Archive for the ‘Holiday’ Category

First meals

January 3rd, 2012

Nadine Kam photos
First meal of the New Year, Navitas Naturals chewy raw cashews.

When making up lists of symbolic meals, I’ve often seen people struggle to come up with the perfect last meal.

Not much is made of the first meals of the new year because they are typically preordained by tradition, whether one’s culture calls for ozoni, mochi, ahi, jai or candied fruit, whether to bind families together or bring sweetness, longevity and fortune into one’s life.

New Year tradition in my family is tied to the Lunar New Year, which begins Jan. 23, so Jan. 1 tends to be more of a culinary free-for-all that’s not weighted in any kind of tradition or superstition.

So, what was on the menu? After waking up too late to head to Mariposa as planned, my afternoon started with a fistful of Navitas Naturals raw, kosher, gluten-free, vegan and 100 percent organic cashews.

To balance the healthy goodness, lunch/dinner was a decadent one-third pound Kua ‘Aina ortega burger with avocado.

It was totally random, and I’m not saying a colossal burger is a good thing, but I like the word “balance” for 2012 and hope to make more healthier choices in the new year. My personal choices are not something that’s necessarily reflected in my restaurant columns, which, as a mirror of our times, relays what is happening in local dining rooms at this particular point. But wouldn’t it be nice if more restaurateurs thought like personal trainers, creating meals to optimize the functions of the human body?

Second meal of 2012: Kua ‘Aina ortega burger with avocado.

Panya offers new flavors of gau

December 30th, 2011

Nadine Kam photo

Panya’s New Year gau, clockwise from top, coconut creme, traditional brown sugar, red bean, and water chestnut. All four flavors will be available throughout January, beginning Sunday.

Panya is taking orders for New Year’s gau to be available beginning Jan. 1.

Beyond the basic Chinese brown sugar and mochiko pudding, Panya is offering gau with red beans, as well as a light, opaque water chestnut version and white, coconut creme-flavored version.

I had an impromptu tasting when I passed by the Ala Moana Center shop yesterday and saw Melissa Chang and Russ Sumida with a stack of gau in front of them, even though Russell doesn’t care to try “scary” foods.

On some level, I can understand that, because I have a lot of friends with food phobias, including people who won’t eat onions and garlic, the basis of most cooking! Then there are the Chinese who don’t eat Japanese food, and Japanese who don’t eat Chinese food, and I just thought he was one of those Japanese, who, like another of my Japanese friends, feels the presence of a salt-preserved duck yolk in the center of moon cakes is gross.

Even though all the Chinese broads, including Panya’s Alice Yeung, tried to convince Russ that gau is similar to mochi, he said he doesn’t even eat that.

Oh well, more for me, right? As much as I like traditional gau, I thought the flavored versions were good. The coconut was the biggest surprise, because you can go so wrong with coconut. Sometimes the oil in it can taste rancid, but this tasted nice and clean. I also liked the lightness of the water chestnut, but with the texture of kanten, it didn’t go over as well with people at the office who were graving the texture of traditional gau.

Panya’s gau comes in two sizes, a 4-inch diameter small and 7-inch diameter large.

Prices for the small servings are $6 each for brown sugar gau and water chestnut gau, and $6.50 each for coconut creme and red bean. The respective prices for the large servings are $16 an $18.

Also available for the Chinese New Year will be gourmet jai featuring mushrooms, chestnuts, gingko nuts, black fungus, Chinese cabbage, seaweed, baby corn, bean curd and more, at $22 and $45 for pick-up on Jan. 21, 22 and 23.

Call 946-6388 or 597-8880. Visit for more information.