Archive for the ‘supermarket’ Category

A feast at Marukai

April 12th, 2011

Nadine Kam iPhone photos
Guests picked up plates full of sashimi pieces like those featured on the display boat.

Marukai hosted its sixth annual “Taste of Marukai” April 7 at its Dillingham Marukai Wholesale Mart.

The event opened promptly at 6:15 p.m., with the ceremonial Kagami Biraki or sake barrel breaking, after which guests lined up for a sip, poured by servers into the wooden masu, or traditional rice-measuring cups now used for drinking sake.

The event is always a feast, intended to showcase Marukai’s wares, and this year, 900 guests paid $85 in advance, or $95 at the door to attend.

Although last year’s event welcomed dozens of restaurant participants, this year only a handful of vendors, such as Nobu was represented, serving up silky black cod and beef tenderloin with wasabi sauce. All the other food stations featured meat and produce cooked up by Marukai staffers, and there was too much to enjoy in one sitting. I was full before I even found the boiled crab legs and made-to-order sushi hand rolls.

One guest actually complained that there was too much food! With grievances like that, that person obviously doesn’t have much to worry about.

One of the more intriguing demonstrations was that of Candy Art Hawaii, which practices the art of amezaiku, the traditional Japanese sculpting of hot candy into lollipops in delightful animal and object shapes. The hot candy is pinched, pulled and sculpted into shape, with techniques similar to the art of glassmaking, with fewer tools. Although the heat level required to work with sugar is lower than what it takes to liquefy glass, the candy is still hot enough for the artists to burn their fingers. In exchange for a piece of candy, donations were being collected for Japan relief.

As of the start of the event, Marukai had raised $100,000 in three weeks for its “Aloha for Japan” fundraiser, having contributed $10,000 and accepted donations from suppliers, vendors and shoppers. No doubt much more was raised by evening’s end.

Marukai Corp. executive vice president Richard Matsu, right, with wife Jo and vice president of operations Roy Ishihara, greeted guests and presented checks to the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii, Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce, Honolulu Japanese Junior Chamber of Commerce and the Hawaii United Okinawa Association toward preserving Japanese and Okinawan heritage in Hawaii.

Grilled ika was one of the treats enjoyed by guests at “Taste of Marukai,” like those below.

Sake from Otokoyama Brewery was served after a traditional kagami biraki ceremony. Elsewhere in the store, there were samplings from Kurosawa, Hatsumago and Yaegaki breweries, served by their Japan reepresentatives, as well as samplings of Kirin and Suntory beer.

Candy Art Hawaii demonstrated the art of amezaiku, or sculpting of hot candy into lollipops in delightful animal and object shapes. Lollipops were being offered in exchange for a donation toward Japan relief.


Matsutake season begins with Marukai’s ‘Gochiso’

October 15th, 2010

Nadine Kam photos

Matsutake was presented in all its fragrant glory, along with Hamakua mushrooms en papillote in the second course of Marukai’s Gochiso dinner at ZenShu Oct. 13.

Marukai Wholesale Mart welcomed the first matsutake of the season Oct. 13 with a one-time bistro dinner, “Gochiso,” created with the help of ZenShu chef-owner Wilson Chan and the Japan Prestige Sake Association.

The mushrooms are highly prized because they cannot be farmed, instead growing symbiotically at the roots of a limited number of tree species. In Japan, where matsutake can sell for $100 per piece, it is associated with the red pine tree. Because of that relationship, the mushrooms are imbued with a spicy piney flavor that comes through with the most simple preparation. Therefore, the best course for the mushroom was the second, when it was simply baked en papillote.

Marukai Corp. executive vice president Richard Matsu, right, with ZenShu’s Wilson Chan.

In other dishes, Chan varied the preparations so we were treated to contrasting chilled and warm sensations. And the mushrooms were served both raw, as in the first salad course of ahi sashimi with a shaved matsutake summer roll salad, and cooked. “Gochiso” means “delicious food” in the Japanese language, a cut above the usual “oishi.”

The mushrooms Marukai provided for the dinner came from Oregon, and they are currently priced at Marukai Wholesale Mart at $47 per pound. Marukai Corp.’s vice president of operations Roy Ishihara explained that too have them shipped in from Japan would be cost prohibitive.

The entire dinner was a delicious and rare treat, for a mushroom generally available only from October through year’s end if we’re lucky. By the time we got to dessert, though, I couldn’t taste the matsutake in the creme brulee, but neither could the gentlemen from First Hawaiian Bank around me.

The funny thing was, I had parked at the FHB down the street because I knew we could park there for The Ranch House. Because they worked at FHB, I asked if my car would be towed, and they said they’d parked there too, so if my car was towed, so would theirs. So they assured me it was OK. Parking is nevertheless always a concern where parking is so limited, and crossing the street, dangerous.

Marukai Corp.’s vice president of operations Roy Ishihara shows the third sake selection for the evening, full-bodied Taiheizan Kimoto Junmai. With the first salad and sashimi course we sampled the smooth, sweet Ichinokura Himezen sake, then came the medium dry Shirataki Jozen Mizunogotoshi Junmai Ginjo. I liked the fruity Harushika Junmai Daiginjo, which I thought went really well with the Kona Cold Maine lobster tail.

The second course was this rich , creamy cold kabocha and matsutake vichyssoise topped with a matsutake chip and matsutake creme fraiche.

The fourth course was a braised boneless shortrib with matsutake bourguignon, Kahuku corn-bacon ragout, and whipped Okinawan potatoes.

Matsu shows the fifth course of grilled matsutake and Kona Cold Maine lobster tail with unagi nage and yaki matsutake musubi, that’s also shown below, topped with slivers of nori.

Dessert was a matsutake creme brulee and sake balsamic-soaked strawberries.