Eat Drink Style Aloha Aloha! Day Seven

Tuesday, October 25th

With only 2 hours to return the car and head to the airport, there wasn’t enough time to try the popular Eggs n’ Things on Kalakaua Avenue. We had driven by many times to see hordes of people blocking the door away. I was bummed that I didn’t get to try it. Instead I resorted to McDonald’s local breakfast plate. A Styrofoam plate with 2 slices of Spam, 4 slices of Portuguese Sausage, scrambled eggs and rice. This was actually very tasty. I really wish McDonald’s supplied you with Furikake packets. Does anyone know where I can get Portuguese Sausage?

As I sat on the plane for that 5 hours, images of Hawaii flashed by me. Images of…

Waikiki Beach
Ezogiku Ramen
ABC Stores
Macadamia Nuts at the ABC Store
Foie Gras
Shrimp Truck
Hanauma Bay’s Turtles
A really hot girl I saw at the beach
The ABC Store by Rai Rai ramen
Shaved ice
Shaved ice
Shaved ice
Portuguese sausage
The Poki Pines at Alan Wong’s
The ramen menu at Ezogiku
A turtle waving at me
$100 bill
Macadamia Nuts
Our shitty car rental
The ABC Stores at the airport

And as I saw the familiar lights of Los Angeles, I became depressed knowing that in a few hours, I would be stuck in traffic, smelling the smoggy air of Los Angeles, sitting
in front of the computer hammering away at ads, emails and instant messenger. I absolutely dread coming back to the workplace and reading through the armada of emails.

But I’m delighted to provide you with this detailed article on my wonderful trip to Oahu. I will definitely be back soon. Thanks for reading.

Eat Drink Style Aloha Aloha! Day Six

Today was the last day we would be able to have a full day, since we would be leaving on Tuesday morning. Instead of going to Three Tables or Shark’s Cove, we wanted to make sure that we were able to snorkel… and see Sea Turtles. Sure enough, we saw two, feeding away off the coral reef like they were at a Las Vegas buffet. Looked good, but it couldn’t have been as good as the Angelo Pietro restaurant, who manufactures my favorite salad dressing. It’s off Kapiolani Blvd. and sort of tucked into a corner. I was so full from lunch but I HAD to try Angelo Pietro’s. They only had locations in Hawaii and Japan and I certainly hope they open up one in Los Angeles.

I ordered the raw potato salad topped with radish sprouts and their signature Sesame-Miso dressing. It was so refreshing and good. Probably the freshest vegetables I’ve had so far in Hawaii. Tempura and macaroni salad DO NOT COUNT. I also ordered the bacon/pickled vegetable spaghetti which was light and flavorful. Nothing difficult to make. I really prefer eating Japanese-style, Italian food as opposed to traditional Italian because I think it’s lighter. Yum. I’d go back here again.

And to end the trip with a bang, we decided to have an exquisite dinner at Alan Wong's. We crossed off Roy’s and Sam Choy’s because they have locations in California. We ran late because Alan Wong’s was hidden inside a non-descript building. 30 mins after our reservations, we were seated in the nicely decorated restaurant. The chefs worked quietly, yet efficiently in the open kitchen. The waiters buzzing around our table like bees in a hive. It’s rare that I treat myself to exquisite dining, and I think Alan Wong’s was a great place to experience Hawaiian-fusion and end the trip. The 11 of us decided to order appetizers and entrees and share with everyone. Here's what we had... (getting drool towel ready*).

Ahi Tuna Tartare. Basically it was a poke-pie with soy sauce and wasabi. Light, crispy and intensely flavorful .

Sushi. I didn't try this but I'm sure it was good. I had my stomach space reserved for bigger and bolder things.

Kiawe Grilled Maui Cattle Company Rib Eye. This dish was served with mushrooms, green beans and a port wine sauce... it was so good. Steak was too simple and plain for me to order though.

Poki-Pines. One of Alan Wong's specialties. Wonton skins were shaped into miniature pineapples and stuffed with ahi tuna poke. So good! This recipe is available in Alan Wong's hawaiian cookbook.>

Broiled Lobster and Abalone with Aioli. This one was one of my favorites. Eaten together with the aioli, the meat just melts.

Macadamia Nut-Coconut Crusted Lamb Chops. Awesome. The reduction sauce was a little too sweat and thick though.

Da Bag. Clams and kahlua pork are steamed in a large foil bag and served in flavorful clam broth. Nothing really special. I did enjoy the broth though.

Butterfish with Foie Gras. This was my favorite dish of the night and also my first time trying foie gras. I'm gonna try my hardest to replicate this dish .

Duck Salad. Moist pieces of duck served over greens. Bland..

Crabcakes. I thought these were sort of dry.

After dinner, I started to think my career options. I figure I can only do advertising for a few years because I am more interested in the culinary arts. Before Hawaii, I was talking to a few chefs from Café Pinot in Downtown Los Angeles. I expressed my interest in working there part time and they encouraged me to send in my resume. I like pretentious and haute dining. I like that they treat a white plate as as though it’s a canvas, with food as the form of art. I'm crossing my fingers as we speak because I'd be overwhelmed if I got the job. They told me I wouldn't have to start on dishes, so that's good to know. haha. I'll let you guys know what happens.

Eat Drink Style Aloha Aloha! Day Five

Sunday, October 23rd

Before another day of hanging out in North Shore, we decided to make it quick and headed over to Zippy’s, Hawaii’s fast food restaurant. This place is truly a stoner’s paradise. Looking at the menu, you can virtually anything you want. From chili fries to katsu, saimin to gravied loco-moco. Zippy’s is known for their chili. A friend of mine was telling me that he’d FREEZE their chili in a container to bring it back to the mainland. Nuts. The chili was pretty good, but I still prefer Wienerschnitzel’s! What I liked most about Zippy’s was there assortment of baked goods and pastries. I bought 10 rolls of garlic rolls, which were drenched in garlic butter. Yummy. And by a friends threatening suggestion, I had to try their Boston Cream Pie. Again, I dislike desserts, and this was extremely sweet. My cheeks were tingling after one bite.

This by far, was the best day I’ve had in Hawaii. We got to Sunset Beach park around 12 and stayed for the sunset. 5 guys, 2 girls, how romantic is that? Haha. For reals, I took another long nap and started taking photos with my Holga camera, the $18 wonder that takes beautiful, saturated photos. There’s a whole photography movement based on this camera called “Lomography”. Check it out. It was also fun watching the over-confident body-boarders ride the 8 foot swells. Seriously, they looked like clothes in a washing machine.

Dinner? Guess what we had, AGAIN? Haha. But this time, we were recommended to Rai Rai ramen by the waitress at Irifune. In accordance with Reid, the ramen was mediocre. I don’t think I need to get into their ramen. It’s all the same menu. Ezogiku reigns supreme in the ramen battle.

Eat Drink Style Aloha Aloha! Day Four

Saturday, October 22nd

Today was the worst day of the trip. After three lovely days of warm sun and water, we were hammered by the rainy, tropical climate. It rained throughout the whole island and we found ourselves driving around the WHOLE island (125 miles) looking for a dry spot. None to be found.

For lunch, we drove to the town of Haleiwa for more shrimp trucks and alcohol. A friend recommended Giovanni’s over Romy’s. Tucked underneath some trees was the graffiti-ridden Giovanni’s truck. Well, it was more of people autographing the truck. We didn’t have a Sharpie on us to write any lewd messages though. Like Romy’s, it’s 10-12 pieces of shrimp for $12, and it’s also fried scampi way with ample garlic and crushed red pepper flakes.

We then headed over to a local market to buy a Styrofoam cooler to store our beer and stumbled upon a grill that’d you see in a Food Network BBQ festival. Ray’s serves up their Kiawe Broiled Chicken in this trailer, broiling 25 chickens at a time and selling a whole chicken for only $8. It tasted good, but wasn’t any more interesting than the kind you get at Albertson’s.

We finally got back from our excursion at around 5 pm and headed for dinner at Irifune’s. Started in 1975, this hole in the wall is still a hole in the wall. I seriously would’ve driven by this restaurant if I hadn’t known the address. It looks like a garage! This place is nothing less than mediocre but is famous for their garlic ahi tuna and BYOB rule. Before we got to Irifune, I had called them about the BYOB rule.

Me: “Hi, I heard you can BYOB.”
Irifune: “Sure, can.”
Me: “Umm. How about a cooler full of beer?”
Irifine: “Go ahead.”
Me: “Nice.”

We started off the dinner with the breaded tofu, suggested by our extremely nice waitress. Firm tofu pieces were deep fried and served with a teriyaki sauce. Pretty good, but nothing spectacular.

We all ordered combo plates that with the famous garlic ahi tuna, tempura and miso soup. The garlic ahi tuna was actually delicious. They weren’t kidding when they said it was full of garlic.

But what we really came for was the Poke, pronounced poh-kay. Poke consists of sliced ahi tuna, mixed with maui onions, soy sauce, ogo (thin seaweed, almost like sea moss) and sesame oil. My friend had been raving about poke for the longest time and said that he liked Irifune’s. This was my first time trying out poke and boy, was it good. I believe they used soy sauce, ogo, sesame oil and some kind of mayonnaise. Something similar to that used in spicy tuna roll. We devoured this dish in about 7 minutes. I was very tempted to order another one. Checkout Kirk's and Alan of Ma’Ona’s blog on poke. There are hundreds of ways to make your own Poke, and I will be trying this out very soon.

Irifune, overall, is a down-to-earth, un-pretentious place for simple, Japanese fare. The service was great and I would definitely go back for seconds. It was definitely nice to eat somewhere away from Waikiki Beach.

Eat Drink Style Aloha Aloha! Day Three

Friday, October 21st
Yesterday, we went over to the Mega-Walmart to buy snorkeling gear and alcohol. Our safest best for snorkeling was Hanauma Bay, although Shark’s Cove seemed to be the favorite of the locals. Once we paid for our entrance fee of $5, we were forced to watch this terrible video on the history of Hanauma Bay. It even had this Disney-like song where the girl sang about reefs and corals. So stupid.

We didn’t want to leave the bay and ended up eating at the snack bar. $4 for shaved ice sans vanilla ice cream and beans. Boo. The garlic fries were good, but not as good the Gordon Biersch ones from Dodger Stadium. But I’ll tell you what made my trip. I found $100 at Hanauma Bay! All of a sudden, the crappy shaved ice, mediocre garlic fries and horrid Disney video were long forgotten.

On a sad note, upon arriving at Hanauma, we stepped onto the set of Baywatch. A few lifeguards were setting up the CPR equipment on shore and watched as another lifeguard on a jetski cruised down from the mouth of the bay. He was towing a lifeless woman on a gurney and bounced on the waves like a flag on a windy day. They spent a good 35-45 minutes on her, and sadly, I don’t think she made it. I’m not sure what happened out there. God bless her.

Dinner? Take a wild guess. We decided to take L&I to that awesome ramen shop, Ezogiku, because they had missed out. They loved it.

Eat Drink Style Aloha Aloha! Day Two

Thursday, October 20th
With the company of a crappy, soccer-mom van and a friend who just moved out to Honolulu, we were out for a gorgeous day at the beach and better direction in finding good eats. We decided to head away from Waikiki Beach, and traverse the world-famous North Shore. We hopped in the car, rolled down the windows and immediately turned the radio to KCCN 100.3 FM for local Hawaiian music. We drove by the Dole Pineapple Plantations but skipped that once we saw the many tour buses there.

Our first stop in the North Shore was Romy’s, a small shack situated on a shrimp farm. We had to pullover because the scent of the garlic/chili was overwhelming. Romy’s is known for their garlic/chili shrimp with soy sauce over rice. At $12 for about 10 pieces of shrimp, it was quite pricey. I don’t know if it beats the Chinese fried shrimp with green onions and salt though. (Jeew Yeem Ha) I had the fried shrimp, which was basically shrimp wrapped in egg roll skin and submerged in oil. Now that was tasty. Overall, everyone was content with the meal.

We then headed to Shark’s Cove, hoping to snorkel, but the water was way too rocky. We then stopped over at the beautiful, Waimea Bay and hungout. After that, we headed to the small town of Haleiwa for some traditional Hawaiian shaved ice at Matsumoto’s. Matsumoto’s has been around since 1951 and has been punching out their famous shaved ice to fanny-packed tourists like me.

For $2, you can get the large shaved ice cone with any assortment of syrup, vanilla ice cream and beans. The vanilla ice cream serves as the condensed milk in the Taiwanese version. I don’t like sweets at all, but Matsumoto’s proved to be quite a delectable treat. I only wished they served it at the beaches. Where can I get this in the LA area? I’ve heard Gardena and Torrance has it.

For dinner, we were sans automobile. My lovebird friends decided to deprive the three of us and took the car to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel for exquisite dining at the beautiful Hoku’s. I actually don’t know if it’s beautiful, since our friends deprived us of transportation haha. Just kidding L&I. Congratulations to them. After the dinner, L proposed to I after waiting 11 years! We then headed to Tiki’s Bar & Grill on Kalakaua Avenue for a few drinks. This tourist trap serves a nice healthy plate of Kahlua Pork Nachos. Awesome. I couldn’t sleep because I was so full.

So while they were eating delicious food, we trekked down to Ezogiku for, you guessed it, more ramen. Now this place was awesome. It was setup like a diner with the servers in the middle. The menu was simple to read and had a good variety of ramen. They were best known for their Miso Ramen, a huge bowl of chasiu pork, bean spouts and miso-flavored broth for $7.89. Ezogiku also has some killer combos for the hippos like me. For $9.89, you can get a bowl of ramen, 4 pieces of gyoza and fried rice. Awesome. We ended up eating here TWICE. Sorry, Ramenya & Kinchan’s, this place whoops your @$$.

Eat Drink Style Aloha Aloha! Day One

***Please bare with this long entry. This is a 7-Part blog.***

For the longest time, the thought of Hawaii has crossed my mind. Teasing, tingling my mind. At 27, I’m probably the last person on earth to have traveled to Hawaii. When I told people that it would be my first time, I was given a puzzled expression. What? Are you from another planet or something? Yes I am. And I am broke.

The First Calling
I remember sitting in some shanty business office, like something you’d see at an auto body shop, watching the 13” black and white TV while waiting for my car. It was always some lame program you didn’t want to watch, like NASCAR. And the remote control was nowhere in sight, and it would’ve been too audacious of me to get a chair to reach up for the channel buttons, in case the other patrons were interested in NASCAR. Perusing through the limited magazine selection, my eyes caught that ubiquitous sweepstakes box. The kind with the out-of-ink-since-last-year pen TIED to the box. I didn’t know that Bic pens were in such high demand. They freaking cost a dime anyway. “Win a Free Trip to Hawaii!” it screamed. The box had a stock image of this couple obviously from the late 80s walking hand in hand down Waikiki Beach, besides a photoshopped palm tree. The guy had a slight mullet and wore some black Vuarnets and yellow trunks, and his new wife wearing a leopard-skin, one-piece bathing suit. I don’t believe in sweepstakes because I know it’s just a way for companies to send you crap you don’t need. Bored out of my mind, I said, “Why not?” I wanna be wearing black vuarnet sunglasses and yellow trunks with my freshly-grown mullet.

The Second Calling
A while back I had to take my mom to the hospital for a checkup, and again I found myself situated in the waiting room with other people who didn’t want to be there. With my iPod on me, I laid back and watched the 20” color tv. A man got up and politely asked if he could change the channel… “John Johnson… come on down!!!” Yep, it’s everyone’s favorite game show The Price Is Right, with the still living, Bob Barker. What is it about this show? The contestants only consist of two species of human life: old people and military people. I can’t help but cheer for them though. The way they run down to the bidding booths and bounce around like they’ve never seen a Montgomery Ward or Sears catalog. So this guy that gets the winning bid, ends up in the next stage, where the prize is, you guessed it, a trip to Hawaii. It was great how the showcase transformed into a faux-Hawaii setting with the models playing beach ball. I suddenly envisioned myself on that bidding booth winning that trip to Hawaii. Yeah, I’ll admit it, I probably would’ve bounced around like I was on ecstasy and maybe even threw in a few backflips. I needed to go to Hawaii.

The callings finally took me and my friends to Hawaii this month. It worked out perfectly because three of us were Hawaiian-Island virgins. The others had been a few times and knew exactly where to take us.

After a quick 5 hour flight, we landed. Okay, keep in mind that I had MANY expectations in Hawaii. I’ve obviously been exposed to too much television and sweepstake boxes. Expectation #1: UPON GETTING OFF, I expected to get lei’d. (Yes, laugh you dirty people.) I was like, where the hell are the two beautiful Polynesian beauties with the purple orchid leis? I wanna get lei’d. We then checked into our 2-star craphole we got off Expedia. My package was about $500, so it wasn’t bad. I wasn’t planning on spending most of my time vacationing in the hotel room anyway.

I couldn’t complain though, Waikiki Beach was directly across the street from us, but intensely crowded. And that leads to Expectation #2: the water is warm, but not crystal clear!!! Waikiki Beach is way overcrowded by tourists wearing fanny packs, including myself, and has gradually become dirtier over the years.

Wednesday, October 19th
On the first day, with no car, we were limited to the surrounding restaurants on Kalakaua Avenue, the main street in Waikiki. And I was glad to know that there were plenty of Japanese restaurants to dine at. After passing about 19 ABC Stores in that 5-block walk, we decided to head to the International Market Place for the food court. They had every type of cuisine imaginable but I already had my mind set on ramen.

I ate at this place called Hokkaido Noodle House, a Vietnamese-runned ramen shop. I expected it to be a bowl of heaven. Nope. A pure bowl of crap. I don’t know if any type of soup noodle can taste good if it's served in a styrofoam bowl, or any food in general. I won’t be eating at the International Market Place again. We didn’t have any means of transportation, so we had no choice really.

For dinner, again with no car, we relied on our own instincts and ended up at this so-so sushi joint called Run, which is right by the Tiki Bar. If it weren’t for the conveyor belt gimmick, I don’t if this place would last too long. I ordered the $10 platter of sushi, which looks good, but as the saying goes… you get what you pay for. My friend had the ramen, which was as bad as Hokkaido’s, but without the savory taste of Styrofoam. I couldn’t wait for the next day when we would have a car.

***A note to Kirk and Reid, the Hawaiian-natives, I know you guys are shaking your head at me right now haha. I know, I know, I should’ve done the research with you guys BEFORE I landed. But trust me, the food gets better!

Eat Drink Style A Gluttonous Night with Daily Gluttony & Friends...

First off, I want to apologize to Mrs. Daily Gluttony for taking so long to write about her special evening. I've been meaning to, but work has been EXTREMELY crazy. Anyway, we had our local LA food blogger dinner a few months ago at Manna Korean BBQ in Koreatown. She asked if I would like to cater her wedding party and I gladly accepted. After all, Daily Gluttony is one of the funniest personalities in the food blog world and simply enjoyable to be around. Don't be fooled by her potty mouth and sometimes, brash writing... she's really great haha.

A few months later, the event really felt like it was just around the corner. With the help of J and Yoony of Immaeatchu, this was going to be a fun and smooth night. Pam decided on two seafood dishes and two vegetarian. Ugh. We were both irritated by the fact that we had to throw in some kind of veggie dish. No matter what, it was good practice. Things could be worse... I could be dealing with vegans and non-glutens. The good thing is, I could pretty much go outside of my place and collect all my ingredients.

"Yes, this dish is made especially for you. I've deep-fried this oak leaf in panko flakes and topped it w/ bark that I've braised in soy sauce, garlic and cilantro. The garnish of freshly-mowed grass should really bring out this winter's flavors. Enjoy."

Yoony met up with J and I on a Saturday afternoon and we were simply fascinated by Pam's place. It really had the Brooklyn loft feel that you see a lot in movies. The place was huge and could easily hold a 100+ people. We immediately set up our post in her large kitchen. With two fridges and a 6' foot fold-out table, we had an ideal setup. In addition to that, the bartender was set up right in front of us, forming a blockade from nosey, finger-happy guests. Two hours later, the guests started to pour in. Music on, food being cooked, drinks pouring.... party time.

Ahi Tuna Poke with Yuzu and Green Apples on Wonton Crisps
I'm no longer making the avocado mousse wonton crisps. This version blows it out of the water. The microgreen garnish adds a nice bitter taste that balances with the sour green apples and sweet fish.

Crabcakes with Roasted Red Pepper Remoulade
I don't think I can bury this dish just yet. I've made them smaller and used a different panko crust and it's now edible in one crispy bite.

Truffled-Edamame Hummus on Parmesan Crisps
This was my first time dealing with parmesan crisps. I cannot stand baking but had to try this dish out sometime. The crisps had a nice cracker-like texture to it and made a nice appetizer. The truffle oil really brings out the tastes of the garlicky hummus and cheesy crisps. Unfortunately, this dish takes FOREVER to make. Goodbye, off the menu for good haha.

Yoony's Harissa Dip on Pita Crisps (Not Pictured)
My photo was so lousy and blurry that it wasn't worth putting up. Zteve of Gastrologica did a nice interpretation of the dish. Sorry Yoony! I first had this dish at AOC and fell in love with it. I could not stop eating it. Yoony was kind enough to help me out and prepare this dish at home and it was awesome. Spicy and flavorful... a good kick to the bunch.

Victor of Zarape Tacos
Pam's genius idea of hiring a taco guy really made the party fun. Who doesn't love tacos? Victor had a nice choice of carne asada and pollo asado with all the fixins. After cooking for two straight hours, the last thing I wanted to eat was anything I cooked. I treated myself to three tacos. Yum.

It was a really great experience catering for someone that first got me into blogging. Thank you Pam for giving me the opportunity to do this. I was really stoked to be able to cook for you as well as our other food blogging friends there that night... Jonah of LA Foodblogging, Best of LA and Gastrologica. Colleen Cuisine, where were you??? J, Yoony and I had a blast. Hope you don't mind that we were all buzzed from drinking on the job haha. Congratulations again to you and Mr. Daily Gluttony.

Thanks for reading.

Eat Drink Style Stroke of Ingenuity - Introducing the Food Pyramid Lunchbox

Found this on and I was immediately hit with the 'why didn't i think of that?' hammer. Check out one of Li Jian Ye's many fun and unique inventions/concepts/ideations. Unfortunately, one can misuse the food pyramid lunch box by adding chili, cheese and fries in the respective tiers. Or simply, gravy soup.