Sunday, January 31, 2010

Tanaka of Tokyo | Honolulu, Hawaii

Last night's date night was just awesome. The food was excellent and the service was absolutely AMAZING. Well, a little disclaimer here...we did receive VIP treatment because my mom knows one of the higher ups at this company. I didn't want to say anything, but somehow our reservation got flagged and we ended up with comped drinks and a little extra special care. It may have also helped that one of my former students happened to be the manager on duty. Small world.

Tanaka of Tokyo West
Ala Moana Center, Ho`okipa Terrace
1450 Ala Moana Boulevard
Honolulu, HI 96814
(808) 945-3443

This place has always been a favorite of mine. We used to go to the one at the Wakiki Shopping Plaza all the time. Now there's one conveniently located in the Ho`okipa Terrace at Ala Moana, which is where we had dinner last night.

All of the meals come with miso soup and salad. I love the flavorful ginger-based dressing.

The chef is pouring the dipping sauce. The darker brown sauce is the ginger sauce, for seafood and vegetables. The lighter colored one is mustard sauce, which is supposed to be used for meat and chicken.

As you can tell from this shot, our chef was quite the clown. His name is Jonah. If you really want to be entertained, you should ask for him on your next visit.

Of course the show is a big part of the overall experience. The poor guy on the left looks like he almost lost his eyebrows - yikes!

So what does Wifey eat at Teppanyaki? Well, they have this vegetarian dinner. It's a block of tofu, seasoned and grilled, accompanied by grilled tomatoes. They don't have it listed in the menu, but it is on their website, which is how we found out about it. She said the tofu was even better than the one she had at Alan Wong's Restaurant.

She also got some carrots and mixed veggies.

This is what impressed us most about the dinner and I had to mention it. Because she ordered a vegetarian plate, the chef was conscientious enough to cook ALL the veggies first. That way, none of the meat touched any of her food! This is great news if you're vegan (Wifey is not, she's actually lacto-ovo).

A bowl of garlic fried rice rounded out the meal.

I ordered the Daimyo, which included a lobster tail, scallops and beef tenderloin. Personally, I felt like the seafood was a little over done, but...

The steak was a perfect medium-rare. I guess if you go to a Japanese steak house, you should stick with the steak.

Wifey went with green tea ice cream for dessert. Notice the two scoops.

I got A SCOOP (just one!) of pineapple sherbet. No, I'm not bitter or anything...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Roy's Restaurant | Honolulu, Hawaii

Last month, we went to Roy's to celebrate my wife's birthday. Tonight we were back, this time to support the American Red Cross' effort to bring relief to the people of Haiti. Chef Roy Yamaguchi (@RoysRoy) prepared a four-course meal, his "humble interpretation of traditional Haitian cuisine." The food was good, but what really made the night memorable are the people we shared our table with. We sat with L.P. Neenz Faleafine (@NEENZ), Noe Mendiola (@Noe808), Ed Morita (@NctrnlBst), Gypsy Raven (@GypsyRaven), Holly Hadsell Hajji (@HollyHadsell), and Holly's husband (who isn't on Twiiter).

6600 Kalanianaole Highway
Honolulu, HI 96825
(808) 396-7697

To start, the brought out this corn fritter appetizer. Apparently, it's just deep fried corn batter, but those little suckers were so addicting!

Course #1: Haitian Style Conch Ceviche (served with a piece of crostini). I found this dish to be very refreshing, despite the heat from the diced peppers. I suppose it's not unlike a Caribbean version of poke.

Course #2: Caribbean Style Chicken with Nalo Greens. The most interesting part of this dish was actually the garnish. What looks like purple ogo (seaweed) in the picture is actually strings of fried taro.

Course #3: Pork Loin Chop Griots. The generous portions of pork were tender, moist, and flavorful.

Course #4: Gâteau de Patate. This was a very dense dessert that reminded me somewhat of sweet potato pie. It paired nicely with the fresh fruit and unsweetened cream.

Sitting at a table with Neenz certainly has its perks as Chef Roy himself came over to chat and paused for a quick picture. What REALLY impressed me is what happened next: he proceeded to individually thank each and every person that was there. I was absolutely blown away.

All in all, it was a great evening. I thoroughly enjoyed the food and the company. Those of you who are going on Sunday are in for a real treat.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Kapiolani Community College Farmers' Market | Honolulu, Hawaii

This past Friday at the Phởriday tweetup, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting chef Leslie Ashburn (@macrohawaii). We started talking about buying local versus organic. Despite living in Hawaii, it is difficult to find locally grown organic produce in any of the grocery stores. There are places like Whole Foods Kahala (@wfmkahala) that sometimes stock locally grown organic, but generally speaking we, as consumers, must often choose one or the other. Leslie's advice to me: go for what looks freshest and remember that variety is important. Our conversation, coupled with my personal goal to go out and do more with my family, motivated me to get everyone up on Saturday morning and head over to the farmers' market at KCC.

Kapiolani Community College Farmers' Market
4303 Diamond Head Road
Honolulu, HI 96816
(808) 947-3804

We got there around 10:00 and, as you can see, it was crowded. In fact, some of the vendors were already running out of stuff and packing up when we walked by.

Ma`o Organic Farms (@maoorganicfarms) is one of the few places where you can actually find locally grown organic produce. Look for their signature green tent right smack in the middle of all the action. You need to get there quick, though, because they sometimes sell out.

It was quite warm that day, so the three of us each got a strawberry lemonade. Unfortunately, I don't remember the name of the shop, but while I was waiting in line, Grace Lee (@gracelee9)came by and chatted with the owner! So naturally, I tweet about the experience, which apparently garnered me some stalker points according to @ryankanno.

Overall, it was a great experience. We didn't buy very much to take home because we spent most of our cash on lunch and lemonade. Next time, we'll know what to expect so we can plan out schedules a little better (and bring more money!).

It is my personal opinion that we should support local businesses by shopping at farmers' markets whenever possible. Where do you buy your produce? Do you usually buy local or organic?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Cheeseburger Restaurant | Honolulu, Hawaii

A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary. Instead of a fancy dinner, we opted to play tourist in Waikiki for a night. Dinner was at Cheeseburgers in Paradise and we strolled through the International Marketplace when we were done. Overall, the food was tasty, but the service was lacking (what is it with poor customer service these days?!). Our server never stopped by to check on us and only came to refill our water when we were ready to leave.

Cheesebuger Restaurant
2500 Kalakaua Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96815
(808) 923-3731

Since everything is à la carte, we opted for the cheese fries instead of plain. In retrospect, probably too much greasy awesomeness (even for two people), but they were good.

Wifey ordered the portabello sandwich. She happens to really like goat cheese, which she said was good because the flavor was particularly strong.
I ordered the Bacon Cheeseburger because everything is better with bacon, right? The burger wasn't anything remarkable, but it was satisfying.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

Looking back...

For me, 2009 will be remembered as the year of Social Media. I created a twitter account, a Flickr stream, started this blog with a post on social media, and connected Facebook, Twitter, Xbox Live, Netflix, and some of my iPhone apps to each other.

Twitter has proven especially useful. I've made several friends that I actually hang out with IRL (in real life) and I've scored free food, entertainment, and more along the way.

Looking forward...

Now it's time to close the door on 2009. I don't know what 2010 holds, but I confidently look forward with optimism and anticipation, knowing that both the successes and failures to come will help shape me into a better person.

I'm not one to write New Year's resolutions, but this year, I thought I'd at least set some goals for myself:

1) Spend more quality time with my family. I want to laugh more with my son and go on more regular dates with my wife. I'm going to try hard to get us on a regular schedule of taking evening walks together.

2) Help my church establish a social media presence. At the very least, I want to help churches understand the value of social media in engaging people.

3) Learn to appreciate what I have instead of focusing on what I don't. As a technophile, I am always looking for the latest and greatest. As someone living on planet earth, however, I realize there are finite resources.

What about you? Have you started setting goals for 2010? What do you hope to accomplish?