23 January 2010


Another frozen yogurt place, but I like this one a lot. I think this might be my favorite, mostly for the toppings. They have these different flavored balls--I tried the passion fruit and yogurt but they also have mango and other flavors too I think. They look kind of like the big fish eggs and they burst in your mouth. They are so good! They also had mango, strawberry, and green apple jelly toppings; looked kind of like jello in syrup as one of my friends said. Another friend said they are really strong. Not sure exactly what that means. They also have regular, mango, and green tea flavored mochi and their strawberries, kiwis, and blueberries looked good too. This is along side other toppings like condensed milk, cheesecake bites, chocolate chips, oreos, chocolate sprinkles, etc.

As for the yogurt itself, it had a more cheese-like flavor. It matched really well with the blueberry cheesecake yogurt. For the original yogurt, I felt the cheese flavor was a little too strong. I ended up getting taro and coconut swirled and it was really good! I think the cheese flavor cuts the sweet a bit.

20 January 2010


Adapted from Honpa Hongwanji cookbook.

1.5 t salt (I used less than 1 t)
1 t sugar
2 lbs. ground chuck (I used 2 lbs. Italian sausage and 1 lb. ground beef)
2 cloves crushed garlic
1/4 t. pepper
3.5 c whole tomatoes (I used 2 cans diced)
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1 can tomato paste
1 small can mushrooms (I used a little under 1 lb. fresh)
1 pkg. spaghetti sauce mix (I used oregano, basil, and fennel to taste)
1/2 lb. lasagna noodles
1/2 lb. mozzarella
1/2 lb. ricotta
1/2 c. parmesan

Brown ground chuck with salt in deep saucepan. Add garlic and pepper. Stir in tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, herbs. Saute mushrooms in separate pan and add to sauce. Cover and simmer 30-60 minutes. Meanwhile, cook noodles until tender. Drain; rise in cold water.

Heat oven to 350 degrees, grease 9x13x2 pan. (I also came across recipes that said to just put some sauce in the bottom of the pan; I think this might prevent sticking as well. I ended up doing both.) Cover with strips of noodles and add sauce, then slices of mozzarella cheese, spoonfuls of ricotta cheese. Repeat layer, ending with sauce. Top with parmesan cheese. (I didn't really understand the layers this recipe was talking about; not sure it really matters...)

Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese melts.

05 January 2010

Ichiriki in Honolulu, HI

My cousin works here and my mom has been talking it up forever. We finally had a chance to go with the weather cooling down a bit. The reason we wanted to go when it is cold is so that we could have their hot pot/nabe in relative comfort. It was very good, if a little expensive.

First off, if you can, make reservations. My mom had made reservations for 7:30 on a Saturday. Good thing because there was a small group waiting outside when we got there and another small group that was told they could expect to get a table around 10. (But then when we left, maybe around 9:30, there were several tables available...)

Second point is that the place is well-decorated. The right side is sort of like Japanese style, where you're sitting at low tables. Instead of having to sit on your knees though, there's room under the table so that it is the same as sitting on a chair. Probably awkward to get in and out in a skirt though. The place just looks nice, has that Japanese ambiance, simple, kind of rustic.

The prices are about $20-$25 per person. If you go after 9:30 though, it is only about $11. (You don't get EVERYTHING you do at the $20 rate, but you get most of it I think.) They have three basic broths: shio (salt), shoyu, and miso. Then there are different variations. I was mostly interested in the spicy versions (spicy shio, spicy shoyu, kim chee miso) and the ginger one which is advertised as being good if you are coming down with a cold. I ordered the spicy shoyu and also tried a little of Kea's kim chee miso and my dad's ginger. I liked all of them but may go with the ginger next time. (I'm a big fan of ginger.)

Depending on which broth you order, you get an assortment of raw meat and veggies to cook in the broth. Everyone got tsukune, a chicken and pork sausage. It comes in bamboo and you have a tool to separate it into meatballs and push it into your broth. My spicy shoyu broth really brought out the sesame oil flavor in the tsukune. The different sets came with ingredients like pork, arabiki, another sausage, chicken, scallop, shrimp, salmon, aburage, shiitake, enoki mushrooms, head cabbage, won bok, arrowroot noodles (kind of like konnyaku) and bean sprouts.

Some members of our party were a little nervous about cooking and eating with the same utensil, especially with the tsukune and other raw pork and chicken, but you know this restaurant would get sued so fast if they had problems. Plus Alton Brown said no one in the U.S. has gotten trichonosis in like 50 years or something. I tend not to worry about those kinds of things although I know some of my friends would not like it. You can probably ask for an extra set of chopsticks if you like.

Overall, it was a really great experience. I think interactive eating is always fun. Some kinds of cook-your-own restaurants can be stressful I think (like yakiniku where one or two people seem to end up in charge of cooking) but I found this one to be low stress.

03 January 2010

Kamuela/Waikoloa, Hawai'i

Butter and sweetened condensed milk on toast
One of the culinary highlights of Christmas week in Kamuela was that my mother-in-law introduced me to this wonder. Had it on either bread or a bagel nearly every morning. Sooo yummy. Goes great with coffee.

Some crappy ramen place in Waikoloa
Kea's mom was talking up this ramen place in the King's Shops or Queen's Shops or something like that. It turned out crappy. I was fooled in part by the design of their signage. The typeface was clean and modern and led me to expect something of quality. Should've been tipped off by the fact that it was Chinese-owned though. I don't think I've ever been to a Chinese-owned ramen place. Or if I have, they knew enough to make it look Japanese. This one had shoyu containers on the table that just looked like they didn't belong.

Kea's mom ordered tempura ramen and it was so not tempura! It was more Chinese or Local-style battered and fried shrimp. Maybe even like American style? Whatever it was, it was not tempura.

The gyoza was so junk, like not even worth eating. The filling was like unseasoned meat. Kea's mom also ordered fried scallops in seaweed. When it came it was wrapped in bacon instead--and while the menu had said it was $4, we ended up being charge $14. I didn't know about this until we had left; otherwise I totally would have said something. I can't believe neither Kea nor his mom said anything.

I had the spicy pork ramen. I think it was the best although it had way too much pork. Honestly though, I think ramen is hard to mess up. Even if it is crappy, it still fills you up and has that comforting quality.

Still yet, never going back there.

Pizza place in the Fireside Food Court in Kamuela
Kea and I had spent a few hours at the beach and were starving by the time we got back up to Waimea. After our experience in Waikoloa, I was sort of resigned to the fact that we were not in a metropolis, meaning that there isn't the competition to enforce quality control. There are definitely good places to eat on the Big Island, but it seems it's better to stick to the tried and true. I guess to some extent that's true everywhere... anyway, I think pizza, like ramen, is hard to mess up. We ended up grabbing a special: fountain drink, salad bar, and slice of pizza for about $8. It was a good deal. The pizza was not the best--and only cheese and pepperoni were available--but it was enough to fulfill a pizza craving. The salad bar included some nice greens (probably the mix from Costco) and a decent variety of other toppings (e.g. olives, mushrooms).

Yong's in Kamuela

I was really blown away by Yong's. I had been there before but not for awhile. And I think I've become much more knowledgeable about Korean food in Michigan. Yes, it's strange, but I ate a lot more of it in Michigan. Plus before I would always just get meat jun or barbecue chicken. Since living in Michigan, I've become a total convert to the soups and stews. With the cold weather in Waimea I definitely wanted a hot and spicy soup.

I ordered the Yukgaejang (spicy beef stew) and it was so awesome. Definitely spicy--I've developed a tolerance to spicy food so this didn't burn my mouth, but it did tickle the back of my throat and make me cough. I suppose it's not much to say it's better than the yukgaejang I had in Michigan, but that's the only other place I've had it. For sure, the meat was less fatty than in Michigan.

Kea had meat jun and it even smelled high quality; I've never smelled the nice fried egg on the meat jun before. I think it was fried up really well. Or it could be because most times I eat meat jun that's had to survive the drive home from the restaurant...

Anyway, I think Yong's is my favorite place to eat in Waimea... second only to Kea's mom's house.