Bo’s Kitchen – Honolulu, HI

Have you been to Ohana Hale Marketplace yet? I’m still waiting for it to reach it’s full potential! I really hope more vendors jump in and start using that space, it would be like having a craft fair all the time! It’s the perfect venue for new businesses to test the waters, I haven’t had much things to buy the past few visits but they’ve got some pretty cracking food establishments there. The first one I tried is Bo’s Kitchen, I am drawn in by their menu. It’s like Hong Kong street food which we don’t have much of here in Hawaii. I’ve been looking for a restaurant to serve up some good Hainan Chicken and guess who does…

Hainan Chicken

I have wanted to make a homemade Hainan Chicken for years. The chicken you cook is used to infuse almost every element of this dish. You fry up some aromatics in chicken fat to add to the rice as it cooks, you gently poach/cook the whole chicken to get the softest/juiciest meat (even the breast!), use the broth to make a nice little soup to accompany your meal. The sauces for the chicken include a sweet soy sauce, chili sauce and a cold ginger chicken type sauce. Yum.

They do a pretty good job here! I couldn’t eat it right away but it tasted great the next day. I just reheated the rice and kept the chicken cold, didn’t want to overcook it. I would love to return to try their other dishes!

Otoro Hawaii Fusion – Honolulu, HI

When Otoro Hawaii Fusion first opened, I wanted to give it a few months to find it’s footing. I am usually a bit more lenient with new restaurants because I know starting off can be a bit rough. Well, I gotta report the months I waited did not help this restaurant. I think first impressions are everything and my first impressions left a terrible mark. First of all, it’s valet parking. I understand there is not a lot of parking in the area, I also felt bad for the one person valet working that night. I practically parked my own car, and actually retrieved my own car after dinner so…I guess it’s good that it’s free? Still gotta tip the solo worker, he was definitely working hard to get all the other cars parked by himself!

I made my reservations through Open Table and that was great, I wish all restaurants were tapped into an online reservation app. When we arrived in the restaurant, the hostess was a Chinese woman who was noticeably irritated, running around and talking to the other staff in Chinese. Not what I was expecting in a Japanese restaurant, her attitude and demeanor already turned me off from the get go. All the wait staff were conversing in Chinese (don’t get me wrong, I’m Chinese) but their conversations didn’t exactly come off positive which decreases the dining experience.

With the word Otoro in the restaurant name, you’re expecting pretty high-end food and service…
Salmon Skin Salad | $6.50

I kind of expected there to be some lettuce with this salad, like at other restaurants. This tasted okay but would have benefitted with some greens.
Yakitori | $7.00
Tamago | $5.00

Not the dashimaki kind, it’s the sweet omelette
Spicy Tuna Roll | $10.00
Wagyu Beef Fried Rice | $28.00

Let me tell you. Their most popular dishes are their flambe dishes, they bring the dish to your table and light it on fire in front of you. Doesn’t sound scary or dangerous at all, haha. Anyway, they had a wagyu flambe dish but it cost $45 for 2 OUNCES OF MEAT. It’s not A5 meat, so why does it cost $45 for 2 ounces? We didn’t go for it obviously and settled for this fried rice. Well…disappointing too! Most of the “meat” was like the fatty pieces and there was almost no flavor (salt) in this dish. Do not get it.
Otoro Sashimi | $50 (!!!!!!!!!!)

Yes, we ordered otoro. We have ordered otoro from various restaurants and never have we paid SO MUCH for such disappointing quality. Stringy and stingy with the portion. The last bite of the otoro included a bone. COME ON GUYS, GET IT TOGETHER. Especially if this is your namesake and you charge so much. We actually asked the waiter how many slices came in this order and he said 5-6. We got four slices so naturally we asked what happened. He went to ask the sushi bar and came back and apologized that he gave us the wrong answer. All around disappointment.

In the end, I definitely do not recommend this restaurant. They were having a special, if you spent $100 – they gave you a $20 gift card. Wow, that’s pretty nice but we gave that gift card away. Yeah, not worth it.

Ikea – Burbank, CA

Ikea. This store has been a dream of mine to visit for years. We drove out to Burbank to visit this location and I am glad we did. It is a huge store and the street is named after them! I wish I lived in California, I would have bought so much stuff. Not to say I didn’t anyway, I made room for it in my suitcase. I still am holding up hope for it to come to Hawaii one day. Not sure why the this place has such low ratings on Yelp. It’s a nice big store although I’m not a fan of the layout, I guess it’s their way of making you walk through the ENTIRE store. It was a bit of a nightmare for me since I was so unfamiliar with this store, I kept getting lost.

Anyway, my main reason for the visit was also to try the meatballs! Food related, who would have thunk it.

Swedish Meatballs Complete Meal!

I love meatballs, so it doesn’t take much to impress me. I enjoyed it a lot! The gravy was great and the lingonberry jam too! Didn’t need the vegetables or mashed potatoes…give me a big plate of the meatballs and jam and gravy and that would be great. Well, as an Asian give me some rice too, thanks. Something else caught my eye as I lined up…you can see a corner of it in the picture above…

Chocolate Cake

I mean, look at that piece of cake. It’s everything you hope and dream of. It’s like that chocolate cake from Matilda. Mmm yum. I don’t think I need to say much more, just look at it. It looks as it tastes, gooey, moist and delicious. Ikea. Boom.

Ramen Hood – Los Angeles, CA

Ramen Hood is a 100% vegan ramen noodle shop. It is located in the Grand Central Market, which is home to a horde of food shops and fresh markets. Compare it to the Maunakea Marketplace only bigger and possibly cleaner? Anyhow, I tried to plan it perfectly. We would first check out The Broad museum and then grab our brunch/lunch from here. Okay, it kind of worked out. We had to pay for $15 parking for 3 hours of parking at The Broad but the museum took a minimum 1.5 hours to get through. We get to the Market and it is PACKED with people.

I wanted to try two places, Ramen Hood and Eggslut. Eggslut’s line practically wrapped around the market, it was a no go. Ramen Hood was busy too but we were able to order take out. I actually didn’t realize it was a vegan place until I got there…then I got excited, especially about the egg! And let me just say, $2.00 for half an egg…I hope it’s worth it. Let’s check out the food…

Garlic Ramen | $10 (+$2/egg)
Spicy Ramen | $10 (+$2/egg)

Sorry I didn’t get a picture of both bowls with their broths! The broths are great, seriously. Even though there is no meat, there is so much flavor and depth in the broths. A nice kick of umami. We actually drove to Ikea and awkwardly ate this in our rental car in their parking lot, lol. I was also saving my appetite for the Ikea cafeteria so I didn’t finish the bowl of noodles.

If we had more time, we would have eaten it at their bar. That’s the thing about this shop, it isn’t really a sit-down restaurant and they basically have a bar to eat at. So the big question in all your minds, how was the egg? I am coming from a very open and vegan loving place, and with that caveat, I bet you know where I’m heading. I DIDN’T LIKE IT. I really admire their try at a real egg, doesn’t it look realistic? I think the egg white is formed with agar agar and it just…I don’t know, I guess I’m expecting an egg texture and didn’t get it so it just felt odd. Glad I tried it just to know…would I order it again with the egg? Probably not.

Other than that, the ramen is great. Give it a try! And $10 a bowl? What a deal!

Boteaga – Los Angeles, CA

Oh yes, a trip to Los Angeles. Believe it or not, it was my first time to Los Angeles ever. Sure, I’ve been through LAX for connections but never to Los Angeles. It was a last minute booking, limited research and no expectations. I’m glad I went in with no expectations because I had a wonderful time there.

I’ve been through some pretty interesting times in the past few months…including the crashing of my laptop. I was able to restart it but then I lost everything and that certainly puts a cramper on spending time to blog. Some of my entries are long and it takes a bit out of me…so maybe I can try to update with smaller posts. This one is real quick, check out the drink I got from Boteaga:

Pinky Strawberry | $6.00

Isn’t this drink beautiful? I can’t say the motivation for the photograph wasn’t high on my list. How was the drink? Eh….the pink boba balls were much too hard to chew. Other than that, it’s really just a strawberry milk and I am lactose intolerant so I didn’t do myself any favors. Very cute shop located in Japantown Los Angeles. Even the actual cups are cute! But I wouldn’t recommend it.

Tim Ho Wan – Waikiki, HI

I like to think that when I try new restaurants, I can let you folks know if it’s good or not to save you time. Well, let me save you some time. I don’t think Tim Ho Wan is worth it. There’s a bit of hullabaloo because they are a Michelin-star restaurant. Does that apply to all their chain restaurants too? Not too sure…when I visited Hong Kong in December 2017, I got to try them for the first time: click here for that post. They pride themselves on being the most affordable michelin-star dining experience, I don’t think that translates too well in Hawaii. I’m sure the rent they pay here is high, I personally don’t think the dim sum is that great. You can get better in Chinatown. And guess what? Hot tea, it costs $1.50 PER HEAD. When is the last time you heard a Chinese restaurant charging for hot tea? I was a bit perturbed by that. Well, let’s get to the pictures!

A nice pictorial of some menu items (actually this is almost all the menu items)

Full Menu – You mark off what items you want (click on the picture for full size photo)

Steamed Rice with Pork Spare Rib and Chicken Feet • $5.25

Would the description be better described as Steamed Rice with Pork Spare Ribs and Chicken FOOT? Haha, yes, just one foot. I do actually eat chicken feet dim sum…but restaurants usually cut the nails off. That’s a bit off-putting. This dish was just okay, I was hoping for a deeper black bean flavor on the spare ribs – just a real basic bowl.

Steamed Shrimp Dumplings (Har Gow) • $5.25

Again, another basic dish. I thought it was good, but not $5.25 good. They have a nice skin (pi) for their dumplings though.

Steamed Pork Dumplings with Shrimp (Siu Mai) • $5.25

Okay, I didn’t realize it when I was dining there but it’s looking like each dish is at least $5 each. This was just alright, once again, I prefer the siu mai in our Chinatown restaurants. I feel like the good restaurants in Chinatown have perfected the recipe with juicy morsels of the pork, shrimp, mushrooms that are chunked so I can savor each ingredients with each bite. This one just mixes everything a little too well…with each bite becoming a bit non-descript in textures.

Steamed Shrimp and Chives Dumplings • $5.00

This was one of the better dishes, I really enjoy the skin they make for their dim sum. Look at how translucent that skin is! Perfectly soft, almost melt in your mouth kine skin, I would recommend this dish.

Steamed Rice Roll stuffed with Mince Beef • $5.50

Another dish that was average but not bad. Once again, they make some really soft noodles and so it was enjoyable but not memorable.

Baked BBQ Pork Buns • $5.75

I confess, I’m not a big bao person. Not a fan of char siu bao and if I am, it’s definitely baked over steamed. These buns are supposed to be one of their specialties and I can see why. None of my dining companions wanted to eat it (man, baos get a bad rap huh?). I just had to try the buns so I had to order it…and had to eat it all. Well, it was pretty good! The buns are so light and crispy and flaky, which was messy to eat but so nice to eat fresh. The filling is very saucy and a bit sweet, I think I enjoyed the flakiness of the bun coupled with the saucy char siu. I definitely recommend at least trying this if you’re at Tim Ho Wan!

Gochi Grill – Honolulu, Hawaii

Hey folks! Sorry for the unannounced and unexpected blog break, I guess I just needed a bit of time to relax. So…these food posts are a few weeks old! Although Gochi Grill is still considered a new restaurant! I was coordinating a quick order and I kept calling this a Korean restaurant. I don’t know why! It’s not. It’s more of a fusion Japanese/local plate lunch joint. I guess Gochi reminds me a bit of a Korean word and got mixed up from there. I think Gochi Grill is like a more high-end lunch plate. Things may have changed since I’ve written this…their take-out containers are NICE. Like, take home and wash it to reuse kine nice. They are located in downtown so there is absolutely no parking, I did a drive-by pick-up with a friend. They were apparently very busy…and while they have a phone number, they don’t answer it nor do they take lunch orders. Ha! Just like Tsukenjo, phone number that doesn’t work. If you find yourself in downtown, give them a try! They really put a lot of little touches in to make it delicious.

Gochi Lunch Set • $13.50
grilled chicken teriyaki with ginger scallion, yuzu miso salmon, okahara fried noodles, tofu salad and sushi

This lunch set wasn’t mine, but sounds ono yeah? Well, I’ve heard from two different people that the salmon is kind of mushy. I don’t know how to feel about that….better than dry? And they never got sick…so maybe that’s good?

Chicken Katsu • $10.50
brined chicken thighs, cocktail katsu sauce, shaved cabbage, rice and mac salad

Seared Meatloaf • $10.50
slow roasted and seared, with a truffle mushroom gravy, croquette, wilted kale, rice and mac salad

I had to get this. Meatloaf is totally my feel good plate lunch, and how can you go wrong with this description? The meat loaf tasted great, didn’t get too much truffle taste but I enjoyed it anyway. Their mac salad is good, not too mayonnaise-y and they add a nice tsukemono-ish veggie crunch to it. I would get this again.

Zaru Saimin • $7.00
fresh okahara saimin, cold truffled tsuyu, choi sum, hard boiled egg (no gray ring, yes!), tsukemono, green onion

Another dish I tried, I was in a truffle mood and wanted to give this a try. How was it? Well, I could taste the truffle in the dressing. Was it good? Eh…it was just okay. Tasted good but nothing memorable, I wouldn’t get this again.

 

Daiki Suisan Dotonbori – Osaka, Japan

I spent an entire day in Dotonbori. It was a lot. It was a lot of shopping and a lot of eating. And it’s hard because you want to try everything before you leave. What was Daiki Suisan Dotonbori? This was technically lunch but it was eaten VERY VERY close to dinner, but I tried my very best to eat to my full happiness at both meals. But if I had a choice? I would totally come back to this place to eat more next time! Good quality sushi for crazy low prices? Gosh, I could grind all day. I don’t have any prices for you folks…just pictures this time.

I don’t care if my mouth was going to swell up 10 times it’s size, I had to eat this. This was like $1 USD, seriously. I should have gotten more!

This is like a double crab sushi. Crab miso with crab meat. Looks appetizing right? Okay, no it doesn’t. It didn’t taste that great either. I wouldn’t recommend this one.

I’m a sucker for tuna mayo sushi. A little too heavy handed on the mayo, and it’s the same price as the raw shrimp?? What was I thinking getting this??

Had a craving for unagi which is odd since I never do…but it was good! I’m glad I got it.

I’m not even a huge fan of uni but I just had to get it because it was so cheap. Oh, and for the picture! It was actually pretty good…

Look, if you know me, this choice should be of no surprise. Ya, I got a hamburger sushi okay. Hahaha, I was just curious how it would taste…I know this is for kids. And guess what? Was good! And yes, once again, same price as the raw shrimp! I still have no regrets!

Just gonna end the post with two pictures of Dotonbori…here is the famous Glico sign. It’s too bad it wasn’t lit up…

Dotonbori at night! I was so baus tired by this time…if you look to the left, you’ll see the big Don Quijote Ferris Wheel. This Don Quijote is made for omiyage, I got choke snacks from there to bring home.

ZIGU – Honolulu, HI

Zigu is a brand spanking new Japanese restaurant. I found it on a Twitter post and didn’t realize I came to check them out before they were even listed as “Hot and New” on Yelp. Huh?? I like trying new restaurants but not usually before some solid and legit reviews come online. It’s okay, I was able to make a reservation on Open Table and the food pictures looked pretty good. So I’ll share right now, this restaurant is good. Pricey, but good. Definitely worth it. They even validate parking at Hyatt Centric. So what’s Zigu’s deal? Well, they try to find as much locally sourced ingredients as possible to serve up their Japanese dishes. A confession, I’ve been there twice in one month. Yah, was that good. But I’m a bit Zigu’ed out for now. My first outing, they seated me at the counter in front of the chefs. I was upset at first, I’m not a counter type of girl and I’m not real chatty…and feel a bit insecure being watched by the chefs. But I warmed up to the counter because I got to watch the masters at work and got to see how other dishes looked! The menu is currently not very visual so it’s hard to decide on dishes since I like to see the visual first. Let’s take a look…

Shochu Mojito • $11.00
Mari’s garden shiso, fresh lime, strawberry, blueberry, shochu

This is an awesome drink, sounds as refreshing as it is described. I loved it! I loved the addition of fresh fruit, the only bit of disappointment? There is a shiso leaf but it’s just sitting in the drink. I wonder if the drink could be improved if the shiso was muddled into the drink…hmm, I should become a bartender, j/k!

Local Ahi and Kona Kanpachi Poke Sushi • $12.00
sea asparagus, seaweed, yuzu pepper

How’s the look of these guys? I mean worth the price just looking at them right? Okay, just kidding, but they were delicious. I had the honor watching the sushi chef carefully put them together. You take the nori and fold over the ahi to make like a sushi sandwich to eat it. Just smash the lotus chip onto the ahi before you do that, it’s awesome. I was afraid the lotus chip would be too hard and crunchy. No, it’s light and crispy. Absolutely delicious.

Local Farm Egg Dashimaki Rolled Omelette • $7.00

Anytime you can get me a dashimaki egg, I will be your forever friend. Oh wait, did a bunch of people run away? It’s okay, I can just order this on my own. Love it. I’m not a fan of the local sweet omelette, I’m more of a savory fan myself. Delish!

Grated Local Daikon and Ponzu Diced Beef Steak • $26.00

Okay guys, I know what you’re thinking. $26 bucks for that? It doesn’t look like much does it? Well it is much, thank you very much. Usually when I’m served diced steak on one of these hot plates, I know I’m in for some hard core chewing. Not this time. Every piece of this steak was super tender and delicious. Even the pieces at the end that were sitting on the hot grill for how long…loved the daikon and shiso leaf on top. I would definitely recommend this dish!

Grilled Saikyo Miso Salmon • $19.00

Not much entree but I can ensure it was highly enjoyed, and take a look at that salmon. Always a risk to order fish in restaurants but they cooked it nicely, not dry!

Cold Udon Noodle with Local Cilantro and Chicken • $15.00

Oh man, I was super looking forward to this dish. They make their noodles in house, with kale! Oh hello, gotta get noodles, I’m crazy for noodles. I am also a fiend for fresh cilantro. I never thought I would ever say this…but there was too much cilantro on this. I can’t believe I said that. I think they give you a full bunch of cilantro on this dish…hmm…may that’s where my $15 went. A nice light dressing, chicken, avocado, cilantro…was delicious.

Local Basil Pesto Udon Noodle with Watercress • $13.00

Your eyes are not deceiving you. And no, we did not already eat half of this dish when I took this picture. That’s all you get when you get this dish. Bummers to share this brah cause the portion is kind of small ah? The pesto sauce tasted good, liked the nice chew of the noodles and the crunch of the raw watercress. Worth a try but beware of the serving size…

Chicken Teriyaki with Local Vegetables • $18.00
sauteed kale, fried purple sweet potato

Okay, I never ate this dish but I figured out at the end that I should have been taking pictures of the entrees as they had it ready! Gosh! Why did I think of it so late?? Would have loved to grab some quick shots for you folks. I’m not one that ever orders teriyaki anything…but the way the chef prepared it looked so dang ono. I certainly wouldn’t mind trying it on a next visit!

 

Kani Doraku – Osaka, Japan

Okay, I have to be honest here. This post won’t be very detailed because I don’t remember a lot of details but took a picture of each dish. Kani Doraku is the famous crab restaurant you see all over Japan, you’ll recognize the big huge crab on their restaurant buildings like the one below. We both ordered our own sets but I realized soon after that I don’t think we needed to, I’m pretty sure I saw other girls share a set. Man! Honestly, we ate our way through Dotonbori all day so I was not hungry for dinner here. What a waste! If you make it a day at Dotonbori and would like to end with dinner at Kani Doraku, I highly suggest stopping at the restaurant to make your reservation as early as you can, they fill up EARLY.

Well, I learned of a new allergy this trip. I cannot eat raw crab. 🙁 Itchy throat. Or was it not properly cleaned? Hmm…

Nabe before and after. It was a fail in making the hot pot look nice for the picture, I am not a food stylist.

This was an interesting preparation, it was like a tomato/marinara type sauce. It even came with pieces of crusty bread and I just wanted to eat it all. Yes, I wasted stomach space for bread dipped in tomato sauce. I’m crazy.

Ugh, we were so full by the time this was brought out. This is done at the end. WHY OH WHY do they always save delish rice dishes for the end? Sigh…

I ate the fresh fruit, was good. The vanilla ice cream with the green tea/sauce looked great, I didn’t have any but I was told it is good!