Archive for the ‘Food!’ Category

Try It, You’ll Like It

Having worked in Waikiki for many years and having gone to many luaus, the one food we tell every tourist to try is poi.  For those of you not familiar with poi, it’s the mashed up root of the taro plant.  It kind of has the consistency of wallpaper paste, and some will even tell you that it tastes like it too.

Personally, I like poi, but I don’t love it.  I’m the guy that sneaks in a little sugar when my wife isn’t looking just to make it a little more palatable.  But it is nutritious and hearty and many island moms feed it to their infants because it is easy to swallow and it is readily available.

A few weeks ago, we were at a graduation party and they were serving up Hawaiian food.  We took the opportunity to introduce Sunny to her very first sampling of poi.  How did she like it?  See for yourself.


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Prepping the food for our Hawaiian pupu party. On the menu tonight: Spam musubi, fried rice, macaroni salad, pork sandwiches and chicken long rice. It will truly be an authentic Hawaiian experience.

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Airline Food

Living on a small island like Oahu has many benefits. For one, nothing is really more than half an hour away. Of course, when you have to sit in a car for more than an hour, it can seem like an eternity. One drawback to living on an island is travel. In order to go anywhere significant you have to get on a plane (or boat I suppose) and that means going to the airport, making your way through security and renting a car and booking a hotel (unless you’re lucky enough to know someone at your destination willing to put you up). All this means to me is that I don’t travel very often because it’s such an ordeal. Of course, when I do travel, it’s such a special occasion.

I am currently in Japan, where I usually go once a year, with my church. This year, for the first time, we flew on China Airlines because we couldn’t find a good price on Japan Airlines. Up until now, I had always flew on JAL so I kind of knew exactly what to expect on the trans-Pacific flight. When we fly on JAL, I always get the Japanese meal because I figure I can always get an American meal on any other flight. Plus, I like Japanese food and I’m rarely disappointed. Following that mindset, when it came time to order on China Airlines, we had a choice of the eggs breakfast or the Chinese one. I’m pretty sure the flight attendant told me exactly what the Chinese breakfast had in it, but either she told me it in Chinese or she just had a thick accent. Either way I wasn’t sure exactly what I was getting. I love Chinese food, but when I opened the tray this is what I saw.


So that’s what Chinese people eat for breakfast!

So what is it? Your guess is as good as mine. The only things I recognized right off the bat were the bread and the juice. The left dish held some sort of rice dish that reminded me of jook and the one of the right was small pieces of the stuff that is the cone of a cone sushi. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting, but it definitely wasn’t that.

Our next meal came four or five hours later. This time, I knew exactly what the flight attendant told me. She gave me the choice of chicken with pasta or beef on rice. Not really being a pasta guy, I opted for the rice. It turned out to be almost like a beef stew dish except there was just one thing slightly amiss.


Can you spot it?

It’s not that there wasn’t enough beef, rice or vegetables. No, that part was fine. My biggest issue was the amount of fat on the beef. I guess they haven’t heard about the hazards of eating straight fat in China, because it seemed like that was all I got. Here’s a close up.


Mmm, oh so yummy!

Now don’t get me wrong, I like a good piece of fatty meat every now and then, but that was a little too much even for me. At least they did have a good Diet Coke for me. That helped me to wash down my lunch.


I think that says Diet Coke (or at least Coca-Cola Light)

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Big D, part 2

After keeping you in suspense for several months, I decided to finish telling you all about my trip to Texas. Actually this post is mostly about the food I ate since I figured that you probably wouldn’t be too interested in the database conference I attended. So if you haven’t eaten lunch yet, this post may be a little dangerous. You’ve been warned.

So when you go to Texas I guess what you’re expected to do is eat meat. Lots and lots of meat. Not just any meat. You’re supposed to eat Texas BBQ. Last year when I went to the same conference we ate at a BBQ place called Dickey’s BBQ Pit. It was some pretty good stuff. This year we tried Sonny Bryan’s Smokehouse. Like Dickey’s this place is a chain, but don’t let that discourage you. It was lots of smoked meat and deep-fried goodness.


Outside the Smokehouse on a rainy evening


I had the BBQ ribs, brisket and chicken with a side of fried okra and green bean casserole

Continuing on our meaty-goodness theme, we asked a barista at one of the coffee shops where we could get some steak. We didn’t need a fancy, gourmet steak. We just wanted a place to eat a big hunk of meat. His answer? Texas Land & Cattle. Let me tell you, it didn’t disappoint. Ruth’s Chris it’s not, but it was a good piece of meat. I had the ribeye with a baked sweet potato and it was under $20 ($17.95 if I remember correctly)! I probably wouldn’t eat there every week, but for a nice dinner it was quite reasonable.


I didn’t quite get the meat sweats, but I got close


Our cheesy queso appetizer


The main dish!

On our last day, we had a few hours between the end of the conference and our flight so we ventured down to Fort Worth. As luck would have it, we got there at the tail end of Western week so the town was abuzz with people dressed in Western regalia and doing some educational demonstrations for the kids.

It was like we ventured back into the Old West complete with people on horseback and cowboys.


This is what the Old West would have looked like with paved roads, cars and stoplights


Deb and some settlers


I’m also sure the Old West had tons of mice riding on cats riding on dogs

One thing I did want to try were calf fries. I had never tried one before and I didn’t know when I would be able to try them again, so I figured I’d take my chances and go for broke. I also had a normal lunch of a chicken-fried steak sandwich too just to make sure I could wash the calf fries taste out of my mouth.


The infamous calf fries


What the inside of a deep-fried calf testicle looks like


Mmm, so ono


My rather mundane chicken-fried steak sandwich (which was huge by the way)

Of course we did try to eat healthy when we weren’t eating meat, but I figured you can eat healthy anywhere. As the old saying goes, “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”. So meat it was.

One thing we really didn’t try was Tex-Mex. Maybe if I go back again next year, I’ll make sure that it’s on the menu.

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Big D, Part 1

It’s been a busy last couple of months for me filled with some time off the island. I went to a conference in Plano, Texas and then Keao and I took a short trip to the Big Island to introduce Slugger to her cousin and her aunties and uncles for the first time. But that’s for another post (I’m trying really hard to catch up), this one is about my time in Dallas.

A few of us were sent to the Fellowship One conference to learn about the system powering our church’s database. I know, it’s super exciting. But we arrived the day before the conference started so we decided to do a little sightseeing.

Our first stop was lunch. When I go to the mainland there are three fast-food restaurants I like to eat as that we can’t get in Hawaii: 1. Chick-Fil-A, 2. Sonic, 3. In and Out Burger. I know, some of you may think that In and Out should be higher, but truthfully, while I like their burgers, I would still rather eat at the other two places first. Plus, they just opened the first In and Out in Texas while we were there and the line reportedly stretched over a mile.

But Sonic. I love Sonic. Not only do they have a wonderfully large menu, but you get served by carhops wearing roller skates! Plus, with all the drink combinations you can order a different drink every time you go there.


They even have instructions on how to eat this massive foot-long Coney Island beast


I got mine covered in chili and cheese

Last year when I went to the Fellowship One conference with Cindy, we saw Cowboy Stadium from a distance but we didn’t have a chance to visit it so this year I really wanted to make sure i got to take a tour of the “House that Jerry Built”. In a word, Cowboy Stadium is massive. I’ve been to other ballparks before but this one was so huge and impressive I don’t think pictures will do it justice. It’s a sight you have to see for yourself, in person.

The first thing you notice about Cowboy Stadium is the insanely large HD video screen. It’s reportedly the largest in the world and it cost $40 million to build. To put it in perspective, Texas Stadium, where the Dallas Cowboys played before, cost $35 million to build. The entire stadium cost $5 million less than the HD screen.


How would you like that in your living room?


A view from the owner’s box


Pretending to be Jerry Jones for a few minutes


How many ways can you say “win”?


I wanted to spike a football, but I was afraid of the ramifications


The locker of former University of Hawaii punter Mat McBriar


Tony Romo’s locker (I hear you can rent the locker room to do weddings too)


Do you really need to tell professional football players NOT to share razors?


A statue of the great Tom Landry

After the tour we were a little tired so we headed to our hotel to take a short nap and then we headed back to Arlington to take in a Rangers game. Cindy and I attended a game last year too, but you never get tired of watching a major league game live. Plus, the Rangers did make it to the World Series last year so there is quite a buzz going on in Dallas.


The Ballpark at Arlington


Your better-than-average stadium fare, a BBQ brisket sandwich


Home Run!


The ground crew covering the field during the rain delay


Apparently one guy fell down and got covered too!


The stadium quickly emptied when the lightning started

Truthfully I’m not sure who won since we didn’t stick around through the rain delay. We had traveled all night and we were tired (plus we didn’t want to be too tired for the conference). I didn’t take too many pictures of the conference since I figured that it wouldn’t be that exciting for everyone to see but I did take more pictures of food so please join me next time where I’ll show you what else i ate in Texas.

Until then, happy trails!

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A few weeks ago some of our really good friends from church blessed me and Keao with a nice dinner at the new Hard Rock Cafe in Waikiki. For many years the Hard Rock Cafe stood on the corner of Kalakaua Ave. and Kapiolani Blvd. Although it was right across from the Hawaii Convention Center it was just inconvenient enough from Waikiki that i would imagine unless you really were a fan it would be easy to pass up. Luckily they solved that problem by moving into Waikiki proper (280 Beach Walk Ave.)

Upon arrival the first thing I noticed was how huge the new restaurant looked. The old Hard Rock Cafe was a one story round looking building but the new one is a large, spacious, high ceilinged, two-story building. It also offers lanai seating, which in Hawaii, is always nice. I would say that it is very nicely themed keeping the Hard Rock theme while making it feel like Hawaii.


The nice new sign that beckoned us from Kalakaua Ave

The whole first floor seems to be the retail shop where you can buy all sorts of Hard Rock logo items. Taking a page out of Disney, the only way into and out of the restaurant is through the gift shop. Luckily the gift shop isn’t all merchandise, but it’s interactive as well. There’s a big touch-screen display that has a whole bunch of pictures floating around on it. When you touch a picture it enlarges and gives you its notable history.


Look at all the pretty basses floating around


Here’s a famous hat of somebody (I just can’t remember who)


For all the avid Hard Rock Cafe pin collectors out there

After browsing the merchandise Keao and I headed upstairs for dinner, I didn’t take too many pictures of the interior because I was too busy looking at all of the guitars on the walls but I will say that it is impressive. There are monitors everywhere broadcasting music videos (even behind the large blue wall behind the bar). The music played at the perfect volume too. It was loud enough to hear but not so loud that you couldn’t have a conversation with those in your dinner party.

We started our meal with the Grilled Chicken Quesadilla (with pineapples which apparently makes it Hawaiian) and followed it up by ordering the New York Strip (me) and Grilled Sirloin (Keao). The food arrived in a timely manner and was quite flavorful. So good in fact that once the steaks hit the table we dug right in and forgot to take pictures (my apologies). By the time I remembered to take pictures we had eaten most of our meal so the only pictures we have of our entrees are just the remnants. If it’s any consolation, they did taste delicious. Of course, we had to sample one of their desserts too so we finished our meal with a Hot Fudge Brownie. So ‘ono!


The quesadilla comes with salsa, guacamole and sour cream


Keao’s partially eaten sirloin with garlic mashed potatoes


My New York steak (also partially eaten) with the steamed vegetables


A brownie with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and hot fudge all over

After dinner we decided to stretch our legs a bit and see what famous memorabilia decorated their walls. One impressive feature that makes the self-guided “tour” a little more interactive is the Hard Rock Hotline. There’s a phone number you can call and get a little more information on the items lining the walls. Many of the items have a number associated with it and when you call the hotline and punch in the number a recorded message give more information on the particular item. Pretty cool I think.


King of the Surf Guitar, Dick Dale’s left-handed Fender Stratocaster


Thanks to Married to Rock, Keao knew exactly who Duff was (not because he was in Guns n Roses)


‘Ol Slowhand, Eric Clapton’s Fender Stratocaster


Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath fame’s guitar


The concert I didn’t get to see…Paul Stanley of KISS’s Washburn


The jacket that Ziggy Marley wore

Lastly in keeping with the Hawaiian theme. One of the more impressive features of the restaurant is the guitar wave. It is literally a large cresting wave made up dozens upon dozens of guitars and basses. They aren’t the most expensive brands but the sheer quantity makes it super impressive to look at.


Coming up the stairs the wave begins


The wave continues throughout the restaurant with acoustic and electric guitars and basses

Being that I have eaten at both the Kapiolani and the Waikiki Hard Rock Cafes I will say that the Waikiki is a great improvement on the former. It’s a much more inviting (and somewhat classier) atmosphere. The food was great and if you’re a music enthusiast you can’t beat memorabilia.

Plus, I now have a HRC All Access card which means that I can get front of the line privileges at any participating Hard Rock Cafe. Take me with you next time you go and we’ll get in faster.

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Food, Glorious Food

For the last few months, I have been blessed enough with the opportunity to travel to the continent two different times. In May, I went to a conference in Texas and then I went to Pennsylvania to celebrate my sister’s graduation from Carnegie Mellon University.

Whenever I go on trips people invariably will ask me what I ate. Luckily for them, I love taking pictures of food so for the next few posts I will show you guys what i ate. In this post, we’ll revisit Texas and Pennsylvania and in the next post well look at our food adventures in Atlanta, Georgia.

Our conference was in Plano (it was a database conference) and the church sent me and Cindy Loo. Of course since we went all the way to Texas I dragged Cindy to a baseball game. So after traveling overnight and going straight to the conference we managed to find the strength to go to the Ballpark at Arlington. As luck would have it, it was dollar hot dog night that night so of course we loaded up on hot dogs and enjoyed a great baseball game (the Rangers won and we all sang “Deep in the Heart of Texas” together).


Here’s the crowd filtering into the ball park


The hot dogs weren’t great, but they were only a buck each

Of course you can’t go to Texas with out eating some Texas BBQ so based on a recommendation from one of my friends that used to live in Plano, we tried one of the local favorites: Dickie’s Barbecue Pit.


This place was literally right across from the church. We should have eaten there more often!


You know it’s authentic when there’s a smoker right in the parking lot


My plate was full of brisket, sausage, fried okra and green beans (plus you can get sweet tea everywhere!)

After leaving Cindy and departing to Pennsylvania I met up with my family in Pittsburgh. One of the great things about living in an age of the Food Network and the Travel Channel is they have changed some lucky local eateries into food destinations. Of course since my sister lives in Pittsburgh she also made a few suggestions too. WARNING: There are going to be tons of pictures following!


First stop: breakfast at Deluca’s!


Their signature waffle sundae. You can barely see the ice cream peeking out under the whipped cream.


Another Pittsburgh institution is Primanti Brothers


Their claim to fame is putting the french fries inside the sandwich (which incidentally makes for a very thick sandwich

After spending some time in Pittsburgh we did a little sightseeing in central PA. We drove stayed a few nights in Gettysburg (which will probably be the subject of a later post) and visited Hershey (home of Hershey Chocolates) and Lancaster County (probably most known for the Amish).

Gettysburg, as you probably remember from your American history classes, was the site of one of the bloodiest battles in the Civil War. Because of this battle President Lincoln turned the land in to a national cemetery and his dedication of the cemetery is the famous Gettysburg address.

Anyway, they keep the Civil War alive in Gettysburg by allowing you to eat what they would have eaten if you had been there during the 1860s.


The Farnsworth House Dining is one of the more famous houses in Gettysburg


Our meal started out with pickled watermelon rind (my sister loved it, I didn’t)


Another appetizer was this bowl of spoon bread


My mom had the pumpkin fritters, sweet potato pudding and Lancaster chicken


I opted for the game pie


Can you see the chunks of turkey, pheasant and duck?


This is what greets you when you arrive at Hershey


The chicken nuggets weren’t spectacular but the dipping sauce was interesting


That’s honey mustard on the right and a chocolate barbecue on the left (that’s right, chocolate barbecue!)

One of the more fascinating places we visited in central Pennsylvania was Lancaster county. In addition to the Amish people that live there they have a nice bustling city. Then a little ways out of town there was a magical place called the Shady Maple Smorgasbord. They claim to have over 200 feet of fine Pennsylvania Dutch cooking. It happened to be seafood spectacular night when we ate there and I must say, it did not disappoint.


We had no idea what we were in for


My first trip included among other things orange roughy, corned beef, shrimp, scallops, salmon, steak, fried chicken, roast beef, pork tenderloin and lobster bisque


Here’s a sampling of what they had to offer (now multiply this station by 15)


Another favorite of mine was birch beer (think root beer)


This little piece of pie is the famous shoofly pie

But alas our trip had to end sometime and so we headed back to Pittsburg. I’m not sure how I did this, but I managed to convince everyone to watch another baseball game with me so we went out to PNC Park to watch the Pittsburg Pirates. In another first for me, we sat in the outfield in the “all you can eat” section. In this section there is a special concession booth and you can go and order off the menu as many times during the game as you wish.


The view of the centerfield scoreboard from our seats in right field


It says limit 4 but you can come back as much as you wish


Nothing great but you can eat all that you wanted

Unfortunately for me this trip was met with more than one flight delay. I was late getting in due to a weather delay out of Dallas/Ft. Worth and I was late to leave due to a sick flight attendant in Pittsburgh. However the one bright spot that came out of the delay was Quaker Steak and Lube. If it wasn’t for that sick flight attendant I wouldn’t have had a chance to eat here. This popular spot is famous for their wings and different sauces. They go from the mild all the way to the atomic (which they claim is one of the hottest in the world).


They take their automotive theme very seriously


These are the Buckeye BBQ in front and I believe Tequila Lime BBQ in back


As you can see the Buckeye BBQ is rated at 5,000 while the Atomic is 150,000

We weren’t brave enough to try the atomic wings. I hear they’re very hot. So hot in fact, they make you sign a release form before you can eat them.

Overall I did get to try some great new dishes while visiting some great new places. Stay tuned to see what we ate in Atlanta.

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One of the great joys of traveling is trying out different restaurants that you wouldn’t normally have a chance to try out in Hawaii. Keao and I watch a lot of reality TV and so we’ve had the chance to eat at a few celebrity chefs’ restaurants.

During this trip to Las Vegas we decided to splurge (we don’t normally eat at such fancy places) and try out Tom Colicchio’s craftsteak. Tom Colicchio is the head judge of Bravo TV’s Top Chef program of which Keao and I are huge fans so when we found out that Keao’s WPPI conference was being held in the MGM Grand it was a no brainer.

It was a Friday night so the place was fairly crowded, but since we made reservations a few months ago it was no problem.


The entrance to the restaurant

We started by ordering two appetizers to share. Apparently this is a common occurrence because our waitress didn’t bat an eye and even offered to split up our soup, lobster bisque, in two portions for us. In addition to the lobster bisque we also tried quail with kumquat (which was a very great flavor). Then to our surprise, our waitress brought out a third appetizer which she said was on the house! We got some fried Hawaiian prawns for free! What a deal!


The prawns, bisque and quail dish

Of course the real reason we were there was to have the steak. When Top Chef visited craftsteak on the television show they did an entire vegetarian meal. We weren’t doing that. We wanted meat. You really can’t go wrong with a ribeye so that’s what we ordered. A nice 16 ounce ribeye cooked to a perfect medium (they even sliced it up).


Here’s the grilled ribeye

Finally there were the sides. Like most high-end steak houses everything is ala carte. We ordered two sides. We tried the sauteed baby broccoli and the roasted garlic and leek gratin. The baby broccoli was excellent. Keao really liked the potatoes which I thought was good, but nothing spectacular.


The sides

Overall, it was a great meal. If money were no object, I would definitely eat there again. If you’re ever in Las Vegas and you have some money to burn it’s a great place to try out.

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