Hawai’i: Poolside at The Modern Honolulu

Let’s start this afternoon poolside at The Modern Honolulu.

We’re meeting Nora (creator of Patchwork Compass and mastermind behind ‘A Mai Tai in the shade, good conversation, light sun and gentle breeze.

Spicy fries delivered straight to lounge chairs, complete with dustings of paprika and chili. That’s a turkey club and bounty of Maui onion chips. Lean back and relax. NYC feels very far away right now…it’s tempting to stay in Honolulu forever.

Or at least return more frequently :)

The Modern Honolulu
1775 Ala Moana Blvd
Honolulu, Hawai’i 96815
(808) 943-5800

Hawai’i: Oxtail Soup

A favorite family dinner, oxtail soup at home. Chop up all the napa cabbage first…

…then daikon and carrots. Cut fat off the oxtails and put it all in a pot.

Enough to serve four with generous leftovers. Season and spice with ginger, anise, orange peels, five-spice, and extra star anise. Cook over low till the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender. Chill in the fridge so you can easily spoon away that layer of fat.

Rewarm over the stove in time for dinner. Check the rice cooker, five cups full…we like oxtail soup with “hapa rice” (half-white, half-brown rice). Fill a big bowl halfway with rice, top off with soup and plenty of oxtail. Ono, especially on those rainy nights.

And the extra soup? Make saimin/ramen! Dad added leftover ham from Christmas.

Hawai’i: The Pig and the Lady

Finally got a chance to check out The Pig and the Lady – a new local pop-up restaurant. After reading Reid’s post, and hearing about it from numerous friends, Shann, Kelly, Scot, and I went for an excellent 5-course dinner. The meal took place at Hank’s Haute Dogs (which closes in the evenings), truly creative with memorable dishes inspired by Southeast Asia. $55 per person, order dinner “tickets” online, BYOB, all in all a great deal. Here’s a peek at what we ate…

Pre-dinner nibbles: Shrimp Chips and Pickled Vegetables

1st Course: Carrot Soup – Curried Rice Puff, Coconut Crème Fraîche, Tangerines, and Carrot Fronds

The hot soup is poured tableside.

2nd Course: Octopus – Green Banana, Betelnut Leaves, Tomoto Confit, Watercress, and Octopus Jus. The pressed and sliced octopus reminds me of dish Chef Mavro served a few years ago. Makes sense as The Pig and the Lady’s talented owner/chef Andrew Le was formerly the sous chef at Mavro’s. Big fan of this octopus preparation.

3rd Course: Gnocchi – Kimchi, House Cured Bacon, Crispy Pig Ears, and Sesame Leaves. The gnocchi is meant to taste like pa jun (savory Korean pancake), and they nailed the flavor profile accurately.

4th Course: Pho Ga – Free Range Chicken, Slow Poached Egg, Hand-Cut Noodles, and Vietnamese Herbs. Came with housemade chili sauce and ginger nuoc nam.

Pandan-Jasmine Tea and Mint. Remind me to recreate this at home…grandma used to steep pandan leaves in hot tea, such a soothing combination and transition to dessert.

5th Course: Hawflake – Olive Oil Cake, Apricot Seed Powder, Kaya, Guava Sorbet, and Shiso. You remember hawflakes right? Here they were ground up, mixed with liquid and dehydrated into paper thin chips. Hands down our favorite dish of the night.
The Pig and the Lady
Check website for pop-up dates and location

Hawai’i: Morning Glass Coffee + Café

Good morning from Manoa! Tuesday breakfast at Morning Glass Coffee + Café with Noelle, Steph, Kelly, and Shann. Housemade sodas and cereal milk lattes on the menu…your pick Cocoa Crispies, Apple Jacks, Frosted Flakes, and Fruity Pebbles. This is the only place in Hawai’i that serves Stumptown Coffee…so hipster ;)

The pastry counter reminds me of Abraço in NYC. All we need is Olive Oil Cake to complete the picture. Sweet and savory options, think Spinach & Feta Fritattas, Banana Bread, Chocolate-Pecan and Strawberry Scones, Coffeecake and…

…even Condensed Milk Pound Cake. How decadent.

I went with the Cocoa Crispies Latte…

…everyone else tried the “Egg-A-Muffin” – Housemade English Muffin, Bacon, Poached Egg, and Tomato Jam. They also have breakfast burritos, brûléed oatmeal, and a full lunch sandwich menu. We’re totally coming back tomorrow.

Kelly asked for Cocoa Crispies Milk, served warm…a cereal milk steamer!

Okay…off to the beach/shopping now, hope everyone has a good day in paradise.

Morning Glass Coffee + Café
2955 E Manoa Road
Honolulu, HI 96822
(808) 673-0065

Hawai’i: Wontons/Dumplings in Hot Oil

Finally got around to making these hot oil dumplings. When dad visited NYC last month I took him to a bunch of Sichuan restaurants – he was obsessed with “wontons in hot oil,” a dish you can’t get in Hawai’i. We ordered these wontons (literally boiled wontons in a bowl of hot oil) anywhere we could find them. Here are photos of hot oil wontons from: Cafe China, White Bear, Grand Sichuan, Szechuan Gourmet

Of course when dad returned to Hawai’i the wontons were all he could talk about…but mom didn’t want to hear about it unless she could taste it herself!

He turned to me, “Kathy, why don’t you make it for us?” A quick search and I found two great recipes. I used both as guidelines, but made changes to suit personal taste.

First stop, Yat Tung Chow Noodle Factory for wonton skins. They were sold out of the thinnest skins, but offered the second thinnest which happened to be round skins. This is why we folded ours in the $1.50 for a 50-pack, ahh so fresh!

I didn’t measure, just started with a pound of ground pork, and tweaked till everything tasted “right.” Ingredients for filling: ground pork, ginger, garlic, green onions, nuoc nam, sesame oil, egg (to bind), salt and pepper. Ingredients for the hot oil sauce: chili oil, shoyu, sesame oil, black vinegar, fried garlic, green onion. Couldn’t find Sichuan peppercorns so these weren’t authentic ;) But they were delicious. Boil the dumplings and pour hot oil sauce over, it’s really that easy. These dumpling skins were amazing, supple and thin. A significant upgrade from the frozen ones I buy in NYC.

They were such a hit I served them again for dinner at grandma’s house the next day. This time we made more changes. For the filling we replaced green onion with chives.

A ton of chives…you could taste more chives than pork. Here’s what it looks like.

And for the sauce grandma minced fresh ginger and stirred that right in. Endless options, I don’t like cooking with recipes (baking is different!), it makes me feel like a robot. I turn to recipes for ideas and inspirations, but when it comes to the actual cooking process, sign me up for the ‘taste and tweak’ route.

Here are dumplings from the second night! We made 100 pieces the first night and 150 the second night (cousins joined for dinner)…sold out both nights, huzzah!

Yat Tung Chow Noodle Factory
150 N King Street # 102
Honolulu, HI 96817
(808) 531-7982