Thursday, January 22, 2015

Foodland launches Eat Local Tuesdays

Nadine Kam photos
Aya Nishihara and Eric Newhouse have fun with props during the launch of Eat Local Tuesdays at Foodland Aina Haina.

Foodland launched its new weekly Eat Local Tuesdays program Jan. 20, with all Foodland Hawaii locations supporting the idea of buying local in support of farmers and a safe, sustainable food supply for Hawaii.

They will be making local products easier to find, tagging them with orange “locally grown” and “locally made” signs, and sharing samples from 3 to 6 p.m. or 4 to 7 p.m. depending on the store. Students from neighboring high schools will be offering free samples to customers, their participation made possible through a “Buy Local It Matters” Eat Local 2015 grant from the State Department of Agriculture.

They are also inviting customers to take the Eat Local Tuesdays pledge at checkout or online at, by committing to eat local at least one day a week.

Customers who take the pledge will receive double Maika’i points on the local items they purchase on Tuesdays. In addition, each week there will be a “Local Item of the Week” offered at a reduced price. You can also sign up to receive weekly notice of the Local Item of the Week, as well as recipes and information about the item and grower.

Also, on Tuesdays only, there will be a specially priced local deli offering and seafood poke offering. This week’s items were a Hawaiian plate lunch of laulau, hulihuli chicken, lomi salmon and pineapple, for $8.99, and a lomi poke bowl of ahi tossed with lomi salmon and sea asparagus, for $10.99.

For updates, follow @foodlandhi on Instagram and Twitter, and FoodlandHawaii on Facebook, and use the hashtag #EatLocalTuesdays

Kalani High School juniors Christina Shin, left, and Victoria Huynh were there to offer samples of meatloaf made with the Local Item of the Week, local ground beef, that this week was priced at $5.49 per pound with Maka’i Card.

Now here’s something I didn’t know, the IHS (Institute of Human Service) has its own chocolate-making enterprise, Chocolate on a Mission, to help raise funds for its support services. Learn more at

Also offering chocolate was Amy Hammond of Aloha Chocolate Co., whose tins feature locally themed chocolates incorporating Waialua Estate Chocolate, and below, chocolate shaped like coffee beans.

More local sweets came in the form of macadamia nut and vanilla nougat made with local ingredients, shared by Christian Acerogiles. The roasted macadamia nuts were so pure and intense.

During the launch, Foodland Aina Haina welcomed a sizable neighbor island contingent of farmers and food producers, including beautiful Maui Fruit Jewels inspired by French patés de fruits, fresh fruit purees cooked with pectin to create a concentrated jammy jewel candy.

Stacy Au and Jan Tsue, left, came from the Big Island to represent Na’alehu’s Paradise Meadows Orchard and Bee Farm, whose products include Hawaii’s Local Buzz honey, macadamia nuts and coffee. Tsue told an amazing story of her aunt and uncle coming to Hawaii for peace and quiet, buying some land, and after clearing it, discovering they had a farm with lime and lemon trees, macadamia nuts and coffee.

A sampling of Paradise Meadows garlic roasted- and chocolate-covered macadamia nuts.

Kokohead Foods smoked ahi spread was the hit of the afternoon, a product of Kaimuki’s 12th Ave Grill.

Naked Cow Dairy’s Sabrina St. Martin was there to share new products, including honey- and Kona coffee-rubbed Kona Buzz cheese, and Pink Hawaii cheese studded with crushed pink peppercorns. Coming up will be a squid-ink brie.

Maui Pasta Co. offered crostini with artichoke heart dip, spinach linguini with tomato cream sauce and pesto lasagna.

Lomi poke was Tuesday’s seafood special, at $10.99 per pound with Maika’i Card.

This Hawaiian plate was the week’s local deli special.

Many of love the combination of sweet and spicy offered in Ohelo’s Four Pepper Jelly.

Foodland’s seafood salad was being served on beds of aquaponic lettuce from Mari’s Gardens.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

An evening with Bruno Ménard at Halekulani's La Mer

Nadine Kam photos
Halekulani executive chef Vikram Garg and visiting chef Bruno Ménard share a laugh in the kitchen before service begins.

During a special dinner at Halekulani’s La Mer restaurant Sunday night, Chef Bruno Ménard gave diners a taste of the work of a three-star Michelin chef, one of the most prestigious designations in the culinary world.

In the kitchen before guests arrived, Ménard prepped the staff on the ins and outs of each dish and exacting details of service, including just a small pour of red wine and truffle Perigueux sauce that would accompany a filet of beef tenderloin prepared in the style of venison.

“And we should leave the extra sauce on the table?” one waiter asked hopefully, knowing that Hawaii diners love a good sauce.

A sharp “No!” was Ménard’s response, feeling the beef would stand on its own.

And so went the dinner, complex but spare, using the finest ingredients requested by the chef, with some local ingredients — such as Maui onions and Kona lobster — swapped for their French counterparts. Flavors were clear, clean and crisp, with dishes balanced throughout, every ingredient accounted for on the plate and nothing extraneous.

Each dish was paired with wine from Young’s Market Co., selected by Master Sommelier Patrick Okubo.

A beautiful sunset to start the evening.

Amuse of leek purée, tomato gelée and olive oil ice cream, with pickled tomato and pineapple. Essentially a beautiful light salad in a martini glass.

Kona lobster Parisienne blanketed by tomato-hibiscus gelée, with vanilla chutney and dots of crustacean oil. Topped with handpicked local vegetables. Accompanied by Louis Jadot, Corton-Charlemagne, Grand Cru 2012.

Delicate and billowy Maui onion soup over truffle custard royale studded with peas, fava beans and yuzu skin confit. Served with Charles Heidsieck, Blanc des Millénaires, Brut 1995.

Coquilles Saint Jacques Pôelées with Parmesan gnocchi, sake-scented cream, måche couilis and brown butter, served with Domaine Long-Depaquit, Chablis Vaudésir, Grand Cru 2009.

Beef tenderloin prepared venison-style, with savoy cabbage, light potato and foie gras cannelloni, and truffle and red wine Périgueux sauce. Topped with a line of salt, pepper and roasted soba tea. Accompanied by Château Rauzan-Segla, Margaux 2008 and Domaine du Clos Frantin, Vosne Romanée Les Malconsorts, 1er Cru 2012.

Valrhona P125 chocolate macaron soufflé with vanilla sorbet and caramelia pearls. Accompanied by Domaine La Tour Vielle, Banyuls Rimage 2013.

At the end of the meal, the chef asked me which was my favorite dish, which was hard to say. My first thought was of the lobster Parisienne layered over beautiful tomato and hibiscus gelée. But the Maui onion soup over truffle custard royale with textured surprises of fresh sweet peas, fava beans and yuzu skin confit hidden within, was heavenly. I couldn’t help but note the classic French dish is similar in concept to Japanese chawanmushi, which the chef might have also noted during his time at L’Osier in Tokyo, where he earned the Michelin stars.

I also loved the lightness of the non-pasta cabbage, potato, foie gras and black truffle canneloni.

At the end of the meal, many a guest, who had paid $295 per person, asked, “When’s the next dinner?”

The idea is planted, so time will tell.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

'Buy local' matters to Hawaii's teen chefs

Nadine Kam photos
Krislyn Miyagawa, a Mid-Pac junior, won the Best Cookoff Performance award for her dish of seared opah and scallops over local veggies, during the statewide “Buy Local, It Matters” student recipe and cooking contest. Surrounding her are, from left, judges Pamela Young, Sheraton Waikiki chef Darren Demaya, Dean of the UHM College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources Maria Gallo, and Sharon Hurd from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.

If you want evidence as to how far we’ve come on the culinary front, you just need to take a look at the professional level work presented by high school students who participated in the “Buy Local, It Matters” statewide recipe and cooking contest.

The event, sponsored by the Hawaii State Department of Agriculture, took place in the commercial kitchen at the University of Hawaii at Manoa Ag Science building Dec. 5, with five finalists hailing from Kea’au High on the Big Island, Molokai High, Campbell and Mid-Pac.

The students got there by first submitting a 200- to 300-word essay explaining what buying local meant to themselves, their family, community and Hawaii. They also had to submit a recipe that included at least two locally grown or produced food items. More than 65 students entered the contest.

Molokai High School senior Kiana Simmons works on her dish of round steak roulade with bacon, Kumu Farms pesto and Molokai sweet potato mash. She brought her homegrown products with her.

The state’s “Buy Local” campaign was launched in 2007. According to Gail Hurd from the Hawaii State Department of Agriculture, and one of the judges for the competition, sustainability education is important if we are to support local industry and produce. She said that although .4 percent of the state’s budget is dedicated to agriculture, Waikiki hotels buy 70 percent of local ingredients available “because tourists want that experience,” she said, while lamenting the loss of such local produce as yellow-skinned, pink-fesh guavas that once grew on Kauai but can no longer be found.

In getting the students to think about what we lose when we rely on imports, she said the importance of buying local goes back into their communities.

For the neighbor island students, agriculture is a subject close to home. Kea’au High School senior Kenny Nguyen’s father farms ginger and potatoes, and he’s well acquainted with Big Island grown Hamakua mushrooms and Kona blue shrimp that went into his siu mai.

Molokai high school senior Kiana Simmons also brought her own Molokai beef and sweet potatoes with her, rather than asking for Dept. of Ag assistance.

As to where they’re learning to cook and plate like a master chef, Mid-Pac junior Krislyn Miyagawa said she’s self-taught from watching YouTube videos for a year-and-a-half.

“I’m an active person and play tennis, so I’m into eating healthier and cooking healthier, so that was the spark for wanting to cook,” she said, adding that adults often warn, “If you don’t take care of your body now you’ll pay for it later.”

“I don’t eat out a lot because I’m able to cook by looking at pictures in magazines and videos on YouTube. I learn from them but make it my own.”

Mid-Pac junior Krislyn Miyagawa’s winning dish of seared opah and scallops over local veggies.

The two neighbor island contestants, Molokai High School senior Kiana Simmons and Kea’au senior Kenny Nguyen, shared the Best Winning Recipe award. Sheraton Waikiki chef Darren Demaya will be putting their dishes on the Kai Market menu.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

First bite: Yakiniku House Futago

Nadine Kam photos
Niku sea urchin, on the menu at Yakiniku House Futago, combines beef, shiso, uni and nori.

We don’t need low expectations heading into 2015, so there’s nothing like starting the new year with a bang to set the tone for the rest of the year.

I’m grateful that Yakiniku House Futago came to town, with a perfectly timed opening on Christmas Day, a day of gifts and magic.

“Futago” is the Japanese word for “twins,” in reference to the chain’s youthful founders, Sunchol and Sunbong Lee. The pair launched their first Osaka-style yakiniku restaurant in Japan a mere four years ago. Today, their empire numbers 30 restaurants in Japan and China. Next up: Manhattan.

The New York restaurant was already in the works when the duo decided to open in Hawaii after vacationing here and discovering a lack of Japanese-style yakiniku venues. They found only Hiroshi, in Waikiki, and Gyu-kaku, and thought the market would be perfect for their concept, presenting premium beef in a lively setting with plenty of coddling from an energetic — if not all English-speaking — young staff.

Explaining through an interpreter, Sunbong — who will be working the floor alongside his staff for about a month — summed up their work as “eatertainment,” with the idea that hands-on “concierge” grill service, music and the palpable enthusiasm of waiters enhances the flavor of the food.

He may have a point there, but I’ve always felt that as a truth seeker, I’m impervious to the kind of bells and whistles restaurateurs use to charm a crowd. The food is darn good on its own, and my taste buds don’t change with the addition of good service and lavish decor.

But having someone there to guide the experience and offer helpful information makes dinner here all the more impressive, especially for those more likely to swallow than taste food. When pointed out, you will find vast differences in sections of beef, a mere one-half inch apart.

At 949 Kapahulu Ave. Call (808) 734-3956.

Welcome to their world:

Though Korean by blood, twins Sunbong, left, and Sunchol Lee grew up in Japan favoring the lighter Japanese, rather than highly marinated Korean-style yakiniku.

The niku sea urchin, with the beef cooked, ready to be rolled up and devoured.

It’s rare to experience a vertical beef tasting, but that is what you get with the house specialty, Japanese Wagyu “Hamideru” Kalbi ($28). Your “concierge” will cuts away parts and pre­sents them one at a time for you to savor and compare the fatty marbled rib shi, tender and sweet rib maki, a triangular slipper-shaped piece they call the “geta,” and “kaduri,” the piece of back fat that tastes like short ribs. This can be enjoyed with Kyushu-style ponzu sauce, but don’t add sauce until you have savored the wagyu solo, with its sweetness and fattiness.”

Hamideru availability is limited. Your next-best choice might be the Futago Premium selection of four kinds of beef ($25 per person), about four ounces each of beef tongue, short rib, flank and skirt steak, grilled tableside for you.

The garlic steak isn’t as flavorful as the other cuts, but worth a try, for the compensation, a garlic-butter-shiso-sesame sauce warmed on the grill.

Beyond the meat options, there is an assortment of kim chee ($4.80), and below, avocado ($8.80) served two ways, with a creamy dressing and a mix of shoyu and wasabi.

Raw beef is mixed with a small dice of apple and topped with raw egg in the Korean specialty of yukhoe, available with rice ($9.80), or without ($12.80), as an appetizer.

Dessert of sweet potato ($4.80) served with vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of chocolate syrup proved to be a wonderful combination.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

RumFire Waikiki NYE ‘Reveal’ coming

Nadine Kam photos
The new cabanas at RumFire will have their public relaunch during the Sheraton Waikiki “New Year’s Eve Reveal” event.

RumFire hosted a grand opening celebration Dec. 29 with a sneak peek of its new oceanfront bar and VIP cabanas that will make their public debut during the Sheraton Waikiki’s “New Year’s Eve 2014 REVEAL” event, beginning at 8:30 p.m. tomorrow for 21 and older. Arrive dressed to impress.

The relaunch of RumFire will spread out over the Edge Bar and surrounding pool decks at the hotel and feature Vegas-based DJs Tina T and DJ Evil, as well as local aerialists, go-go dancers, DJ MIKED, DJ Technique, and more.

Tickets for the event is $85 presale (ending 11:59 p.m. today), $100 regular, and $50 for those partying after the midnight. No refunds. Order tickets here:

To book VIP space at the new oceanfront bar and cabanas, or bottle-service tables, call (808) 271-1728.

There’s plenty of fire in the decor.

During the preview we enjoyed small bites from the RumFire menu including pork belly pancakes, Korean chicken wings and this Kahuku shrimp bao.

Garlic steak, fried rice and crisp Parmesan-truffle oil-and sea salt “tatas” (tater tots) were also on the menu.

Before leaving we stopped by the dessert bar stocked with bite-size treats like this double chocolate confection.

Friday, December 26, 2014

It's Aloha Friday at Hula Grill Waikiki

Nadine Kam photos
Hula Grill’s new Aloha Friday Luau plate features a mouth-watering sampling of Hawaiian favorites with a twist.

Aloha Friday started in 1962, when the Hawaiian Fashion Guild began to promote the idea of loosening up in the then-starchy workplace by adopting casual Fridays, making aloha shirts acceptable in place of suit and tie.

But the idea transcended fashion to become part of our daily lifestyle. Living every day as if it’s Aloha Friday, the idea of having one special day to celebrate our relaxed, laidback way of life, seemed to be disappearing from popular consciousness.

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Hula Grill Waikiki is bringing back the idea with the launch of its weekly Aloha Friday Luau plate, offering up a taste of the islands with one huge sampler, with a few twists on island favorites, such as kalua pork with a pinch of star anise—I thought it tasted a bit like boiled peanuts—and Maui Gold pineapple dusted with li hing powder.

Also on the plate are laulau (more fish please), Lomi Ho Farm’s tomato with Kahuku sea asparagus, ahi poke with He’eia ogo, juicy housemade pipikaula, haupia-purple sweet potato dessert, poi and furikake-topped rice.

It was a little “clean” for local tastes, which had us clamoring for chili pepper water. But it was sweet chili pepper water rather than the fiery Thai pepper water we were expecting, so just add salt.

As a special treat, emceeing the festive Dec. 19 launch event was Kimo Kahoano, one the musicians who wrote the song, “It’s Aloha Friday.” Kahoano’s son Kamuela also performed.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Hawaiian Pie Co. returns to Hori family roots

Nadine Kam photos
Baking together over the holidays rekindled the Hori family’s heritage and passion for pastry. Clockwise from right are Joel and wife Jan Hori, second-generation baker Richard Hori Sr., and Joel and Jan’s children Lindsey, Matthew and Andrew Chun-Hori.

It’s always sad to hear of another mom-and-pop kamaaina business closing its doors, often not for a lack of fans, but because of a lack of interest by succeeding generations.

There seemed to be no end to this rising tide of closures, but now comes some good news with the Dec. 18 opening of Hawaiian Pie Co., on Waiakamilo Road.

The Hori clan that owns the operation has roots on the Big Island, where patriarch Yoshio Hori opened the renowned Holy’s Bakery in the 1930s. His grandson Joel—who opened Hawaiian Pie Co., with wife Jan, and children Lindsey, Matt and Andrew Chun-Hori—said that the Holy’s name may have derived from a classic misunderstanding between the Japanese-speaking Yoshio and a Caucasian signmaker, who heard the rolled “r” of Hori as “l,” and created the sign accordingly.

Holy’s is still going on strong in Kapaau, where the family-run bakery sits on Holy Bakery Road.

Pies cooling after coming out of the oven.

Here on Oahu, Yoshio’s son Richard Sr., opened Holy’s Bakery Manoa in 1979, offering bread, cookies and other treats until it closed in the 1990s. Joel, who had grown up with the bakery took a job as an air traffic controller with the Federal Aviation Administration, but as he came closer to retirement and watched scores of other kamaaina companies being lost to time, he started thinking more about his own bakery heritage.

The family had always baked pies together over the holidays to give as gifts, and they knew the demand for the pies was there. But the real push came from his children, who acknowledged the difficulties of running a bakery, but still wanted to continue the family legacy.

In spite of its family heritage, Hawaiian Pie Co. is a startup that is not affiliated with the original Holy’s. Their recipes are unique, and taking input from friends, family, and now customers, the crust and pies have evolved into deep-dish, three pounders.

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The exterior of Hawaiian Pie Co. at 508 Waiakamilo Road.

Pies named in honor of “Grandpa Yoshio” include such classics as apple and coconut, but the family has come up with new combinations such as passion-pear and peach-pineapple, with a mix of expected classics and new flavors available daily.

Pies are available whole or by the slice, at $20 to $22 for whole pies. Other treats, such as shortbread cookies, turnovers and manju will also be available as time permits. Visit or to stay up to date on daily offerings.
At 508 Wai­akamilo Road. Call 988-7828. They will be open until 3 p.m. today, Christmas Eve.

Human-scale mixer.

Pie samples help customers make decisions.

Lindsey Doi slices into a pie, available by the slice as well as whole.

Boxes waiting to be filled.