Archive for June, 2010

One more day to vote for fave burger

June 29th, 2010

Nadine Kam photos
A bite of the Southern Belle, dripping with ranch dressing.

You have tonight and tomorrow, June 30, to head down to Burgers On the Edge to make your voice count in the search for the next Burger Genius.

More than 500 entries were received in the first phase of the contest, which were whittled down to six finalists, with two contenders per three categories (beef, turkey and veggie burger).

Burger lovers can put them to the taste test, at $5.99 each, to cast their vote as to which wins a spot on the regular menu.

The Burger Genius finalists are:

Beef Patty: “The Southern Belle” with fried green tomatoes and ranch dressing (Gena Hunt) vs. Da Local Kine Burger with Li Hing Mui Mayo (Mike Smith)

Turkey Patty: Mr. Smarty Pants with Basil Pesto (Vincent Kimura)  vs. Save the Chickens with cream of
mushroom (Ryan Kanno)

Veggie Patty: Plan B with panko-crusted patty and tonkatsu sauce (Shay Fukayama) vs. Garden Isle
Burger with Thai Basil Pesto (Angela Botelho)

Also earning an automatic spot was last year’s Burger Genius winner Eric Young’s entry. Lightning can strike twice, right? He won last year with a Thai-rific burger and continues his Asia exploration with a Kung POW burger featuring garlic hoisin sauce and the crunch of fried egg roll wrapper chips.

The weird thing is I don’t mind crunchy things under soft foods (nachos, ice cream in waffle cups, cannolis) but when you put the crunch on the soft stuff, I feel like it’s a hazard that will cut the insides of your mouth.

Reigning Burger Genius Eric Young’s contribution to this year’s contest is the Kung POW burger, with garlic hoisin sauce and fried egg roll wrapper chips.

I went down on Sunday, but there’s only so much burger you can eat in one sitting. The difficult part was sticking with the finalist burgers when you’re faced with Burgers on the Edge’s regular menu. The Jamaican Me Crazy burger was calling my name, but resist I did.

That’s the problem coming up with a new burger. You compete first with what’s already on the menu! I think it’s great that they’re trying to promote vegetarian and fowl options, but for a lot of people, burgers are still all about the beef.

A leaderboard display on the BOTE Web site shows Save the Chickens in the lead. Who in Hawaii can resist cream of mushroom?! But the Southern Belle will surprise you with its mix of fried green tomatoes, ranch dressing, cheddar cheese, bacon and onions.

One winner in each category will be announced on July 7, the anniversary week of Burgers on the Edge, on KHON-Fox at 9 p.m. on the Burger Genius TV show.

Burgers on the Edge is at 890 Kapahulu Ave. at the Safeway Center. You can learn more about the contestants and their entries here.

While you’re there, bring a donation for Hawaii Foodbank. The top five most needed foods are:
• Canned meats and tuna
• Canned spaghetti, chili and corned beef hash
• Canned soups
• Canned vegetables
• Canned fruits
Monetary donations will also be accepted.

Vote for your fave gourmet loco moco

June 24th, 2010

Nadine Kam photos

Cheeseburger Restaurant-Waikiki Beach Walk’s gourmet loco moco featuring a half-pound of Kobe beef, for $20.99 at this location. It’s $2 less at the Kalakaua restaurant, but I’m not sure it’s made the same way.

The search for the best gourmet loco moco in Waikiki is on, and it started with a “Loco Moco Smackdown” June 19 at Cheeseburger Restaurant.

Enlisted for the task were Steve Uyehara of Hawaii News Now, Star-Advertiser blogger Catherine Toth, Billy V of Hawaiian 105 KINE, Miss Hawaii 2009 Raeceen Woolford, and photographer/DJ Charles Criscola.

You can read all about it and watch the contest on video at TGIF Online:

Catherine Toth, left, and Raeceen Woolford, before ingesting a pound of food that included dessert after the official loco moco smackdown.

Of course the event made me hungry for loco moco, and in spite of having grown up here with the island classic of layers of white rice, hamburger patty, fried egg and brown gravy, NEVER actually ate the thing.

Is that typical?

I figure, it’s more of a dish people order out than make at home because of its assembly nature. You have to make the burger. You have to cook the egg. You need to make brown gravy. In my mom’s house, one-skillet dishes were the norm.

Then, when I went out, there always seemed to be things on the menu more tempting than basics of ground beef and egg. In college, while other students found sustenance outside dorm fare with loco mocos, I was either at Pizza Hut or Chuck’s Steak House.

Before putting on their blindfolds, contestants could add their choice of condiments. Raeceen, sitting next to Billy V., showed her brandished her weapons of choice. Steve doused his loco moco with Tabasco.

But after trying one of several mini versions being passed around to spectators, I had to wonder why I resisted the loco moco’s allure for so long! Definitely yummy, and as Raeceen said after the competition, it’s too bad she had to eat it so fast. A gourmet loco moco should be eaten slowly and savored.

I kept hearing raves about Ocean House’s version, made with filet mignon, so that’s another I’ll have to try.

In addition to Cheeseburger and Ocean House, four other restaurants are in the running in the greater Loco Moco Smackdown: Jimmy Buffett’s at the Beachcomber, Giovanni Pastrami, Keoni’s by Keo and Hula Grill Waikiki.

This is where you come in. Through July 20, people can try the loco mocos from the participating restaurants — at your own expense I’m afraid — then vote on your favorite via Facebook or Twitter, using the hashtag #WBWloco and naming your favorite for a chance to win gift certificates from the participating resstaurants.

Cat, sitting next to Steve, warms up before the competition. It turned out, she didn’t need to warm up.

Winner Charles Criscola had a little bit left on his plate at the 2-minute finish, but by the time he received his award, he’d polished it all off.