Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Old School Tokyo ramen was one of three ramen options offered at the Sun Noodle Ramen Lab pop-up at Chinatown's Lucky Belly Nov. 25. The chicken and shoyu broth was topped with ajitama egg, charcoal-grilled char siu, wafu spinach and bamboo shoots. The flat, medium thick noodles are most popular with ramen lovers in Japan today.
Most people still think of Sun Noodle as the little company in Kalihi that supplies our ramen houses and makes pi for our won ton soups.
But the company, founded in 1981 by Hidehito Uki, is a major player on the national food scene due to the growing popularity of ramen. After shipping noodles to California and Washington for years, the company opened a Los Angeles factory in 2004, started shipping noodles to New York a year later, and now has established Ramen Lab in New Jersey, where executive chef Shigetoshi Nakamura helps would-be ramenya owners develop original menus and concepts for their restaurants.
They've also helped established restaurateurs like Marcus Samuelsson, who wanted a recipe incorporating Ethiopian teff flour.
With much of the country yet to discover the joys of ramen, it's definitely a business with an upward trajectory.
Nakamura was in the house at Lucky Belly on Nov. 25 for a one-night Ramen Lab popup. The particulars: No reservations, first come, first served from 5 p.m. while supplies lasted, and there were at least 60 people lined up from the corner of Hotel and Smith streets to Little Village, after the first in line, from about 4 p.m., were admitted.
I arrived at about 5, but was lucky enough to be part of a group that had been second in line at about 4:15 p.m.
The chef presented three types of ramen, representing local, Japan and New York styles. With the enthusiasm generated by this popup, more events may be coming our way. It's only fair, given that Hawaii has offered a warm, supportive environment for Sun Noodle to grow up.
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
The holiday decorations are up at Kensei's home.
Christmas came early to guests of hairstylist, jewelry designer, stylist, and this particular evening, chef, Kensei.
The autumn-themed dinner, hosted by Kensei and Dale Young the day before Thanksgiving, was his way of saying thank you to Cathy Lee, Pam Campbell and Lesli Yano, who were involved with his recent "Art of Jewelry" fashion show.
For those shopping for holiday decorating ideas, this was the place to be. We were welcomed into his living room, already dressed in European Christmas garb, with a centerpiece of a tree filled with a handmade German glass ornaments. Even statues and cherubs were dressed with jewels for the occasion, and tabletop trees were dressed with brooches.
A while back, I had written about the intersection between art and the table, but Kensei brings the combination to the pinnacle of sophistication, with a mindful marriage of china, silverware and delectables being served. It's not every day you see a printed menu in which the food shares equal billing with the china!
In this milieu, you can't help but take the time to appreciate every visual and every scent, savoring every slow, luxurious bite, instead of simply gobbling food down.
Kensei said it's sad that many fine stores have reduced their china selections due to lack of interest. Few people have the time, inclination or talent to entertain this way anymore, but wouldn't it be wonderful if more would consider reinstating this practice, even if it means starting slowly with service for two?
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Members of Iona Dance Theatre welcomed guests through the door at NOBU Waikiki for a celebration of Waikiki Parc Hotel's 25th anniversary.
Waikiki Parc Hotel marked its 25th anniversary with a celebration at NOBU Waikiki Nov. 20. Guests were welcomed by costumed members of Iona Dance Theatre, including a Living Fountain.
Parc staff members were offering guests shiny new quarters for tossing into the fountain's wishing well, to bestow many more years of blessings and good wishes upon the hotel, a sister of neighboring Halekulani Hotel.
Food was plentiful, and NOBU was offering some of its greatest hits, including popcorn shrimp tempura, black cod in butter lettuce cups, and one of my absolute favorites, silky, fiery hamachi topped with sliced jalapeño.
The event also honored staffers who have been at the property 25 years or close to it, and I was reminded I was there on opening day as well. (I must have been a prodigy.) I hadn't joined the Star-Bulletin yet, but was working for the Waikiki Beach Press.
The Parc is also marking its anniversary with a "25 Alive" promotion, through March 31, 2013, featuring accommodations in an Ocean View Room, chef’s special dinner for two at NOBU Waikiki, daily breakfast for two, a welcome amenity gift pack (Parc Chic private label wine, Parc’s Endless Summer CD featuring Grammy winner Daniel Ho and Herb Ohta Jr., and a Parc Surf note card pack) and complimentary parking. Guests will also receive complimentary VIP access to the Bishop Museum and Honolulu Museum of Art by presenting their Waikiki Parc Hotel room key card. Package room rates start at $885 for a minimum three-night stay.
Call 808-921-7272 or visit www.waikikiparc.com.
Meanwhile, for a look at more of what's yum and a chance to win a $100 gift certificate from Nobu (by Nov. 23), check out photographer Rae Huo and artist Zakka's Pop Iroiro.
Sadly, I was reminded I was there for the grand opening 25 years ago, and I was sent the photo to prove it. You can tell it was the '80s by my permed 'do! Also at left, our columnist Ben Wood with Halekulani VP Patty Tam.
Heaven is a platter of NOBU's hamachi and jalapeño.
Pop Iroiro online magazine.
So Gong Dong has moved from McCully Shopping Center back to the Keeaumoku area, near its original location. Above, it's best known for soondobu, or tofu soup.
After closing up shop at McCully Shopping Center Oct. 3, So Gong Dong moved back near to where it originally opened in 1997, in the Keeaumoku Street area on Makaloa Street.
Now owner Steve Lee is back, this time in a more prominent location at Makaloa and Keeaumoku streets, across from Walgreen's and Wal-Mart. Timing for the opening is just right, as no doubt there will be a lot of people milling around the vicinity over the holiday shopping rush.
During a grand opening that took place Nov. 14, Lee put some of his specialties on the table, foremost being his soon dubu, a spicy tofu soup made from condensed collagen from beef bone marrow.
The restaurant is at 627 Keeaumoku St. Call 946-8206.
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Thanksgiving came early to Whole Foods Kailua, which hosted a Holiday Tasting event yesterday, for those who needed a reminder that the holiday is next week! On the plate: mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, autumn puree, cranberry sauce, ham, turkey and green beans.
Whole Foods Market Kailua hosted a holiday tasting event on Nov. 12, bringing early cheer to revelers hoping to pick up entertaining tips while sampling some of its organic, family-farmed turkeys and all the trimmings. And of course, reminding those who have not begun to plan the holiday meal, that they're there to help.
Several departments offered entree and side dish ideas to suit every entertainment style, whether you prefer large gatherings or a party of two, or whether you prefer a lavish D.I.Y. dinner, or just want to dash in and pick up a packaged meal or sides such as seafood from its poke bar, or hot artichoke and surimi, or crab dip to go.
Those who want to cook their own bird will find all-natural, organic and heirloom turkeys, starting at $2.79 per pound.
Prepared meals including turkey and vegetarian options start at $10.99, per person. One such dinner for six features a Diestel Ranch roast turkey (10 to 12 pounds), 48 ounces of stuffing, 24 ounces of gravy, 60 ounces of mashed potatoes and 16 ounces of cranberry sauce, for $99. Pick up just the sides for $49. Or whole roasted turkey alone for $6.99 ($9.99 for organic).
For the same price, a ham dinner for six features a seven-pound spiral-cut, bone-in ham with glaze, 56 ounces of scalloped potatoes, 40 ounces of green bean almondine, and 32 ounces of autumn puree (butternut squash, carrots and yams).
There are many options, so you don't have to feel forlorn or hopeless if you simply run out of time or energy to put a meal on the table between now and January.
You can also order an assortment of sushi, cheese and antipasto, chicken wing, fruit and veggie, and hors d'oeuvres platters online at: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/online-ordering Or simply call the store at least 24 hours in advance, at 263-6800, before heading out to the store at 629 Kailua Road. If you're closer to the Kahala Mall store, call 738 -0820.
Also, Whole Foods Market Kahala recently launched a Personal Shopper Program allowing shoppers to call ahead or email their grocery lists through 4 p.m. Mondays to Fridays for curbside pickup after 10 a.m. the following day. Whole Foods Market's personal shopper, Bob Madison, will assist with assembling and bagging your pre-paid order.
In giving thanks for what we have, Whole Foods also reminds customers to think of those struggling to attain basic needs. Its Grab & Give program gives individuals an easy way to make an impact. Through Dec. 31, 2012, shoppers at the Kahala, Kailua, and Kahului stores can purchase and donate meals and other essentials for distribution via Aloha Harvest on Oahu and Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resource Center on Maui.
Shoppers can also opt to make a donation of $5, $10, $25 or more, to provide a full meal for a family of four, including healthy options from Whole Foods Market's 365 Everyday Value line of products. A $5 donation provides a family with breakfast of organic oatmeal and cereal bars, while a $10 donation offers a lunch of macaroni and cheese, tuna, creamy peanut butter, crackers, and fruit spread. Dinner is also a $10 donation and includes two packages of spaghetti, pasta sauce, a six-pack of apple sauce, a can of soup, and a can of vegetables. With a generous $25 donation, shoppers can provide an entire family with a full day of meals.
For basic care needs, a $5 donation will go toward the purchase of a personal care kit filled with Whole Foods Market's 365 Everyday Value citrus grapefruit-scented body lotion, shower gel and shampoo.
Since the Grab & Give program launched in 2007, the program has raised more than $3.6 million, which has helped feed more than 435,000 families with an average of four members.
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
A selection of cheeses at Rubiner's Cheesemonger's & Grocers in Great Barrington, Mass.
When I get bored at home, I just think of Northwest, Conn., where New York city dwellers, who are wealthy enough, trade the noise of the city for weekend country homes where they can lay about reading or staring at grass, cows and hay bales.
But, Berkshire country living has its charms, with access to plenty of fresh produce and honey, handmade preserves and handmade goat, cow and sheep milk cheeses prized at the city's grocers and farmer's markets—without the smell of the barn.
A favorite stop when passing through neighboring Great Barrington, Mass. is Rubiner's Cheesemonger's & Grocers at 264 Main St., specializing in an array of area and imported cheeses, chocolates and cured meat, along with other gourmet items.
It's also connected to Rubi's Coffee & Sandwiches, where, during summer months they grill all manner of sausages for sandwiches, outdoors.
Check out www.rubiners.com or http://www.facebook.com/pages/Rubiners-Cheesemongers-Grocers/366688871264