Archive for the ‘Small $’ Category

>Revel<

Continuing with this late-night posting trend I give you a blast-from-the-past.  While I was in Seattle, I finally got to eat at REVEL with my aunt.  It’s a family affair as Chef Rachel is my mom’s cousin!  I was slightly afraid she might not remember me that well when I rang her up: “Oh, hi Rachel.  It’s C one of your cousin’s daughters…  yeah, from the east coast… That bbq like 7 years ago??” you get the idea.  She and her husband are arguably the most famous members of the extended family (they were on Iron Chef!!) with also potentially the cutest babies in the family!  I have been waiting to eat at one of their restaurants since they opened!  I am using a lot of exclamation marks!

The place is casual and cool with a modern edge.  Large, bright pop culture-y portraits adorn the walls with sleek wood and metal structuring the space.   I love how they only set out chopsticks on the table setting.  It kind of says ‘get ready to eat some Asian food!’  Bonus points for not being the break apart ‘disposable’ kind.  Way classier (and sustainable) than that.  And oh yeah, the food:

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We also ordered the albacore tuna bi bim bap/rice bowl, but the picture was less than stellar and you only deserve the best photography.  They do it family style which means sharing = happiness.  I’ve always been a moocher so any place where mooching is officially allowed is cool with me.

The attention to detail and the modern take on Korean dishes really hits you.  The noodles had seaweed in them for crying out loud.  My favorite would have to be the cabli mandu since I’ve always had a soft spot for them.  They were a tad bit tricky to eat with chopsticks because of the shape, but once it was in your mouth there was no denying the tender, juicy flavor hitting your palate.  (I just had to look up how to spell the right palate/palette/pallet I was looking for…).  The dessert menu was themed ‘Candy’ for the month of October in honor of Halloween and the junior mint cake at least was right on the money.  Dessert always ends up being one of my favorites…

Being able to see how all her and her husband’s hard work paid off was so inspiring.  They make this wonderful culinary life seen attainable to everyone.  It makes me want to drop everything and go to culinary school!  haha jk dad… but not really?

My aunt said it wasn’t really Korean food and my response was it’s modern, Korean INSPIRED.  She asked me what revel meant and my explanation was something along the lines of, “You kinda revel in something, something good.”  I was at a loss on how to be more direct.  After the meal though, I knew what I was revelling in: good flavor, comfort food, and lovin family.

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Double Whammy – Thai and Butternut

Okay, so it’s been over a month since my last post?!??  =(

A LOT has happened in a month and flying too and from Seattle is not the least of it even if it was after a hurricane…  This last flight from WA to NY has reconfirmed in my mind that red eye’s SUCK.  Hence, the reason I am posting at 3 4 am in the morning.  I failed to power through the day as I originally planned.  “Oh, I’ll just lie down on my bed for a little bit” turns into crashing all afternoon.  I find coming back east is harder to readjust to time than traveling west to east.

However, that didn’t stop me from eating and cooking, heavens no.   I actually ate out and cooked in the same day woot!  After coming back to the food desert that was my apartment, I decided to go grocery shopping AND treat myself to arguably the best lunch special in Ithaca: Taste of Thai Express!

They have lunch specials and a set 3 course lunch menu for $13!  I got Goong Salon for appetizer which is shrimp wrapped in noodles and then fried.  It’s like shrimp mummified in crunchy noodles.

Followed by Tofu Pad Thai:

And finished with Sweet Black Rice:

So much food for $13!  Okay, so more like $15 + tax and tip.  It’s enough for 2 meals pretty much.  I brought some containers and was literally packing it up as I ate.  Is that weird?  I’m pretty sure that’s what my server was thinking.  I did have a server at Maggiano’s tell me that bringing my own containers was ‘so cute’ and that she loved us (me + sister) because it saved her so much work.  She was a particularly honest server… haha.

Following that meal I completely crashed and woke up 4 hours later thinking about dinner.  I already had a plan of what to make.  Right before I left I picked up some awesome veggies at Dilmun Hill, the student farm.  Basically, in exchange for volunteering some time you get free, fresh, straight-from-the-ground, veggies!  I had that butternut squash in the back of my mind and I decided that some type of butternut squash pasta would be delish.  I had already google searched and shopped, for this How Sweet It Is recipe in the morning.  And how sweet it looks!

So that kinda looks like a glob with some cheese and seeds on it, but it tastes real good!  It was based off the How Sweet It Is recipe with a few changes.  1) Obviously used bowties (farafelle if you want to be Italiano) instead of penne, UWUH (Use What You Have) 2) Used soy milk because that’s what I bought 3) Increased the mozzarella cheese from 1/4 c to 4 oz ~1/2 cup because I was using a bigger pan 4) No sage or bacon.

   
All together it looked like this:

   

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This makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.  I will try and back post some of the other things that have gone on the past 5 weeks, but we’ll see how that goes.  Modified recipe below!

Roasted Butternut Squash Casserole  *from How Sweet It Is*

+ 1 sm-med butternut squash, peeled n chopped + seeds

+ 1/4 t salt

+ 1/4 t pepper

+ 1/4 t nutmeg, I used whole

+ 2 T unsalted butter

+ 1 sm shallot

+ 1 T flour

+ 1/4 c mascarpone cheese

+ 2/3 c milk

+ 1/2 lb whole wheat bow-ties/farafelle

+ 1/2 c freshly grated/chopped mozzarella

+ 1/4 c freshly grated parmesan

Roast chopped butternut squash and seeds (if desired) in olive oil, S+P, for 40 minutes flipping halfway through.  My seeds were a bit toasty after 40 so take out the seeds a bit earlier.  Mash roasted squash with a fork or potato masher and set aside.

Boil water for pasta and cook as directed.

Meanwhile, heat medium saucepan over medium heat and melt butter.  Add shallots and stir until butter and shallots are browned.  Add the 1 T of flour and stir til smooth for 1-2 minutes.  Add mascarpone, milk, squash, and spices.  Stir til combined.  You can save some pasta water to thin out the sauce if you’d like or add more milk.

Mix pasta with about half of the butternut sauce.  Pour into shallow baking dish (I used one a tad bit smaller than a 13×9 inch pan, maybe 8×11?) and spread remaining sauce over top.  Sprinkle cheese on top and bake for 20-30 minutes depending on the dish size.

Garnish with roasted seeds and eat til stomach’s content.

Gah, it is so late now I’m hungry again!  Night!

Weekend Eats: Giovanni Shrimp, Matsumoto’s Shave Ice, Kahala Nuts

This past weekend was a whirlwind. My weekends left in Honolulu are dwindling so I’ve felt a need to do as much as possible. Saturday morning I did an ocean swim from Chun’s Reef to Waimea Bay, Saturday afternoon I drove around with friends eating my way through the North Shore, Sunday morning I went diving, and Sunday afternoon I had my last sailing class.

The rest of Saturday was spent frolicking around North Shore eating lots. First stop was Giovanni’s shrimp truck. There were a lot of shrimp trucks to choose from on that road. I think the area was Kahana and Giovanni’s seemed to be a very established one.

I split a hot n spicy shrimp with a friend for $13 and they weren’t lying when they call it hot n spicy. I am a spicy food fan and I could eat it all but I wasn’t going to lick the sauce off the plate. The spiciness factor was a little too much for me and made eating the shrimp a little less enjoyable. I guess I should have taken it more seriously when they state on the menu that there are no refunds for hot n spicy shrimp.

Next stop was Matsumoto’s Shave Ice in Hale’iwa. Shave ice is a Hawaiian speciality. They are basically snow cones on steroids. You can get it with ice cream, condensed milk drizzled on top, and choose from literally a gazillion flavors.

Not to mention they are huge.

I got a large mango, blueberry, and one more flavor I can’t remember with condensed milk on top. mmm There was a huge line out the door but they have streamlined operation so you don’t really have to wait that long. The store is full of different t-shirts and shave ice gear like key chains.

Shave ice is awesome because it’s cheap, fun, and Hawai’i has the best.

The night before I went to see hp7pt2 at the theater and they were selling Kahala candied nuts! There were macnuts, pecans, and almonds. I of course had to get the macnuts and it was either 1 for $5 or 2 for $8 (or was it 1 for $4 and 2 for $6??) so I opted for the better deal and more nuts and got macnuts and almonds. I finished the macnuts during the movie before I could even get a picture. I saved the almond ones for later.

Overall
Giovanni’s: + + + + 4 pluses
Matsumoto’s: <0 <0 <0 <0 <0 5 shaved ices
Kahala Nuts: co co co co co 5 diamond nuts

Diving pictures in case you’re interested. YO (yard oiler wreck and Nautilus Reef)


Weekend Eats: La Tour Macaroons, Liliha Coco Puffs

Last weekend presented some good eating opportunities in the desserts category.

La Tour Macaroons:

I was always confused about macaroons because I thought they were all like coconut macaroons and didn’t know why they looked like colorful chocopies.  These were my first macaroons everrr and they were quite delicious.  There were plenty of flavors to choose from:

And I ended up getting 3.

matcha (green tea)

strawberry black currant

banana caramel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The macaroons were cheerfully hued, light, creamy centered, sugary delights.  The banana had good banana cream filling but not so much caramel flavor.  Matcha had a nice green tea pop and I love how the inside is so bright green!  Strawberry with a black currant surprise in the middle for a little more chewy texture.

I had packed a pbj on La Tour squaw bread from the farmer’s market for a snack and also bought a vietnamese ice coffee so it was a meal!

The only real downside was the price.  They were $1.75 x 3 = $5.25 for 3 macaroons… a little on the pricey side for a few cookies but hey, just more economic portion control.

I also went to a friend’s house for dinner last weekend and someone brought Liliha Bakery Coco Puffs.

These are apparently Liliha Bakery’s specialty.  They are chocolate filled cream puffs with a signature Liliha topping that you see in the picture.  I don’t think I’ve ever had anything quite like this topping, not quite a frosting but very think, sweet, and buttery.  The girl who brought them said there was a woman getting a cake frosted in the stuff when she picked them up at the bakery!

mmm mmm

I also made a haupia pie to take to my friend’s dinner.  If you don’t know what that is see my pi day post!  I only had a few hours hence the speed cooling in the freezer.

Overall

La Tour: o o o o   4/5 macaroons

Liliha Coco Puffs: o o o o   4/5 coco puffs

Haupia Pie:  simplest tropical pie you can do, if only I had time for a homemade crust

Bubbie’s!

At last after a few weeks on island I have finally made it to Bubbie’s Ice Cream!!

the window sign at the University Ave location

For weeks I had been unknowingly passing it pergrinating to grocery stores and bus stops in the area but I finally snooped around for it after my sailing class last week.  I went to the one off University Ave near UH Manoa and it’s kinda in the back corner away from the intersection.  It doesn’t really matter though because it seems everyone knows where it is because it’s Bubbie’s!  People were coming in and out the entire time I was there for a constant line.

It was a cute space with a colorful chalkboard menu detailing sundaes and little wooden tables and chairs with framed articles detailing the glory of the ice cream mochi decorating the walls.  There was an ice cream counter and display case of some yummy looking peanut butter pies and such but seriously my query was ICM.  I digress.

So let’s get down to business to defeat … the Huns I mean about the ICE CREAM MOCHI!!

trio of Bubbie's ICM offerings: lilikoi, saurka, green tea

It is truly a beautiful sight to behold.  They’re like perfect, pastel, jewels of ice cream enveloped in a precise layer of chewy mochi.  They were pretty frozen and I was initially a little hesitant to bite into them for fear of cold tooth syndrome, but of course I did.  I actually found the mochi acts as a protective layer for cold sensitive front teeth.  I told you this was good stuff.

lilikoi aka passion fruit

green tea

sakura

There was a small board listing the mochi flavors of the day and there were a little more than 10.  There were your standards like vanilla and chocolate, the tropicals like lilikoi (Hawaiian for passion fruit) and guava, and the Japanese influenced like the sakura and green tea from what I can remember.  I believe the more specialized flavors rotate daily.

The lilikoi ICM was bright and sunny with lilikoi ice cream wrapped in lilikoi mochi.  The sakura was a cute pink with vanilla interior and I think sakura is the cherry blossom festival in Japan?  I didn’t really taste cherry in the mochi or maybe it’s called sakura just based on the cherry-blossom-pink color?  It was good nonetheless.  Finally, the green tea ice cream lined with green tea mochi.  Delish.  I’m pretty sure I’ve had green tea ice cream mochi from Trader Joe’s before…  The taste was pretty comparable.  I’ll have to scout those out when I get home.

yum in a black styrofoam bowl

Ice cream is all about the texture: the smooth, creamy, coldness melting in your mouth and paired with delicate, chewy mochi it is a perfect compliment.  A match made in heaven.

And to bring you back down to Earth, they go for $1 a pop and I read on one of the articles posted on the wall that they are 1/4 oz ice cream balls.  So I guess $1 for a quarter of an ounce of ice cream is pretty pricey? but I’ll think of it more as economic portion control.  If you buy more it does get slightly cheaper, 3 for $2.95 (5 cents, whoopie) up to 12 for $11.  There were people buying two dozen of these babies to go and $3 for a nice ice cream repast isn’t bad.

So I can cross Bubbie’s off my “must-do” list in Hawai’i:

  1.  Bubbie’s ICM!
  2. GRE
  3. scuba
  4. beach repose
  5. Harry’s Cafe kimchi omelette
  6. eat lots of mangoes
  7. see Forks over Knives
  8. Diamond head
  9. farmer’s markets
  10. bentos

That doesn’t mean I’m not coming back!

Summary: o o o o o   5/5 little ICMs

I only wish they had a bathroom.  I really wanted to wash my hands after my sailing class.  And of course there’s that styrofoam bowl.

Nico’s

Last post was about the Honolulu Fish Auction and right around the corner was Nico’s where we had breakfast.  Nico’s is right on the same pier as the auction warehouse so the fish here probably travels 100ft on land before it’s cooked.

Nico's

It was a causal place ordering at a counter with outdoor seating under a canopy.  I got the catch of the day omelette which was swordfish.  The fish was wrapped in a green onion omelette with a side of fried rice and fruit.

catch of the day omelette: swordfish

The swordfish was nice and juicy and I think that’s the first time I have ever had swordfish come to think of it…  It was perfect with a good splash of tabasco sauce and the fried rice was delicious with bits of bacon and sausage.  When I reached for the tabasco sauce one of the NOAA guys taking us around said ‘I knew it!  All my Korean friends put tabasco sauce on everything!’  I think I just kinda smiled innocently and said something along the lines of ‘yea, it tastes good spicy’ while dousing my omelette with tabasco.  I’m also pretty sure I also paid and extra 25 cents for the biodegradable container and got styrofoam instead.  hrmm.  It’d be better if they added 15 cents to everything and automatically served everything in biodegradable containers.

Pros: good breakfast, fresh fish, fried rice, tabasco sauce, and they offer biodegradable containers

Cons: where’s my biodegradable container I paid for that will make me feel less guilty when I throw it away?  don’t make it a choice and just make all the containers biodegradable, are you listening nico’s? plastic forks. guh  just ups the guilt factor.  more on that later.  and maybe more fish-eating-vegetarian friendly options like fried rice without bacon?

Overall Nico’s: 0< 0< 0< 0<   4/5 fishis