#CatEats: Bread + Butter at Ala Moana

By July 10, 2015 Food

IMG_4431

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve already been to Bread + Butter on Kapi‘olani Boulevard three times.

And not because I suggest it.

The buzz is out there — and the name helps, too. (I mean, who can resist a place called “Bread + Butter”?)

The first time I went, I was invited by my blogging pal Melissa Chang (@melissa808) who 1) knows I love both bread and butter and 2) who knows I love anywhere that has air conditioning and free WiFi.

IMG_8256
Inside Bread + Butter on Kapi‘olani Boulevard. I love the variety of seating, from couches to a raised communal table in the middle of the restaurant.

IMG_8257
There’s a counter where you can buy meat and cheese by the pound.

Bread + Butter opened a few months ago in the nearly 3,000-square-foot space vacated by Angelo Pietro in the Ala Moana Pacific Center, behind Ala Moana Center.

And it’s quite a transformation. I was just there with another girlfriend and she couldn’t believe it was the same space. I agree. The high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling glass windows create a beautiful and open dining area that’s so welcoming and modern. I don’t remember Angelo Pietro feeling that way.

This restaurant is owned by Diamond Dining, which also runs Shokudo Japanese Restaurant and Bar next door and Buho Cocina y Cantina in Waikīkī. And they’re all very different. This concept offers healthier options, grab-and-go items — and breakfast with some kick-ass 12-hour cold-pressed coffee. (The coffee program here was designed by Honolulu Coffee Co. founder Ray Suiter Jr.)

Here’s what I’ve been eating:

IMG_0452
At the counter you’ll be treated to quick takeout items like these unique scones and donuts.

IMG_8974
And there are always freshly baked muffins — love the Oreo-topped ones — here, too.

IMG_8258
I’m a sucker for musubis — and this place has my number. While it’s not always there by lunch, I’ve been able to nab one of these for breakfast.

IMG_8262
I’m a big fan of these Spam musubis topped with a fried quail egg. The Spam has a light teriyaki flavor and the rice is always perfectly cooked.

IMG_8266
I did ask for bread and butter. Who wouldn’t? So this is what I got: a bowl of housemade oven-baked focaccia and soft butter. I would like to see this place serve a variety of breads with a butter bar. Doesn’t that sound awesome?

IMG_4432
This is the breakfast dashimaki tamago ($7.95), a kind of Japanese-style frittata of egg and rice and topped with a thin slice of ham.

IMG_4430
My pregnant girlfriend was craving pancakes, so we ordered the taro and banana pancakes ($10.95), which comes topped with fresh fruits and whipped cream. This is one of the restaurant’s most popular breakfasts.

IMG_8274
The breakfast pizza ($7.95) comes with ham, pesto and cheese topped with a fried egg.

IMG_8272
There are four savory pizzas on the menu — minus the breakfast pizza, of course — cooked in the restaurant’s state-of-the-art pizza oven. My favorite is the four cheese and honey pizza ($14.95), with Gouda, Parmesan, Mozzarella and bleu cheeses — oh, and honey, which adds just the right amount of sweetness.

IMG_4427
There’s a lot to choose from on the lunch menu, including pasta dishes, a beef short rib loco moco, a red bean and brie sandwich, and a smoked ‘ahi sandwich that Melissa called the best she’s ever had. But I went for the Italian sandwich with ham, salami and cheese. For some reason, I had envisioned the bread would be buttered and toasted with a pesto olive oil drizzled on it — but I don’t know why. It didn’t say that on the menu. I guess my imagination ran away from me. This was a basic sandwich on super-soft bread and, if this is any indication, I ate the whole thing.

VERDICT: It’s easily one of my favorite go-to spots right now. Breakfast isn’t too crowded, which is nice, and you can hang out here for awhile, talk, meet friends, no problem. I wish it served Diet Coke — oh, they’ve heard this complaint from me already! — but I will say, the iced mocha, made with dark chocolate, is an awesome substitute. The free WiFi doesn’t hurt, either.

Bread + Butter, 1585 Kapiolani Blvd. near Ala Moana. Hours: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Phone: (808) 949-3430

You Might Also Like

My last meal at Kenny’s Restaurant

By July 6, 2015 Food

IMG_4475-2

I have fond memories of growing up in Kalihi Valley on O‘ahu.

We used to walk up to a statue of Mary on the hillside — it’s a replica of one in Madeira, incidentally — near our house, watch movies at the old Holiday Theater at Kamehameha Shopping Center, and buy butter rolls at Valley High Bakery.

And I loved going to Kenny’s Burgerhouse at Kamehameha Shopping Center where McDonald’s is now. I remember the burger joint before it was enclosed — and, of course, I remember the tabletop video games, too. Highlight of any visit there!

But that place closed down in December 2012, after 42 years. But that was OK. Kenny’s Coffee Shop and Restaurant across the strip mall was still open — and most of the burger house’s patrons just went over there instead.

But now that restaurant has closed yesterday.

It’s truly an end of an era.

I took my mom (top photo) to the restaurant this weekend for one last meal at Kenny’s. (She used to work at the burger house and the little okazuya that was open next door to the coffee shop, oh, almost 50 years ago.)

IMG_4477

As expected, everyone turned up for their last — or maybe first — chopped steak, Chinese chicken salad, fried rice or Cheesy Gal Burger. We had to wait about 20 minutes for a table for two — and we were there at 1 p.m., well after the lunch rush — and the line was still out the door.

FullSizeRender-2

The menu tells the story of this place: it’s old-school, with old-fashioned dishes to match. Stuffed cabbage, turkey pot pie, pork chops and — of course — liver with bacon and onions.

John Fujieki Jr. — the son of the owner and part of the family who started the Star Market chain — decided to close the restaurant after a series of recent health complications, including a stroke, he told Pacific Business News. He closed its Kenny’s Hawaiian Barbecue location in the Royal Hawaiian Center on July 4. The restaurant closed yesterday.

No word on what restaurant or business will move into the prime location at the mall at the corner of School Street and Likelike Highway.

Here’s what our last meal at Kenny’s looked like:

IMG_4483
My mom will order fried saimin anywhere it’s sold — so it’s no surprise she ordered it here, too. It came topped with generous amounts of kamaboko (fish cake) and green onions.

IMG_4486
While I really wanted the hamburger steak plate, I opted for the Suzie-Q, thinly sliced marinated ribeye grilled in teri sauce and topped with melted American cheese on a toasted hamburger bun.

IMG_4495
It was your basic teri beef sandwich, balanced in saltiness, with the meat cut thin and tender. All it needed was mayonnaise!

IMG_4500
I ordered a burger because I wanted dessert. This is, by far, my favorite item NOT on the menu: the Manager’s Special. I used to get this with chocolate ice cream when I was a kid. But on this day, I didn’t have a choice. The thin waffle was topped with vanilla ice cream, strawberries and whipped cream. It was like a strawberry shortcake but better. Man, I’m going to miss this!

You Might Also Like

#CatEats: Mud Hen Water in Kaimukī

By July 3, 2015 Food

IMG_8250

Back in April, I got to tag along with the production crew for the Emmy Award-winning food genealogy show, “Family Ingredients” (@familyingredients), to Okinawa in a search for delicious dishes. (Yeah, tough job.)

And when you’re traveling with a foodophile like Chef Ed Kenney (@edstown), you’re bound to eat a lot — and a lot of everything.

We blasted through bowls of Okinawan soba, grilled pig parts that sounded more like medical terminology, and licked more ice cream cones than I thought humanly possible on a single trip.

And while we were busying touring the small island, Kenney was smack in the middle of building out his latest restaurant concept, Mud Hen Water, in Kaimukī.

I remember him constantly checking his email — I was the bearer of the mobile WiFi — and ditching us for dinner to work on the menu and check in with this staff about new restaurant.

And he took a lot of mental notes at every restaurant we visited, asking about certain flavors and analyzing the texture of noodles and meats. He was planning to serve at least one dish — like soki soba (top) — from his experience in Okinawa.

So when the restaurant opened late last month, Kenney shot my husband a text and said, “Come. And bring your wife.” So we went.

IMG_8237
Inside the restaurant on Wai‘alae Avenue.

Kenney’s new concept is perched on the corner of Wai‘alae and 9th avenues, in the old Champa Thai Restaurant spot.

This grows Kenney’s restaurant empire in Kaimukī to three: Kaimukī Superette is literally next door to Mud Hen Water and his flagship, town, sits across the street. (In case you’re wondering, the mo‘olelo behind the name is this: Mud Hen Water is the translation of Wai‘alae, which loosely means the watering hole where the mudhen — an endangered native water fowl — gathers. It’s not the easier name to remember, but the meaning is very appropriate.)

The place, itself, is oozing with cool. Repurposed furniture and wood everywhere, a mix of rustic and industrial, QR codes on the menu that link to the bios of the fishermen who caught tonight’s special. I mean, it’s just everything you’d want in a modern restaurant except for the lack of parking.

It’s truly the hottest restaurant in town right now. Everyone has either been here — and blogged or Yelped about it — or is dying to try it.

IMG_8239

So why didn’t Kenney just text me? We’re friends, right?

Well, he wanted to invite my husband, who runs the aquaculture at Mari’s Gardens in Mililani, because the farm supplies the tilapia that’s on the menu. (See above)

A note about tilapia: I know it’s gets a bad rap for being that muddy-tasting fish that lives in the filthy Ala Wai Canal. But really, this is a mighty little fish with a mild flavor that chefs actually love to use. And according to the National Fisheries Institute, it’s the fourth most eaten seafood in the U.S., behind only shrimp, salmon and canned tuna.

It’s also an eco-friendly choice, these raised on the farm in Mililani as part of its aquaponics system. (The fish waste is used to fertilize plants, but that’s another blog.)

And Kenney knows this.

So instead of salmon skin, he uses tilapia skin to top his salad. Bonus plus for supporting sustainability!

As you can see from the menu, Mud Hen Water serves smaller plates, great for sharing, and the dishes definitely boast both local and Asian flavors.

Cold ginger rabbit with puffed rice: a twist on a classic Chinese dish.

Grilled beef stew with kalo (taro) and gravy all over: quintessential Hawai‘i with a modern flair.

Kenney really got creative with this menu.

Here’s what we ate:

IMG_8241
The dinner started with a local-style amuse-bouche: slices of mountain apple, in season at the time, topped with some chili flakes for a little kick.

IMG_8251
As a starter, we tried the corn-on-the-cob ($6), four little baby corn — or cornlettes — smeared with Old Bay butter and katsuobushi, or dried bonito flakes, something I remember Kenney obsessing over in Okinawa.

IMG_8243
This was a super fun app: the preserved ‘akule (bigeye scad) in a sardine can ($9) — love it — with pickles and limu (seaweed) butter served with soda crackers. Not fancy crackers; soda crackers. It was fun to eat and super tasty, though I wish we had ordered two.

IMG_8244
Of course, we had the tilapia skin salad ($14), which came with silken tofu, Maui onion, bittermelon (another Okinawan find), slivers of hearts of palm from Wailea Agriculture Group on the Big Island, crispy shallots and strips of nori (dried seaweed). It’s an interesting take on the izakaya staple salmon skin salad, but with a milder flavor. (Tilapia, especially farm-raised, isn’t fishy.) I wish there was more meat on the fish, but I suppose that defeats the purpose of the tilapia skin.

IMG_8245
I’m a fiend for pa‘i‘ai — a childhood favorite of mine — so I will order that wherever I see it. Pa‘i‘ai is pounded taro in its purest form, really undiluted poi. It’s like candy to me. So when I saw the yaki o pa‘i‘ai ($10) on the menu, it was the first thing I ordered. The pa‘i‘ai blocks were lightly flavored with shoyu and sugar, grilled, then wrapped in nori. (“Yaki” means grilled in Japanese.) It was like eating shoyu-flavored sweet mochi hot off the grill, really, wrapped in nori, which I thought was clever and interesting. I may have not shared this…

IMG_8248
The dish I really came for, though, was the soup noodle ($15). It was the dish Kenney was mentally concocting on the trip. He’s getting his noodles — traditional Okinawan soba — from locally owned Sun Noodle (the only noodle manufacture in the U.S. that makes these kinds of noodles, by the way) and created a dashi (broth) that managed to reflect the flavors of classic Okinawan-style soki soba while meeting the expectations — and, let’s face it, demands — of a local palette. When we were in Okinawa, Kenney had a bowl of soki soba and loved how the broth tasted a lot like Hawai‘i’s saimin. I think that’s what he was going for with this dish — and marvelously succeeded, down to the braised spare rib. Best dish of the night.

IMG_8253
While I order anything that says, “pa‘i‘ai,” my husband orders anything with the word “kimchi.” Case in point: we sampled the pig face and kim chee omelette ($12), with fried pig skin — another Okinawan memory — and housemade kimchi stuffed in an omelet and paired with a scallion ketchup, which was unique and addicting.

IMG_8254
Remember: the plates here are small. So despite everything we ate, we still have room for dessert. (In fact, we almost ordered two.) Our server highly recommended the pineapple polenta upside-down cake, which, I’ll be honest, wasn’t my first choice. I’m not a huge polenta fan — actually, I’m a polenta snob. It has to be creamy, not hard, or I won’t eat it. In this case, the polenta was perfect — and not entirely creamy, either. It had the consistency of cornbread, actually, which I didn’t mind. And the coconut gelato and kiawe bean molasses were great accompaniments.

IMG_0473
My husband — rocking his Rainbow Drive-In T-shirt (LOL) — and Kenney, who texted me later, saying, “Farmers are royalty at our restaurants!” I won’t tell you what he said about bloggers.

VERDICT: I’m a big fan of Kenney in general — as a chef, as a person, as a travel partner — so I’m a bit biased. But I will say, while the plates are small — I’m warning you! — the flavors are strangely unique — and in a way that works. You want something different, something you’ve probably never had before? This is it. And it’s quite a scene, too, if you’re into that.

Mud Hen Water, 3452 Wai‘alae Ave., Kaimukī, (808) 737-6000, mudhenwater.com

You Might Also Like

#40Trails No. 8: Friendship Garden in Kāneʻohe

By June 30, 2015 #40trails

IMG_8148

HIKE: Friendship Garden, Kāneʻohe, O‘ahu
WHEN: June 2015
LENGTH: 0.6 mile
DIFFICULTY: Easy
FEATURES: Short hike with great views of Kāneʻohe Bay, historic, great for kids, pet-friendly

Dog owners are always on the lookout for pet-friendly hikes.

So when I heard about a little-used trail in Kāneʻohe that allows leashed dogs, I quickly put it on my #40Trails list.

But the Friendship Garden wasn’t exactly what I had expected.

For starters, it has a very interesting history.

IMG_8285
The sign at the start of the trail.

Turns out, this 10-acre on the slopes above Kāneʻohe Bay — above the Kokokahi YWCA — is a garden created for the residents of this small, 87-lot subdivision developed in 1927 as Hawai‘i’s first interracial community. This garden was built as a place of peace and tranquility, to be enjoyed by everyone.

There’s a teahouse, a banyan valley, bamboo grove and less than a mile of non-stenuous hiking trails that offer stunning views of Windward O‘ahu.

It’s hard to believe there was a need to create a multiracial community in such a multiracial place. But back in 1927, Rev. Theodore Richards, who was then the principal at Kamehameha Schools, and his wife, Mary Atherton, purchased 41 acres here and built Kokokahi (which means “of one blood” in Hawaiian). At the time most people lived in camps or areas segregated by race. But not here.

The garden fell into disrepair, especially after World War II. In 1973 Jack Gillmar and his wife, Janet, took out a 50-year lease for the garden, at $1 a year, promising to restore it. In 1998 a nonprofit was set up and the garden was deeded to it.

Today, volunteers maintain the trail and the nonprofit, Friendship Garden Foundation, collects donations for its upkeep.

The trailhead starts in this community, at the top bend of Kokokahi Place just off Kāneʻohe Bay Drive, mauka of Kokokahi YWCA.

IMG_8281

There’s hardly any parking here — see above — so you’ll need to find a spot in this residential area and walk.

Once you get here, though, the trail is well marked, with signage and even a pavilion where you can learn more about the gardens and pick up a map of the trails.

IMG_8284
If you see this, you’re at the right spot!

IMG_8291
Inside the pavilion is a bulletin board with stories and information about the gardens. It’s worth stopping here to read about it.

IMG_8292
Here’s the map of the trails. There are several ways to navigate this area.

As you can see from the above map, there’s an upper and lower loop. The view that everyone raves about is located at the upper left-hand corner of the map, labeled as “ridge lookout.” Just keep heading to the left and you’ll see it.

It’s easy to get there, too. It took us maybe 15 minutes total to reach the top.

IMG_8298
The trail meanders along several switchbacks to the ridge lookout.

IMG_8305
Taro vine — one of many various plants and trees in this thought-out but non-manicured garden.

IMG_8311
The bamboo grove heading toward the ridge lookout.

IMG_8313
I loved seeing red hibiscus on the trail. Nice pop of color!

The trail takes you through groves of macadamia, banyan, mahogany, strawberry guava and eucalyptus trees, many of them marked with plaques.

And soon enough — like, in 15 minutes — you’re approaching the top.

IMG_8320
Part of the well-worn trail to the lookout.

IMG_8326
The last push to the clearing.

The ridge lookout is pretty nice, though the views of Kāneʻohe Bay aren’t as spectacular as the ones from the pillboxes at the end of Puʻu Māʻeliʻeli in Temple Valley. But the trail is easier and shorter and you’ll likely run into way fewer people along the way.

IMG_3995
Here’s the view.

IMG_8339
Of course, we brought champagne! This bottle came from one of our winery visits in the Russian River Valley, Calif.

OK, so here’s where the trail got interesting.

If you look on the hand-drawn map, you’ll see the ridge lookout in the upper left-hand corner, then the Talbott Trail starts here, through a grove of Norfolk pines.

We had initially walked along that trail before heading to the lookout when a couple with a dog stopped us and said that wasn’t a trail. In fact, the woman told us it was dangerous.

But I looked at the map again. Wasn’t that the Talbott Trail? Isn’t it just another half-mile loop back to the start?

Apparently, no.

We started up that trail, thinking it was going to lead back to the trailhead — and our car — and it didn’t.

But it turns out, this is a whole ‘nother trail, called Oneawa Hills, which heads along the ridge and away from Kokokahi.

But it was a marked trail and well-worn, so we didn’t hesitate.

IMG_8343
See? It’s marked!

IMG_8347
This is a more challenging hike, with steep sections that required some tree-gripping along the way.

IMG_8361
But stops along the way offered even better views of Windward O‘ahu — we were even higher above the tree line — and the 800-acre Kawai Niu Marsh (above), the largest wetlands in Hawai‘i.

IMG_6521
Here’s a better view of Kāneʻohe Bay.

IMG_8365
The Oneawa Hills trail is not as well-used as the ones throughout the Friendship Garden, but it’s obvious people still hike through here fairly regularly.

We kept trudging along, passing telephone poles and reaching what appeared to be a communications tower of some sorts surrounded by a fence.

IMG_8369
Here’s one of the telephone poles we followed along the trail.

IMG_8374
We walked along the fence to find the rest of the trail. It’s there, on the other side of the fence.

IMG_8375
There’s another clearing here, which offers sweeping views of the opposite side of Kāneʻohe.

We made our way down a very steep, slippery trail — still marked! — past the fence, down toward another residential community. Not the only where I had parking my car.

IMG_8381
The marked trail leading down the ridge.

IMG_8382
It’s not a hard trail, but it is steep on the descent. I slide a few times, so be careful and wear shoes with good traction.

I’m not sure if we actually did the official Oneawa Hills trail, since we didn’t hit a rope section or any great views of Kapa‘a Quarry and the green-colored pool that lies below it. But we did follow the ribbons and wound up in someone’s backyard. (We tend to do that often.)

IMG_8395
The end of the trail — is here.

IMG_8397
We ended up in a residential community about a mile away from our car.

We popped out on Nāmoku Street, close to Bay View Golf Course, and had to walk all the way back to my car, parking the slope of Kokokahi Place.

It was a brutal walk, so long, in fact, I almost considered catching the bus back.

It’s funny — I had commented to my husband at the ridge lookout that I didn’t even need to wear shoes on this hike, it was so easy and quick. And here we were, two hours later, walking along Kāneʻohe Bay Drive with no water on one of the hottest days in June.

At least we could laugh about it — and got a decent workout, too.

VERDICT: The Friendship Garden is a great trail for families and dog owners who are looking for an easy, safe and short hike with a nice view. I’d recommend touring the gardens more — there’s a Japanese teahouse that we never saw before we took the wrong trail — and quiet spots to sit and relax. If you’re planning to do the Oneawa Trail, might be good to pack some water.

***
Follow my hiking adventures #40trails at Instagram (@catherinetoth), Twitter (@thedailydish) and Facebook (/thecatdish).

You Might Also Like

Sunny and the vet bill

By June 29, 2015 Musings, The Dog Dish

IMG_2667

Anyone with pets will understand this.

There is nothing more frustrating than a sick animal.

They can’t effectively communicate with you what’s going on, how they’re feeling, or what they just licked.

Aside from the obvious signs — vomiting, limping — you pretty much can only guess what’s ailing them.

On Saturday evening, just before dinner, Sunny, our Pomeranian-toy fox terrier mix, started acting strangely.

And when I say “strangely,” I mean “stranger than usual.”

She’s typically a strange dog to begin with, often acting more like a cat than a canine. She likes to hide out under the bed or in the back bedroom, where it’s cooler. She’s super picky about treats. And she doesn’t like anyone coming near here when she’s sleeping, not even me.

So we did find it odder than normal that Saturday evening when she wouldn’t come out of her dog bed in the back room, despite tempting her with her favorite treat. She was utterly disinterested and it was disconcerting.

I picked her up and she could barely walk. She was hunched over — as dogs can be, anyway — and her tail was tucked between her legs. When I touched her stomach area — it’s good to feel around to see if there are any injuries or pain — she whimpered a little. This wasn’t good.

It doesn’t help that just last week there was a report of three dog deaths on Maui linked to dog treats laced with antifreeze. I started to panic.

So I called Feathers and Fur Animal Hospital in Kailua, which offers a 24-hour emergency care service. (Very helpful; we’ve used it a lot.)

IMG_6620In about 30 minutes, we were sitting in the exam room, talking with the vet about what could have possibly happened.

We had taken the dogs to a nearby park that morning, and Sunny — she’s very kolohe — ran into a cluster of trees that she knows is off-limits, with Opae and Indy running after her. It took us awhile to get her out of the thick vegetation and, when she finally emerged, she was licking her lips and almost grinning at us.

So she could have eaten something in there, maybe rat poison pellets, or licked a cane toad.

She wasn’t vomiting, but it was obvious her stomach was bothering her, the vet said. And the fact that Sunny hadn’t eaten anything or sipped water in more than four hours was another bad sign.

The vet left the room to put together a list of things she wanted to do, along with the price breakdown. Not that the cost would have mattered; we would have done anything to make Sunny feel better.

I was sitting on the floor with Sunny, who looked so sad and pathetic, wrapped in a beach towel. I tried to offer her a small piece of chicken jerky — her favorite — that I had kept in my pocket. She wouldn’t even sniff it.

Then the vet tech came in and sat with me on the floor, next to Sunny. She showed me the list of things the vet was going to do: blood work, test her pancreas, outfit her with an IV, and keep her overnight, possible for two days.

The damage? $780.

Sunny watched me sign the invoice and make plans to leave her at the hospital.

Then something happened.

As soon as the vet tech left, Sunny started pawing me for treats. I pulled out the chicken jerky, broke off a small piece, and fed it to her. She snatched it out of my fingers and gobbled it down, like she hadn’t eaten for years.

And she kept eating. Everything we could give her.

The vet came back, laughed and said, “Well, that’s a good sign. I guess she’s feeling better.”

She got some fluids put under her skin — called subcutaneously and is slowly absorbed into the blood stream — and we left that evening.

She’s been fine ever since. In fact, the next morning, I took her hiking up Makapu‘u (below) and she was perky and energetic.

IMG_2298

I don’t doubt she was sick or that her stomach was upsetting her. But I do think Sunny saw that roster of treatment and panicked, too, saying, in her own way, “Look at me! I’m fine! I’m eating! Let’s go home!”

While I’m relieved she’s not really sick — or sick anymore — I did shake my head at her, especially when we pulled into the Burger King drive-thru after leaving the hospital and she practically ordered her own cheeseburger.

Dogs. You gotta love ’em.

***

Thanks to everyone who sent well wishes and prayers via social media! We definitely felt your positive vibes!

You Might Also Like