Longhi’s Ko Olina

We celebrated D’s birthday with breakfast at the newly opened Longhi’s in Ko Olina.  Another new restaurant option on the West side! Breakfast is my favorite meal, and I’ve decided it’s our mission to eat all of the pancakes in Kapolei to crown the winner.

Longhi’s at Ala Moana recently closed, but lucky for me their new location is now minutes away. Located in the beautiful Marrriott Ko Olina Beach Club, it’s easily accessible for local residents with validated valet parking for $2. They are open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The restaurant has a spacious open air seating area with views of the beautiful garden and pond, and the relaxing ambience makes me feel like I’m on vacation on a neighbor island.


D ordered the Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes ($16) with a side order of whipped cream ($2), a stack of two large fluffy pancakes with fresh blueberries and ricotta cheese sauce.


My Classic Eggs Benedict ($16) served on toasted baguette slices. Their orange juice is fresh squeezed, and yes it’s $6 but you can taste the difference!


What I love about Longhi’s is that they use quality ingredients, like real maple syrup, real butter, and real dairy whipped cream. That’s actually pretty hard to come by, especially at this price point. I can probably count on one hand how many establishments serve actual whipped heavy cream (not the aerosol kind that deflates after a minute) on their pancakes & waffles. I am a lover of whipped cream and to me, details like this make a difference.

D’s only wish for his birthday was to spend it with us, so we spent the day doing some shopping and relaxing. At night we sang happy birthday with this whopping masterpiece of a cake decorated by Nomz. This is what results when you give a four year old a piping bag full of whipped cream and let her go to town (real whipped cream, of course).


Happy Birthday to my love!

 

He’s Here!

Welcome to the world little one! It’s been almost two months since our son was born. How quickly we forget what a newborn is like; it’s like I’m a brand new parent all over again.

He is a mellow guy, healthy and happy as can be, and has already doubled his birth weight by two months. Breastfeeding was a difficult journey (again) and the first few weeks were spent crying and struggling and working together with him. Due to low milk supply, we are supplementing with formula, but things are going well. With Nomz, she refused the breast from early on, so I ended up almost exclusively pumping for a year. With S (until we settle on a nickname), he nurses happily and so I’m attached to baby instead of the pump, a much happier place to be for me.

I didn’t realize that raising two kids was so much harder than one! My mom was here from Japan to help out after the C-section but she’s gone already, and with D back to work, I am in full-time stay at home mommy mode. Except life’s busier this time around because there’s Nomz’s school and various activities to get to, and D’s new job keeps him at the office longer. Looking back now, life when Nomz was little seems so leisurely in comparison…

Nomz had a rough time adjusting to the addition to our family the first few days (every time she saw me nursing, she would cry) but things are settling down. Thankfully her resentment is directed at us parents, and not at her baby brother. She is so loving and sweet to her brother and helps with diaper changes and soothes him when he cries. Just as we expected, she is a wonderful big sister!

We are so blessed and our little family now feels complete. But now that I’m reminded of how darn cute babies are, I’m sad to think this will be my last time cuddling a newborn, but I don’t think another one is realistic… Instead I will have to savor and appreciate every moment during this precious time.

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The Best Bread This Side of the Island

My favorite bakery this side of the island is, well, … not actually a bakery. You wouldn’t know it just passing by Nagoya Ramen in the Mililani Shopping Center, but they have the best freshly baked Hong Kong style buns. There are not too many bakeries in Central or West Oahu, especially Japanese or Asian style bakeries. But the secret among my friends is that we head to Nagoya Ramen for the softest, yummiest fresh baked treats that are priced at about half of most Japanese bakeries in town. It looks like a regular ramen shop from the outside, but with a small bakery counter near the entrance.


Nomz loves their Spam Rolls ($1.59) and I love their Custard Egg Tarts ($1.39) and Coconut & Raisin Rolls ($1.59). Everything is so reasonably priced!


There’s also bread by the loaf which often sell out by the afternoon.


They will be opening up another location at the new Ka Makana Alii Mall in Kapolei (yay!) but the owner tells me prices will be slightly higher there. If you’re ever in Mililani, it’s worth a visit!

(I heard the ramen and gyoza are good too, but I never made it past the pastries…)

 

 

A Lovely Baby Shower & Pregnancy Notes

The other day MIL and SILs hosted an intimate baby shower for us. They really went all out in preparing a feast!! MIL got up at 5:00am to prepare all these baby shower appetizer recipes she Googled. What an amazing spread! 


It was nice to spend the afternoon catching up with family and getting excited for baby’s arrival.

As I get ready to welcome this baby, I thought I’d record some thoughts from this pregnancy before I forget…

This pregnancy was a difficult one in the beginning, with a mysterious severe allergic reaction all over my body from week 5, which ultimately led to my decision to close down the wedding business I developed over the last six years to focus on my health. The allergic reaction gradually improved from around the second trimester (thank god) but I’m still confident the decision was the right one, and am so thankful and blessed to transition into a full time “stay at home” mom at least for the next several years.

A diagnosis of gestational diabetes early at week 5 was unusual and unexpected, and frustrating in the beginning but ultimately turned out to be a growing experience. Who knew I had the strength in me to inject myself three times a day with insulin shots and prick my finger four times a day without fainting? Who knew I had the self discipline to go without white rice for eight months? A mother’s strength and determination to do anything for her baby never ceases to surprise me. Plus the diabetes has forced me to keep the weight gain in check, as opposed to the last time around when I used pregnancy as an excuse to indulge in every craving. 

It’s a boy! and Nomz is as excited as can be about the arrival of her brother and is very gentle when touching my belly. She helps me pick things up off the floor (seriously SO helpful). We can already tell she will be the best sister ever, I just hope the jealousy won’t be too bad.

As I enter the last few weeks of pregnancy, I’ve been going to the doctor’s twice a week for non-stress tests, which monitor baby’s heartbeat and movements (typically ordered for high-risk pregnancies). Baby is a bit on the small side, but doing well. We will be welcoming him in just a few weeks via scheduled c-section (which, I’m discovering, is fantastically convenient!) and right now I am just enjoying nesting and spending precious moments snuggled up with Nomz before things get crazy. Again.

 

 

Kapolei Lately

There are so many exciting new developments in our home town of Kapolei! Three restaurants just opened within the Kapolei Commons movie theatre complex: La Tour Cafe, Gyukaku, and BIC Tacos.  Eating House 1849 by Roy Yamaguchi is still under construction.

A few shots from dinner the other night at La Tour Cafe:




and lunch at BIC Tacos. I love their low carb bowl option!


 

Kalapawai Cafe & Deli just opened as well on Kamokila Blvd.

At the new Ka Makana Alii Mall, California Pizza Kitchen (and Hampton Inn and Macy’s) are open, one step ahead before other tenants.

Longhi’s in the Marriott Beach Club is the most recent addition to the Ko Olina Resort – one of my favorites for breakfast!

It’s an exciting time to live on the West side! Now if we could only get a Japanese market here I would never have to leave…

 

A Birthday Picnic at the Beach

For Nomz’s fourth birthday (where does the time go!?), she requested a picnic at the beach with a few of her friends. D went early to our usual Ko Olina Lagoon 4 to save a shaded spot while I headed to Tanioka’s to pick up a few more items for our picnic. 


I prepped a veggie & fruit platter, finger sandwiches, desserts, and a birthday cake the day before


Then stopped by Tanioka’s the morning of to pick up some musubis, cone sushi, fried chicken, Lumpia, and fried shrimp.

The weather was perfect and everyone enjoyed a day full of fun in the sun. We’re so lucky to be raising our family in Hawaii surrounded by friends, family, beautiful beaches and of course, good food. 

Fresh Fruit Filled Mochi from Hilo’s Two Ladies Kitchen

On a recent business trip to the Big Island, D brought us a box of fresh mochi from the famous Two Ladies Kitchen! It’s like opening up a box of colorful jewels, each one filled with different combination of fresh fruit and anko (sweet bean paste).


His selection: the original strawberry with red tsubu-an, peach with shiro-an, grape with red koshi-an, and poha berry with shiro-an. My favorite was the poha berry: its intense tart flavor paired perfectly with just the right amount of anko wrapped in pillowy soft mochi. Gochisousamadeshita!


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