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Garlic and Ginger Festival

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The Garlic and Ginger Festival of Hawai`i is today from 4-10pm at the Ward Warehouse Auahi Street Parking Lot. Restaurants with booths include Roy's, 3660 on the Rise / Kaka`ako Kitchen, Alan Wong's, Side Street Inn. Pretty great selection. Look at this post in the media digest thread for more info. Will try to post some pictures later. . .

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My family and I went, and saw skchai there, digicam in hand! We enjoyed ourselves. Lots of good food, although we did have to spend $40 to feel well fed. Some photos:


More here!

Edited by ryanozawa (log)

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Ryan, thanks for links to all your pictures. Do you know who the guy being interviewed is - looks familiar but I can't place him.

O.K., here's my much-delayed report. . .

The Garlic Festival of Hawai`i expanded this year, its fifth incarnation, by becoming the Garlic and Ginger Festival. As a theme for a local food festival, it's hard to think of a theme that better fits the countours of the emerging Pan-Pacific/Hawaiian Regional (or whatever you want to call it) cuisine than garlic and ginger. In fact, the fit is almost too close. Want to locate a dish using garlic and / or ginger? For most local PP/HRC restaurants, that means picking any item at random off of their appetizer or entree list. It's hardly a stretch, not nearly as much of a stretch as finding a recipe that uses Spam, for instance.

That said, the festival is a lot of fun, not nearly for its mysterious ability to attract the blue-bloods of the local gastronomic scene. Among the chefs represented there were Beard-award winners such as Roy Yamaguchi and Alan Wong (or at least their minions), as well as other local stalwarts such as Russell Siu of 3660 on the Rise / Kaka`ako Kitchen and Colin Nishida of Side Street Inn / Fort Street Bar and Grill. Not often you can get those kind of guys to churn out mass feedings on paper plates that are sold for a few scrip (one scrip = one buck).


The festival, a benefit for the Institute for Human Services and Friends of the Missing Child Center, had such a big crowd this year that there was no elbow room location in the cramped Ward Warehouse Auahi St. parking lot. Forced to move it somewhere more spacious next year.

The wife was staying late at work, so I was dragging along the two kids all by myself. Just barely managed to survive; so don't expect any dainty tasting notes and such. Just quick picks taken on the run while chasing them down.

Roy's Restaurant, represented by staff and executive chef (Ronnie Nasuti) of its Hawai`i Kai original location, gave us, in its typically verbose fashion, "Steamed Hawaiian Moi with an Asian Pesto Sauce, Chinese Style with Garlic and Ginger, with sizzling Soy Sauce and served with Garlic Fried Rice" - 5 scrip.


In the vocabulary-mangling world of East-West cuisine, "Asian Pesto" means pureed cilantro. There was a just a bit of it on top, with a big handful of ogo seaweed and a small scoop of tobiko (flying fish roe). Hey, why wasn't the ogo and tobiko mentioned in the 100-word name of the dish? And where was the "sizzling soy sauce"? Anyway the ogo was a good texture contrast - you could hardly taste the tobiko, but it added a nice color.

Russell Siu is one of the few folks who is trying to bridge the gap between high-end Hawaii cuisine and the plate lunch. His gastronomic place, 3660 On the Rise, is one of the best, but it's his upscale plate lunch establishment, Kaka`ako Kitchen, that was represented here.


He gave us a very nice "Fire Roasted Marinated Skirt Steak with Fragrant Rice" - 5 scrip. Rare, and much tenderer than you'd expect from a skirt steak. There was garlic in the marinade but no ginger I could detect. Anyway, the Ginger was covered by the other entree, the "Baked Ginger Crusted Chicken with Roasted Garlic Mashed Potato".

Colin Nishida's Side Street Inn is a place that gets almost completely ignored by the national press, but it's the favorite hangout of local chefs, who crowd its tables late at night after they've closed their own places. Perhaps both facts can be explained by the "laser karaoke" and "electronic darts" featured there and at its sister restaurant, the Fort Street Bar and Grill. Like Kaka`ako Kitchen, it provides a distinct vision of where trendy Hawaii Cuisine can go in the future as it becomes accessible to the masses.


At the festival, they offered up a combo plate of - get this "Garlic and Coriander Roast Pork Loin with Ginger Scented Gohan, Nalo Chicken Salad with Ginger Garlic Asian Pesto, and Garlic Soy Beans" - 6 scrip. The biggest bargain at the festival. And I will always eat roast pork loin, particularly when its roasted as well as it was here. . .

Actually, I'm doubly grateful because they were implicated in averting at least one kid-related disaster. The hosts had been giving out balloons at the entrance to the festival, which I tied around the wrist of both my kids so they wouldn't get lost. My daughter for some reason decided to take the balloon string off her wrist and put it down for a while. Naturally, it floated away, and she started to scream and carry on. Suddenly, out of nowhere materializes Colin Nishida himself a new balloon, which he kindly tied around her wrist for her. "But it's a different color than what she had", my son added helpfully. But despite this my daughter stopped crying.


Alan Wong's restaurant was represented by their pastry chef, Mark Okumura. They kind of wimped out and didn't try to garlic ice cream or the like. Instead, they gave us "Chocolate Loaf Ice Cream Sandwich with Ginger Coconut Dip". It was two thick slices of a very moist chocolate pound cake around vanilla ice cream, cut in half on the diagonal. The dip was basically a kind of cornstarch-thickened haupia added to it. My kids (who had meanwhile been eating Gordon Biersch fries and Parc Cafe pizza) saw it and grabbed the two halves, leaving none for me. They wouldn't even give me a taste. The dip, the dip, I said weakly, but they ignored it. So I stuck my fingers in it and scooped up the dip by itself. Not exactly on fire with ginger, but not bad . . .

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Thanks for the great report and pictures! I am grateful for people like you willing to brave mass

hysteria. It isn't such a 'mystery' that chefs like the Alan Wong and Roy Yamaguchi organizations

support the event especially as it benefits IHS, last Thanksgiving the gang from Roy's went to

IHS and cooked and served Thanksgiving dinner for those served. And although some might think

'minions' isn't necessarily that flattering of a description for those artists (Ronnie and Mark) the

actual definition of minion from Websters is:" A loved one highly esteemed and favored - in a good

sense." I am drooling after seeing the dishes!!! Oh, I also read your contributions to the recent

article in the paper regarding why some people drive those big hulking SUV's and now are having

to pay so much at the pump to support them, nice comments! A hui ho......

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Oneidaone, you're right that the top local chefs typically are very generous themselves up for a lot of charitable activities. But I guess my point (if there was one) was that it's usually it's at a higher end than such a paper-plate kind of dining experience. Thanks for pointing out, however, Yamaguchi's past help to IHS.

Didn't mean to offend anyone with the use of the term "minion"! Used it only in the same sense as you, the most positive sense. I agree that Nasuti and Okumura are very talented chefs in their own right. . .

Some more pictures from the festival. . .


A huge pot of potion being cooked up by a chef at the Pacific Club becomes. . .


"Ginger Tomato Broth" for "Garlic Herb Marinated Monchong".


A roasting joint from Big G's Catering becomes. . .


"Rotisserie Roasted Garlic Prime Rib with Garlic Mashed Potatoes"


I had a few scrip left, and this was our souvenir home. Deep fried moi.

Laters. . .

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this is one event I am glad I missed. Just one of those people who never liked garlic.. but ginger is good. The ginger ice cream bit sounded great!

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