Sunday, November 24, 2013

Haiyan benefit dinners slated

More than 20 of Hawaii's top chefs are coming together to present an evening of food, drink and entertainment Nov. 25 at the Blaisdell Center, during the "Chefs for Hope" fundraiser for the Haiyan typhoon relief effort in the Philippines.

Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. for VIP tables with table service, at $5,000 for 10 people, as well as reserved seating of $1,500 for 10 people.

Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. for those purchasing $100 grazing tickets.

All funds raised will be donated to the Salvation Army. See the image above for participating restaurants, entertainers and drink purveyors.

Tickets are available at the Blaisdell box office from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 22, 23 and 25. Tickets are also available at Chef Chai at Pacifica. Call 585-0011.


Photos courtesy Hy's
Adobo bone-in shortrib at Hy's.

Hy's also hosts relief dinner

Hy’s Steak House will also be hosting a Typhoon Haiyan Relief Dinner on Nov. 26.

Executive chef Erwin Manzano, who was born was born in the Philippines at Cagayan Valley, Naguilian Isabela, will create a Filipino-inspired three-course dinner with proceeds supporting the fundraising efforts.

Seating is limited. First seating will be at 5:30 p.m. Call 922-5555 for reservations for the $75 per person dinner.

Options are:
First course (choose one): Beef vegetable lumpia, pako (warabi, pohole) fern salad, or scallop egg drop soup 

Second course (choose one): Adobo bone-in shortrib (osso bucco style), pan-seared monchong, or Surf 'n' Turf of prime tenderloin and sauteed shrimp with coconut milk sauce (ginataang hipon).

Third course (choose one): Leche flan, halo-halo, or vanilla ice cream or sorbet. springroll

Springrolls created for Hy's Haiyan relief dinner.


Panda collecting donations

Panda Restaurant Group Inc., parent company of Panda Express, is will collecting donations in each of its 1,650 Panda Express, Panda Inn and Hibachi-San locations to assist victims of Typhoon Haiyan, which recently devastated the Philippines.

Panda also will match 100 percent of in-store and corporate donations collected through Dec. 4. The funds will be distributed to the American Red Cross and the Tzu Chi Foundation, an international non-profit humanitarian organization, to support their direct efforts to help victims of the typhoon.

Giving is one of Panda's core values. Since 2011, Panda has raised $1.6 million in collected and matching donations to aid victims of natural disasters including the tornado that hit Moore, Okla., in May, Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Donations will assist the American Red Cross' efforts. Donations sent by Panda to Tzu Chi will support its disaster response center in the Philippines, which is delivering supplies and providing relief to devastated regions that now lack access to basic necessities and clothing.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Mariposa reopens in time for the holidays

Nadine Kam photos
Mariposa at Neiman Marcus has a new look, but some things haven't changed, like informal lunch time fashion shows.

Mariposa restaurant was temporarily closed beginning early October to refresh its look, and reopened on Nov. 11, just in time for holiday shoppers who need midday or evening respite from the laborious task.

I took a peek over lunch Nov. 16, to find new carpet in springtime green, and lighter chairs to match. Otherwise, artwork and ceiling fans are still in place to keep breezes flowing around the room.

I was reminded that the restaurant hasn't had a facelift since the store opened 15 years ago, in September 1998, so it was due. Time sure flies!

Here's a look at a few of the new lunch dishes. Otherwise, the menu hasn't changed much, so you'll still find all your old favorites, from the Mariposa corn chowder, to composed salad, and Laksa seafood curry.

Grilled shrimp "cocktail" with avocado, fennel, orange slices and seaweed salad in Maui pineapple-golden tomato gazpacho is a tasty starter, and only 190 calories.

By popular request, Mariposa poke has been added to the menu, with hamachi, king salmon and ahi over brown rice. It's a starter that can also double as a meal for the fashionable who want to maintain their figures. It's 280 calories.

Rosemary and garlic-roasted pork chop is also one of the new menu additions. It's topped with pistachio gremolata, and served over risotto Milanese, $20.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Restaurant Week Hawai'i underway

Nadine Kam photos
Cream puffs and fruit tarts in the Kapiolani Community College Ka 'Ikena Laua'e fine dining restaurant, among the restaurants participating in the 6th annual Restaurant Week Hawai'i.

During Restaurant Week Hawai'i, why not start at the source, Kapiolani Community College, which turns out many of the individuals who make our local culinary scene run?

The goal of Restaurant Week is to realize a vision of an advanced culinary campus—the KCC Culinary Institute of the Pacific at Diamond Head. Graduates of Hawaii's first four-year culinary program will go on to serve Hawaii's restaurant and hospitality industry and, ultimately, the greater community.

A portion of the proceeds from Restaurant Week Hawaii will support the KCC Culinary Institute of the Pacific at Diamond Head, so there was no doubt that Ka 'Ikena Laua'e would be among the 97 restaurants on four islands participating in the event that encourages diners to get out and patronize restaurants. In return, the restaurants offer discounts and specials to help defray the usual cost of dining out.

At Ka 'Ikena Laua'e, patrons who mention "Hawai'i Restaurant Week" before placing their order receive a 10 percent discount off lunch.

Alas, while the week ends Sunday, the school's dining room is only open through Fridays, so tomorrow is the last day to get this particular deal on a three-course meal (about $25 per person) that starts with a choice of vichyssoise or goat cheese tart, choice of five entrees, choice of dessert and beverages.

The students are doing a terrific job what is essentially a working laboratory that makes you feel as if you are in a commercial restaurant.

Here's the full list of Restaurant Week participants:

Ka 'Ikena Laua'e is in the 'Ohelo Building, 2nd floor, 4303 Diamond Head Road, open from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Mondays to Fridays during the school session, through Dec. 4. The reservation line 734-9499 is open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Here are a few of the dishes:

The vichyssoise.

Goat cheese tart with salad of lettuce and tomatoes.

Fisherman’s Stew of fish, shrimp, lobster and clams stewed in a light saffron broth with leeks
potatoes and tomatoes, served with spicy rouille and garlic crostini.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Food Network seeks Hawaii outsider

The Food Network is casting for a show about new restaurant owners and is looking for people who are moving or have moved from the contiguous 48 states to Hawaii, and have recently purchased or leased a restaurant or a building that you are going to transform into a restaurant. The episode will be part of a new tropical TV series.

If you feel you fit the criteria, plan to open a restaurant within the next six weeks or so, and want to participate, they are requesting that you send your information ASAP. Filming begins in January 2014!

To apply: send your phone number, email, city of residence and location of restaurant, along with photos of the restaurant and you and your family, or you and your business partner to:

First Course: Dagon delivers taste of Burma

Nadine Kam photos
The green tea salad is beautifully arranged, with a center of chopped lettuce surrounded by peanuts, toasted sesame seeds, green and yellow split peas, fried garlic, tomatoes and sunflower seeds, topped with a paste made of young green tea leaves. It's all mixed together at the table. To have it the Burmese way, they ask if you want chili pepper and fish sauce on it.

Here are more photos of dishes served at Dagon Burmese restaurant to go along with my column in the paper today.

Among my favorite dishes was the green tea salad, which my guest Dr. Tin Myaing Thein, executive director of Pacific Gateway Center, who hails from Burma, colorfully described as the Red Bull of her university days. Due to the tea's caffeine content, she said, "This is what did it for us and kept us going for exams.”

The PGC's Lemongrass Cafe, an incubator for immigrant restaurauteurs, was a long-time home to a Burmese pop-up by Aye Aye Maw, where many a local foodie was introduced to the national dish moh hinga, a fish-noodle soup that is a another favorite of mine. The rice noodle soup is thickened with fried rice powder that gives it a lot of flavor and body, a comfort food along the lines of jook and ramen.

One other must have is the coconut chicken noodle soup, topped with crispy won ton strips. The Burmese complain that it isn't as sour and spicy as they prefer, and truthfully, owner Khun Sai said he studied American preferences before opening his first restaurant. We tend to like our dishes more savory, fatty and sweet. But, lemons and chili pepper flakes, chili sauce and a Burmese chili-sesame paste are available for those who need to make any adjustments.

If you want an idea of what Burmese cuisine is like before you go, start by pulling out a map. Burma is bordered by India, Laos, Thailand and China, and the influences are all on the menu, from coconut to masala curries and stir-fries. That's quite a broad spectrum, and the amalgamation makes Burmese cuisine quite unique.
Dagon is at 2671 S. King St. in Moiliili, near Spices, across from Sushi King. Call 947-0088
Hours: 5 to 10 p.m. Wednesdays to Mondays.

Savory coconut milk-chicken noodle soup, finished with won ton crisps, cilantro and slices of hard-boiled egg. Love this. In Burma, this is a portion for one, like ramen, but the richness of the coconut milk makes it a share dish for most locals. Try it first. You may find you can eat the whole bowl.

Moh hinga, a rice noodle soup with fish broth, is Burma's national dish. It's finished with crispy fried split peas that add texture when it's all stirred together.

A chili-sesame seed paste adds heat for those who want more spice in their dishes, the Burmese way.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Big Island Candies celebrates new Ala Moana store

Nadine Kam photos
A limited-edition, chocolate-dipped Hello Kitty design graces T-shirts at the newly open Big Island Candies store in the new Ala Moana Centercourt.

Big Island Candies hosted a couple of events to celebrate the opening of its new Ala Moana Center store, in the renovated street level Center Court, that has welcomed other retailers such as Swatch, Minamoto Kitchen, Papyrus, Island Sole and Freaky Tiki Tropical Optical.

Events started with a store blessing and official opening the morning of Nov. 15, followed by a cocktail reception Nov. 17, with chocolate dipping on site.

The new 1,800 square foot store is packed wall-to-wall with the company's signature chocolate-dipped shortbread cookies, plus a range of chocolate-covered to red velvet brownies, and other chocolate-dipped versions of island treats such as dried ika, arare, li hing mui and iso peanuts.

New products include Mika ume shiso-filled milk chocolates, toffee-coated chocolate-covered macadamia nuts, pineapple shortbread, and chocolate-filled shortbread "Manju."

Many of the goodies are packaged in gift boxes for easy holiday shopping, including a design by Sig Zane.

Prices start at a reasonable $6.50 for a package of chocolate-covered animal crackers, or $12.50 for a box of Mika chocolates.

The gleaming new store is dressed for the holidays, with plenty of edible gift items packaged and ready to deliver to friends and family.

Sharita Solmerin was dipping Big Island Candies signature shortbread cookies in milk chocolate during a cocktail reception that took place Nov. 17.

A little bit of chocolate with ika might turn non-seafood lovers into believers.

Macadamia nut shortbread dipped in a creamy blend of white chocolate and matcha green tea.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

First Course: The Pig & the Lady at home in Chinatown

Nadine Kam photos
The pho tsukemen served at the grand opening of The Pig & the Lady was terrific. Loved the texture of the silky noodles with the crunch and burst of salt from the fried shallots and garlic, and fantastic slow-roasted brisket. 

After two years of pop-ups, The Pig & The Lady, or, The Pig & the Le Family, has a true brick-and-mortar home at Lemongrass Cafe at 83 N. King St., partnering with The Pacific Gateway Center in developing programs to promote its mission of supporting and assisting immigrants, refugees and low-income residents.

As part of their partnership, TP&TL will be employing participants in the PGC's work training program and using produce they are planning to grow on their farms.

The dining area was built with community effort as well. Le took time to thank Daniel Anthony of Mana Ai for donating five beautiful, communal handcrafted mango wood tables. Someone I was talking to suggested the tables would be great for an Oktoberfest party. Other decor was the work of Fishcake.

At the bar.

The new restaurant will continue serving Vietnamese street food-style lunches and tasting dinners—based on Le's food memories—that have been hits with its pop-up and farmer's market clientele ever since TP&TL first popped up at Hank's Haute Dogs.

The restaurant hosted a private grand opening party Nov. 12, before opening to the public on the 13th.

For now, the restaurant is only open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., offering popular dishes from the farmer's markets and expanding its selection of banh mis (Vietnamese sandwiches), and noodle and rice dishes.

A few new additions featured at the grand opening party were:
>> P.L.T. melt banh mi: Fried portobello mushroom filled with cheddar, sprouts, local tomato and "Srirancha" sauce (Sriracha and ranch dressing).
>> New noodle soups: Including Vietnamese posole and pho tsukemen.
>> Doughnut- and Specaloos-flavored soft serve ice cream.

Dinner service will start on Dec. 12, when the restaurant will be serving Southeast Asian-inspired food.

Future events include the ever-popular “Dinner and a Movie” and “Trough Dinners,” and an oyster bar is in the works.

Chef Andrew Le and the lion.

Chef Andrew with his sister Allison and mom.

The ingredients for Vietnamese posole soup with chickpeas, pig head, shishito pepper paste, lemongrass and radish, before the broth went in.

Liliha Bakery No. 15 of 'America's 50 Best Bakeries'

The Daily Meal photo
Liliha Bakery has made The Daily Meal's list of "America’s 50 Best Bakeries."

Liliha Bakery is No. 15 on The Daily Meal's list of "America’s 50 Best Bakeries," based on consultations with bake experts , and an analysis of the more than 6,000 retail bakeries nationwide.

The team started with a list of 1,400 bakeries and whittled it down to America’s top 50 using the criteria of: menu of both breads and pastries, longevity, whether they employ notable and award-winning chefs, whether they make all their baked goods from scratch, and buzz factor.

The list was created with the notion that holiday shoppers would be on the lookout for sweet treats for their next parties. The panel of experts included Francois Payard, Dominique Ansel, Pichet Ong, and Eric Kayser.

Here are the top 10; the remainder can be viewed at
1. Tartine Bakery, San Francisco
2.Dominique Ansel, New York City
3. Flour Bakery + Café, Boston
4. The Standard Baking Company, Portland, Maine
5. Macrina Bakery, Seattle
6. Levain Bakery, New York City
7. Salty Tart, Minneapolis
8. Amy’s Bread, New York City
9. Porto’s Bakery, Los Angeles
10. Pearl Bakery, Portland, Ore.America's 50 Best Bakeries (Slideshow)

Of Liliha Bakery, the website says:

"Liliha Bakery opened in 1950, selling butter rolls, glazed donuts, dobash (chocolate) and haupia (coconut) cake, and more to Hawaii’s community. Liliha is known for its coco puff, which debuted in 1970 with not much success, but made a comeback in 1990 when now-retired baker Kame Ikemura tweaked the recipe. The coco puff, one of the bakery’s most popular items, is filled with chocolate pudding and topped with Hawaiian chantilly cream. The bakers crank up the oven and bake everything from scratch from 2 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day, making Liliha not only a local favorite but also a must-visit destination when you’re in Hawaii."

What's interesting is the bakeries Liliha Bakery beat, including Payard's own NYC François Payard Bakery (No. 21), Momofuku Milk Bar (No. 24) and Bouchon Bakery (No. 25)!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

First course: Marukame Udon moves into Chinatown

 Nadine Kam photos
At the new Marukame Udon Downtown branch, one of the options is Spicy Udon. Sides are sold by the piece, and shown here are sweet potato, shrimp tempura underneath the potato, and signature Onion Bomb.

For two years, Marukame Udon has been drawing visitors to its Kuhio location, and now, a second Downtown aims to lure in the office pool, for quick, cafeteria-style noodles.

A grand opening took place Nov. 4, with guests maneuvering through a short maze to get inside because the shop was still boarded up.

Inside, Teridoll USA Corp./Marukame Udon manager Aaron Yamamoto and President Ken'ya Shiimura welcomed guests with a traditional sake barrel breaking ceremony, and as the hammered wood came flying toward me, I was thinking I might be standing in the wrong spot. But, it turned out to be the right spot, the start of the line for bowls of udon and sides.

At the start of the line, the noodles are laid out in front of you. Pick your broth and toppings before moving on to tempura, musubi and salad selections. The line moves quickly as long as people can make up their minds before reaching the counter, and speed will be one of the key factors in the restaurant's success with the downtown lunch crowd.
The new Murakame Udon is at 1104 Fort Street Mall, open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays, with a take-out window on Hotel Street open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays. Marukame Udon is also at 2310 Kuhio Ave.

 Teridoll USA Corp./Marukame Udon manager Aaron Yamamoto, left, and President Ken'ya Shiimura.

Cracking open the sake barrel in celebration of the opening.

Ordering is done in assembly line fashion. First, pick up your noodles, choose your broth and toppings of green onion and tempura crumbs. It's $2 extra for sweet beef, shabu pork or teri chicken.

Move on to the fried offerings. Here, asparagus, potato croquette and eggplant. The asparagus was woody at the stem end. Hope that gets fixed.

Onion ring lovers will love the Onion Bomb, and the price is right, at $1.50.

Can't have udon without shrimp tempura.

Musubi and tossed salads are also options.

The line forms just beyond the door and moves quickly as long as customers are decisive. Don't be the slug that holds up the line during the Downtown lunch hour.

The menu board.