Archive for April, 2009

California Pizza Kitchen Waikiki

My coworker and I took our boss to lunch at California Pizza Kitchen in Waikiki to celebrate his birthday. In case you’re wondering how many people are in my office and how many gash darn things we celebrate over lunch, it works out to 5 or 6 birthdays a year, plus Boss’s Day and Administrative Professionals’ Day. That’s not counting when it’s time for my birthday. Yes, that’s a lot of lunches, but I’ve really enjoyed exploring our Waikiki neighborhood, one lunch at a time.

My boss loves to eat salad, so we figured CPK’s selection of delicious salads would be perfect.

We shared a Chopped Salad ($8.99 for half size):

CPK - Chopped Salad ($8.99 half size)

CPK - Chopped Salad ($8.99 half size)

My boss had Sweet & Spicy Italian Sausage Pizza ($12.99):

CPK - Sweet & Spicy Italian Sausage Pizza ($12.99)

CPK - Sweet & Spicy Italian Sausage Pizza ($12.99)

I had Chicken Tequila Fettuccine ($13.49):

CPK - Chicken Tequila Fettuccine

CPK - Chicken Tequila Fettuccine ($13.49)

… and my coworker had Marinara Linguini with Shrimp ($15.99):

CPK - Marinara Linquini with Shrimp ($15.99)

CPK - Marinara Linquini with Shrimp ($15.99)

The Waikiki location is on the Mauka (mountain) side of Kalakaua Avenue, smack dab in the middle of Waikiki, and there’s both indoor seating and outdoor seating. You can observe all the tourists on Kalakaua Avenue from your table on the second floor balcony.

CPK is one of those restaurants that everyone’s eaten there before, so there’s really no need for me to review the food to tell you that their food is fresh and tasty. The amazing thing about CPK is that no matter which location you visit, the quality of the food and the level of service are consistent. This is no easy feat considering the size of this chain. Whatever corporate policies and methods they employ, it’s very effective and the result is an operation that’s as well run as the McDonalds franchises.

OVERALL: GOOD
PRICE RANGE: $4.99-$11.99 for appetizers and half salads, $10.99-$15.99 for full salads, pizzas and pastas. Click here to view the menu (sorry the image quality is not the best).
MY BILL: $32.00 (including my share of the birthday meal)
RETURNING?: Yes

California Pizza Kitchen Waikiki
2284 Kalakaua Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96815
808.924.2000
Mon-Sun 11:00a-11:00p

Kyoto Ohsho

*** Updated on 11/01/09: This restaurant is now closed ***

My husband and I enjoyed a dinner & movie date this past weekend. The best part? It was totally free! We had a gift card to Kyoto Ohsho and a pair of movie tickets, both received as gifts. Because we’re both so busy with work and life, we really enjoy spending a rare day off together.

I had been to Kyoto Ohsho only once when they first opened, and remember I wasn’t so impressed with the buffet. On this visit I was surprised to discover that they discontinued the buffet altogether and now offer just an ala carte menu. But they still kept the dessert buffet with a chocolate fountain, cake and ice cream.

My husband had the Tempura Teishoku ($14.50) which came with 3 large pieces of shrimp and assorted vegetable tempura. All teishoku include rice, miso soup, tsukemono, and 3 assorted side dishes.

Kyoto Ohsho - Tempura Teishoku ($14.50)

Kyoto Ohsho - Tempura Teishoku ($14.50)

I had the Sashimi Teishoku ($14.50) which was excellent. The beautiful assortment of sashimi included ahi, hamachi, tako, ika, clam and everything was so fresh! A very good value for the price.

Kyoto Ohsho - Sashimi Teishoku ($14.50)

Kyoto Ohsho - Sashimi Teishoku ($14.50)

We also shared a Dragon Roll ($10.50) with deep fried soft shell crab inside.

Kyoto Ohsho - Dragon Roll ($10.50)

Kyoto Ohsho - Dragon Roll ($10.50)

If you order one of the teishoku menus, you can add on the dessert buffet for just $3.80 (regular price $13.00)!

Kyoto Ohsho - Dessert Buffet

Kyoto Ohsho - Dessert Buffet

The menu is a very typical Japanese restaurant menu with a focus on Teishoku and Sushi items and based on what we had today, the food is good. However there’s nothing special or unique about this restaurant and I’m a little concerned because they occupy such a large space in the world famous Ala Moana Shopping Center (let’s just say rent ain’t cheap) and they need to offer that something special if they want to draw in a crowd. In actuality, the restaurant was about 70% empty when we went for dinner. As we left, I silently wished them the best and hoped we’ll be able to return again (mainly so we can use up the remaining balance on the gift card).

We watched the movie Fast and Furious (LOVED all four movies) and still excited from the movie, we sped home afterwards, pretending to be street racers.

OVERALL: GOOD
PRICE RANGE: $11.50-$14.50 for complete teishoku meals. Also available are ala carte sashimi and sushi, noodles and pupus. Click here to view the menu.
MY BILL: $57.00 for two
RETURNING?: At least one more time

Kyoto Ohsho
Hookipa Terrace, Ala Moana Center
1450 Ala Moana Blvd.
Honolulu, HI 96814
808.949.0040
Mon-Sun 11:30a-10:00p

Waikiki Lau Yee Chai

One of our office favorites for lunch is Waikiki Lau Yee Chai located in the Waikiki Shopping Plaza. I’m a huge fan of Chinese food all around (in fact, I don’t think there’s a Chinese restaurant I don’t like) and this one is my favorite in Waikiki because it’s so affordable.

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My coworker and I both ordered the Pan Fried Look Fun with Beef & Black Bean Sauce. I wonder what the secret is for making the beef so tender…

042409-lyc-soup

Lau Yee Chai - Look Fun with Beef & Black Bean Sauce ($6.90)

Lau Yee Chai - Look Fun with Beef & Black Bean Sauce ($6.90)

Lunch entrees are around $7.00 and most are served with Egg Drop Soup. They offer a discount for travel agents, but they often extend that discount to us as a courtesy, even through we’re not travel agents.

The best $7.00 lunch ever. :)

OVERALL: GOOD
PRICE RANGE: $6.20-$7.95 for all entrees. Click here to view the menu.
MY BILL: $7.00
RETURNING?: Absolutely

Waikiki Lau Yee Chai
(5th Floor of the Waikiki Shopping Plaza)
2250 Kalakaua Avenue
Honoulu, HI 96815
808.923.1112
Lunch: Mon-Sat 11:00a-2:00p 
Dinner: banquets only

Angelo Pietro

My girlfriends and I celebrate our birthdays by treating the birthday girl to dinner at a restaurant of her choice. Dinner this month was at Angelo Pietro, selected by the birthday girl. She loves the Tarako (cod fish roe) Spaghetti there, which is also one of my favorites. I don’t know of any other restaurant in Honolulu that serves Tarako Spaghetti. If anyone knows where I can get it beside Pietro’s, please let me know! It’s fairly easy to make at home (just toss freshly boiled spaghetti with a mixture of butter and tarako and garnish with julienne nori) but I hardly make it because tarako is super expensive in Hawaii.

The menu at Pietro’s is an eclectic mix of Japanese inspired pastas and pizzas. Some of their signature items include Raw Potato Salad (you gotta try it once!), Takana (a Japanese pickle) and Bacon Spaghetti, and Natto Spaghetti. Originally from Japan, this restaurant has been around for a while in Honolulu. I used to come here often in college, but in my opinion the quality of food has sadly declined over the past several years. Nevertheless, the place was filled with guests on a Saturday night.

We ordered:

Tarako Spaghetti with Ika, and add-on of Sausage ($14.50) for the guest of honor:

Angelo Pietro - Tarako with Ika, add-on Sausage ($14.50)

Angelo Pietro - Tarako with Ika, add-on Sausage ($14.50)

Monthly Special: Baked Penne with Chicken and Bacon for my other friend:

Angelo Pietro - Baked Penne with Chicken and Bacon

Angelo Pietro - Baked Penne with Chicken and Bacon

Spaghetti Genovese ($10.95) for my other friend, who is a mommy-to-be. She also happens to be a vegetarian who recently started eating meat (for the baby I think) and claims she can never go back now.

Angelo Pietro - Genovese ($10.95)

Angelo Pietro - Genovese ($10.95)

I decided to try something different this time, Spaghetti with Spinach and Bacon with Garlic Oil Sauce ($9.25), which was not the best idea. There was way too much bacon in there and the spinach and bacon were obviously pre-sauteed and left sitting for a while, as is evident in my lukewarm dish filled with brown mushy spinach and coagulated bacon fat. As for the sauce, I could only taste the Dashinomoto (katsuo flavor to be exact) in the bland sauce, not the garlic oil I wanted to taste. Next time I’d better stick with my tried-and-true favorite, the Tarako Spaghetti.

Angelo Pietro - Spinach and Bacon ($9.25)

Angelo Pietro - Spinach and Bacon ($9.25)

After dinner we relocated to Starbucks, where we chatted over coffee until late into the night. Celebrating 10 years of friendship and many more to come…!

OVERALL: OK
PRICE RANGE: $6.50-$10.50 for salads and appetizers, $7.50-$13.95 for pizzas and salads. Click here to view the menu.
MY BILL: $18.00 (including my share of the birthday meal)
RETURNING?: If the opportunity arises

Angelo Pietro Honolulu
1585 Kapiolani Blvd. #110
Honolulu, HI 96814
808.941.0555
Sun-Thu 11:00a-10:00p
Fri-Sat 11:00am-11:00p

Cupcakes from Hokulani Bake Shop

More food porn for you sweet tooths…

042409-hokulani-cupcakes

Guittard Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting (in front) and Guittard Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting (in back), $2.25 each.

Hokulani Bake Shop
Restaurant Row
500 Ala Moana Blvd. Suite 4-B

Honolulu, HI 96813
808.587.7098

Wolfgang’s Steakhouse by Wolfgang Zwiener

To celebrate Administrative Professionals’ Day, our office went to lunch at the new Wolfgang’s Steakhouse in the Royal Hawaiian Center. The restaurant was filled with other parties celebrating their assistants (who could easily be identified with their colorful lei) and the hard work they do to support their teams.

On a side note, I’d like to mention how much I love what they’ve done to the newly renovated Royal Hawaiian Center. The walk from our office to the restaurant was a pleasant stroll through grassy groves, bubbling ponds and a maze of escalators and sunny terraces. There’s plenty of plush seating nooks all around the center, a lovely coffee shop with a terrace overlooking Kalakaua Avenue (the perfect spot to people watch) and a brand new food court. I could hang out here all day with a cup of coffee. If you haven’t ventured into Waikiki lately, you should check it out.

Wolfgang’s Steakhouse is located on the third level of the center and is the fourth location for the chain following Park Avenue, Tribeca and South Beach. Note: this restaurant was created by Wolfgang Zwiener, no relation to Chef Wolfgang Puck.

The restaurant boasts a large, airy dining room with glass vaulted ceilings and French glass windows overlooking busy Kalakaua Avenue. There are also 2 private dining rooms, a full bar and an impressive glass enclosed wine showcase. The lunch menu is somewhat limited in the selection of steaks, but the prices are more affordable than dinner. For Administrative Professionals’ Day they had a special 3 course lunch set menu that included soup or salad, choice of entree, and choice of dessert for only $30.00

042209-wolfgang-interior

042209-wolfgang-wines

Although there were various entrees to choose from including pastas and seafood, we all decided that since we’re at a traditional steakhouse, we must have beef. Three of my coworkers had the special set menu with Mixed Green Salad, Petit Filet Mignon (served with mashed potatoes and creamed spinach) and Dessert.

Wolfgang's Steakhouse - Mixed Green Salad

Wolfgang's Steakhouse - Mixed Green Salad

Wolfgang's Steakhouse - Filet Mignon

Wolfgang's Steakhouse - Filet Mignon

Wolfgang's Steakhouse - Creme Brulee

Wolfgang's Steakhouse - Creme Brulee

My boss and I decided to try the Cajun Rib-Eye Steak off the regular menu ($28.00) and split a Wolfgang’s Salad ($15.00). The Wolfgang’s Salad was topped with shrimp, roasted red peppers, onions, tomatoes and sinfully delicious cubes of bacon. The Rib-Eye was huge, juicy, and served with mashed potatoes and creamed spinach.

Wolfgang's Steakhouse - Wolfgang's Salad (half)

Wolfgang's Steakhouse - Wolfgang's Salad (half)

Wolfgang's Steakhouse - Cajun Rib-Eye Steak

Wolfgang's Steakhouse - Cajun Rib-Eye Steak

Every steakhouse must have steak sauce – Wolfgang’s has their own brand, which is more vinegary and tomatoey than, say, A1 steak sauce.

042209-wolfgang-sauce

Overall, it was a good traditional steakhouse experience. I hardly go to steakhouses because they’re fairly expensive and so my palate hasn’t been trained to discriminate steaks well enough. But my steak tasted good to me and that’s what matters.

OVERALL: OK
PRICE RANGE: $12-$28 for lunch entrees, $3.95-$21.95 for dinner appetizers, $29.95-$47.95 for dinner entrees. Click here to view the menu.
MY BILL: My meal was about $45.00
RETURNING?: If the opportunity arises

Wolfgang’s Steakhouse
(Located on the third level of Royal Hawaiian Center)
Level 3, Building C
2201 Kalakaua Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96815
808.922.3600
Currently 4 hrs free parking with dining validation

Ducky’s Korean BBQ

In our family, we have our very own Miss Aloha Korea: my sister in law (#4). A second generation Korean American girl from Los Angeles, this ambassador loves to share her passion for Korean food and culture, and has taught me pretty much everything I know about it. Ducky’s is the restaurant of choice for her and her husband (aka my husband’s brother) and we’ve shared many meals, shots of soju, and funny childhood stories of “the boyz” there. The owners have even taken her in as their adopted daughter of sorts.

Located in beautiful Manoa Valley, Ducky’s has an unassuming exterior (there are no visible signs from the street) and an open air interior that reminds you of dining in a garage at someone’s home. The simple menu consists of various yakiniku meats, and like any Korean eatery, everything is served with an assortment of side dishes. Also, don’t forget to bring your own soju – the restaurant is B.Y.O.B.

042109-duckys-interior

We had the Ducky’s Special ($85.99 feeds 4-6 people) that includes:

  • Pork Belly or Kal Bi
  • Assorted “leaves” for wrapping
  • Assorted Side Dishes
  • Soybean Paste Soup
  • Spicy Sea Bass Soup, Monk Fish Soup, or Spicy Octopus (which we substituted for Kimchi Jigae)

042109-duckys-side-dishes

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Ducky's - Kimchi Jigae

Ducky's - Kimchi Jigae

We also enjoyed Kimchi Jun, a spicy pancake.

Ducky's - Kimchi Jun

Ducky's - Kimchi Jun

My favorite thing about Ducky’s is the huge assortment of fresh lettuces and various leafy vegetables they bring you to wrap your meat. Their basket of veggies includes not only lettuce but wonderful aromatic herbs and leaves I’ve never even seen or tasted before. They are so fresh I swear they were picked from a garden just before arriving at the table.

Ducky's - "Leaves"

Ducky's - "Leaves"

Korean yakiniku is all about wrapping whatever you like (meat, rice, kimchi, grilled garlic, etc.) in lettuce and seasoning it with your choice of ssamjang  (soybean paste) or sesame oil and salt. I think this is the secret to keeping a meal of fat-dripping BBQ meat healthy: to take a small piece of meat and wrap it with lots of vegetables so you’re eating more vegetables than meat.

Here’s some pork belly wrapped in a mystery leaf with ssamjang…

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And wash that down with some drinks… (Tonight we had Korean soju and an assortment of exotic beers).

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Jal meogeotseumnida-!

OVERALL: GOOD
PRICE RANGE:Family style, $17.99-$37.99 for yakiniku meats, $9.99-$29.99 for soups and stews (serves 2-3)
MY BILL: $20.00
RETURNING?: Yes

Ducky’s Korean BBQ
B.Y.O.B
(Past Manoa Marketplace, in the same strip mall as Bangkok Chef)
2955 E. Manoa Road
Honolulu, HI 96822
808.988.9809
Mon-Sat 10:00a-10:00p
Sun 3:00p-10:00p


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