Category: Restaurants

Bella Mia Pizzaria.

What can I say? It’s the quintessential pizzeria, the vibrant and welcoming Italian-American dream house in the middle of a dull yet busy street. Even if you tried, you wouldn’t be able to avoid it. It’s neatly and oddly placed on the beginning of bustling Beretania street, almost directly across Anasia’s and Toma’s Karaoke, amidst all the faded buildings and inconspicuous establishments. You can’t miss it. Everything about this joint is enticing from its newly lit banners and evenly clean pavement to its bright red roof and white picket fence. Even if it may not be in the most romantic or scenic location, the arching entrance and open-air breeze are enough to set the mood alone. It’s truly like walking into an authentically classic pizzeria; one that is definitely not commonly found on this Asian-Pacific specializing Island. Picture a sophisticated cross between a full-fledged family reunion dinner at home and a cool summer night’s picnic in the backyard and this is what you get. It’s so perfectly captivating and nostalgically attractive that it’s impossible not to tug at some heartstrings.

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Chinpei Ramen.

I did it. I survived the first two weeks of my senior year as college student. Whewwwww. While I could totally attribute my victory in this squabble with school to numerous factors, one indispensable and tremendously influential aspect of my college life thus far stands out: Ramen. Sure, I’ve refrained from meeting friends and going to parties, been begrudgingly glued to word documents on the computer screen, pulled zombie-forming all nighters, and followed other practices of abnegation. However, one affordable luxury and comforting source of sustenance has dependably been ramen.

I must admit though, the kind of ramen I grew up with and am still quite fond of is the cheap, red packaged Shin ramen you find at grocery stores. So you can imagine my sheer amazement and utter excitement in finding out that there is so much more to gourmet ramen than having a well-flavored soup base packet and adding an egg to it.

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Da Kitchen.


Upon initially moving to Hawaii towards the end of high school, my dad (who is currently in Korea, but local to Hawaii himself) warned me to steer away from two things: the food and the language. “How different could it be?” I wondered. It was not long, maybe even on the first day here, before I noticed the gaping differences. The food was delicious, but everything seemed heavy and always served with two scoops of rice and a side of mayonnaise-filled macaroni salad. The language (or, Pidgin) was incomprehensible, at least in the beginning and was something that I became accustomed to over a pro-longed period of time. But now. both the food and the Hawaiian, shall I say, “patois” grew on me to a point where Hawaii is where I can now call home.
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Lobster King.

Thanks to the enticing name and favorable location, this restaurant is able to maintain a veneer of excellence. Harsh as it may sound, I need to be honest about my disappointment. To the average food-loving human being, the word “Lobster” typically evokes a salivating, pupil-dilating reaction. Furthermore, the word “King” in regards to food and beverage, implies the highest quality or acme of the preceding word. So, it was only natural for me to hold high expectations for this newly opened restaurant.

I don’t mean to simply upbraid this restaurant and write it off as an abominable, but in all seriousness, the only dish that was remotely enjoyable was actually their lobster. Way to live up to the name, although “Lobster Baby” may be more appropriate than “Lobster King.” Like I said, I’m just being honest and honestly, in this case, there are no euphemisms for “the food sucked.” Continue reading

Ryan’s.

Throughout the week, even with the fourth of July looming over me, I couldn’t get myself to stay put in my kitchen. Ever since my trip to California, I’ve been more and more inclined to try the new and different restaurants around me as opposed to settling for what I consider to be comfortable and familiar. These adventure-compelled excursions, otherwise known as my relentless erudition in the name of gastronomy, has got me avoiding the beating heart of my home. Not for long though. Perhaps a few more days of this hiatus from cardiovascular exercise for both my kitchen and I.


Actually, maybe sooner especially considering the fact that instead of exercising the heart of my home and the heart of my body, I have been indulging in what could be considered as the artery-clogging, detrimental-to-the-heart sorts of foods. Well, in this case, at the very least. But avoiding them has proven to be much more difficult than I would have imagined. Seriously. I just love the sound of “Happy Hour,” it’s like music to my ears and often the happy end to my hungry stomach. Continue reading

Chichen Itza.

Have you ever been to a restaurant or tried a dish that you absolutely could not stop raving about? One of those unexpected, hole-in-the-wall hidden gems? That even despite your innately selfish intentions of keeping the newly uncovered treasure all to yourself, you instead realize that you can’t seem to refrain yourself from sharing the wealth with others? That is exactly how I feel about this restaurant: Chichen Itza.


Hidden within the Mercado La Paloma in south Los Angeles, you would never expect to try such authentically prepared food. Although we admittedly had high expectations due to a recommendation that had been given to my friend for us to try it, we were somewhat wary of the place upon first glance. Quite frankly, it seemed like an excessively embellished restaurant you’d stumble upon at a food court. I wasn’t sure of exactly what to expect anymore and my friend even started to feel as though we must have come to the wrong place. Continue reading

Pink’s.


Yes, home of the Lakers. What better place to celebrate their recent victory than at notoriously iconic hot dog stand, Pink’s! Not long after that epic game, this was our destination. It was completely and totally appropriate seeing as hot dogs are somehow always associated with sports and while it wasn’t baseball, this basketball game was sheer testosterone-filled madness that indeed called for one of Pink’s behemoths.
Contrary to the stereotypical hot dog stand, Pink’s has numerous idiosyncrasies. Firstly, it is probably one of, if not, the only hot dog stands that has their own parking attendant. Secondly, it has an unfathomable variety of hot dogs with ridiculously entertaining names that are representative of Los Angeles, for the most part. Lastly, the swarm of people waiting in line are all happily willing to wait for up to an hour just for the opportunity to have one of these bad boys. Now, if that alone isn’t a clear indication that Pink’s is worth the visit, I don’t know what is. Continue reading

Ahn-Joo Truck.

I’ve returned to sunnier Hawaii from sunny California. I could have sworn months had gone by since my last entry, but after settling in I realized it had only been about a week. A very long and eventful week at that, I might add. My trip to California was my first trip in about two years and although it was relaxing and well-deserved, I must say it feels good to be home (minus the 3 hour jetlag that keeps waking me up at 6 in the morning). Can you blame me though? I live in Hawaii.



I’m half-joking. It’s not even about the fact that I live in Hawaii, it’s just the fact that I’m home and within my comfort zone. You know how it goes, don’t you? The long plane rides, the heavy suitcase, the uncomfortable jetlag, the exhausting driving, the general unfamiliarity of a place you have not been to in a while, or ever. Nonetheless, as anyone may have already assumed, food was undeniably an integral part of our daily agenda and it was also incontestably a major highlight of our week-long trip.

One of our first meals was supposed to be at food network’s acclaimed CafĂ© Des Artistes, however, we were most disappointed to discover upon arrival that they are only open for dinner. We clearly did not do our research properly. Luckily, as we sulked and moaned in our defeat, we found the Ahn-Joo truck right across the street! Continue reading

Dim Sum and Then Some.

Okay, despite the fact that the sign is missing a “G” and therefore reads “Olden Palace” instead of “Golden Palace” and the missing “SE” leads to “afood” instead of “Seafood,” I adore this place. Really, I can’t even begin to tell you how much I have come to love dim sum. I don’t recall eating it very often as a child, but every time I would visit my grandparents in Hawaii, my grandma would take me to eat dim sum at a fancy hotel restaurant. This led me to conclude that dim sum was a high-end cuisine that was not to be indulged in lightly. Little was I aware of the fact that dim sum was and is quite ubiquitous and I didn’t necessarily need to wait on my grandma to eat it, thank God.

Instead, I get to go almost whenever I want! That is, when time permits. Dim sum places are usually open for the early birds up until about 1 or 2 pm. But, you’ll always find a lucky place open until much later here and there. I never used to crave dim sum, but lately it has become my go-to for Asian food. Surprisingly, I find myself craving it more than Korean food. Crazy, right? Korean food used to be the most important constituent of my daily diet. However, quite frankly, I find eating dim sum to be a more exciting experience.

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Cafe Kaila.

Cute, no? What can I say, I am a complete and total sucker for all places quaint and cozy. I mean, I’m infatuated with places that are chic and modern, but as I’ve once mentioned before – home is where the heart is. For me, anywhere that has a home-like feel to it seriously wins me over…especially when it includes home-cooked food.

This place is not what I expected whatsoever. I remember when it first opened, I took one glance at its overly floral and colorful sign and immediately wrote it off as some fruity cafe-wannabe with more than likely abysmal food. This unbelievably inaccurate judgment of mine delayed me from having my first wonderful experience there. Forgive me.

How do I begin to redeem myself of this sinful initial assumption?

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