Thursday, May 30, 2013

HASR Bistro

Highly Allocated Spoiled Rotten. Yup, that's what HASR stands for. Apparently it refers to Terry Kakazu, who opened HASR Bistro and HASR Wine Co (both next door to each other). She used to share the courtyard with the old Grand Café and Bakery, but after that closed, she hopped on it and opened the Wine Shop. It's become so popular and convenient that people buy a bottle of wine and take it next door to enjoy with the delicious food. The delicious food that Chef Rodney Uyehara (of the old Bistro at Century Center and Moana Surfrider) now serves up at HASR. He has a knack for creating the most rich and melt-in-your-mouth food. Talk about the most tender Short Ribs and creamiest Risotto, topped with a big bone of dripping, oily bone marrow. So tantalizing. I have yet to try his Osso Bucco, but I hear that's a showstopper as well.

Did I mention the Escargot and Mushrooms? I've tried many restaurants' traditional way of making Escargot, served in hot ceramic escargot dishes with lots of butter, garlic, and shallots. However, HASR's is different and unique, and that's why it's become my favorite. Made with Pernod Garlic Cream, you will praise the Lord after taking a bite. And you will thank the Lord even more for the crispy Crostinis it comes with to dip and drench in the sauce, because you will want to lick the plate dry before the waiter takes it away. Yes, it is that good.

A couple nights ago I had the pleasure of meeting both Kakazu and Uyehara. Amazing, down-to-earth, and the friendliest people! After sampling 5 wines at the wine shop, I now understand the HASR acronym and why it applies to Terry Kakazu. She's so damn spoiled rotten for being able to get her hands on all of those hard-to-get wines in her shop! And Uyehara, equally as friendly and talkative, and I hear he likes to golf. My kind of guy!

Parking- Park in the Municipal Parking Lot on Beretania and Nuuanu after 5pm and it's only $3. Come up from the elevator, and you're literally steps away from HASR! Easy peasy. And you know that's what I like, especially in downtown!

Other mentionings- Buy a bottle at the wine shop and no corkage fee if you're eating next door. Wine tasting is also Tuesdays and Fridays from 5-7pm. I highly recommend it before eating there. We bought a bottle that we sampled and it was perfect!

Service is A+. Ask for Aaron if you can!

This has got to be one of my favorite places to eat and drink at the moment. Not only is the food so choice, but I love the ambiance of sitting outside, especially this time of year. The weather was absolutely perfect last Tuesday, and I could have stayed here all night.

Escargot and Hamakua Mushrooms

Seafood Pan Roast- Scallop, Prawn, Crab, Calamari, Mussels, Clams, Fish, Chili Saffron Tomato Cream Sauce and Rice. No skimping on seafood here!!!!! The bowl was gigantic!

Braised Short Rib- Pesto-crusted Bone Marrow, Hamakua Mushroom Risotto. The Risotto and Short Rib were simply amazing and drool-worthy. I don't think there was a drop of risotto left! The marrow looks drool-worthy and I was most excited about this, but it fell short. It had no taste and it was just fat. A letdown on the marrow front, since I'm a huge bone marrow lover.

Key Lime Cheesecake. OH-SO light! You won't believe how light this cheesecake was. And the key lime was perfect- not too overpowering, but a subtle refreshing flavor. This was my favorite.

Banana Bread Pudding. You could definitely taste the banana bread, but I was head over heels for the Key Lime Cheesecake above.

Chef Rodney Uyehara and I!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Maui Trip 2013

Every year, I travel to Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island for a couple days for work. I'm a little late on the post for these 3 outer islands for the year, but I didn't want you to miss out on my new (and some old) food adventures.

In this post: Ichiban Okazuya, Star Noodle, Tasaka Guri Guri, and Sam Satos. There are no Brussels Sprouts from Star Noodle in this post because we went too late in the day and they were out, BUT if you do eat here, you MUST try it. Tender morsels pan-roasted and then baked in butter and bacon. I dream about this dish. I suggest going as early as possible- they're open throughout the day. We got there around 7pm and there were a big mass of people waiting outside. We waited an hour for seating, plus they were out of Ahi Avo, Brussels Sprouts, and a lot of other menu items already.

Early morning flight to Maui calls for mini Cinnabon and OJ from Burger King!

Need a quick bite? First lunch stop at Ichiban Okazuya! This place is a small "Mom & Pop," but their food is fresh and there are always people in there getting take-out or eating right outside. Delicious food at a really reasonable price!

STAR NOODLE. My fave! Hou Hou Shou Sparkling Sake. Our waiter's suggestion? Squeeze some lemon in it and then sip.

Steamed Pork Buns

Garlic Noodles, add in Mushrooms

Pohole Salad!

Filipino "Bacon and Eggs"- Crispy Pork, Poached Egg, Tomato and Onion. Comes on a sizzling hot plate. This was our favorite this time around!

Break Poached Egg, mix......

Now.......DIG IN!

Dessert! Malasada with Chocolate and Butterscotch Caramel Sauces, Nuts. A side of Raspberry Chocolate Gelato! Ready for the ULTIMATE MALASADA?

Use your knife to make a hole in the Malasada...

Stuff Gelato in the center.....

Drizzle Butterscotch Caramel Sauce on it.....


Always need to stop for Tasaka Guri Guri!!! The best breakfast before work! Open at 9am M-F.

Yup, you can take it back home with you!

Sam Sato's Dry Mein! First time trying this stuff!

My awesome friend, Chris, bought me Manju to take back on the plane too. I have the most amazing friends!!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Pig and the Lady (and some Kona Coast Abalone)

Honomu's most popular- Passion Fruit Butter! So creamy, buttery, and flavorful. You can try as many samples as you'd like, too! See Troy- he's the best!

I didn't want to miss Via Gelato's Li Hing Shiso Sorbetto, and I knew she was going to be at the HNL Farmer's Market Wednesday from 4-7pm. I finished all my errands and headed over. Thank goodness I did; I have a new found love for grilled Abalone and Pig and the Lady! It's funny- these are two vendors I always see, but never order anything. Now, I'm determined to go every Wednesday to order more abalone and see what else Pig and the Lady is offering every week.

My friend, Casey, and I both tried two of Pig and the Lady's sandwiches. One was a Banh Mi French Dip with Pho Au Jus and the other (mine) was a Smoked Bacon Sandwich with a perfectly-cooked fried egg. OMG, heaven in my mouth. Casey and I also ended up literally drinking the Pho Au Jus, and now I must order the Jidori Chicken and Fish Pho this next time! The broth had the perfect combination of both savory and sweet, and my mouth is watering just thinking of it! We also ordered their Weekly Bruschetta since every customer had a plate of it, but for some reason, it just didn't appeal to me. Everyone else loved it, so it must just be me!

Meyer Lemon with Mint and Raspberry Juice, Li Hing Shiso Sorbetto.

Kona Coast Abalone

Banh Mi French Dip- 12 hour roasted brisket, sauteed bean sprouts, thai basil chimmichurri, pho au jus.

Weekly Bruschetta- Avocado Mousse, Charred Corn, Sunflower Seeds

Smoked Bacon- fried egg, garlic chives, ginger-scallion sauce. Look at that oozing egg!!!!!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Nanzan Giro Giro

After years of wanting to attend one of Nanzan Giro Giro's prix fixe dinners, it finally happened. Foodie friend, Chris, came home for a weekend, and I knew this was the perfect time. For $50 and another $8 for dessert, you have to really appreciate this kind of meal for the price. Thankfully, we both share the same love for food and good company.

Things you must know:
1. It is imperative to make reservations ahead of time. There are two seatings- 6pm and 8pm, closed Mondays.
2. Nanzan Giro Giro is a Japanese Kaiseki restaurant. This means that dinner is served in many small courses with fine detail to flavor and presentation. It is almost ceremonial, and I was afraid to dig in as I didn't want to offend anyone. Everyone is very formal, and gives a rehearsed description of each dish before serving.
3. Parking- If you have reserved seating for the 6pm time, go a bit earlier and you can park around the restaurant. It is on the corner of Pensacola and Kona Street. If you go to the later seating, there is only street parking.
4. The menu changes on a monthly basis.
5. Seven courses for $50 and dessert for $8. Dessert is an optional.

Verdict? With drinks, tax, and tip, we paid $85 per person. For that amount, I did not think it was worth it when the main course was Unagi Dashimaki...that you can get at almost any Japanese restaurant! Not to mention how delicious, larger-portioned, and inexpensive it was at Tokkuri Tei (see here).

Maybe I went during an off month, or maybe it was an off day, but I was not impressed for the price. I do agree that you are paying for the experience, but I'm not convinced the experience was worth it. The taste was there in some dishes, but not all.

What I actually did really enjoy was the liquor! How predictable of me, huh? I started off with the White Peach Sake, which was deliciously light, but then quickly moved to the Bijoufu Yuzu (Yuzu Sake). My goodness, the Yuzu sake is amazingly-delicious. Sweet, powerful flavor. If you like citrus, you will love this drink. Sip it by itself for very sweet, or have it on the rocks with soda for a bubblier libation. Trust me, this is so deadly! Thinking I could drink this all day/every day, I asked where I could purchase it. Unfortunately, only Nanzan and and YuZu carry this gem.

I think everyone should definitely give this place a try. I know many people that love this place and go back each month to try the new menu. I say, go, and let me know what you think!

Restaurant is literally a box with windows. Seating surrounding the preparation.

The Chef himself

White Peach Sake with soda on the rocks

Steamed Monchong, Takenoko, Kinome, Kahuku Corn Sauce and Arugula Sauce, Sweet Vinegared Paprika

Green Peas and Crab Fritter Zucchini Tempura, Crab Miso, Clam White Miso Soup, Karashi

Cured Ahi, Tai, Trout Roe, Shiso, Wasabi, Corn Sprouts, Snow Pea Sprouts, Radish Sprouts, Soybean Sprouts Sauce

Grilled Yuan Hamachi, Udon, Men-tsuyu, Vinegared Cucumber and Sesame Seeds, Myoga Daikon Oroshi Ponzu Ginger Ichimi

Pork and Gobo Katsu, Karashi, Eggplant, Sesame Vinegar, Myoga, Yuba, Wakame, Shrimp Sunomono

Yuzu Sake with soda on the rocks

Microgreen, Foie Gras Sauce, Narazuke, Unagi Dashimaki, Potato

Yuzu Sake

Duck and Uni Don, Onion Yakidare, Nori, Wasabi. Broth on the left: Tai Broth, Fried Tofu, Mituba, Ginger

Duck and Uni Don

Gateau Chocolat/Strawberry Custard/Nuts, Lime Macaron, Jasmine Ice Cream/Honey Whip. The Jasmine Ice Cream and Honey Whip was AMAZING.

Perfect ending with Green Tea.