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!

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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