Archive for September, 2011

HFW festival off to a memorable start

September 30th, 2011

Nadine Kam photos

Justin Quek of Sky on 57, Singapore, presented spiced lobster, one of the hits of Day 1 of the inaugural Hawai’i Food & Wine Festival.

The Hawai’i Food & Wine Festival got off to a great start on Sept. 29, Day 1 of the three-day inaugural event chaired by chefs Roy Yamaguchi and Alan Wong, who made the most of their James Beard connections.

For those accustomed to attending the many culinary festivals around this food-loving town, this one was a step above, thanks in part to the participation of several stellar international chefs.

For the “Streets of Asia: Morimoto and Friends” event presented by Hawaiian Airlines, the Sunrise Pool at the Modern Honolulu was dressed with red lanterns and stations were marked by red banners marked by characters designating such positive aims as “good health,” “abundance” and “good fortune.”

The theme may have been street food but for this crowd it was elevated street fare presented by hosts Roy and Masaharu Morimoto and fellow local chefs Chai Chaowasaree of  Chai’s Island Bistro; Hiroshi Fukui of Hiroshi Eurasion Tapas; Scott Toner of The Modern Honolulu; and international chefs Edward Kwon of LAB XXIV, Korea; Mourad Lahlou of Aziza, San Francisco; Charles Phan of The Slanted Door, San Francisco; Justin Quek of Sky on 57, Singapore; and Guy Rubino of Ame, Canada.

The setting for Thursday night’s event, bathed in red light.

Tonight’s sold-out Master Chefs gala dinner at Halekulani promises to be the highlight of the festival  with its $1,000 ticket price and fare from Halekulani’s Vikram Garg plus Hubert Keller of Fleur de Lys, San Francisco; Robin Lee of Nobu Waikiki; Yoshihiro Murata of Kikunoi, Japan; Nancy Silverton from Mozza, Los Angeles; Alessandro Stratta of Stratta, Las Vegas; and Tetsuya Wakuda of Tetsuya’s, Australia.

You may still be able to pick up $200 tickets to Saturday’s “From Mauka to Makai: Hawaii’s Sustainable Future,” taking place 6 to 9 p.m. at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Ahupua‘a on the Great Lawn. Visit

Many I spoke to at Thursday’s event were so pleased they said they would be back for more on Saturday. The lineup:

John Besh, John Besh Restaurants, New Orleans
Michael Cimarusti, Providence, Los Angeles
Celestino Drago, Celestino Drago Restaurant Group, Los Angeles
Dean Fearing, Fearing’s, Dallas
Michael Ginor, Hudson Valley Foie Gras & Lola, New York
Ed Kenney, Town, Hawaii
George Mavrothalassitis, Chef Mavro, Hawaii
Peter Merriman, Merriman’s, Hawaii
Rick Moonen, Rick Moonen’s rm seafood, Las Vegas
Michel Nischan, Dressing Room, Connecticut
Philippe Padovani, Padovani’s Grill, Hawaii
Jeffrey Vigilla, Hilton Hawaiian Village, Hawaii
Marcel Vigneron, “Top Chef Bravo,” Marcel’s Quantum Kitchen TV, Los Angeles
Alan Wong, Alan Wong’s, Hawaii
Roy Yamaguchi, Roy’s Restaurants, Hawaii

Let’s hope they bring this festival back next year!

They had me at first bite of Mourad Lahlou’s spiced Kauai prawn with ogo, sea asparagus and ikura.

A display of chef Edward Kwon’s shortrib with apple, pepper and kim chee. So tender, we could cut it with the papery forks that were provided. Below, the LAB XXIV chef with his display.

Sheraton Waikiki senior executive sous chef Colin Hazama, right, with Slanted Door’s Charles Phan who was serving Alaskan halibut with pineapple sauce, below.


Foodspotting comes to town

September 30th, 2011

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

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.