21 September 2009

Milano Freezer in Aiea, HI

This place has been open for a few years in that strip mall by Pearlridge (the one with Tony Roma's) but I never cared to go. Not sure why; probably something about the design didn't appeal to me. I have heard that a couple of friends are fans though and also saw their website featuring their cute logo. Along with the fact that this is one of the few places in Hawai'i to get gelato, these convinced me to give it a try. That and I was getting cabin fever just cruising at home while Kea played poker with his friends. (Still rather stay home by myself than watch him play though.)

Anyway, we ended up at Milano Freezer at 9:45 on a Saturday night. The shop was empty. Even all the parking stalls in front of it were empty! I was worried the place was closed, but the sign said it doesn't close until 11:00 on Fridays and Saturdays.

The young woman working was very cheerful. Kea commented that she was the happiest customer service employee he'd ever seen. She offered us samples of as many flavors we wanted. I tried the stracciatella first but was a little disappointed; it was a little on the bland side. I ended up ordering the chili chocolate. I was so excited about this flavor. It was nice and chocolate-y with a little burn afterward. I had it with pineapple and mac nuts on top.

The prices were steep. It ended up being about $11 for mine and Kea combined. (Kea got a medium and we both got toppings, which cost extra.) To be fair, though, the servings were generous. The cups were packed full--so much so that the toppings could barely stick to the top. In the future, Kea and I should probably share--like James and Kristy did with their green tea with mochi.

One thing that confused me was that there was no clear divisions between gelato and frozen yogurt in the display case. So I'm not entirely sure which was which...

Another plus, however, was the packed pints. There was low-fat, dairy-free, sugar-free, and a variety of interesting flavors in each category. Great for those with dietary restrictions. Again, the prices are steep (I believe $7-$10 for the different pre-packed sizes) but they'd be nice for a special occasion.

I wouldn't wholeheartedly recommend Milano Freezer without trying out more flavors. I'm still a little undecided about the chili chocolate after having an entire serving. After awhile the burn started to make me think I had a sore throat. And yet, it's so rare to find a spicy chocolate flavor, it's nice to know that's one place I can find it.

19 September 2009

Menchie's Mililani Town Center

Finally got to try one of these new frozen yogurt places. Menchie's just opened in Mililani within the past month or so. I think their name sounds weird but oh well. The decor and all their marketing is cute so that helps.

We walk in and along the back wall are the self-serve frozen yogurt machines--just like the kind you see the workers using at TCBY or Dairy Queen. The flavors are paired so that you can get swirled versions too. And the workers will give you little cups so that you can sample some flavors before you choose. We tried chocolate mint, which was good; Kea ended up getting this swirled with strawberry. We tried Cable Car Chocolate (no idea why it's called that--maybe it's supposed to taste like Ghirardelli's?) swirled with vanilla. For some reason that was not good. We tried pistachio swirled with cake batter--and this is what I ended up getting. I think cake batter flavors are getting better; I find it's one of my favorites these days. Peanut butter was also good. I guess they change the flavors out regularly.

Then, to the right of the frozen yogurt is the topping bar. There was hot fudge and caramel; a whole bunch of candies, nuts, cereals, and crumbled cookies; and some fresh fruit (strawberries, bananas, kiwi, lychee), mochi, and other items (e.g. azuki beans). I just went with graham crackers on mine because I wasn't sure what matched with pistachio. Kea went crazy with hot fudge, shredded coconut, some kind of nuts, graham crackers, and who knows what else.

I found it a little stressful trying to decide on flavors and combinations, but I'm weird like that. I also had trouble with the ratio of toppings to yogurt. Need to go back and practice! And I hate that their only size is this huge cup so obviously it encourages you to eat a lot. I was worried about what the price would come out to but it was under $7 for both of us combined so that's not too bad I suppose.

13 September 2009

Martini Madness at Indigo and Mei Sum

Indigo has been Kea's and my favorite pau hana spot for several years now. We remember when the draw was $2.75 martinis. Now they're up to $4, but still a pretty good deal. This place used to be totally packed too--it was impossible to get a table or even some counter space to rest your drink. Nowadays, I guess all the kids go to Bar 35.

Bar 35 does have good pizza and a nice selection of beer, but I prefer Indigo. I guess it means I am old. Or I prefer martinis to beer. Or it might have something to do with the ambiance. The "Orient chic" decor of Indigo is pretty gross, but I think I like the way the space is set up better. More versatile seating for different sized groups I think.

Anyway, Indigo now has it's lack of crowds going for it too. We were there on a Friday and it was empty. I was worried that they no longer had Martini Madness, but they do. This means that the free buffet they put out lasts longer. It's not great--mostly salads and other veggie items, but free food is awesome no matter what it is. We also ordered fries--and while the Sriracha ketchup was not as good as in the past, the serving of fries seemed bigger. The fries were also really good--looked and tasted like McDonald's fries.

Here's the run-down on the martinis we had:
  • Lychee: Seemed sweeter than in the past. I didn't like it as much as I used to.
  • Strawberry Lychee: Our friend Will claimed it tasted the same as the Lychee but this was after he'd had a few.
  • Lemon Drop: My drink of choice that night.
  • Blueberry: Tasted like sour blueberry candy. I would've ordered this if I drank more.
  • Razzmatazz: Sour. Others liked it, but I was not a fan.
  • Chocolate: Strong. Drink of choice for a few in the group.
  • Woo woo: James ordered this twice so I guess it was good.
  • En Fuego: Too salty.
  • Vodka: Kea likes these but mostly orders them for the olives. (I only like the olives.)
  • Tony Soprano: Will said it was good, but again, he'd had a few.
  • Tropical Splendor: Tastes like juice. This is an old favorite of mine.
One of the reasons we like going to Indigo is so we can walk over to Mei Sum after, eat, and sober up. (This is Kea's favorite part actually.) Although dim sum is supposed to be for breakfast or lunch, Mei Sum serves it all day. My favorite dim sum were the shrimp and chive dumpling and the bean curd roll. I usually like the spinach and scallop dumpling but it was too fishy this time. The chicken and vegetable cake noodle was satisfying, but the chicken didn't look so appetizing--maybe we'll try it with beef next time. Others had the jellyfish--and liked it a lot.

Kamuela, Hawai'i

Here's a report on some of the food we bought in Kamuela last weekend.

Farmer's Market
Crepes: Kea's mom had been talking up the crepes so we made sure to grab one. We got there late, after some ingredients had run out, and we didn't make the best decisions for filling, but it was still good. We had cheese, mushrooms, and Portuguese sausage. I would advise against the mushrooms as they are canned; if I had known, I wouldn't have chosen them. We wanted spinach but they had run out. I think the cheese goes with the crepe perfectly and the Portuguese sausage was too much; next time I would go with lighter fillings because the taste of the crepe is good enough!

Ice pops: I had a coffee and cream ice pop and Kea had a coconut one. I liked mine better. Still yet, I think they need to put less water in their ice pops. I haven't made ice pops in a long time but it seemed this was the problem. I could see ice crystals in it and I think the flavor would have been stronger with less water.

Fried green tomatoes: So good. Who would've thought you'd find fried green tomatoes in Hawai'i? They had whole cherry tomatoes and sliced regular ones. I liked the regular ones for higher batter to fruit ratio. Also some of the cherry tomatoes were too big for me to eat in one bite! (I am a small person with a small mouth.)

Church Row
Also bought kulolo from one of the churches in Church Row. We were so excited for kulolo since it's so hard to find, but one of the pieces we bought was too dry. It was our fault: they told us to pick which one we want and we picked wrong. So choose wisely if you go!

Foodland Bentos
For our drive up Mauna Kea, we picked up some bentos from Foodland. We tried both the teri katsu bento and the ribs. Both had good flavor, but I preferred the katsu. Love the idea of teri katsu so it's already flavored and there's no need for tonkatsu sauce, which could get kind of messy if you are eating with the bento in your lap. The ribs had a funny flavor to me, but maybe I'm just not a ribs person. Kea liked it.