Posted tagged ‘Honolulu’

Remembering Jill

January 24, 2013

I lost my dear friend Jill almost two weeks ago.  The past few days have been rough trying to process what happened and wishing I could have talked to her one last time to tell her how much she means to me.  We lived a few blocks away from each other when I lived in LA and we shared many meals, desserts, walks and shopping trips in those years.

We both loved to walk and eat so we’d often walk around Wilson Park or around our neighborhood for miles and when we got tired, we would stop somewhere to eat dinner.  Jill loved dessert so sometimes dessert would be before dinner, if we saw a place that had a good red velvet cupcake or if we passed by a 7-11.  She sure loved Slurpees too.

I know I’ve written about Liliha Bakery before but I wanted to write about it again because I know Jill liked this place.  It’s open 24 hours so it’s a great late night place to go and every time I’ve gone, it’s been packed.  No matter what time of day it is.  Jill used to like eating their grilled potatoes!   Just remember that it is closed on Mondays.  We had to learn the hard way on prior trips back to the islands.

I’ve actually only eaten real food here once.  They have a long counter and even at 4 in the morning, it’s hard to get a seat.

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I always come here to get cocoa puffs.  It’s a cream puff with chocolate pudding inside and chantilly frosting on top.  I think the last time we came, we bought a couple dozen to take back to my in-laws since we were having people over.  They were gone amazingly fast.  TM and I only had one each that night so we went back another time to get more.

Jill, you will always be missed and never forgotten.

515 N. Kuakini St.   Honolulu, HI

Back in the 808: Alan Wong’s

August 31, 2012

We had heard so many wonderful things about the food at Alan Wong’s that we decided to check it out for ourselves.  The restaurant itself is located on the third floor of an office building with not much of a view.  Once inside, we were brought an iPad that had the drink and food menus on it.  Some of the dishes had pictures we could look at to get an idea of what we were ordering.

The restaurant is quite small and dark so my pictures do not do our meal any justice.  Everything we ate was amazing, from the warm bread with a dijon chili aioli to our cocktails to our entrees and dessert.  In fact, the complimentary bread was so good with the aoili that I ate too much of it and made myself sick.  Lesson learned.

 

I will leave you with one of our favorites of the night.  TM had ordered the prix fixe menu and while everything that came out as part of his meal was great, this whole tomato salad was surprisingly divine.  The tomato itself is skinned, sliced and placed back together onto the plate.  It was beautifully ripe and the li hing mui ume vinaigrette around it brought it up a notch.

We are headed back to Hawaii tomorrow for a wedding!  While Alan Wong’s isn’t on our itinerary this time around, we do have many other places we plan on trying!

1857 S King St.  Honolulu, HI 96826

Back in the 808: Shimazu Store

August 28, 2012

Although Waiola’s is definitely my favorite place for shave ice on the island, I did want to try out the Shimazu Store and see what it was about.  Inside the store, there are many signs stating the rules for ordering your shave ice.  (There is also a sign which states no pictures so I have no pictures of the inside of the store.)

First you must tell them what size shave ice you want.  The small is a large and the large is a giant and “The Larry” is just ridiculous.  The Larry is the size of about four smalls put together.  TM and I shared a small and it was more than enough because the small is about the size of my head.

Shimazu Store offers an assortment of unique flavors like durian, mojito, creme brulee, red velvet, peanut butter, haupia, and more!   I chose green tea with haupia sauce on top.  I am so glad we got the plastic holder for 25 cents.  It was worth it not to have our entire shave ice crumble to the ground.

Make sure you go early since there is not much parking and follow the rules on the signs so you don’t get yelled at.  Order your size, extra toppings, with or without ice cream, pay for your shave ice (cash only) and THEN tell them what flavors you want.  It was almost “soup nazi” status but worth it in the end!

330 N. School St.   Honolulu, HI

Back in the 808: Waiola Shave Ice

August 23, 2012

Shaved ice always reminds me of summers in Japan.  There are so many festivals or matsuri in Japan during the summer and they always have shaved ice or かき氷.  I loved eating shaved ice so much that someone (my Mom, grandma, other relative in Japan) bought me my own shaved ice maker!  Back in the day, the shaved ice makers were often designed to look like a popular cartoon character and had a hand crank to shave the ice.

I almost always chose strawberry flavored shaved ice with condensed milk on top.  Besides the fact that I love strawberries, I think one of the reasons why I loved getting strawberry flavor was because it would make my lips red.  It was a way of wearing temporary “lipstick” when I was 5 years old without getting in trouble by my Mom.

Ever since, I’ve ALWAYS gotten strawberry shave ice wherever I’ve gone.  There have been a couple of upgrades over the years… vanilla ice cream on the bottom and then mochi balls.  Every once in awhile I may get green tea if it’s offered.  I thought I had found perfection at Waiola’s with my perfect combination: a large strawberry shave ice with ice cream and mochi balls.  I never had a need or want to venture out and try something different. *Note: it is “shave ice” in most of Hawaii, “ice shave” on the Big Island.*

I’m not sure what got into me this day but I decided to go a little crazy and get strawberry and lychee shave ice, vanilla ice cream and no mochi balls.  The lychee was so refreshing and was the perfect partner for my familiar strawberry.  I. LOVED. IT.

TM went with rainbow: strawberry, vanilla and banana.  I’ve always thought it was odd that he doesn’t get ice cream in his shave ice.

There are two locations but the one on Waiola St. is the original and my favorite of the two.  The ice is so fluffy and smooth and melts as soon as it hits your tongue – it is nothing like a snow cone served on the rest of the mainland.  I have to go Waiola’s a minimum of two times each time I’m in Hawaii, no matter how short my trip may be.  I can’t wait to go again!

2135 Waiola St.   Honolulu, HI

Back in the 808: Mitsu-Ken

July 18, 2012

*Sorry friends, I’ve been MIA lately!  May and June were crazy busy with travels to Portland, LA, Greece and Turkey.  Yes, Greece and Turkey too!  TM and I went on an amazing trip to a couple of the Greek islands and to Istanbul for two glorious weeks in June.  We ate our way around the two countries and I hope to post about them soon this year but in the meantime, let’s finish up our Hawaii trip.  Did I mention we’re going back to Hawaii in September?*

Fried rice and fried chicken aren’t my usual breakfast foods but Mitsu-ken is only open from 5 AM to 1 PM (Tuesday through Saturday).  TM was concerned Mitsu-ken would run out of their famous garlic chicken if we went for lunch so we headed out to Kalihi first thing in the morning.

We knew we had days of gorging ahead of us so we tried to keep it “light”… we only ordered 6 pieces of chicken and two scoops of rice to share.  The flavor on this chicken was incredible.  The outside was crispy, the inside flavorful and garlicky with a sweetness to it.  I’m sure we reeked of garlic for the rest of the day but it was worth it.  The fried rice was decent and almost seemed as if it had been made with mochi rice because it was a little of the soft side.  I would go back for the garlic chicken but not the fried rice.

Mitsu-ken is literally a hole-in-the-wall with no seating.  We ended up taking our food back to the car and eating it while parked.  This was our lovely view.  We had contemplated driving somewhere to eat that was more scenic than this but decided we wanted to eat our food ASAP while it was still hot.

TM wasn’t sure if he wanted to order a breakfast plate to go along with the garlic chicken but he decided against it.  He chose to keep it simple with just the garlic chicken and fried rice.

Mitsu-ken is located across the street from the place we were planning on eating lunch.  After we finished our food, we drove across the street to pick it up lunch.  Good thing we kept our breakfast “light” that day!

1223 N. School St.   Honolulu, HI

Back in the 808: Sushi Izakaya Gaku

May 22, 2012

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before but I lived in Japan for two years.  I taught English at a high school in the third largest city in Fukuoka prefecture.  I have so many great memories from those two years, much of them revolving around food.  Eating and drinking is such a huge part of Japanese culture that it’s no wonder that most of my pictures from Japan often included people, nature, food or some combination of the three.

Professionals often frequent izakayas in Japan after work.  Izakayas are usually small, casual dining establishments that serve food, sake and beer.  I often used to go with other teachers to unwind after a long day and we would eat and drink beer until we were in danger of missing the last train home.

I had asked my friend Jeff where we should eat since we hadn’t been back to the islands in awhile.  When he told me that Sushi Izakaya Gaku was his favorite place to go, I knew we had to try it.  The day we flew back from Maui, we called Gaku around 4:15 to try to get a reservation for that evening.  They had an opening at 5 PM for us if we promised to eat fast so we booked it.  Good thing we did because people were getting turned away at the door as we ate our meal.

My favorite dish of the night was the spicy negi hama tartare.  One the raw quail egg gets mixed in, wrap it in the nori (seaweed) and eat.  The hamachi was perfectly creamy and the flavors of the fish combined with the scallions and raw egg were in perfect harmony with each other.

The homemade tofu with dashi jelly was amazingly smooth and silky.  We mixed in the wasabi and ate it with our spoons.  It was a pretty great way to begin our meal.

TM does not care for crab but he let me order the king crab cake.  It came out sizzling on the plate and tasted buttery with huge chunks of crab.

One of the specials that night was the papio carpaccio.  Interestingly enough, this was one of my least favorite dishes of the evening.  I had never tried papio before and thought it didn’t compare to the hamachi.

The karaage chicken had good flavor but it did not blow me away.  I will probably pass on it next time and try something else on the menu.

The nigiri sushi we ordered was impeccable!  Hamachi for me and salmon for TM.

We weren’t planning on ordering dessert here but when we heard green tea ice cream with homemade mochi, we decided we could share.  It was the perfect end to our memorable meal.

We ate our plates clean and paid our bill before the next reservation came.  This dinner was one of my top two favorite meals of this trip because everything about Gaku was great including the atmosphere, service, and of course, the food.  It was quite different from izakayas I used to go to in Japan.  It didn’t have the usual yakitori and other skewers you would usually find in izakayas and was definitely not as smoky (smoking is allowed everywhere in Japan) but it had an intimate and casual feel once you were inside.  I would go again in a heartbeat if we have time the next time we are back!

1329 S. King St.   Honolulu, HI

Back in the 808: Zippy’s

March 18, 2012

Right after TM and I started dating, I went to Hawaii with my parents for my cousin’s wedding.  I told TM all of the places I wanted to eat at, Zippy’s being one of them.

“ZIPPY’S?!?  Why in the world would you want to go to Zippy’s?!?,” he asked.

Fast forward about five years and TM now agrees with me that it needs to be a stop when we are back on the islands.  It is a chain restaurant but it is a Hawaiian chain so it doesn’t break my rule.  Zippy’s is the Denny’s of Oahu.  Most are open 24 hours so it’s a great late night spot after bars and clubs close.

An ever so popular menu item at Zippy’s is the Zip Pac.  It comes with fried chicken, teriyaki beef, a fish filet and spam over norifurikake rice.  It has a great variety of food for a very reasonable price.  When I first went to Zippy’s it was about five bucks.  Now it is over $8!  TM and his Dad both ordered a Zip Pac.

TM’s Mom got the burrito with Zippy’s chili.  It’s actually a deep fried bean and meat burrito (chimichanga) with chili over it and topped with cheddar cheese.  You can order it like this or as part of a plate that comes with rice and macaroni salad.

Since we had eaten a filling McDonald’s breakfast earlier that day, I ordered a small beanless chili over rice.  I never grew up eating chili at home so one of the first times I had it was at Zippy’s on one of my many trips to the islands.  Now I cannot eat chili unless I have rice to go with it!  I love that Zippy’s offers a beanless version for bean haters like me.  It’s seasoned great but I did feel that it was more oily than usual this time around.  It was topped with cheddar cheese and onions.

We did make it back to Zippy’s with some friends one other time during this trip after a night of karaoke.  I was so full from our dinner that I just ordered an Orange Bang.  TM ordered a Korean fried chicken plate.  The small fried pieces of chicken were dipped in a spicy shoyu sauce and topped with green onions.

In a weird way, Zippy’s is comfort food to me.  It is quick, convenient and good!

Various Locations


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