Wednesday, September 21, 2011
The entry to 'Ama'Ama, Aulani A Disney Resort & Spa's new contemporary restaurant.
What a treat it was to venture out to out to Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa, last week. It may have been work, but it felt like a vacation to wander the newly open resort at Ko Olina.
A team of us went out for a first look regarding our respective beats of dining, art, entertainment and travel. By late afternoon, I was starving, having skipped lunch, so a couple of us stayed to check out lunch at the resort's contemporary restaurant 'Ama'Ama.
It was a hot lazy day, and so relaxing to look out over the ocean during the late lunch that started at about 2:30 p.m.
Food—just a burger, chicken sandwich and kalua pig buns—took a long time to come out of the kitchen, so by the time we were finished it was 4:30 p.m., which is OK if you're a tourist and have all the time in the world.
What I really wanted to do was return for dinner, and my review appears in the paper on Sept. 21, 2011. Essentially, the quality's high, but I couldn't help thinking it was created to Disney taste, with all the middle-of-the-road sweetness that implies. Here's the pictorial version.
Nadine Kam photos
Coconut-crusted mahimahi was beautifully crispy on the outside, flaky and tender on the inside, drizzled with mango sauce and served with kalua pork on fried paiai, a thick, near waterless pounded taro, with barbecue sauce. You can see I was so anxious to bite into the pork and paiai that I ruined it before snapping this photo.
Kanu Hawai'i’s third annual Eat Local Challenge is underway, asking island residents to join together in helping to build a more sustainable, secure and healthy local food system. Part of their mission is to raise awareness of eating local every September. It's definitely something easier said than done for those of us who have trouble simply planning what to eat from day to day, much less contemplating how to keep it all local.
Restaurateurs on four islands are helping to make it easier by offering Eat Local specials through the end of the month. You can find the complete list of restaurants and meal offers at http://www.kanuhawaii.org/challenge/partners/?id=16.
In addition, during Yelp Eats Local week through Sept. 25, 11 restaurants will donate a portion of the proceeds from their special, locally sourced menu items to Kanu Hawaii. The participating restaurants are: Brasserie Du Vin, Chai's Island Bistro, He‘eia Kea Pier, Hula Grill Waikiki, J.J. Dolan's, Pah Ke's Chinese Restaurant, SOUL, Stage Restaurant, Sushi ii, Thirtyninehotel, and Tiki's Grill & Bar.
A $10 donation is made to Kanu Hawaii for every Yelper that spends at least $30 when they visit during the week. (Let servers know you are participating and drop your receipts in a ballot box provided.)
To get a taste of what eating local can be, about a dozen Yelp Elites and media descended on Sushi ii Sept. 19 for a remarkable and memorable meal. The tiny gem of a restaurant is deep within Samsung Plaza on Ke'eaumoku Street, and was chosen for what Yelp community manager describes as its "Yelp-y qualities."
That is, she said is something "so amazing and unexpected, off the beaten track" and of course, that possesses necessary "wow factor."I went in expecting sushi, but what the Sushi ii is offering for the challenge is a prix fixe menu for about $45, featuring a 100 percent locally grown entree, salad, appetizer and/or dessert.
Sushi chef/owner Garrett Wong and Sabrina Saiki-Mita did a great job with a three-course menu that surprised and delighted with every course, something all the restaurants must do to help Kanu Hawai'i succeed.
Founded in 2007, the nonprofit's mission is to encourage and support environmental and social change. Its 14,000 members make individual commitments as simple as I will take shorter showers or I will buy local. To make a commitment, go to www.kanuhawaii.org.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Chibo Okonomiyaki assistant executive chef Joel Mayo prepares to cook up a dish of okonomiyaki with bacon, asparagus and cheese.
The second annual “Taste of Helumoa Food & Wine Festival” takes place from 6 to 9 p.m. Sept. 16 at the Royal Grove at Royal Hawaiian Center, with eight food-and-wine pairings by center tenants and Azure restaurant, plus coffee from Island Vintage Coffee and wine from Young’s Market Co.
Pre-sale tickets are $75, available at Lei ‘Ohu Guest Services near Royal Grove, or online at HonoluluBoxOffice.com. A limited quantity will be available at the door for $85.
I was able to taste some of the dishes last week, a diverse menu that features steak sliders from Wolfgang’s Steakhouse on toasty buttered French bread; P.F. Chang’s spicy chicken and fried rice combo; snapper carpaccio from Doraku Sushi; okonomiyaki with bacon and cheese from Chibo Okonomiyaki; roasted prawns with pecorino butter from Azure; caponata bruschetta from Il Lupino; and Hershey’s Chocolate Bar cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory.
The tasting took place late in the afternoon, after lunch, so by the time it was over, I felt like they should have rolled me out of the restaurants, but everything was so tasty, it was hard to stop eating!
It's all for a good cause. A portion of the proceeds from Friday's event will benefit Aloha Festivals and the Hawaiian Legacy Reforestation Initiative. Call 922-2299 or visit www.RoyalHawaiianCenter.com.