Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Sushi So Good

I can't for the life of me remember the name of this Honolulu sushi den. But what I do remember is this: The unassuming eatery situated in a run-down (dare I say, decrepit) strip mall puts out some very fine, melt-in-your-mouth-like-buttah sushi/sashimi. It also kicks out a host of other fun and tasty eats such as grilled rice on a stick (looks like a corndog but isn't), marinaded beef tongue, chicken teriyaki skewers and agedashi tofu.

It's SP and her pals go-to sushi joint. I can see why.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Rack 'Em Up

After losing our way not once but twice on our drive back from Kilauea Volcano, we were tired and cranky and jonesing for some food on the double. So, we decided the best solution was to check out the steakhouse a stone's throw from our hotel. Both my dad and sister opted for the baby-back ribs not realizing the entire rack was what they'd be getting. The picture doesn't do the ribs justice, but I think ma soeur's look of fright does. She managed to do a fair job of it, working her way through two-thirds of the meaty main. The ribs were pretty damn delicious: falling off the bone, well-seasoned and saucy. I was happy to take one rib off her hands (my dish isn't even worth mentioning. blah!). Made me think I still need to check out Memphis Minnie's one of these days. I hear good things ...

Happy Holidays

Just wanted to send best wishes to all during this holiday season. Teddy wasn't too happy having to pose with the reindeer last year, but he suffered through it nobly. I'll be hanging out with him and my folks very soon. Will have to get him a tasty treat for being such a good boy. See y'all next year!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Brenda's French Soul Food

If y'all happen to be in the neighborhood where Brenda's French Soul Food is situated, you better hightail it on over there. Late of Oritalia and Ma Tante Sumi, chef and owner Brenda Buenviaje truly has the Midas touch when it comes to comfort food. Yes, I'm a tad biased since I groveled as her kitchen grunt years ago. However, the folks I rustled up for breakfast all agreed: her New Orleans-style beignets (chocolate, Granny Smith apple and crawfish), cream biscuits, grits and potato hash (I could go on) are knock-your-socks-off delicious.

Them thar spicy crawfish beignets were my favorite among the bunch.

Buttery, creamy, luscious grits. One gal loved 'em so much, she literally scraped the bowl clean.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Roy's on the Big Island

My sister planned a lovely little side trip to the Big Island during our week-plus stay in Hawaii. While there, we had a hefty and better-than-average meal at Roy's in Kailua-Kona. Here's SP enjoying the prix fixe appetizer sampler with baby back rib, veggie spring roll and a skewered grilled shrimp. I opted for the same, and give it a thumbs up.

My sis went for the salmon entree while I chose a local fish called opah. Both were pretty good. But it was my dad's entree that ruled: the lamb with mashed kabocha, broccoli rabe and watercress on top. Holy toledo. It was amazing. My dad was so pleased; he knew he had the winning meal, and kept saying so. Luckily, Roy's gives generous portions, so he shared his bounty with me.

Super creative? No, but pretty damn tasty.

The succulent lamb paired with the peppery cress and sweet kabocha mash reigned supreme.

My ma was quite pleased with her surf n' turf of Szechwan spiced baby back ribs and grilled sesame shrimp.

Dinner ended on a sweet note with molten chocolate soufflé and a dollop of vanilla ice cream.

A Tropical Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving this year was held a day late and in a tropical setting: Hawaii, where my sister lives. Despite being super jet-lagged (I flew in that morning from Korea), I managed to make a few hearty sides with an assist from ma soeur, while my mom took on the bird.

The 2007 menu included:

- 19-pound turkey a la mom (moister than it's been in years)
- green bean casserole a la Cook's Illustrated
- mashed sweet potato casserole a la Epicurious
- pistachio-apricot-mint bread dressing a la Bon Appetit
- cranberry sauce a la Ocean Spray (no, not from a can)
- sweet potato pie with whipped cream a la Martha Stewart
- apple pie from a local bakery

This is my fave holiday and one of the few times I look forward to having leftovers. And we had lots of 'em.

Those Quirky Koreans

Chicken alfredo or pasta primavera in a waffle cone? Hmmmm, gotta say these didn't really appeal, though I did notice a few folks inside, going to town on these large hand-held oddities. Call me crazy (or boring?), but I like my pasta in a bowl and my ice cream in a cone.

I have, however, partaken of one of the many "nutrition centers" sprinkled throughout Seoul. They specialize in chicken soup served in a big bowl with a whole bird sitting in the piping hot broth that's spiked with ginseng. Perfect when you're under the weather or looking to warm up from the wintry cold.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Odeng at Midnight

My final food foray in Korea was a midnight trip to a nearby odeng (fishcake) vendor. My aunt had announced at dinner that she would take me there that night, but I really didn't think it would happen. After all, she'd been falling asleep on the couch, in a failing attempt to watch her favorite soap opera, by about 9:30 to 10 p.m. every night during my stay. And in fact, I'd been getting to bed before 11 p.m. daily. Tonight was no exception. However, my uncle (who tends to burn the midnight oil) rousted us both out of of bed and out into the bitter cold.

I was glad he had. Despite the below-freezing temps, folks were out and about, and a small crowd was already enjoying the odeng that my uncle and aunt so love.

All you do is walk right up and grab a stick of your choice out of the simmering water (the tips are color-coded based on the type of fishcake skewered onto it), pour yourself some of the fish broth to sip on and set up some dipping sauce in a bowl. Uncle gobbled down four skewers to eemo's one. I passed on the odeng entirely. Not really my thing, though I did drink down some of the lovely hot broth. And I was happy to try some of the set-your-mouth-on-fire spicy rice dumplings ordered on the side.

All in all, a really good time, and a wonderful trip all-round. Thanks, eemo and uncle!

Home-Made Tofu

Uncle and eemo took me to a tofu house, one of many dotting the base of one of the mountains looming on the outskirts of Seoul. As we drove in, the area reminded me of one of the ski villages in Lake Tahoe, with alpine sports stores and rough-hewn log cabin-like eateries cramming the winding streets. Back to the subject at hand: the tofu. Made fresh daily on the premises, the soft soy had the texture of silky smooth custard and a mild, almost milky flavor. Dressed with a bit of chili pepper-laced soy sauce and a sprinkling of scallions, it made for a really tasty meal.

Of course, tofu wasn't all we ate. We also put away helpings of fish, steamed rice, salad, fermented bean soup, pickled veg, pork and sweet potatoes. That said, the tofu was by far the star of the show.


Just a few more posts from my trip to Korea. South Korean-style mandoo (steamed potstickers) accompanied by Japanese udon, soba and tonkatsu for a heart- and belly-warming lunch at the Hyundai shopping mall.