Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Good Eats: Leonard's Bakery

Another tasty treat to try is the malasada.  What's a malasada?  That's a portugese donut dusted with sugar and no hole.  Mala-ssada (in Portuguese) means light roasted and was traditionally made to use all the lard and sugar in the kitchen to prevent it being eaten during Lent.  In Honolulu, the best place to try this tasty treat is Leonard's Bakery.

Leonard's is located at 933 Kapahulu Avenue.  Hours are from 5:30 am to 9:00 pm Sunday through Thursday, 6:00 am to 10:00 pm Friday to Saturday.  Just be advised, when this place gets busy the line goes outside the door.  It is a stop on local tours and you'll see several tour vans in the parking lot as tourists get out.

You don't have to take a number here, like Liliha Bakery, just stand in line.  While you wait in line, you can check out the awards Leonard's earned over the years.

Check the menu for what to order.  If you want the traditional malasada, you have a choice of different flavors of sugar.

If you want non-traditional, Leonard's added the malasada puff, which is a malasada filled with your choice of creme filling.  The fillings are custard, dobash (chocolate), haupia (coconut), and the flavor of the month.  Check the sign for the flavor of the month for 2011.  This month, it's mango.  

Turn around and you'll see how busy this place gets.  The line goes out the door.  The malasadas are so good, that even tour vans stop here.  What makes this place so special?  It's the fresh, hot malasadas.

Yes, there's a lot to like here, but malasadas put this place on the map.

And finally, the main event...

Fresh, hot malasadas!

The malasada puff with haupia filling.  The malasada is warm and sugary with a cool, coconut filling.  All that sugar and dough is so bad for you, but tastes so good.

The other filling that didn't last long, was the chocolate filling.  This was a smooth, rich chocolate filling in a warm malasada.  But don't take my word for it, try it out yourself.  

Monday, August 29, 2011

Things to Do: Sunrise Poolside Bar

Another cool place to check out besides the Genius Lounge and Sake Bar is the Sunrise Poolside Bar at the Edition Hotel.  Please note, that as of Sunday August 28, 2011, the Edition is no more.  There was a change in management and the hotel is now called the Modern.  

The Edition Hotel...I mean, the Modern Hotel is located on the west end of Waikiki at 1775 Ala Moana Boulevard.  There are several bars at the Edition.  Not to be confused with the Lobby Bar is in the front, the Sunrise Bar is the bar by the pool in the back.

If you see this, that means you took a left at the stairs instead of going up the stairs and are now in the lobby.  You are in the wrong part of the hotel.  Unless, of course, you want to try the Lobby Bar (or check-in).  

In that case, turn around and go past the bookcase.  Yes, this is like a secret entrance to a hidden room just like the movies.  And the bookcase only opens in the evening.  

And voila!  The Lobby Bar.  Good place to get drinks and appetizers.  Good thing about this bar, is the kitchen is open late if you get the munchies.  
 
During the day, this is a great place to relax and hang out by the pool.  Overlooking the Waikiki Yacht Club and the Hilton Lagoon.  Of course, the beach is just a few minutes away, so you might as well hang out at the beach during the day and come back at night.

Walking up the stairs, we come to the foyer and the pool.   

The bar is a chic, open-air, Miami-style (beds by the pool) venue.  The beds give a laid-back, relaxing atmosphere to enjoy a good drink in the evening.  

The best place is right at the bar.  There are several signature drinks here.  One is the frozen coconut mojito, the other is the deconstructed mai-tai.

The frozen coconut mojito is like an alcoholic slurpy, but better.  It's coconut rum, fresh mint, lime and coconut blended with crushed ice.

The other specialty is the deconstructed mai tai.  It has Pyrat XO rum, French almond syrup, topped with a curacao/citrus foam and shiso leaf all over ice.  It doesn't look like a mai tai, but it tastes like a mai tai and it is strong.  It's so strong, I forgot to take a picture the first time.  Had to try another. 

Things to Do: La'ie Sea Arch

If you're on the North Shore and want to see one of the natural wonders of the island, stop by the La'ie Sea Arch.  It's located off the coast from Laie Point State Wayside, a park that occupies 1-1/2 acres at the end of Laie Point peninsula.  It's a great place for fishing, scenic views, and bird watching. 

It's a little tricky to get here, because there's no sign for "Sea Arch" or "La'ie Sea Arch".  It's just off Kamehameha Highway, by the La'ie Shopping Center, take the turn at the intersection on to Anemoku Street and take a right at the T-intersection on to Naupaka Street.

There's a small parking lot at the end of the road.  You might see a tour van or bird watching group pull up.

Watch out when you walk out on the peninsula.  The rocks are sharp and the waves can break over the edge, but it's good for fishing or bird watching. 

There's a plaque on a boulder that explains how this place was created according to ancient myth.  Legend has it that La'ie Point and the five islands were formed by a giant lizard, called a Mo'o.  The Mo'o killed anyone that intruded into this place.  The Mo'o terrorized people until a legendary warrior, Kane, fought and killed the lizard.  He took the head, chopped it into 5 pieces, and flung them into the ocean.  The 5 pieces formed the 5 islands we see today.  

The names of the islands are Kihewamoku, Mokuaula, Pulemoku, Mokualai, and Kukuihoolua.  All the islands are protected bird sanctuaries.  

The Sea Arch is on the island of Kukuihoolua.  Originally the arch was a cave, only visible from sea.  In April of 1946, a tsunami crashed into the cave and broke the back wall.  This formed what we see today, the Sea Arch.  

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Good Eats: Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin / Breaded, Deep-Fried Pork Cutlet

If you want authentic Japanese tonkatsu, check out Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin, the only authentic tonkatsu restaurant in Hawaii.  What is tonkatsu?  Tonkatsu is Japanese breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet.  The cutlet is about one inch thick, lightly seasoned, dredged in flour, egg, and panko flakes before frying.  It's crunchier than "regular" fried pork chops because of the panko flakes and a rack.  At this restaurant, the cutlet has its own rack on a plate to keep it crunchy and full of flavor without getting soggy.  

Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin is located at 255 Beach Walk right by the Outrigger Regency Hotel.  You can call ahead for reservations or take-out at 808-926-8082.  Walking, taxi, or valet parking are highly recommended because there is no street parking on this narrow one way street.  Hours are Monday thru Thursday from 11:00 am to 9:30 pm, Friday from 11:00 am to 12:00 am, Saturday from 11:30 to 12:00 am, and Sunday from 11:30 am to 11:30 pm.

Walking through the door is like walking into Japan.  This is a small restaurant with about 10-12 tables and a bar.   It gets crowded here, we had to wait about 15 to 20 minutes for a table.     

The menu is simple, because it's all about the pork cutlet here.  They also serve jumbo tiger prawns, chicken, and croquettes, but the main attraction here is the pork.  This isn't the whole menu, just some of the highlights, like the kurobuta pork loin.  And what is kurobuta pork?  In Japanese, Kuro means black and buta means pig and is the equivalent of kobe beef for pork.  Like kobe beef, kurobuta pork has a high fat content and heavily marbled meat (Want know more about kobe beef?  Check out the post for Yakiniku Hiroshi, a restaurant that serves kobe beef).  The high fat content gives the meat its rich flavor, juiciness, and tenderness.  Kurobuta actually traces it's roots back to the British House of Windsor, in the county of Berkshire.  The oldest breed of pig was a gift from British nobility to Japan.   

They even give you a small mortar and pestle to grind your own sesame seeds.  Fresh ground sesame seeds are like fresh ground peppercorns, it's flavorful and intense.  This is a key part of the tonkatsu sauce, but more on that later.  

And the main event.  The tonkatsu kurabota pork loin, which is one of the best cuts of meat.  As is customary, the meal includes a cabbage salad and miso soup (the black bowl on the right).  Behind the miso soup is the salad dressing and small plate of tsukemono (pickled vegetables).  Of course, a bowl of rice is included in the meal.    

To go along with the meal, each table has a tray of spices.  Here you have spicy mustard, ground red pepper (the wood shaker), natural (pink) sea salt, and the house tonkatsu sauce.  The salt is self-explanatory, the other spices require some instruction.  

The ground red pepper is for your miso soup.  Take the wood stopper out and add a small shake to give your soup a touch of heat.  

The house tonkatsu sauce is key to properly seasoning your tonkatsu.  You're suppose to drop 5 scoops of tonkatsu sauce into your ground sesame seeds.  

Spoon some hot mustard on the side of your plate.  Use that to put a small dab of hot mustard on your tonkatsu, then dip it in the tonkatsu sauce infused with ground sesame seeds.  Don't use too much hot mustard or as the waiter said, "It will make you cry".  The spiciness of the mustard combines well with tonkatsu sauce and ground sesame seeds.  All that blends beautifully with the crunchy outside and juicy inside of the tonkatsu.

Look at that fried pork goodness.  The pork cutlet is cooked evenly, has a nice crunch on the outside, and is very juicy on the inside.  

And don't forget to get a good drink to wash that down.  I can recommend this place for the authenticity, experience, and good flavors.  However, I will say that someone else (who shall not be named) who has eaten in Ginza, Japan said that it is not the same.  I will leave that up to you to decide.  And what better way to decide, than to come to the restaurant and try it out.