Saturday, November 8, 2014

Livestock Tavern

 Livestock Tavern opened just in the latter part of October by the Owners of Lucky Belly in Chinatown. I've heard such great reviews in just the last few weeks that I had to make my way down, even with all the road construction going on downtown. You're that special, Livestock! And you definitely did not disappoint. I will be back if not for their amazingly-tasty and visually appealing cocktails, but also to try some of their different menu items. I wouldn't even mind coming by myself for lunch, as the vibe and feel of the restaurant is so rustic, comfortable and cool. I see this as the place for a business-casual lunch with friends or clients, and if you're off the clock, a stellar place to get some amazing drinks.

A friend and I went there around 1pm on a Friday, and were immediately seated. I thought it would have been packed, but I guess the lunch crowd left early. We ordered the Clam Chowder, Burrata with Pesto/Fig/Arugula and a Lobster Roll each. I thought it was strange that they were out of a few items- the Heirloom Tomato Salad that comes with Cured Duck would have no duck, the Venison Carpaccio had no Venison, but instead prosciutto and no Bundaberg Ginger Beer. What a shame! I hope they fix this soon!

Anyway, everything we ordered was delicious and filling. My favorite was probably the Burrata with Pesto/Fig/Arugula and I would most definitely order it every time! The New England Corn Chowder had a lot of hearty "gunk" as I like to call it, and I'm sure most people can make a lunchtime meal out of it especially with the little slice of Rye Bread that it comes with. By the time the Lobster Roll came, I was on the fuller side of things, but as soon as I grabbed the roll to take a bite, I was astonished as to how soft and buttery the roll was. It was filled to the max with a generous amount of Lobster. Definitely not skimpy, and it better not be at the $18 price tag. The sauce on the lobster was light and not overpowering, which I liked. As much as I enjoyed how soft the roll was, I would have enjoyed it more (and felt not so guilty) if it wasn't so damn buttery!!! The tips of my fingers were shiny as heck with oil.

Next time, I'll be back to try some new cocktails by Alicia and a bunch of other dinner items like the Porridge and Pork Belly, Crispy Trotters (that I've heard so much about!), Shrimp and Grits and Mushroom Stuffed Pasta.

I'm definitely impressed with Livestock. For being open for such a short time, service was on point, albeit a bit slow at times, but always attentive and courteous. Food was served hot and tasty with such unique presentation. Not to mention the presentation of the restaurant itself was unique and notable as not many other places have that aura. You don't feel like you're in Hawaii anymore! (And I kinda like it!)

PS- Be sure to try their Seasonal Sweet Tea, which is an Apple and Cranberry Tea with All-Spice Simple Syrup. I grabbed one to go, and it kept me refreshed the entire day. Really sweet!

"Nothing Gold Can Stay"- Clear Creek Pear Brandy, Aviation Gin, Lime Juice, Spiced Almond Syrup, Apricot Simple Syrup, and Angostura Bitters

Seasonal Sweet Tea to go!!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Highway Inn Kaka'ako

 I am a fan of all things Hawaiian food. Laulau, Kalua Pig, Poi topped with Lomi Salmon, Squid Luau, Beef Stew, Pipikaula, Poke, and end with a big slice of Haupia. YES. Now, don't get me wrong, I have and always will be a loyal client of Young's Fishmarket (See post HERE). You won't find anywhere else that makes a better Laulau. Moist, lots of luau leaves (my fave!), seasoned with just the right amount of salt, and loaded with lots of pork and butterfish inside. Oh and don't get me started on their Roast Pork. If you're lucky to get an order fresh and just cut, you are one lucky buggah. It will be the best Roast Pork you've ever tasted, even counting all those Roast Pork/Charsiu butcher shops in Chinatown. But, being the foodie that I am, I just had to try out Highway Inn to see what the hype was all about.

Now, this is the NEW Highway Inn, located in Kaka'ako by Starbucks on Ala Moana Blvd. We arrived on a Tuesday around 1130am, just in time for the lunch crowd. Thankfully, we were promptly seated and there was no wait. I immediately asked the waitress if they had their Salt Meat Watercress Soup that day, and yup, they did! I've read on Yelp that some days they're out of it or don't have it completely. I also didn't see it on the menu, so I'm sure it's a Special! And special, it is. Hoooo, if you have high sodium and high blood pressure, I warn you to be careful with this soup, as it is oh-so-tasty, but definitely on the saltier side. The meat is fork-tender, and the watercress adds a nice refreshing flavor to the salty soup. Take your spoon, add some rice, dip in for some soup, meat and watercress.....DEVOUR. You will not be sorry!

Now, I'm a big Squid Luau lover as well, and I definitely didn't miss that on the menu. It's something about that sweet luau stew with bits of tender squid that float throughout. I have to spill that Pakele's Hawaiian Food shop in Ko'olau Shopping Center has the best creamy Squid Luau and so-so-so inexpensive, you won't believe it. You get a pint for $4.75, less than $5! Where else are you going to get a deal like that!?

However, Highway Inn did not disappoint on the Squid Luau front. Not as sweet as Pakele's (though I like mine real sweet) and a good amount of squid too. This was my perfect Hawaiian Food lunch- Salt Meat Watercress, Squid Luau and some sizzling Smoke Meat!

A friend had the combo plate with Laulau and added Squid Luau (for $3.25) plus a bunch of other gigantic sides of Lomi, Okinawan Sweet Potato, Poi and Haupia. Amazing, filling meal for a great value (less than $20!!), though he said the Laulau was not as flavorful as Young's. Can we say we told you so? Haha.

Hmm, I'm missing something. The star of the show. Highway Inn's Sizzling Platter of Pua'a Uahi or aka Sizzling Platter of Smoke Meat and Pipikaula! Now, the hostess did mention that their most popular dish is the Smokin' Moco. Everything that a typical Loco Moco is, but instead of a hamburger patty, Smoke Meat!! And that Sizzling Platter was so delicious that it was devoured by the 4 of us in seconds. I may just order a Smokin' Moco next time! Smoke Meat is so hard to find here in Honolulu, that when I see it on the menu, there's no question I'm ordering it.

And that, folks, is all you need to know about Highway Inn! Great Hawaiian food, parking is plentiful in their lot or street, and fresh dessert made daily. Stop by Starbucks next door if you need a pick-me-up for that Kanak Attack you're about to receive!

Sizzling Platter of Smoke Meat and Pipikaula

Salt Meat Watercress