Hawaii Eats

May 27, 2017

Koa Pancake House

Just simple fare to keep the kids happy.  A good excuse for me too.  


World famous for dry aged beef. Was lucky to meet the man himself.  After eating their juicy tender steak, guess what’s in my cold room now?

Shiro’s Saimin

American Target sells Riedel glasses. 
Locally made Aloha Tofu actually tastes awesome but costs double the prices of mass produced Japanese or California imports. Same with beer.  

Yoshitsune Japanese Restaurant

We were craving Japanese for breakfast so went to this authentic restaurant.  The gindara saikyo yaki was melt in the mouth.  The rice is awesome everywhere you go.  The California rice is very close to Japanese.  

Super market choices 

Ramen!!Bacon! Maple, apple, hickory you choose your smoke!Kimchi and other tsukemono pickles

Agu Ramen

Hawaii Favourites

May 27, 2017

Hawaiian cuisine. 

Hawaiian local culture and food is a mix of Japan, Korea, Phillipines, Polynesian and American foods.  And being a japanese with time spent in America during youth, it just feels so comfortable and it’s no wonder that my siblings decided to choose Hawaii as home.  This time my main purpose was to say hi to a new member of the family but good food is always not too far behind.  

For this trip, my BBQ and Smoking Guru friend gave me a mission to check out some items he was interested in. I was glad he did.  

Helena’s Hawaiian Cuisine

They are a long standing institution serving many local dishes but famous for the pilikoi style beef ribs. Pilikoi usually means dried beef and usually refers to beef jerky. Theirs is a shorter drying style just for condensing the flavour. Very much like the Japanese himono ranging from dry (katsuobushi, niboshi or surume) to quick dried (ichiyaboshi or overnight dried).  

As seen in the picture, they hang the marinated short ribs and they cook it on the grill. The marinade tasted of soy and sugar and maybe some garlic but I couldn’t taste much of it or too much else herb/spice wise but the beef umami was really drawn out and it was really nice.  

Opihi poke. Normal Ahi Poke, tuna sashimi marinated with sesame oil and soy, along with seaweed and some raw baby abalone on the top.  

Butterfish collar stew. Tomato based stew. These stews with fish can get too fishy very easily but this was done just right.  

Mike’s Huli Huli Chicken

Huli Huli means turn turn. The chicken is butterflied and set on a basket rotisserie and roasted for 45 minutes over kiawe wood.  

I am not a big fan of rotisserie chicken. I think that the outside parts including my favourite pieces such as wings and drumsticks get overlooked during the process of cooking through to the core. No worries with the Huli Huli. The chicken is butterflied and the cooking process is short so the moisture is retained.  

The spit is empty because the chicken was already pre-prepped. Here is a flank steak being cooked to order.  

I got the prawn and chicken combo. The food actually tasted not fresh, even a bit off.  At first I was hesitant, but after my second bite I was hooked. I don’t know whether it was intentional but this also tasted like it’s been air dried. Condensed umami and slightly funky flavours. The taste just crept back at me and I was just heading back for more. The mac salad was totally fresh and the slices of juicy pineapple also a perfect accompaniment. I don’t know though. Air drying chicken sounds like a dangerous affair so maybe they use some sort of fermented marinade.  Either way the result was addictive.  

This simple dish became my most memorable dish dining outside.  

PS for the honour of the restaurant I did not get sick at all after eating this dish and am just craving to get back next time I can.  

Tokyo Soba April 2017

May 1, 2017

Being a noodle freak, soba is another passion.  My preference is thin, not too sweet and preferably no msg. Tempura must be crunchier than usual to add accent to the soba.  

Osakaya Sunaba @ Toranomon

A 300 year old classic.  Amazing.  This is what edomae soba is about. 

Nunotsune Sarashina @ Omori

Beautiful. Another 300 year old classic. Was looking forward to the cool service by the beautiful lady in the kimono but she wasn’t here this day.  I remember talking to my wife, this lady is very impersonal and cold but it just shows how much pride and confidence they have.  Taste has not changed at all, amazing.  

Sobayoshi @ Nihonbashi

Tokyo Ramen 2017 April

May 1, 2017

Was in Tokyo for a few days so had some ramen.  

Nantsuttei @ Shinagawa

Kumamoto style good quality tonkotsu with black garlic oil and high density tonkotsu soup. Characteristic round cut noodles slightly reminiscent of spaghetti. 

Afuri @ Nakameguro

Yuzu Shoyu ramenyuzu shio ramen.  When i did my artisan shio ramen, customer said i should try this shop and it turns out it is of very good pedigree.  It is run by the Nakamura family.  Chef Nakamura is famous for his “Sky High noodle draining.  I have high respect for him who is currently in the centre of the US ramen boom. 
His creations from the Nakamuraya days are all high quality, no msg, very subtle, attention to the detail.  Using binchotan to grill the charsiu and using Yamanashi mineral water for his soup.  
Sora @ Higashi Nihonbashi

Ginsasa @ Shinbashi

Mugi to Olive @ Ginza

Was tough decision between chicken heavy soup tsukemen and the triple soup ramen.  Shallot Olive Oil. Poster saying they use Toribushi or dried chicken, a new stock ingridient I think invented by Minoru Sano.

Ikaruga @ Ichigaya 

Opted for the regular ramen.  Was blown away.  I could not fault a thing with the soup.  Pork, chicken and katsuo all expressed masterfully.  Recommended!  Exterior.  They don’t even have a sign up. Apparently they are “pre-open” and are still training but it’s been like that for 1-2years?  I walked past without noticing.  So look for the blank sign!  

Home made Sushi

February 27, 2017

I won’t try to proclaim I know what I am doing. All my knowledge is off the internet and traditional common sense.  I have so much respect for the craft.  But when you’re a picky foodie and you have 5 in your family who have picked up similar tastes, it’s really hard on the wallet to really eat “till your heart’s content worth” of sushi.  

Last Saturday arvo, I just got the craving to really pig out on sushi.  

Google Check, nearby Rufus King Seafood at Ashgrove is open and apparently offer local seafood straight from a trawler from Straddie.  

Drove up, got tuna, salmon sashimi grade, oysters and some green prawns. Not a bad start.  

As with all things, when you ask the professionals, is your fish sashimi grade, they will mumble and only point to a few things.  Usually salmon and tuna because the logistics chain and the regulations have certain criteria that a product has to clear in order for it to sell as sashimi compliant. Well to eat well in this country full of sashimi naive beaucracy, you have to take some risks. The wild caught straddie prawns were really shiny, the green tail print was so bright, I couldn’t resist and took the risk of eating one completely raw, my wife joined. We said, ok if we die, we won’t regret it. And the rest I blanched for 10 seconds.  The oysters as always landed in my and my wife’s stomachs without the kids seeing.  
On the other hand, prepped some cucumber and egg for kids friendly fare.  

I admit, my egg made in a frying pan was jaggety on the edges and the cucumber roll is not pretty and the sushi rice was too acidic due to too much vinegar. In the end, only 5 varieties of neta but we were happy and full with home quality sushi.  


Wash your sushi rice very well.  If available, get Japanese origin rice which has been hulled recently.  Rice starts to oxidise and dry very soon. Don’t look at the price but look at the mill dates or best by dates. Cook rice with a sliver of konbu.  
Mix rice with vinegar mix (vinegar, sugar, salt).  Mix in a cutting motion trying not to make the stickiness increase.  And fan while doing so to reduce the temperature.  

Cut the fish beforehand.  

Prepare tezu (hand vinegar).  Water and vinegar 4:1 should work.  

Coat your hand in tezu and clap your hands to get rid of excess tezu and to get your sushi craftsman mood up.  

Mold rice into shape in your weaker hand, put some wasabi on the rice, put fish on and squeeze gently from all angles using the palm of your weaker hand and the pointer and middle finger of your dominant hand.  The point is not oversqueezing.  The sushi rice at cheaper restaurant you might have noticed is too hard.  Try to mold the rice without making it too clumpy.  

You will need a bamboo slat to make the sushi rolls.  

Hot Smoking on the Kettle BBQ 

February 21, 2017

Lately I am into hot smoking with my kettle BBQ. I don’t like to follow a set recipe and I just like to improvise and experiment with everyday stuff around home and test my image.

My BBQ is pretty consistent with my choice of cars or shoes. I am more interested in basic practicality more than the high spec features and the glitz and glam of high end brands.  Of course there are the things that can’t be compromised, for example, I really prefer coal to gas. Hence, the Bunnings $50 kettle works just fine along with a simple fan to accelerate the lighting. Same with the smoking method. Basically you are holding the food at a particular temp and infusing smoke.  Can’t be that hard?  IMHO, You shouldn’t need to get special imported cherry wood for an everyday meal on the barbie.

Recently I tried some corn husks, coffee grind, and some dragon leaves from the yard.

The dragon leaf did create too much of an insense kind of smoke and didn’t agree too well with sausages (of course not that bad and still enjoyable but a lesson learned).

Note: I got a heads up from my pro smoker friend and he said to me using green leaves is always a no-no.  Even with wood, the drier the better and evergreens are never used.  I agree that pine needle aromas probably won’t go too well with smoked meats.  Anyway, some grass or leaves might produce poisons and are never used in smoking.  So my experimenting with yard leaves ends here..

BTW, What’s your favourite cut of beef?

Sure I enjoy my rib fillets too but feeding a family of 5 requires a bit more creative thinking.  My family and I don’t mind a bit of texture in beef and so when I go for an everyday steak, oyster blade steak is my favourite. Marinate in miso, salt and sake for 48 hours, put it on the Bbq for a sear, that’s another winner too.

Man, beef chuck, on the other hand is a bit trickier…  looks so nice and marbled but put that sucker on for a simple grilled steak, you are going to be chewing all night.  It’s a cut recommended for slow braising but I would much prefer cheeks for braising and chucks can get dry quickly.  But as you can see, smoking for a couple hours might very well be one of the best ways to enjoy this cut.

I simply salt and peppered the chunks, smoked with about 10 heatbead briquettes (the best briquettes!) and the coffee and corn husks with a humidifying water tray for about 2 hours, coat them with sauce (Bbq, soy and left over homemade apricot jam) smoked again on higher heat for 30 min and done!  Look at this!  Most of the gristles have tenderised and the smoke infusion is heavenly and the Bbq sauce is spot on!

Ullo wine purifier

February 17, 2017

This item was on kickstarter and I backed it with some funding a while ago. The product arrived and I finally used it!  

Happy to report that it does change the taste of wine remarkably.  I am guessing it has some activated charcoal in the filters. The wine became very mild.  Apparently this is the pure taste of wine without sulfites. I have never had unbottled preservative free wine so can not compare but I did like the filtered taste much better in this cheap bottle of red.  

The filters are only designed to be single use so the new filters will be saved for the good ones.  Meanwhile I will try reusing the filters anyway. 

Some Bbq miso marinated beef to go with it.