Recently, Steve and I met some friends at one of our favorite sushi restaurants Mitch’s Honolulu Fish Market and Sushi Bar . We were surprised to find that Mitch’s had a newly expanded their dining room. Continue reading
Category Archives: Around Town
April 1, 2013, One of my new most favorite places in this world is Kahana Bay in Kaaawa. It’s not for everyone because it’s so far out of the way, and the weather is usually cloudy, rainy, and windy on this side of the island.
Luckily, I live nearby and a little rain and wind doesn’t get me down. Kahana Bay is one of those places that makes me stop and remember how insignificant humans are and how powerful mother nature is. Continue reading
Saturday February 9, 2013 five friends and I went to Vintage Cave Honolulu for an extravagant experience. This covert “man cave” has been all the talk ever since its opening a couple months ago. The allure: an uber fine dining restaurant dreamed up 20 years ago by Japanese real estate investor Takeshi Sekiguchi, a talented risk taking young chef named Christopher Kajioka, a secret location in the basement of Ala Moana Center, $50,000 memberships, and amazing prix fixe menu at a stiff price of $295 per person.
After reading all the obscure articles and blog posts on the Vintage Cave, heading to dinner that night I was extremely excited, nervous, and frankly intimidated. So how was it? I have got to say this place is not for the weary and is meant for the privileged and wealthy. Reservations are mandatory and pre-paying for the $295 prix fixe menu is required. If that doesn’t scare you off then the dark brick decor, low lights, cold air, and multi-million dollar art collection might?
Yes the decor and feel of the “restaurant” (I put restaurant in quotes because I felt like I was in a old French Villa rather than at a restaurant) was dark and intimidating, but the service and staff was far from that. We were all warmly welcomed and had the 10-star treatment by our own personal butler, hostess, beverage manager, and full service staff.
Upon arrival, we had a 10 minute tour of the Vintage Cave’s art collection (which was Sekiguchi’s own private collection), bar/lounge, dining area, and a private room with even more surprises. Here are some photos of the restaurant (even the restroom).
Now let’s talk food. This dinner was like no other I had ever experienced and to me it was more like a show than dining. To say Chef Kajioka is creative would be a huge understatement. I can see why critics call him crazy and risky. The four courses totaling 24 offerings were delicious melodies of world class ingredients with off the wall presentations and was really just a cluster fuck of genius.
Some of my favorites through out this elaborate 4 1/2 hour dinner was the Vanilla Bean Macaron Caviar, Russian Uni Ham Filled Black Truffle, Kona Abalone Nori Mushroom, and a plate of Petits Fours that blew my mind. Even though the portions are small, by the end of the meal all 6 of us were full and satisfied. I really loved the plays on the sweet and savory food in one dish.
The wine and alcohol at Vintage Cave was stellar. For example their vodka choices ranged from typical Grey Goose to Tito’s Texas, to Czechoslovakian. The wine list was also equally impressive, and you could get really great wines by the glass. I have to praise them for bypassing Young’s Market and bringing in custom orders of hand picked liquor.
Overall, I really liked Vintage Cave and would go back. This dining experience is NOT for everyone and can only be appreciated by those with open minds and fat wallets. In my opinion, it’s not going out to dinner, but participating in a fine art show and culinary adventure. I would love to get into the brain of Chef Kajioka and see what he was thinking when he created some of these dishes! Take a look at photos of all the food we tried that night…
January 31, 2013 I happened to be up on the north shore playing hooky from work and heard the Volcom Pipe Pro was ON. My buddy Brittany and I biked over to the contest and watched a few heats in the morning.
There was a north west swell building out at Pipeline with a little wind on it, which made the waves a little hairy for the competitors. Surfers had to choose their waves wisely to avoid going over the falls or breaking a board.
Kawai Lindo walked away today with a ”Electric Perfect 10″ and $1,000 cash prize! The weather was sub par with gray skies and cool trades, but I was glad anyway to be laying on the beach at one of the best surf spots in the world.
I went to Rakuen Sushi Bar and Lounge downtown for the first time. This is Chinatown’s first sushi bar and lounge located on Bethel Street next to JJ Dolans. I was pleasantly surprised to find a new fun bar with good food, drinks, and excellent service. Downtown really needed a sushi and sake place, so Rakuen has filled the void. They serve lunch and dinner with a menu of pupus, salads, don bowls, and sushi rolls. The food I tried wasn’t the best sushi of my life, but it was above average fresh and tasty food.
My favorite thing about my first visit to Rakuen was the service. The bar staff, waitresses, and management were very prompt, friendly, and attentive. We had a large party of people that night and the manager/owner (not sure what he was) who helped us get a table was sooo very nice. He gave us a free bottle of sake for waiting, free french fries, and was very and nice, which can be hard to find in a busy downtown bar.
The other thing that was unusually great about this place is that every day at the end of happy hour the same manager/owner guy plays Jan Ken Po (Rock Paper Scissors) game with the whole bar for $50. As it turns out that night with my strange luck I WON!!
If you want to hit the downtown bar scene and have a craving for sake and sushi, you can now have your cake and eat it too with Rakuen. If you want a chance at $50 be there for their daily Jan Ken Po game around 7 pm.
What a beautiful Sunday in Hawaii nei! I woke up early and drove out to north shore to beat the crowds and the wind. The waves at Laniakea were a little wobbly, but clean, about 2-3+, but only about 10 guys out. I opted for the not-as-good-waves-as-Chuns, but no crowd. Beautiful day, surfing on the north shore, I can’t complain…
Hilo Rice Noodle Soup! What a mouth full and what a weird name, right? Steve and I were in Hilo looking for a quick bite to eat, and I stumbled upon this hole in the wall after reading a couple good reviews on Four Square.
Hilo Rice Noodle Soup is located on 1990 Kinoole Street in a ghost town shopping center near a crack seed store. It’s really important to know that because there is no signage for the restaurant!
This place is an outdated take out and sit down restaurant that serves home cooked Chinese and Vietnamese food. The menu is extensive with favorites like pho, pot stickers, chow fun, and every Chinese food dish you can think of.
Steve got the Kung Pao Chicken ($8.15) (he starting eating too fast before I could get a photo in) and I got the Tofu Vegetable Pho ($10). Steve’s chicken came with rice, egg drop soup, and a huge won ton chip. It was a tasty traditional dish with fresh zucchini.
My pho was shocking delicious. It looked very plain and unremarkable, but I have got to say it was one of the best soups I had ever had! It was a clear looking broth, not like the typical beef or pho broth I’m use to that is on the cloudy or darker side, but it was super delicious! I was also impressed with all the wonderful choi sum and other fresh vegetables that came in my soup. I was feeling a little lethargic and after my soup I felt alive and healthy!
I am interested to visit Hilo Rice Noodle Soup again and try other items on the menu. If you’ve been here and can recommend any dishes please comment below!
I have a love-hate relationship with Los Angeles, California. I love to visit L.A. because there is so much to do, the food is amazing, there is gorgeous sunny weather, beautiful beaches, great shopping, but I hate L.A. because everything is very expensive, there is always crazy traffic, and most of the people who live there dress like they’re being followed by the paparazzi.
I spent a lot of time in the car sitting in bumper to bumper traffic on the enormous freeways, and it cracks me up to see that everyone who lives here either drives a Ferrari, Bentley, or a Prius.
Despite my complaints, I had a fabulous weekend in L.A. and got to catch up with some old friends. Here are highlights of my weekend and places that are worth checking out the next time you’re in Hollywood…
- The J. Paul Getty Museum: this was my second trip to the Getty Museum and I have to say this place is pretty amazing. The building, grounds, and view alone are magnificent. We got to see the Herb Ritts exhibit while we were there! It costs $10 to to park at the Getty, but admission to the museum is free.
- Point Dume: located on the coast of Malibu, California this beach is a little off the beaten path. This beach doesn’t get as crowded as others nearby because it’s tucked inside a neighborhood, there are only about 8 parking spaces, and you have to hike down a little hill to get to the beach. If you commit to the far parking, walking, and lugging your gear down a hill you will come to a beautiful spot to sunbathe, surf, and enjoy the ocean.
- Baco Mercat: my new favorite restaurant! This place is nothing like you could ever imagine, and I am still dreaming about the food I had here. Baco serves DE-licious, non-pretentious food with twists, turns, and unique flavors. The food has Western and Eastern Mediterranean influences and poultry, pork, and beef is from producers who raise their animals humanely with no growth hormones or antibiotics. Produce is from local Southern California and always fresh and seasonal. Most of the food is served in small tapas style plates. This place gets very crowded, so reservations are a must.
- Bar 107: located in downtown Los Angeles, this “dive bar” located on West 4th Street was unexpectedly fun! 80′s music, red pleather booths, strange crowds of people, stiff drinks, a great vibe, and never a line in the restroom, this bar is a must try if you’re wandering around downtown L.A. and want to try something different.
- Malibu Cafe: at Calamigos Ranch is a must do for weekend brunch. Located in South Latigo Canyon in Malibu this place is really a hidden gem. This gorgeous outdoor dining spot is pet and kid friendly and serves up gourmet breakfast with a southern influence. Prices are surprisingly very reasonable and on Sundays you can get mimosas for $10 with unlimited refills!
Everyone talks about the KCC farmers market on Saturday mornings or the Kailua farmers market on Thursday nights, but people forget to highlight the farmers market at Windward Mall by Nalo Farms on Wednesdays. This is my neck of the woods, so I try and go every week to get all my fresh produce.
Every Wednesday, Windward Mall hosts a local farmers market from 2:30 pm to 7:30 pm, featuring fresh produce, beautiful flowers, culinary treats and other unique local products including Kettle Corn, honey, tropical flavored jellies and jams, freshly baked breads, pastries and desserts, seafood including smoked fish and slipper lobster tails, gourmet balsamic vinegars as well as oils, dips, sauces, Thai curries, and more.
Here are more of my amazing weekly finds…