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Foodspotting comes to town

September 30th, 2011
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Nadine Kam photos
Foodspotting’s Fiona Tang with company mascot, Spot. This is Spot II, as the original Spot was packed away in someone’s suitcase and never found.

First, Yelp’s Kristen Whisenand came to town for an eatup at Sushi ii, and on Sept. 27, Foodspotting’s San Francisco-based head of outreach Fiona Tang came to town—restaurant, that is—for a Honolulu Eatup with 26 of Honolulu’s top Foodspotters.

That shows how important Hawaii’s dining community is to these growing social media sites. For both, Hawaii ranks within the top three or four cities, which makes sense given that this is a small community that loves food—such that being the first to set foot in a restaurant is a competitive sport—and the latest news/gossip spreads fast.

Honolulu Foodspotters gave Fiona a list of 34 must-trys while she’s in town, and on her first day here, she managed to try just one, Ted’s chocolate-haupia pie.

Tsk, tsk. Any local Foodspotter would have probably managed to cross off at least five or six items off such a list in a single day!

At town, we settled in for a family-style dinner that came pretty close to offering everything on the menu that night. It was, at minimum, a 14-course dinner. I didn’t count the bread and olives that accompanied the opening charcuterie platter. Needless to say, many of the dishes went up on Foodspotting that night!

You can follow my Foodspotting at www.foodspotting.com/nadinekam

The mealtime camera is essential for Foodspotting.

A beautiful platter of Shinsato Farms salumi: chorizo, soppressata, cacciatore, capicola and coppa di testa.

Baby arugula salad with slices of yakon, a root vegetable, Maui onions and macadamia nuts.

Ahi tartate on risotto cakes, a sort of deconstructed Mediterranean musubi.

Bruschetta toped with a spread of roasted beets, poached tuna, arugula and refreshing ruby grapefruit.

Grilled eggplant with Waimea tomato, handmade mozarella, almonds and basil.

Slow-roasted porchetta and bitter greens with pine nuts and raisins.


Bowl o’ polenta was offered to accompany the pork shoulder.

Risotto with collard greens, topped with crisped pancetta.

Pan-seared opah with local greens.

Kulana striploin with Roquefort butter and Hamakua mushrooms.

Hand-cut herbed french fries were intended to accompany the steak.

Dessert 1 was my favorite, panna cotta surrounded by fruit including papaya, mango, lilikoi and dragonfruit and orange slices.

Apple banana cream pie was also very good.

If I had been hungrier, I probably would have been more enamored of a chocolate pretzel tart sprinkled with sea salt. After such a large meal, lighter worked better.

Former locals lead the way to NY eats

July 26th, 2011
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It was fun to catch up with some former Hawaii residents while in New York, and it was interesting to combine their restaurant picks with my own for a diverse picture of food in the city.

I met up with Katlin Taosaka, now with Rag & Bone (Hawaii designer Dan Weaver is also there), at Northern Spy Food Co., a small under-the-radar gem in the East Village, at 511 E. 12th St. I noticed a milliner’s sign across the street, but it was closed. I planned to go back there after brunch, but I was caught up in going to Opening Ceremony with Katlin, and forgot all about it!

Nadine Kam photos
Northern Spy’s focus is seasonality and locavore sourcing of locally-grown, -caught, or -produced ingredients whenever possible. Katlin had polenta and eggs, while I had the chicken and egg sandwich.

Katlin had to go to work just before Lynne O’Neill met me at the Muji store, and we walked back to Opening Ceremony to check out the Reyn Spooner collection. She had only been to the smaller satellite at the Ace Hotel. Then we made our way to the High Line and Chelsea Market for lunch. Chelsea Market is a New York institution, dating to the 1890s baking industry. Today, it’s home to dozens of retailers and food purveyors, from Morimoto to Fat Witch Bakery, Chelsea Wine Vault and Anthropologie. Lynne wanted something healthy, so opted for tofu and vegetables from Chelsea Thai. I had just eaten, so ordered a small bowl of potato-leek soup from Hale and Hearty Soups.

Namesakes at The Lobster Room in Chelsea Market. Below, one of the Jonah crabs lifted its claws to defend against my camera intrusion.


It was crowded at lunch time, and hard to find a table, so I swooped down on two women who had finished lunch, hoping they would be leaving soon. Instead, they wanted to chat. The one in from Long Island for the day to visit with her sister said her son had just visited Maui and now wants to move there and go to school. She said, “I don’t know why he wants to move there, maybe it’s cheap or something?”

Haha, shows you how little people know about our circumstances. In many ways, it’s much more expensive to live in Hawaii than New York. What makes NY so pricey is that there’s so much exciting going on at all times, that there’s more of an urge to go out, see and do, and that’s what gets expensive. Otherwise, food and rent are comparable, and food there can be much cheaper because you can find excellence at every price point.

On display at Dickson’s Farmstand Meats at Chelsea Market.

Before Lynne arrived with her order, the women had invited me to meet them at Lincoln Center for a free outdoor concert later that evening.

Next, I caught up with Urban Nomad’s Freida Hulse, known in New York as Haruko, at the trendy Williamsburg eatery, Fatty ‘Cue, for barbecue with the essence of Southeast Asia. Critics there are gaga for fish sauce marinades on pork and Melakan-style lamb ribs which are delicious, but the ideas are not new to Hawaii. You can get the same flavors at any Vietnamese restaurant. The ingenuity is in the Western-style format.

The stencil-style wall tells you you’re getting close to Fatty ‘Cue.

Cincalok and white wine brined lamb ribs are a “snack” at Fatty ‘Cue.

And don’t forget the greens, a delicious celery salad at Fatty ‘Cue.

Joey Caldarone took this photo of Ivy and me at Cafeteria.

The night I was leaving, I met designer Ivy Higa and Joey Caldarone at the trendy burger joint, Cafeteria, at 119 7th Ave., home to many good-looking waiters and which they say started the city’s mac n’ cheese craze. Both mentioned they really miss laulau and luau.

Ivy’s still working with Zac Posen, as well as on her spring 2012 collection, and Joey’s at Tiffany. We had a nice talk about how fashion is such an insulated, all-consuming world that we have to remind ourselves that it doesn’t reflect most peoples’ reality. Sometimes we have to pinch ourselves to remind ourselves that people need food and housing, they don’t need fashion. To stay grounded, Ivy volunteers for a couple of homeless shelters and organizations and was slated to help distribute food the next morning.

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