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Quick Report on Honolulu


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#1 VivreManger

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Posted 11 March 2005 - 10:26 AM

My strongest recommendation is:

Hiroshi Eurasion Tapas, Restaurant Row, 500 Ala Moana Blvd at South St (808-533-4476)

My only regret is that I ate there only once. While some dishes at Alan Wong's were excellent, I thought Hiroshi's new place is a real steal. The food is practically as good and the price is about half. I doubt that it will stay that cheap for long. The wine list is extensive and thoughtful.

I will post a more detailed report when my schedule permits.

Helena's Hawaiian Food is worth a visit for local color more than gastronomic excitement. Though the butter fish collar is worth a taste. The ribs were drier and less tasty than the Korean version on which they are based.

I was pleasantly pleased by the Hawaiian plate lunch at the Poi Bowl in the Ala Moana Shopping Center Food Court. The luau cooked pig was well-smoked. The tea-leaf steamed pork was outstanding. Haupia is haupia, but it was well-done. If you get stuck shopping there or are in that neighborhood for other reasons, it is worth a visit. Their imu-smoked pork is better than that served by Gordon Biersch and perhaps better than Helena's as well.

Again many thanks for all the good advice and company.

Edited by VivreManger, 11 March 2005 - 10:28 AM.


#2 skchai

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Posted 13 March 2005 - 10:55 AM

Thanks for the report on your trip - Vivremanger. Your rating of Fukui's place will increase the buzz, and I'm sure you're right that the prices will probably no remain low for so long. No doubt he'll soon be entering the rarefied layer of local chefs with cookbooks, endorsements, etc. But it's well-deserved.

Glad you had a good time here - and thanks for the advice on the Poi Bowl. Given the location in the Food Court, people pass by there everyday without realizing that it would be possible to get excellent Hawaiian food there. Mahalo!

Sun-Ki Chai
http://www2.hawaii.edu/~sunki/

Former Hawaii Forum Host


#3 PakePorkChop

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Posted 13 March 2005 - 06:11 PM

My strongest recommendation is:

Hiroshi Eurasion Tapas, Restaurant Row, 500 Ala Moana Blvd at South St (808-533-4476)

My only regret is that I ate there only once. While some dishes at Alan Wong's were excellent, I thought Hiroshi's new place is a real steal. The food is practically as good and the price is about half. I doubt that it will stay that cheap for long. The wine list is extensive and thoughtful.

I will post a more detailed report when my schedule permits.

Helena's Hawaiian Food is worth a visit for local color more than gastronomic excitement.  Though the butter fish collar is worth a taste.  The ribs were drier and less tasty than the Korean version on which they are based. 

I was pleasantly pleased by the Hawaiian plate lunch at the Poi Bowl in the Ala Moana Shopping Center Food Court. The luau cooked pig was well-smoked. The tea-leaf steamed pork was outstanding. Haupia is haupia, but it was well-done. If you get stuck shopping there or are in that neighborhood for other reasons, it is worth a visit. Their imu-smoked pork is better than that served by Gordon Biersch and perhaps better than Helena's as well. 

Again many thanks for all the good advice and company.

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#4 PakePorkChop

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Posted 13 March 2005 - 06:37 PM

One quick sidenote to these remarks.

First, it was a great visit. VivreMangere is a smoked meat aficianado, and I trust his remarks about Kalua Pork and Lau-lau.

One small difference with the short-rib pipikaula. Helen Chock received her Beard award in great part to her preservation of traditional preparation of foods, which in the instance of pipikaula means air-drying and salting beef. Pipikaula is then eaten with poi, and it is this traditional blending of tasteful pounded taro root and salted dried beef that the culinary exploration is found.

Pipikaula is not based on the Korean version of marinaded and grilled short-rib, which is eaten with rice. The texture and taste profiles are two entirely separate
traditions and sensations.

Is one superior to the other? Perhaps, and for many, probably. But to envision the experience of Native Hawaiians in the early stages of post-Western discovery,
there are certain dishes that are a vital part of the menu, and air-dried, salted beef is a part of that story. Helen presents that to you.


My strongest recommendation is:

Hiroshi Eurasion Tapas, Restaurant Row, 500 Ala Moana Blvd at South St (808-533-4476)

My only regret is that I ate there only once. While some dishes at Alan Wong's were excellent, I thought Hiroshi's new place is a real steal. The food is practically as good and the price is about half. I doubt that it will stay that cheap for long. The wine list is extensive and thoughtful.

I will post a more detailed report when my schedule permits.

Helena's Hawaiian Food is worth a visit for local color more than gastronomic excitement.  Though the butter fish collar is worth a taste.  The ribs were drier and less tasty than the Korean version on which they are based. 

I was pleasantly pleased by the Hawaiian plate lunch at the Poi Bowl in the Ala Moana Shopping Center Food Court. The luau cooked pig was well-smoked. The tea-leaf steamed pork was outstanding. Haupia is haupia, but it was well-done. If you get stuck shopping there or are in that neighborhood for other reasons, it is worth a visit. Their imu-smoked pork is better than that served by Gordon Biersch and perhaps better than Helena's as well. 

Again many thanks for all the good advice and company.

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#5 LarryG

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Posted 13 April 2005 - 10:00 PM

I've been going back to VivreManger's post a few times wondering if I should say something and how to say it. Well, I'm reckless enough that I will post something, even if it's controversial. At least I've had a month to figure out what bothers me about Hiroshi's place, which is certainly fine dining, even if I don't care for it.

Nanette and I decided not to go back. I'm thinking that it is probably because we were compensated well in Japan and learned the various traditions, rituals and the art of different cuisines. We ate at the best eel joints, the kind you need an introduction from someone more important than yourself, to get into, and also neighborhood yakitori dives. And that probably explains my reaction to the fusion cuisine at Hiroshi's. We were also exposed to different cuisines in other Asian countries we visited, even if we can't now tell anyone much about them because we can't remember all the names and places and things we enjoyed. I mean to say that the names in the different Chinese dialects didn't stay with me, and I didn't pull out my notepad to write things down...

In a way, I found the tampering with the food at Hiroshi's to be almost alarming. I didn't put it in words, but if I have to now, I'd say that too much tradition had been abandoned, leaving me wanting the dish done, well, "right". There's such a pressure in fusion cuisine to depart from customs that have been preserved, for good reason, for a long time, even unto the hundreds of years. This is my personal reaction. A person who did not have my experiences would also not have my prejudices. It's just me, I admit it. And yes, I know I'm living in Hawaii now, not in an idyllic past life in Japan. I know, I know.

My meal at Hiroshi's simply made me want to get back to Japan when I can, and to savor the ingredients prepared in those places that have survived for perhaps hundreds of years because they know how to cut the ingredients, the order of serving and the temperature they should be served at, the art of applying the appropriate technique or preparation to the ingredients, even the appropriate vessel to present the dish to the diner. Not that food doesn't evolve, of course it does. But I'm not used to it going crazy. It's supposed to behave!

That may be part of it. Another part was that we felt that there was competition in the plate, some of the ingredients were fighting with each other, not cooperating.

So there, I've said it. Most people will greatly enjoy their dining experience at Hiroshi's, but I won't be going back. <sigh> I think I'll start saving for that eel joint in Akasaka, if I can ever figure out how to get an invite to it again.

Cheerz,
--Larry

#6 glossyp

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Posted 14 April 2005 - 10:06 AM

In a way, I found the tampering with the food at Hiroshi's to be almost alarming. I didn't put it in words, but if I have to now, I'd say that too much tradition had been abandoned, leaving me wanting the dish done, well, "right". There's such a pressure in fusion cuisine to depart from customs that have been preserved, for good reason, for a long time, even unto the hundreds of years. This is my personal reaction. A person who did not have my experiences would also not have my prejudices. It's just me, I admit it.


I think you have expressed your sentiments honestly and made it clear that they are deeply personal.

My meal at Hiroshi's simply made me want to get back to Japan when I can, and to savor the ingredients prepared in those places that have survived for perhaps hundreds of years because they know how to cut the ingredients, the order of serving and the temperature they should be served at, the art of applying the appropriate technique or preparation to the ingredients, even the appropriate vessel to present the dish to the diner.


I feel this way about steak! I am not so adamant about Japanese food even though I lived there for many years and learned so much about cooking, tradition and respect from a dear Japanese mother-in-law. I personally find Hiroshi to be the most interesting and innovative of the well-known chefs here in Hawaii. He really cares about the food and while it obviously doesn't hit the mark for you, I hope he finds success and recognition for his passion, creativity and hard work.
"Eat it up, wear it out, make it do or do without." TMJ Jr. R.I.P.