Recipe: Cowboy Butter

What is cowboy butter you ask? I don’t know. I saw this video on TikTok and it’s just been on my mind. It’s just a sauce you can serve up with your main protein. I bet it would work well with any protein! I served it up with rib eye steak. How was your thanksgiving? We don’t really do turkey, we’ve never been a huge fan of turkey anyhow. So yeah, I bought a few sides from Sam’s Club and a thing of rib eye steaks. I bought a thing of spinach and made it Korean style (just garlic, sesame oil and salt). It was a pretty easy meal to make and was enjoyed by all! A lot!

From clockwise from top right: spinach banchan, twice-baked potatoes, macaroni and cheese, rib eye steaks, cowboy butter!!

Yeah, the steak is still super pink inside. That’s how okay? SO GOOD. I only salt and peppered the steak and pan fried it for about 2 minutes on each side.

Cowboy Butter

Ingredients

12 T Butter

1 lemon, juice and zest

1 T dijon mustard

1 t cayenne

2 t paprika

8-10 garlic cloves, minced

2 T Chives, minced

2 t thyme, minced

2 tsp chili flakes

4 T fresh parsley, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Heat pan over low heat and melt butter, lemon juice, dijon mustard, cayenne, paprika, lemon zest, garlic and whisk together. Melting and cooking slowly over low heat (this is to help the butter keep mostly thick and not turning quickly to fat) – about 5 minutes.

Add chives, thyme, chili flakes and parsley and cook together for about 3-5 minutes more. Add salt and pepper to your tastes. Serve up as a side sauce to some great grilled steaks!

Restaurant Suntory – Waikiki, HI

Restaurant Suntory was closed for a while for renovations and while I didn’t notice a big difference in our return visit, it’s not like the restaurant ever looked bad to me anyway? I can certainly say the restroom was beautiful with those awesome Japanese toilets. This visit happened just a few days ago and I still feel mortified. Let me explain. I treated my friend for a birthday meal and wanted to order a virgin mai-tai, I was informed by the waitress that they ran out of the virgin mai-tai mix but was able to make it as an alcoholic drink. Was that perhaps a bad foretelling for me? DO NOT READ NEXT PARAGRAPH IF YOU HAVE AN AVERSION TO VOMIT.

Anyway, I’m not a drinker but I have never had bad reactions before. I HAD A BAD REACTION. I think I only had half the drink and by the middle of the meal, I was incredibly drowsy and tired. I didn’t want to move too much because I felt like I would get dizzy. It was awful. I stopped eating and just sat there wanting to just sleep. I couldn’t sleep at the restaurant of course. Finally the check comes (which felt like forever) and I signed off on it and excused myself to go outside. Well guess what, I started throwing up as I walked out. I tried my best to cover my mouth but I know things got out (sorry for the TMI) and I ran into the bathroom and it was awful. I also got it in the stall but wiped it down as much as I could. I felt awful both physically and mentally. But I didn’t have the energy or strength to feel bad, I wiped myself off as much as I could (yeah, it got all over my clothes too) and sat outside to wait for my friend. I don’t know how obvious it was but when my friend went to get a parking validation and I sat waiting for him outside, the manager came out and gave me a cold towel and asked if I was okay. He quickly left but what a sweet gesture. It was one of those disposable wet towels they give you at your meals but that was so nice. I will remember that and felt so bad because I am sure they had to clean up after me. Mortified. Anyway, the waitress shared they only validate for an hour but if we are kamaaina we can go downstairs to the service counter to get additional validation. My friend couldn’t find the counter she spoke up so we just left. I wanted to GET HOME. Anyway, I’ll share the pictures of the food and now officially know that I will never drink rum ever again.

Salmon Sashimi | $20.00

A nice appetizer to share. Nice cuts of salmon!

Salmon Salad | $18.00

I decided to get a salmon salad and mini rice bowl as my meal. This salad is very similar to the one they serve at Katsumidori. It’s very good, I loved it. I didn’t love regurgitating it all night but it was a good salad.

Deep Fried Shrimp Cake | $14.00

This was good. My friend was giggling at the placement of the pepper and the balls, grow up. Hahahaha nah. I didn’t get to try it fresh that night but tasted pretty good heated up the next day.

Mini Rice Bowl with Grilled Eel “Kabayaki” | $15.00

My main dish. Once again, I couldn’t eat it that night so I had it reheated. Was good. I don’t know, I can’t tell the difference between “good” eel and just the kine you buy in the supermarket, you know?

U.S. Prime Filet Steak with Sesame Sauce | $42.00

My friend’s dish, he enjoyed it. I don’t wanna talk about it. Hahaha but it’s nice because it comes out already sliced so it’s easy to eat. Doesn’t come with rice or anything, kind of silly to me. You gonna pay $42 for this, should come with rice and miso soup at least? That’s what’s lacking at Suntory, good teishoku sets.

Recipe: Tuna Tofu Patties

Okay lol. I made this recipe and must have messed it up somehow. It became a tuna tofu scramble and I’m okay with that. I was actually really rushed for time that day and the mixture was not working with me when I tried to form patties. I gave up and just stir fried it all up.

I don’t know where I messed up, I did double the recipe but followed it exactly. Anyway, I really enjoyed how this tasted so I’ll share the recipe as is.

2 blocks of firm tofu after I pressed it to drain, crumbled it up real nice. Is this considered okara?

I can’t find my grater for the life of me so I use a vegetable peeler to peel out long strips and then hand mince the carrots. I was not having it so you can see the different sizes. It’s okay, it makes for a better texture, lol. What do you think I did wrong for it not to form into patties?

Anyway, no Mixed Plate Friday post this week! Enjoy your thanksgiving and I hope you get some super good Black Friday deals!

Tuna Tofu Patties

Ingredients
1 block firm tofu (about 14 ounces)
1 (5-6 ounce) can tuna
1 egg
2 tablespoons panko (or breadcrumbs)
1 small carrot, grated
1 small onion, chopped
2 stalks green onions, chopped
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil

Instructions
First you must crumble the tofu. To do that, drain as much moisture as you can from the tofu. I do this by putting the tofu block in a colander. Put a plate on directly on top of the tofu. Then put a canned good (or cup filled with water) on top of that plate to weigh it down. Let sit for 15 minutes. Then you crumble the tofu (use your hands) into a bowl.
In a mixing bowl, combine the crumbled tofu with the tuna, egg, panko, carrots, onions, green onions, and ginger.
Mix everything until it’s well combined. Then season the mixture with the soy sauce, oyster sauce and sesame oil.
Gently form into small 2-inch patties. Pan fry the patties on each side for 3-5 minutes. Serve hot, with a bowl of rice or as a side dish to a larger meal! Enjoy ^_^

Recipe is from Onolicious Hawaii.

I-NABA – Moilili, HI

I freaking love soba. I love zaru soba. I think my first brush with zaru soba was when I worked at a bento take-out place. Technically wasn’t supposed to but when we had bentos leftover at end of day, we would take one or two. I had two favorites, tuna tamadon and zaru soba combo. The zaru soba came with like a california roll – was the best.

Sorry for the side story. I think we can all agree that I-NABA is the OG and does soba so well. On a whim, we came here for lunch and thankfully it was right when they opened so we could get a seat. The restaurant filled up pretty nicely after that. Short post today, only got two pictures to share!

Tempura Soba A | $21.00
Upgrade large size | +$3.00

2 shrimps, veggie tempura and zaru soba (pictured) or kake soba

This set also comes with rice! Sorry I forgot all the choices, was it sushi rice, white rice and mixed mushroom rice? Of course gotta get the mixed mushroom rice! This wasn’t my dish but it was thoroughly enjoyed!

Bara Chirashi Bowl & Soba | $25.00
Upgrade to regular size | +$3.00
chopped some kinds of sashimi over sushi rice, also comes with half size zaru soba or kake soba (I chose zaru)

I can’t recall if I upgraded to regular size soba but knowing me, I absolutely must have. I mean, I’m there for the soba! So delicious. Really hit the spot because I was craving soba and a chirashi bowl. Yes, pricey. I’m a broken record but was worth it. Also, wow, if you in a rush to eat somewhere, come here. They bring out your food FAST. Almost too fast. Nah nah, let’s leave it as a good thing.

Mixed Plate Friday

Did you folks have a nice Halloween? Okay, it’s been like 2 weeks already but I didn’t get to post this. First time making those mummy hot dogs for the office. I didn’t have yellow mustard so ketchup eyes it is. Make em zombie mummies (sure why not). I didn’t know the recipe calls for a half slice of american cheese too. I thought it was odd. I don’t think you need the cheese. I also made a pan of fudgy brownies that morning, called them graveyard soil or something. Morbid. But it was a nice day because we had a bunch of little kiddos come by the office, they are always so cute. I really missed that during the pandemic.

Char Siu Look Funn | $3 per roll

Used to get a few look funn places in Chinatown but it seems like Chi Kong Look Funn Factory is the last man standing? They only make this so you know it’s gotta be good and yes, it is good. I think this picture shows two rolls. I cut it up myself and make my own dipping sauce. My dipping sauce includes sesame oil, hot sauce, sweet soy sauce and regular soy sauce. I’m extra in all aspect of my life.

Healthy Vegetable Bento | $13.98
combination of our daily homemade sozai with mixed grain rice

I love Kokoro Tei and don’t eat there nearly as much as I want to. Well, I guess it’s a good thing. I bring home lunch to work daily so it’s good I not out there spending too much money. I really enjoy their sozai so I don’t care what comes in it. Just load it up! This one had the following:

From top, clockwise:
Hijiki: Seaweed salad with carrots
Shiraae: Mashed tofu with spring vegetables
Nasu: Simmered eggplant with grated ginger
Kinpira Renkon: Braised lotus root with carrots and sesame
Okura: Sesame seasoned okra
Kabocha: Simmered winter squash

I loved all of it, even the nasu. And if you know me, you know I don’t like eggplant but they make it so good. Give it a try!

Honolulu Hotpot Hale – Ala Moana, HI

Ever since Little Sheep closed down (and closed down a part of my heart and stomach with them), I’ve been lacking some good hot pot. You couldn’t beat Little Sheep, they had great broths, good meats and it was ALL YOU CAN EAT. Well I had the delight of being treated for dinner at Honolulu Hotpot Hale and oh boy, it is not all you can eat and it is not cheap. So thank you to my cousin for treating me (lol) though I think she wanted to eat it as much if not more than me. I forgot to take full pictures because when I start eating, I just forget. I realized I didn’t even take pictures of their broth but, eh…that’s just soup. No worries. By the way, they are located in the Pacific Guardian Tower on Kapiolani. Parking is on your own.

White Rice | $2.99 / scoop

What you see is what you get. I will say, it’s a pretty big bowl of rice. If you have a rice lover, this will not be enough for them.

Handmade Noodles | $5.99

The noodles were alright, to me, nothing special. They do advise that only cook the noodles when the broth is boiling high. If not, the soup will get all “tick” and such. Good advice.

V1 | $12.99
enoki mushroom, king oyster mushroom, black fungu, brown shimeji

I love mushrooms so it was good. Small kine pricey yeah? But I guess everything is pricey nowadays.

V3 | $12.99
dried beancurd strips, dried tofu ties, fried tofu

I was super looking forward to this one because I love tofu. The dried tofu ties aren’t great. The texture is interesting, not soft but not hard? I don’t know how to explain it. The fried tofu doesn’t get soft and soak up the broth as much as I would have liked with tofu puffs.

S1 | $19.99
kauai shrimp, fish fillet, abalone, squid

It was good. $20 good? I don’t know. You don’t really get to choose what comes in these sets so while I could do without the abalone, I had to get it to get my shrimp and fish. The abalone was good though! It was funny that this dish came out last, I had to ask because it seemed like it was forgotten. He was very nice and said they were still preparing it. I mean, it comes to us raw but okay, I digress.

New Zealand Farmed Lamb (pictured) | $21.99 (half yard)
Prime Beef Short Rib | $25.99 (half yard)

Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of the short rib meat. If you go up and look at the noodles picture, you can see both half yards of meat on the table. I’m not a big critic of meat, especially when it’s sliced this thin and thrown into the broth and then dipped in sauce. I actually preferred the lamb meat myself. I usually enjoy the slight gaminess of meat, but their lamb was not at all gamey!

Each person orders their own broth and you get your own gas burner. Each soup is $7.99 and comes with the choice of one dipping sauce.

Soups: Hale Spicy Soup, Authentic Tomato Soup, Hale Medium Spicy Soup, Chinese Sauekrat Soup, Original Beef Soup

Dipping Sauces: Sweet Sesame, Lime Vinegar, Mild Sesame Sauce or Honolulu Skewer House Seasonings (powder)

For the sauce, I don’t know if there is a charge if you want to try different sauces. I was able to get a refill of my chosen sauce free of charge so I guess you could ask? All in all, it was a good hot pot and was delicious. Do I think it was worth the price? Yes and no. I still long for Little Sheep to make a triumphant return but also know that if I tried to make my own hot pot at home, it would probably cost way more. I’ll let you folks judge for yourselves.

Sekiya’s Restaurant & Delicatessen – Kaimuki, HI

If you can believe it, I have never been to Sekiya’s. Honestly, when I started eating out more, that was around the time Sekiya’s got closed down for violations. I forget why and somehow that stuck with me but I was young then. Now I know dirtier kitchens probably make the best food (sorry for that). Anyway, my friend treated me to a nice lunch here after a morning of craft fairing across the street.

Super old school joint, and you better go only if you’re patient. I was a bit upset in the beginning because honestly we were the only other table and the waitress wasn’t helping us fast at all. Then as I took in the surroundings, I realized she was completely on her own and probably helping in the kitchen too so I calmed down considerably. I get it, all restaurants get staffing shortages but that’s just my warning to you. If you come here, expect to wait a very long time. To be seated, to be given waters, to have your order taken, to get your food, to get your check (omg that took so long), lol. But the waitress is so nice and doing her best so please know that before going.

Also, the delicatessen line was always busy. I wish we had more okazuyas around.

Small Saimin | $7.09
Yakitori Chicken (2 sticks) | $4.35

This wasn’t my dish but I got to try a piece of the chicken. It was alright. Hahaha

Fried Saimin | $10.49
BBQ Stick Meat | $2.55

I like laugh. I just looked at the picture of the menu and it has a warning with this meat stick that consuming raw or undercooked foods may increase your risk of foodborne illness. Wat? For this meat stick? What they trying for tell me? I didn’t get asked if I want it to be cooked rare. And boy, was this hunk of meat overcooked lol – it was like jerky. I wouldn’t get this again.

I’ve talked about this before, I am a noodle fiend. I was super looking forward to this dish. And well, I guess I didn’t expect it to come unmixed. I expected them to fry the saimin…together? There is a huge mound of noodles mixed with a very sweet teriyaki sauce and then the toppings thrown on top. If you don’t like raw green onions, no get this dish. And the plate they serve it in is so small that I couldn’t even mix the noodles myself (lol) so I had to pick at ingredients little by little while trying to grab noodles from this huge clump. The dish was okay, but I guess I would prefer it already mixed?? Also, thankfully my friend had her hot mustard because boy did I need it to eat this dish. If not, it was just all dry and sweet. Needed a kick.

I know this wasn’t a glowing review but I would still return to try their other dishes. They just a small mom and pop restaurant serving up some old school Japanese food, gotta support!

Mixed Plate Friday

Deluxe Strawberry Cream Cake (8 inch) | $38.00
strawberry chiffon cake layers filled with strawberry mousse and vanilla creme brulee. decorated with fresh cream, strawberries, white chocolate shavings, and cocoa powder.

My Dad’s birthday is in late October and since my brother also has a late October birthday, we already got our favorite mango cake from Elvin’s. So I made a rash decision to go to 85°C Bakery Cafe in Ala Moana. It was during their soft opening week and I went around 1PM on a weekday. Oh boy, the line was nuts. And the shelves were slim, each time the poor worker came out with fresh goods, people swarmed her like we are all starving.

I didn’t get a picture of it but their egg custard tarts are ABSOLUTELY worth the hype. If you get a chance, go try it. It looks like the custard tarts from dim sum restaurants but the crust is not at all the same. It’s buttery and flakey, light and cripsy. The custard is sweet but not overly sweet. You gotta try it.

Oh sorry, back to the cake. I actually wanted their mango cake but they were all sold out. This was my second choice. It was good. But I don’t like whipped cream so you can kind of guess where I stand with this cake. If you like the description of this cake, you will absolutely love it. And how cute is their writing for the message! The hearts are such a cute touch!

If you ever want to go just to try their drinks, they have a touch screen machine right by the bar so you can order it there and get your drink right there instead of standing in the bakery line. But shoot, if you’re there, get the pastries!

Look at me being all fancy with this shot. I was curious about the puffed granola so I got it to eat with my greek yogurt. It’s pretty good, I mean it just tastes like sweetened rice krispies or something. Just an FYI. 🙂

Tofu & Watercress Salad (add Salmon Katsu) | $17.00
chopped romaine, sumida farm’s watercress, tofu, tomato, cucumber, soy vinaigrette

We love picking up lunch from Hamada General Store and if you follow their instagram, they get some killer daily specials. I am always tempted. For this lunch order, I decided to go somewhat lighter and got this salad. I enjoyed it very much. The watercress was nice and tender. The watercress is raw if that means anything to you folks, I didn’t mind it since it was so tender. I usually like my watercress quickly blanched. The dressing tasted good and the salmon was cooked PERFECT. Not at all dry. I was kind of expecting like a sauce for the salmon similar to Sushi King but that’s only cause I was used to Sushi King. Didn’t need it. They give plenty dressing for this salad so you can dip the salmon in it if you need more flavor.

Frog House Restaurant – Waikiki, HI

Bear with me. I know the name of this restaurant is very odd but they do not only serve frogs. Do they serve frogs? They must to have this name. Frog House Restaurant has been around quite a while, I tried it once years and years ago and wasn’t impressed so I haven’t been back. Well, I had a hankering for bossam last week and my favorite restaurant Jagalchi closed down (MAJOR BUMMER) so I had to find another restaurant to fill the void. It is not easy finding a good bossam place you know! I think this post will probably be mostly for V. LOL.

By the way, this place has horrendous parking. There are a few stalls fronting the restaurant and they are right next to a noodle shop which I no like even name but there is the word Joy in it and they seem anything but. I was trying for park in front and was having hard time, just as my friend was going to ask Frog if we can park there, I see the “joy” lady screaming and yelling at me from her restaurant and gesturing me to go somewhere else. I couldn’t hear her cause she was inside her restaurant with the door closed. She looked so mad. And you know what? What if I was trying for go her restaurant? Well I won’t ever go now.

Anyway, I found out the parking is in the back of the building for Frog and it’s a very tight lot with tandem spots so basically, you will always be blocked in. They know this so as you’re leaving, the waitress will either help you manuever out or ask the other diners to move their cars.

I judge a Korean restaurant by the quality of their banchan and they did not fail here. In fact, their banchan reminded me of Jagalchi’s banchan in its heyday. Near the end, they were giving less and less banchan and with no variety.

From top to bottom, steamed egg (so savory and soft), choy sum, fishcake, bean sprouts. All four items were marinated to the max, no blandness here!

I also judge a Korean restaurant by their kimchee. Frog has some good kimchee, both cucumber and wonbok. I liked these potatoes, it’s the sweet shoyu one. Cooked perfect, not too soft but not hard at all. All three seasoned wonderfully.

Spicy Beef and Vegetable Soup Lunch Special | $12.95

Not my dish but I got to give it a try. So good. They give really good amount of meat and fill it up with all the good veggies (fern, beansprouts, etc.). A nice helping of long rice. I would absolutely order this myself next time.

Korean Sausage Soup Lunch Special | $12.95

I always go for the blood sausage. I know, not everyone can handle this. In fact, this soup not only included the blood sausage, it included all kind intestine and either sliced pig ear or some kind of cartiledge. I enjoyed it but it’s not for the faint of heart. I would get the yukkaejjang next time though this soup was good!

Oysters & Steamed Pork | $34.95

The dish you have been waiting for (well V). The biggest difference so far? The pork. Jagalchi used to make the pork in a nice soy/coffee broth so the pork always looked so nice and brown and juicy. This one, just looks so white and bland yeah? The wonbok “wraps” had a bit of a vinegary taste. The daikon mixture, gosh it was missing the chinese chives that Jagalchi used to use.

In the end, I think it was still a good dish but here is my warning, but I think it was just me. And sorry for the TMI, but I got major stomach problems (ahem) right after lunch. I’m talking, all afternoon kine. I’m talking, I didn’t ask for a full body cleanse but certainly got it kine. But my dining companion seemed to react with it fine so it really could just be me. I have had bad reactions to raw oysters before. Eat at your own risk.

ALSO, the waitress working in the restaurant is SO NICE. Very sweet, seems like a small family owned place and I really liked how homey the restaurant felt and how homey the dishes cooked felt. Reminded me a lot of Jagalchi. Also, I love that each table has a button/buzzer so you can call for help when needed. And small thing but I liked that she brings every table a pitcher of water. It’s the little details.

Recipe: Braised Tofu

Yes, another tiktok recipe. But I am loving these recipe videos that invoke cooking from my roots. I’ve always loved braised tofu dishes in Chinese restaurants. To be honest, my family didn’t cook much of it at home. Not sure why, it’s a pretty healthy dish. It can be vegan if you use vegan oyster sauce and veggie stock cubes. Well, I made the dish as authentic as can be which includes deep frying soft tofu cubes. Oh boy. I can see why my family didn’t make this ever. But was it worth the effort? I believe so.

During and after frying. Yeah, some tofu got more tanned than others. You got a problem with that? lol

Rehyrated Shiitake Mushrooms

Original recipe I followed only had bamboo shoots, I couldn’t resist throwing in young corn!

Braised Tofu Recipe

Ingredients
2 boxes of soft tofu
2 cans sliced bamboo shoots (I used Family Brand, 8 oz. cans)
2 cans young carrots (I used Family brand, 8 oz. cans)
30 dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated in 6-8 C warm water for at least one hour (reserve soaking liquid)
4 C shiitake soaking liquid, avoid scooping up any settlement from soaking
4 stalks green onions, thinly sliced
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 T doubanjjang
Neutral oil for frying

Sauce:
2 T oyster sauce
1 T soy sauce
2 chicken bouillon cubes
2 tsp dark soy sauce
1 t sugar
2 pinches of salt
4 T cornstarch slurry (4 T of water to 2 T of cornstarch)

Instructions

  1. Drain tofu, wrap in paper towel and press out excess water (place a plate on top and weigh it down to get out more water)
  2. Cube tofu and heat up at least 1-1.5 cups of oil in a frying pan (depends how big your pan is, the oil level should be about half the height of the tofu
  3. Heat up oil and add tofu cubes and fry, flip to brown both ends. Remove from oil when the tofu is golden brown
  4. Heat up pan with about 2 T oil, add garlic and doubanjjang to saute for about 30 seconds
  5. Add bamboo shoots, saute for 10-15 seconds
  6. Add young corn, saute for 10-15 seconds
  7. Add shiitake mushrooms and the sauce, mix well
  8. Add 4 C shiitake soaking liquid and cover to simmer for about 10 minutes on medium-high heat
  9. Add cornstarch slurry and heat up until sauce is thick
  10. Option, blanch bok choy and line bottom of your serving dish with bok choy before adding braised tofu on top

Notes:

  • Yes, this a lot. You can definitely half this recipe – I always cook for a crowd
  • I like spice so this is the amount of doubanjjang I add – if you can’t handle the spice, cut the amount I add by half
  • Next time, I would add one more block of tofu (I think could even take two more blocks of tofu)

Blanced bok choy ready to be smothered!

This is gonna be like my meals for the week but I couldn’t resist taking a few bites. It was delicious!!!!