Save the Date: Watch ‘Cheap Eats’ next week!

By October 15, 2011 Musings, The Daily Dish

Check out “Cheap Eats” on K5 The Home Team on Wednesday, Oct. 19 — between 8 and 9 a.m., 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. — and Saturday, Oct. 22 — at 5 and 9 p.m. — for a peek inside one of my favorite eateries, Rainbow Drive-In. Oh, and Hawaii News Now weather/surf dude Guy Hagi and comedian Augie Tulba are in the episode, too. (smile)

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Today’s happy shot

By October 14, 2011 Happy Shots, The Dog Dish

Loving Indy’s new look for the fall, courtesy of Wan Wan Paradise.

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FUUD: The hot pot craze

By October 14, 2011 Food

It seems like every new restaurant popping up lately has something to do with boiling water.

Shabu Shabu King recently opened near Puck’s Alley. Hot Pot Heaven recently earned an Ilima Award. And Hanaki Japanese Restaurant in Manoa ditched the typical sit-down format and teishoku menu for hot pots only.

Let’s face, hot pots are hot.

The question is, why?

How did a thousand-year-old dish — usually served during cold months in climates hardly similar to Hawaii — get so popular so fast?

The thing is, hot pots and shabu shabu have been around for awhile. But lately — and I mean, since Sweet Home Cafe opened a few years ago — the concept has become all the rage.

Don’t believe me?

Try to get into Sweet Home Cafe for dinner without waiting longer than an hour.

So what is it? The healthy style of cooking meats and veggies? Is it the variety of dipping sauces? Is it the ambiance, the long lines, the feeling that you’re part of the cool kids who swish their beef tongues and chicken testicles in lightly flavored broths?

I know why I’ve loved hot pots — shabu shabu, huō guō, lāu, whatever — for a long time.

It’s simple. It’s fast. And it’s good.

You grab whatever ingredients you want, be it thinly sliced beef or baby bak choi or pork blood. And you cook them in the broth of your choice. In less than a minute, you’re dipping fully cooked beef slices into a rich ponzu sauce and eating it with a bowl a hot white rice.

What could be better than that?

Well, one thing: dessert. And this shave ice concoction at Sweet Home Cafe — with fruit jellies, mochi balls and coffee-flavored flan — is worth the 90-minute wait, sometimes in the rain.

So where’s your favorite hot pot restaurant? And what do you make of the craze?

Sweet Home Cafe, 2334 S. King St. Hours: 4 to 11 p.m. daily. Phone: (808) 947-3707

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Today’s happy shot

By October 13, 2011 Food, Happy Shots

You know what made me happy today? This chicken cutlet plate lunch from Rainbow Drive-In. Gravy all over.

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Did the Cooking Channel pick the right spots?

By October 13, 2011 Food

On Tuesday the Cooking Channel’s popular Food(ography) show turn its spotlight on Hawaii.

The show — which re-broadcasts at 11 p.m. Oct. 16 and 8 a.m. Oct. 23 — explores how people and societies are shaped by food, to tell the story and passion behind each dish. The network visited just Oahu and Big Island eateries.

So here’s the lineup:

• An award-winning Mai Tai prepared by star mixologist Christian Self at the Modern Honolulu (formerly the Waikiki EDITION hotel
• A visit to the award-winning Alan Wong’s Restaurant
• A kitchen visit with chef Ed Kenney of town (pictured above)
• Plate lunch from Helena’s Hawaiian Food
• A visit to Paradise Cove Luau
• Farm-raised Wagyu beef from Merriman’s Restaurant in Waimea
• A “seafood odyssey” at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel’s Manta & Pavilion Wine Bar

Other eateries that were pitched to the network:

KCC Farmer’s Market
• Two Ladies Kitchen
• Hilo Bay Sugar Shack
The Coffee Shack
• Big Island Grill
• Pine Tree Cafe

Now, looking at what was aired, I have a few suggestions.

If the show is focused on the culture of food, I don’t see how a commercialized luau show or a Mai Tai would fit into that.

So if you had to pick 10 restaurants on Oahu and the Big Island that should have been featured on the Cooking Channel, which would you pick?

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