Feasting for good

Nadine Kam : October 7, 2017 10:14 pm : Eat+Drink

Bethel Union was one of 19 restaurants participating in this year’s The Good Table event benefitting Lanakila Pacific’s Meals on Wheels and other programs.

The event took place Oct. 6, with diners purchasing a single table available at each of the restaurants, for a memorable meal created for the evening, separate from the  regular menu.
Dinner at Bethel Union started with a charcuterie and cheese platter followed by a wonderful creamy cauliflower and carrot soup and Caesar salad.

Next came a whole opakapaka that had been steamed in wine and herbs, and served with lemon preserves, grilled vegetables and squid ink risotto.

As if this were not satisfying enough the second main course was it Mediterranean marinated grilled New York steak.

By this time we were full but still managed to have some room for pappardelle topped with Kauai shrimp, and finally, a trio of housemade desserts including tiramisu and a chocolate torte.

Proceeds from the evening will benefit hundreds of kupuna served by Lanakila Meals on Wheels. Last year the organization delivered more than 260,000 meals.

The other participating restaurants were Alan Wong’s restaurant, Burgers and Things, Buzz’s, Duke’s Waikiki, Eating House 1849, Hank’s Haute Dogs, Hard Rock Cafe, Herringbone, La Tour Cafe, Moke’s Bread and Breakfast, Michel’s, Mud Hen Water, MW restaurant, 100 Sails, The Pig and the Lady, Tango, 3660 on the Rise, and Yauatcha.

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Eaten: Slurps welcome at Waikiki Yokocho’s Ramen Road

Nadine Kam : February 7, 2017 8:09 pm : Eat+Drink

Waikiki Yokocho has completed its Ramen Road, featuring four different takes on the local favorite.

To introduce this new feature, Waikiki Yokocho is giving 1,500 the opportunity to eat free Feb. 11 beginning 11 a.m. The first 300 guests at newcomers Baikohken, Bario and Tsujita Ramen, plus Kaneko Hannosuke and Nin Nin Curry, will be able to sample their respective specialties free.

To participate, just follow the Instagram accounts @tsujita_hawaii @ramen_bario @baikohken_hi @hannosuke_hawaii @curry.waikiki @waikikiyokocho and @waikikiyokochojp

Here’s a guide to help steer you to the ramen shop best suited to your taste:

Butter plus corn is a $2.50 add-on to any of Baikohken’s ramens, including the miso ramen shown.

For classicists: Since opening its doors in Asahikawa, Hokkaido, in 1969, Baikohken has lured in diners with its classic shoyu ramen that won it a place in the Michelin guides. Contemporary diners who like a rich broth might try the butter ramen instead. The butter tops the combination of noodles, pork and vegetables, including corn kernels, and is stirred into the broth before eating. Costs here start at $12.99 for shoyu or shio ramen, and $6 for juicy, delicate gyoza.

You can see the delicious bits of silky se-abura, or rendered pork back fat, in the tonkotsu broth at Bario Ramen.

Bario Ramen
Heavy-duty stuff: This is the home of a rich, thick and creamy tonkotsu, or pork-based, broth. It’s also known for its thick housemade noodles and housemade char siu. Geared toward those who can handle the heft of tonkotsu, red pepper and garlic. The pepper isn’t particularly hot, but a sign teases that the more red pepper and garlic you add, the better the ramen tastes.

I am so there. I particularly love the tonkotsu tsukemen, which runs $11.98 regular, and $13.48 large. Basic ramen with char siu is $10.98 and $12.48, respectively. Adding ajitama will cost you $12.48 and $13.48, respectively.

I love the authentic multi-step experience of enjoying tsukemen at Tsujita.

For seafood lovers: While many ramen broths are crafted with a mix of pork and one type of seafood, Tsujita’s broth combines a trio of seafood essences—bonito flakes, saba and iriko (baby sardines) for extra depth and umami. Its specialty is a dipping-style ajitama tsukemen. This is the place for those who love the brininess of a seafood broth.

Small signs here explain “How to Eat Tsukemen.” It starts with dipping the plain noodles into the dipping broth, then slurping them up. After you become accustomed to the flavor, change things up by adding a squeeze of lime. (Unfortunately, we do not have access to the milder sudachi used in Japan.) You’ll find the touch of citrus brightens the dish. Once you experience this flavor, layer on a spicy blend of peppery kuro-shichimi. When done, you can request a light broth to add to the reduced dipping broth to finish every last drop.

Basic ramen here runs $10.98 regular, and $11.98 large. Adding egg will raise the price to $11.98 and $12.98, respectively. For extra char siu, the price goes up to $13.98 and $14.98, respectively.

At Volcano Ramen, ingredients are cooked in a stone pot topped with a funnel that spouts steam when the ramen comes to a boil.

Volcano Ramen
Want to be entertained? A bowl of ramen starts with tonkotsu broth that is poured into a sizzling hot stone pot containing noodles and other ingredients. It’s covered with a red metal funnel, and an old-fashioned hourglass counts down the time it takes for your ramen to be down. Steam created by the boiling ingredients rise through the funnel to make it look like a steaming volcano.

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Meet Vosges founder and spice hunter

Nadine Kam : February 1, 2017 11:20 am : Eat+Drink

Vosges Haut-Chocolat for Valentine’s Day.

If you love chocolate, be sure to stop by Neiman Marcus Feb. 4 when Vosges Haut-Chocolat founder Katrina Markoff will be in the store to share her latest creations between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Among the selections will be:

◊ Bapchi Caramel Toffee: Buttery toffee + pink Himalayan salt + 45 percent dark milk chocolate + walnuts and pecans.

◊ Lemon Verbena Hearts: Lemon verbena + pink Himalayan salt + 36 percent cocoa butter white chocolate.

◊ Mint Matcha bar: Grade A Matcha + mint + 45 percent dark milk chocolate.

◊ Smoked Salt 80 percent dark bar: Alderwood smoked salt+ cocoa nibs +80 percent dark chocolate.

◊ Turmeric Ginger bar: Golden milk blend of coconut + turmeric + ginger + black pepper + 45 percent dark milk chocolate.

If you really like these, stay for the $25 wine pairing to follow from 5 to 6:30 p.m. in Mariposa restaurant. Items to be tasted are:

◊ Naga truffle: Sweet Indian curry + coconut +41 percent cacao deep milk chocolate.

◊ Olio D’oliva Truffle- first press extra virgin olive oil + 36 percent cocoa butter white chocolate + dried kalamata olives, paired with chardonnay.

◊ Dulce de Leche Bar: Dulce de Leche caramel + celtic sea salt +45 percent dark milk chocolate, paired with pinot noir.

◊ Budapest truffle: Sweet Hungarian paprika + 65 percent cacao dark chocolate, paired with a red blend.

◊ Absinthe truffle: Chinese star anise + fennel + absinthe + 62 percent cacao dark chocolate + cocoa powder, paired with cabernet.

Shoppers will get their money back in the form of a $25 NM gift card that can be applied toward wine and chocolate purchases that evening.

Vosges Haut-Chocolat was created in 1998 to tell the story of Markoff’s travels, as an aspiring chef, through chocolate.  With her culinary training at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and apprenticeship working alongside Ferran Adria of El Bulli, she combined exotic indigenous spices, roots, herbs, flowers and liqueurs with chocolate.

She continues to travel the globe in search of the best ingredients and in Hawaii will be traveling to Kauai, a potential source of turmeric and ginger for future creations.

Seating for the wine tasting event is limited. To reserve, call the Epicure department at (808) 948-7534.

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Pink Palace marks 90th year with new bakery

Nadine Kam : January 31, 2017 10:14 am : Eat+Drink

The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort is marking its 90th anniversary with another milestone, the opening of The Royal Hawaiian Bakery on Feb. 1, its anniversary date.
With the bakery debut, The Royal Hawaiian becomes the only hotel on the island to feature its own stand-alone bakery.

The Royal Hawaiian Hotel’s executive pastry chef Carolyn Portuondo shows some of her colorful confections. Available at the hotel’s standalone bakery will be an assortment of croissants, danishes, Big Island honey macadamia nut sticky buns, Royal monkey bread, Koloa pineapple-roasted coffee cake, Hawaiian vanilla custard brioche braids, assorted macarons, cinnamon kouign-amanns, haupia cream brioche, Royal Hawaiian signature pink snowballs, plus limited-edition coffee blends and gifts.

The one-stop confectionary will be sited on the resort’s Coconut Lanai, where locals and visitors will be able to pick up everything from The Royal Hawaiian’s famous banana bread and classic freshly baked desserts to custom-created cakes by executive pastry chef Carolyn Portuondo, pastry chef Quirino Domingo and the Royal Hawaiian patisserie team.

Portuondo worked at Alan Wong’s restaurant before moving to Las Vegas to open her own bakery. Her decorated cakes made her a hit with Hollywood celebrities and she was regularly featured on TLC’s “Fabulous Cakes.” And both and named her bakery as the best in Nevada for wedding cakes before she moved back home in 2014 to raise her family and join The Royal Hawaiian.

The Royal Hawaiian Bakery is also offering special commemorative anniversart tins for purchase. The tin is also a featured amenity in The Royal Hawaiian’s 90th Anniversary room package, which gives guests the opportunity to fill the tins with baked goods to take home.
 The Royal Hawaiian Bakery will be open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily beginning Feb. 1.

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Sushi dreams fulfilled at Beniya

Nadine Kam : January 29, 2017 11:54 pm : Eat+Drink

Hirofumi Beniya shows some of the fish selections offered at his eponymous restaurant.

One of the best restaurants to emerge from the newly open Waikiki Yokocho so far is Beniya, the namesake of 34-year-old Hirofumi Beniya, who grew up in the biz. His father was a sushi chef so he learned early how to clean, gut and prepare fish from the waters surrounding his home in Ishikawa prefecture, Honshu Island.

Beniya is divided into a main dining room for hot meals and seafood selections, but a visit to its omakase sushi bar provides the more memorable experience and an audience with the chef.

Naturally, the menu changes daily with the chef’s selections of the best offerings of the day, but a recent omakase dinner featured 20 items, including dessert of yuzu sorbet.

Here’s a look at some of those bites:

Proving the point that one can’t be squeamish when dining omakase style, the first offering was shirako, or cod sperm sac. Don’t worry, it’s creamy and sweet as pudding.

Appetizers were a Seattle oyster slow-cooked with shoyu and bonito flakes, Maine lobster tail with an egg wash to bring out its sweetness; and monkfish liver with mountain potato.

Sashimi of Big Island moi with daikon and thin-sliced myoga (Japanese ginger).


A5 Miyazaki wagyu.

Kinmedai, or golden eye snapper, nigiri.

Shimaaji nigiri.

Kauai amaebi nigiri.


Flounder engawa.

Big Island ahi chutoro.

Bluefin from Kanagawa ootoro nigiri. The scoring holds a light brush of soy sauce.

Sweet bafun uni from Hokkaido.

Abalone nigiri.

Torotaku roll brings a light finish to the meal with a combination of daikon and ootoro. The daikon helps cut the weightiness of the fattiest part of the tuna belly.



Savory amaebi head miso soup made a satisfying finish before dessert of yuzu sorbet.

Beniya is in the Waikiki Yokocho, Waikiki Shopping Plaza, 2250 Kalakaua Ave. Call (808) 777-6660.

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