Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Nadine Kam photos
Sarah Montgomery, a k a Jem, with her Jell-O brain. Close-up below.

Some of my colleagues showed their talent extends beyond the printed page, celebrating Halloween with a table set with scary food that had us squealing and backing away from certain dishes.

Here's a look:

The brain jiggled to the touch.

Death by chocolate cake with chocolate roaches.

Meatloaf head.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween at Shokudo and other surprises

Nadine Kam photos
The "Thriller" flash mob happens again at 7 and 9 p.m. Oct. 30 and 31 at Shokudo Japanese Restaurant and Bar.

Diners at Shokudo Japanese Restaurant & Bar last night were surprised by an early Halloween treat, that was also a trick for a few wee ones who started crying at the sight of a "Thriller" flash mob.

Maybe I would have cried too if I were 1 year old and saw a zombie approaching. I have to admit it was a little unappetizing to see waiters in "bloody" shirts. Luckily, it's more of a seafood than, say, a beef restaurant, and one can get away with a lot for Halloween.

Diners were surprised to see waiters dropping off their sushi and entrees at tables, then suddenly drop to the floor.

I was surprised that no one in the audience got up to join the staff in the dance, but if you can't resist dancing to thriller, the performance will be repeated at 7 and 9 p.m. Oct. 30 and 31.

Meanwhile, you can check out the video here:

While at dinner, I had the opportunity to catch up with CEO Hide Sakurai, who has plans to open Shokudo's outdoor patio as a beer garden come December. And even bigger plans to open a 12,000-square-foot Mexican restaurant on the top floor of the Victoria's Secret building next spring.

Why Mexican? He feels there are already an abundance of Japanese restaurants in town, and doesn't want to compete with himself either.
Shokudo is at 1585 Kapiolani Boulevard. Call 941-3701.

Lucky this isn't a beef restaurant. A waiter bathed in "blood" in the spirit of Halloween mixes a bowl of garlic shrimp rice, while Ritsuko Kukono snaps a photo.

Gravy is poured over a new dish of ishiyaki loco moco, with beef-and-pork patty, $12.45.

Aji sashimi. We ate the bones (deep-fried) at the end of the meal.

Happy anniversary: Greens & Vines celebrates 1st year

Nadine Kam photos
A "Cuban cigar" with banana amaretto chocolate wrapped in mango "paper" with coconut "ashes" was the dessert at Greens & Vines first birthday celebration Oct. 27. 

Sylvia Thompson celebrated the first anniversary of her raw vegan restaurant Greens & Vines on Oct. 27, with jazz on the outdoor patio at the corner of Kapiolani Boulevard and Ward Avenue, and a buffet of some of her newest creations.

It's so wonderful to see the creativity that goes into her menu. A takes a lot of labor to go meatless and fireless without simply churning out salad after salad.

Her regular menu includes mock tuna, layer dips and fresh vegan lasagnas that leave many craving veggies Syl's way.

At any rate, it offers a nice balance for those who eat out often, subjecting themselves to the high-fat, high-calorie fare of a typical restaurant.

In time for holiday season, she's also providing raw vegan gourmet specialties to go, whether for vegans accustomed to bringing their own edibles to potluck events, or those who want their meat-loving loved ones to try something new.

The holiday small plate is made of china, ready to unwrap and serve. It will include macadamia nut “cheese” with flax crackers; maple sugar pecans; chia caviar with sour kreme; and dried bananas, star fruit, and one savory piece of radish with dried pesto. Priced at $30, to serve 4. You can get a look at the plate at the Blaisdell Farmer's Market from 4 to 7 p.m. Nov. 6.

A medium sized plate is $40, and a large one is $50.

She is also taking pre-orders for a $45 Thanksgiving meal for one, for pick up from noon to 5 p.m. Nov. 27. On the menu: Not-turkey with butter lettuce cups; Waldorf salad, cauli-thyme mash with miso shallot gravy; onion bread croutons with celery and mushroom gravy; and a kabocha pumpkin pie.
Greens & Vines is at 909 Kapiolani Boulevard, Unit B. Free parking in the building. Call 536-9680.

The $30 Thanksgiving plate, wrapped and ready to go.

Dishes from the anniversary party:

 Irresistible olive tapenade with diced avocado and tomatoes served with flax thins.

Zucchini unagi with balsamic-tamari reduction on nori skin with cauliflower sushi rice, shiso leaf, sunflower sprouts and lotus root.

Chia caviar with cashew sour kreme on watermelon radish slices.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

First Course: MW restaurant First Course: MW restaurant

Nadine Kam photos
Ahi poke with ikura, uni and crispy rice crackers, $18, at the newly open MW restaurant by Alan Wong alums Wade Ueoka and Michelle Karr-Ueoka. 

mw1One of the most highly anticipated openings of Fall 2013 is the arrival of MW restaurant from husband and wife Wade Ueoka and Michelle Karr-Ueoka, both long-time alums of Alan Wong's Restaurant, he as chef de cuisine and she as pastry maestro. Both won Rising Star accolades last year from

They've set up house in one of the refurbished spaces in the former KGMB building at 1538 Kapiolani Boulevard, with valet or self-parking entrance on Makaloa Street.

Alan Wong has always given those in his kitchen room to shine, putting team members in the spotlight through his Next Generation dinner series, but when someone leaves, there's always a question of how close a protégé's new endeavor will hew to that of his mentor.

In this case, MW appears to a whole different creature, with a casual temperament and novel twists on comfort food.

The Ueokas hosted three days of soft-opening dinners, and quite bravely, invited every food writer in town. I pretty much never get invited to these things because most restaurateurs wisely believe in working out all the kinks before throwing themselves at the mercy of a critic. But, they've prepared well, and I had the opportunity to sample much of the menu. Below are a few dishes you can expect now that the restaurant is open to the public:
MW Restaurant, 1538 Kapiolani Boulevard. Call 955-6505.

Friday, October 18, 2013

'Ilima celebrates Oahu's top restaurants

Photos by Nadine Kam
Arancino at the Kahala's executive chef Daisuke Hamamoto, with company vice-president Aya Inamura, added one of the more creative touches at the event. His beef topped with truffled mashed potatoes, was topped off with a pipette full of gorgonzola cream sauce. Diners didn't know whether to squeeze it onto the dish or directly into their mouths. There was enough sauce to try both, leaving many to suggest later that when there's no time to sit down for a meal, we should have more squeezable to-go options. It was a Willie Wonka moment. 

Every year the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and Diamond Head Theatre team up for an evening of song, dance and culinary adventures through the 'Ilima Awards, celebrating Oahu's top restaurants, high, low and in between.

Just as good as the feast following the stage performances, is seeing the chefs in the spotlight, some of them goaded to find their inner Timberlake or Beyoncé in matching the likes of Broadway star Loretta Ables Sayre's often suggestive moves in song-and-dance routines honoring each of the award-winning restaurants and their specialties.

Chefs wise to these maneuvers are likely to send up another representative from their kitchens, but the non-shy, like Chuck Furuya (representing Vino) and Ed Kenney (Town), showed that they do have backup careers should they ever tire of the restaurant biz.

Here are a few photos from the event that took place Oct. 14. More beautiful photos from Kat Wade are at

Or click to see the 'Ilima Guide.

 HASR Bistro's Rodney Uyehara, with owner Terry Kakazu, cooked up boneless braised shortribs with pesto-crusted bone marrow, served over Hamakua mushroom risotto, below.

Students representing Leeward Community College's Pearl restaurant offered Asian pork belly and beans, the beans being soy beans with tomato concassé, served in a crispy wonton cup.

Chef Mavro's George Mavrothalassitis chose to put the spotlight on pastry chef Elizabeth Dippong, who came up with the Star-Advertiser table's favorite dessert of Madre chocolate cremeux with black sesame seed caramelized rice, orange meringue and butterscotch crisp, below. Also pictured, from center, are sous chef Kevin Hirahara, business manager Jo-Ann Uchimura, and sommelier Doug Johnson.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Healthy-licious cooking with Kahala Nui and KCC

Nadine Kam photos
From left, Kapiolani Community College chef instructor Warren Uchida, KCC students Santos Quesada and Mariana Oliveiro, and Kahala Nui CEO Pat Duarte. Quesada and Oliveiro were the student winners of Kahala Nui's annual Healthy-licious cooking competition.

I was lucky enough to be invited back as a judge for Kahala Nui's 3rd annual Healthy-licious Contest, which invites Kapiolani Community College culinary students to create healthy recipes for seniors.

The competition took place Oct. 12 at the KCC Culinary Auditorium, and it's a contest I welcome, because unlike a lot of other food events around town, this one's easy on the opu and body as the students are tasked to use the most beneficial ingredients possible.

In his opening remarks, Pat Duarte, CEO of Kahala Nui, a life care retirement community, said that part of Kahala Nui's mission is to be an advocate for healthy dining for seniors.

"More people want to go out and eat healthy," he said, while noting that people often find healthy food isn't appealing.

He said the dullness associated with low-fat, low-sodium fare often gives hospital and nursing home food a bad rap and, "we want to change that perception and encourage young students to consider careers in this area."

He said diners don't want healthy dishes "to be an afterthought," like presenting a platter of plain steamed vegetables. In creating this competition, he said Kahala Nui aims to push students to create "something that will be the star of the menu."

This year, a field of 60 teams of two were reduced to four, based on submission of essays and recipes. Students were allowed to work with main ingrediens of chicken or a vegetarian protein. Scoring was based on taste, simplicity of preparation, nutrition, organization and delivery, and visual presentation.

Winners Mariana Oliveiro and Santos Quesada, who created Asian tofu lettuce wraps, will each receive a $600 scholarship.

Emcee Kim Gennaula received an assist from her "famous" husband Guy Hagi. She joked that now that she's been off TV news for five years, restaurant hostesses don't remember her, but will rush to seat Guy, and her own son doesn't recall that once upon a time, mom was more famous than dad.

All the students lined up with their awards and gift certificates for their participation.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Twice is nice for Kulu Kulu Cake

Nadine Kam photos
Kulu Kulu's chocolate cake was among the confections sampled at the grand opening of the patisserie's Eaton Square, Waikiki, location.

After a successful first year at Shirokiya at Ala Moana Center, Kulu Kulu Honolulu has opened its second patisserie at Eaton Square in Waikiki, on Oct. 15, with a blessing and cake for breakfast, sending guests back to work with a smile.

There's no way a person could not smile when facing a refrigerator case full of eye-catching treats in candy colors, and there was also no way any of us could walk out without trying more than one of the confections.

The boutique will continue to specialize in its Japanese-style pastries, including its popular light-as-air strawberry roll cake, made daily with airy pound cake, light cream and fresh strawberries.

Standouts include the Diamond Head Puff, a cream puff ode to Hawaii; the strawberry chiffon cake; and light, creamy soft soufflé cheesecake. If you're the sort who feels remorse when eating dessert, this non-dense cheesecake may ease your guilt.

Other popular confections include cakes made of mango, Okinawan sweet potato and Hawaii's seasonal fruits and flavors.
The newest Kulu Kulu Cake is at Eaton Square Shopping Center, 438 Hobron Lane #102. Call 808.753.0843. Open from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Visit

 The soft soufflé cheesecake and strawberry chiffon cake were two opening day favorites.

Kulu Kulu Honolulu vice president and marketing manager Shigeki Higashi, right, and manager/chief patissier Ayaka Ota.