Last Friday, I had the opportunity to take my first bites, or two, or ten, at MW.
Last Friday, I had the opportunity to take my first bites, or two, or ten, at MW.
Guys, I did it. It’s finally over. Mother’s Day 2012 at Shokudo Japanese Restaurant & Bar was a huge (and not to mention, all-consuming, body-exhausting, & mind-blowing) success! A widespread brunch/lunch buffet of Japanese fare was followed by “Strawberry Spree” Sweets buffet (by yours truly), where 460-something voracious, yet surprisingly pleasant, guests devoured 1800-something servings of 12 different types of strawberry-themed desserts within a span of 5 hours and 3 full-seating turnovers. Let’s not forget that this was, believe it or not, after these bottomless bellies were stuffed with mountains upon mountains of sushi, tempura, udon, salad, chicken, king crab, and God knows what else. All I really want to know is, who are these thoroughly inhuman people with such exigent appetites and where on earth did they come from? Because I have this ever-growing hunch that I must be related to them. After all, there is a most uncanny resemblance between my belly and theirs.Stomach resemblance aside, there may have been little else alike between these wonderful guests and I. Though the picture doesn’t show it (thank God), I slept for a very true-to-saying, painstakingly short-and-sweet 45 minutes. The
grueling fun-filled hours leading up to that nap and the even more agonizing joyous hours that followed were wholeheartedly dedicated to baking and assembling a mass amount of the greatest (and most practical) homemade desserts I could muster up and create from scratch. Exhausted as I may have been, and trust me when I say exhausted is a euphemism for the physical state I was in at the time, this project was my absolute pride and joy from unshaped, prenatal beginning to expectant, postnatal forthcoming. It was Mother’s Day, for crying out loud, and this project was my beautifully overweight newborn. Continue reading
I’m sitting at my desk, trying to write this post, but I keep getting distracted.
First, there’s the restlessness I can’t seem to shake off. I’ve been graduated and out of school for about a month now and despite the ample time I may seem to have, in reality, there never seems to be enough time on any given day. Without the once perpetual schedule of deadlines and due dates ascribed to assignments, projects, and papers that used to govern my somewhat tighter itinerary, I seem to have unhinged myself and seamlessly fallen into a state of lazy confusion.
Then, there’s the noise. From my desk next to the window, I can hear everything beyond the rustling leaves and chirping birds. Cars are zooming past and repeatedly driving over what I presume to be is the same manhole, ending in the same reverberant clunk clunk. The occasional vehicle rambles along to the deep, rich bass tones of its subwoofer, only leaving a familiar but unwelcomed beat stuck in my restless head.
But most of all, there’s the longing. On my screen is a collection of images from my recent trip to Korea. Clicking through them, I see a string of blurry photos that inadequately try to capture the breathtaking city I grew up in, a city I once called home.
But now, I’m blogging from my home in Hawaii where a 15-minute car ride is deemed “far,” 2 a.m. is considered “time to go home,” and all of the island’s lights during Christmas combined could never come close to the way Seoul illuminates on any given evening, every single night of the year.
Sometimes, a hiatus is in order.
Life can be much too hectic at times, even for your average 22-year old, college student who loves to bake, cook, and write. The truth is, everyone needs a break, even when it means peeling yourself away from the things you love to do.
These last few months have been both immensely taxing and astonishing to me. I caught a most severe case of Senioritis leading into my first month of my last semester as an undergrad student. Classes were ditched, assignments missed, and I played hooky left and right to no end (until now, that is). Meanwhile, I found love in an unfamiliarly familiar, irrationally justified, and imperfectly perfect person. And like all other great loves in life, it was completely unexpected. More untimely and unexpected is the fact that I am currently in job-limbo after having made a bold (and admittedly a little impetuous) decision to leave my precious hostessing job at a restaurant that I have come to cherish as my home over the last 3 years. With all that said and done, a hiatus was and still is undoubtedly in order so that I may refresh, venture forth, and excel in the perpetually uncharted future.
And though my future (post-hiatus) may not be as discernible (nor brilliant, dare I say) as that of The Pig and the Lady’s, I still find myself extremely lucky to have experienced this pop-up restaurant phenomenon prior to their break and my own.
I’m not a bad daughter. In fact, I fancy myself as quite the opposite. Despite the distance and years between us, my parents and family in Korea are constantly in my thoughts and everyday actions. I am, for lack of better way to put this, my father’s daughter. As a child, I cringed and pouted when people would tell me I either was or looked exactly like my dad. “I want to be like umma, not appa,” I’d repeatedly whine. With this, my younger sister followed in my footsteps and we’d compete to claim inheritance of mom’s svelte and gorgeous physical features. As we’ve grown older, however, we’ve come to realize that while my sister may look more like my dad than I do, she acts more like my mom. Me? I am exactly like my dad.
From our stubby toes and absent-mindedness to our love for foreign languages and moments of silence, we are one and alike. My dad similarly bestowed upon me an appreciation for food in all forms. At the young age of 4 or 5, I had my first taste of gourmet cheese. I will never forget my dad in the kitchen, gingerly cutting the wrapped lump of German Butter cheese (Butterkäse) into generous slivers and placing each over slices of apple with his stumpy, callused hands. The first bite is one I will always remember, soft and buttery flawlessly paired with crisp and subtly-sweet. This flavor was only to be sharply, beautifully contrasted with the various salumi, or cured meats, he then allowed me to try. In addition to the more simplistic joys I grew up eating (instant mac & cheese, spaghetti with meat sauce, or spam, eggs, kimchi, and rice), the more complex and matured flavors of cheese and meats also have the ability to take me back to my not-so-distant, treasured childhood. And though it is always an honor and pleasure cooking for you, appa, if you were here for this upcoming Father’s Day, I wouldn’t think twice about taking you to Salt Kitchen & Tasting Bar. For memories sake. Continue reading
There’s nothing like a good picnic, or a much needed visit to Town, to make an already gorgeous summer day all the more fabulous. Though there are an ample number of restaurants I love and frequent, and even more that I’m still yearning dying to try (I’m late, but Marukame Udon, Yakitori Yoshi, Sushi Sasabune, Nanzan GiroGiro, Le Bistro, Broadway, and Cream Pot, to name just a few), I must say Town is definitely one of my favorites.
A winsome little spot, quietly located in Kaimuki and unpresumptuous in its demeanor, Town exudes a rustic ambiance with modish flare. Their food focus is on locally-grown or locally-available produce, their slogan being “local first, organic whenever possible, with Aloha always.” With their seasonally updating menu, there are always fresh and magical choices to accentuate the best that bountiful Hawaii has to offer.
One of the greatest perks of a new job, besides having something ‘fresh’ to talk about, is access. If knowledge is power, I think I’ve just scored myself a key. It’s been less than a month and I’ve already accumulated more information and experience than I can even fathom. Recently, the most jolting lesson came from a business “field trip” to Otsuji Farms in Hawaii Kai. With gas and food prices persistently climbing, it is more than about time to start re-evaluating our priorities for a sustainable economy. Particularly for Hawaii, we’re only 15% food secure at best. That obviously isn’t very “secure” given the fact that we live in the middle of an ocean and if our outsourced food supply were to be cut off at any given time, our on-hand supply would deplete in a matter of days. Thus, inevitably leading to a limpid (& highly simplified) conclusion: no food for me, no happiness for you!
The unfortunate aspect of this dilemma is that farmers in Hawaii pay a high price to produce food and do not have economies of scale to equally compete with the nominal prices of imported produce and food. Therefore, in order for these humble farms to remain viable in this noxious economy, there needs to be a change in the seemingly immutable industry in addition to our personal daily lives. Talk about food for thought. Continue reading
This post is going to be relatively short, ending with a recipe for a dish that I did not create myself. Actually, the idea was originally mine, but as soon as I mentioned my intentions to create the dish, Pat was on it. What about my intellectual property rights?! Little did I know that Pat was, in reality, a vicious maelstrom of sorts out to suck up each and every one of my culinary ideas! Well, not really. This is actually not even an original idea of mine, it is a common way to prepare fish here in Hawaii. It was just the first time that I had wanted to re-create the dish at home (and apparently, the first time the idea had ever even crossed Pat’s scheming mega-mind!). Furikake is a Japanese dry condiment that is typically sprinkled upon rice to add flavor and texture. Though there are many variations, furikake usually consists of chopped nori (dried seaweed), sesame seeds, bonito (dried fish) flakes, sugar, salt, and yes, MSG (monosodium glutamate – the infamous flavor enhancer and preservative). Considering the fact that Hawaii is so geographically close to and culturally influenced by Japan, it is only natural that what we deem “local” in terms of food and its preparation heavily integrates various aspects of Japanese Cuisine.
As most of you are all aware, a couple days ago (on March 11), a tragic earthquake and tsunami hit Japan and destroyed Sendai as well as many other areas. Many were injured, killed, and are still missing. Everyone in Hawaii has been affected by this natural disaster, be it due to the constant sirens of tsunami warnings or the countless number of family and friends that live in or are inextricably tied to Japan. Our hearts, thoughts, and prayers go out to Japan in this time of great need.
After months and months of elated anticipation, Jin Din Rou officially opened their doors to a mob of famished and impatient customers about a month ago on an already restaurant-laden and culinary-active South King St. Notwithstanding the hegemony of Pan-Asian cuisine in Hawaii, Jin Din Rou immediately enthralled locals and tourists alike for their Taiwanese specialty xiao long bao or soup dumplings (surprisingly, not-so-featured nor readily available in Oahu).
The chaotic and overpopulated restaurant mirrors the atmosphere of China, while the interior decor and architectural aesthetics embodies the essence of Japan. The initial impression is that of a sensory overload (at least in sight, smell, and sound). The structure of the rather small restaurant is simple yet refined, making it visually appealing despite the manifest lack of space and privacy between cramped tables (minus the more spacious booths for parties of 4 or more, an unfortunate discrimination against couples, which I happen to travel in!). The window displaying their dainty kitchen and industrious chefs combined with the savory fragrance of steaming dumplings only arouse further eagerness and hunger for what’s to come, drowning out the commotion of an equally excited crowd around you. But, alas, is all this hype about Jin Din Rou reprehensible? I know that I, for one, have certainly rescinded my enthusiasm and expectations for the seemingly promising restaurant and its dining experience. Continue reading