This Week in Hawaii

I sometimes forget that this site started off (in 2005) as a personal blog, mainly about what I love to eat while home in Hawaii.

There were many posts on Palama Market (which I still visit weekly), breakfast at Cinnamon’s (Cinnamon’s isn’t as good anymore, we like Over Easy now), and the Zippy’s + Nisshodo combo. I’ve aged 13 years since then but still love local food as much as ever. Possibly even more? Yes.

I’ve been home a lot lately (trying to nail down this perfect schedule where I can evenly divide time between Hawaii, SF, and NYC). Wouldn’t it be cool if we could teleport? The older I get the more I appreciate how amazing and special local food is.

On Monday I got this bento from Ookini, a new musubi/bento shop in Waikiki. It’s called the “All Star” bento. Clockwise from top left: salmon/egg/spam, pickles/fishcake, chicken karaage, mac/potato salad (so vinegary, love it!), and the rice. Cute rice, yeah? Ookini rents out…

…the 407 Seaside Ave space of Sweet Home Cafe during the day (6:30am-3pm) and fill the space with all kinds musubis and bentos. The original Ookini is in Osaka, and for the Hawaii location they Hawaii-ized many items. So many types of spam musubi.

I really dig the spam and cheese combo. They have a great chicken karaage onigiri wrapped in shisho. I’ll make a few more trips to try them all.

The ideal thing to do after eating this bento is to walk two blocks to Matcha Stand Maiko. It looks like a matcha cafe from Japan, but this place started here in Hawaii. It got so popular they opened their second location in Japan. And the third location opened in SF today! The menu is intense. But I have one definite favorite…

…and that is the matcha parfait. Look at at that! There are layers of kanten jelly, chestnuts, azuki beans, and cornflakes. And then matcha chiffon cake and Shiratama dango. Kuromitsu syrup poured all over. Finished with a twist of matcha soft serve. Every component is essential and it’s as amazing as it sounds.

You can also get *just* matcha soft serve in a cone or…

… or this matcha soft serve + matcha shave ice combo. This one is a delight but stressful to eat because you have to deal with shave ice and soft serve at the same time. The menu also has many iced and hot drinks (matcha and hojicha).

Once a week I stop at Breadshop in Kaimuki to pick up a loaf for the house. The specific type of bread varies with my mood (and what time I go). The brioche loaf is my favorite but they only have that after 1pm. The other day I saw this crazy furikake focaccia so def had to try that. We ate half the first day and sliced the rest for egg and bacon sandwiches the next morning.

Steph is an optometrist and she gets half days on Tuesday. And that’s when we have our weekly lunch. This week we went to Teppanyaki Farmer (in the old Shirkoiya place). I kept meaning to try this place way back when it was still a truck, and then a shop near Palama Market (it used to be called Tae’s Teppanyaki). Not sure why they changed the name, but it was really good. It’s a steak roll (super thin layers of rib eye) stuffed with raw shredded potatoes. You can pick spicy sauce, garlic chips, or wasabi sauce to put on top. I got the wasabi sauce.

I just got this photo from Steph and I at afternoon tea the other week. We’ve been friends since we were 12 so it’s been nearly two decades of afternoon tea-ing together. I hope there will be many decades more.

Whenever I’m at Ala Moana (which is often), I pick up sweets from La Palme D’or. Today it was a milk/dark chocolate cake. Not quite flourless but still get that melt-in-your-mouth texture.

I also like the roll cakes. This is the coffee roll. Matcha and strawberry roll cakes are also good.

These egg omelets were from a special dinner from Chef Danny at Sheraton Waikiki. They don’t have an official Taiwanese menu at the property, but if you ask nicely (ex. for private dinners, banquets, etc), Chef Danny (who is originally from Taiwan) can put together a pretty neat menu.

That same night we had shrimp toast, scallion pancake wraps, dan zai bihon, and red braised beef noodles. Many good, heartwarming things.

A few days before that Chef David broke down a fresh kona kampachi and made us lunch! With lobster fried rice!

Have been meaning to check out Naked Cow Dairy in Waianae, but got this sampling of their cheese and butters…the Manoa honey butter is something special.

The space that used to be Chengdu Taste (which will re-open in a bigger space in a few months) was replaced with Mian. It’s all about the Sichuan noodles here.

My go-to is either the classic braised beef or the gizzard noodles (pictured) served dry (no soup, just sauce).

Instead of water, they pour this sweet mung bean drink which tames the heat.

And don’t forget about the black sugar jelly for dessert.

My grandma loves going to Aracino for lunch (an amazing deal). After we lunch, we walk around Waikiki for a bit and have coffee and cake (we always switch up where we do the coffee/cake combos).

Christina and I had a long overdue reunion (we try to plan an annual friends trip but missed 2017), so we made sure we made this ONE DAY overlap in Hawaii happened. We had tea with our parents at Kahala, cocktails and coconut cake at Halekulani, and the best reunion dinner we could have hoped for at MW Restaurant. Michelle and Wade put together a beyond wonderful menu and we left so happy. The truffled wagyu beef sukiyaki was from another world!!

And then because Michelle is most generous person ever, she sent us each home with a GIANT bag of cookies, brownies, bars, and sweets. We had dulcey blondies (they were here version of Punahou caramel cuts!) Hanalei salted butterscotch cookies, chocolate toffee mac nuts, oatmeal raisin cookies, MW grandma’s cookies, and chocolate brownie cookies.

Last Sunday MW was doing a pop-up  at The Street (a Michael Mina project I consulted on), so Steph and I went to check it out. We got kimchee loco mocos and sukiyaki burgers (on a mochi bun!)…I’ve been on a sukiyaki kick lately. To drink, shave ice shakes: frozen mocha and strawberry. It was a weekend pop-up, but will hopefully be permanent soon.

Also, it’s mango season! Local mangos are heaven sent.

A family friend (they own Bangkok Chef, my go-to Thai takeout spot in Honolulu) gave us these beautiful homemade Thai desserts. On the right are slices of rice and tapioca flour noodles. Steamed, sliced, and rolled in fresh grated coconut. On the left is Takoh…

…two layers to this. Pandan pudding on the bottom. Two dotted with water chestnuts, two more with sweet corn. Diced taro for the last pair. (The dream is one with all three ingredients together.)

On top, salted coconut cream and pulp. Chilled in banana leaf.

The little things give me so much pleasure ^-^

7 Comments
  • kat
    March 26, 2018

    loved this post! lots of new(to me) info:) glad you are doing well.

    • Kathy YL Chan
      March 26, 2018

      Thanks, Kat! So much new good food in town the last few years. Hope you are well! ^_^

  • noelle
    March 28, 2018

    how do i leave two eprops on this?

  • Kate
    April 1, 2018

    Hey Kathy,
    I’ve been following your blog since about 2008, and it’s been so cool to see how it’s evolved in that time!

    • Kathy YL Chan
      April 18, 2018

      Thanks, Kate! ^_^

  • MC
    April 18, 2018

    I’ve been following your blog since the beginning. I remember when you were in college, and worked at the bakery one summer. We had moved to the mainland and I found your blog when I was searching for Hawaii restaurant reviews for a visit back home, and I have followed ever since. Lovely blog and lovely young lady!

  • Kathy YL Chan
    April 18, 2018

    Hi MC! Ahaha yes!! I worked at Saint Germain Bakery one summer…it was so much fun (and exhausting!) Thank you for sticking along this whole time ^_^

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