Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Lanikai Juice launches weekly running club

Yotaro Takenaka photo
Lanikai Juice launched its running club in Waikiki last month, with health enthusiasts led by coach Mariane Uehara (in day-glo top) on a 3-mile run along the Ala Wai Canal.

Lanikai Juice owner Pablo Gonzalez grew up in Argentina with the notion that fresh fruit and juices were not just part of a healthy lifestyle, but a routine and pleasurable part of everyday life.

“My mom, she used to put apples, bananas in my bag every morning when I went to school,” he said. “It means when I stop working every day, the first thing I do is go pick up fruit at a warehouse and bring it to my house. It means fruit and vegetables, we’re not afraid to it. It’s part of our regular diet.”

When he arrived in the United States, he saw the obesity problem and in 1997 launched Lanikai Juice to ease people into the joy of juicing. Two years later, he started a series of educational programs that he took to schools and hospitals to encourage dietary moderation.

And most recently, in keeping with his health-oriented philosophy, he launched the Lanikai Running Club out of Waikiki’s Lanikai Juice JTB Travel Plaza in the basement level at Waikiki Shopping Plaza, 2250 Kalakaua Ave.

Runners of all ages and levels are invited to join in on a three- to five-mile run every Wednesday, with a meetup time of 6 p.m. at the Waikiki Lanikai Juice. Refreshments will be served after the run, and there will be a weekly raffle of Lanikai Juice gift cards. There will also be free monthly seminars on running, nutrition and wellness.

Call 262-2378 for more information.

Nadine Kam photos
Uehara leads runners through a warm-up session before strapping on some safety tape and taking to the street.

Runners safety is important and the tape makes them more visible to drivers.

Runners finish back at Lanikai Juice, where at dinner time, they might order up a pittaya, or dragonfruit, bowl.

The inaugural group of runners with Lanikai Juice owner Pablo Gonzalez second from right.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Ward Courtyard Brunch returns

Nadine Kam photos
Brunch at Ward returns Sunday morning.

Ward Village Shops monthly Courtyard Brunch returns for the second time from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 17 at the Ward Village Information Center Courtyard (former IBM Building at 1240 Ala Moana Boulevard).

The festive monthly event features farm-to-table dishes served up local chefs, with produce and value-added edibles offered up by farmers, as well as live entertainment. This month’s theme is “Green,” and vendors—including Morimoto, Pig & The Lady, Whole Foods Market, EAT Honolulu and Poke Stop—will be highlighting anything from green ingredients to sustainable farming.

A $25 ticket entitles you to three bite-size dishes and a drink. It’s not a lot of food, but additional food and drink tickets are available for $7 each. And you have to remember that all proceeds benefit the Ward Village Foundation, which supports local non-profits and programs focusing on culture, community and environment.

Free parking will be available in the T.J. Maxx parking garage on Auahi Street. Reserve tickets online by visiting www.wardvillageshops.com.

To set the scene, here’s a recap of the inaugural April 12 event, themed “Women Working for Ward,” and featuring local female chefs and farmers, including pastry chefs Michelle Karr-Ueoka from MW Restaurant, and Jayme Vaniew from Morimoto Waikiki, Jill Nordby and Jamie Sexton of Holoholo General Store, chef Gida Snyder from Naked Cow Dairy, and food from MW, The Pig & The Lady, Whole Foods Market and Morimoto:

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Fresh fruit is a beautiful, eye-opening delight in the morning, and citrus lined the bar, where two barmen were not enough. As long lines formed, two more troops were called in.
Brunch goers caught on camera and video at April’s event.

Naked Cow Dairy’s Sabrina St. Martin shared her company’s specialty cheeses.

MW husband and wife team Wade Ueoka and Michelle Karr-Ueoka posed at their menu board listing dishes including housemade S.P.A.M. and seafood chawanmushi, below:

MW’s housemade, crispy mochi-crusted S.P.A.M. was my favorite dish of the morning, served with tamago and nori jam. All the right flavors in a tidy bundle.

Also from MW, a duck pastrami Reuben with Ma’o Farms kohlrabi sauerkraut. Yummers!

Everyone gravitated toward the familiarity of steak and potatoes from MW, with bacon chimichurri, first, but with only three food tickets in hand, I was after something more unique.

Whole Foods Market addressed the greens in the crowd, offering up veggie poke of taro and breadfruit, and below, an avocado “carpaccio” salad with tomatoes and mixed greens.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Japan funnyman Takeyama opens shave ice pop-up

Nadine Kam photos
Japan comedian Takeyama took time to pose with fans during a Golden Week visit to his shave ice pop-up inside Sam’s Kitchen Waikiki.

There have been lines out the door at Sam’s Kitchen in Waikiki in recent weeks. While Sam Monaghan is known for his ono garlic steak and shrimp plates (it’s best when Monaghan is doing the cooking), the lines were for the pop-up shave ice stand started by Japan comedian Takanori Takeyama, known as Cunning Takeyama.

A television station challenged him to open the shave ice stand, and the comedian said he thought about it for 15 minutes before agreeing to the stunt — even though it meant putting up $65,000 of his own money. He was recently in town to greet fans and sign autographs in celebration of Japan’s Golden Week.

May 13 is the last official day the pop-up will be open, although Takeyama may consider setting up something more permanent. In business for just a month, the shave ice stand has brought in about 600 customers a day since Day 1, and at $5 per shave ice order and $30 for T-shirts, I’d say he’s made his money back and had the last laugh.
If you want to peek in, Sam’s Kitchen is in an alleyway at 353 Royal Hawaiian Ave., across from T Galleria by DFS.

Non-flash video

Passersby can’t miss the bust of Takeyama as the restaurant entrance. He’s known for his loud-mouthed, angry antics.

Takeyama’s signature rainbow shave ice served in his logo bowl.

The shave ice pop-up has been drawing 600 to 800 visitors a day, typically fans eager to catch a glimpse of comedian Takeyama.

Fans left messages and drawings for the Japanese comedian.

Fans found out about Takeyama’s appearance via social media and were willing to stand in line for an autograph by the Japanese celebrity.

Takeyama gamely oblighed autograph seekers.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Mother's Day at Arancino at The Kahala, and more options

Nadine Kam photos
The Mother’s Day insalata presentation is a treat for eyes and palate at Arancino at The Kahala. Details of the individual delicacies are below.

Every time I’m out, people lament that they haven’t tried this new restaurant or that new restaurant, dating from a year back.

Sunday, aka Mother’s Day, provides the perfect excuse to get out and try someplace new, or somewhere you might consider out of your price range for an everyday meal.

While treating your mom, you’ll also be treating to yourself to some special menus. Chefs and restaurateurs know very well it may be their one opportunity to win over the casual restaurant goer, so you can bet they’ll be putting their best effort forward.

Over at Arancino at The Kahala, here’s a look at the $68 prix fixe menu offered by executive chef Daisuke Hamamoto during dinner hours, 5 to 10:30 p.m., with last seating at 9:30 p.m. Wine pairings will be available for $90. (The regular a la carte menu will available for lunch.)

 Amuse of foie gras macaron.

The bread presentation.

A closer look at the caprese and bagna cauda selections from the insalata platter at top of page.

A closer look at the ahi carpaccio topped with tomato film, from the insalata platter.

Delightful arancini with shrimp oil infusion and shrimp flakes.

 Mom will have her pick of pasta, either this linguine with Manila clams and Ho Farms cherry tomato concasse, white wine and garlic olive oil, or below, orecchiette pasta with sun-dried tomatoes, brocolini and garlic olive oil.

 Knives accompany presentation of the meat course, but it’s not necessary. The sous vide merlot-braised shortribs are so tender all you need is your fork.

Dessert of roasted almond panna cotta topped with coconut gelato, and surrounded by coconut granita.

Mom will also go home with a box of six housemade macarons. Very yummy!
Arancino at The Kahala is at The Kahala Hotel, 5000 Kahala Ave. Call (808) 380-4400 for reservations.


Special Mother’s Day dinner sets will be presented in a three-tiered lacquer box. In Tier 1: Tempura don, sesame sauce udon and nigiri. Tier 2: Prime beef filet steak, chilean butterfish chirimushi and fried oyster. Tier 3: Sashimi, vegetable sticks, foie gras
and dessert. The cost is $75 per person. Mom receives 50 percent off, to make it $37.50. At Koko Marina Center; reserve at (808) 888-7777.

A Mother’s Day brunch buffet will be featured from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. For $51.95 per person, enjoy your fill from an omelet station, sushi station and dessert station, along with entrees of poached salmon with creamy dill sauce, drunken seafood pasta, Bananas Foster french toast, glazed chicken with mango chutney, smoked meat fried rice and an array of breakfast meats. The full menu is at http://holoholobarandgrill.com/event/mothers-day-breakfast-buffet/. The restaurant is at 2494 S. Beretania St. Reserve at (808) 369-7297.

MAC 24/7
The restaurant celebrates the most important woman in your life with its Feast Fit for a Queen” buffet. The buffet is $48 for adults, $21 for keiki ages 4 to 12, and free for age 3 and younger, available from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Among luxurious dishes available will be slow-roasted prime rib and turkey at carving stations; mashed potatoes with bacon, cheddar cheese, sour cream and chives; salmon benedict with lemon dill hollandaise and fried capers; shrimp cocktail; lobster bisque; seven-cheese macaroni and cheese; and more. MAC 24/7 isinside the Hilton Waikiki Beach hotel at 2500 Kuhio Drive. Valet parking is $3 when dining. To reserve, call (808) 921-5564.

Treat mom to a shopping spree plus prix fixe Mother’s Day lunch available between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. For $45 plus tax and gratuity, start with a starter choice of beet-cured hamachi crudo or Big Island hearts of palm bisque, followed by one entree choice from among six items: Poached Eggs Benedict with crab, avocado, prosciutto, lyonnaise potatoes and fresh fruit; or quinoa fried rice; grilled Big Island strip steak; Alaskan halibut; kiawe-smoked pork tenderloin salad; or lobster club sandwich. Finish with pastry of the day. Note that the menu is subject to availability of products. Inside Neiman Marcus, third floor. Call (808) 951-3420.

Sheraton Princess Kaiulani
Kama‘āina families can start celebratiing by taking advantage of a $155 per night rate available May 8 through May 11. Overnight parking for one vehicle, WiFi and a 35 percent food discount (not applicable on the Mother’s Day dinner buffet) are included; and the resort fee will be waived.

On Sunday, a Mother’s Day dinner starts with a free “Mom-mosa” for each mom dining at Pikake Terrace. Enjoy buffet favorites such as chilled jumbo shrimp with cocktail and brandy sauce; ahi poke; sushi; vegetable crudities with garlic dip; steamed crag legs with butter and cocktail sauce; pan-seared mahi mahi on sushi rice with wasabi beurre blanc and cucumber; stuffed chicken with spinach on a mushroom boursin cheese veloute; “pulehu-style” beef steak with teriyaki drizzle; a carving station featuring prime rib; and desserts.

The cost is $53 for adults and $26.50 for children between the ages of 5 and 12. Those attending the dinner will receive four hours of complimentary parking. For reservations, call (808) 921-4600. To book a stay with the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani, call (808) 922-5811.

Tiki’s will be offering a Mother’s Day brunch that hits all the right spots. On the menu will be all-you-can-eat snow crab lgs, red velvet waffles, pancakes and hand-carved salt-crusted prime rib, plus a “Build Your Own” omelet station, French Toast Bar and Poke Bar. Additional items include crab eggs Benedict and macadamia nut mahimahi with lemongrass beurre blanc, mashed Yukon Gold potatoes, Nalo Farms mixed greens, seasonal fruits and housemade kim chee. Offered from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., at $38 adults, $17 keiki (ages 5 to 12), and free for 5 and younger. Tiki’s is at 2570 Kalakaua Ave. Call (808) 923-8454.

Mother’s Day brunch and dinner buffets will be available between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. and 4 and 9 p.m., at $47.95 per adult, and $23.95 per child ages 4 to 10. The menus can be viewed here: http://willowshawaii.com/index.php/mothers-day-brunch-dinner-buffet/. The Willows is at 901 Hausten St. Call (808) 952-9200.

The Mother’s Day special menu starts with a glass of champagne (for 21 and older only); an appetizer choice of jumbo lump crabcake, sizzling bacon, Caesar salad or clam chowder; an entrée choice of petit filet au poivre with garlic mashed potatoes, or grilled wild salmon and broccoli or asparagus; and dessert of Junior’s New York Cheesecake. Offered between 11 a.m. and 10 p.m., at $64.95.

In addition, all moms will receive a $20 gift certificate toward her next visit. Some restrictions may apply. Wolfgang’s is in Building C at Royal Hawaiian Center, Level 3. Call (808) 922-3600 or visit www.opentable.com.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Taormina celebrates mango season

Nadine Kam photos
Taormina executive chef Hiroyuki Mimura presents bite-sized versions of his Mango Tango salad.

In celebration of mango season, Taormina Sicilian Cuisine executive chef Hiroyuki Mimura has added a couple of new mango dishes and apéritifs to his menu.

Suited to the warm summer ahead, he’s offering a light and refreshing Mango Tango Salad ($15)with satisfying bites of shrimp, prosciutto, avocado and locally grown cherry tomatoes and cucumbers that blend with the freshness of the fruit. Basil and lime zest brighten the dish, and chopped pistachios lend their pleasant crunch.

The main attraction.

For dessert, there’s a Hawaiian Blossom mango panna cotta ($9) that has a guilt-free light texture, topped with mango jelly and fresh mangoes.

If you’re walking in from the heat, cool down with a sip of Mango Bellini ($14) or Mango Spritzer ($9).

All items will be offered through June 30.
Taormina Sicilian Cuisine is at Waikiki Beach Walk, 227 Lewers St. Call (808) 926-5050.

The Mango Tango salad, and below, broken down into a bite size portion with shrimp visible.

Light Hawaiian Blossom mango panna cotta won’t weigh you down in the summer heat.

The Mango Spritzer and in the background, Mango Bellini with Prosseco and mini scoop of mango sorbet.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Mahaloha Burger going places, starting with Waikiki and Kailua

Nadine Kam photos
Mahaloha Burger’s blue cheese bacon combo is $7.25 for a single patty, and $8.25 for a double.

After building a career on Hawaii’s “ninth island”—Las Vegas—Jesse Aguinaldo has returned home to open his startup, Mahaloha Burger.

His first shop is in Royal Hawaiian Center, and he just opened a second branch in Kailua, where Windward diners can now enjoy juicy burgers made with grass-fed Parker Ranch beef, sold in single or double patties.

The flavors are local through and through, and if the basic burger isn’t enough, try the loco moco burger ($6.75 single, $7.75 double). I thought the egg could be bigger, but the gravy and burger itself are excellent.

Those who don’t eat beef, can opt for a turkey burger or mahi sandwich instead, at $7.25 each.

Then consider a side of “Parmaroni” fries ($5.95), combining fries, pepperoni and a sprinkling of condiment-style Parmesan cheese.

Aguinaldo said he returned home for more work/life balance. “It started 50-50 but now it’s creeping up to 60-40,” he said of the expansion. But he isn’t stopping. His next move will be west side, in the Ka Makana Ali’i—The Center for West O‘ahu development, and he’s considering other sites before pursuing the Asian market.
The new Mahaloha Burger is at 143 Hekili St., Suite 150. Call 263-2777.

They had me at avocado, $7.25 single, and $8.25 double. With a slice of Swiss cheese.

A Hawaii original goes mobile, the loco moco burger.

The dogs are also delish, this one accompanied by a side of Parmaroni fries, with pepperoni and Parmesan, natch.

Contemporary “hieroglyphics” give the burger house a Hawaii branded appeal. You just know this concept is going places.
Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage is in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Alan Wong celebrates 20th anniversary

Photo courtesy Alice Inoue
Chef Alan Wong celebrated the 20th anniversary of his eponymous restaurant, with Alice Inoue.

Time flies when you’re having fun, and nothing makes me feel older than to witness the anniversaries of food movements and restaurants that I was writing about from their starts.

I was there when Alan Wong opened his eponymous restaurant in 1995, and I was in the room when he celebrated his 20th anniversary April 15, another tax day, just like Day 1!

It’s another landmark year for Wong in that, come summer, he’ll be opening his first restaurant in China.

As much as I get down on a new generation of chefs who seem to take a nonchalant, somewhat lackadaisical approach to running their businesses—often failing to keep regular hours or opening without training staff or opening with only an outline of a menu—Wong’s remarks on his anniversary evening reminded me that today’s pros didn’t start out perfect either, even if they had a more polished veneer.

He said he remembered being told to put out signs telling motorists passing by his nondescript King Street building that the restaurant would be opening soon. So he put out a sign that said, “Coming Soon,” with no indication as to what exactly was coming. And, after the restaurant opened, they forgot to take down the sign for a long time.

In an earlier interview for HI Luxury magazine, he told me, “To tell you the truth, I didn’t know what I was doing. The only thing I was envisioning was survival.”

Nadine Kam photos
This was one of my favorite dishes, so refreshing with a fiery kick. Kualoa Ranch poached shrimp wrapped in somen, with kochu jang Asian pear sauce, mint and basil.

Coming to Oahu after working at Lutece in New York City, and opening The Canoe House Restaurant at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows on Hawaii Island, he hoped his restaurant would last five years, knowing that within the industry, nine out of 10 restaurants fail in their first year.

Well, he made it, and with a celebratory menu of 14 savory dishes and 11 sweet bites, showed what keeps diners coming back for more. There were about five food and dessert stations set up around the restaurant and lanai, so I thought, “I can handle this.”

But, food kept emerging from the kitchen. Sadly, I was able to enjoy only about eight dishes, but they were all wonderful.

Some of the things I missed were a Keahole lobster summer roll, five spice pork with mustard cabbage chimichurri, kim chee porridge, and opakapaka with savoy cabbage daikon broth.

One dish I didn’t photograph was Kauai Makaweli Ranch “Flintstone Steak” accompanied by a decadent glob of roasted bone marrow. So silky amazing, I had to have seconds!

Here are some of the other dishes:

Niihau eland carpaccio with chili Parmesan and Nalo Farms arugula.

Kombu-cured Hawaiian kampachi with shiso ahi tartare, uni, opihi and ocean foam.

Niihau lamb shoulder moo shu with salsa roja and a choice of toppings from a condiment bar, below. I opted for fresh corn salsa, goat cheese and verde sauce.

Pork hash “katsu” slider with shredded cabbage and hoisin mustard vinaigrette.

Cambodian kampot black pepper surf and turf with Maui Cattle Co. beef, Hamakua mushrooms and king crab.

North Shore Aqua Farms misoyaki tilapia on onigiri.

 Macarons and Hawaiian Sun guava fruit jelly.

An assortment of cookies and castella cake with local honey glaze.
Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage is in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.