Saturday, October 31, 2009

Extraordinary Desserts | San Diego, California

My brother is getting married tomorrow in Southern California, so my family is here getting ready for the ceremony. We decided to take a break yesterday and drive down to SeaWorld in San Diego. After a visit to Shamu and his friends, we went over to Extraordinary Desserts for a treat.

Karen Krasne Extraordinary Desserts
1430 Union Street
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 294-7001

Extraordinary Desserts is a place that serves extravagantly decorated cakes and tarts. There are two locations, both in San Diego.

You can see the amount of detail that goes in to decorating these desserts. Each of the items is visually stunning.

To order, you select one of the desserts from the display window.

There's something to satisfy just about any palate.

I ordered a SINGLE hazelnut latte. Yes, this massive bowl of coffee and steamed milk is a single. Wonder what the double looks like? Maybe they serve it in a gallon punchbowl or something...

And which of the many treats did I order? It's called the New York Cheesecake crème brûlée. The dessert was basically a graham cracker crust with a cream cheese custard, topped with the classic caramelized sugar topping and decorated in Extraordinary Desserts' signature style. My opinion is that this dessert was far more visually appealing than it was delectable. It was good, but not spectacular.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Alan Wong's Restaurant + Surf Lanai | Honolulu, Hawaii

Last week Friday we had the most epic date night. Thanks to a generous gift certificate for Alan Wong's Restaurant and our Waikiki Gold Card, we were able to indulge in a little bit of awesomeness, without over-spending.

Alan Wong's Restaurant
1857 S King St
Honolulu, HI 96826
(808) 949-2526

The Royal Hawaiian - Surf Lanai Restaurant
2259 Kalakaua Ave
Honolulu, HI
(808) 931-7194 ‎

Dinner was at the prestigious Alan Wong's Restaurant.

Wifey started with the Lychee Colada cocktail. It's a spin on the traditional piña colada with lychee in place of pineapple juice.

As the designated driver, I opted for the Plantation Iced Tea.

We started with the Hamakua Springs Tomato, Beet and Avocado Salad. The Li Hing Mui Ume Vinaigrette is amazing. Neither flavor was overly stated and it brought a whole new level of complexity to the dish.

Appetizer number 2 was the warm asparagus. It was good, but not extraordinary.

They were more than helpful in accommodating wifey's vegetarian diet. Here is a special Ginger Crusted Tofu (basically, it's the Ginger Crusted Onaga off the menu, with tofu instead of fish). Thanks to @ryankanno for suggesting we ask about this specific dish.

Along with wifey's dish came this side of potato.

My entrée was one of their specials that evening: the Surf and Turf. It was a petite tenderloin (cooked medium-rare, of course) with seafood risotto, topped with a poached egg. You can tell from the flavor that the beef was grass-fed and the seafood was fresh. Everything was cooked perfectly; nothing was overdone.

Dessert was Five Spoons of Brulees. An interesting concept, but not quite as satisfying as a other crème brûlée dishes we've had.

We spend the night at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel - a mini stay-cation, if you will. So for breakfast the next day, we decided to check out the Surf Lanai restaurant. The started us off with a nice sized basket of various breads.

Wifey ordered the vegetarian pizza. The crust was very thin and she said it tasted like everything came straight from the farmer's market.

Here are the fries that came with my sandwich.

I ordered the Kalua Pork Sliders. There was a bonus slice of Portuguese Sausage in each one. I love the "gourmet" take on local favorites.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Hale Vietnam | Honolulu, Hawaii

Last night's date night brought us back to one of our absolute favorite spots, Hale Vietnam in Kaimuki. We've eaten here so many times that we've become quite good friends with the general manager. The food is consistently delicious and keeps bringing us back. There's just something about phở and the way it nourishes both body and soul.

Hale Vietnam
1140 12th Ave
Honolulu, HI 96816-3712
(808) 735-7581

Again, apologies for the junk pictures (I forgot the camera), but here's a picture of the condiments you'll find on the table. Sriracha, the red sauce will kick any dish up several notches. In fact, it has got to be the best hot sauce ever made. EVER. The other is a sweeter hoisin sauce.

Because it's been so hot and humid here lately, wifey really wasn't in the mood for soup, so she opted for some bún instead. It's made with the same rice noodle you will find in phở, but sans broth. She ordered it topped with vegetarian rolls.

If you do end up ordering phở, served on the side is a plate full of bean sprouts, fresh basil, sliced jalapeño, and a lemon wedge.

I usually get phở gà, or chicken, but last night I was in the mood for something slightly different so I went with phở bò tái, rare steak. As you can see from this picture, the phở by itself is rather plain. That's the beauty of this dish: it's so simple, but can become very complex, depending on how you choose to garnish it.

This is how I like my phở: lots of bean sprouts covered with fresh basil. A ring of Sriracha and a drizzle of the brown hoisin sauce. You're right - I'm going need a bigger bowl...

Friday, October 2, 2009

Highway Inn | Waipahu, Hawaii

There was no date night last week because wifey had to go to camp. She sings with the Chamber Singers at UH Mānoa and they had a retreat (yes, like band camp, only it was choir). So, I was flying solo. Anyway, a bunch of people were talking about a Sunday tweetup at Highway Inn. I knew I couldn't make it on that day, but the menu sounded good, so I decided to hit it up on Friday night.

What really distinguishes this place is the service. The staff was warm, cordial, and just "on it." It seemed like they treat all their guests like family. I opted for the Beef Stew combo. The stew was tasty, as was the lomi salmon and generous portion of haupia, but the Pipikaula (translation: Hawaiian style smoked beef) was JUS' BROKE DA MOUT' (translation: flavorful and delicious). It wasn't overly dry like Pipikaula tends to be. I would go back just for a container or two of that stuff.

Even though I was dining alone, I had an excellent experience and would definitely rate this place a MUST TRY.

Highway Inn
94-226 Leoku St # B1
Waipahu, HI 96797-1919
(808) 677-4345
Follow on Twitter

I have to apologize for the really bad picture, but I was a little self-conscious sitting at a table all by myself in a crowded restaurant taking a picture of my food. I was trying to be as discreet as possible, while using the crappy camera on my iPhone.