Friday, September 30, 2011

Siam Garden Cafe

I wore a vintage Urban Outfitters blouse, BDG jeans, Jeffrey Campbell Mariels, and Rayban Wayfarers.

 I had a late afternoon school conference demo-ing one of my products. I decided to be casual, yet sophisticated and comfortable. Besides, why did I need to dress up for Elementary kids?

After the conference, Dad agreed to take me to a new "foodie place," he calls it. Looked up places in the area, and decided on Siam Garden Cafe. With all of its mixed reviews, I wanted to try it still yet. Out of all the Thai restaurants, this one had one of the top number of Yelp reviews. Seemed like a LOT of people know about this place, and have tried it some time or another. Reviews varied- some said the food had no taste, others said the service was horrible, some said it was their favorite place, some said the Tom Yum and Tom Kha were the best on the island. I mean, come on, I had  to try it!

So Dad and I got there around 7pm. Crowded for a Thurs night, and by the time we left, the whole place was filled! I was surprised, because of its location. Kind of out of the way- on Nimitz Hwy by Eagle Cafe. It's located in Nimitz Shopping Center.

Dad and I picked out the Summer Rolls for an appetizer, then agreed to pick our own meals and share from there.

Our verdict? Dad liked it so much, he said he would drive out here indefinitely! The food was so flavorful. Although I've had better Pad Thai at Maile's Thai Bistro, I have to rave about Siam Garden's Tofu Noodle Soup. My goodness, Dad definitely picked a winner! The first thing I thought of when I put some soup in my mouth was the strong taste of garlic. But hey, I love garlic! It was one of the most tastiest soups I've had. I loved all of its ingredients from the MANY mushrooms, baby corn, long clear noodles, sausage, and big tofu squares. All of my favorite things in a big tasty soup?! YES PLEASE! And for a very reasonable price...even better! The prices for their extensive menu was all so reasonable, especially for the portion size. It didn't even look like I made a dent in my Pad Thai!

The best part? You can ask for no MSG. My parents are highly allergic to MSG, and for everyone, it's not the best thing to put in your body. It does indeed make your food taste a whole lot better in my experience. But surprising thing- the thai food was nonetheless so extremely tasty, and no MSG added! Those Thai people...very good at making their traditional food.

Also, almost all of the waitresses and owners were ALL Thai and from Thailand. They were friendly and helpful, and service was pretty good by my standards. I didn't have a problem at all with service!

So my vote? YES!! Siam Garden is a YES for me. We will be back!

As far as parking goes, if there is no parking in the front of the restaurant, you can always go in the back structure where there is LOTS of free parking! Be sure to park in the 2 hour customer parking spaces!

Thai Iced Tea! A BIG glass! I love it!

Summer Rolls were so delicious and fresh. We definitely ate it too fast.

Pad Thai with Shrimp

Tofu Noodle Soup, my favorite!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Hoku's at the Kahala Hotel & Resort

After a hectic week with my bosses in town, we relaxed over a nice meal and fine wine at Hoku's. We had a window seat with an incredible view, and just as we sat down, I noticed a cute couple that had just got engaged. The young smiling woman was holding a little black box, and was in constant embrace with her new fiancee. How sweet!

Dinner started off on a nice foot! It's been years since I've eaten at Hoku's so I was really looking forward to it. Hoku's is located in the Kahala Hotel and Resort, a gorgeous hotel which I love to frequent. Not only is the inside of the hotel breathtaking with its high ceilings and open air, but the stairs down to the ballrooms has a beautiful array of colorful orchids with a light, lingering scent. If you walk outside to the pool, there's also a little pond with dolphins in it, as well as a artificial waterfall, which is a nice backdrop for pictures. Don't care so much for the pool? You came to Hawaii to lay on the beach right?? Perfect! Walk right out of the pool area to the beach. The hotel is ocean side!

Go there to sit and relax away from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki. Beware, staying there is pricey! If you have the time and money, going there for afternoon tea or an early drink is a must. Their Mango Mojitos are silent killers! Tastes like juice, but once you stand up, you feel it. You get the gist ;)) The Plumeria Room also has great brunch/lunch and a Sunday buffet. My grandma loved going there. It seems like this hotel just puts you in a different mood overall. You forget all stress of the world, and you feel like you're on a never-ending vacation. That is, until you leave the hotel...

Anyway, aside from my Kahala Hotel personal advertisement (haha!), my dinner at Hoku's was really nice. A very fine dining experience with superb food and wine. All cravings and epicurean desires were immediately satisfied. What really stood out was the wine! Both the Merlot and Pinot Noir I had were full-bodied and buttery. I also recommend the Wok Fried Imperial Prawns. You can either order with the crispy skin ON or taken off for you. For me, I loved it with the crunch on! It added extra flavor!

Prawns and a glass of Merlot of Pinot, and you're ready for a night of ultimate relaxation!

American Apparel striped tank, Urban Outfitters Skirt, Jessica Simpson heels, Michael Kors watch, Express knot necklace, Butik rings, and Bamboo Sky Ladakh cardigan. I love the flowy and light fabric of this cardi. It's my most favorite item in my closet now!

Hoku's Ahi Poke Dip in place of butter for the bread basket! SO delicious. I could have eaten the whole basket with this slathered on the bread!

2003 Napa Valley Vine Cliff Merlot- So smooth and full-bodied.

Classy touches.

Chef's Scallop with Watermelon Relish to start

Salad Special- Hoku's version of Caprese! My favorite! Creamy cheese with sweet/salty balsamic reduction with juicy tomatoes on a nice crunchy piece of bread. Pesto drippings with minty basil!!!

Mom had their Seafood Chowder which sounded delicious. Chunks of Scallop, Lobster, Crab, Ogo, Chives.

Waimanalo Valley Green Salad- Acai Pomegranate Vinaigrette with Granola Croutons.

Fresh Island Sashimi

The most buttery Pinot.

Fresh Pacific Catch of the Day- Grouper

Imperial Prawns- Hoku's version of Chinese Salt and Pepper Shrimp. Wok Fried Jumbo Prawns, Wok Fried Vegetables and Fried Rice!!

Lilikoi Gratin for Dessert! Raspberry Sorbet, Kiwi Fruit Salad with a tinge of basil and mint flavor.

Hoku's Specialty! Chocolate Cake!

This is what I chose! Champagne and Cream Cheese Mille Feuille- Roasted Red Grapes, Apricot-Thyme Sorbet.

The Mille Feuille really tasted like flat champagne. Basically a dessert with a champagne taste sans the bubbles. Different. I think I'd stick with Mom and Dad's Lilikoi Gratin. A very light and citrusy dessert.

Complimentary Truffles for THE END. What a nice way to end the night!!

I'm Obsessed With Shirokiya

Yep, at least I can admit it, right?!

One of my very first friends in college was Jason. Funny story- I met him while hopping in my dorm elevator. We got along so well that well, we rode up and down the elevator gabbing away for 15 minutes. Along the way, we met a lot of other freshman living in our dorm. It was a pretty cool and unique way to meet a bunch of people in a short amount of time. Everyone's gotta get to their rooms, right!?

We become great friends. However, along the college road, Jason and I went down separate paths. He, eventually, transferred to Santa Clara, and I finished up in San Francisco. Fast-forward to now. It's been about 5 years since we last talked or saw each other. Few weeks ago, he tells me he's coming to Oahu for a short visit! Fast-forward to yesterday. Picked him up and took him out to lunch. It's been so long, but feels like we haven't missed a beat. Cliche, I know, but I only speak the truth!

What I've realized along the way, is that there are people that you don't ever forget, that really make an impact on your life and who you are as a person. You don't ever forget the feeling of being a new freshman in college, embarking on a new journey and not knowing a soul. You're not in your comfort zone anymore, but instead, on an unknown road that you're so curious about knowing. You might feel scared, excited or even bittersweet about the journey ahead, but then you look around and realize 'hey, that guy in the elevator feels the exact same way.' And life's not so scary anymore! You're all in the same boat. Thus, I never forgot my 'first friend,' Jason.

Rarely do I ramble (haha) and get mushy on here, but I thought you all should know a little something about Jason. He's been a real friend for awhile.

Anyway, onto the FOOD portion of this post. Of course, my love for Shirokiya is neverending, so I decided to take him there for whatever Japanese food his heart desired. I really couldn't make my mind up on where to take him! Should I take him to any of my favorite Ramen restaurants? or Jimbo's? or Oahu's Da Kitchen? It was a very indecisive day!

We ended up at Shirokiya, which I thought would be perfect. There's so many choices and varieties of bento, udon, ramen, soba, tempura, takoyaki...that he would eventually find something he wanted to eat.

Verdict? Jason loved it! We got to catch up, and in the meantime, eat some great food. Mission accomplished!

Kouyu Tonkotsu from Hakata Chouten Ramen


Hot Soba

Did I mention we stopped at Waiola's for dessert? It's a must!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Hakata Tonkotsu Ramen at Shirokiya

The Ramen Festival started in August, and since then, three to four Japan-authentic restaurants have set up shop in Shirokiya. Please read about the other two here and here. During this time (Sept 20-Oct 3), Hakata Chouten Ramen from Fukuoka has arrived, and will be serving up their tasty noodles and of course, gyoza!

In the past week, I've been lucky enough to try two of their ramen bowls- Bairoku Char Siu Tonkotsu and the Kouyu Tonkotsu. Beware of the black sesame oil bits that get stuck in your teeth! Ahhh!

My favorite out of all 3 ramen shops so far has definitely been the second one- Tonkotsu from Manshuya-Ga-Ichiban from Fukuoka. The creamy broth was breathtaking. It was pure and simple- didn't have all that extra sesame oil or black oil or bean sprouts. Just bring me my ramen and char siu!

PS- I've realized the Japanese really love their green onions or "negi." All of their #1 Bestsellers are the ramen bowls loaded with green onion! If you love onions, look for "Neginegi Sibori" or "Bairoku Negi Tonkotsu"...basically anything with the word "NEGI" in it!

#10- Bairoku Char Siu Tonkotsu

Gotta have a Jasmine Green Tea with your ramen!

#1- Kouyu Tonkotsu

Sampled some Tempura also! I love the Shiso leaf tempura. Crunchy with a bit of bite!