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: Foodie Finds
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…
I was recently home in Lake Travis for a week and got to dine at one of the best restaurants in the area Hudson’s On the Bend. This long time favorite country fine dining restaurant is a great choice for any special occasion. We celebrated my bestie’s birthday Raven that night and got to sample some delicious dishes.
The food here is really unique and is a combination of French and Southern cusines. They have items like venison, quail, elk, and duck on the menu along with classic cuts of beef and salmon. Hudson’s loves to use seasonal and local fresh ingredients too. When we were there they had pumpkin bread for the holidays and even a Beef Wellington dish.
The portions of food here are not typical tiny fine dining portions, but are large and generous. The cuts of meat here are no joke and any meat lover leave with a meat hangover. The lighter fare we tried here was equally delicious. My salmon pictured above was perfectly cooked and my mom had a duck and scallop dish that was divine.
Hudson’s is definitely on the pricier side and reserved for special occasions and holidays. Don’t let the laid back country atmosphere fool you because the food here is stellar and every bite is worth the hefty price tag.
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!
It wasn’t the best Thai food I ever had, but they had $6.95 lunch specials, gave tons of fresh vegetables in their dishes, had fast and friendly service, and served an awesome sticky rice mango dessert!
We ordered chicken red curry ($6.95), pad sew tofu ($9.95), and sticky rice mango ($7.95). If you’re in the Keahou area and looking for a fast place with delicious and healthy food Royal Thai Cafe is a great choice.
I was in the kimchee mood, so I decided to make a quick trip to my favorite Korean Market, Keeaumoku Super Market. This place has a huge selection of kimchee similar to Palama Market.
Kimchee sizes come in large, enormous, and gigantic! I got the smallest jug, 1 kilogram, which is about 2.2 pounds, which for one person is tons! But for only $5.50 I thought it was a deal!
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!
Chocolate, desserts, and sweets don’t do it for me. I am a savory snack, chip connoisseur. I’m a connoisseur and yes maybe a little bit of an addict too.
In college I had a $10+ a week habit with Terra Chips, which were about $5 for a tiny bag. I was hooked on Lay’s Kettle cooked chips for about a year when they first came out. I could eat an entire bag in one sitting. Hot mochi crunch, Baked Lay’s, chips and salsa, french fries, tater tots, name a savory snack, I love it. I am always on the hut for my next fix and recently came across an AMAZING find, Have’a Corn Chips!
I found my new addiction at Kailua Whole Foods for $2.19 for a teeny tiny 4 ounce bag the last time I was craving some chips and salsa. Not a Spanish chip “Have’a,” but simply “have – a – corn- chip” from Laguna Beach, California. The ingredients are simple: corn, soy bean oil, soy sauce, salt, and lime.
These chips are light, crispy, tasty, and VERY addicting! These are hands down the best bagged tortilla chips I have ever had. The only bad thing is they only come in a 4 ounce bag, which I guess is good because you can’t eat too many. But, I’ve been buying them 3-4 bags at a time, so maybe the small bag size is irrelevant?!! They do sell these chips online by the case, 24 bags for about $45. I have highly considered ordering some, but fear too many bags of chips in the house will only be trouble!
Steve accidently discovered Kauai Pasta in Lihue one day while he was driving around, killing time before a seminar. This quaint, modern bistro is oddly placed off the Kuhio Hwy next to random businesses and local eateries and can be easily missed.
The food here is unexpectedly excellent! Kauai Pasta uses fresh quality ingredients, sauces, dressings, and desserts are made daily, and the menu is diverse and affordable.
The next time Steve and I went to Kauai we headed directly to Kauai Pasta right from the airport to grab lunch. The lunch menu serves Italian inspired appetizers, salads, paninis, and pasta. Check out photos from our lunch and try not to drool!
I can always depend on a food truck to be in the Ward Avenue area parked right next to Sports Authority during the weekday lunch hour for my hunger pains, and one Monday around 12:30 pm was no exception. Shogunai Tacos truck was parked there that particular day, and after hearing some great reviews on the truck I was excited to sample their food. On the starving side, I quickly scanned their short menu of fusion tacos, but my eyes honed in on the Shogunai Nachos.
After a couple minutes of waiting, a generous portion of crunchy homemade chips, shredded pork, tomatoes, olives, jalepenos, cheese, and sour cream was given to me for about $7. My eyes popped open by the size and volume of the mass of nachos, and I proceeded to my car for a chow-fest.
Overall, the nachos were dynamite! The combination of all the decadent ingredients made for one nice bowl of goodness. The pork was a little on the salty side and the chips were a bit greasy, but it’s technically junk food, so guess I can’t complain right? For about $7, I think that this was an awesome deal! I would definitely order it again, but maybe share it, so I don’t go have to go immediately to the gym and work out from the calorie over load.