Mary’s Mediterranean Kitchen – Honolulu, HI

I had a hankering for Greek food the other week and I just went for it. Well, I always go for it. Mary’s Mediterranean Kitchen is located in the former Ranch 99 Market space, I think it’s called Moanalua 99 now but I refuse to call it that because Ranch 99 must not be a memory…it must remain fresh. But has Ranch 99 been closed for like decades by now? Oh boy that ages me real fast. Anyway, first good sign…the owner/chef/cashier man had a very strong Greek accent. I had high hopes for my food lol.

#12 Combo Plate (Choice of 2 meat skewers) | $13.00
served with hummus, rice, salad, and pita bread

I chose lamb and lula (ground beef). Brah this dish was so good. Loved everything that came with it, first time trying lula – it was pretty good! I think I want to try the gyros plate next time though! Loved the warm pita to eat with the delicious hummus.

Seasoned Fries | $4.00

Kind of pricey for an order of fries but I liked it, tasted good. Let’s be real, it’s really just fries with garlic salt right? Anyway, I enjoyed.

Baklava | $1.75

I just had to try the baklava and I thought it was alright. I bet it would have been really good warmed up (I was too lazy) – I also bet this had my calorie/sugar intake for the day. But who’s counting?

Ah this is not from Mary’s. Remember my meal from Istanbul Hawaii? I fell in love with their watermelon feta salad. Well, here’s what I remade at home. It’s not really a salad nor did I follow any recipes. I just sprinkled feta cheese and balsamic glaze onto watermelon slices. I really enjoyed it, the nice contrast between the salty brininess of the feta cheese and the sweet morsels of watermelon. The glaze adds a nice sweet slightly vinegary touch too. Not too big a fan of the feta cheese brand I picked up, felt like the feta was much too hard and kind of bland. Would have been really good with a good feta cheese.

Mixed Plate Friday

Hey folks! A shorter post this Friday…just wanted to share small kine stuff.

Izumi Oden Konbuiri (Don Quijote Kaheka) | $6.49

For the folks who want to see the nutritional facts!

Here is the oden placed in a bowl and heat…get one egg too!

I don’t know if it was on my blog before but I once bought one of those Korean Ginseng Chickens from Don Q’s frozen section. It was not a good decision and I got a bad stomachache afterwards. Well you would think I would have learned my lesson but I didn’t, I really wanted to try this. This is not sold frozen, it’s sold in the refrigerated section (yikes?). I can trust the fish cake and such but I thought the egg would be iffy. Well the egg was just fine! No stomachache and the whole dish tasted great. And look closely, no more even gray ring around the yolk. How do they do it?? No complaints here.

One of my favorite cakes is the Berry Chantilly Cake from Whole Foods. The first time I tried it, I was in love. Fresh berries are on top of the cake and also throughout the inner layers of the cake. The frosting? Oh let me tell you about the frosting, it’s a wonderful almond mascarpone frosting. So light and delicious with a wonderful hint of almond (think almond float kine almond taste). I loved it…and since I don’t like plain whipped cream – the almond frosting really made it for me. Well, hate to be the messenger of bad news…things have changed! I got this cake about a week ago and the almond taste is like FAINT now. My friend shared that she got late last year and could hardly taste the almond too so I don’t think my experience was a fluke. So disappointing. 🙁 But I guess the silver lining is that I won’t be buying an entire cake to eat anymore…hahaha ugh! And yes, we wrote on the cake ourselves…and no, our handwriting is not that much better non-frosting style.

Jalna and Dd, I can’t express enough how much we love this Chipotle Tri Tip Roast recipe. This is now the most highly requested recipe I make. It’s so easy, so flavorful and just so satisfying. I’ve adjusted the recipe to feed an army…it’s just winners. Thank you again for sharing such a great recipe!!!

Imanas Tei – Honolulu, HI

Imanas Tei has unofficially become the restaurant to celebrate birthdays for my friend and I. Not quite sure why, it’s not like we frequent this restaurant otherwise but when our birthdays come along…we keep choosing this place. That’s gotta be a good sign right? Anyway, can always count on Imanas Tei for good food and good service, fast too! Their parking is absolutely horrendous haha…but I went early enough to score a stall in their lot. It was a good sign!

Tamago Sushi (2 pcs) | $4.00
Unakyu Roll | $13.50

grilled eel, cucumber, avocado

One of our must-haves funnily enough is their tamago sushi. If you remember, I prefer the more savory tamago and they do that here. Love how they cut the tamago and wrap it around the rice. It’s $4.00 for two pieces but technically to me it’s one piece cut into two…anyway it’s okay because it tastes good. The picture above shows two orders of tamago sushi.

This was my first time getting the unagi roll, I don’t know why I expected it to be a hand roll but then again $13.50 for a hand roll would be a rip off ah? It was good, nothing great that I need to order again.

Grilled Beef Tongue | $13.50

It takes talent to take a picture this blurry with absolutely nothing in focus. At your service as a photographer here. I love their grilled beef tongue, perfectly sliced and charred and seasoned. Highly recommend!

Torikara | $8.50
japanese fried chicken

Didn’t realize they call their fried chicken torikara…I think I even ordered it as chicken karaage. Was really good! I enjoyed it.

Salmon Sashimi | $12.50
Toro Sashimi | MP
Hamachi Sashimi | $15.50

Sashimi is always a winning choice. Okay but was this toro really otoro? I can’t quite say…didn’t taste like otoro quality. Hmm…maybe just gotta give up the otoro quest. I am good with other sashimis anyway! Gotta save otoro for Torae Torae.

Hiyashi Udon (Cold Udon Noodles) | $6.50

Wanted a cooling dish to end the meal, this was nice. Would have been nice to have like natto or like a raw egg yolk on top but that’s just me. The broth was pretty strong, concentrated. They give plenty bonito flakes.

Kakiage | $9.75
fried burdock & seafood

I lied. We ended the meal with this. My friend got beer so figured this was a nice beer accompaniment since it’s fried. We never got this before but I swear every single table orders this dish. Not too bad. Did get a surprise chunk of seafood here and there. I think would have been better to order in beginning of the meal to pick at it throughout.

So this was the first meal out since Ige set up limitations in restaurants again due to the rising numbers and the delta variant. Well, not to scare anyone but this restaurant was definitely not operating at any type of limited capacity lol. They had the shields up and I was never seated SO close to anyone that I felt uncomfortable but the seats were all definitely taken. Hope everyone is doing well and taking care…numbers are still scary.

Bella Banh Mi Café – Honolulu, HI

I love myself a good banh mi. I love the mixture of salted meats with the pickled daikon and carrots…creamy mayonnaise, crunch of the fresh cucumber and to top it all off…the cilantro. I know get people who don’t like cilantro, just give me your cilantro and call it a day. Anyway, my only experience with banh mi in the past has been with Bale. Nothing wrong with that but I think you’re really missing out if you don’t try it at different places and I think I found my favorite place thus far….Bella Banh Mi Cafe!! They are located on Liliha Street and open on the weekdays and luckily now on Sundays! I called in my order beforehand and pick-up was a breeze.

Had to open it up to show you the innards. They include fresh jalapenos! No worry, not too many seeds so wasn’t too spicy though I may not be a good judge on if something is not spicy.

Saigon Special | $8.50
combination sandwich – pate, vietnamese ham, pork belly, pork floss, mayonnaise, parsley, cucumber, pickled carrots & daikon

Oops their description doesn’t include jalapenos but you’re welcome for that information. I’ve had combination banh mi sandwiches at other places and I was always disappointed because it was always too salty. Not here! This sandwich was perfect, and the bread was nice and toasted but not hard and chewy like I’ve had elsewhere. I would definitely recommend this and can’t wait to get it again!

BBQ Pork Bun (Noodle Bowl) | $9.00
lemongrass & vietnamese fish sauce, vermicelli noodles, basil, mint, cucumber, pickled daikon, and peanuts

Another winners dish. I love the sauce for the noodles and the BBQ pork had the perfect charcoal/grilled taste, really enjoyed it! Love a cold noodle dish.

Shrimp & Pork Summer Rolls | $7.75
shrimp, pork, rice paper, vermicelli noodles, basil, mint, cucumber, lettuce

Awesome summer rolls, and you know what I like most? No raw bean sprouts. I can’t stand raw bean sprouts and some places put them into their summer rolls….so thank you Bella for not using bean sprouts. I think it’s a great deal for this dish and the dipping sauce is delicious! What is the ice cream stick for? Not sure, I just dipped the rolls right into the sauce.

Just wanted to show you a shot of the roll inside! Nicely wrapped together, was delicious. In fact, this is inspiring me to make summer rolls at home. To be continued.

Little Sheep Hot Pot at Home

One of my favorite restaurants is Little Sheep Hot Pot but this was pre-pandemic because they unfortunately did not survive. Sigh, where am I supposed to go for AYCE hot pot now? I loved their sauce bar and flavorful soups…and man could you get a bang for your buck with their buffet. Before they completely closed down, they became Happy Lamb Hot Pot so their Yelp page contains reviews from both their time as little sheep and happy lamb (lol).

Anyway, I was craving their soup base and while you can find it at H-Mart…it is way cheaper on Amazon if you want to purchase multiple. Okay it depends, gotta keep your eye on the prices because it fluctuates a lot. I paid $16 bucks for a 5-pack and have seen it even lower priced than that…it’s pricey right now. But here’s the link to the spicy base and the plain base. The soup bases are great, just gotta add water, boil it up and it’s ready for all your hot pot ingredients. Check it out.

Got a bunch of veggies ready to go and of course the mushrooms! Love the crunchy texture of enoki mushrooms…

The spicy soup base boiling up…

H-Mart get plenty of the pre-sliced meat for sale (and get all kind cuts too, this one is kind of lean but they have ones that are fattier too). A bit pricey…

I have never prepared tripe at home before and I never want to again. It smells so stink when you boil it. Luckily the ones they sell at the store are pretty “clean” but…ugh! The pot boiled over too and it was just a stinky mess. I mean it’s fine after you finish boiling it up as prep but it wasn’t worth the effort for me!

Okay, I gotta be honest. This whole hot pot craving was brought on from a YouTube video I watched. Yes, I watch mukbang videos sometimes but only Korean ones. I don’t know why. Anyway, she made a mala hot pot with lamb chops and it just looked so good. I couldn’t find lamb chops but found lamb loins which served it’s purpose! Satiated that craving real nice…

Added some wide cellophane noodles too…and we ate it with rice. I mean, we were real piggies that night. So good though…

Recipe: Italian Pasta Salad

Yup, you guessed it. Another recipe from TikTok. I made a few adjustments to my version and it came out winnahs. Firstly, the mozzarella salad is so flavorful on its own. If I thought of it earlier, I would use the seasoned oil in the mozzarella salad to make the dressing. A-ha! That can be for next time. Also, the balsamic vinaigrette is a dressing I found because that’s the ingredients I had and it worked so perfectly. Please try and let me know if you enjoy!

Italian Pasta Salad

Pasta Salad Ingredients
1 lb. rotini pasta, cooked according to package instructions
1 cucumber, quartered, cut into 1/2 inch sticks
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered (just make it bite size)
1/2 – 1 C large pepperoni slices, cut into strips
1 – 1.5 C marinated mozzarella salad (I used Formaggio brand from Sam’s Club), sliced in half

Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing Ingredients
2 T honey
1 T dijon mustard
1/2 t fine sea salt
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
1 large clove garlic, minced or grated (I grated mine)
1/4 balsamic vinegar
3/4 C extra virgin olive oil

Mix together honey, dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and garlic in a small bowl. Slowly stream the oil into the bowl while whisking to fully incorporate with the other ingredients. Mix dressing with pasta salad ingredients in a bowl and enjoy!

Lazy prep. I just cut up all the ingredients and threw them on top of the draining pasta. Less dishes to do, lol.

Liliha Bakery – Honolulu, HI

Just realized all three Liliha Bakery‘s are in Honolulu yeah? Okay well, this post is for the OG location and honestly the only one I go to. Nothing against the other ones, they are nice, new and shiny but it is something about the original location that warms my heart. I actually spent a lot of my childhood years in an apartment building within like a 2 minute walking distance but never went (it isn’t exactly a destination of choice for FOB Chinese people). So I guess I discovered the true magic of this place as a late bloomer in my adulthood. I like dining in their restaurant or should I just say counter, something comforting about the diner food and Filipino nana’s making my food. I like laugh because I remember years ago, I ordered a saimin and watched as she pour water into a measuring cup, microwave it and to pour into my saimin. Oh the joys of their open kitchen and counter seating system, made me really think…why didn’t I just cook this myself. Ah, the same could be said about any food in any restaurant right?

One of my highlights? Gotta be the butter rolls and their legendary neon jelly. There’s nothing more to say. Freshly buttered and toasted butter rolls warmed on their griddle served with their iconic (don’t ask me what flavor it is) jelly. I could eat this and just this and be happy.

Anyway, I thought I came on a off day (weekday) at an off hour (non-breakfast) to get seats. Well, I had somewhat of a big party (4 people) and because of Covid, they were seating all parties one seat apart. Ugh, had plenty two seaters behind me getting seated first. What can you do? It’s okay, I had nowhere else to go anyway. On to the food!

Hamburger Steak (all rice, no mac and no roll) | $14.50
hand pressed patty with gravy

Not my dish and now that I look at it, I should have told the person to just get a loco moco. Probably would have been cheaper and you can get a fried egg. Ah, what can you do?

Meat Loaf (white rice and mac salad) | $13.95
with gravy

When I come here, I either get breakfast or meat loaf. Don’t ask me why. Do I equate meat loaf with diner food? Perhaps? Just a down home American food, comfort food. I like their meatloaf. I no can finish it but it’s okay, sharing is caring.

Corned Beef Hash | $5.49
Rice (1 scoop) | $1.59
Fried Potatoes (4-5 slices) | $3.49

Got one picky eater so we had to order everything ala carte for him. It was actually cheaper to order it this way than to customize a standing dish. I never had their fried potatoes before, wasn’t sure if anyone else has so I wanted to share the picture. The potatoes were enjoyed but I was told it was just a bit bland (then again this person is a salt king) so take it with a grain of salt (literally).

Recipe: Mediterranean Chicken Meatballs

Time to make the meatballs (get the reference even thought I made no sense making the reference?)

Been wanting to make meatballs with ground chicken breast and finally found the opportunity from, you guessed it, TikTok. Not much to say, it just looked really nice and flavorful. I’ve been craving Mediterranean food lately so this is going to hit the spot. I really like it but you might find it a bit dry. I did buy some tzatziki dip in case it gets too dry for me. Now, I need to address my gyro and baklava craving – that is for another post…and not homemade.

I really enjoy piling up ingredients like this in a bowl before I mush it all up, if you’re a reader of my blog, I think you’ve seen me do this before. All the ingredients together before I moosh moosh moosh…

All mooshed and hand formed for the oven! Yeah, get all kind sizes. Get all different sizes of mouths too okay? Hahaha

Mediterranean Chicken Meatballs

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • ½ cup panko
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup feta crumbled
  • ¼ cup red onions finely diced
  • ¼ cup sun dried tomatoes finely diced
  • ¼ tsp dried dill
  • ¼ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp *optional fresh mint* for garnish

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400F degrees.
  • Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix with your hands until ingredients are thoroughly mixed.
  • Roll the seasoned meat into 15 small golfball sized meatballs and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. I recommend doing 5 rows of 3.
  • Bake the meatballs at 400F degrees for 25-30 minutes or until cooked through.
  • Let rest for 2 minutes before sprinkling with optional mint for garnish.

Recipe Source: Grilled Cheese Social

Rico Rico Chicken – Honolulu, HI

I had my first experience with Peruvian food a few years ago. We had a cook-off event at work and for some reason, I decided to make a chicken dish with a Peruvian Huacatay Salsa. I have no idea where the inspiration sprang from but I ordered the specialty ingredients from Amazon and made it…served it up with Costco Rotisserie Chicken. The sauce was bomb and my coworkers loved it, while I didn’t win the cook-off (what do people have against unknown green substances?) I really enjoyed it. Flash forward to now, Rico Rico Chicken has been around for quite a while but I haven’t had the chance to get him out. He makes his own rotisserie chicken and serves it up with rice and his own pepper sauce (different from the sauce I made myself and looks like yellow mustard but no worries, it’s not). He currently opens his truck up on South King Street parked on the side of the road right before you hit Moilili Longs. I would check his instagram for updates, he religiously updates when he will be there.

One caveat, he shares a number to text your order to. I don’t know if you have to place the text order before he opens up shop because I did text my order and received no answer. I risked it and headed out there since it was still pretty early (before noon) and he definitely was not near sold out. So how was the food?

Half Chicken | $12.00
served with peruvian rice and special sauce

Whole Chicken | $20.00
served with peruvian rice and special sauce

So how was it? Stinking good folks. Look, if you ever get tired of Costco or Sam’s Club chicken (and let’s face it, we all have) – come here. And not that I’m trying to compare Rico Rico with them, that would be insulting to him. He puts a lot of care and thought into preparing his rotisserie chickens and the seasoning is sooo good. The meat? Tender fall off the bone kine, including the breast meat. Sorry I didn’t get a picture of the sauce, it’s a small container that looks like yellow mustard (forreal but don’t be deterred by that if you hate mustard), it tastes nothing like mustard…more of a pepper sauce.

You know what would have been perfect…his chicken with the Peruvian Huacatay Salsa I made a few years back but shhh…no tell him I said that. No disrespect to his sauce. Also, I don’t think I want to pay like $20 just for two ingredients to even make the salsa. Anyway, I also like his rice…he uses long grain rice. He warned that while it’s rice with corn, it’s not a lot of corn. LOL, good warning cause barely had corn but it’s okay, I wasn’t there for the corn. He’s a one man show, support small business – it’s delish!

Mixed Plate Friday

The next two pictures are going to look like an advertisement but I promise they are not. I know I am not getting any money for this post (or any of my other posts). I saw this on TikTok and was super curious since I am trying to remain on a caloric deficit. A whole pouch for 6 or 7 calories? Worth a try right!

I found it on Amazon and if anyone wants the link, let me know. I’ve tried peach, grape and apple so far. I actually really enjoy it, it’s a nice cold treat that helps satiate your sweet tooth. I like that the sweetness doesn’t taste too much like that weird artificial sweetener taste. Kind of pricey though, I think a little over $2 for each pouch. I went to Seafood City the other week and they had some in stock for a bit cheaper price but only had two flavors and I feel like they were just trying to sell out their stock.

Was trying to put together a little snack pack for a friend but couldn’t give it to her so I ended up eating it myself. I know, what a shame right? Well, this is a post just to tell you about Honolulu Crack Seed. Cute little sisters-owned crack seed store. Well, I tried their wet li hing mui lemon peel sour patch kids and there is no going back now. Best tasting wet li hing lemon peels I’ve had ever. They also sell prune mui (anyone who has a good recipe for this, please do share, it’s my favorite). Check them out if you are near Kaheka!

I also spotted these chips at Seafood City. Anyone who is in the know about Indomie knows what is up with these chips. I had to give them a try. Do they taste like the indomie noodles? Ehh…yes and no. Yes in the sense that it tastes like straight up MSG, lol. No in that they don’t taste like the noodles exactly but are still tasty and easy to eat.