Nanzan – Kyoto, Japan

I can’t even link this restaurant, I don’t think I can find it. This restaurant was located at Kyoto Station. We decided to take a day trip from Osaka and were starving by the time we arrived at Kyoto. Craving meat, we decided to try this place. The ramen place had a line but this place was empty. Maybe that was a sign. Vicki and I had a funny exchange over this, she thought this restaurant was related to Nanzan GiroGiro in Hawaii, unfortunately it is not! Although I really want to try Nanzan GiroGiro…

Beef Steak Lunch (A) | ¥2700
daily beef steak cuts like Kyoto Wagyu and Japanese beef. 
Beef steak 100g, cattle bone broth soup, salad, rice set.
Beef Steak Lunch (B) | ¥3850
today’s special beef steak cuts like Kyoto wagyu and Japanese beef loin.
Today’s special beef steak 100g, cattle bone broth soup, salad, rice set.
Rice, Cattle Bone Broth Soup, Tsukemono/Kimchee

The bone broth was very clean and light tasting. The tsukemono was a nice touch since I wasn’t expecting it. Yes, that is one kimchee wonbok leaf folded up (lol). It was good, quality over quantity right.

Salad!

Here is the salad that came with the set. It tasted good, isn’t it so pretty? Yes to plentiful onions yet again. I enjoyed this!

In the end, was this worth the money? Ehh…initially I thought it was kind of pricey. But I guess for a set, this was a pretty good deal! We got both sets and shared, I think I would get Set B on my own if I were to come here again.

Universal Studios – Osaka, Japan

Ever read a blog about Universal Studios and only want to read about the food? Yeah, me too. You mean there are other things to do at these parks but eat? You stumped me. Anyway, I’m serious…this is nothing but food. Enjoy!

Smoked Turkey Leg

Actually, this one I picked up was a chicken leg. I think? It certainly was not as big as the turkey legs I have gotten. Even the sign read chicken leg, too bad I didn’t take a picture of it. Shucks!

Edit: Okay I must have had too much legs this trip, this one WAS a turkey leg. It was Disney that was a chicken leg. I’m sure you’re excited for that upcoming post, lol.

Hot Butter Beer

Thinking I should have gotten the cold slushie one. It was so cold that I decided to get the hot one, it was nice and warm in my hands. It was quite nice actually! Had myself a nice little seat while I slowly sipped this sweet elixir.

Happiness Cafe – Keema Curry

We know these parks have expensive meals right? And the food can be somewhat mediocre. I enjoyed this dish but was a bit disappointed that it didn’t include a cuteness factor like the next dish I am going to share. I do like the salads they serve in Japan, plenty onions and an onion dressing, haha.

Fried Chicken Plate

How cute is this? This wasn’t my dish but it was enjoyed! Gotta appeal to the kids right? Though the diner of this dish was not a kid…we’re all kids at heart.

A bit of a language barrier ended up a mistake here. We kept asking the cashier what the flavor of this dessert was. The menu just called it cream but it is like neon yellow. Ordered it anyway and it was banana flavored. Wait, artificial banana flavor. Gross. Fresh banana, I get. This was…really bad. Not recommended and it costs extra!

Hello Kitty Donuts and Nikuman

Yes, afternoon snack. Look at the cuteness! And yes, it tasted good too! I enjoyed the hot nikuman, perfect for the chilly weather. The donut holes were good, filled with custard or an apple filling. The donuts were definitely more of a treat for the eyes than the tummy. Perfect photo op!

Hakata Ikkousha – Osaka, Japan

Ah yes, the Japan posts start…now! First stop? About 5 days in Osaka. I love Osaka. I love Osaka more than Tokyo. The flight to Japan is always longer than the one back home and I didn’t get much sleep on this flight. Then, we had to navigate our way to the train to take us into the the city center of Osaka. The train ride was fine, we got good seats but it was like another nearly 2 hours to get there!

Luckily for us, our hotel in Osaka runs a shuttle bus from Osaka Station to the hotel. We were able to find the Shuttle bus stop okay, actually a few hotels run shuttle buses so that was convenient! What I found amusing was that our bus ran constantly and was full of both hotel and non-hotel patrons, jump on and you get a free ride to the hotel or to Osaka Station. Our hotel was not located in a lively area so the bus was nice to take to Osaka Station to begin our daily journeys.

Anyway, we got to the hotel and checked in. Threw down our bags and then were hungry. We decided to take the hotel bus back to Osaka Station, ha! Hakata Ikkousha is located right in front of our bus stop, we did not want to go searching for another place at this point. We were sold.

The ticket machine to order! There was a bit of instructions but we still managed to muck it up. I didn’t realize you had to put your money in first and then order…so we ordered an extra bowl of ramen by accident. Luckily one of the workers came out and clarified everything and refunded us! Whew!

Red Ajitama Ramen
I don’t remember the name of this

This was my ramen, I saw black oil in the picture of the vending machine and went for it. Figured it was black garlic oil. Was it? I don’t even remember so I can’t tell you. How was the ramen? Good, not great. Hit the spot after long hours of travel.

Gotta always get a shot of the egg. How does this look to you? To me, I prefer the yolk to be softer and creamier so this was a bit overcooked for my taste.

Mentaiko Rice

Hmm, this was okay. Pretty salty but what do you expect with mentaiko??

Gyoza

Gyoza was good. I always love gyoza and the did it just fine! Was I itching to return back to this restaurant? Not really, no repeat visits this trip. We had plenty of repeat trips to Ichiran (let’s not go there, unless I post about it).

Ya-Ya’s Chophouse & Seafood

Happy New Year everyone! By now, you’ve heard of Ya-Ya’s right? The restaurant that President Obama visited so it’s become a bit of the “it” restaurant right now. Funny thing is, I’ve been meaning to try Ya-Ya’s before his visit and actually made my reservation the day before news broke!

So how was the visit? Join me on this photographic journey…

Pink Cadillac | $14.00
We start with muddled watermelon then add Suntory Haku Vodka, Lillet Rose and St Germain Elderflower Liqueur. This is served in a mini carafe over watermelon and lychee ice at the table.

Look, I’m not going to beat around the bush on this. This drink was delicious. Doesn’t it look pretty? I don’t know if you can see it but the ice cubes are pink and white. I ordered two of them. I’m not a drinker and I just had to have two. Gotta admit, the Chinese in me loved that the ice cubes were flavored. That’s like a whole other drink! Delicious, I would definitely order this again. Wait, does that mean I had 4 drinks? Hmm…

Complimentary Bread

Fresh out of the oven, ono! I always like molasses bread. The pointy bread was interesting…I think it tasted good because it was still warm and somewhat soft from the oven. If the pointy bread was served cold, I bet they would be hard and rubbery.

Life hack: remove the butter ramekin right when they bring the bread to the table. Don’t be like us and end up with melted butter from the heat of the bread!

Creamed Spinach | $11.95

What can I say about creamed spinach? Tasted like the typical creamed spinach you get at a steakhouse, nothing unique or special about this one.

Créme Brulee Corn | $10.95
fresh Kahuku corn hand shucked & cobbed; served w/ a sweet candy shell

Why? Why? Why? I think they wanted to put an interesting spin on corn and our curiosity got the best of us. We ordered it. Waiter said our orders were great choices. Okay. This was the worst corn dish I have ever ordered. Look, corn is already sweet. It was an abomination to Kahuku corn.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy creme brulee like any other dessert loving human being. But this? It does not work. Burnt sugar over creamed corn does not work. It was much too sweet and the sugar was much too hard (yes, it’s supposed to be). This just doesn’t work. I would not order this again, blech!

Ya-Ya’s Lobster Pan Roast | $54.95
w/ live whole Maine lobster, crab meat, Manila clams, sea scallops & jumbo Kauai shrimp

I apologize for the different colorings with the photos. What is it with restaurants and the dark dark lighting? How was this dish? DELICIOUS. So good. I will share a few tips if the restaurant reads this, nothing to do with the taste.

  1. Provide gloves – Yes, we had to go at this dish with bare hands.
  2. Provide a seafood bib – I get it, you’re a nice restaurant but this dish is very saucy and my white shirt still got stained as careful as I tried to be.
  3. Crack the lobster – if you’re going to make your diner dig out meat from the entire lobster, help us out by making it easier to get to the meat. It must have been quite a sight to watch us eat this (talking fully hands-on).
  4. Provide wet wipes – Well since we didn’t have gloves, our hands were complete drenched in the sauce (there’s lot of delicious sauce). I had to dirty my cloth napkin (was all red) and still had to run to the bathroom to wash hands.
PRIME Bone-In Prime Rib | $65.95
“Double Prime” slow roasted overnight 32 ounce

Best prime rib I have had in my life. Hands down. Am I an expert on that? Probably not. I only get to grind on prime rib at buffets but those are okay, no? This hunk of meat was the most tender and perfectly seasoned piece of prime rib I have ever had. Melt the “mout” kine tender, I am still dreaming of it. I was also able to take home the leftovers which DID NOT GO TO WASTE, LET ME TELL YOU.

Candied Cheesecake | $12.95
topped w/ fresh berries

Haha, after the creme brulee corn catastrophe, this was still ordered. Cute little serving of cheesecake with the burnt sugar topping. I don’t know about their plural description of fresh berries, came with one sliced up strawberry.

Ya-Ya’s Beignets | $12.95
w/ vanilla ice cream, organic cane sugar & chocolate sauce

Your eyes don’t deceive you. This is a picture of the dish right when it was placed on our table. Vanilla Ice Cream became vanilla soup – maybe while it was waiting in the kitchen? If you know me, I don’t care for vanilla ice cream anyway so I just ate the beignets. Tasted great with the chocolate sauce, I would order this again!

Okay, the reason I brought up the Obama visit was because it may have impacted the service on our visit which means I can’t judge them too harshly for it. It was busy in the restaurant when we arrived and only got busier. They have a very big bar area with two big TV screens showing the football game. At one point during our dinner, two male diners stood by me to watch the TV and made loud cheers (restaurant is small – the bar and the tables are all together). Not quite sure what atmosphere this restaurant is going for, it’s definitely not a sports bar so that was a bit odd.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to dine and leave. I don’t stick around after eating to have long conversations. Well, same thing this time but we were still in the restaurant for over 3 hours. Huh? I know our food took quite a while to come out but I didn’t realize it was that long, once again, it was probably due to the popularity from Obama. I will forgive that.

Bathroom! Oh my gosh. The bathroom is located outside of the restaurant around the corner and is shared with other restaurants. You need a key to get into the restroom area, then you could access male/female/family restroom. Well, each time a person had to use the restroom, the hostess would escort the person to the restroom with the key so she could bring it back with her. Not exactly a sustainable practice. I went multiple times due to lobster sauce hands and too much liquid intake.

The food was delicious (minus the corn), the service itself was actually really good. Great waiters who were thoughtful and worked as a team. We were a bit ignored near the end but I assume it’s because of how busy they were. I would definitely give them a chance again. And yes, it was expensive! It was a holiday get-together. Gotta start the new year right!

Romano’s Macaroni Grill, Honolulu, HI

My first visit to Romano’s Macaroni Grill was years ago when they were a fairly new restaurant. I didn’t have a great experience so I haven’t returned for all these years. Well, I had a recent visit and was pleasantly surprised by my experience. Maybe it’s because I’m older now but I enjoyed the food and thought their menu was of pretty good value! I’m looking forward to my next visit.

White Peach Sangria | $9.75
romano’s bianco white wine, peach puree, sparkling white wine

Good drink! Not great but not bad, worth another order!

Spicy Ricotta Meatballs | $10.00
house-made beef, veal, pork + ricotta meatballs, caramelized onions, red chile, arrabbiata.

One of my few complaints? No complimentary bread! You can order bread but shoot, why would I want to do that?? Man some nice crusty bread would have been great with these meatballs, they were delish!

Lobster Ravioli | $24.95
lobster-filled fresh pasta, roma tomatoes, asparagus, lemon butter, shrimp
Shrimp Scampi | $24.95
sauteed jumbo shrimp, capellini, garlic, rosemary butter, roma tomatoes

Can’t comment too much on the lobster ravioli since this shrimp scampi was mine. How was it? How can you go wrong with copious amounts of garlic, butter, cheese and shrimp? It was delicious. Very rich. I don’t do so hot with rich foods anymore but am willing to risk it!

New York Style Cheesecake | $8.95
shortbread crust, fresh strawberries
Lemon Passion | $7.95
citrus cake, lemon curd, whipped cream

My dessert! I loved this dish. Looks super rich but the citrus really cuts through the richness. And when they say citrus cake, they mean it. The cake is like sopping wet, lol. It’s okay, I don’t mind an (extremely) moist cake. Love lemon curd, love the caramel sauce surrounding the cake. I would definitely order this again!

Arancino at the Kahala – Kahala, HI

I got treated to a wonderful lunch course at Arancino for my birthday. A belated birthday celebration and it was very nice, a bit awkward when they brought out the birthday dessert (my birthday was in August, lol) but it was nice that they asked if we were celebrating anything! I think the lunch course is a pretty good deal, I heard dinner is pretty pricey. Well, you are paying for their rent at a high end hotel! If you want to try them for dinner, you should try their other locations. Let’s take a look at their lunch course though!

Fresco Hawaiiano | $6.00
hawaiian pineapple juice, blood orange, soda

What a wonderful and refreshing drink. I don’t care much for alcohol in general so I appreciate a good variety in non-alcoholic drinks.

Complimentary Bread

Rosemary bread! Isn’t it the cutest? They serve you olive oil with the bread but you can ask for balsamic vinegar and even butter, free of charge!

Bagna Cauda | $17.00
fresh vegetable crudites, warm anchovy garlic dip

Well, doesn’t this look…appetizing? LOL, where do I begin? The anchovy garlic dip is warmed by a tea light candle. The veggies are delicious, anything dipped in garlic is good. So the “soil” is not edible, I don’t know why I was hoping it was like sauteed mushrooms or something. It’s just…rocks.

Tartare di Mare | $21.00
fresh ahi, kona kampachi, avocado tartare, tobiko

Okay, I’m a little silly. We had a wonderful server by the way, he was very nice and respectful and attentive! I had to giggle to myself when he described the dish…at the avocado tartare part. I mean, I guess to me avocado is always tartare. This was a delicious appetizer! I would get it again.

Spaghetti con Tobiko e Calamari | $22.00
flying fish roe, calamari, garlic olive oil sauce

They are known for their uni pasta and I actually usually get it. Unfortunately, uni pasta can be quite rich and my tummy can’t take it well anymore. If you get the uni pasta as part of the three course meal, you have to add $8.00.

So how was this dish? It was good! The calamari was nice and soft and I loved crunching on the black tobiko. I enjoyed it!

Pizza Funghi e Tartufo | $27.00
eryngii, shimeji, maitake, mozzarella, gorgonzola, marscapone, parmigiano reggiano, white truffle oil

Okay, I know I should have enjoyed this. This is a seasonal pizza and includes so much mushrooms and cheeses! For me, it was lacking a little something. Possibly spice? Just very bland to me and I could hardly taste the truffle oil. They do offer red pepper flakes if you want it…

Bonet | $12.00
chocolate & amaretti custard, caramel, amaretto disaronno, house made whipped cream

Isn’t this dessert beautiful? Well it tasted great too! Sinfully rich and chocolate-ly, you can’t go wrong. I would recommend this dessert!

Complimentary Birthday Dessert

The secret’s out, my name really is Jenny, not just maybe. Ah well, I’ll keep this domain anyway. Isn’t this the cutest? Thankfully they bring it out but don’t make all their staff members sing to you. Whew. I didn’t realize they sprinkle silver flakes all over the plate and I went a little overzealous blowing out the candle. My apologies for the mess.

I don’t know the name of this dessert but it was a very nice meringue/baked baked alaskan pie type dessert. There was a nice chocolate cake within the meringue. Delish!

Do you see all the prices with the dishes? That’s ala carte prices, these dishes are actually included as part of a three course special lunch (appetizer, entree, dessert) for $43 each person. That’s a good deal considering the prices of these dishes individually!

Max’s of Manila – Kalihi, HI

Knock, knock…is anyone still here? I took quite a long and unannounced sabbatical. October is probably my busiest month and this time, it dipped deep into November. This is the first weekend where I haven’t been stressed about the upcoming week. That may have to do with the three day work week coming up, yay!

Updates? I got a new laptop! Yay! I have a trip planned for December, yay! And yes, I did not stop eating during my sabbatical. Here is a recent meal I had at Max’s of Manila by Costco. I have been to Max’s once, years ago. I didn’t come into this restaurant with high hopes but left feeling pretty good! The reviews on yelp cite bad service, we had very good service so I will not echo those sentiments. On to the food!

Pancit Palabok | $10.50
thick rice noodles in a delicious shrimp, squid and ground pork sauce, garnished with garlic bits, ground pork cracklings, green onions and sliced hard boiled egg.

I enjoyed the dish, it wasn’t great but it definitely wasn’t bad! My dining companion didn’t like it so I got to eat most of it. Hahaha! I will say I’ve tried it here and at Jollibee’s but I like it better here.

Garlic Rice | $4.25 (small)
jasmine rice deliciously stir fried in golden garlic bits

You read that right. This is the small order of garlic rice. How was it? Well, kind of bland. I think I could have gotten white rice and been okay.

Kare-Kare (Beef Peanut Stew) | $15.50
beef shank and oxtail with vegetables simmered in thick peanut sauce, served with shrimp paste on the side.
Shrimp paste with the Kare-Kare – I love it!

Yet another dish my companion did not enjoy but I did! I enjoyed the oxtail with the peanut-ty sauce and the shrimp paste, oh boy, that really adds a nice umami kick. I enjoyed it!

Max’s Fried Chicken (Half) | $9.75

Their famous fried chicken. Was it good? Well…the skin is certainly nice and crispy. The meat inside? Well, kind of dry and blah. I rather eat Popeye’s fried chicken, sorry! Don’t hurt me!

Mixed Plate

What is she up to now?

The finished product looks a bit blah huh? So here’s what I did. I wanted to make one pan of brownies with half regular fudge brownies and half fudge brownies with oreos. So I cut a piece of cardboard and wrapped it with foil while I poured the batter with oreo in, held the cardboard in place as I poured the regular batter in. Then, I just lifted the board out and baked it! The batter is thick enough that it won’t mix into one another…and even if it did…it’s all brownie batter!

I made it for a student training and they ate it all so I’m guessing it was good! Glad it worked!

You’ve heard about the craze. Plant based burgers all over the place. A bit late in posting this but I tried this a few weeks ago. It was good! It tastes just like a whopper, I can’t taste the difference. But honestly, if you think about it, a whopper tastes more like the veggies (onion, tomato, pickles, lettuce) than anything else.

A video blogger did a video about the impossible burger and she asked her location if they fry it on the same grill as the meat burgers and they said they do. WELL, OF COURSE THE IMPOSSIBLE BURGERS WILL TASTE GOOD THEN. Don’t you agree? Would I order it again? Sure! I like these meat alternatives!

Waioli Grill & Cafe – Kapahulu, HI

When I first saw posts and pictures of Waioli Grill & Cafe, I got super excited! Their menu looked pretty good and I was excited to try a brand new restaurant, Hawaiian sounding name but it’s actually a Japanese owned (I think?) restaurant. I got super excited to try the Bone Marrow Bi Bim Bap…how was it? Well…

US Prime Boneless Short Rib (3.5 oz) | $14.00

Hey guys, this was $14.00. Why don’t I just go to Yummy’s Korean BBQ and get like triple the amount of food. Not worth it. This dish also took the longest to come out (like a ridiculous amount of time). What took so long? Who knows? The meat is sliced so thin, it couldn’t have been the cooking time.

Bone Marrow Bibimbap | $18.00

This dish came out first and it was a bit of a bubble pop. Would have been great to get a picture of it before it was mixed but the waiter just went for it before I could take a picture. You can check out their Yelp page for the pictures of it before. Looks pretty good with the big bone full of marrow. How did this taste? Well, once they mix the bone marrow into the rice, it just looks like fried rice. You can’t really taste the marrow so it was a bit deflating for me. Sorry…

Yuzu Sorbet | $4.00 (was free for us)

The wait for our boneless short rib was so long that they brought us free dessert. Thought it would cool down our madness but it didn’t. Although, if you like yuzu, you would love this sorbet. Very strong and fresh taste of yuzu, would recommend if you like yuzu and wanna pay $4.00 for a scoop of it.

In the end, I felt like this restaurant was more of a trendy hipsterish restaurant. The food was just okay but was not worth the prices. They share their very small parking lot with a laundromat and a pizza place so parking was not great. We lucked out that someone was leaving just as we arrived! I don’t plan on coming back anytime soon.