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Everything posted by skchai

  1. BTW, if any of you from out of state are wondering what Mochiko Chicken is, it's one of the great local fast food discoveries of the 1980s that is now featured on plate lunch and bento menus throughout the state. It's made from chicken thigh soaked in a soy sauce-based marinade then dipped in mochiko (glutinous rice flour) before being deep fried. It's got a strange kind of crunch that becomes addictive after a while - not the hard-on-the-teeth kind. but more of an initially chewy but ultimately melting texture. . .
  2. Okata Bento 3616 Waialae Ave., Kaimuki 96816 808 737-6063 O.K., another version of the mixed bento, from Okata Bento on Waialae Ave. in Kaimuki, a place that inspires some of the strongest loyalty you'll see anywhere from its repeat customers. At first glance, it doesn't look like much, unadorned even for a local bento. It's hard to convey - you have to taste it, I guess. Everything here is cooked to order, not (or hardly) greasy at all despite the lineup of tonkatsu (breaded pork cutlet), mahimahi fillet, fried spam, and a rolled omelette. And cheap. And, moving away from the mixed bentos, here's a little single-item number (mochiko chicken) sold out of one of the tiny kiosks on the University of Hawai`i at Manoa campus. Note that even single-item bentos must have some kind of "side dish" meat, usually of the processed pork kind. Here is no Spam, but to make up for it you have Portuguese Sausage and little links of Vienna Sausages, along with the obligatory takuwan (yellow pickled radish) and slice of pink swirly kamaboko (block-shaped fishcake).
  3. skchai

    sticky rice

    As the site Pan pointed to indicates, the most common usage is for sticky rice to refer to glutinous rice. But as rlivings says, some people also refer to medium-grain rice as "sticky" too in comparison with long-grain. So I guess it is all a matter of your frame of reference. . .
  4. kokimotonyc - if you have some spare time, let us know when you're in town. Maybe we can schedule an egullet thing to Imari or somewhere. By then Timmy Chang (UH QB) should have broken the all-time NCAA passing record - should be an interesting game. Kristen - that was a very cool site. Like how they have "Kona" and "Honolulu" branches although they all seem to be Fukuoka somewhere. The menu is really interesting too - Japanized local Hawai`i food. It's kind of full circle, since much of local cuisine in Hawai`i has Japanese origins.
  5. KCC chefs take their flavors to market items include: Key Ingredient: Panko, by Shan Correa Star chefs cook up event to help culinary students, by Betty Shimabukuro Maximum star power coming here for a benefit for KCC's culinary program on November 15: By Request: Shrimp Ti Leaf scores big at tailgate parties, by Betty Shimabukuro Stuffs: Reserve Imu Spot Now You can make kalua turkey for Thanksgiving at Kailua School's community imu. Culinary institute sizzling with plateful of projects, by Wanda A. Adams All sorts of things being cooked up at KCC TASTE: Monchong swims into the mainstream, by Wanda A. Adams Ways of using the local pomfret. . . FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Pick your favorites for mui, by Wanda A. Adams Making your own Chinese-style "crack seed" preserved fruit. . .
  6. Zippy's http://www.zippys.com/ Here, as a basis of comparison is a typical local bento. As typical as you can get - the Zip-pac. This mainstay of the fast food industry has been around for about 30 years and has not changed its composition in any significant way during the entire time, except for the addition of a light coating of nori furikake (ground laver seaweed topping) to the rice. Top to bottom on the left hand side of the container: fried chicken thigh, fried hoki, teri beef, and Spam. This illustrates some differences between the "local" and "Japanese" bento - at least in Hawai`i, the local version is generally somewhat cheaper, has fewer side dishes but more meat, and comes with somewhat less fancy packaging. More importantly, the local version almost always features typical standard items, most notably Spam and teri beef. If fact, I can't recall ever coming across a mixed bento that didn't contain one or both of these at any Honolulu eating establishment not specifically specializing in Japanese food. Is the local bento more "Westernized" than the Japanese version? It's not clear to me that teri beef and even Spam (at least as a hot lunch entree) are any more "Western" than wafu hamburger and tonkatsu. Moreover, bentos in Japan can nowadays contain just about any dish under the sun, Western or non-Western (Hokkahokkatei once ran a "curries of the world" special that offered bentos featuring suitably unrecognizable green Thai curry and chicken korma). I wouldn't be surprised if there is an "Aloha Aloha" shop somewhere in Japan that specializes in teri beef and Spam bento. Indeed it may be more appropriate to say that the local bento is simply a small "satellite" in the Japanese bento universe, while a place like Imari represents a somewhat upscale part of the "core".
  7. Now we've really hit the big time. We have an off-the record source! To wit (via PM):
  8. Great, well-researched, article Monica. Nice to see Deliad (or presumably his wife's!) chicken curry make it to the list.
  9. You are some crazy guys . . . that level of ingredients has got to have aphrodisiastic (?) qualities.
  10. The lastest news in the saga of Emily and Chris: Chris has just been offered a position of Chef de Partie at The French Laundry, aka the country's (or the world's) greatest restaurant according to many. Read all about it in Emily's blog.
  11. Article from BBC: Top chefs quizzed over Eta 'tax' Arzak and Subijana are accused of paying substantial sums to the Basque nationalist militant group, which is on the U.S. State Dept.'s terrorist org. list. No charges have been filed against either, but neither (it appears) has either explicitly denied the claim. I wonder to what extent chefs in Basque country are subject to these kinds of pressures. . .
  12. O.K. the difference between bento, plate lunch, and okazuya. Honestly have no idea if there is any clear objective definition, since local usage plays around quite a bit with the original Japanese definitions for bento and okazu. However, here's my totally spurious attempt to come up with a clear typology: <br><br>The thing all three have in common is that they are all Asian-influenced takeout establishments. <br><br>Okazuya is the easiest to distinguish, I think. <ul> <li>If and only if the norm is to pick and choose any combination of small dishes you want (i.e. there is no required choice of starch), then it is an okazuya, not a plate lunch or bento. Unless it is a manapua shop.</li> </ul> Other "okazu-ish" qualities that contribute, but are neither necessary nor sufficient to a eating establishment being labeled as such: <ul> <li>Specialization in traditional Japanese home cooking. I recently came across a Japanese cookbook specializing in "old-fashioned" dishes - a lot of these are the kind you can find in okazuya in Honolulu. But as I mentioned before, the food doesn't have to be Japanese to be called okazu in Hawai`i. Conversely, and ironically, some of the most traditionally Japanese okazuya in Honolulu are the ones that call themselves "delicatessens".</li> <li>Food that is prepared in advance and on display in a glass case or on the countertop.</li> <li>Food that is taken out wrapped in butcher paper or packed into a square pie carton. This is the historical way of okazu in Honolulu, but more and more places are resorting to the styro clamshell.</li> </ul> Bento and plate lunch is harder. Both require rice, but: <ul> <li>If it is in a plastic compartmentalized Japanese bento box, then it is obviously a bento. But this is not a necessary condition, since a lot of local bento are served in flat or uncompartmentalized containers. The shape of the container matters as well; the squarer the container, the more "bentoish". <li>Bento tends to come with a larger number of non-rice (okazu!) items than plate lunches, but there are plenty of exceptions. There are of course such thing as single item bentos. Furthermore, Gracie's mixed plate comes with three "main dishes" plus mac salad, kim chee, and chow fun in addition to the rice. And of course Masu's Massive specials may have as many as five or six main dishes on a single plate. <li>If it has mac salad, it is probably plate lunch. If it has takuwan, it is probably a bento. <li>Perhaps the clearest difference is that bento rice is served flat and rectangular, while plate lunch rice is served in the form of "two scoops". </ul> So now, for your viewing enjoyment, is the the okazu-bento-plate lunch matrix of "ideal types": <br><br> <table border=1> <tr> <td> <td><b>Okazuya</td> <td><b>Bento</td> <td><b>Plate Lunch</td> </tr> <tr> <td><b>Container</td> <td>pie box, brown <br>butcher paper</td> <td>compartmentalized <br>black plastic, <br>fake plastic lawn</td> <td>regular paper <br>plate</td> </tr> <tr> <td><b>Rice</td> <td>no rice necessary, <br>otherwise musubi</td> <td>flat rectangle of rice</td> <td>two ice cream <br>scoops of rice</td> </tr> <tr> <td><b>Characteristic <br>Side Dishes</td> <td>no clear distinction <br>between "main" and "side"</td> <td>takuwan, kinpira gobo</td> <td>mac salad</td> </tr> </table>
  13. Thanks, Kristin. Rlivings, I've seen the "smashed" potato salad at so many of the bento places that I've gone to that I assume it's the standard. Minato's version seems to be a kind of creative adaptation. I've been there, but haven't had the chance to try it.
  14. Second and third generation Korean-American bulgogi - The most common kind served at "Korean Plate Lunch" places in Honolulu is about twice as thick as your typical Korean restaurant bulgogi and in much larger pieces. Needless to say you get more of it, half a pound or more for your basic plate lunch. But it's hard to talk about a standard version. Lines blur a lot here: Restaurant-style thinly sliced meat is common too. You see a lot of next-generation Kor-Am and non-Korean ancestry people shopping at the Korean supermarkets in Honolulu, buying up the huge packs of thinly sliced meat for grilling. "Western" supermarkets like Safeway also carry sliced meat for teriyaki and bulgogi. And some people do slice and pound steak meat, as Marc's halmoni did, or simply marinate large pieces of steak. Finally, many Korean restaurants cater to Japanese tourists, who expect Korean-Japanese style cuts of meat.
  15. Pretty much every one seems to say that Ryan's is the #1 singles restaurant spot, and has been for quite a while. Course I wouldn't know being an old fut by now. . . Regarding the mysteries of reader polls, a few random thoughts: 1) Although cynics might suspect ballot stuffing, it would seem to be pretty hard to do this with in any serious way with a mail-in a newspaper poll, since each subscriber presumably gets only one form to fill out. Phone-in or internet surveys on the other hand are much easier to manipulate. 2) On the other hand, there's a real bias towards places with name recognition. Regardless of whether people love them or not, L+L and Zippys will show up top year after year. Most other place, no matter how good, won't be known to enough people to make an impression number wise. And a lot of people will mark down L+L or Zippy's simply because it's the first thing that comes to mind. 3) For any self-selected reading poll, the "sample" of people mailing things in will not evenly reflect Advertiser subscribers, who in turn are not representative of the Honolulu population. In general, there is some research evidence from elsewhere that older (read senior citizens) are much more likely to respond to mail-in polls than younger folks. Those with strong opinions about the subject matter (e.g. foodies) of course are far more likely to respond than those who don't care. I'm sure that researchers have uncovered other kinds of systematic sample biases, but don't know what they are. . . None of this, of course, gives us any clear idea of what the results "mean" about Honolulu's eating culture.
  16. Sorry that it's been a long time since restaurant posts. I've got a bunch of reports in my head but no time to write things down. I'm also still vacillating about the best way to store my images only. But at any rate, until I figure all that out, here is a something to fill the gap - Bento. As many of you already know, the bento is the great Japanese compartmentalized box lunch that you can take anywhere you want to eat. The classic (simplest) form is the hinomaru (named after the Japanese flag), which is simply a rectangular bed of white rice with a single umeboshi (very salty pickled Japanese plum/apricot) stuck in the middle. Though the basic concept has been around at least since the beginning of the Edo period (early 17th century) more complex bento have been developed over the years, culminating in the makunouchi (lit. "parting of the curtains") bento, which is a monster box containing numerous compartments and just about every delicacy you can think of (along with a somewhat subdued-looking bed of rice in one corner), designed for eating while viewing Kabuki plays. Another popular and somewhat upscale form of bento is the ekiben (station bento), which is featured at virtually every regional stations on the Japanese railroad lines, and is supposed represents the best of local specialities. On the other spectrum of things, there are the numerous cheap, fast-food bento places, exemplified by giant chains such as Hokka Hokka Tei and Honke Kamadoya. Bento have long been a mainstay of Hawai`i cuisine as well, though here bento are almost exclusively fast food. Moreover, the stuff that you find in local bentos are often quite different from what you might expect in Japan. In fact, sometimes the only thing in common with traditional Japanese bentos is the the rectangle of rice and the ubiquitous little green slip of plastic "lawn" that is somehow supposed to add color to the whole things. The rest of the compartments may contain things like Spam (of course), teri beef, fried chicken, mahimahi, and even adobo. If fact, as the thickness of the box becomes flatter and flatter, the local bento gradually morphs into a "mixed plate", of which we hope to run another challenge sometime in the future. Of course, bentos in Japan have been evolving as well, so the contrast between Japanese and local-style bento may not be as great as I'm picturing it. But you can still tell the difference. At any rate, let me start by identifying my favorite Japanese-style bento place in Honolulu: Imari 661 Keeaumoku St. #102 808 941-8866 Imari is right next to the "Samsung" (sic) Plaza on Ke`eaumoku, facing the street. It's next to the Subway shop, as well as another bento place called Aya, which might be good but I have no idea since every chance I get I go to Imari. The inside gives you a hint of the quality. One of the marks of a good restaurant of the inexpensive kind is the existence a clean but "busy" interior with every nook and cranny filled with objects collected over the years. Doesn't matter what they are: knicknacks from the owner's collection, testimonials from obscure celebrities, pictures of sponsored softball teams, etc. A busy interior indicates the cumulative amount of attention that the owner attention into the place, and most placeswith such interiors serve great food. Note that the converse doesn't apply, since upper-crust places may have good food but have hired an interior designer who has told them that a "spare design" is better than anything else, and a new restaurant of course may not have time to collect much of anything. You can pick from two-item or three-item bentos. A LOT of choices, each of them showing some forethought and care in preparation. Here are our three-items. Note the slick rubber-banding, another good sign in bento or okazu. First bento combo: Wafu (Japanese-style) Hamburger, Tonkatsu (pork cutlet) chunk, Chicken Karaage (marinated fried). Note the layer of freshly shredded daikon and ponzu (soy citrus) sauce on the hamburger. The tonkatsu and karaage are both bite size and freshly fried. Quantity is not skimpy at all. Sidedishes include typically mashed-up Japanese potato salad and a nice "kinpira" of stir-fried gobo, carrots, and lotus root (the latter much better than you would normally expect at a fast food bento). The rice has not only the requisite umeboshi, but also a scattering of sansai (mountain veggies) and hijiki (a cruncy seaweed). It's those nice touches that really put Imari above the other places I've tried. Second bento combo: Ginger pork, Aji (horse mackeral?) fry, Unagi (freshwater eel) kabayaki. Unagi is usually very expensive, but not unusually so here. Ginger pork is gingery but not too wet as you sometimes get in other places. Aji fry is something you don't get at most other bento places (even Japanese) around here, but interestingly enough show up at some local okazuya. Same side dishes. So that's my favorite for the Japanese-style. Will try to start listing local-style bentos soon. In the meantime - what are your favorite bento places?
  17. skchai


    PPC - sweet potato wrap for the Oki-dog is a great idea! God for it, Food Zealot. Someone should introduce it the organizers next time. After all, right now, the only thing recognizably Okinawan in the Oki-dog is the shoyu pork (rafute). A purple Okinawan sweet potato wrap would make it an Oki-oki dog.
  18. skchai

    Bắc Nam

    BTW, we were back there the other day and asked the owner what part of Viet Nam the various dishes came from. He said that there is an even spread between North and South, and that the real specialty, if could call it that, is Northern dishes prepared Southern style (which presumably means more of a fanciness). That's why he calls the restaurant Bắc Nam, i.e. north-south or 北南.
  19. Thanks, Sharon. Checked out the Spamarama website, and it seems perfect. Properly irreverent, and I'm glad they manage to do it without having any of the Hormel $$ dropped on them. We have something every year called SpamJam but it's got nothing on Spamarama (other than perhaps sheer quantity of Spam).
  20. Thanks for the link, Ryan. It's always hard to know what to make of reader polls. Interesting John Dominis and the two steakhouses won the top spots for fine dining, instead of anyplace serving creative cuisine is a change from the past given that 3660, Roy's, and Aaron's were the winners in that category in 2002 awards. Somehow the awards for 2003 were never announced online. Always see long lines outside Cheesecake Factory, so that result doesn't surprise though it does say something about the way that chain concepts that succeed on the mainland usually succeed here as well.
  21. Spam is the Hawaiian foie gras . . .
  22. Don't live Kailua side, and have never had a chance to get there - I guess I never will. But looked around for info on the place and found a couple of reviews, which I guess will now have to serve as obituaries: Strut on over to Two Boots, by Nadine Kam, Star-Bulletin Cajun Cuisine in Kailua, by Sarah Mossman, Spirit of Aloha (Airlines) And here's the menu.
  23. Thanks, Joan, for the link. Awesome indeed, that CTAHR are spreading a bit of Aloha around the world with this seed program, even if some of it is GMO Aloha. The availability of Manoa lettuce seed is the part that is most gratifying, since it's the most common variety of lettuce available in stores around here but impossible to get on the mainland. Kind of wrinkly butter-leaf type that's great for making "bossam" with BBQ meat.
  24. skchai

    Bắc Nam

    Mahalo nui loa for dropping in on our thread, pieman. Perhaps they are using lamb as a substitute for goat meat? Would very much like to hear about what's going on at Saigon's on lamb meat restaurant. Or your experiences with kangaroo or Skippymeat, if you have the stomach. Presumably the kangaroo meat is imported! Might it be too much to speculate that is is valued in Vietnam because it supposedly, err., increases the springiness of your body parts?
  25. You make it sound really wonderful. To be honest, despite years either living here or visting on a regular basis while I was banished to the mainland, I've never made it to Alan Wong's main restaurant (though I've gone to the Pineapple Room a number of times). Maybe when the kids grow up. . . What will they think of next in service innovations. In a sense, having each server "specialize" in the presentation of a particular dish might help to minimize mixups in presentation, but it does lend an anonymous air to everything. The weirdest service routine I ever saw was at Emeril's NOLA in NOLA (not my choice, though the food was pretty good). We had about a party of about ten, and for each course about six waiters would suddenly materialize along with a huge cart carrying the plated dishes. Each waiter would take one or two plates out of the cart and lift it high in the air, until all of them were doing this. Then, on signal, they would simultaneously plop the assigned plate down in front of each of us at exactly the same time. Then, suddenly, they would all disappear again.
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