There’s A New…

…baby in the family! My cousin Michel, gave birth to Madeline just over a year ago. Michel and husband Jonathan live up in the Bay area so it wasn’t until this visit home, which coincided with Michel and Aunt Sylvia’s visit to the islands, that I was finally able to meet Madeline.

Madeline’s the first hapa baby in our family and she’s just adorable. Absolutely, incredibly, over the top, adorable. She’s staying with my grandma this visit. The same grandma who also takes care of Buddy. Remember Buddy? ;) He’s going to make thirteen years in just a month. So fast.

He caught the doggie flu last week, but after a visit to the doctor (thank you, Vincent for bringing him to the vet!) and a quite a bit of medication, he’s back to normal. The relationship between Madeline and Buddy is utterly hilarious. I suspect there’s a touch of jealousy on Buddy’s part. Understandable though, the little fellow is so used being the center of attention, it must be hard for him to comprehend why anyone would rather fawn over this little girl than himself, hehe.

Speaking of new members of the family, I was over at Kelly’s house this afternoon playing with Lexi, the newest member of the Matayoshi family. Only four months old!

Kelly and Lexi in the backyard. I forget just how much energy puppies have at this age.

The relationship between Scout (on the left, Kelly’s first dog) and Lexi is much akin to that of Buddy and Madeline. Learning to share, learning to share :)

P.S.

Congrats, Kelly on your acceptance into UC Hastings Law School! I’ll miss having you on the east coast ^_^

Dinner with Ross @ Amuse Wine Bar

Ahi Carpaccio – Soy Wasabi & Chili Pepper Pearls, Concasse Tomatoes, Yuzu Avocado Puree, Babu Arare

The most rewarding moments that stem from keeping this blog are the occasions when I receive random, unexpected email. These emails can come from complete strangers, an old friend, a college professor who realizes that the quiet student in his accounting class is the same individual who write this blog he follows, or, in the case of this past week, someone who I’ve never spoken with before, but happen to share over a dozen friends in common. Such was discovered when Ross and I met at Amuse for dinner a few nights ago. We share the same high school alma mater, only a year apart, and quite a number of common friends.

“Salt & Pepper Shrimp” – Crispy Fried New Caledonia Farm Raised Shrimp, Lemon, Remoulade

It’s funny how you can often get along so seamlessly with certain people, even though it’s the first time you’ve met. Even better when you share the similar food tastes and obsessions (uni, anyone? ;) So, over three hours of cocktails, and more wine that I’ve drunken in a while, we grazed over a trio of heavy pupus and a generously portioned dessert sampler. For those unfamiliar with the Amuse system, the Wine Bar is situated inside the Honolulu Design Center, sharing a kitchen with Stage Restaurant, though with a completely seperate menu. It’s a self-service wine bar, with 80 different bottles sold by the ounce. Buy a card with a dollar amount, slide it into the machine, and pick the wine of your fancy. Thank you, to Ross for buying all the wine that night :)

Oh, and yes, there’s live music Wednesday, Friday, and Saturdays.

Burger – Avocado, Tomato, Bacon, Chili Aioli, Housemade Potato Roll, French Fries

We got around to the food a few glasses in, and started with a very lovely Ahi Carpaccio, livened by pops of chilled pops of pearls of chili pepper and soy wasabi. From there, we moved on a dish of peppery, extra crisp fried shrimp. I find it odd when you eat fried shrimp with someone and they leave the shrimp head or tail behind on the plate. It’s fried! You can eat it all! Whole! I am often tempted to pick the head/tail off the plate and consume it for them. The only thing which stops me is public manners ;) You can thus imagine how happy/relieved I was when Ross wiped the shrimp out, head and tail. Eating with someone who likes to eat just as much is very…comfortable, I think that’s the right word. Comfortable enough for me to double dip into the remoulade, heheheh.

They didn’t ask how we wanted the burger cooked, so it wasn’t a surprise when it arrived at the bar well-done. (A teeny tiny part of me hoped that they simply cooked it medium-rare by default). No matters, the plush house-made potato roll, and slather of local avocados proved to be highly redeeming components. Oooh, and the fries! Awesome little numbers, greaseless and heavily dusted with paprika.

No proper meal concludes without dessert as far as I’m concerned, and we did well. After a quick run through of the menu, involving Lilikoi-Mango Meringue Tarts and Cinnamon Creme Brulee with Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream, we concluded that the Dessert Samplers would be the most practical way to go about this. From top left: Marscapone Cheesecake, Apple Foster’s, soft Gingerbread Cookies, Toasted Coconut Ice Cream, Chocolate Bombe, and Nutella Crunch. The nutella crunch was my favourite of the set, though the gingerbread cookies were a close second, when lavishly dipped into semi-melted coconut ice cream.

Halfway though dessert, we ran into two other fellows, one a friend of mine, and another, a friend of Ross’. It was quickly discovered that we all shared a common interest: food and wine. I was the most uneducated about wine in the group, but that simply means there’s more opportunity for me to learn. Learning keeps things interesting :)

Amuse Wine Bar

Honolulu Design Center

1250 Kapiolani Blvd, 2nd Floor

Honolulu, Hawai’i 96814

Lunch with Mom: Mana Bu’s, Palama Market, and Nisshodo Mochiya

In Hawai’i, there’s no person I enjoy eating with more than my mom. I’ve mentioned her numerous times in past posts, but you have no idea how much fun she is to eat with. Yesterday, over a morning meal of local papayas and avocados, she asked, “what should we have for lunch?”

Ideas were bounced back and forth, a proper meal at Mariposa, pho in Chinatown, or a lunch of sweets from various bakeries. Nothing seemed appealing enough, till mom suggested “how about a little of everything from everywhere?”

Why, that sounds lovely!

So we drove around town, to old favourites, and new shops, turning “lunch” into a four-hour affair. You see why mom is so awesome?

First stop: Mana Bu’s. I first read about this relatively new musubi shop (or “musubi temple” as some friends refer to it) in the Star Bulletin back in August.

The simple and clean aesthetics of the shop is unusually refreshing. An impressive variety of musubis are lined along the shelves, each with its own “name card” indicating the ingredients and their origin. Such a concept might not be new in, say, NYC, but it’s a first for Hawai’i :)

Mom is a frequent customer, and a very loyal consumer of the Sekihan Okowa. This musubi is made from a mix of Hakubai sweet rice, and Tamanishiki rice, with local sea salt, red bean, and black sesame seeds.

We picked up a few of those, and one of the “10 Grains – Spicy Ahi” musubi. Prices are more than reasonable, with the musubis averaging $1.50 and desserts $2.00.

They were sold out of most sweets, including the strawberry mochi I’ve heard so much about. But oh well, that’s simply another reason to make a return trip!

We ate the musubis in the car, on the way to my favourite Korean plate lunch spot, Palama Market. Yummy’s used to be our family go-to place for Korean takeout, but since Palama Market opened up a few years back, we’ve taken our business here. Better food, lower prices, what more could you ask for? My dad loves the Korean fried chicken, and I’m a fan of the fish jun, but somehow my mom managed to convert us all over to the Bi Bim Kook Soo, which we now order 90% of the time.

Cold slippery somen noodles, a little sweet, a touch vinegary, and lot spicy. This is the one dish I should have been eating throughout the hot NYC summer. With one eye on the noodles, I couldn’t help but keep the other eye on some pancake flipping action at the counter just a few feet away from the table.

It was a husband and wife operation. The wife would pull sticky, borderline slimy, dough from a big plastic bowl, form it into a ball, make a dent and pour in a spoonful of a powdery substance. Then she rolled it back into a ball, and plopped it onto a well greased griddle.

The husband took over from there, browning both sides and taking orders from a soon to be gradual line up of customers.

My mom caught me looking and commented, “ooo, that looks good. Should we get? Let’s get it.” Always the obedient daughter, I walked up and returned with a single griddled ho duk. Success!

I was a bit too eager, and burnt my tongue and finger, upon biting into the hot ho duk. The mochi esque exterior breaks into this marvelously hot syrupy filling of honey, brown sugar, cinnamon and toasted sesame seeds. SO DELICIOUS. Life is good when you have dessert :)

Soon afterwards, we took a stroll inside the market, picking up various groceries and ingredients for dad’s oxtail soup (post to come :) At the entrance to the market were two ladies handing out samples of “Magic Rice Pop.” Every thirty seconds or so, a loud ::POP:: would go off, and a single rice cake would fly out of the metal contraption and into a plastic bin. I swear, it was mesmerizing to watch.

We bought a fifteen pack for $2.99 – a pretty nice deal. The crackers are made from a slightly sweetened (just a tiny, tiny bit!) flour mix of corn, rice, wheat, barley, and millet. They’re a bit boring at first. And then they grow on you. And before you realize it, you dip your hand into the bag, and (shamefully) realize that the entire bag is gone.

Next we headed to Nisshodo Mochiya in Kalihi for some post-dessert, dessert. It was mom’s idea. My sweet tooth didn’t stem out of nowhere ;)

I’ve been back for four days, and have gone to Nisshodo three times. I’ve been suffering from mochi deprivation on the east coast. What we desperately need in NYC is not another overpriced tapas bar, or underground cocktail spot, but a MOCHI HAVEN. Is that really so much to ask for?

As usual, I could not decide what to have, so took the most efficient route and ordered one of every mochi left in stock for the day…

…and then a half pound of kinako dusted Chi Chi Dango for my sister. Never hurts to have extra ^_^

Let’s break the mochi down, shall we?

Tsunami Mochi – Lima Bean Filling

Coconut Mochi

Peanut Butter Mochi

I sadly cannot recall the name of this one – but it’s filled with azuki beans.

Habutai Mochi

Daifuku Mochi

Uguisu Mochi

This last one isn’t a mochi creation, but curiousity got the best of me and I didn’t want to pass it up. A thin sugar dusted cake with soft sakura jelly – very, very lovely, but in the end, I’d pick mochi over this any day.

It’s been busier than expected on this “relaxing” vacation. But it’s the good sort of busy. Plenty of family time, hanging out with old friends, and meeting great new ones. The rain has lightened up, I managed to drive without any major accident, had a fantastic dinner with Ross at Amuse just this evening, and am lunching with my favourite Punahou home ec teacher tomorrow.

It’s a wonderful week indeed.

Mana Bu’s

1618 King St

Honolulu, Hawai’i 96813

(808) 945-2323

Palama Market

1670 Makaloa Street

(808) 447-7705

Honolulu, Hawai’i 96814

Nisshodo Mochiya

1095 Dillingham Blvd Ste I5

Honolulu, Hawai’i 96817

(808) 847-1244