Sunday, April 10, 2011

Great Hawaiian Lunch Wagon Festival

So what to do on a Saturday?  We decided to go to the "Great Hawaiian Lunch Wagon Festival" at Kaka'ako Park.  :D  I was so happy that the Husby suggested this... we got there and immediately did the rounds so that we'd know what each wagon had to offer.  And these are the ones that we chose... 

We decided to start with Joe Aloha's wagon... The Husby went ahead
and got their "Smoked Ribs with their very own BBQ sauce".  It came
with a scoop of rice sprinkled with furikake and a small helping of salad.  We were both happy and unhappy with this... the BBQ sauce is definitely what made the ribs awesome, but the ribs themselves were hard on the outside, but super soft and juicy on the inside.  :(  But that didn't stop us from devouring our plate.

Most times you can find Joe Aloha's lunch wagon on the corner of Kamakee and Kawaihao in front of Ala Moana Self-Storage M-F 10am - 1pm.  

Also, you can friend them on Facebook or even follow them on Twitter.  

We then saw that our friends from Popcorn Express were present with their sweet & salty kettle corn!!!  They offer their kettle corn in a variety of colors (yep, you can get them to match your event!) and in the standard white also.

Popcorn Express can be found at 2478 South Beretania St.  (the parking lot across the old Star Market near University) on most Saturdays.

The Husby and I LOVE their kettle corn... so much so that we had to have it at our wedding reception!  *more on that in another blog entry*

We were surprised and happy to see that they remembered us... and gave us a bag of their yummy popcorn to take home and munch on!

Thanks Duane for the popcorn!!!  And yep, if we have a kid... you know we'll be contacting you guys for the baby's first birthday!

I knew that I wanted to try Manaia's Lobster Wagon after seeing their interview with Steve Uyehara from Sunrise on Hawaii News Now.  Man, their food looked DELICIOUS!!!  They had 4 different lobster dishes on their menu... most for $5 each, except the HALF lobster plate.  Well, I opted for the lobster spaghetti... chunks of lobster meat that were dripping with garlic butter served on a bed of spaghetti, with a grilled piece of bread to help you sop up all that butter!!  And when I say that the lobster was dripping... I think I meant SWIMMING in butter.  It was a messy but very tasty dish!  My poor bread though was drenched by the end of the meal... and it had to be tossed.

Manaia's Lobster Wagon can be found in Kahuku near Kahuku High School across from Tita's Grill.  It was a very popular wagon... the man in front of me in line asked if I'd ever had their food before,  I told him "no, but I had watched their interview and their food looked so GOOD!!!"  He said that he had watched the same interview and that's also what prompted him to stand in line.  *laugh*  Like I said, they  had a HUGE line, which moved fairly quickly... it was the wait for your food to be cooked that was the downer!  I personally waited for about 20 - 30 minutes AFTER I had placed my order... which gave the Husby enough time to get the samplings from the 2 other trucks listed.  Thankfully the food didn't disappoint!

Up Close Picture of my Lobster Spaghetti

 We also got a plate from Kazu's lunch wagon... their Kazu Special!!  It was packed with a full size Spam Musubi, Furikake Fried Chicken, Teri Beef and Chow Fun!  It was awesome!  The spam musubi had that "shoyu" taste that we can't seem to replicate when we make ours at home, so it was devoured selfishly by the Husby... while he complained about the "furikake" fried chicken being devoid of furikake... whatever, it was crispy on the outside and the meat wasn't dry at all - a winner in my book!  The teri beef was soft and full of flavor - as was the chow fun, brimming with spam, bean sprouts and green onions!  *sigh*  I'm getting that "full" feeling just looking at this picture.

Our first lunch wagon festival!!!  I can only hope that we'll be better prepared (Starved) for the next one, so that we can eat more than just 3 plates.  *sigh*  The cool thing about this festival is that all the proceeds went towards the Hawaii Children's Discovery Center, an interactive environment that encourages kids to play and learn!!!  What a great cause!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Jang Su - Waimalu Bar-B-Q

I have cravings... and no, I'm NOT pregnant (this is how rumors are started!) and it just so happened that on this particular day, I was craving tofu soup.  Now the best tofu soup I've ever had was at So Gong Dong in the McCully Shopping Center.  But since I wasn't about to sit in traffic just to satisfy an itch... we headed out to my 2nd favorite place... Jang Su at the Waimalu Plaza.  :D

Bi Bim Bap
The Husby always struggles with what to order (mainly cause he can't remember what he's ordered in the past)... but he ended up getting the Bi Bim Bap (mixed veggies & beef over rice, with a fried egg).  It came in a stone pot and was still "cooking" the food in the bowl!  I had tried this before at Sorabol and didn't like the way it crisped up my rice... but he seemed to like it.  "It tastes like kakimochi!" ha ha to each, his own I say!  His dish came with an array of veggies - cabbage, mushrooms, shredded daikon, bean sprouts and choi sum and a smattering of beef with an egg in the middle.  You're supposed to mix it all together... that way the stone bowl "cooks" the egg while it coats the food.  :D  I just think of it as playing with your food.  It was fun to watch.

Tofu Soup - *Spicy*

I on the other hand knew exactly what I wanted.  "Tofu Soup please!" Now the only question I had yet to answer was... "spicy? mild?" I chose spicy... which was a mistake.  I wouldn't say that it was too spicy for my palate, but I couldn't taste anything BUT the spiciness of the dish... which was a shame since I was looking forward to eating the tofu soup for all the wonderful flavors in the dish.  :(  Their tofu soup is chock full of tofu (duh!), clams, abalone and zucchini.  It comes boiling hot to the table... in fact, it was still boiling while we waited for Husby's dish to come to the table.  It also comes with a bowl of rice... I heart rice!

The side dishes... and my tofu soup
 As you can see in the picture above... our meals came with 6 side dishes.  The usual kim chee, bean sprouts, choi sum, and shredded pickled daikon, but we LOVED the potato side dish (it's in the far left of the picture)... it was yummy, sweet and salty and cooked just right. The flat strips are I think some kind of fish kamaboko thing... it was okay, but since the Husby is allergic, he couldn't partake.

Now for some facts about Jang Su...

  • located at 98-1277 Kaahumanu St. Aiea, HI 96701
  • phone number: 808-487-2646 (they do take-out!)
  • Jang Su has a large menu with offerings of both authentic Korean cuisine and local tastes... AND yakiniku (cook your own food on a grill at your table!).  
So if you're craving Korean food, you don't have to drive to town to get it... 

Happy eating! Oh and feel free to post comments below... would love to hear what you think!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Happy Hour @ Amuse

Last night B and I decided to have "P" night at Amuse.  If you're unfamiliar with Amuse - it's a self-serve wine bar.  They offer over 80 different bottles of wines (both red and white) for your tasting (1 ounce) pleasures.  Our goal for the evening was to get into and sample their happy hour menu and special (Mondays & Wednesdays - aka "Wine Tasters Night" pay $30 to get an Amuse Bar card worth $50).  Happy hour is from 5 - 8 and they have specialty drinks & a happy hour menu where everything is $5! 

We ordered:
  • Steamed Edamame (basketful) - lightly seasoned with salt & steamed to PERFECTION!
  • BBQ Seasoned "Frites" (basketful) - french fries with a BBQ seasoning served with ketchup and a chili pepper aioli... one of the best things we ate all night. 
  • Grilled Cheese Sandwiches (2 slices halved) - made with their house made baguette and havarti cheese, with truffle essence.  We weren't really that impressed it reminded us not of grilled cheese but of a cheese toast/bread from an Italian restaurant... made us long for our childhood version of white bread & kraft american cheese!
  • Asian Pork Sliders (3) - pulled pork in an asian sauce served in a bao with pickled ginger and cucumber slices.  This was good... kind of messy and sweet.  
  • 3 Cheese Pizza (mini pizza 6 slices) - I don't recall what the cheeses were... but this was by far the worst thing we ordered... :(  It came to us cold & stiff... sad.  B said it was "okay"... 
  • Cheese Sampler (3 different cheeses; if you get crackers it's a $1 extra) - I'm not a cheese person... but I knew that one of the samplings was Brie (thanks B for pointing that one out!) but the other two were a mystery to me... but I gotta say, they were GOOD!  In fact, one of them tasted like the inside of a grilled cheese sandwich sans the bread.  Mmm... now if I only knew the name. 
  • Circus Circus specialty drink - Midori, Stoli Apple, Sweet & Sour served with a cotton candy garnish. This drink was uh... well it tasted like watermelon.  How the heck this tasted like watermelon was beyond me... but I did not likey.  But you know to be truthful?  I only ordered it cause it came with a lil cotton candy... HA HA 
  • Apple & Blueberry Crisp - which was served with honey ice cream and caramel sauce.  I'm a sucker for caramel and our waiter recommended it.  B thought it was too sweet... and it was.  Almost too much to keep eating, but I did... and so did she.   This was NOT a $5 special, but I so wanted a dessert... :D
We of course took our new Amuse wine cards for a spin around the wine dispensers - which is pretty awesome... you see you're given a wine glass and a card (much like a gift card) and you're free to roam around to peruse the variety of wines and their prices.  The prices of the wines that were up for sampling ranged from $1.33 - $4.29 per 1 ounce.  While sampling, I realized something I already knew... I'm not a fan of red... and I'm definitely a fan of Moscato (tasted like grape juice) and Reisling (a sweet white wine).   :(  Go figure.  It's easy to get tipsy as you walk around sampling the wines 1 ounce at a time so be sure to either give yourself enough time to sober up or have a designated driver.  :D  Arrive Alive!  

Sadly, I did not bring my camera - shame too since we nearly ordered everything on the happy hour menu. ha ha Oh well, more reason to go back!  

A few facts about Amuse Wine Bar
  • located at the Honolulu Design Center: 1250 Kapiolani Blvd, Honolulu HI 96814                Phone: 808-237-5429
  • Happy Hour M-F from 5pm - 8pm
  • Menu - this is their bar menu, they don't have a posting of their happy hour menu 
Happy eating!  

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Soul Cuisine with Aloha & Spice

After reading the MANY reviews on Yelp, I just knew that I had to try this place!!! And because the Husby is both smart AND listens, he made sure that one of the places he bought gift cards for my birthday included Soul Cuisine.

So we made the trek to Kaimuki and while we were lucky to find a spot in their very small and full parking lot... it was purely by chance.  We were ready to give up... but then a spot opened up!!!  Yay!  It was a rainy friday night, and it was also First Friday - so that might've accounted for the restaurant being so empty.

We were seated quickly and told that if we wanted water it was self-serve and that when we were ready to order, we should come to the "window" to order.   We took our time, reading their menu and discussing what we were going to share.  We decided to have their "Chicken, Sweet Potato, Kukui Spicy Portuguese Sausage Gumbo", and their "Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Chili".

Chicken, Sweet Potato, Kukui Spicy Portuguese Sausage Gumbo

I had read that the gumbo was spicy (some wrote that it was even too spicy for some palates)... so I had warned the Husby (who is more sensitive to spices than I am) and we found that while it did have notes of spiciness, it wasn't so much that we weren't able to eat it.  The gumbo was what I had originally ordered as MY dish, but by the end of the meal... it became the Husby's.  I found that the gumbo had too many flavors going on at once... and for some reason the only word that comes to mind is karai (which means... "spicy" in Japanese).  It was good tho... full of flavor with just a kick of spiciness.

  Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Chili 

The Husby's dinner choice was the Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Chili which came with an assortment of sides - buttermilk cilantro coleslaw, cornbread and Ma'o Farms collard greens.  There were 2 thigh pieces that were fried to perfection... the meat just fell off the bone!!  And even though it was fried... it didn't have an oily taste to it... in fact, the skin actually had a sweetness to it.  It was yummy!!  I saved the rest of my skin for the end of the meal so that I could savor it correctly.  I <3 fried chicken skin!

The Vegetarian Chili was full of spices and just the right compliment to the fried chicken... again, YUM!  Being a local... when you order fried chicken or chili - you expect rice, right?  Well this dish did not come with it... but it wasn't missed at all, maybe cause when you think about it... it wouldn't have matched anyway.  

I'm not a fan of cilantro so I didn't care for the coleslaw... but the Husby (who also doesn't normally care for cilantro) ate it by the forkful!  I was more impressed with the collard greens.  They were awesome... I'm not an aficionado on soul food, but this really spoke to me.  I had only tried collard greens once before in Alabama while on a visit to my brother and his family and Soul Cuisine's collard greens just took me back there.  It was bitter and flavorful and I loved it... I couldn't get enough of it.  If I could have licked the plate (without fear that it would end up on youtube or FB), I might have.  

Now the only thing I haven't described is the cornbread.  Both the Husby and I found that the cornbread best complimented the gumbo.  It was moist, buttery and sweet... and just the right texture to help sop up the last remnants of the gumbo left on our plate.  

Now here are a few facts about Soul Cuisine...
  • Sean Priester, the Master Chef and owner of Soul Cuisine and Soul Patrol (a lunch truck) used to be the Executive Chef at Top of Waikiki from 2004 - 2009
  • Mr Priester is on twitter
  • Website:
  • Hours of Operation: Tues - Thurs 11am -9pm; Fri - 11am -10pm; Sat - 9am -10pm and Sundays -10:30am to 8pm
  • Located at: 3040 Waialae Ave, Honolulu, HI 96818; Phone Number: 808-735-SOUL (7685)
  • If you have an iPhone and the app "foursquare" - they have a special that can be unlocked if you check in 3 times.  
Happy Eating!!! :D

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

California Pizza Kitchen - aka CPK

  • Did you know that California Pizza Kitchen was established by two lawyers named Rick Rosenfield and Larry Flax?  They opened their first CPK in March 1985 in Beverly Hills, CA.  
  • In total there are 265 locations of CPK in 32 states and 10 foreign countries.  
  • Since August of 2000, they are a publicly traded company - ticker symbol is CPKI
  • Website:
For date night... the Husby and I decided to go to one of our "go to" places... CPK at Pearlridge!!!  This is actually the first restaurant we ate at when we first met... it's a part of our history.  Besides being a part of our "love story"... we happen to just love eating here because we always know what we're going to get.  Mainly because we always (nearly always) get the same thing... 

The Original BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad... 

A mixture of chopped lettuce, corn, jicama, black beans, tomatoes, basil, monterey jack cheese and crispy tortilla chips and their herb ranch dressing, topped off with chicken breast and a tangy BBQ sauce.  It normally comes with cilantro also, but we order ours without it.  We tend to order the "full" version to share, but if you're going solo... the half is more than enough of a meal.  It's a very hearty salad... full of taste sensations for your mouth ranging from crunchy, to sweet, to tangy. 

We also ordered their Portobello Mushroom Ravioli in their garlic cream sauce.  

We had only ordered this once before... and it left a great impression on us.  However, this time... there were crunchy bits in the ravioli that made you wonder "what was that?!".  But the overall flavor was good... the ravioli were filled with chopped up portobello mushrooms, herbs and cheese, covered in their garlic cream sauce.  It was good, tho I probably would have liked a little more sauce on my ravioli, but that's cause I'm a "sauce" kind of girl.  

They do offer this dish with a red sauce (tomato/basil) and with grilled mushrooms (for an extra cost).  I think next time if we order this, I want to try it with the red sauce.  

Our other "go to" items are the Pepperoni Pizza (the Husby's fave!) and their Spinach-Artichoke Dip.  
Both of which are super good, but I'm thinking that we'll need to expand our personal menu soon.  Speaking of which, when we paid we were told that if we come back in 7 days and bring our receipt, we can get 20% off our next bill.  OMG!!!  Looks like we'll be heading back again SOON! Yay!!!

They currently have 6 locations on Oahu and 1 on Maui.  You can find out more information by heading over to their website...

Happy eating!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Max's of Manilla - Iwilei Location

My first visit to Max's was at their Waipahu location a few years back with a friend who knows of my love for Filipino food.  He enthusiastically said "we have to go to Max's!!!", he then explained that Max's is an establishment in the Philippines, and that they're known for their chicken.

Here are a few facts about Max's...

  • Established in 1945 after World War II, by Maximo Gimenez (a Stanford - educated teacher). 
  • Maximo's niece Ruby came up with the recipe for their chicken, prompting Max's to be known as "the house that chicken built".  

We ordered their chicken (of course), pinacbet, rice and lechon kawali.  I have to say that I was thoroughly impressed by their chicken... it had to be the crispiest, yet juiciest chicken I had ever had.  I'm only assuming that the rest of the food was good... but not memorable as I can only remember the chicken.  ha ha  After having the best chicken I had ever had... I knew that it was only a matter of time before I brought the boyfriend (now husby) there too. 

So fast forward to about a year ago and it's now the Husby's turn to try their awesome chicken and it was... dry, over-fried and not as awesome as my first time.  Which was a shame cause I had gone on and on about it.  

Needless to say, he was quite hesitant to try Max's again... but I'm so glad that we did.  We had gone in with the full intention of giving their chicken another shot, but we ended up ordering their Pancit Bihon (without shrimp), Crispy Pata and a small order of rice. 

Pancit Bihon

The pancit came out first and we dug in.  OH. MY. GOODNESS. It was like a flavor explosion in our mouths (well mine anyway).  The ratio of rice noodles, to vegetables, to pork was perfect!!!  Every bite had a little bit of everything and everything tasted good!!!  You should know that as I'm writing this, I am salivating.  ha ha

Crispy Pata

Next came out the Crispy Pata, which is deep fried pork knuckles.  If you have ever had pork rinds, this is exactly what the crispy pata tastes like, but with meat attached to it.  However, the oiliness of the dish did get to us eventually.   But the thing that totally made the dish for me was the dipping sauce that it came with... a spicy, fishy, vinegar concoction that I couldn't resist dipping everything into.  

We left Max's full and happy... a little overstuffed but fans definitely.  Can't wait to go back... 

If you're interested in going to Max's they have 2 locations in Hawai'i... 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tony Roma's

A few facts:

  • Tony Roma's is the largest casual theme restaurant chain specializing in ribs in the world. 
  • The first "Tony Roma's" was built in North Miami, Florida in 1972.
  • The first international Tony Roma's, a franchise was opened in Japan in 1979, while the first domestically franchised restaurant was opened in 1982 in San Jose, California. 
Last night the Husby and I went out to celebrate and it's funny how Tony Roma's is nearly always brought up.  It's kind of a running joke between us - because really?  Who celebrates stuff at Tony Roma's?  Apparently, we do!

Despite a crowd, we were seated fairly quickly - and noted that it had been a while since we'd been there.  The decor of the restaurant had changed significantly - and according to the husby - it felt less "fine dining" because it's more lit now.  That's right... he thought Tony Roma's was "fine dining"... which explains a lot. 

We started off with their onion loaf  - made of giant hand-cut Spanish onions that were breaded, deep fried and served with their original BBQ sauce.  Which we noted was a little bit more spicy this time around... the Husby thinks that they might have used a different sauce.  I liked it... the spiciness gave it that extra oomph.  **we didn't get a picture cause as soon as it came we cut into it like a pair of starving dogs. ha ha 

We then ordered our entrees... I had their Smoked Tri Tip, with baked potato (sour cream, butter and chives please), ranch style beans and a side caesar salad.  The tri tip came pre sliced into three medallions and were placed on a bed of onion rings.  I was thoroughly disappointed with my meal... the meat was very tough, unflavored and dry.  You also couldn't order it cooked to your liking... it came well-done and I happen to like my meat a little more on the medium-rare side.  But the sides were great... their baked potato (which I mashed into the consistency of mashed potatoes) and their ranch style beans complemented the meal wonderfully.  The caesar salad, which was good... had a little too much dressing, I'll have to remember to get that "on the side" next time around.    

Smoked Tri Tip

The Husby ordered their Baby Back Ribs - Full Slab, with baked potato (Fully loaded - sour cream, butter, no-chives, bacon, cheese, at no extra cost), and their green beans. At first, he claimed that he would be able to eat the whole thing... what a laugh!!  He did make a pretty decent dent by the end of the night, but he left 3 ribs and most of his baked potato on his plate.  

Baby Back Ribs - Full Slab
We were thinking of having one of their desserts, but decided to forgo dessert and give our waistbands a little breathing room.  They do have a nice selection and they even have "mini" portions of some of their desserts.  I know that I'll be having their apple crisp (I'm a sucker for apple anything with caramel & ice cream!) the next time we find something to celebrate!