Archive for the ‘Indian’ Category

Eating local at Sushi ii

September 21st, 2011

Nadine Kam photos

Coconut-crusted mahimahi was beautifully crispy on the outside, flaky and tender on the inside, drizzled with mango sauce and served with kalua pork on fried paiai, a thick, near waterless pounded taro, with barbecue sauce. You can see I was so anxious to bite into the pork and paiai that I ruined it before snapping this photo.

Kanu Hawai’i’s third annual Eat Local Challenge is underway, asking island residents to join together in helping to build a more sustainable, secure and healthy local food system. Part of their mission is to raise awareness of eating local every September. It’s definitely something easier said than done for those of us who have trouble simply planning what to eat from day to day, much less contemplating how to keep it all local.

Restaurateurs on four islands are helping to make it easier by offering Eat Local specials through the end of the month. You can find the complete list of restaurants and meal offers at

In addition, during Yelp Eats Local week through Sept. 25, 11 restaurants will donate a portion of the proceeds from their special, locally sourced menu items to Kanu Hawaii. The participating restaurants are: Brasserie Du Vin, Chai’s Island Bistro, He‘eia Kea Pier, Hula Grill Waikiki, J.J. Dolan’s, Pah Ke’s Chinese Restaurant, SOUL, Stage Restaurant, Sushi ii, Thirtyninehotel, and Tiki’s Grill & Bar.

A $10 donation is made to Kanu Hawaii for every Yelper that spends at least $30 when they visit during the week. (Let servers know you are participating and drop your receipts in a ballot box provided.)

To get a taste of what eating local can be, about a dozen Yelp Elites and media descended on Sushi ii Sept. 19 for a remarkable and memorable meal. The tiny gem of a restaurant is deep within Samsung Plaza on Ke’eaumoku Street, and was chosen for what Yelp community manager describes as its
“Yelp-y qualities.”

That is, she said is something “so amazing and unexpected, off the beaten track” and of course, that possesses necessary “wow factor.”I went in expecting sushi, but what the Sushi ii is offering for the challenge is a prix fixe menu for about $45, featuring a 100 percent locally grown entree, salad, appetizer and/or dessert.

Sushi chef/owner Garrett Wong and Sabrina Saiki-Mita did a great job with a three-course menu that surprised and delighted with every course, something all the restaurants must do to help Kanu Hawai’i succeed.

Founded in 2007, the nonprofit’s mission is to encourage and support environmental and social change. Its 14,000 members make individual commitments as simple as I will take shorter showers or I will buy local. To make a commitment, go to

From left, Kasha Ho, Kanu community organizer, with Sushi Ii’s Sabrina Saiki-Mita and Emi Hart.

Amber-Lynn Hyden snaps a photo of lemon balm intermezzo.

A petite burger char-grilled to a perfect medium rare, with a surprise center of Naked Cow Dairy goat cheese, and accompanied by crave-worthy sour cherry and caramelized onion ketchup. They need to bottle this so we can take it home.

Sushi Ii owner Garrett Wong doubled as a server for the evening, delivering a second refreshing non-alcohol watermelon and kaffir lime cocktail. (more…)

India Cafe Kailua

March 19th, 2010

Those of you who need your curry fix will be happy to know that India Cafe now has a permanent spot in Kailua.

It’s next door to BookEnds at Kailua Shopping Center (600 Kailua Ave.).

Not only does it carry many of the same items that the lunchwagon (formerly at the Don Quijote parking lot) used to carry, it has a number of new offerings due to the installation of the restaurant’s first tandoori oven.

India Cafe Kailua

On the menu: Chicken Curry ($8.25), Lamb Masala ($10.50), Spicy Shrimp Sambal ($9.95), Chicken Tikka Masala ($8.95) plus a Vegan plate ($7.75). Each platter comes with rice, raita (a mix of yogurt with cilantro, mint and cucumber) as well as one vegetable choice.

Vegetables include Jiva’s Crazy Spicy Eggplant (excellent, but watch out, it’s spicy!) along with Mixed Vegetables Masala, Curried Potatoes, and Okra Vegetable Curry.

You can also order a side of golden Samosas (deep-fried turnovers filled with potatoes), Roti Paratha (layered bread) and Tandoori Naan (which is clay-oven baked bread). The naan, hot from the oven, is the perfect accompaniment for curry.

Chicken Tikka Masala with Spicy Eggplant, Naan

Chicken Tikka Masala with Spicy Eggplant, Naan

The eatery’s concept is gourmet Indian food to-go, but there are a few seats at a counter inside, two tables outside, and Kailua Shopping Center’s courtyard seating. Order the Chicken Tika Masala with Spicy Eggplant, and your mouth will be transported by the comforting mix of the masala, the spicy pop from the eggplant, and at the same time, cooled down by the cilantro-mint-yogurt raita.

Owner Raja Segaran and son, Chef Jiva, opened the new India Cafe in Kailua after surveying customers from the lunchwagon and finding that there was an overwhelming interest in a permanent spot.

The eatery’s soft opening was on Thursday this week, and already, people are walking in the doors.

Blessings for the new India Cafe.

Blessings for the new India Cafe.

The interior, though small, is painted a bright and cheerful red, with the menu displayed on a flat-screen, a few barstools along a countertop for interior seating, and another screen showing scenes from Bollywood. Hanging along the top of the walls are photographs taken from the family’s travels to India, including a visit by Segaran to his mother’s original hometown, where he is surrounded by schoolchildren.

Though South Indian, Segaran is from Malaysia, and the items on the menu reflect both cultures. Many are straight from his own mother’s home-cooked recipes. The tandoori oven is more reflective of North Indian cuisine, but he decided to try it to expand the eatery’s offerings.

For drinks, customers can order up a hot chai tea, nmango lassi, coconut juice (perfect for cooling down the spicy eggplant), a Thai iced tea, or a soda.

Customers are likely familiar with the first India Cafe restaurant, hidden away at Kilohana Square at the top of Kapahulu. Step inside, and you’ll be surprised by the rich decor and full menu.

The India Cafe Curry on Wheels lunchwagon is now at the Don Quijote Kaheka parking lot, seven days a week, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

India Cafe Kailua, 600  Kailua Rd. 262-1800

India Cafe (Kilohana Square), 1016 Kapahulu Ave. 737-4600

India Cafe Curry on Wheels, Don Quijote Kaheka St. 741-8240

Follow India Cafe on Twitter: @indiacafehawaii