Sandy’s Cafe – Chinatown, HI

Chan and I are on the hunt for good Chinese grindz, but specifically, good Chinese breakfast grindz. And ding ding ding, we have a winner! Sandy’s Cafe is located in the Chinese Cultural Plaza so we came in on a Sunday morning for a nice leisurely breakfast. They are also known for roasting their own meats and have been rated pretty high on lists, are they worth the hype?

Lemon Tea (Cold) | $5.00

Gotta start the meal off with a nice freshing Hong Kong style lemon iced tea. If the lemon slices don’t take up half the cup, what are you even doing? (j/k).

Crispy Gau Gee (4 pcs) | $7.00

Fried nice and crisp and packed full of stuffing. Homemade and delicious!

Beef Brisket & Tendon Funn in Soup | $19.00

Chan loves this type of dish so he’s been trying it all over. He likes the one from Lam’s Kitchen a lot but he liked Sandy’s version too! I had a slurp of their soup, very flavorful! Tasted more homey to me, which I like!

Ginger Chicken Sauce Chicken & Roast Duck on Rice | $19.00
Opted for Thigh meat | $2.00 upcharge

So yeah, you read that right. To get the dark meat, you gotta pay TWO DOLLARS. There was a bit of confusion and she came back to confirm if I wanted thigh for both meats. I ain’t going to pay $4! Sorry, but generally duck is good in all parts…especially the breast! I only wanted chicken thigh meat. Yeah they gave me chicken thigh meat with a couple pieces of breast too. I actually originally wanted the char siu and roast duck on rice plate to try their roast meats but they said their char siu wasn’t ready. I think she said it would be ready at 9 or 10. Okay this is a lot of complaining but I actually enjoyed the dish a lot. Even if the waitress got a bit snippy at me when I got confused by her thigh questioning – they are all actually quite nice and the restaurant is nice and clean and bright! We will definitely return but according the sign on their door, they are taking an extended break until about mid-November? Definitely recommend! Though, I still think Asian Mix’s roast duck is betta.

Tali’s Bagels & Schmear – Honolulu, HI

Hi folks. Apologies are in order, life got super busy and I just didn’t have the time, motivation or energy to post. I even had a whole bunch of pictures edited and ready to go but now I look at them and don’t want to. LOL, so I’ll put those pics on the side and start anew here.

Did I ever tell you folks I never learned to swim? So one of my bucket list items was to learn how to swim. My co-worker suggested looking into the Parks and Rec program and what a great idea! It was just in time for the new term and lo and behold, I found the beginner’s courses. I got super excited. I bought swim clothes, goggles and was ready for the courses.

Sorry to say, the excitement soon faded. Everyone in my class were not beginner swimmers, not even close. I was super excited to learn from our instructor because he is so gentle and patient but eventually, he had me learn alone with this younger guy while he taught the others. The first time I had that happen, I thought this is awesome – I get my one on one instruction! Well sorry, but while this younger guy was nice, he was not teaching me anything and seemed bored. So as I did the same thing over and over, I watched as the main instructor was having a ball with the rest of the students. I felt defeated and by the time it happened a second time, I kind of just cried driving home because I felt so isolated and wasn’t learning much.

What can you do when it’s a free course right? I am a bit irritated that all these swimmers are taking up the spots in a beginners course, it feels pretty selfish to me. Folks like me who actually need to learn how to swim gets jipped you know? Sigh. For now, I guess I’ll just watch YouTube videos and practice in Chan’s pool. I don’t know, my shoulders are still junk so it limits me too. Sorry for the boo-hoo’ing but that was part of the reason why I was busy too.

Let’s get to the meat of the post! I checked out Tali’s Bagels & Schmear the other week (omg it was August, I just checked the date) because I had a hankering for some NY style bagels! A bit pricey but I thought they were good all in all?

They are located in Ward Center – it used to be the Mocha Java spot. Man, I heard they are going to tear down Ward Center too. How many condos is too many condos?? I never got over Borders closing haha.

OG NYC w/Everything Bagel | $16.00
acme premium center-cutlox, tomato, red onion, dill, capers, and our classic schmear

How was it? Good. $16 good? I don’t know. I guess I’m not a bagel snob so I can’t tell the difference between a super good bagel versus a basic one. I feel like I could just buy my own bagels and make my own sandwich and put choke more smoked salmon lol.

Aww Zhuga Zhuga w/Classic Bagel | $15.00
slow cooked chicken breast drenched in house-made zhug (cilantro-based hot sauce/middle eastern spices), roasted bell peppers, onions and melted mozzarella

What possessed me to get this? I had no idea what zhug was so I really took a risk to get this one. But you know what? It was delicious! It’s like a slighty spicy pesto sauce, it was a good sandwich! I would get this again if I had to return here. But yeah, I don’t think I’m itching to come back again until I get another bagel craving.

Ruth’s Chris Steak House – Downtown, HI

This is a memory I will never forget. My friend and I went to Ruth’s Chris Steak House at Restaurant Row (now Waterfront Plaza – yes I’m old) for a holiday dinner years ago. Dinner was going swimmingly, all the tables were full with holiday cheer until we hear a big sound. I was horrified to see that a food runner had dropped his tray of food all over a diner. I’m talking like bowls of hot soup. I was mortified for them! Sorry, that’s the memory I had and when I dined here a few weeks ago, I couldn’t shake that memory because all of them were still carrying trays so full of food way high up in the air…I had PTSD! Anyway, the same friend (lol) treated me to a wonderful birthday dinner here! It was amazing, let me share some pics!!!

Complimentary Warmed Bread and Butter. Yes please.

Caesar Salad | $19.00
romaine hearts, parmesan & romano, creamy caesar

No worries, it’s for two portions! My friend actual ate vegetables, birthday miracles do happen (ha!). The salad was delicious! They don’t make it table side in case you were wondering.

Petite Filet & Shrimp | $67.00
8 oz. petite filet with three large shrimp

I used to get the rib eye but now since I have a smaller appetite, the petite was it! Couldn’t resist a little surf and turf action. I’ve learned my lesson in the past and guess what I did? I ordered it rare.

They cooked it right and I was thrilled. And you know what? This is probably one of the best steaks I have ever had in my life. It was cooked perfectly and it was so tender, broke the mouth soft man. So so so good!

Petite Filet + Lobster Tail | $58 + $20
8 oz. of our most tender cut of lean, midwestern beef
lobster tail sizzling with drawn butter

My friend’s meal. YUM. Well I didn’t have any of it but how can you go wrong??

Mac & Cheese | $18.00
cavatappi pasta, white cheddar sauce

They label this as lobster mac and cheese but if you don’t want to be bougie, you can order the mac and cheese plain which is what we did!!

Complimentary Birthday Dessert – Flaming Strawberries

What a spectacle. No worries, they don’t sing to you! And boy does it take a while for the fire to die down. And when it does…the strawberries are all mushy and kind of junk. What a waste of beautiful strawberries! I would take the strawberries with the chocolate sauce, hold the fire!

Creme Brulee | $14.00
vanilla bean custard with raw sugar crust

Chocolate Sin Cake | $13.00
rich flourless cake, ganache, raspberry sauce

My dessert. So rich and decadent. Super good though!

Sushi Murayama – Ala Moana, HI

Chan treated me to a special dinner at Sushi Murayama! I haven’t been there in ages and I am not quite sure how they run the restaurant now, post-pandemic. Other than two other guests, we were the only ones seated at the sushi counter for their omakase. I’m not sure if they are doing their full menu dining in the full restaurant. Chan decided to try the $155 omakase deluxe set and what a treat! It’s 16 pieces of sushi and yes, they were all high quality.

My only complaint? Much. Too. Fast. I don’t think I have ever complained about fast service, but this was…too much. They put down your first piece of sushi right when you sit. They explain each sushi and the origin of it which is good, but basically once you eat the sushi – the next piece is already plopped down. The chef was super attentive and basically waiting for the moment to drop the next dish. I tell you, we could have finished the meal in 15 minutes because it felt that fast paced. For me, that ruined the experience a bit. Chan and I had a super omakase experience in Seattle which felt almost opposite of this. Gotta give your diners time to savor the food they just ate…I can’t remember much about each dish because it was just all too fast. I got full so fast too so I had to take some home. Well, enjoy the pics lol.

Kan Sushi – Waikiki, HI

Am I finally posting a new place pre-social media frenzy? Maybe, maybe not. I am scheduling this out but when I checked out Kan Sushi – it was before it was crazy busy. We came on a weekday for lunch. Kan Sushi is an all you can eat sushi/pupu/korean bbq/noodles restaurant. I mean, they seriously have everything. Here is the link to their current menu. Currently, the lunch price is $29.95 or $35.95 for dinner. The only difference is that select items are only available for the dinner price. But when you dine there during lunch and want to pay the dinner price, you can…and you can order dinner items! To me, the dinner items wasn’t enough for me to want to pay extra so we went for the lunch deal!

Kan Sushi is located in Waikiki in the old Todai/Makino Chaya location. Parking is a bit of a pain in the butt, but it is free for kamaaina! Entrance to parking is on Ena Road, there are signs in the parking with a QR code that you need to scan before heading into the restaurant. Once you’re in the restaurant, you fill out the online form and your waiter/waitress gives you a coupon code to input that gives you I believe 2 hours of free parking. Yes!!! 9/2/23 Parking Update: I am seeing that parking now costs money. It was free when I went to dine.

Nicely renovated!!

Tunapeno (4pcs)
spicy tuna, tuna tataki, jalapeno, spicy mayo, sriracha, soy mustard

Good, not great. I really don’t like their spicy tuna and if you know me, I love spicy tuna. They season it weird and the ahi is basically a paste, no bueno.

Truffle Salmon (2pcs)

Yum. I love truffle! This was good! Each nigiri order comes with 2pcs, I shared this with my friend. Yum!

Snowflake Salmon (2pcs)

Not quite sure why this is called snowflake salmon – I think there is supposed to be a sprinkling of parmesan cheese. Do you see any sprinkling of cheese? It was good, but nothing spectacular.

Beef Belly Truffle Fries

No. No. No. No. The fries were soggy and not fried well. Beef belly? It’s basically bulgogi on top. And truffle? Where’s the truffle taste? There was absolutely none.

Bacon Pork Belly (Garlic)

I was happy to see KBBQ on the menu and was relieved when we ordered this that it wasn’t a huge serving. This is a managable size and was good!

Cajun Shrimp Udon Pasta

Okay, don’t hate me but this was probably my favorite dish of the meal. I really enjoyed it! Noodles were cooked well, love cajun seasoning and they were pretty generous with the shrimp. Definitely would get this again!

Tom & Jerry Roll (8pcs)
spicy tuna, shrimp tempura, avocado, salmon, pico de gallo, garlic flake, ponzu

This one was a risky order. 4 of the rolls are topped with pico de gallo, the other 4 are topped with crunchy garlic. The rolls are spicy tuna and shrimp tempura (you already know how I feel about their spicy tuna). You know what? The pico de gallo worked really nicely, added a nice fresh crunch to the dish. The cilantro and onions were wonderful. The pieces with crunchy garlic, not great. This is a risky order because it can really fill you up. I don’t know if I would order this again.

Avocado Ball
krab meat (imitation crab), spicy tuna, poke, crunch, hot sauce, avocado, spicy mayo, eel sauce, tobiko, cheese powder (did not see cheese powder on this either)

Okay, this wasn’t really my dish. It’s so pretty to look at but it is HUGE. Good news? No rice, it’s filled with imitation crab (they called it krab and krab is all over the menu) and chunks of random fish. I was already too full so I couldn’t partake in this but hey, if you like avocado, go for it!

Roly Poly Roll
krab meat, salmon, masago, green onion, eel sauce, soy mustard sauce

Not my dish again, it’s salmon wrapped with you guess it, krab salad. It was alright. OH AND BY THE WAY, THEIR SHOYU AND WASABI is some of the weakest tasting I have ever had. Imagine using watered down low sodium Aloha Shoyu or something. Sneak in your own kikkoman or yamasa packets, the junk shoyu really ruined my eating experience.

All in all though, I would return because the price point is great. This is a good place to go with picky eaters too since it’s not just sushi, you can order all kine food!

HK Cafe – Chinatown, HI

If you know me, you know I love myself some good ole Cantonese food! Oh, I think it’s time to introduce my BF by name so I don’t have to say my BF all the time. So this post will be introducing Chan! Not a picture (heck I don’t even have a picture on here) but yes, when I reference Chan – please know that he is the special someone in my life. 🙂

Anyway! Been wanting to try HK Cafe for a while now. They even opened a new location in Waikiki, must be good ah! We made the trek out to Chinatown on a Sunday morning and had ourselves a wonderful meal. Check it out!

Left: Lemon Tea | $5.50, Right: Lemon Honey | $5.50

Yum yum. We actually ordered combos that included hot drinks. We wanted the cold drink so there is just an upcharge of $1.50 per drink. The lemon tea was great! Chan enjoyed the lemon honey too, I tried it and it was very honey tasting…haha

Chinese Donut | $3.99

I traditionally like eating these fried chinese donuts with my congee. Can I just say? I have never had it fried so perfectly before. Usually these donuts are a bit doughy but these were so light and crispy. Chan likes to dip it into his broth to eat…but was delicious to eat as is too!

House Special Fried Chicken Wings (8 pcs) | $12.99

I had a deep yearning for chicken wings this weekend. I really wanted some good chicken wings and these did not disappoint. Nicely seasoned and cooked, it looks like plain chinese shoyu chicken wings but the seasoning was much more than that. I definitely tasted hints of curry. Would get it again!

Noodle Soup Combo | $14.75
Sliced Ham & Egg & Egg Noodle

Chan’s noodle soup combo, he enjoyed it. The ham – hmm, I usually see it served sliced up and not necessarily fried up like this. I think they usually throw the ham meat on top and have it warmed up through the broth. That’s how I would like it.

Noodle Soup Combo | $14.75
Spam & Egg & Instant Noodle (+$1.00)

Here’s mine. Of course I had to upgrade to instant noodle. I don’t know why instant noodle costs $1.00 more?? Eh, I think I can do with egg noodles next time. I wasn’t feel like ham so spam it was! Delicious!

Toast with Butter (comes with the combos)

All in all, it was a wonderful experience. We went right at opening so there was no crowd to contend with. It was a nice and peaceful Sunday morning (well other than the homeless screaming in the streets). They also had some Hong Kong TV playing in the background and that was very nostalgic for me. I would definitely return!

Tori Ton – Moilili, HI

Tori Ton is one of my go-to Japanese restaurants…great izakaya! If you love Japanese food and drinking, here you go! I don’t do so much of the drinking but I love eating (ha!). I hadn’t been here in quite a while so it was nice to visit again – I wonder if there is new ownership. There seems to be slight changes in the food but actually, I think the changes have been good!

Yummy Cucumber | $4.90

One of our go-to’s! Well these all are. This is perfect with the TKG rice we get. It’s salty and sesame oily…so good with rice.

French Fries with House Made Anchovy Butter | $8.50

Yes, yes, yes and yes! I was hooked on these that night. Love the taste of anchovy and can’t go wrong with butter. Yeah it’s not healthy but let’s live a little!

Healthy Tofu Salad (half size) | $6.50

Here was a nice attempt at me trying to be healthy during the meal trying to fill my stomach with some veggies. It was good! Just a basic salad though with goma dressing.

Pork Wrapped Quail Eggs | $3.60 (each skewer)
Pork Wrapped Japanese Rice | $5.80 (each skewer) – w/Egg Yolk +$1 (each)

Yum yum yum. Winners!

Premium Rice with Fresh Egg | $5.80

The RICE and EGG! They also serve like a seasoned soy sauce with it as you mix the raw egg with the hot rice. I forgot that the sauce is really salty and put too much haha.

Charcoal Grilled Chicken Skin | $2.95 (each skewer)

Oooh, this was good too! They have a chicken skin dish as an appetizer but this one is way better. You can’t beat the grilled taste!

Sunset Texas Barbecue – Kakaako, HI

I have been a fan of Sunset Texas Barbecue since they were a food truck out in Haleiwa. Then they moved into a brick and mortar in Wahiawa and I visited them there too. They are finally in town! They’re located across the old Fisher’s where that bagel shop used to be. Super good food, southern BBQ but the prices. Oh the prices. They weren’t cheap before which is okay since you’re paying for some quality smoked meats but it’s hard for me to justify coming here on a regular basis at all. We came on a weekday right before 11am – no line! Here’s what we got!

Beef Brisket Plate (w/cream corn and pinto beans) | $22.00
comes with 2 scoops of rice (or white bread) and 2 sides

They give a pretty good portion of meat and the meat is good! Would have liked a bit more beans but…and the cream corn was good! I wasn’t feeling like potato salad so I went this route.

Beef Brisket x 0.57 lb | $19.95
Pork Rib x 0.60 lb | $18.00

Ehhhh….it’s two pork ribs for $18.00. It’s good, but nothing like great you know? I mean I wouldn’t mind just going to Costco to get their whole slab or ribs for maybe $30? Like I said, it’s pricey! I think if I came back, I’d just get a plate for myself – felt like a better deal. Also, we had to ask for BBQ sauce on the side and pickles on the side. I don’t know if they usually charge extra for it but gosh I feel like at these prices, condiments and pickles should be free?

When you order by the pound, they do give you a small container of pickles and two slices of white bread. I’ll leave you with their menus so you can make your decisions yourself if you want to come here.

Ichiro Japanese Restaurant – Richmond, BC

Ichiro Japanese Restaurant is one of the restaurants my BF really wanted to check out since he’s been before. We thought we were safe for a weeknight dinner without a reservation (spoiler alert, you are not). They told us they were full until late so we were starting to order take-out when a couple left and they said they could seat us as long as we could finish eating before 7:15. I said, if you can feed us fast, we can eat fast. No worry beef curry.

Ichiro Don & Noodle Set | $28.50 (CAD)
prawn tempura, deep fried chicken & BBQ eel on rice

Kaisen Don & Noodle | $29.95 (CAD)
uni, negitoro, mentaiko, ikura and seaweed on sushi rice

This was my set and it was winners! They ran out of something and had to substitute, I can’t quite remember what it was but it doesn’t matter, it tasted great anyway!

Steveston Sashimi | $76.50 (CAD)
tuna, red tuna, scallop, hamachi, atlantic salmon, sockeye salmon, sweet shrimp and spicy sashimi

We shared this sashimi set – so full from our sets but we had to try out the sashimi selection! If we weren’t so rushed, I think we would have enjoyed the sashimi set more. It’s okay, there’s always next time!

Peaked Pies – Whistler, BC

My friend Naomi told me I had to try these Australian meat pies so of course I did! Peaked Pies is a cute little Australian bakery in the Whistler village!

Get Peaked (Add on)
add mashed potato, mushy green peas & gravy to your pie

We ordered two pies and got both peaked!

Steak, Bacon & Cheese
chunky steak pieces infused with ground bacon, layered with a cheddar/mozzarella mix

Traditional Aussie (sorry for the blurry pic)
ground beef, onions & gravy

How was it? Nice and fast stop for some warm comfort food. I actually preferred the steak pie, I like to have chunks of meat to bite into. Learned that I am not a fan of mushy peas so I probably wouldn’t get it peaked next time or would get it peaked without the peas. I enjoyed it and can’t wait to return during the winter time!