Restaurants, Post-2016

Anybody went to the new tonkatsu place in Kapahulu? In the past, I’ve expressed a blase attitude about tonkatsu restaurants (although the kurobuta tonkatsu did intrigue me). But I saw some pictures of this new place, and it looked good. You know how Japanese tempura (versus local okazu style) is spiky? That’s how these looked.

Also, has anyone gone to the new Uzbek restaurant downtown? It looked good. (Don, the food looked like something you would like.)

85 Responses to “Restaurants, Post-2016”


  1. don

    I heard the tonkatsu place is really crowded. When they first open it was two hour waits.

    Coworkers went to the Uzbekistan restaurant called Silk Road Café for lunch. They showed me what they had and it looked pretty good. I’m pretty sure the food is already cooked and stays in warmers out front, ala Panda, which is a slight turnoff. But you may be right, it looks like something I would like trying. They seem to have that sour bread that I talked about at the Ethiopian restaurant, which I didn’t care for, but maybe their bread just looks like that.

  2. don

    There are a couple popular ramen spots at the Yokocho at the Waikiki Shopping Plaza. Reid has your brother tried any of them? I think the two with the most talk is Bario and the newly open Tsujita. See link on the write up for Tsujita:

    http://www.frolichawaii.com/stories/how-to-eat-at-tsujita-ramen/

  3. Reid

    I don’t know if my brother tried the ramen places. The next time I see him, I’ll ask.

    As for Silk Road Cafe, the bread seemed thick and pillowy, and the Ethiopian bread I’ve eaten is really flat (like flat manapua bread).

  4. don

    Ooops you are right about the bread at Silk Road Café. But check out the pictures of the blini stuffed with beef. However from the little I know of blini, it’s not sour like the Ethiopian bread.

  5. don

    Gen Korean BBQ

    I had to watch the kid yesterday since school was off due to a teacher work day, so we took off and went to Gen Korean BBQ for lunch. This is a hugely popular chain from Southern California, that opened in Ala Moana. It’s all-you-can-eat, $15.99 for lunch on the weekdays and $26.99 for dinner and weekend lunches. There are eight premium items that you can get at the $26.99 price that are not available for the $15.99 price. The items that were already seasoned were a little sweet, like the bulgogi. I would rather have the items that you need to dip in the salt or sesame oil. The rules are you can order up to 4 items at a time, but the service, at least when we went, was good and they kept coming back to ask if you want to order more. Oh and there is a 2 hour time limit, but most of the tables that were seated when we were, left well within the 2 hour limit. I think it’s a good deal for the weekday lunch, and my guess even for the dinner it’s probably worth it.

  6. Reid

    Don, is that a yakiniku situation? If so, that sounds great. What type of meats did they offer?

  7. Reid

    Silk Road Cafe

    We tried the following:

    blini–crepe stuffed with ground beef
    piroski–ground beef filling
    somosa (sp?)–I got the squash filling (which, according to the guy at the counter, they don’t always make)

    I didn’t get to try the blini or the piroski, but Larri said the meat was kind of bland. I really like the somosa. The guy at the counter said that he doesn’t like squash, but he liked this. I can see how he would say that. There are other seasonings in there that I really liked.

    I would like to go back and try some of their other stuff.

    Brick Fire Tavern (Hotel Street)

    Neopolitan pizzas. We tried

    the shrimp with bechamel and garlic
    margherita

    Both were solid. They’re very similar in quality to Z Lounge and Prima. They were good, but I think I Boston’s is almost as good and you get a better value.

    We also had breadsticks, and we tried a nutella, banana, strawberry calzone ($11). It’s pretty big, and it’s about what you would expect–baked pizza dough + the ingredients.

  8. don

    Reid,

    Yes yakiniku. Todd and Sung has approved of this place (same chain) near their home in San Jose, just as a reference. They have the usual stuffs: steak, chicken, pork, pork belly, shrimp, etc. We really liked the pork cheek. I think they supposed to have about 28 different options for the $15.99 price.

    I want to try Silk Road. Did you guys go last week? They only open on weekdays, right?

    I cannot remember, you thought of the restaurant pizza places that Z Lounge was one of the better places? I think you like there better than JJ Dolans right? Z Lounge is the place on Kona St? I think I went there, and I didn’t think it was that special.

  9. Reid

    Yakiniku and Sung approved? OK, I want to check this out. (Maybe we can get a bunch of people and go to this.)

    We went to Silk Road on Kuhio Day, and my guess is they’re only open on weekdays (which is why we went).

    Yeah, I liked Z Lounge–better than Dolan’s. (I don’t get the love for Dolan’s.) If you don’t like Z Lounge, I wouldn’t recommend Brick Fire.

  10. don

    I have very little recollection of V Lounge and I’m not even sure if that’s the place I went to. The place I went was super seedy looking, and I thought their pizza was oily.

    Boston Pizza’s toppings can be cut too small and a bit skimpy. I also have problems with their crust being too thin in the middle of the pizza and not being able to hold the toppings well. Not only does it not hold the toppings well, but you cannot taste it because it’s too thin. I would seriously doubt there would be a taste difference in eating the middle of their pizza without the crust and just spooning in globs of cheese and toppings. I also don’t think there would there be huge textural difference as well.

    Dolan’s toppings are better in terms of amount and overall taste compared to Boston’s. I also think Dolan’s crust is probably one the of the better tasting crust. It’s definitely better than Boston’s, which can be slightly bland.

  11. don

    Ooops forgot to add for Reid’s sake about Gen BBQ that the wait times have been crazy. My guess is if you go at odd times, like before 5:30p for dinner or before 11a for lunch you can get in with little or no wait. They open from 10a and do not close after lunch. We went at 10:45a on a work day and didn’t really have to wait, but when we left at noonish there was a decent line (ie: maybe a half hour wait).

  12. Reid

    The place I went was super seedy looking, and I thought their pizza was oily.

    Dive bar, with illicit behavior all around? That’s it.

    Boston Pizza’s toppings can be cut too small and a bit skimpy.

    I think this depends on the type of pizza you get, and which store you go to. But, yes, for some pizzas and some locations, I agree.

    The thing is, I really like the crust. My guess is that people like neopolitan-style pizzas because of the crust, both the texture and tast. I’m thinking of places like Prima, V-Lounge, and Brick Fire. To me, Boston’s is right up there, or close enough.

    I don’t think their toppings are exception, in terms of quality or being innovative or interesting. But they’re good enough in my view, especially when you compare them to the price and quantity of the pizzas I mentioned.

    I also have problems with their crust being too thin in the middle of the pizza and not being able to hold the toppings well

    This is a valid criticism, but I think you exaggerate about the middle being the same as toppings without the crust.

    Also, the ends of the crust are really good.

    I can barely remember JJ’s, but I don’t remember it really standing out to me, and I believe I went there twice.

    Ooops forgot to add for Reid’s sake about Gen BBQ that the wait times have been crazy.

    Ugh, that’s a deterrent. (But thanks for the heads up.)

  13. Mitchell

    V-Lounge has been called something else for some time, like maybe more than a year. It may be the same pizza, though.

    Either of you been to Proof?

  14. Reid

    I’ve never heard of Proof. What kind of restaurant is it?

  15. Mitchell

    Pizza. In the old Mercury lounge space, that alley that comes out of Fort St. Mall toward the Beretania side of Mark’s Garage. Been there a little more than a year, I think. It’s in that space where the Chicago deep-dish place was. Maybe.

  16. don

    Just to clarify, I like Boston’s a lot and the one we’ve been to lately, at least the last couple times, is the one on Waialae. But prior to that, I went to the one in Manoa a couple times as well. I wasn’t a Boston’s fan (That goes for any of their sport teams as well.), but I like their crust (as Reid stated) much more now. I definitely would choose Boston’s over any of the take-out chains. I just have to reiterate that their toppings can be skimpy. Maybe it’s because their pizza is huge, but compared to even a Costco, which is huge as well, their toppings are mostly scattered, definitely not like Pizza Hut’s supreme pizza in which there is virtually no empty space at all.

    Reid, you should try go to Wolfgang Puck Express. Yes it’s in Waikiki and their pizza selections are not that great, but I used to think their pizza was one of the best. In fact I think their crust is one of the best crusts that I’ve had, and it’s in the Boston’s vein. There is only the one in Waikiki left (I used to go to the one at Ward.), but it’s really close to the zoo, so you could just park there and walk a block in. Their pizza are all like CPK size, just FYI.

    Proof’s pizza chef came from Dolan’s. I think their pizza is almost identical to Dolan’s pizza. For me Dolan’s and Proof are probably my two favorites. But for reference I probably only went to Dolan’s three times and Proof twice. Proof sells the pizza by the slice, at least during the day, so that’s a plus if you want to just stop by and try a piece.

  17. Reid

    Mitchell,

    OK, thanks for the information.

    Don,

    I just have to reiterate that their toppings can be skimpy.

    Again, I think this is valid–and it can be annoying. But I will reiterate that it can depend on the location and the type of pizza you order. We usually go to the one near Pearlridge, and we often get the spinach/garlic, which doesn’t really have this topping problem. Ditto the spinach/garlic/mushroom or the veggie “supreme.” They can skimp on pepperoni/sausage combo. But I feel like this can vary from location to location. I used to go the one in Makakilo as well. Having said that, the portions of toppings is less than places like Pizza Hut or Magoo’s.

    Reid, you should try go to Wolfgang Puck Express.

    I recall liking their pizza, but I might be getting it confused with CPK. Isn’t it like CPK’s pizza? (I like CPK’s pizza, by the way.)

  18. Reid

    Black Sheep Cream Co. (Waipio, next to Starbucks, the one next to Costco)

    OK, a few comments:

    1. The ice cream is gooey and rich like Dave’s used to be. The flavors we got weren’t as good as the way Dave’s used to taste;

    2. We had to wait between 40-50 minutes to get our ice cream! Unlike most places, you don’t order and then get your ice cream. You order and go on the side and wait until they scoop your ice cream. There were a lot of people waiting around. I have no idea why it’s like this, but keep this in mind if you decide to check it out. Hopefully, they’ve addressed this issue.

    3. The waffle cones were pretty good–light, crispy with a hint of cinnamon.

    We didn’t get the flights. I can’t even remember the flavors we got now, too.

  19. don

    Pieology
    This is a pizza place in the vain of Subway where you go down the line and choose your own toppings. The pizzas are $11.00 for 10 inches (sort of like CPK size but thinner crust), and you can put any topping you want. You can even ask for more of a single topping as well. For example, I think for the Canadian bacon, they only put like 4 slices, so if you wanted more you can just ask. They have different sauces and cheeses and even stuff you can put on after the pizza is cooked. I don’t think it’s the best pizza, but it’s pretty good. I think most people’s gripe would be the thin crust, but there’s a sign that says you can get a thicker crust for a $1 more, but I’m guessing you will have to wait longer for your pizza.

  20. Reid

    Don,

    Do they charge extra if you want more of one topping?

    Is it worth driving out to?

  21. don

    Actually I haven’t necessarily driven from town just to go there. I take that back, I chose there as my Father’s Day lunch so maybe I did go there from town. The other time though we were at Kahala and from there it’s probably just a little over five minutes (less if you catch all the lights). But to answer your question, I’m not sure we would make a special trek out there just to eat pizza. I don’t think I would necessarily go out of my way to eat any pizza in general though.

    Oh and you can add as much toppings as you like for the $11 price.

  22. Mitchell

    I’m surprised Reid hasn’t been there yet. It’s family friendly and reasonably priced. And since Reid doesn’t like too many choices, they do have some defined pizzas you can choise from, like at the Counter and Coldstone.

  23. Reid

    Oh and you can add as much toppings as you like for the $11 price.

    Meaning, you could just keeping asking them to add more of one or more toppings, without extra charge? That’s pretty cool, if so.

    Mitchell,

    The biggest reason is that driving is more of deterrent now. Plus, for some reason, the restaurant never appealed to me for some reason. I had a negative impression, like the overall quality wouldn’t be that great.

  24. don

    I would say the overall quality of the toppings are just meh. I mean it doesn’t suck but like the pepperoni is not that great. The toppings are cut pretty thinly as well. But I think as long as the pizzas are made fresh and you cannot get any fresher than Pieology, it’s hard to say “the overall quality wouldn’t be that great”.

    My only really complaint is that sometimes the middle of the pie doesn’t hold up to all the toppings and it can be limp. But I get that experience at Boston’s sometimes as well.

  25. Reid

    Not sure what you mean by “fresh”–you mean as opposed to frozen pizza? You can’t mean that, because I assume chain pizza joints are not cooking frozen pizza.

    I guess, I didn’t get the sense that it would be more artisanal–like Prima, Z Lounge, etc. My impression was that they would be like Z Pizza for some reason (and I like Z Pizza, but it’s not a place I would drive out for).

  26. Mitchell

    Yeah but it really is just a hop from Kahala Mall and you go there.

  27. Reid

    Rarely, though.

  28. Mitchell

    I’ll share photos later, but I thought it was worth sharing two places I’ve been grooving on lately. Joel raved about Golden Pork (on King, between Piikoi and Keeaumoku) and Reid was unimpressed, but I think this may be my favorite ramen on the island now, with the possible exception of the Gomaichi tan-tan.

    I haven’t had the dipping tsukemen yet, but I’ve had the three major ramens on the menu and loved them all. Like, lick-the-bowl-clean loved them. I’ve had a different side order with each order, and I’m so fond of the pork belly bun that I always get that plus one more side. I can’t remember the sides I’ve tried, so I’ll have to go through my photos later.

    I agree that the gyoza is nothing to write home about. Oh, I had the spicy mayonnaise eggs and they were great, but if you’re not an egg lover they’re probably just pretty good.

    The three ramens are the black garlic (not black sesame), golden pork, and red dragon. Each comes with a different kind of noodle, and each in a different colored bowl. Details, I tell you. They make a difference. They’re all excellent but the black garlic is a step ahead of the rest.

    I’ve also been to Junpuu (across the Blaisdell, where Le Guignol used to be), which used to be a booth in Shirokiya. I’ve been here three times but it’s possible I’ve had the tantan each time. It’s quite good, if a little on the skimpy side. I don’t mind, since it encourages me to try the sides. I honestly don’t remember what I thought of the gyoza, but they have a rainbow quinoa salad that’s delicious. It tastes a bit like a tabouli, but instead of lemon juice, it’s flavored with a light soy dressing. Terrific, I tell you. I kinda wished it had come fifteen minutes ahead of my ramen because honestly, it’s not a great combination, but by itself it would have been a great appetizer.

    In both places, my water glass was always full, which I need when I eat ramen.

    So right now, my top five ramen spots are (subject to change with my daily whims)
    1. Golden Pork
    2. Tenkaippin
    3. Gomaichi
    4. Junpuu
    5. Agu

  29. don

    You have said previously but what ramen do you order at Tenkaippin?

  30. Mitchell

    I try to mix it up, but the black tonkotsu and tantan are my faves, I think. They’ve added a couple of varieties since the last time I was there. The only one I didn’t think was outstanding (but still good) was the chicken broth one (paitan?).

  31. don

    Paitan is pork based normally I think. I went long ago, and had the Kotteri, which is the chicken based and their signature broth at the time. I didn’t like it. It was really thick from the collagen. I thought it was too thick which is weird to say, but from what I remember it was.

  32. Mitchell

    Yeah, you’re right. I didn’t think the kotteri was too thick (although I can see why someone would think so), but I didn’t think it had much depth to the flavor. The paitan is good. 🙂 I also like their gyoza, but to be honest, gyozas are all starting to blur together for me.

  33. Reid

    August might be a good time to try Burgers and Things

    They now have french fries–what they call “wave fryers,” which are “beer battered french fries with golden garlic oil and reggianito cheese.” They have a special size portion for $2.

    I have a feeling both of you will really like the burgers here. (I recommend the pretzel buns as well.)

  34. Mitchell

    Yeah, I tried it when it was operating out of a walk-up window downtown, and I think Don tried it there and when it was serving out of Bronco Bar in Kalihi near Popeye’s on Dillingham.

  35. Reid

    You guys went there? When did we talk about this? Man, I’m really losing my memory.

  36. Mitchell

    I edited my response. It unnecessarily pointed out that you’d forgotten, but it’s fine.

  37. Reid

    Did we talk about this recently, offline? I just went back and glanced at the previous thread where I talk about this place. Based on the comments, it doesn’t sound like you guys tried it.

  38. Mitchell

    The conversation began here but looking back, it doesn’t sound like Don tried it but knew all about it.

  39. Reid

    Yeah, I know he knew about it, but he just didn’t try it. That’s partly why I’m mentioning it again–I think it’s a burger both he and you would really like. Plus, they now have fries, which they didn’t when I tried it. (I totally forgot that you tried one of their burgers.)

  40. don

    Yeah I have yet to try Burgers and Things. The one time I tried to go there was no parking.

    Reid,

    This is your favorite burger now?

  41. Reid

    No, it’s not my favorite burger. I still prefer Kua Aina, I think. I’ve only been to Burgers and Things once. It was incredibly juicy, but it’s the smaller, thick, stubby type of burger, and I generally don’t have a strong preference for those. I just think you and Mitchell would really like this, given the comments you guys have made.

  42. Mitchell

    I actually prefer a thinner burger, not too thin but not monstrously thick, but that’s really a minor consideration for me. The grind of the beef plays a much bigger role in my enjoyment. Of course, flavor is the most important thing, which is why that Keawe Grill Kobe burger was so great for me.

  43. Mitchell

    I think my favorites (without thinking too much) are

    The Counter
    Kua Aina
    Honolulu Burger Co.
    South Shore (I had one a couple of years ago and it’s still great)
    Teddy’s

  44. Reid

    Mitchell,

    I’m probably conflating your taste with Don’s, and maybe Don doesn’t like the thick, stubby burgers as much as I think.

    It sounds like you and I have the similar preference for the thickness of a patty. For what it’s worth, the biggest reason I don’t like the thick, stubby patties is because they seem smaller. They can be mushy, too (The local Japanese type where bread is used as filler.) These patties aren’t bad, but I prefer other types of patties.

    How can you tend the grind in a patty? I don’t think I would be able to do that.

  45. Mitchell

    The main reason I don’t care for a super thick patty is that tall burgers are harder to eat than wide burgers, and you know how much I hate getting food on my hands. But as long as I have a knife and fork, I can make do. Oh, and if my burger isn’t served in one of those blasted baskets.

    A coarser grind means a crumblier burger, but I find it more flavorful (more surface area, maybe?). A finer grind makes for a denser, chewier burger. If you’ve ever made burgers at home and overmixed the beef with whatever you put in it, you’ve seen similar results. The patty comes out denser and (I think) harder. A good homemade burger is only mixed enough to get get the ingredients together without blending everything into one slab. When you mix everything too much, you kind of undo the grind, mushing everything together.

  46. Reid

    The explanation of why you don’t like thicker burgers makes sense. I think I was mostly thinking that you liked really juicy burgers–which is what made think you would really like Burgers and Things (regular patties).

    I’m a little confused about your description of finer and coarser grinds. What would Kua Aina be?

  47. Mitchell

    Here’s a better way to picture it. You know how sometimes when you slice into a meatloaf, it has a tendency to fall apart? And sometimes when you slice into a meatloaf, it’s almost like slicing Spam, so that the slice comes out completely smooth? An overworked burger or too-fine of a grind is more like the smooth meatloaf. A coarser grind is more like the fall-apart meatloaf. It has a better mouthfeel and I think it tastes a lot more burgery.

  48. Reid

    OK, I see what you’re saying. So Kua Aina would be a finer grind? In your meatloaf example, I think I’d prefer the coarser grind, though. I think it really depends, though. I tend to associate a really smooth, dense consistency with a lot of starchy filler, and I don’t really care for that. But I also like a patty that stays together and doesn’t just crumble, either.

  49. Reid

    Have you guys tried this place?

    The tsukemen looks good.

  50. Mitchell

    I haven’t, but that guy turned me off with his article. I mean, he didn’t turn me off to that place, but he has very little credibility with me.

  51. Reid

    What turned you off?

  52. Mitchell

    He seems like a ramen newbie. And then he says something like “the meat is of utmost importance” one paragraph before he says “nothing’s more crucial than the broth.” I mean, it’s not exactly that and when I re-read it later that day, I realized he didn’t mean that, but that’s what it sounded like to me. The fact that he very early on says ramen never did anything for him until Yotekko-Ya tells me he’s not a real ramen fan, just a fan of these newer styles.

    There is something to be said for a good, solid, old-fashioned miso ramen, and if he can’t acknowledge that, I don’t know what to do with his opinion.

  53. Reid

    Makes sense. Thanks.

  54. don

    Reid,

    Yokocho is definitely the place to be for ramen. Bario, Tsujita, Baikohken, and the Volcano Ramen place has been getting pretty good buzz. I think I asked you once to ask your brother if he went to any of those places and to see which one is the best.

  55. Reid

    You did? I don’t ever remember that–or I don’t remember what my brother said. (He must have not liked them–otherwise, I think I would have remembered that.)

    Going to Waikiki is a big deterrent for me, but I might have to push through that to try these places.

  56. Mitchell

    The Waimalu Grace’s hung on for a pretty admirable length, after several establishments came and went in that spot, but there’s a sign in the window now saying “Flamingo coming soon” or something like that. That’s disappointing.

    There’s an empty, recently-renovated building at the corner of School and Houghtailing, where Kamehameha Bakery used to be. It’s going to be the second Rainbow’s Drive-In. This is some of the best news about my hood in eons. I’ve already scheduled my angioplasty.

  57. Reid

    I’ve already scheduled my angioplasty.

    Hahaha.

    “Flamingo coming soon” or something like that. That’s disappointing.

    Yeah, although the katsu went downhill in my opinion. That was disappointing.

  58. don

    Mitchell,

    What do you like to get at Rainbow’s?

    Reid,

    I’m going to have to get the Grace’s katsu soon, because the last time I remember it was still good, and still the same. But that could have been a while back. You think they changed the recipe?

    Only one Grace’s left now right?

  59. Mitchell

    I used to hate Rainbow’s, but since they pared back the menu a few years ago, the stuff remaining is pretty good. I dig the boneless chicken and the mix plate (it’s a set plate but I can’t remember what’s in it). Oh, and loco moco of course. They make a big deal about their gravy, which isn’t THAT good but is pretty good.

    Yeah, only one Grace’s I think. They didn’t change the katsu recipe, but they prepare it differently now. They do that thing where after they’ve cut it into pieces, they throw it back in the oil when you order it, so the chicken dries out and gets hard where it’s exposed to the oil. For some reason Reid thinks this sounds appetizing, but it’s not. And my experience has been that they don’t always do this. If you happen to order it at a time when they don’t have any already prepared, you usually get it pretty close to how it was in high school and college. They still have among the better mac salads, though.

  60. don

    Good info all around. Yeah the recooked katsu is a bad move, but I guess I can see why they do it.

  61. Mitchell

    It would be fine if they didn’t cut it into pieces first.

  62. Reid

    Don,

    I suspect they didn’t change the recipe, but how they cook it. It tastes like the chicken has been sitting in one of those warmers, with the hot light above, all day; so it’s dried out, with the crust/skin tasting almost stale. Maybe it’s not as bad as that, but somewhere in that ball park.

    Actually, Mitchell’s description “chicken dries and gets hard” sounds, right. If I said the process was appealing, and Mitchell’s description is accurate, then I was totally wrong.

    One other thing: their portions have shrunk as well. (Note: This applies exclusively to the Pearl City restaurant. I haven’t been to the one on Beretania in ages.)

  63. Mitchell

    I’m actually grateful for the smaller portions.

  64. don

    The portions definitely went down since high school. I would struggle to finish everything on the plate (including all the chow fun) when I used to buy the katsu from Grace’s. There and Soon’s Kalbi’s meat jun just gave unreal amounts. And I could eat much more in high school for sure.

  65. Reid

    I don’t recall ever struggling to finish a Grace’s plate lunch, but I guess that’s not a surprise. I don’t eat as much generally, but the large portions can be turned into two meals, which is pretty cool.

  66. Mitchell

    They’ve gone down, but at least for the katsu, it’s too much food for me.

  67. Reid

    Going to Waikiki for an overnighter. I should have asked you guys this earlier–any recommendations for places to eat? Listen to live music?

  68. Mitchell

    You should see who’s playing at the Blue Note. If it’s someone you’re remotely interested in, it might be worth it.

    For food, the two spots everyone talks about are the new things in International Marketplace and that bottom floor in the Waikiki Plaza (Waikiki Yokocho?). There was some buzz about Leahi Concept Kitchen, the restaurant/classroom for the Kapiolani CC culinary program, which seems interesting.

    I ate at a small, out-of-the-way place late one night, wedged between Kuhio and Kalakaua, on the Diamond-head side (I think). I’ll look for my photos and see if I can remember the name. I wanted something off the usual paths, you know? I had a great meal.

  69. Mitchell

    Oh, I remember. It was Aloha Table. I thought it was maybe a year and a half ago, but it turns out I was there early this year, late at night on my birthday. I had spicy pork ramen and karaage. Both were solid if not stellar. Service was outstanding. There were other interesting things on the menu and I always planned to go back but still haven’t. I kind of forgot it existed until just now. Open 11am to 1am. Nice outdoor lanai seating. No AC.

  70. Reid

    Went to International Marketplace. I really liked Little Lafa. International Smoke had some good things, too. Iʻll write more about them later.

    Might try some place at Yokocho later. Also, will look into the Leahi Concept Kitchen. Thanks for the recommendations.

  71. Reid

    Some quick reviews of the restaurants we ate at in the International Marketplace

    Little Lafa

    This might have been my favorite place. It’s a Middle-Eastern restaurant by Michael Mina, but what we got reminded me of Indian food, especially the rice, which was a flavored basmati rice that reminded me of Biryani. If you like that, I’d recommend getting the plates. I understand Lafa is a type of bread. Honestly, I can’t really tell the difference between that and pita.

    We got the short-rib, which was OK, not great. It was basically a big piece of stew meat.

    We also got the eggplant spread, which came in a yogurt(?) sauce. It was pretty good.

    I want to go back and try their other entres–particularly during 3:00-6:00 when there is a 25% discount. (This applies to all the restaurants in The Street.)

    We also got the falafel tots, which is basically falafelt. They served it with a roasted pepper sauce, similar to the one at Shaloha, but not as good.

    International Smoke House

    This is Aeysha Curry’s restaurant, I believe. Here’s what I tried:

    Coconut curry cornbread: I liked this.
    Mac and Cheese, with burnt ends: Burnt ends were like pulled pork. It was just OK. I liked the mac and cheese. Not anything unique or exceptionally perhaps, but very well-executed in my opinion.
    St. Louis Ribs. Solid, although they didn’t give that much. Some char, but not a lot. Flavor was solid. I’d eat this again, but it’s not something I’d rave about.
    Pastrami: Thick slices. Good. It reminded me of corned beef. (Comes with a slice of rye bread, and some mustard>)

    I got the two choice plate, which comes with two sides (I chose the cornbread and mac and cheese.) It also comes with a refillable drink and garlic rice (which was pretty good). Total was around $24.

    Aloha Shave Ice

    I understand Michell Karr-Ueoka is involved. We got the strawberry hibiscus. It was well-done, but for some reason I wasn’t as enthused about this. It was almost too frou-frou. (I actually preferred something simpler, like at Cafe Plummeria.)

    Kona Coffee Purveyors

    Chocolate banana croissants Don recommended these, and they were good. (We actually went a second time to get them warm.)
    Chocolate chip cookies. This reminded me of Mrs. Fields cookies.

    I liked the chocolate that they use. (This is right next to The Street.)

    I’ll try to write about the places we went to at Waikiki Yokocho later.

  72. Mitchell

    Wait, you went to Kona Coffee Purveyors and didn’t get the black sesame kouign amann?

  73. Reid

    No, but we got the regular kouign amann. I didn’t know the black sesame was the thing to try.

  74. Mitchell

    Making a mental note to take a special ride into Waikiki Friday morning for breakfast.

  75. Reid

    Waikiki Yokocho (I’m not sure if that’s the official name, but I’m too lazy to look it up.)

    Kaneko Hannosuke

    This is a tempura place that I believe is famous in Japan. Anyway, my sister-in-law said it was the best tempura she ate in Hawai’i (or something to that effect). Another friend also recommended it to me. Honestly, when I saw pictures of the food, it didn’t look like anything special. I’m not sure what I expected–maybe something that looked a little different, or something that looked “spikier.” But the tempura looked pretty generic, and not especially large (in terms of the shrimp).

    I felt that when the food came to our table, and I was about to take a bite. It was like: “No way is this going to be exceptional.” Well, after a few bites, I was wrong. In a way the tempura, both in terms of texture and flavor aren’t different from other tempura I’ve eaten. It’s tempura. But the flavor, particularly of the batter was just really, really good. Just think of the taste of tempura, but perfected somehow.

    I shared a premium bowl with Larri, which came with two shrimps, an anago (pretty big piece), a shisito pepper, and some other type of seafood patty. (I want to say it was ika, but I’m not sure.) Without miso soup, I think it was about $20. The daikon oroshi and tsuyu were good. (It comes with a side of choi sum and ginger, in small serving bowls, similar to how you could get pickles from Brent’s.)

    Now, having said that, Larri went back and got the regular tempura bowl. She said it was just ordinary, and she was super disappointed–to the point where she said she wouldn’t go back. (I tried a small piece of her tempura, and I think it wasn’t as good, but I’m not sure.)

    I went to Tsujita to eat tsukemen. I’m not that motivated to right about it, but it was good. I have a feeling you guys might like it a lot more than me. I’ll try to write about it later.

  76. don

    Just some background on the kouign amann, the recipe for this pastry is from a famous San Fran bakery b Patisserie (and thus this name is part of the Kona Coffee Purveyors name). I think in terms of baked goods, it’s probably the first or second thing mentioned in columns of San Fran travel. I thought it was okay, but not worth the price. The bugga is kind of small. I never tried the black sesame one though. Reid what did you think of it?

    Reid, I’m guessing you never went to the tempura restaurant in Ala Moana. It sort of pricey, but I think most think this has the best tempura.

    I’m not a huge fan of tsukemen. In most cases, the tsukemen is not hot enough, because the noodles are often served either cold or room temperature. That is sort of a turn off.

  77. Reid

    I haven’t tried the kouign amann yet. We brought it home. I’m going to put it in the oven later.

    And no, I never went to the tempura place in Ala Moana. I’m assuming it’s not in the food court. If so, where is it?

    I’m not a huge fan of tsukemen. In most cases, the tsukemen is not hot enough, because the noodles are often served either cold or room temperature. That is sort of a turn off.

    I’m just coming to this realization now; I beginning to think this is why I’m not as enthusiastic about tsukemen. Initially, I thought that maybe the shiru just wasn’t doing it for me, but I’m starting to think it has to do with the temperature of the shiru.

    The thing is, I love the noodles that are separated from the broth. I feel like the noodles are chewier and springier, and I really love that. Also, in the shiru of many of the tsukemen I’ve had, they also have some garnish. I absolutely loved this when eating somen, but for some reason, it doesn’t seem to work as well for me with tsukemen. I’m pretty surprised by my reaction so far.

    Then again, it could very well be that the shirus I’ve had weren’t that great.

  78. Mitchell

    Don, are you talking about the udon place upstairs on the Ewa/Mauka side? Looks like a Marukame kind of restaurant?

  79. don

    It’s not a udon place. It sort of looks like a sushi place, because I’m pretty sure there are counter seats like around a sushi bar. The place is called Tempura Ichidai.

    My friend really likes chicken tempura (yes chicken), and prior she could only get it at Epcot (yes Orlando) in the Japan land (or whatever it’s called). She said the chicken tempura at Ichidai is very good. I would point out that I would never get that.

  80. don

    I’ll review a couple of restaurants I been really liking and was meaning to write about, but got lazy.

    The first is Nico’s at Pier 38. I think we had the discussion that this place’s cooking isn’t “all that”, but that the ingredients are really good. I still agree with that notion, although Tracy seems to really like their corn chowder made with local Kahuku corn. The one thing I’ll note is that I used to think they were sort of pricey. I thought they were at Kakaako Kitchen’s prices with $13 plate lunches. But I feel Nico’s prices haven’t changed much since I used to go like five years ago? And now $13 plate lunches doesn’t really seem too pricey.

    My mom took me and the rest of the family to the Nico’s restaurant in Kailua. I got the furukake ahi, which is my go-to dish at their original location. The only difference is at the restaurant it’s served on the plate with grilled vegetables. The vegetables are pretty good, but the price was probably $5 more. Still a decent price, but I think I can just go to the Pier 38 location. I think I may have said this before, but the ahi is about as good as I’ve eaten at the restaurant or in the plastic container.

    The other place is Chengdu Taste. This is in the 808 center and it serves Northern Chinese food. Basically everything or just about everything is spicy or a little spicy. This restaurant has a lot of hype in LA and I think this is their first outside of California. I’ve gotten all kinds of stuff here, and almost everything is really good. They have this braised pig leg (pork hock or like the piece Pata is made from) that is awesome. I think one of the LA’s popular dishes is the spicy fish dish. It’s just the regular fish fillet you get at the Cantonese places, but in this spicy soup. I haven’t tried that, but got a similar dish but instead of spicy it’s served with pickled vegetables. That’s pretty darn good. We’ve gotten the spicy beef noodle dish that is popular among Northern Chinese places and that’s good as well. I’ve gotten a lot of other stuffs but just too lazy to write about it. I think I’ve been about three or four times already.

  81. Mitchell

    I don’t like Nico’s nearly as much as when they were just that little takeout place.

    My favorite boba spot is in the 808 Center. You should try it if you like smoothies or boba.

  82. Mitchell

    As I promised myself, I had breakfast at Kona Coffee Purveyors this morning. Finally tried the black sesame kouign amann and a cup of the 100% Kona coffee.

    At first bite, I thought the pastry was good, but nothing special. I mean, it was tasty and sweet and delicious, but so are all the other pastries, you know?

    But with my second bite, I noticed differences. Eaten slowly, the pastry revealed layers of flavors I found almost heavenly. The kouign amann has a crunchy, burnt sugar bottom, which is what you taste first, but as it fades, you get the flavors from the layers of croissant-like pastry. It’s buttery and creamy and eggy and vanilla-y, and something about those thin layers of dough seems to make the flavor renew itself, like pages flipped through quickly in a book, each leaf printed with the same image.

    I think of sesame as having a very distinct flavor. Not strong necessarily, but a taste that stands out in stark contrast to whatever it’s on, but here the black sesame is strangely subtle, and I didn’t really notice it until maybe my fourth bite, and then it was what I looked forward to as I finished up. The progression of different flavors really impresses me, especially alternated with such a good cup of coffee.

    The coffee has a fruity front, which normally I don’t care much for, but at least it’s lightly fruity. The cup’s redeeming grace is its clean finish. It’s almost palate-cleansing, setting you up for either another sip of coffee or another bite of pastry.

    It was a $6 pastry and a $4 cup of coffee, so it’s not something I’ll have every morning, but I’ll have it again. Totally worth it.

  83. Don

    Mitchell,

    Next time try the Chocolate Banana Croissant. This may be the only pastry Reid and I have agreed upon. Reid credits my palate to marrying a Chinese, but I remember when we used to go to Liliiha Bakery, he and Gregg would get Bear Claws and Cinnamon Rolls and I would get butter rolls.

    It definitely sounds like you enjoyed the kouign amann. You wrote, “Eaten slowly…”, and maybe that was my problem. I didn’t eat it slow enough to get my $6 worth. Nah, actually I just tried a piece of my brother’s.

  84. Mitchell

    I’ve made it my practice to stop at Baker Dudes on Alakea when someone at work is having a birthday or is leaving the foundation. Just to pick up a three-pack of cookies. They do good work there, and not a lot of people seem to know about it, so it’s a good gift. I usually pick up the three-pack of snickerdoodles for six bucks.

    Since I’m cutting way back on empty carbs, I usually don’t grab something for myself, but this morning I grabbed a cinnamon amann, which for their purposes is basically a stuffed croissant baked in a muffin tin.

    It’s only a buck, and it’s pretty dang good. Flaky as you’d expect, and very buttery (“kouign amann” means buttery cake), but it lacked the sublime layers of flavor that the Kona Coffee Purveyors kouign has, and it doesn’t have the hardened sugar. Still, it’s five bucks less! A good deal, and it didn’t feel like I did anything too sinful.

  85. Mitchell

    Okay, I miscalculated just about everything about this post. I wasn’t paying attention, and grabbed the snickerdoodles off the day-old shelf, so the price on those was $4, not the usual $6 I’m used to paying. Also, it’s not a three-pack of cookies on the snickerdoodles; it’s a two-pack. And I don’t know why I called it a stuffed croissant. It’s just a croissant with stuff in it or on it.

    Which means I paid $7 in all: $4 for the cookies and $3 for the cinnamon amann. Still not a bad deal. Half the price of the Kona Coffee Purveyors. They have a parmesan amann and a sugar amann too, neither of which I’ve tried.

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