Tag Archives: Hawaii

#LovingNow: Nene Goose Bakery in Kailua

IMG_7468

The other day I had to pick up my dogs at Nalowinds Boarding Kennels in Waimānalo.

It was early in the morning — well before 7 a.m. — and I needed to pick up something to give the Duartes, who had watched my dogs that weekend.

I was already on the Pali Highway, halfway to Waimānalo, and I couldn’t think of a quick place to grab something small, like a box of donuts or a custard pie.

I went down my mental list of bakeries on O‘ahu’s windward side: Deluxe Pastry Shop with its cream-filled long johns, Kaneohe Bakery next door with its custard pie, Agnes’ Portuguese Bake Shop in Kailua with its to-die-for malasadas.

All of which were too far. I was in a hurry.

So I Googled bakeries nearby and up popped Nene Goose Bakery in the Keolu Shopping Center. It was practically on the way!

IMG_3912

It’s a very unassuming, Japanese-style bakery, tucked away in a very quiet shopping center that boasts a movie theater and an okazuya, among other things. You can barely see the sign, though the bright interior lights and glass cases filled with colorful pastries will definitely draw you in.

IMG_4264

The bakery, started by the Nagai family in 1995, churns out all sorts of delights, from glazed donuts to cinnamon rolls to savory pastries. The specialties here, though, are breads, particularly the French and spinach loaves, not to mention small breads in the shapes of animals.

IMG_4441

IMG_5314

I’ve been here before, in the early afternoon, and it’s almost a faux pax to ask for spinach bread, as the bakery’s signature loaves sell out very quickly. You have to go early in the morning to grab a half loaf. (The bakery makes raisin, walnut and whole wheat breads, too.)

The spinach bread doesn’t taste like spinach at all. It has a soft texture, typical of Japanese-style breads, and a clean flavor. It’s not laden with preservatives or overly sweet. It’s a perfect loaf, to be honest, even with the speckle of green.

IMG_5670

Another signature item here is the mochi anpan, a Japanese bread pastry filled with sweetened red bean paste and a small, round ball of mochi. It’s expensive, but the size of the anpan — about a big as a baseball — and the uniqueness of this pastry make the price tag worthwhile. The bakery makes about 100 pieces a day.

IMG_3102

I love that this is a true, old-fashioned neighborhood bakery — there aren’t many left on O‘ahu! — that serves high-quality baked goods, including breads, butter rolls, donuts, even pies (on Saturday only).

My favorites are the mochi anpan (of course), the spinach bread (duh), the glazed donuts (best on the island, for sure), the old-fashioned cake donut (loaded with white sugar), the cinnamon rolls (made with a butter flake roll), and the buttermilk donut (perfection).

Of course, I haven’t tried everything on the menu, so that list isn’t definitive. But it’s a start!

***

Nene Goose Bakery, 1090 Keolu Dr. #111 in Enchanted Lake, Hours: 6 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays, Thursdays through Sundays, closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays and during lunch from noon to 1 p.m. Phone: 808-262-1080.

Comments { 6 }

#Done: Pop-up brunch with Anthony Yang

IMG_6896

In case you missed it — and you really shouldn’t have — Anthony Yang was in town this weekend and hosted one of his cult-popular pop-up brunches in Mānoa.

Just about every food-obsessed person I know — including Honolulu Magazine food editor Martha Cheng, Frolic‘s foodies Melissa Chang and Grant Shindo, Henry Adaniya of Hank’s Haute Dogs, Hawaii Luxury Magazine‘s Sarah Honda, Good To Grill‘s Jason Kim, Roy’s Restaurant‘s Robbyn Shim — was there, ready to sample some of Yang’s creative brunch dishes.

Yang, who sharpened his culinary knives at Per Se and Michael Mina, started hosting pop-up brunch events — called Ante Meridian — for his coworkers and friends more than a year ago. Since then, they’ve become so popular, they take place twice a month and often sells out within hours of releasing the menu. (He’s even started a dinner pop-up called, of course, “Post Meridian.”) (Read more about him here.)

Yes, it was a bit pricey — almost $50 per ticket — but it would certainly cost most to fly to San Francisco to attend one of his events there.

Here are some snapshots from the morning:

IMG_9440
The kitchen was bustling with local chefs — including chefs Chris Kajioka and Mark Noguchi — working with Yang on how to prepare and plate each dish.

IMG_6580
The first of four courses of this prix fixe menu was this plate with dollops of yogurt from Naked Cow Dairy Farm and Creamery, coffee granola and lilikoi. Really tasty and not overly sweet.

IMG_8492
The second dish was a brioche bread pudding — using bread crafted by Christopher Sy, who was also there — with corn, macadamia nut and squash compliments. I was slightly obsessed with the corn puree.

IMG_6830
Next was the rice porridge with togarashi pork, homemade pickles and a poached egg. I loved the pickled cucumbers, radishes and kim chee cabbage. The pork, too, was a great balance of salty and smoky. This was my favorite dish, hands down.

IMG_6896
Another highlight was the famed black truffle waffles, perfectly crispy and light with a hint of black truffle.

IMG_6987
Yang thanked the sold-out crowd in attendance and gave everyone donut holes to take home. I gotta say, it was well worth the money — and missing a south swell, too.

***

Congratulations to Amanda Corby and Pili Hawai‘i for another great event!

Comments { 3 }

5Qs with SF’s Anthony Yang

IMG_54941

Brunch and pop-ups.

Talk about the two culinary buzz words of this century.

Add “San Francisco-based chef” to the entire phrase and you’ve got the morning event of the year, happening this weekend.

San Francisco-based chef Anthony Yang, formerly of Per Se and Michael Mina, will headline “Ante Meridian” on Oahu this weekend, presenting a four-course prixe fixe brunch menu highlighting a mix of seasonal local ingredients and San Francisco flair.

Here’s a peek at the menu: Kona coffee-flavored granola on local organic yogurt with taro-date jam, macadamia nut brioche bread pudding with brown butter roasted pineapple and vanilla creme fraiche, and black truffle waffles.

Yes, I said black truffle waffles.

Yang started hosting pop-up brunch events for his coworkers and friends more than a year ago. Since then, they’ve become so popular, they take place twice a month and often sells out within hours of releasing the menu. (He’s even started a dinner pop-up called, of course, “Post Meridian.”)

I got a chance to chat with Yang to find out more about this weekend’s events — which are, by the way, not sold out. Yet.

1. So you’ve worked for a couple of big names — and now you’re doing these pop-ups. What’s the appeal?

The appeal is my approach to brunch. Brunch is never really the focus for a restaurant, especially ones that are open for dinner. If it is the main focus of a restaurant, I feel like most people are doing the same things. Pancakes that are too sweet, Belgian waffles that are dense and chewy, twelve different types of omelettes etc. I try to refine my take on brunch a little more. Also, for the pop-ups, the fact that you buy a ticket before hand has a lot of appeal to people. After you buy the ticket online, you don’t have to wait in line like every other person waiting for a table for brunch on a weekend. The convenience of just showing up, not having to bring cash and split the bill with your group of friends, and letting us do all the work is what appeals to most people, I would say. And the Black Truffle Waffles!

2. Are you surprised with how popular your pop-up events have gotten?

It’s taken a lot of time and work to build this “brand” that people are beginning to familiarize themselves with. There were some really slow days at first like any business, but I’ve tried to create something that is a little different and approachable to everybody. So not really.

3. Why did you want to become a chef? Who inspired you along the way?

Working in the industry runs in the family, I guess. My parents worked in Chinese restaurants all my life as a kid and eventually bought a small, fast food Chinese place that I worked in growing up. After high school I applied to culinary school at the local community college and went from there. Ive been inspired by so many people along the way. David Breeden, the chef de cuisine of The French Laundry is a huge inspiration. Chris Kajioka from Vintage Cave really inspired me to just go for it. Ron Siegel showed me that you can be a great chef and a nice guy at the same time.

4. How did you come to do a pop-up in Hawaii and what are you most excited about?

Chris Kajioka, Mark Noguchi and Hank Adaniya came to San Francisco a few months back to do a pop-up to represent Hawaii and I helped them with the event. I started thinking how cool it would be to do my pop-up in Hawaii. The goal was to just make enough money to cover my trip. Thanks to Chris, Mark, Hank, and Amanda from UMU, we made it happen after a few brain storming sessions. I’m most excited about eating at all the great restaurants that I keep hearing about and hanging out with good friends.

5.What are you planning to do — and where you planning to eat — while you’re in town?

Nick Erker, who is coming with me to help cook used to live and work on Oahu at Chef Mavro and with Andrew (Le) at The Pig and the Lady. And I’m leaving the planning up to him. He says were going straight to Ethel’s Grill from the airport for lunch. I’ve heard only great things about The Pig and the Lady and I know Andrew from culinary school. I hear Chris Kajioka is doing a pop-up and hopefully we’ll be able to go to that. Eastern Paradise is like my kind of soul food, so were definitely going to get some dumplings and jia jiang mien.

***
ANTE MERIDIAN 808 BRUNCH POP-UP
When: Saturday, July 12 (10 a.m. and 1 p.m.) and Sunday, July 13 (10 a.m.)
Where: 2970 E. Manoa Road Honolulu, HI 96822
Cost: $45/person, tickets can be purchased on Eventbrite.

Comments { 2 }

I do everything #LikeAGirl

Screen Shot 2014-07-07 at 11.12.27 AM

Since when did being a girl become an insult?

It’s the question at the center of a new ad campaign by Always — yes, the maker of maxi pads — to empower women and think differently about the way we view ourselves.

Here’s the ad.

Then meet the director.

I’ve watched it several times — tearing up #LikeAGirl every time.

See, I can totally relate. I grew up playing basketball with my guy friends, never aware that these was a gender difference. I could shoot three-pointers, I could nail hook shots, and I could box out like the best of them.

But as I got older, I began to realize that while I may not have seen gender, others did.

I can’t tell you how many times I’d be sitting in the lineup at a surf break and guys would treat me, you know, like a girl. As I’d paddle for a wave, guys who didn’t know me would encourage me, saying, “Paddle harder! You can do it!” as if I had just paddled out for the first time in my life. Or they would take one look at me and think, “Oh, she’s just a girl,” and try to out-paddle me for a wave.

It’s more than annoying, it’s insulting — and not just to me, either.

We live in a world where doing anything #LikeAGirl is bad. It means you’re weak or frivolous or pathetic. (It’s like when people say, “Man up,” like being a man means you’re tough. What would, “Woman up,” mean then…?)

The thing is, I can only do things #LikeAGirl. I run like a girl, I eat like a girl, I cook like a girl, I hike like a girl. Because I am a girl. When did that become a bad thing?

In the ad, adolescent girls, older women, boys and men were asked to demonstrate what it meant to “run like a girl” or “throw like a girl.” And it was heartbreaking to watch women my age respond with negative stereotypes.

But the powerful moment came when girls ages 10 and under answered the same question: they ran as fast as they could, they hit as hard as they could, they didn’t think any differently about the “like a girl” part at all.

“A lot of the girls pre-puberty were completely uninhibited by their identity as a girl,” said Lauren Greenfield, filmmaker and director of the #LikeAGirl video.

So where did we go astray?

It’s so incredibly sad to me that many of us have had our confidence and self-worth eroded at such a young age — and how that lack of self-esteem has tortured us our entire lives. We might not pursue our dreams or start to second-guess our abilities. We might not have tried as hard, we might have expected to fail, we might have felt like our potential was limited.

The worse part is that we might have started to believe our value comes in gender stereotypes, that we have to be, act and look a certain way in order to be valued as a girl or woman — as a human.

It’s so destructive and pointless. Why create artificial barriers to stop people from being their best selves? What would the world gain by that?

Watch the video. Think about it. Then do something — #LikeAGirl.

Comments { 6 }

Your favorite happy hours on O‘ahu

IMG_4508

Last night I met a girlfriend for pau hana drinks at Bevy, a fairly new neighborhood bar in Kaka‘ako. It’s got a solid happy hour menu, with a new selection of tapas, that we had wanted to check out. Items like house-made goat cheese creme on smoked beets with candied pecans. Or cod-and-caper croquettes served with a sweet chili aioli. Or the popular oysters on a half shell (above) with a papaya salsa and ponzu sauce. (And for $1 each, no less!)

It got me thinking about happy hours.

Anyone who has worked in Hawai‘i knows how much we love our pau hana. We love discounted pūpū and drinks — especially if they’re as delicious as the tidbits we feasted on at Bevy.

But what makes a good happy hour?

I say the following:

1. Great drinks. You can’t have a happy hour with lame, watered-down cocktails and a very limited offering of beers. (Unless you’re Shirokiya and you’re serving cold beers for $1.) We want good, solid drinks at a decent price. I’m not going to pay $8 for a colorful cocktail, even if it comes with a sprig of rosemary.

2. Tasty bites — and size doesn’t really matter. I want to say I appreciate the huge portions some bars dole out, even at happy hour. But I don’t care that much about the quantity as long as the food is crazy-good and reasonably priced. I’ll eat a small plate of food if the dish is absolutely delectable — and the price is right.

3. Fun, lively atmosphere. I might be in the minority when I say this, but I like a happy hour to be fun and lively — not dark or drab or dreary. I don’t need to sit in a cave and eat food I can’t see. If I’ve been sitting in a quiet office for the past eight hours, the last thing I want to do is be in a quiet space after work. I want laughter, I want conversation, I want to swear and dance and toss my head backward in a contagious fit of laughter. Period.

4. Parking. OK, maybe this my 39-year-old self coming out. But I hate having to circle neighborhoods for parking or walk several blocks in heels. I’m just too old for that. Give me valet.

I like places like Brasserie Du Vin in Chinatown, located closed to a cheap municipal parking lot. It boasts a robust happy hour menu like baked Brie, beef sliders topped with caramelized onions and a share-able cheese-and-charcuerie platter. Or Shokudo Japanese Restaurant & Bar near Ala Moana Center, with its late-night menu of contemporary Japanese dishes like unagi rice and sukiyaki bibimbap and sukiyaki kim chee pizza. Or Holoholo Bar & Grill in Mo‘ili‘ili with its take on bar classics like a Hawaiian version of poutine and deep-fried pork ribs.

So, according to that criteria, where are your favorite spots for happy hour?

Comments { 7 }