christmas decorations were up! Sorry I don’t have much more pictures to share of Disney. I did stay until the Electric Night Parade, that was glorious. We sat on the floor right in front, great seats. Took some videos so that was awesome. What did I enjoy most? The Mickey’s ‘PhilharMagic,’ I’m not usually into 3D movies but this was AMAZING. The graphics was so intense and really did look like it was coming out at me. And the theater was set up so that when there was a water scene, we actually got sprinkled with water…and during the carpet ride, we felt the gushes of wind. I stood in line twice to see that film, and probably would have done it all day. Just magical.

Mixed Plate

Have you folks ever used those food ordering apps? Sometimes, you just don’t want to leave work to pick up lunch so ordering food to your door through an app just sounds right. I work with college students so they are completely on board with ordering off of them! One of the first apps on the scene was Postmates and I had a code for $100 delivery credits. Well, somehow it’s gone. I don’t know how to get it back and it was for Hawaii specifically so I don’t know what happened. Well the app makes it super easy, you pick a restaurant, order your food and pay through the app. Then your delivery person will come to you to deliver your food.

I do not currently recommend it because there is so many glitches with the systems (uber eats and postmates)!!! First, there are constantly no drivers available (at least during lunch time)…and when it finally does come online (after 2 dang hours of checking), if you don’t get your order in fast enough…there are “no drivers” again. When we finally get our food, we’ve had people delivering on bicycles and scooters. Huh? I wasn’t part of the last order but they screwed it up majorly, they ordered three entrees. First delivery and it was only one entree. 1.5 hours later, the last two entrees come and it’s the wrong order. What a nightmare. I don’t see how they could have screwed it up so royally.

I think the only time I would give food delivery a try on my own would be for food from hard to get to restaurants (Waikiki, no parking, etc.) Well…just wanted to share an order I got from Itchy Butt.

Spicy Pork Rice Bowl • $6.00

$6! It’s a big serving AND it comes with a soda. Okay so they never give the right drink, somehow always giving us 7up. Must be their least popular drink. This is actually one of the tastier spicy porks I have tried, doesn’t look great but tastes great. It’s not too spicy too. The total price for me was just under $10 since you have to pay the delivery fee and of course you should tip the driver. The delivery fee varies but for Postmates, it’s about $3.99 per order so depending on how many people are ordering…gotta split that fee!

Next is just a quick sampling of dessert we got from Island Vintage Shave Ice. I forgot what the first one was, sorry! The second one is mine, Lilikoi Moana Bowl. Yes, I know people eat this as a meal but I couldn’t resist it. To me an acai bowl is like a smoothie with a lot of good stuff on top. Shoot, I’m wanting it again…delicious. I tried this acai bowl both at their Ala Moana location and the Waikiki location. I prefer the Ala Moana location.

Have a great weekend folks!

Pho Thinh – Moilili, HI

Pho Thinh is my absolute favorite Vietnamese restaurant in Hawaii. When my friend first told me about this restaurant, all she could boast about was their cleanliness. Is that a factor for me in dining…eh…not necessarily. We all know Chinese restaurants aren’t the cleanest restaurants but they serve up some good grub. Well this restaurant is not only insanely clean (NO REALLY), check the sauce containers on your table. Not a single crumb or crust on their condiments. Vegetables? Meticulously cleaned vegetables…you can just tell they take pride not only in their food but in the full restaurant experience. They usually close for about a month every year to visit home but they took that trip this year already! So go and try them out! They are located in the same place as Wagaya Ramen. Parking can be a bit difficult but it’s worth it.

Large Combination Pho • $11.50

Do you see that clear broth? Don’t let the light clear broth fool you, it is seasoned just right. No overwhelming spices, just delicious food. Ahh…I’ve been on such a pho kick lately that I just want to come back already!

Bun Rieu • $11.50
Vietnamese Crab & Tomato Noodle Soup

This is a specialty dish they serve only on Fridays and Saturdays. I love it and they make it awesome, the best I’ve had from a restaurant here. There is also curly vegetables that accompany this broth. I don’t know the vegetable, I want to say it’s the stalky part of ong choi that they slice and curl up. Anyone can confirm? Shucks, wish I got a pic of it for you folks.


Pork Banh Mi • $8.50

No shame in my game, I got this sandwich too. Yup. I ate my pho and got this too. To be fair to myself, I only ate half and took the rest home, is that okay? Haha…so this was the second time I got it and I liked it both times even if it was different both times. The pork this time had a char siu red look to the edges…I don’t remember that the first time. I want to say the first time, this sandwich came with cilantro but the second time it didn’t. I really really enjoy cilantro which is why I didn’t enjoy the sandwich as much the second time. They also spread a bit of pate on the sandwich but the taste is quite mild so I enjoyed it. You gotta try it!

Tsukada Nojo Hawaii – Honolulu, Hawaii

Tsukada Nojo Hawaii is a fairly new Japanese restaurant in Hawaii. I love the atmosphere of this restaurant, the decorations, servers, food, etc! They have a little parking lot in front of their restaurant but it is very small and it is shared with a sushi restaurant! So unless you can make it there right when they open, parking is a bit risky. Another plus to this restaurant? You can make reservation on Open Table! I wish all restaurants were on Open Table.

Miyazaki Mango Mojito • $9.00
Miyazaki Mango, Rum, Club soda, Mint
Known for their year-round season, Miyazaki mangoes are flown in to create this unique mojito with freshly muddled mint, citrus and rum

Yum, I’ve been here twice and got this drink both times. It’s delicious and refreshing, I just wish the drink was bigger.

Nikumaki Rice Ball • $3.50
miyazaki region’s comfort food: a pork belly-wrapped rice ball in sweet soy ginger sauce, served on green leaf lettuce, served with teriyaki sauce

Okay, we got this dish both times we came here. The first time the rice balls tasted good, the second time, not so much. The meat wrapped around the rice was too tough and the sauce was too salty.

Grilled Skillet Egg • $6.00
plain omelet

Okay this sounds silly but I LOVE THIS DISH. Why is it called a skillet egg? It actually come out in a cast iron skillet and they flip it onto the plate at your table. The egg is soft…souffle-ish and is seasoned like a dashi tamago. The first time we went, we bought two. This time we could only eat one, would have ordered two if we could.

Bijin Nabe • $40.00
chicken-based collagen soup with zucchini, watermelon radish, tofu, romaine lettuce, chinese cabbage, enoki mushroom, abura-age, green onion, watercress, and tsukune meatball

Doesn’t that look…delicious? Haha, I didn’t know what to expect when this was set at our table. But when it boils down, it is a collagen-rich yet light broth.

The bijin pot comes with some chicken tsukune. We ordered kurobuta pork belly as an add-on for our pot. This was delicious! And like other nabes, you can get rice or noodles to finish off your broth. We went with ramen, it was delicious but we were much too full to eat it all. They have such wonderful dining utensils/plates, I think it’s the little details that count and they think of it! I hope you folks get to try this place out!

Din Tai Fung – Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

There aren’t many xiao long bao restaurants in Hawaii, and when I have tried it, I haven’t loved them as much as I thought I would. Din Tai Fung is a big restaurant chain and I have watched countless video features about them! Well, when I got to Hong Kong, I knew I had to give them a try! So here is my experience…

Drunken Chicken in Shaoxing Rice Wine

Oh man, this dish was not good. It tasted like it was only shaoxing rice wine, not just a sauce made with the rice wine. This chicken must have died from alcohol poisoning, the alcohol overpowered everything. We barely ate this dish.

Sautéed Spinach with Supreme Broth and Garlic

My favorite dish of the meal, funny right? A simple vegetable dish sauteed with garlic is one of the ways to my heart. Absolutely recommended.

Noodle with Spicy Sesame and Peanut Sauce

I’m a sucker for noodles. This dish was good but nothing memorable.

Vegetable & Pork Wonton Tossed with Special Sauce

This was probably my second favorite dish of the meal, I love wonton and spicy sauce.

Steamed Black Truffle and Pork Dumplings

Okay this is the funny part of the night. We ordered Xiao Long Bao but totally made a mistake and ordered ALL BLACK TRUFFLE dumplings. It was insanely expensive and my cousin hates truffle so she couldn’t even enjoy it. We were also so full at this point that we couldn’t finish it, you best believe I asked for take out boxes (which they charge for) because I can’t waste truffle and all this food. And I was trying to maneuver between the use of my camera and snapchat so this is the only shot I had of the XLB.

Ruscello – Ala Moana, HI

Ruscello is the restaurant in the new Nordstrom Ala Moana location. I would describe their cuisine as nouveau American cuisine, does that make sense? A mix of different cuisines all on one menu, maybe the pictures will help me in explaining!

Fried Calamari • $11.95
sweet and spicy peppers, jalapeño basil aïoli

This dish was okay, a bit over-fried for my taste. I wouldn’t order it again.

Complimentary Bread with Olive Oil infused with…more olives.

Basil Cucumber Cooler • $11.00
junipero gin, muddled cucumber and basil, fresh lime juice, soda splash

This wasn’t my drink but boy did it look refreshing! My friend enjoyed it quite a bit.

Lanai Cooler • $11.00
chopin vodka, passion fruit, pineapple and fresh lemon juices, vanilla syrup, angostura bitters

My drink! It was delicious and refreshing! Did I question how clean the pineapple leaf was? Yes. Did I still drink it? Yes.

Penne Bolognese • $14.25
spicy italian sausage, roasted red pepper and tomato cream sauce, parmesan cheese

Ginger Crusted Ahi Tuna • $17.95
organic baby greens, cabbage, blistered green beans, red pepper, seasoned wontons, candied ginger, soy glaze, spicy thai basil vinaigrette

I don’t usually order salads but I felt like a salad this day. It was delicious, I loved the freshness of the ahi and how well they seared it. Great dressing too, I would recommend this!

Creme Brulee • $5.75
vanilla bean, caramelized sugar crust, fresh raspberries

Pineapple Brown Butter Cake • $8.25
sweet brown butter glaze, roasted pineapple, buttermilk vanilla sauce, fresh basil

This was my dessert and doesn’t the name and description sounds absolutely delicious? It was awful. This was one of my least favorite desserts in my life, the cake was incredibly dry and dense. The sauce did nothing to help the cake and I left most of it uneaten. It’s such a shame, I would not recommend this dish.

9 3/4 Cafe – Mong Kok, Hong Kong

You best believe that before I went to Hong Kong, I did my fair share of research for places to grind. Well, as you can guess, 9 3/4 Cafe was definitely a non-traditional Hong Kong restaurant to go to. I got really excited because it was pretty new and I love Harry Potter. Well, this place was very hard to find. While we had internet in Hong Kong, the connection was not strong enough and always lagged when we were on Google Maps. It was beyond frustrating…here we are thinking we are going the right direction and suddenly we were so far off the path. Ugh!

This was a late afternoon meal and we both weren’t too hungry so we didn’t order too much. It was a super cute and small restaurant, the only other customers were some high school kids. They were having a ball! I felt too old to play with the props they had available, ah, the regrets!

Gosh, I wish had the drink names available. The first drink was like a blueberry soda type deal and the second one was a neon apple drink! Well I got the blueberry soda because I thought it would be delicious (it wasn’t). I didn’t get to try the apple drink, but I was told it was good. You’re definitely paying for the novelty, it wasn’t great.

Great appetizer. Chicken wings! I thought the preparation, batter and frying was done perfectly. I really wish I had more of an appetite that day to enjoy it!

Salmon Pasta. We shared an entree. It wasn’t terrible but definitely wasn’t great. Would I suggest this restaurant? Maybe to really hardcore Harry Potter fans…but if you’re looking for a great meal, I wouldn’t count on it from this place.

Gotta give it up to them with the decorations though! They really went for it! And another good note, they have English menus available!

Tangö Contemporary Café – Honolulu, HI

Happy New Year! 2 months late…or about 2 weeks late if you follow the lunar year celebrations. I hope you are all doing well! I lost my counter for my blog and I don’t know how to fix it, boy do I have a lot to learn about wordpress and blog maintenance. I’m going to have to give credit where credit is due for this post. Thank you to Arlene for your recent comment, I really appreciate you sticking by and checking in. It really does make a difference because here I am! A little prodding never hurt anyone…and of course thank you to anyone else still checking in on this! I’ll try to set more attainable goals for this blog, I used to put a bit more pressure on myself which burned me out. Maybe I’ll slowly come back around…and I have Hong Kong updates too!

Let’s stick to some local posts for now. Tangö Contemporary Cafe has been one of my favorite restaurants for years now, I have mainly gone for dinner so I can’t speak for the other meals. I have always received great service, great food and enjoy the restaurant’s ambience! There is a parking lot for this restaurant and they offer full validation. Have you been? If not, you should! Judge for yourself with these pictures…

Salmon Board Gravlax – Smoked Salmon Rillette, Roasted Garlic and Herb Labneh, Pickled Cucumber, Rye Bread : $13.00

This was my attempt to make a pretty canape. It didn’t work, haha. I know I didn’t miss my call as a food stylist, or did I? I love salmon so I enjoyed the board. The rye bread wasn’t my favorite, but it was edible. This was one of TWO appetizers we had. We were hungry that night, no regrets. It was funny because later that meal, I saw a lady eat this board as her entree. Good for her, hahaha.

Crab Cake with Spicy Tobiko Aioli : $9.00

Delicious! One of my favorite crab cakes from a restaurant. I really enjoy the spicy tobiko aioli too, it’s just a match made in heaven. Would definitely order this again.

Grilled New York Steak, Kauai Shrimp Garlic Roasted Potato, Peppercorn Demi Glace : $29.00

This wasn’t my dish but my dining companion enjoyed it! The shrimp was nice and fresh (with the heads attached!) and the steak is cooked to your preference.

Slow Roasted Rack of Lamb Garlic with Roasted Potato, Tapenade Demi Glace : $34.00

Okay, this was my entree. Ooooh my, it was so good. The lamb chops were cooked perfectly. It comes with roasted potato but I asked to substitute it with herb polenta which they did. I love their mix of vegetables too! Great dish. One of my go to dishes.

Kona Coffee Ice Cream Cake – Kona Coffee, Vanilla and Italian Chocolate Ice Cream with Chiffon Cake : $7.00

The more pictures I edit for this post, the more convinced I am that I need to come here more often. Simple dessert but they have the best kona coffee ice cream cake I have ever tasted. A nice balance of sweet, the kona coffee taste is smooth with a nice kick of coffee (without the bitterness). Sometimes when desserts include coffee flavor, they add in coffee beans or grinds which I don’t like…luckily this desserts does not. Nice and smooth…and delicious!

 

Leaving on a Jet Plane…

I am finally taking a trip! A well-deserved rest from work and school…and I’m heading off to Hong Kong! The past few months have been interesting, still trying to find my ground. Considering continuing school in spring but seriously lacking the motivation right now. Ah! I got off-track again, so sorry. If there are any readers left, I hope you do bear with me. I’m hoping to do some updates from Hong Kong through Instagram. So if you’re interested in following along, please do check me out at: maybeitsjenny on IG!

I leave you with one of my favorite shots from an airplane ride. I don’t usually get to take pictures on the ride because I always take the aisle seat. Hope you are all doing well!