27 August 2008

Chapelure Japanese Bakery and Cafe in East Lansing, MI

I heard about this place from Julie and Matt in my program and did not believe them when they said there was an Asian bakery in East Lansing. They said it was owned by the same folks that own the Japanese restaurant though so I was sort of convinced.

I headed down this afternoon with Jenn, a new student from Hawai'i in our program. I was so excited and yet kind of skeptical. This place did not disappoint. I was amazed by the choices: a counter of breads to take home by the door. I think I saw chestnut bread and at least five other choices. Next, I saw the little trays and tongs characteristic of St. Germain's and Panya in Honolulu. Those were for the pastries: there were a couple of savory ones, for example with ham, and then three kinds of an pan and I can't remember what else. I tried Jenn's apple tart which was pretty good. Like she said, there wasn't syrup on the apple so it wasn't overly sweet.

After the pastries, there were whole cakes and slices behind glass: tiramisu, three kinds of chiffon cake (including green tea), raspberry mousse, chocolate mousse, and more I can't remember. I chose the sweet potato cake. It didn't look that appetizing (I wished it were purple or at least orange sweet potatoes) but I thought it sounded good. It was awesome--light and not too sweet.

We both also had the iced green tea and I loved that too. I think it was genmaicha or some other Japanese tea. At one point, the waitresses brought out what looked like two deluxe shave ices--sort of like Hong Kong style. They were huge bowls of ice with fruit on top. I definitely want to try that next time!

This is also a coffee shop for studying; I'm totally luring Kea to East Lansing with this cafe.

18 August 2008

My Own Visit to Mana Bu's

So after reading this post just a few days before I was scheduled to leave Hawai'i, I did manage to make it to Mana Bu's. Like my mom said, it was my "last meal."

My favorites:
  • any musubi with shiso
  • coffee gelatin: I would recommend sharing with a friend unless you are really hungry! I am going to try to make this myself--I will be the star of my program if I succeed. haha!
  • sweet potato salad: purple potato, macadamias, corn, peas, and a tiny bit of mayo.
  • anything with ten grain: It was just amazing how it was just like white rice--but I assume healthier. Same with the brown rice.
The rest was okay but not that special:
  • hijiki and most others: too mild for my taste.
  • miso yaki: the grilling made the crust too hard to chew. The grilled musubi at Tokkuri-tei was way better. Of course more expensive too.
Other notes:
  • I didn't get to try the konbu or the gobo--saved them for my sister. I'd like to try those.
  • We went at about 11:15 on Saturday--that's fifteen minutes after they opened and some things were already unavailable. There were two other groups that came in right after us too so I hurried up and grabbed stuff.
  • The owners are so cute! They seemed not to be too comfortable with English. I bet they are happy when customers speak Japanese to them.
  • They have cute bags and chopsticks with their logo!

Frozen Fresh Blueberries

My Aunty Nancy taught me to eat blueberries frozen. This was in the '80s or early '90s when my family never even bought fresh blueberries. So I think the first way I ate them (except like in pancakes and pie) was frozen. It's like a teeny little popsicle. Not much taste really, but honestly, I don't think fresh blueberries taste all that great. I eat them for health I guess.

Freezing blueberries is also great as they keep longer. So for the past two years, around this time, I have bought a tub of fresh blueberries from Costco, washed them and tossed them in the freezer. While the weather's warm, I eat them frozen and when it cools off, Kea and I use them for blueberry pancakes.

12 August 2008

More Eggs on Hawai'i Island

When we came to visit in May, Kea's dad took us to breakfast at Hawaiian Style Cafe in Kamuela. We were super surprised because he never eats in restaurants. Anyway, we both ordered omelettes and were severely disappointed. The eggs were too thick. I ordered the veggie and it came with canned mushrooms.

We were amazed that so many people said this was the best breakfast place in Kamuela, although to be fair, the place hasn't got a lot of restaurants. Anyway, when Kea's mom took us to Pine Tree Cafe in Kona for breakfast after we flew in, I was wary. Kona is a more populous area and so I thought the food might be better. Plus the most appealing thing on the menu to me was the Fried Rice Omelette. I had it and it was great. It was like a mountain of fried rice wrapped in a thin layer of egg. Plus two pieces of bacon on top. Yum... Kea had the loco moco and also loved it.

A few days later, Kea's tutu gave us money and told us to go out for breakfast. We weren't sure where to go and found ourselves back at Hawaiian Style Cafe. First, because there was nowhere else to go. We also continued to hear good stuff about the place from several different people so we thought we'd give it a second chance. Kea's dad, after all, had had the country fried steak (I think) and eggs and seemed happy with his meal. We ordered very carefully. The omelettes were definitely out. I went for the easiest thing; I think it was called the Lite Breakfast or something: fried egg, rice, and bacon. It was awesome. Very generous with the bacon; I couldn't even eat it all. I got the egg over-easy; I wouldn't trust them to do scrambled after that disastrous omelette. Kea got the luau stew and also loved it. They used a good cut of meat, he said--it had enough fat. And it had been stewing at least from the day before. It was soupy, but still plenty.

Bottom line: Two options for breakfast on Hawai'i island--just gotta know what to order at Hawaiian Style.

Hilo, Hawai'i

Kea and I went out to Hilo today to pick up some chocolate-dipped shortbread from Big Island Candies. Yeah, it's expensive and all, but so good that we drove an hour to pick some stuff up for our neighbors who've been watching our place and some other folks on O'ahu. The classic chocolate dipped and Dark Dipped Coffee Shortbread are our favorites. They've got a lot of other cool treats but it's really the shortbread that makes it I think--their other chocolates are nothing special.

So we wanted to do more out there than just go pick up cookies so we stopped by Laupahoehoe and saw where the tsunami hit in 1946. We also decided to have lunch at Ken's House of Pancakes. I'd heard a lot about this place--I can't even remember if what I heard was good or bad; it just seems like this place is sort of legendary. The inside looks kind of like Wailana except open air and just less Waikiki I guess. The table set-up was similar anyway.

And the menu was huge. I guess typical diner: burgers, omelettes, pancakes, sandwiches, hot entrees. A good deal of local stuff like saimin and kalua cabbage. There were really too many options. I guess it's similar to the Anna Miller's menu. Anyway, Kea and I of course had our eye on stuff we can't get in Michigan so I settled on the lup cheong and green onion omelette and he ordered the macadamia nut pancakes with a side of Portuguese sausage. The great thing about the omelette was that the default was two carbs on the side--like rice or hashbrowns and toast or something. I can't even remember. However, you could also trade out carbs for two slices of pineapple or three slices of tomato. I think there were other options too but these were the ones that appealed to me. I went with the pineapple, but was a little disappointed to see that it was canned pineapple.

The omelette, however, was pretty awesome--at least to start with. The lup cheong was sliced real thin. And the omelette was very greasy, but at first this was a good thing. It was almost crackly if that makes any sense. The omelette also looked different than any I'd seen before. The egg wasn't smooth but looked like it had been drizzled like batter or something. Anyway, it was awesome, but as it cooled, it was just too greasy. There was also cheese in it even though I thought the menu indicated that cheese could be ordered for an extra charge.

Kea's pancakes were also great although the side order of sausage was almost four dollars! The service was also excellent though. My water was filled constantly. While the restaurant was slow at the time (around 2:30) I get the feeling these are like professional waitresses. Bottom line: we were happy with our choice but I kind of wished I had ordered the saimin afterward. Of course saimin is my favorite.

09 August 2008

Check out the post on The Tasty Island on new musubi place in Honolulu, Mana Bu's. It looks so good! I wonder if I'll have a chance to check it out before I go back...