Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Rest of Hawaii

December 2, 2012

No, I’m not back in Hawaii. I wish! Just backlogging all my photos…

Roaming around the island until dinner time…

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808 Bistro, recommended by Jason’s colleague, right down to the bottle of wine. Mediocre food, wine was pretty good though.

The next morning, I just HAD to get my fresh coconut before the end of our trip. I love fresh coconuts!

Killed some more time by relaxing poolside at the hotel and then off to Gazebo, a cute little restaurant right off of the Napili Shores.

What tourists don’t know is to order your food to go and just eat it right on the beach. Who wants to wait an hour in line?! Plus, you don’t have anyone blocking the gorgeous views.

Checked out Whalers Village

We weren’t even hungry, but we stopped by the Hula Grill for one last mai tai and some coconut shrimp. The floor was filled with sand, to emulate being at the beach.

And then, FINALLY. Koiso. We’ve been trying to eat at this sushi restaurant multiple times and boy, was the wait and hype worth it. The place seats only 15(!) people and is run by a sweet couple.

Jason and I couldn’t stop ordering and stuffed ourselves silly, knowing it’d be a long time before we come back or eat fish this fresh.

And to end on a sweet note, a house made custard encased in soft mochi. Loved the packaging.

Oh wait! Our flight was delayed. Woo hoo! One extra night in Maui! If there’s any place I’d want a delayed or cancelled flight, it’d be in Hawaii.

Unfortunately, we had to wait at the airport for at least 2 hours and then finally shuttled to the newly renovated Hyatt

It was pitch black by the time we checked in the night before, so I had no idea our view was this spectacular. 

That view was what I was expecting at Westin, but instead we had this.

So a delayed flight and a comped fancy 18th floor room gave me the view I was expecting. Thank you very much.

The food on the other hand, not so much. An all-you-can-eat buffet is rarely a good thing. I stuck with as much fresh fruit as possible.

Unfortunately, there weren’t anymore delayed flights. Back to the airport and back to San Francisco

Hawaii was the epitome of relaxing: eat, beach and repeat. Loved it and would definitely go back.

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Lilikoi

May 11, 2012

Our new friends we met from the wedding recommended a fruit stand, directly across from the plantation, where the wedding the night before was held at. They told us to get the lilikoi (passion fruit) juice and considering I love lilikoi, I couldn’t pass. Also, I’ve been eyeing this stand ever since we drove by it, so I was happy to hear a positive recommendation.

There was a ton of exotic fruit: papaya, pineapple (Maui Gold as they call it, grown right behind the fruit stand), lilikoi, starfruit and giant avocados. I’ve never seen avocados THAT large!

I regret not getting any fresh fruit, especially pineapple. We had tried a sample and it was the best pineapple I’ve ever had. It was extremely sweet, tasted like candy. 

There was a truck, Olowalu Juice Stand, right next to the tables of fruit and I got the recommended lilikoi. It was blended with ice and fresh squeezed cane juice—simple as that.

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It was my first time drinking fresh lilikoi. I’ve only had it mixed with POG or in malasadas from Leonard’s back in Oahu.

Jason had the first taste and he immediately said, “you’re going to like this.” I surely did. It was an explosion of tropical sweetness in my mouth, with a slight tartness. There were a lot of seeds, but that added to the already icy texture. I absolutely loved it.

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Anyone know if I can get fresh lilikoi juice in the Bay Area? It’s such an exotic treat!

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Camera Straps

March 30, 2012

Home

March 11, 2012

Smitten. “Home” cover by Jorge and Alexa Narvaez, original by Edward Shapre and The Magnetic Zeros.

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Wailea + Cheeseburgers

February 11, 2012

After roaming around Grand Wailea, we headed over to The Shops at Wailea, a mixture of high-end retailers and knick-knack stores.

One of the stores I particularly enjoyed was Sand People, a shop filled with all things Hawaiian. I loved the vintage-inspired packaging.

The other store I liked was Ki’I Gallery, a small gallery with beautiful glass mini planet sculptures by Josh Simpson (I want one!) and butterfly art.

It was so hot and humid; we took a break and went to Cheeseburger for a drink.

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Persuaded by the excellent copywriting on the menu, we both ordered their “famous” pina colada and mai tai. Meh. Not that great, at all. Hard to compare when you already had the best pina colada and mai tai.

Also a little hungry, we figured we should order their sliders, considering the name of the restaurant was Cheeseburger.

These greasy sliders weren’t appetizing at all. They were so bland and oily. How can this place have FIVE locations and serve sucky food? Especially when the owners are from California, the state known for its amazing food?

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The Luau

January 18, 2012

For dinner, our newlywed friends invited us to a luau, an informal gathering for food and entertainment. We’ve never been to one, so we were both excited to attend this Hawaiian tradition.

The Old Lahaina Luau was held near the Lahaina Cannery Mall, a 15-minute drive from the hotel. We saw a beautiful rainbow right after we parked. It was my first time seeing a complete rainbow, both ends visibly in sight.

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As we funneled through the door, we were immediately greeted with kukui nut necklaces and a cocktail.

Finally, I got lei’d in Hawaii! I was surprised it didn’t happen sooner. I imagined as soon as I stepped off the plane, I’d be greeted with an orchid lei—just like the movies. Sadly, nothing like that happened.

With our mai tais in hand, a bare-chested man escorted us to our tables. The large center stage and the number of tables surprised me. We could see the ocean and the sun setting, but I was expecting a different type of luau—what I’ve seen in movies. On the beach, intimate, long table of 50 people, pig roasting in the background, dancing… Twice, my idea of Hawaii has been deceived by the movies.

As the other guests arrived, we were able to walk around, take pictures and buy local handmade souvenirs.

Right before dinner, we saw the big kalua pig removed from its imu, underground oven.

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Dinner was buffet style and offered a large assortment of dishes. I saw many familiar traditional Hawaiian dishes, considering we were at Helena’s a couple days prior.

I took a little bit of everything: green salad (had to get some freshness on my plate!), stir fried vegetables, lomi lomi salmon (salmon ceviche), Polynesian baked mahi mahi (too dry), kalua pua’a (not bad) fried rice, crab salad (delicious and full of mayonnaise), taro salad (taro, spinach and coconut sauce) to fresh papaya.

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It was all mediocre food. Even the much anticipated kalua pua’a didn’t match my expectations. It’s hard to compare, considering everything at Helena’s was so good. Cocktails were all-you-can-drink and I tried a variety, but they were all very light in alcohol. Probably a good thing, considering our livers needed to rest at least one night.

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Soon, the entertainment at the center stage began. It was an enjoyable show of cultural dances and music.

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For dessert, we were offered a plate of haupia (coconut pudding), macadamia nut cake tart and luau bar (chocolate and coconut bar). Fresh fruit was a better dessert option in my opinion—sweet papaya, watermelon and honeydew, yum.

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Overall, the luau was very commercialized, with hundreds of other tourists, but it was still entertaining and had decent food. Again, I imagined something way more intimate, but I think it’s essential to do any type of luau when you’re in Hawaii—at least once.

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Lilikoi

January 17, 2012

There was a ton of exotic fruit: papaya, pineapple (Maui Gold as they call it, grown right behind the fruit stand), lilikoi, starfruit and giant avocados. I’ve never seen avocados THAT large!

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I regret not getting any fresh fruit, especially pineapple. We had tried a sample and it was the best pineapple I’ve ever had. It was extremely sweet, tasted like candy. 

There was a truck, Olowalu Juice Stand, right next to the tables of fruit and I got the recommended lilikoi. It was blended with ice and fresh squeezed cane juice—simple as that.

111011_fruitstand8

It was my first time drinking fresh lilikoi. I’ve only had it mixed with POG or in malasadas from Leonard’s back in Oahu.

Jason had the first taste and he immediately said, “you’re going to like this.” I surely did. It was an explosion of tropical sweetness in my mouth, with a slight tartness. There were a lot of seeds, but that added to the already icy texture. I absolutely loved it.

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Anyone know if I can get fresh lilikoi juice in the Bay Area? It’s such an exotic treat!

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Star Noodle

January 14, 2012

A little hung over from the wedding, a bowl of hot ramen soup sounded like the perfect cure.

Friends of the bride and groom told us about Star Noodle the night before, so I knew this was the perfect opportunity to try it.

As soon as I saw the nameplate at the door, I could see that this restaurant appreciated design.

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And that they did.

From the interior decoration to the simple one page menu and its food presentation, the owner of Star Noodle had a clear, modern and hip vision.

Now let’s see if the food is as good as this place looks.

We started off with the Star Kim Chee, a pickled mixture of won bok cabbage, ginger and garlic. I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t over powering with spice and garlic, like most bright red kim chee’s I’ve had. The cabbage also still had a bite to it, as though it wasn’t pickled for a week or more.

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Recommended by our new friends, both Jason and I ordered the Hapa Ramen.

The colorful bowl was filled with roast pork, a poached egg, bamboo shoots, kamaboko (fish cake), baby bok choy, mayu (black garlic oil), spicy aka miso and pork broth.

It was my first time trying black garlic oil (I think), a blend of sesame, sesame oil and garlic. When I swirled the oil and broth together, the soup base quickly became extra flavorful, but a tad too oily.

There was too much of the roast pork and it didn’t help that the meat was dry. The noodles were mediocre, slightly overcooked to my liking. Basically, I’ve had way better ramen and I didn’t like it, but this sufficed in helping a hang over. I AM in Hawaii, so I shouldn’t expect excellent ramen.

Next recommendation was the steamed pork buns. I mistakenly thought it was one per order (again, not looking at the price) and asked for two orders. In reality, it came with three (!) buns, accompanied by a steamer (details in the design, my friends). Needing to eat all six, they better be good!

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These buns reminded me of a food truck back home, Chairman Bao, that creates something very similar. The soft and doughy white bun sandwiched pork, hoisin (Chinese seafood sauce), scallions, shiitake mushrooms and cucumber.

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There were a handful of small plastic squeeze bottles filled with different condiments like chili paste and mustard. I liked adding a little bit of mustard to my buns; it gave it an extra kick.

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The pork was way better than the one in the ramen, considering it was fatty enough to keep its moisture. The taste was decent, sweetness from the hoisin, saltiness of the pork and some crunch from the cucumbers. 

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We ended up taking the remaining half order to-go, which became a perfect snack on the beach later in the day. Luckily, over ordering turned into a good idea.

I was going to get a dessert (their mango pudding sounded good), but after a very mediocre meal, I didn’t want to waste my money on another mediocre dish.

If we’re talking about design, Star Noodle obviously wins in that department in my book. But when it came down to food, nothing blew my mind. Living in the Bay Area and being surrounded by delicious food makes me a hard critic, especially when I’ve had so many ramen bowls.

But I give Star Noodle an A for effort. If you’re in the mood for Asian food in Maui, your options are very slim, so Star Noodle is a nice choice.

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Star Noodle

January 14, 2012

And that they did.

From the interior decoration to the simple one page menu and its food presentation, the owner of Star Noodle had a clear, modern and hip vision.

Now let’s see if the food is as good as this place looks.

We started off with the Star Kim Chee, a pickled mixture of won bok cabbage, ginger and garlic. I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t over powering with spice and garlic, like most bright red kim chee’s I’ve had. The cabbage also still had a bite to it, as though it wasn’t pickled for a week or more.

111011_starnoodle4

Recommended by our new friends, both Jason and I ordered the Hapa Ramen.

The colorful bowl was filled with roast pork, a poached egg, bamboo shoots, kamaboko (fish cake), baby bok choy, mayu (black garlic oil), spicy aka miso and pork broth.

It was my first time trying black garlic oil (I think), a blend of sesame, sesame oil and garlic. When I swirled the oil and broth together, the soup base quickly became extra flavorful, but a tad too oily.

There was too much of the roast pork and it didn’t help that the meat was dry. The noodles were mediocre, slightly overcooked to my liking. Basically, I’ve had way better ramen and I didn’t like it, but this sufficed in helping a hang over. I AM in Hawaii, so I shouldn’t expect excellent ramen.

Next recommendation was the steamed pork buns. I mistakenly thought it was one per order (again, not looking at the price) and asked for two orders. In reality, it came with three (!) buns, accompanied by a steamer (details in the design, my friends). Needing to eat all six, they better be good!

111011_starnoodle7

These buns reminded me of a food truck back home, Chairman Bao, that creates something very similar. The soft and doughy white bun sandwiched pork, hoisin (Chinese seafood sauce), scallions, shiitake mushrooms and cucumber.

111011_starnoodle9

There were a handful of small plastic squeeze bottles filled with different condiments like chili paste and mustard. I liked adding a little bit of mustard to my buns; it gave it an extra kick.

111011_starnoodle10

The pork was way better than the one in the ramen, considering it was fatty enough to keep its moisture. The taste was decent, sweetness from the hoisin, saltiness of the pork and some crunch from the cucumbers. 

111011_starnoodle8

We ended up taking the remaining half order to-go, which became a perfect snack on the beach later in the day. Luckily, over ordering turned into a good idea.

I was going to get a dessert (their mango pudding sounded good), but after a very mediocre meal, I didn’t want to waste my money on another mediocre dish.

If we’re talking about design, Star Noodle obviously wins in that department in my book. But when it came down to food, nothing blew my mind. Living in the Bay Area and being surrounded by delicious food makes me a hard critic, especially when I’ve had so many ramen bowls.

But I give Star Noodle an A for effort. If you’re in the mood for Asian food in Maui, your options are very slim, so Star Noodle is a nice choice.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Star Noodle

January 14, 2012

And that they did.

From the interior decoration to the simple one page menu and its food presentation, the owner of Star Noodle had a clear, modern and hip vision.

Now let’s see if the food is as good as this place looks.

We started off with the Star Kim Chee, a pickled mixture of won bok cabbage, ginger and garlic. I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t over powering with spice and garlic, like most bright red kim chee’s I’ve had. The cabbage also still had a bite to it, as though it wasn’t pickled for a week or more.

111011_starnoodle4

Recommended by our new friends, both Jason and I ordered the Hapa Ramen.

The colorful bowl was filled with roast pork, a poached egg, bamboo shoots, kamaboko (fish cake), baby bok choy, mayu (black garlic oil), spicy aka miso and pork broth.

It was my first time trying black garlic oil (I think), a blend of sesame, sesame oil and garlic. When I swirled the oil and broth together, the soup base quickly became extra flavorful, but a tad too oily.

There was too much of the roast pork and it didn’t help that the meat was dry. The noodles were mediocre, slightly overcooked to my liking. Basically, I’ve had way better ramen and I didn’t like it, but this sufficed in helping a hang over. I AM in Hawaii, so I shouldn’t expect excellent ramen.

Next recommendation was the steamed pork buns. I mistakenly thought it was one per order (again, not looking at the price) and asked for two orders. In reality, it came with three (!) buns, accompanied by a steamer (details in the design, my friends). Needing to eat all six, they better be good!

111011_starnoodle7

These buns reminded me of a food truck back home, Chairman Bao, that creates something very similar. The soft and doughy white bun sandwiched pork, hoisin (Chinese seafood sauce), scallions, shiitake mushrooms and cucumber.

111011_starnoodle9

There were a handful of small plastic squeeze bottles filled with different condiments like chili paste and mustard. I liked adding a little bit of mustard to my buns; it gave it an extra kick.

111011_starnoodle10

The pork was way better than the one in the ramen, considering it was fatty enough to keep its moisture. The taste was decent, sweetness from the hoisin, saltiness of the pork and some crunch from the cucumbers. 

111011_starnoodle8

We ended up taking the remaining half order to-go, which became a perfect snack on the beach later in the day. Luckily, over ordering turned into a good idea.

I was going to get a dessert (their mango pudding sounded good), but after a very mediocre meal, I didn’t want to waste my money on another mediocre dish.

If we’re talking about design, Star Noodle obviously wins in that department in my book. But when it came down to food, nothing blew my mind. Living in the Bay Area and being surrounded by delicious food makes me a hard critic, especially when I’ve had so many ramen bowls.

But I give Star Noodle an A for effort. If you’re in the mood for Asian food in Maui, your options are very slim, so Star Noodle is a nice choice.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »