Mixed Plate Friday

Mai Musubi Set A Bento | $12.00
salmon musubi/konbu musubi

I am really digging Mai Musubi being in Manoa now. Makes it so easy to grab and go food in the morning! I’ve noticed they get some bentos out earlier in the morning now! I think I got this bento at like 6:30 AM? Yay! Score! Love their musubis, not a huge fan of the chicken karaage, was kind of hard and of course cold (no can help the cold). All in all, great value for the quality.

Chicken & Mushrooms | $16.00
boneless fried chicken, cremini mushroom sauce, white rice, potato mac salad

LOL chicken and mushrooms. Okay, I just call this mushroom chicken because I love mushroom chicken. I was waiting forevers for Hamada General Store to have this as a special and be able to actually get down there to get it!! We called right when they opened to place our order. Good thing, they sold out FAST. It was a good dish! They fry the chicken very well. This has actually made me want to make it myself. Although I don’t need fried chicken, maybe I can do an oven baked chicken. Yum Yum Yum.

Kimchee Fried Rice | $14.99

Okay, let’s see who is an old fut like me. Do you folks remember when Taiyo Ramen used to be on the other side of Ala Moana? Before the current Target building (or former Nordstrom), it was a small building that contained Taiyo Ramen. I remember this so clearly! Man, they have been around forever and I used to always go and eat their kimchee fried rice. They are still alive and kicking in their current location. They will close when they close down that plot of land. I’m assuming it’s another development. As if we need more developments in Ala Moana. I am still sad when I think of all the great places on Keeaumoku that closed. Blah!

Anyway, I decided to grab my last kimchee fried rice before they close. No set date yet so if you have a craving, go go go! I say last because I did not feel good after eating this. Maybe I overdid it? I don’t know, but I felt quesy after and didn’t even eat dinner that night cause of it. I will say, in the past when I’ve gotten their food…felt super heavy with MSG seasoning. I think had the strongest reaction to MSG with this restaurant. Anyway, I think it’s just me so no use me as the guide. Also, if you want extra kimchee, just ask!

AROMA ITALIA – Diamond Head, HI

Was looking for a new Italian place to try and I found AROMA ITALIA on Yelp. The reviews were pretty good and the food pics were amazing. I had to give it a try! They look like a take-out shop but offer dine-in service. It was kind of cool that all the workers had an Italian accent, makes it feel authentic somehow. Hope that’s not offensive. Their parking lot is not it. They are in the same lot as Bogart’s Cafe and boy was that lot was tight and had choke cars no matter what time it was. Good luck to you.

La Bomba Pizzetta (8″) | $16.00
tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, turkey pepperoni, mushrooms, topped with fresh italian burrata, arugula and balsamic glaze

Yum yum. Perfect little pizza to start as an appetizer. It was good. I think this was my first experience with burrata. Not quite sure what the hype is with the cheese is, is it because it’s runny? It tastes like mozz to me, lol.

Linguine Pescatore | $23.00
light marinara sauce, jumbo shrimp, clams, mussels and fresh parsley served over linguine pasta

I think I asked to substitute pink sauce for this dish because I just wanted to try pink sauce! They checked with the kitchen and said yes so here the dish is! It was delicious! But the winner dish of the night was a weekly special…

Pappardelle Alla Crema Di Funghi | $20.00
pappardelle pasta tossed in a creamy mushroom sauce with sauteed chicken

I don’t usually like cream sauces because it can be too rich but it was nice to share the two pasta dishes. This dish was so good. The pasta was perfect, great seasoning. Sad it was only a weekly special but they do allow you to build your own pasta dishes so I bet you could create something similar on your own.

Would I come back? Why yes, I think I would! It’s funny, I always want to try the osso buco at Italian restaurants and they are always out when I want to order it. What can I do?? The search continues.

Recipe: Spinach Artichoke Christmas Tree

How’s this recipe for timeliness? Happy New Year everyone! Super late greeting, I apologize. I really was meaning to post about Japan right after my trip but life just caught up with me. The holidays hit like a ton of bricks and then I had a whole bunch of annual doctor visits earlier this month so I’ve been pre-occupied. I hope you folks have been doing well! I’ll try to get back to a regular posting schedule again. Hopefully you folks are still interested in Japan content, I mean the visit was only last month but feels like eons ago.

So the recipe! Yeah, I got it off Tiktok. Hahaha who would’ve thunk. But isn’t it so cute! Our division had a little holiday tea so I made it to share. It’s cute and it’s one of those “tear and share” dishes. It’s also super easy to make…I just buy the ready made pizza crust and spinach artichoke dip from Sam’s Club. You can do it!

Like my perfectly shaped triangle? This recipe only requires one pizza crust. You cut the first triangle out of the rectangular dough and place it on the side to become the top layer of this dish. Then the remaining two triangles are used to form a big triangle to be the bottom of the tree.

Spread that artichoke dip on the bottom layer. I think the urge is to put plenty (I know I wanted to) but realize you will have to be able to twist the “branches” so too much filling won’t do. Just do a nice sized thin layer.

You always hear that shredding your own cheese is better. Tastes better, blah blah blah. Yeah, I did that this time. I was kind of mad because I don’t have a good tool to do it. It was also like 4 in the morning. Anyway, place a layer of cheese on top! I won’t judge if you buy pre-shredded.

Top layer of the dough on top! You can see why this one is the top layer right? First it’s a nicer shape and second, this isn’t the one I had to merge together so there’s no seam.

This is where a pizza cutter would come in super handy. I don’t have one. So I used a small knife, just make cuts like I did here!

Then you twist! I did two twists for each branch. I do wonder if I made it again would I add maybe diced sun dried tomatoes? Top the tree off with a yellow star (yellow bell pepper)? It’s up to you!

Christmas Tree Appetizer

Ingredients
Pillsbury Classic Pizza Crust (13.8 oz tube)
1.5 to 2 C of Spinach Artichoke Dip (I used Member’s Mark brand)
3/4 C Shredded Cheese (I used Colby Jack, use as much cheese as you want)
2 T Butter, melted

Baking Sheet, lined

Instructions

  1. Lay out pizza dough (it will be a rectangular shape). Cut a triangle out of the rectangular dough and place it on the side to become the top layer of this dish. Then the remaining two triangles are used to form a big triangle to be the bottom of the tree, make it a similar size to the top layer triangle.
  2. Spread artichoke dip on the bottom layer. I think the urge is to put plenty (I know I wanted to) but realize you will have to be able to twist the “branches” so too much filling won’t do. Just do a nice sized thin layer.
  3. Spread shredded cheese on artichoke dip layer.
  4. Place the top triangle layer on top. Use a pizza cutter or small knife and cut one inch slats, don’t cut all the way through. Please refer to pictures above for visual.
  5. Then you twist! I did two twists for each branch. I do wonder if I made it again would I add maybe diced sun dried tomatoes? Top the tree off with a yellow star (yellow bell pepper)? It’s up to you!
  6. Brush melted butter on top and place in pre-heated 400°F oven and bake for 20-22 minutes.

Note: I would do all of this directly on the baking sheet. This tree is huge and would be hard to transfer from place to place pre-baking.

A present for staying to the end. I made two that morning and here is the koge one. Hahaha

Hormone Dedesuke – Ginza, Japan

One of the goals in Japan was to try some good A5 Wagyu. We were hungry and just trying to find a restaurant for dinner and stumbled upon Hormone Dedesuke. We weren’t sold on it initially and did a lot of back and forth before we finally went in. I’m glad we did, it turned out great! Pricey but it’s A5 wagyu, what do you expect??

Our waitress was a nice young lady from the Phillippines so her English was great. Whew. They have a wagyu set you can choose but I would opt against it, you don’t get to choose what cuts of meat the kitchen gives you. She basically pointed at the good ones and said don’t expect that if you order the set. So yeah, we went ala carte on our own. One thing I didn’t love, the service charge? Sitting fee? Service charge? This was the only restaurant we encountered that.

Yay for vegetables. The only veggies to be grilled are the corn, asparagus and mushrooms. Yup, you eat the big hunking chunks of cabbage raw. It was fine. It was seasoned with sesame oil and salt and pepper. I liked it.

Beef Tongue (unsure if this was A5 lol, kidding) | ¥1800

The tongue was good. But I don’t think I’ve had bad tongue (that’s what she said).

Flap Meat | ¥2420

Oh yum, first of the A5 courses. Delicious. Yup, you grill it yourself. I laugh cause the sign looks like it says flop meat. LOL.

A5 Sirloin | ¥4800

I gotta say, I would never choose a sirloin over other cuts but I think the sirloin was my favorite cut of the night. It was so good. I mean all the meats were melt in your mouth kine tender but this one just had a special touch.

A5 Rib Roast | ¥4800

Look at the hunk of fat you use to I guess season the grill, mmmm. I liked that they included wasabi, it was a nice topper to cut into the richness of the meat. They give dipping sauces, it’s very similar to Korean BBQ sauces.

Bibimbap | ¥1300

This might sound silly but dang this bibimbap was good. Like, maybe one of my favorites I have ever had of all time. Crazy right. I just loved the seasoning and vegetables they used. It was just…made perfect. I loved it. I’ll dream about it. I had weird cravings during this trip, because TMI, I was PMSing. 🙂 Meal well enjoyed!

Din Tai Fung – Ginza, Japan

Another country, another Din Tai Fung. I can’t help myself and my friend had never tried them before so we just had to right? I think I am slowly getting over my Din Tai Fung obsession, it wasn’t a great experience.

Spicy Pickled Cucumbers | ¥550

Good, not great? Not as pickled as I would have liked.

Pork Chop with Fried Rice | ¥1600

My favorite dish of the meal. I really liked their fried rice, had a good taste of MSG. Hahaha MSG gets a bad rep, I like when I can taste it in fried rice.

Steamed Shrimp and Pork Shiaomai (4 pc) | ¥800

Ehhh, if I compare it to the siumai from home. Thumbs down.

Pork XiaoLongBao (4 pc) | ¥660

My friend says he was disappointed because they weren’t as big or soupy as he expected. I don’t blame him for the disappointment. It was just alright. I think the better deal they had going was their lunch specials. For a pretty good price, you could get a noodle dish and side XLB. We weren’t that hungry since we had breakfast that morning so we only ordered this much. I would come back to order their meal set!

Here’s the restaurant being fancy just to be fancy. I should have put my jacket on the same chair as my purse, because they used two big cloth napkins to cover my purse and my jacket. I guess they are trying to protect it from any potential spills? I don’t know. A little extra in my mind, lol.

Japan Glasses & Wifi

Hi folks! Just a quick side post for some things I found neat! My eye doctor mentioned that I could get glasses in Japan for cheaper – and that the frames are better made for Asian faces, are lightweight and can be done quick. SOLD. I am due for a new pair of glasses anyway. Thank you so much to kat for answering all my random questions and sharing this place with me! There was a JINS in Ginza so I checked them out!

A pretty painless process! They have all the frames out for you to look at, when you are ready, you bring the frame to them and show them your prescription. I asked how long it would take since I am a tourist and they said it would depend on the power I needed. If they have the lens in stock, it would take 30 MINUTES. I was like dumbfounded. I showed them my prescription and they had it! So they did something real quick with a machine and my face and took to work.

You pay for your glasses and they give you a ticket telling you what time to return. Yup, it was ready in 30 minutes. When I came back, they showed me the glasses and then had me put them on so they could adjust the frames to fit my face perfectly. The glasses also come with a free hard case. I almost wish I got another pair! Highly recommend!

Do you folks have a preferred wifi provider in Japan? I’ve been using Global Advanced Communications for all the years I’ve been traveling to Japan. This is not an ad, no one is paying me anything. I just think they are reliable and the cost is pretty good! Just wanted to show you what you get – and the package with all of this is waiting for me when I checked into my hotel. I could use this unit all through Japan and they give you a pre-paid envelope to return everything in when you’re at the airport. It was great. This wifi pocket is a pretty old unit, I mean, I am pretty sure this is the same one I got the last time I was in Japan like 3 years ago lol. It’s okay, it worked great.

I also used an IC card for the first time this trip, what a breeze. Why didn’t I do this earlier? I actually went to a JR station to look for the Welcome Suica card made for travelers. Why not? I didn’t have to pay a deposit and it has a cute cherry blossom design. Using that card to just scan my way through all the train stations was great, it works at basically all the subway and train stations. It also worked in both Tokyo and Osaka and it’s very easy to refill the card at all stations.

2022 Japan – Day 1

Hi everyone! I am back! I am soo happy and relieved to report that I did not get sick once during my trip. Sick as in travel sick. I did incredibly well on the plane rides/train rides/bus rides. It might be a mixture of things but I also tried Bonine this time around and since I did well this trip, I guess Bonine will be the thing I take from here on out.

My flight in and out of Japan was through Hawaiian Airlines. They had a killer deal flying in and out of Narita so we had to snatch it up! It was around $687 round trip? Sounds good to me! We decided to do half the trip in Tokyo and half the trip in Osaka, instead of train-ing it, we decided to take a domestic flight. That was an interesting trip. Maybe I’ll do a side post on it.

For our first night, we threw down our stuff and headed to grab some dinner before resting for the night. I was actually looking for Ippudo and this place was closer so we just went for it. It was okay. We got tripped up by the machine because it was all in Japanese and only a few buttons had pictures lol.

Well first off, the char siu is hard as a rock. They slice it up ice cold and just throw it on top of the ramen. Who wants hard pieces of meat? The egg and noodles were good. The broth was…RICH. All in all, I wouldn’t go back again but was nice to start the trip off with some ramen!

Just another example of how Japan does everything better. This is their Starbucks Reserve. Our hotel was in Ginza so we spent the first day of the trip just staying within Ginza. This Starbucks was super close to our hotel. It was a bit confusing for me, you order downstairs and then go upstairs for seating. My drink was prepared upstairs but the sandwich I asked for was served to me on a tray downstairs. Their English wasn’t great haha.

I got the Winter Cinnamon Latte! I just couldn’t resist. I just noticed I paid ¥940 for a cup of coffee. What is blended? Oops! I just went for it.

Look at how cute the coffee is! The design, the whole cinnamon stick. The drink was lovely. Nice and mild, not bitter and just a nice touch of cinnamon.

Just a deli meat sandwich. Very dry. No mayo at all. It was okay, not great.

My friend’s plate! And look! They have the lemon loaf cake in Japan too! Very different. Very dense – it’s not bad but not great. I wouldn’t get it again, just stick to the one in Hawaii. I don’t wanna clog this post up with too many pictures! More posts to come!

Dell’s Kitchen and Bakery / Mio Pastology – Moilili, HI

This post will come is coming in clutch because I am posting a Japanese eatery as I prepare for my trip to JAPAN. In fact, I am announcing a break from posting because I will be on vacation for about 2 weeks. I am SO excited. It’s been much too long but wish me all the luck because I really hope I travel well this time. I even bought silly motion sickness glasses in hopes of helping me. I’ll be hitting up Tokyo and Osaka on this trip and just can’t wait to experience some nice cold weather and just awesome Japanese food and sights!

Follow me on Instagram if you haven’t already! I don’t do a lot of posts but will probably update a lot of story reels during my vacation!

Anyway, this is a double post from Dell’s Kitchen and Bakery and Mio Pastology since they’re located in the same space and we ordered from both!

Garlic Chili Chicken | $11.00
karaage chicken dressed in a chili/garlic dressing

Not my dish, seemed like both diners thought it was just alright. I don’t think they were expected it to look like this. I guess they expected maybe fried chicken with a garlic chili crisp on top? No complaints but no compliments either.

Housemade Turkey Sausage | $7.00
fresh ground turkey, garlic and oregano accompanied with cranberry mustard sauce

They had this on special since it was the day before thanksgiving. My coworker got it and generously shared with us. It tasted good! The oregano is definitely the overwhelming taste and the sauce is a cranberry mixture and a mustard sauce separately. The mustard sauce is STRONG. I mean no point in too much details since it was a seasonal offering.

Shoyu Butter (Soy Garlic + Butter Sauce) Wafu Pasta | $12.00
spaghetti, bacon, mushroom, spinach, nori katsuoboshi flakes

Shirasu Mentai (Soy Garlic Sauce) Wafu Pasta | $14.50
spaghetti, boiled shirasu, mentaiko, green onion, poached egg, katsuobushi flakes, nori

Leave it to me to get the more unique dish. I was eyeing out their natto pasta too but decided to go with this instead. I really enjoyed it. Who doesn’t enjoy eating baby fish? LOL, by the time I mixed it altogether, I couldn’t really tell what ingredient was what. All I know is that it tasted great. The only complaint? It’s a small serving. Or it’s the right serving and I just eat too much.

Anyway, I got a spicy curry pan from the bakery side (no pic, sorry) and gobbled that up too. The curry pan was good, baked. I think I may prefer baked over the deep fried curry donuts.

Take care everyone!

Mixed Plate Friday

Yo Mama’s Sampler Pack | $13.00
Chocolate, Pumpkin and Ube Mochi

We finally had a craft fair this year! Yay! And Yo Mama’s was a first time vendor I was super excited for. I was able to grab a sampler pack before they sold out. This was very good! Surprisingly I liked the ube one the most, to me it just tastes like butter mochi and I love butter mochi. I thought all three were good!

Mini Musubi Bento | $8.00

I went at 6AM to Mai Musubi and scored! They had some bentos ready so I was able to grab this up! I think it was a pretty good deal! I really enjoyed their tofu croquette, can tell it was homemade. It was nice and savory with umami. Yum!

Boba Milk Tea | $5.75

Original Egg Waffle | $7.50
Add Boba Topping | 50¢

Meet Fresh is a new dessert joint in Ala Moana, it’s on the street level located by Spectrum. We had a long day at the mall and had to wait for something at T-Mobile so we came down here to help with the wait time. I got the egg waffle and added boba topping because I’ve had this weird craving for egg waffles lately. I don’t know why. It was very good! Kind of pricey though.

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!