Friday, August 1, 2014

Rakuen's NEW Menu Preview

Even though I don't live in downtown, I would consider Rakuen to be the definition of my "neighborhood bar." It's one of those places that has it all - comfortable atmosphere, delicious drinks, music at the right time, fabulous people, and most importantly, GRINDZ. I am happy to announce that starting today, August 1st, Rakuen is officially opening up their new menu featuring some very tasty bites.

Dynamite Oysters. Perfect amount of spiciness and flavor. It's so tender, you hardly have to chew.

Kirin beer-soaked chicken. Perfect pupu to go with your beer (Kirin of course)!

Spicy Korean style chicken wings. Let's be honest here, I could eat these all night long.

Uni pasta. If you are an uni lover like me, this is the perfect dish for you! No sharing needed - one portion is good all to yourself!

If you didn't get your oyster fix after trying the dynamite ones, order the fried version too! Just as savory! 

Last but not least, dessert. Homemade vanilla ice cream Guinness beer floats. I'm not a beer person nor a sweet tooth, but I must admit, the end product is pretty damn good! 

Hope to see you at Rakuen soon!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Mochitsuki - New Year's Japanese Tradition

Hawai'i is great because there are so many different cultures and traditions that get passed down from generation to generation. Mochitsuki, also known as mochi pounding, is a Japanese annual tradition that happens during the New Year. Family and friends of all ages get together for this fun-filled, hard-working celebration. I am very honored to be a part of this Komenaka family tradition every year.

First, rice is washed and soaked overnight. Right before the pounding starts, it gets put into this wooden steamer called a "seiro." 
Next, the rice gets dumped into a stone pot.

Once the rice is inside, it must be quickly "grinded" and mushed together before it stars cooling. Usually it takes three people for this step.
Next the pounding process begins. Anyone of all-ages can do this part. Two people get into a rhythm and take turns pounding the rice until it becomes a nice, smooth mochi texture.
Yes, even I can do it :p

The last stage of the pounding process is a one-man show where there is a "turn" between every pound. The turner is very important in the whole mochi pounding process to keep everyone consistent and on the right page. He is kind of like the "team captain." He also says when the mochi is done and let's everyone know when they should stop.
The mochi is then sent to get cut and shaped.
The size of the mochi depends on how it will be eaten. If in ozoni (mochi soup), it will be smaller. If to eat plain it can be larger. They are even stuffed with an (black bean) or even peanut butter.
Also enjoy fried with a little bit of sugar, shoyu, or even butter. Akemashite omedetogozaimasu (Happy New Year)!

Photo credits to Ryan Kawamoto and Travis Okimoto for covering this special occasion 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Chefs for Hope

It's been a while since I did a foodie blog, but am inspired and determined to post something once a week. I thought Chefs for Hope: A Fundraiser for Haiyan Relief Effort would be a great start to this goal.

As everyone knows, a devastating typhoon disaster happened in Haiyan, Philippines. Living in Hawai'i this kind of disaster hits so close to home, and it's incredible how everyone comes together to help in any way that they can. Last night, 34 of Hawai'i's top chefs participated in an event to help this cause. In a matter of just a couple weeks, Chef Chai organized this amazing affair where 100% of the proceeds went to the Salvation Army Haiyan Relief Fund.

The participating restaurants and vendors included: 12th Ave Grill, Alan Wong's, the Beachhouse at the Moana, Café Laufer, Centerplate, d.k Steakhouse, HASR Bistro, Hawaiian Spring Water, Hiroshi's, Japengo, JJ Bistro & French Pastry, Kakaako Kitchen, La Tour Cafe, Mariposa, Michel's at the Colony Surf, Morimoto, Nico's, Nori's, Ola at the Turtle Bay Resort, Paradise Beverages, Poke Stop, Rakuen Sushi Bar/Mercury Pub, Roy's, SALT, Sansei Sushi Bar & Restaurant, Side Street Inn, Southern Wine & Spirits, Tango Contemporary Café, The Pacific Club and World Sake Imports Beverages.

Today I will showcase my top 3 restaurant faves of the night (in no particular order).

On top of all the restaurants, wine, beer, and sake were all served.

1st fave - d.k. Steak House's infamous dungeness crab ramen with asian truffle broth. You can never go wrong with this dish!

2nd fave - Rakuen's sashimi. Anthony was very generous to serve 3 different types for the night: Hamachi, Salmon, and Ahi. Very popular, fresh, melt-in-yo-mouth, and such a great hit!

And last but not least, Vintage Cave's mushroom parmesan soup topped with truffle oil. So deeeelish, I seriously couldn't get enough of this. I guess I'll just have to go to the restaurant someday to get more ;)

One of the newest photobooth contraptions joined in too - Timestoppers Hawai'i! So awesome. Check out the real deal here:

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Filipino Longanisa Sausage

Sausage is one of those foods where some people are super skeptical about because who knows what the heck is in it. I, personally am not a huge fan, although there are a handful of ones that I'd eat, such as Vienna, Portugese, and Lup Cheong (Chinese). There is one in particular that's my fave, and most complicated to cook, which is called Longanisa.

Longanisa is a filipino style sausage that comes in different styles and brands. I have not tried them all yet but so far my go-to is the Pampanga's Sweet Hamonado one, which you can find in most Asian stores in the refrigerated section.

Here's how to cook:

Purchase the one on the right (red label).
In a pot, completely cover sausage with water (1-2 inches) & boil until all water evaporates (about 30-40 minutes).

When water is almost gone, poke sausages with fork so oils come out. Fry sausauges in the same pot until crispy, or your liking.

Pairs nicely with mimosas or bloody marys, and kimchi fried rice :)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

doggie TREATS!

Jack, the family dog, turns 13 this year and for his birthday I decided to homemake dog treats for my first time. I researched online ( and found something that sounded yummy, yet simple to make, then turned it into my own concoction:

Oatmeal Cheesy Bacon Dog Cookies 
Recipe makes 2 pans - good enough for your dog, and then some!

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 stick butter, melted
4/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
3 tsp. vanilla
3 2/3 cups regular oats, uncooked
1 bag shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 lb. already cooked, crumbled packaged bacon

Combine flour, baking soda and salt; mix well and set aside. Melt butter and sugar; beat in egg and vanilla. Add flour mixture and mix well. Stir in all other ingredients. Make dough into balls and flatten. Create your own shapes or use cookie cutters. Place onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 for 16 minutes. Cool on baking sheet for a minute or so before removing to cooling rack.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

KCC Farmers Market

One of the great things about Hawaii is that they have a lot of land, which means many farms, fresh food & produce. I haven't been to a farmers market since I left the Bay Area, known for their street shows and markets, so I was excited to learn that Hawaii has some mean ones as well!

The KCC farmers market is the first one I've been to in Hawaii, and I have to admit that it's going to be a tough one to beat! They have everything from fresh farm produce, from farm to table, onolicious drinks & smoothies, lots & lots of food vendors, flowers, and more! And it's in a perfect location because you can park at KCC, go on the Diamond Head hike across the street, then come back to all the goodness food as an incentive (which is what I did)! Here's a peak of just some of the amazingness they have!

Pineapple Smoothie - Hits the spot especially after a morning workout!
Kukui Sausage Co - many different types of flavors!

You can either get it with or without the bun.

We tried the kim chee sausage - soooo good!
Finally! I've always wanted to try this place! I saw them on TV shows before.

Cheesy grits - $6

Corn & crab chowder from the Hawaiian Chili Co.

And last but not least, the food of the day is...Yogurt cheese (garlic herb flavor) from Naked Cow Dairy - soooo creamy, it literally just melts in your mouth! It's funny cuz I literally just bookmarked this place the other day to go here (located in Waianae) but good thing they were at the farmers market in town! 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Calling all E6'ers & above to Mongolian BBQ!

If you are or know someone who's in the military that's an E6 or higher rank, I highly recommend Kaneohe Marine Base's Mongolian BBQ every Wednesday and Friday nights at the Officer's Club. This unique experience was seriously one of the best I've ever had. There are many different stations with all raw food. You put everything in a bowl, create your own marinade, give it to the chef's to cook, and voila! Let me explain through pictures...

First you start off at the noodle/veggie station. I didn't opt for a noodle dish, so just filled up on won bok, mushrooms, eggplant, and zucchini. Keep in mind everything is raw, even the noodles. They had every kind of veggie you can think of from onions, cabbage, even baby corn!

Then you go to the protein station, where there's all kinds of meat including chicken, pork, beef, seafood, fish, even scallops & mussels!

Another view of the protein station....they even had ham & squid!

The next station was kind of random if you wanted to include stuff like pineapple and bamboo shoot in your dish.

At the next station there was cilantro, peppers, grated garlic, etc.

My bowl of raw goodness...

Then you get to the sauce & topping station, where there's tons & tons of different sauces, such as oyster, garlic, ginger, house-made,  brown sugar, sea-salt, hot-sauce, etc. You create your own marinade here.

The fun part - watching your creation get cooked!

After that, you can add last minute sauce touches...

The last station is all you can eat rice - regular or fried - put that on your plate, and voilaaaaa! Final presentation: fried rice, beef with won bok, zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, topped with fried egg and oyster, garlic, brown sugar marinade :)

Notes: Eggs are free. You can tell them how you want it to be cooked. Price is measured upon weight. My bowl was less than $10. Next time I'd like to put my cooked food in a bowl with the rice on the bottom, meat in the middle, and runny egg on the top (Korean style'ish).