Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sushi Izakaya Shinn

 I'm a sushi snob- yep I admitted it. If you asked me one food I would eat everyday, it would without a doubt be sushi.

There have been posts on Kona Kai (still my number 1 choice), Gaku, Sushi Sasabune, and even Mitch's. Then, Shinn came up. Located next to Mini Garden on Beretania, you can either find street parking or park in their lot. Price is pretty steep, variety is plentiful, and the bar is large.

I came here excited to order the Special Sea Urchin Combo that I saw on Yelp's pictures. Uni Chawanmushi, Uni Beef Tataki, Uni Donburi, and Uni Tempura- all for $39!!! I was set on ordering this upon arrival. Disappointingly, what I wanted was a Special from months ago that they no longer served. Such a letdown!!

Instead, we sucked the bar dry of Kubota Manju......!

Quality of the fish is good, but plating is just gorgeous! See pictures below. The colors!! Again, I really wanted this place to be awesome, but it fell short. I still crave Kona Kai and Gaku. To me, Shinn is a decent Izakaya, though nothing stands out in my mind. They also don't have much clientele beyond the Japanese nationals that frequent this place. I felt like I was in Japan. I was impressed when I walked in- the interior is sleep and modern, service good.

Genki Jirushi- stir it all up, and eat it like a taco with nori strips. Delicious!


Beef Tataki

Beef Tongue Robata

Regular Sushi Set

Ribeye hot and steamy!


Miso Buttahfish!

Saturday, July 26, 2014


 Lately, I've been into Korean food- everything from Yakiniku to Cold Noodles to Kimchee and Makkoli. My go-to place? Budnamujip. Yep, it's that green building on Kapiolani right after you pass Ward Ave, and next to Jack in the Box. Parking is free valet, and there's never a need to wait for a table. Service is fast, not to mention they cook your meat for you! A little awkward when you are in deep conversation with the person across from you, but nonetheless, really convenient.

Whenever I'm there by myself for a quick lunch, I prefer the Cold Noodles (Naengmyeon), which comes with all the unlimited fixins' (banchan). Another favorite of mine is the Burdock Root (gobo). It's coated in mochi powder and then fried perfectly. A bit of a chewy exterior with a tender, soft center. Galbi Tang is another infamous favorite here, and I definitely know why. The meat is fall off the bone and the broth is so savory and flavorful.

The only thing about this place that gets people? The price. It's on the high side, especially when the minimum for ordering meat is two orders. I tell you, guys, if you can splurge one night, I highly recommend trying it once. I guarantee you will be hooked. It's also the only Korean-owned restaurant in Hawaii that uses wood charcoal for its grill. You can taste the difference.

If you're ordering any meat, try their boneless short rib! All meat is Prime cut- Budnamujip prides themselves on quality.

Makkoli! Korean Rice Wine. Milky, sweet, strong.

Wood Charcoal for barbecuing the meat.

Galbi Tang

Perfect lunch. Galbi Tang with side small Cold Noodle!

A must get. Burdock Root.

Complimentary Banchan. Gelatin noodle with sprouts and nori.

Take a leaf of cabbage, add meat, spread paste.....Enjoy!

Complimentary rice tea that comes at the end of every meal here!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

BREW'd Craft Pub

"Redcoats in the Westcoast"- Beefeater Gin, Germain Elderflower Liquer, Lemon Juice, Honey Syrup, topped with a West Coast IPA

 There have been numerous gastropubs to open in the last few years. You've seen REAL, Pint + Jigger, Dash, Salt Kitchen & Tasting Bar, and Home Bar. Enter BREW'd. They opened in the latter part of April, and have been bumpin' ever since. In the past two weeks, I've been there twice! This happened not only in part of their loyalty rewards program where you spend $200 and receive $20 off your next purchase, but also because I'm in love with their food. Burrata Salad, Truffled Dungeness Crab Deviled Eggs, and Root Beer Braised Short Ribs with Polenta that together in your mouth, create a melting pot of creamy, tender, savory robustness. And these are just a few of the menu items.

Located on 9th Ave in Kaimuki, you can find street parking or park in their small lot in the back. BREW'd has a couple stalls marked for them or a few other spots for the building itself. Happy Hour is from 4-6pm daily and closed on Sundays. Only drink specials for Happy Hour, no food.

Some of my faves? Definitely the Short Ribs with Polenta. I'm a big Polenta snob, so wherever I can get creamy, delicious Polenta, I'm ordering it! The Buffalo Wing Candied Bacon is a winner as well- only thing is I wish it came with more than 3 slices! Truffled Dungeness Crab Deviled Eggs were phenomenal. Not your typical boring deviled eggs. The Mac and Cheese and Chicken Club Sliders were also memorable food choices. I would highly recommend the Guinness Gelato for dessert too! A must-have!

Beer choice? Heretic Torment. Deliciously dark Belgian-Style Ale with a hint of sweet. My kind. 

The only thing I wouldn't order again- the Oyster Shooters with Yuzu, Bloody Mary Mix, and Pale Ale. I so wanted these shooters to be amazing, but they turned out to be a watery mix of fishiness. It didn't taste fresh. Very "ocean-y."

Otherwise, I'm going to be back soon. There is still a menu list of many other things I'd love to try. Mushroom Ravioli, Cioppino Risotto and Henry Weinhard Root Beer Float, I'm coming for ya!

Burrata Salad

Root Beer Braised Short Ribs with Polenta
Mac and Cheese

Pork Adobo Poutine

Truffled Dungness Crab Deviled Eggs

Buffalo Wing Candied Bacon

Chicken Club Sliders

Oyster Shooters

And of course, ending with Guinness Gelato!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Impressed Juice

Nalo Press 1- Pineapple, Cucumber, Baby Kale, Baby Arugula, Mizuna, Tat Soi, Mixed Mustard Greens, Red and Green Lettuce Blend

 I finally found Impressed Juice in Mercury Bar on Fort Street! I'd seen their posts on my Instagram feed numerous times, but could never figure out where in downtown they were located. Since then, I've become obsessed. OBSESSED. I have to have my Pa'i'ai bowl once a week at least!

So what is Pa'i'ai? No, it's not Poi, but instead what comes before the Poi. My first time at Impressed I was given an easy and very educational lesson on what exactly Pa'i'ai is. Taro or Kalo as the Hawaiians call it, is very flavorful to begin with, but when watered down to become poi, it loses its original essence and depth. Of course, both Poi and Pa'i'ai are extremely tasty in itself, but you will find Pa'i'ai to be more of a mochi-like texture. Gummy, sticky, thick. You might think it will add on the pounds, but it is actually a superfood that aids in digestion and weight loss! Gluten-free, high in potassium and fiber, and contains a serious amount of Vitamin E, which may offer protection against heart disease and certain cancers.

Give it a try- you will find Pa'i'ai to have a sweet flavor. There used to be over 300 varieties of taro, but today you will only find about 100. They all vary in color, starch-content and taste. You won't find one that tastes exactly like another.

Top your Pa'i'ai off with some smoked marlin or pork luau, and you got yourself a meal that will definitely satisfy you once the bowl is polished off. You could also add some chili pepper water if you need an extra kick!

If you need a cool down in this hot weather, Impressed Juice has their refreshing and ultra-healthy cold-pressed juices like my favorites, Sugarland Cooler (Watermelon, Basil, Mint, Lime) and Nalo Press 1. 

You can find Impressed Juice at Mercury Bar M-F 9am-3pm, Wednesday's Blaisdell Farmers Market from 4-7pm HERE, Thursdays at Kailua Farmers Market 4-7pm, Fridays at HMSA Farmers Market (much smaller) from 11am-2pm, and also at various events happening in Honolulu like Night Market and Eat the Street. Follow them on Instagram @impressedjuicehawaii for updates!

My favorite topping on my Pa'i'ai- Smoked Marlin! So ultra-tender

Nalo Press 1, Pa'i'ai with Dry Aku, Chili Pepper Water

Pa'i'ai with Pork Luau!!!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Koko Head Cafe

 About a couple weeks after Koko Head Cafe opened in May 2014, I stopped in see what the buzz was all about. They are located in the old 12th Ave Grill spot in Kaimuki. Parking isn't easy as there are lots of spaces, but the stores around there are always busy. It's also metered, so don't forget to put in some change!

My friend Joe and I stood in line for a good hour, and were finally seated. I had wanted to order almost everything on the menu since Chef Lee Anne Wong's plated presentation is always so on point. Everything looked delectable!

We started off with the Breakfast Bruschetta- a sweet twist on the usual savory bruschetta you're thinking of. It is spread with Macadamia Nut Yogurt and then topped with refreshing fruits and some sprinkled zest. It's a little sweet for my taste especially during brunch, but it was interesting to try. We also ordered their "Dumplings of the Day"- Double Dan Dumplings- Pork and Cabbage dumplings in a szechuan tahini sauce with house pickles. Not one of my faves, but good to try once.

For my entree, I ordered the Ohayou Eggs that I had been eying on Yelp. Looks like a soup, but it is indeed the creamiest eggs you will ever eat. Baked eggs, heritage ham, local mushrooms, parmesan dashi cream and topped with bonito a fresh, hot skillet. A lovely take on a local-Japanese-y-breakfast with everything you could ever want in eggs. It was delicious and definitely rich.

Joe's pick was the Koko Moco- Koko Head Cafe's take on the infamously local Loco Moco with rice, gravy, hamburger, topped with easy over egg. The difference? A Maui Cattle Co beef patty, crispy garlic rice, and tempura kimchi on the side! I'd ask for that tempura kimchi over and over again!

Knowing me, we also ordered one last thing. Breakfast Congee. I'm Chinese and I love me some good Jook! I had to try Chef Lee Anne's. Verdict? Another interesting dish. It definitely isn't something you'd find at a typical Chinese restaurant, and is on the sweeter side since it is topped with cheddar cheese and cinnamon-bacon croutons.

Fast-forward to last week. Koko Head Cafe with friend Brandon! He has a serious sweet tooth, so I figured he'd love this place. He placed me on restriction saying I could only pick 3 things, but left the ordering to me. Thanks! I indefinitely wanted to try the Eggs Haloa, so that was first pick. Then Koko Moco since Brandon wanted to try it. For the last and final dish, I couldn't make my mind up so I asked our waiter. When in doubt, always ask the waiter/waitress for their opinion! The Dumplings of the Day were housemade garlic pork sausage wontons with soft scrambled eggs and Bacon-sage gravy, which were so tempting. Plus, they only have it for one day!!! Then our waiter told us we couldn't pass up the Cornflake French Toast which "if you haven't tried, is one of our staples." That set it off. Done! We're getting both!

So out of everything we tried, what was my favorite? EGGS HALOA. I've been obsessed with kalo/taro lately (cue Pa'i'ai bowls from Impressed Juice- post to come soon!), so this hawaiian Eggs Benedict hit the spot! Poi biscuit, coconut luau, sour poi hollandaise topped with perfect poached eggs......can you ask for anything more?! A hearty and filling meal, plus poi has tons of health benefits. Next time I'll add heritage ham or smoked pork!

Now that it has been a few months since Chef Lee Anne opened her restaurant, Brandon and I didn't have to wait at all to be seated. I would highly recommend going on a weekday as there is no line; on the weekends, beware! Otherwise, a big cup of Illy coffee and Eggs Haloa will make my morning shine any day. Enjoy!

Ohayou Eggs

Double Dan Dumplings

Koko Moco

Breakfast Congee

Cornflake French Toast reminded me of Burger King's French Toast sticks. Only Koko Head Cafe's is topped with Billionaire's Bacon and Frosted Flake Gelato!!!!!

Breakfast Dumplings- garlic pork sausage wontons with soft scrambled eggs and bacon-sage gravy. These were AMAZING. Hope they have these dumplings again!

Eggs Haloa.....YES PLEASE!

Koko Moco again- look at that Kimchi Tempura. SO crispy and light. One of my favorite things in this dish!

Lilikoi Fizz- Gin, Lilikoi, Ginger Beer, Thai Basil

Apple Banana Pudding with wafers