Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Office (work) Christmas Party... East Oahu Realty Christmas East Oahu Realty Christmas Party
A couple Fridays ago the President/Pricipal Broker of my office, East Oahu Realty, had a Christmas dinner party for us (agents/staff and family). It was at the The Kahala Resort. It was very a very nice party. This is my first Christmas with East Oahu Realty and waited all year to experience this amazing party that I've heard so much about from the other agents.

Anyway click this isThe Kahala Resort Link if you want to see their website. It's a beautiful resort on Kahala Beach. This is where the President of the United States stays when he's on Oahu as well as almost any celebrity who visits the island. When I think of the Kahala Resort, I think of weddings, honeymoons and things of that sort. It wouldnt' come to mind as a venue for a office's Christmas party.

We had a huge banquet room along side the dolphin pools. The reception area had an open bar serving champagne, punch or a combination of both. Hors devours were being served by the wait staff. There was a good assortment, but our favorite was the shiitake mushroom on the baguette. The doors to the dining banquet room were sealed upon arrival which suggested that we mingle and enjoy the treats and people in the reception area. We were all dressed up, some more than others (very fancy) and we all were taking pictures. Above are a couple of our's.

In the dining room were dozens of round tables that sat 8. Our office has about 113 agents so it's a very large office plus our support staff and families. It's easily the size of what I would consider a very, very expensive wedding or Christmas party in this case. There was a stage up front for our Hawaiian music entertainment by "Hapa Folk". After a formal welcome to the party, the tables were lead out to the buffet tables.

The buffet was filled with many different salads (in fact my plate was filled by the time I realized it was only the salad table). There was some chicken, fish, shrimp, sushi and roast beef. A very good selection and very tasty roast beef. After stuffing myself with most of that, there was a dessert table with about 6 types of desserts. I didn't get any photos of the buffet line or my plate. I was too hungry and distracted by the festivities.

After dinner, the reception area was transformed into an activities area for the children in the families. There was picture taking with Santa (I know we are not kids...), a balloon guy that made some really neat balloons (I wish I took some pictures...) and a magician. Inside there was dancing and some hula performances by some of our talented agents, staff and children that do hula dancing.

What an amazing Christmas Party! I can't wait for next year's party!! What were your company parties like?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Chiba-ken Restaurant Chiba ken restaurant honoluluChiba-ken is one of the recent restaurants to open in Waikiki. Ok, maybe not so recent because it's been a little over a year, but we just got around to trying it. It's conveniently located at 468 Ena Road just off Kalakaua Avenue. The location is great for us because it's about a 5 minute walk from our condo. If you are driving there, I'm not sure where the best place to park would be but I'd look for a street stall. Chiba ken restaurant honoluluThe ambiance is a mixture of Western (American), Japanese and Hawaii. There are bright colored walls, assorted squash on display, Hawaiian paintings and Japanese geta (wooden shoes) as light diffusers. It's quite a mixture, but all some how pulls together nicely. One thing we felt is that it could use some padding or noise buffers in the restaurant. It was very loud to the point where we didn't have much discussion with each other and I also couldn't hear what the people were saying to me (like eating in a school cafeteria with hundreds of kids, but there are really only maybe 30 or so adults drinking beers!). I think the noise level detered 2 or 3 parties from dining there. They actually sat down at the table beside us for a minute and decided to go somewhere else. I don't usually see people actually leave a restaurant after being seated very often, but it happened at least twice while we were sitting there. Chiba ken restaurant Chiba ken restaurant Chiba ken restaurant honolulu
Their menu has a lot of items to choose from. Most Japanese restaurants concentrate on one type of food preparation style (noodles, sushi, sashimi, meals, bowls, etc.), but Chiba-ken has a bit of everything. They specialize in a large sushi selection while also having several teishoku (complete meals), some donburi (bowl dishes), curry and skewered items. The prices range between $2.75-$5 for the sushi, $5-$6 for donburi, $11-$16 for teishoku and several $2-$3 items. It's perfect for people that enjoy some beer with their food. We don't drink beer, but it was still good.

We had 6 temaki sushi (maguro, unagi, sake & ume handrolls), vegetable tenpura, agedashi tofu and hire katsu.

The tenpura and agedashi tofu came out first. The tenpura was crisp with a good variation of vegetables and the agedashi tofu had some konbu (seaweed) in the broth. The broth or sauce that was served with both of those dishes was very light in flavor, almost too light for my tastes. It tasted good, but the agedashi tofu is prepared with firm tofu and I didn't care for it because it was too hard.

The hire katsu (pork tenderloin fried cutlet) then came out. This is probably the best hire katsu I have ever had! The pork was so moist, soft and juicy. I've had hire katsu at places in Japan and this made more of an impression on me than those. I didn't order the hire katsu at Tokatsu Ginza Bairin yet, but it's probably good there also.

Then the sushi came out. We would have enjoyed the sushi a bit earlier, but I think they held it back because of lack of space on the table. When it arrived the nori was a bit moist and no longer crisp. It still looked good enough for the price. It tasted good.

Lastly, we were waiting for our last item. We had ordered a tsukune (chicken meat ball skewer) at the beginning with the rest of our order. It still didn't arrive. We asked about it and the waitress checked on it. They apparently forgot about it because it wasn't started yet. We were both pretty full so we cancelled it and decided to try it another night.

Finishing up our dinner hot tea was served and our tab was brought over to our table. The tea was served way too hot. If it was a special tea the flavor would have already been ruined because of the over heating. The cup was so hot it was difficult to hold it long enough to take a sip. Anyway, it didn't taste great, just like regular super hot tea.

Overall, I'm very happy this restaurant is here. The food is good, service is ok (they missed 1 item and it's difficult to hear them), very convenient location and good selection of food. We spent about $46 for 2 of us without any drinks. We'll probably be going there more often on Mondays. Why Mondays? Most other Japanese restaurants are closed on Mondays. Our favorite place Michinoku on Kalakaua Ave is closed on Mondays and we actually saw them at Chiba-ken enjoying dinner that night! Even restaurant chefs and their families need to eat out some times...

468 Ena Road
Honolulu, Hawaii 96815
^Click for Google Search^

Tokatsu Ginza Bairin

Bonsai Master Walter Liew's Borders Book Signing... Bonsai Master Walter Liew Living Art of BonsaiThis past Saturday I went to pick up another autographed copy of Bonsai Master & Author Walter Liew's The Living Art of Bonsai book. It's a great book because it's filled with lots of color pictures and bonsai diagrams for reference. The amazing sale price of 20% off at Borders meant I was able to pick it up for about $13! I had this one autographed for a friend's Christmas present.
Related Links: Master Walter Liew Googled, Google Maps of Dragon Garden, Yellowpages Dragon Garden Listing, Full Size Photo Album, My Bonsai Posts, Borders, The book on

Monday, November 26, 2007

Lazy Sunday Morning - Toaster Oven French Toast Casserole french toast casseroleThe end of a 4 day Thanksgiving weekend is always tough... Trying to fight the rush to the Walmart Black Friday sale left me in absolute disappointment! (They decided to change their proceedures and thousands of people were waiting in a dark line exposed to the elements while last year we were killing time inside the store for hours just waiting for 5am! Tricky buggers!) Anyway after all that exhaustion I woke up on Sunday and had some energy to cook breakfast. french toast casseroleBut wait... my kitchen still looks like this! The cabinets (2nd try) are expected in this week by the way. In all that Safeway excitement, they lewered us to purchase $25 of groceries to receive a dozen eggs for FREE! Yay! Free Eggs! Then I bring them home last week and start to think, "how will I cook these 12 eggs without a normal kitchen?". Finally I decided I'll whip up a batch of french toast baked in the toaster oven. french toast casseroleThese are the very basic ingredients that I used. Eggs, milk, cinnamon, vanilla extract, wheat bread and sugar. In fact I didn't even use fresh milk, I used Milkman powdered milk. This method of making french toast in the oven was very interesting to me several years ago. I can't remember where I came across it, but I think it was on Martha Stewart's show. Anyway after I thought of it, it's pretty much the same as bread pudding.

6 slices wheat bread (mine was from the loaf in my freezer)
4 large grade A eggs **FREE from Safeway!**
4 teaspoons sugar
several drops of vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup Milkman milk (prepared) or regular milk is better
Your favorite Butter, fruits and Syrup to serve with french toast. french toast french toast french toast casserole

Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl (except bread!) and mix well. Put slices of bread into a baking dish that can hold the bread and liquid just at the right angle. If it's too big your bread won't stay standing and you'll need more bread and mixture. Pour mixture over bread and make sure all the bread is moist from soaking the mixture. All the liquid should be absorbed by the bread. Preheat (toaster) oven to 350F and bake french toast for about 30-35 minutes. There should be a golden brown top and the insides should still be a little moist. Slice into portions, server with your favorite fruit, butter syrup and breakfast meats. A hot cup of home roasted coffee goes really well with this also!

I've been reading a lot of bread baking recipes and blog posts recently. I really want to bake some bread!! All I have is this toaster oven. Has anyone tried to bake a loaf or bun of fresh yeast bread in a toaster oven? I'm anxious to bake bread and I think I'm going to have to try to bake some before my kitchen oven is back in action!!

Kapahulu's Newest Feature... New Kapahulu SafewayA couple weeks ago the long awaited Safeway Center joined the mix of small shops that have existed along Kapahulu Avenue for decades. There are lots of mixed opinions about the store. It does increase traffic to the area which could mean increased business for the smaller businesses in the area while at the same time bringing undesired 24 hour traffic to the huge store for its residential neighbors.

We personally love the convenience of this major supermarket being on our main route home. Sure, it's only half a mile from Foodland or maybe a mile from Times, but those are both just off the main route and often just not visited because of that. We even go to the Moiliili Star Market more often than the Foodland just because of its more convenient location. New Kapahulu SafewayThe store looks great! It really makes the once barren section of Kapahulu Avenue into a lively, welcoming strip mall. This brings Kapahulu Avenue's third Starbucks location and a Seattle's Best coffee shop. The Starbucks in located in the supermarket and is near several tables and seats in 2 seating areas. The location is also featuring free wireless internet access. The area in the left of this photo is a sushi bar! New Kapahulu SafewayIf you don't want to shop for groceries, bring the home and cook, you can also visit the sushi bar, salad bar, soup bar or deli section. They have a cafeteria style prepared foods section or a sandwich deli. I tried a roast beef sandwich from the deli. It was pretty good. I like the fact that they have the seating area inside (air conditioned) with wi-fi. I haven't tried the wi-fi yet. One thing about this Safeway... most of the employees appear to be new hires. I'm sure in time the service and organization will improve but when we went they were very disorganized. They were discussing with each other about the appropriate size of cup to go with the sandwich combo and finally after we fill our soda at the self serve fountain we realize they don't even have matching lids for the cups they are using. New Kapahulu New Kapahulu Safeway

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Final "Art of Bonsai" Class with Master Walter Liew... bonsai master walter liew dragon gardenThe Final Night...

I'm sure I speak for all if not most of the class when I say that we were all anxiously waiting for this final night of education at Master Walter Liew's Dragon Garden Bonsai Cultural Center in Waimanalo while also not wanting the classes to come to an end. The final night of the official Windward Community College Art of Bonsai class covered critiquing, evaluation or judging the artistic quality of bonsai while having a dinner party featuring Mrs. Liew's Lemon Turkey to kick-off the Thanksgiving feasts we'll all be having for this rest of the week. bonsai master walter liew dragon gardenThe photo above to the left is Master Liew describing how triangles are often seen as the geometrical shape of beauty. He is pointing out that trees in nature as well as in bonsai will usually be in the shape of a traingle if it's considered beautiful to the eye. He made mentions examples of other natural things of beauty that resemble triangles like mountain peaks and trees while pointing out man made triangular shaped things of beauty like architecture in buildings or homes (pyramids too?). The triangular shape represents Heaven (at the top), Man (1 lower corner) & Earth (2nd lower corner). This gives the feeling of balance and makes it beautiful to look at. The photo on the left is from his recently released book, The Living Art of Bonsai, published by Island Heritage Publishing. (More on the book later) We reviewed the principals of the thirds. It's refered to as the "Fibonacci sequence" in his book. Most formal style of bonsai would meet the criteria of the tree and pot being sectioned in thirds and creating balance when looking at it in its entirety.

We also reviewed the design of the pot. The pot should compliment the type of tree. Only if the tree is artistically styled and paired with an appropriate pot will it become a true bonsai. The pot is usually shallow and its width about 1.5 times the height of the tree. The reason the pot should be shallow is because it represents the horizon. A bonsai should be thought of as viewing a naturally beautiful tree in the distance on the horizon.

Master Liew also wanted to express his appreciation for a special honor. In the 55 years of Windward Community College's instructor evaluations, he was just informed that he is the first instructor ever to recieve a 100% "Excellent" rating for being knowledgable about the material presented. Of course, I already placed my excellent rating on the evaluation, obviously... but if anyone is considering pursuing their interest in bonsai this course is a must! If you still aren't certain, just visit Master Liew at his nursery. After that, I'm sure that you will be intrigued! bonsai master walter liew dragon garden living art of bonsai bookThe Book...

Ok... This is the book all bonsai enthusiasts will want to have. The book that's being described as the most complete, educational and inspriational book about bonsai. Master Walter Liew's very own book, The Living Art of Bonsai, published by Island Heritage Publishing. This book was just released about 3 weeks ago and is flying off the store shelves everywhere. It's retail price is just under $16!!! What a value! Believe me, I'm not a book buyer nor do I read any books (unless it's reference material). I am highly supportive of finding "free" information on the web, but the information provided in this book is not stuff you can just find on the web.

Kelli and I went to his 1st book signing promotion at Queen Emma Summer Palace on November 9th. The signing started at 3pm. Kelli took a couple vacation hours from work so we could get there by 3pm. As soon as the doors opened, 6 of his books were sold! Many other students from class tried to go later in the event and the books were sold out!

If you want to meet the author and Master of Bonsai, Walter Liew, he has a couple book signing scheduled this weekend. I don't know the specific times, but I think Saturday 11/24 he has a signing at Borders Ward Center during the day and a afternoon signing at Windward Borders. Call the stores and ask them about it. At $16 it's a great Christmas gift even if you personally don't want the book I'm sure you know someone that would.
Related Links: Master Walter Liew Googled, Google Maps of Dragon Garden, Yellowpages Dragon Garden Listing, Full Size Photo Album, My Bonsai Posts, Borders, The book on

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Toki Doki LeSportsac Holiday Special... Toki Doki LeSportsac Holiday SpecialThis past Saturday, the Ala Moana Shopping Center LeSportsac store had a autograph signing. The creator/artist of the special line was at the store autographing people's bags. The line of people was crazy, just like any other special marketing events arranged to create hype around Honolulu (like the iPhone, Don Quijote's grand opening, Safeway's Kapahulu grand opening, PS3, Nintendo Wii, Black Friday sales and I remember way back standing in the Liberty House Tamagotchi line!) Toki Doki LeSportsac Holiday SpecialHere is a picture of the hundreds of people lined up going around the corner to the back by the parking area. What a crazy way to spend Saturday! Toki Doki LeSportsac Holiday Special
Here is their Winter window display. Link to Winter Toki Doki webpage <-click. Toki Doki LeSportsac Holiday SpecialWe also stopped by my favorite store in Ala Moana Shopping Center, Williams Sonoma. I always walk through the store to check things out although, I have rarely ever purchased anything there. They were giving samples from a $6xx~ "Nespresso" machine that they had on sale. I got an "espresso" sample. I don't know if it's because I realize that it is actually made from a pod that it tasted different (like instant coffee) or it really did taste that bad. When I asked for the sample of espresso, I didn't know it was going to be made from a little container thing that looks like a Half and Half creamer container. When I saw that, I probably already made my judgement.

Anyway, there appeared to be lots of crema on the Nespresso espresso. It wasn't very hot. It was just cool enough to drink right from the start. This made me think that the crema look was really artificial. The first few sips tasted like a really strong instant coffee. There was a coffee flavor, but this just can't be worth buying a $6xx machine. I think it was $669 or something like that. Anyway, it's probably worth more like $60 especially if you have to buy those special pods to make your coffees. I'm sure some people enjoy this toy, but this is just my opinion.

***UPDATE*** Nespresso... Toki Doki LeSportsac Holiday Special NespressoSunday evening, I met Kelli at the Ala Moana Macy's "friends & family" sale. It's their special scam to get people to start shopping early for holidays by planning a "VIP" sale from 6pm on Sunday. Anyway, I rushed through the crazy crowds of thousands of people and headed straight up to the housewares level. I wanted to get my samples of chocolates and coffees. I had another sample of Nespresso "espresso". I found out that those little pods actually have coffee grinds in it. For some reason the one I had at Williams Sonoma tasted like instant coffee. The Macy's one didn't have the same taste. This is because the sampling person is using the variety pack of pods for the samples and she is not specifying what flavor or type of pod she has prepared. Her claim was that she is too busy so she's just making them and putting them down for the customers to take. Now this is not very good for sampling purposes. I have no idea what flavor I got from Macy's or Williams Sonoma. I have a feeling that the Williams Sonoma one was a decaffeinated pod because it really reminded me of the instant Sanka coffee packets taste. I still wouldn't buy this.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Hydroponic Salad Mix Seedlings... hydroponics hydroponicsIt's been about a week since I revamped my condominium vegetable garden. This is a picture from today. I added on a homemade water diffuser sponsored partially by Starbucks Coffee's recognizable green straw the labor and engineering was provided by me. The mixed greens and other seedlings seem to be sprouting very well. Most are about 2 inches in length or more. A few have began showing their 1st true leaf sprouts.

This water sprinkling design I made is not the most effecient for several reasons. 1st of all it allows the water to evaporate faster and there is more splashing, another reason is that it wets the above ground part of the plant and if you have a plant that prefers to only have moist roots (like some flowers) this will not be good. I set this system up like this because it just looks neat when the water is pumping. It's the "Garden Water Feature" of my condo.

PS- In the larger picture above, you can see a part of Kelli's 2nd bonsai tree in the foreground. The original look of that ficus tree is in my previous hyrdoponics post from last week. We're loving the "Art of Bonsai" classes!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Hydroponics Simplified... hydroponics
About a year or so ago, I became interested in hydroponics. I've always enjoyed growing my fresh herbs and vegetables since I was a child. Living in a condo, working with soil is a major issue. I decided to try hydroponics. Actually, I decided to go with a more complex aquaponics set-up at first. hydroponicsHere is what my aquaponics looked like when I started it. I won't show a picture of how it ended... trust me it was not good. The problem I think was that my small guppies and the 1 big cichlid in the tank were not producing enough nutrients for the types of plants I tried to grow (eggplant, cucumber, green onions, chili peppers, bell peppers & lettuce). You can probably tell how well that went by what plants are left in my new set-up (chili pepper, green onions, 1 lettuce, 1 clove of garlic). Besides having a hard time getting the nutrients for the plants using the aquaponics method, the water would immediately turn dark green from the sun. I could have reduced this by using a black or non-translucent container for the tank, but I wanted to be able to see the fish occasionally. I didn't like the green water because eventually it was so green you couldn't see the fish anyway! It was finally time for version 2.0 of my condo lanai vegetable garden. hydroponicsI had purchased these things back in March, but haven't had a chance to set it up. It actually only took about 10 minutes to set up, but cleaning up the old system is what was a big job. I put the guppies and the cichlid in my indoor aquarium for now and I'll see how that goes.

These are the parts I used for this super simple set-up. Total cost approx. $50.
-bucket (white)
-cheap plastic planter (green)
-cheapest garden fountain water pump I could find ($19)
-silicone hose to fit pump outlet & length from bottom of bucket to top of planter
-expanded clay pellets (grow medium)
-outlet timer (capable of 30 minute cycles)
-Water Soluble Miracle-Gro 8oz trial size "All Purpose Plant Food" (24-8-16)

The cost to set-up might seem higher than buying a bag of potting soil, but I have a good feeling that in the long run it will be more effecient. I have started my version 2.0 system with the small bucket and planter just as a trial basis. If It works out, all I would need to do is spend money on a larger bucket and planter that can have more growing surface. I might also need a little more silicone hose and connectors to spread the water evenly and more expanded clay pellets which I already have a big bag of. The location of my plants are on my balcony facing afternoon sun so I don't feel the need for any grow lights right now.

-Place water pump into bucket.
-Pass silicone hose through bottom of planter drain hole (should have several holes; if it's not big enough or there aren't any you'll need to make some).
-Planter should be able to rest on the rim of the bucket or you will need a spacer under the planter to hold it to the desired height.
-Fill bucket with enough water to submerse the pump and be at about the level of the bottom of the planter.
-Hold end (opposite end of the side at the pump) of silicone hose up to center & top of planter.
-Fill planter with expanded clay pellets or whatever medium you choose leaving room for plants and more medium at surface.
-Plants' roots should be washed free of soil and gently placed in the medium while adding more medium to support the plants.
-Set timer to turn on for 30 minutes and off for 30 minutes all day long (this can be adjusted to maintain proper moisture for your area and plants).
-Plug pump into timer and check to see that it cycles off and on.
-While pump is running, make sure pressure is low enough so it doesn't shoot the water out of your planter & also check that water is being evenly distributed around the planter. I used cut up pieces of a drinking water bottle to direct flow of water outward.
-Dilute Miracle-Gro (instructions 1 Tblspn./Gallon of water is for normal use). Since I'm just starting this version now, I am starting with about 1/4 teaspoon/Gallon of water. **note: a gallon of water doesn't fit in my bucket. The bucket is only filled to about 4 inches from the bottom. Save the solution or make less if you don't need a gallon.

I sprinkled some new lettuce mix seeds, spinach seeds and mizuna seeds on the top so I placed a paper towel on the top to keep it moist so the seeds can germinate. We'll see how this version works. Hopefully better than my aquaponics.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Home Coffee Roast - Disaster! Sweet Maria's Sweet Maria's Sumatra Classic MandhelingHome Coffee Roast - Disaster!

It's been pouring rain for the past few days here and we've been having winds from the south. Here, in Honolulu, it means humidity! Today it's not raining, but it's very hot and humid. According to Waikiki's humidity is 69%. I checked this after the disaster.

Normally, I chill the pan and have it ready to put the roasted beans on and get it over to the fan to cool as quickly as possible. I also put one of those freezer ice bags under a cooling rack and rest the pan on it as the fan blows. This usually draws the heat from the pan pretty quickly and makes sure the beans don't sit and bake. I noticed something unusual today. It was so humid, the pan formed condensation while the beans were cooling!! This was bad! Moisture is not something that should be going into your fresh roasted Sumatra Classic Mandheling beans!! I better work on my mesh colander & vacuum cooling set-up. There's just no space while my kitchen renovation is in progress.

I roasted this small batch to a "city" roast just after the 1st cracks were heard. I wanted to try a lighter roast because I read another foodie blog about lighter roasts (Lisabeeen Homeroasted Coffee)<-click. I usually roast to a darker Full City+ or Vienna roast. Because of my concern about the moisture ruining the fresh roast, I decided to test a cup right away even though you are supposed to let the bean rest a few days. It tasted ok. Looked really light after grinding and even the coffee looked light. I could taste the difference from the darker roasts. I don't know for sure how it will taste after the bean rests though, but due to the moisture contamination I'll have to re-do this roast.

Related Links: Guatemala Fraijanes- Finca Aqua Tibia to Vienna, Sulawesi Grade One Toraja & Rwanda Butare Bourbon, Mexico FTO Oaxaca Pluma - "At City+" & Sumatra Classic Mandheling - "Full City+", Guatemala Fraijanes, Brasil FTO Poco Fundo, 1st Home Roasting Post, Zimbabwe AA -Dandoni Estate Full City + Roast,, Sweet Maria's Coffee, Sweet Maria's Roasting Guide.

First Friday Downtown November 2007 - Dinner at Grand Cafe & Bakery. Grand Cafe & BakeryWe weren't too sure how this First Friday in Chinatown would turn out because of all the heavy rains we were having, but we went anyway. I found out a secret (or not really but something new to us) about parking! If I post it here it may cause me to lose my parking space in the future, but oh well... King Street allows street parking from 630pm!! There... now everyone has a fair chance. So either go early so you get into the public parking areas before they are filled or pull on the side of King Street where it allows parking after 630pm.

We went to stand in the line at Bar 35 just to check out what all the excitement is that makes people want to stand in line to get into a bar at 630pm on a Friday night. To be honest, I don't really know why. We got in after about 15 minutes in the line. Just because we get in, doesn't mean we can go outside and walk back in without standing in the line again! Anyway, I think it's because their happy hour is from 6-8pm or so and that's why people are willing to line up so early just to get in. Inside is just a rectangular room without any partitions. It wasn't too crowded at 7-8pm, but it was standing room only. The crowd is very mixed, from your afterwork downtowners to the younger crowd and the First Friday crowds. We had 2 drinks (Skyy Citrus Vodka Cranberry Juice). We ordered 1 at a time. The 1st one through a waitress and it tasted good, kind of like Hawaiian Punch. In fact it may have been Hawaiian Punch because it tasted so much like it. The 2nd was ordered at the bar and tasted really bad. I don't even know if they used vodka. Tasted like a really harsh alchohol. Definitely not like Hawaiian Punch or cranberry juice. Anyway, that was one of the happy hour $3 drink specials.

We then walked over to meet my friend Rey for dinner at Grand Cafe & Bakery on Pauahi Street between Smith and Nuuanu. That picture above is what their desserts for the evening looked like. Kelli and I wanted to try this place because Rey took Chef Nobu here for dinner a couple weeks ago and he said it was really good! The owners and employees there are wonderful. They are very friendly and social with their customers. We had the rissoto balls and escargot appetizer and the Cola Braised Short Ribs, Pork something and a salad for our dinner. They don't serve alchohol there, but there is a popular wine store next door where you can pick your bottle and bring it over. The food took a very very long time. In fact maybe close to 45 minutes. But the wait staff was always reassuring us that our orders are being worked on. They make everything to order so there is even a little sign on the tables that notifies the customers to indicate if time is of the essence. We finally had dessert and finished up at about 915 so we were there for about 1.5 hours. Grand Cafe & Grand Cafe & Grand Cafe & Bakery Grand Cafe & Grand Cafe & Grand Cafe & Bakery

We had the Lilikoi dessert and the Pumpkin Spice Cake with a Ginger Spice Ice Cream. Very tasty stuff, but the spice ice cream is a little over powering. We'll probably dine here again just because the people there are so friendly.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Halloween Dinner at Mac 24/7 and a walk through Waikiki! We started off by meeting my friend, Glenn, at the scary Halloween I.T. office. He added the final touch, his pumpkin contest show-piece. He won the most original category for the Outrigger Hotel's contest.

See my other post on his Halloween decorations <-click. Mac 24/7 Bar & Restaurant at the Hilton Prince Kuhio HotelWe then walked to Mac 24/7 Bar & Restaurant at the Hilton Prince Kuhio Hotel. I've heard a lot of good things about this trendy new 24 hour diner. We were all immediately impressed by the appearance. It really was a trendy looking place with bright red stools and booths, large flat-panel tvs, lots of spot lights and accent lights, a very tempting selection on the menu that makes it difficult to decide and nice trendy price to go with it!

The menu is served 24 hours, 7 days a week. They have some fancy pancake choices, other breakfasts, large entrees, small entrees, desserts and drinks. The prices ranged from $4 for Starbucks Coffee up to the high $20 range for steak or seafood. The breakfast dishes were about $11-$15. Mac 24/7 Bar & Restaurant at the Hilton Prince Kuhio Mac 24/7 Bar & Restaurant at the Hilton Prince Kuhio Mac 24/7 Bar & Restaurant at the Hilton Prince Kuhio Hotel
Above left is the Mac Moco (sirloin burger, eggs, rice and brown gravy) that Glenn ate. He said it was good, but the burger could use more flavor and over all a lot more gravy. He usually gets so much sauce, gravy, salt or whatever it may be that the dish comes with. So I think maybe it might be good or ok for normal people, but for someone like him who always had like a cup of mayo extra on the side of a sandwich or something this could have been lacking flavor. It looked good to me.

The center is Kelli's pastrami reuben sandwich. It had a lot of sauerkraut in it as well as lots of pastrami. She liked it and I ate the left over half today and it was good. It also came with a deep fried pickle. I really like deep fried pickels and 1st ate them at Dave & Buster's. This one was a long slice opposed to the round slices at Dave & Buster's.

The right is my order. It's a island grown tomato soup and white cheddar grilled cheese. My soup and grilled cheese was good. Dipping the white cheddar into the soup and biting into it was a great pair. I also ordered one of their signature cupcakes, the Peanut Butter Cup. It's a devil's food cupcake filled with a creamy peanut butter. This was also yummy. But It triggered my need for coffee! Mac 24/7 Bar & Restaurant at the Hilton Prince Kuhio HotelTheir coffee comes in a nice mug and they "Proudly Serve Starbucks" there. I got the regular drip coffee. It's $4 and comes with that carafe filled with Starbucks Coffee! Now this was a bargain. If we weren't there on a Wednesday night in a rush to hit the strip to check out the Halloween action, I probably would have sat there and drank the whole pot! I restrained considering I didn't want to be up all night!

I am sure we'll be trying to get back there to try the pancakes and other stuff. I really want to try the "Fried Chicken with Waffles"! Sounds funny, but it looked so good going to the other table. It was funny because I saw the manager walking by and he had a shaved head, but I thought I recognized him. My friend Johnson is a manager there. He gave us some tips on what and how to order (after the fact). Usually people share the items because they are super huge and they cost a lot! Next time we know.

I'll post the walk through Waikiki in the next post... this one is kind of long on it's own. =)

*ps- I forgot to add in the Mac Ginger Ale that we ordered. Kelli and I like Ginger Ales and Rootbeers so we had to try it. It was $5! Anyway, it was like a 7up but I think they use fresh ginger juice and it comes un-mixed. When the waitress brought it, she reminded us to stir it. You can see the ginger juice at the bottom of the drink. It was really gingery and refreshing!

Halloween SPAM! Waikiki... I've been so busy I am falling behind posting all the photos and blogs I plan to post. Since Halloween is such a seasonal event, I figured I better put it (or at least some) of it up right away.

Here is my cousin, Aya, and her boyfriend, Yuichi. Aya was dressed up as an angel. It's her 1st Halloween since moving to Hawaii. Yuichi was wearing a SPAM can hat. Funny thing about it is many people pointed it out, "hey SPAM!", etc. The thing is about half of the people who commented about the SPAM hat actually called it "SPAM Musubi!" For some reason a lot of the locals referred to the SPAM can as SPAM Musubi. I thought that was interesting. Goes to show you how popular SPAM Musubis are in Hawaii.

Now if you really want to see a nice SPAM Musubi, check out Kat's apetizing SPAM Musubi post <-click here. Or my Mini Honey-Strawberry Glazed SPAM Musubi.

I'll post up some other things from Halloween a little later.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Halloween is coming soon! Halloween is always fun in Waikiki or Hawaii in general. This Mr. Potatohead pumpkin accessory kit is a promotional item that Macy's Department Store is selling for $6.95 with any purchase of $35 or more. Kelli bought some shoes and qualified to purchase this kit so we did. We haven't accessorized our pumpkin with the Mr. Potato Head fashion accessories yet. What does the corporate I.T. department that you know of look like during Halloween? This is what my friend, Glenn, did to his department!! I think he's insane for spending so much time and money on it, but he really enjoys it and everyone that sees it also enjoys it! He should charge admission. Watch the video clip of this I.T. department's Halloween decorations. Here's our full moon just a few days early for Halloween. I took this on Friday night on the way out to Kapiolani Community College to listen to 100 Ghost Stories by Candlelight. We got there a few stories into the free event (about 730p) and left about 11p. There were still about 20-30 candles lit. They started with 100 candles and blew 1 out after each story. The stories were interesting and they were being told by Jeff Gere and Lopaka Kapanui. Some audience members also contributed with some interesting stories. This event was heald in memory of Glen Grant.
The picture above to the left is Lopaka on the stage telling a story. The picture above to the right is the rear of the cafeteria where the vending machines were. Lopaka told everyone with a camera to point it back there. He said a few words to summon the ghosts that were listening to the stories and then told us to snap a photo. Then he told us now all of us that took the photo will be taking home the ghosts. Hahaha! That was a good one. Anyway, do you see anything in the photo besides the lights from the vending machine and everyone else's digital camera screens??

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