Hello Kitty Cafe Truck Coming to Hawaii

delete-helloThis Summer, the hugely popular Hello Kitty Cafe Truck will be crossing the Pacific Ocean to make its first-ever visit to Hawaii.

The special three-day appearance will take place from Friday, June 17 through Sunday, June 19 at Ala Moana Center in Honolulu. The “mobile vehicle of cuteness and sweets” will serve goodies from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily to Hello Kitty fans of all ages.

Treats on board the Hello Kitty Cafe Truck will include a macaron box set with one surprise Sanrio character macaron inside, a delicious three-piece Hello Kitty cookie set in adorable packaging, a four-pack of mini cakes, and a pink bow-shaped water bottle. In addition to the goodies, a Hello Kitty Cafe mug, a supercute pink Hello Kitty Cafe T-shirt and the pop icon’s signature bow headband will also be available to purchase.

The Hello Kitty Cafe Truck will be stationed in front of the Sanrio store, making it easy for fans to continue their experience by stopping by the retail location.

The Hello Kitty Cafe Truck is the first-of-its-kind food service venture for Sanrio in the U.S. The cafe truck made its first official debut at Hello Kitty Con in October 2014 and has been rolling up to festivals & events ever since, spreading Sanrio’s message of happiness, friendship and fun while offering yummy goodies to Hello Kitty fans and foodies.

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12 Isle Eateries Among Top 100 Outdoor Dining Spots

delete_thumb_600Hot on the heels of yesterday’s “Top 100 Places to Eat” list from Yelp comes the “100 Best Al Fresco Dining Restaurants” from OpenTable. For this list, ranking eateries where you dine outdoors, a dozen Hawaii restaurants made the cut.

“These awards reflect the combined opinions of more than 5 million restaurant reviews submitted by verified OpenTable diners for more than 20,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia,” notes OpenTable in its report. “The complete list features winning restaurants in 19 states and Washington, D.C., and … the scenic state of California claims almost half the number of winning restaurants with 44, followed by Florida with 13, Hawaii with 12, and Arizona with eight.”

100 Best Al Fresco Dining Restaurants in America 2016 – Hawaii

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Hawaii Home to 10 of ‘Top 100 Places to Eat’

delete-yelpThe Aloha State is home to ten of the ‘Top 100 Places to Eat‘ according to Yelp’s annual survey of “food greatness.” The 2016 list, unlike the list from last year (based primarily on a restaurant’s performance in recent years),looks at performance since the founding of Yelp in 2004.

The top-ranked Hawaii restaurants are:

10. Marukame Udon, Honolulu, HI

14. Ono Seafood, Honolulu, HI

15. Da Poke Shack, Kailua-Kona, HI

35. Mama’s Fish House Restaurant, Paia, HI

56. Lahaina Grill, Lahaina, HI

63. Helena’s Hawaiian Food, Honolulu, HI

76. Musubi Cafe Iyasume, Honolulu, HI

84. Shark Pit Maui, Lahaina, HI

89. Umeke’s, Kailua-Kona, HI

92. Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop, Lahaina, HI

“Businesses from across the country were compared using a ranking that looks at both the ratings and the number of reviews while accounting for quality, popularity, and statistical fluctuations,” Yelp explains. “To localize the list, only reviews written by users whose profiles list their home location as within the reviewed businesses’ country were factored into the ranking.”

See the complete list here:

Yelp’s Top 100 Places to Eat in the US for 2016: Fast Track to a Food Coma

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Kona Brewing Co. to break ground on new sustainable brewery

kbcKona Brewing Co. will break ground on its new 100,000-barrel Big Island brewery and canning facility tomorrow. The company, Hawaii’s longest-running craft brewery, is commemorating the event with a limited-release pale ale based on the original recipe for its first beer produced 22 years ago.

The groundbreaking at the 2.6-acre site in Kailua-Kona will include a traditional Hawaiian blessing ceremony and unveil the first architectural rendering of the new brewery. More than 100 guests have RSVP’d to the event at Pawai Place, just steps away from the current pub and brewery. Construction is scheduled to begin in late summer of this year.

“The groundbreaking marks the start of an exciting new chapter in Kona Brewing’s history, and I am extremely grateful to our colleagues, our customers and our friends and families who make up the Big Island Community who have enabled us to get to where we are today,” remarked Cameron Healy, who co-founded Kona Brewing with his son Spoon Khalsa in 1994. “Little did we know when we started Kona Brewing Co. 22 years ago that legions of craft beer drinkers from around the world would fall in love with our island-infused beers.”

“We wouldn’t be celebrating this incredible milestone if it weren’t for the Kona Brewing Co. ‘ohana, and we look forward to continuing to support them as they have supported us over the years,” he added.

To mark the groundbreaking, Kona Brewing worked with John “Kit” Kittrege, the brewery’s first brew master, to develop a new beer based on the original recipe for Fire Rock Pale Ale, the brewery’s first production beer.

First Rock Pale Ale is a hop-forward, malty ale that pays homage to the beer that paved the way for Kona Brewing Co.’s success and liquid adoration. First Rock (ABV 6%, IBU 65) features Pale 2 Row Premium, Caramel 80 and Honey malts, along with Northern Brewer, Cascade and Columbia hops. First Rock will be poured at the groundbreaking and will be available until supplies last at the Kona Pub & Brewery.

Kona Brewing is investing $20 million to build the state-of-the-art high-efficiency brewery and canning facility that reinforces its long-running commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability. The 30,000 square-foot facility will feature the latest innovations in renewable energy and water conservation, enabling Kona Brewing Co. to preserve Hawaii’s natural resources.

Kona Brewing partnered with PurposeEnergy, a water treatment and renewable energy company, to design an on-site Resource Recovery Center. The Center allows the brewery to recycle organic brewing byproducts in order to produce its own electricity, heat and clean water. The facility will also feature a brewing system manufactured by IDD Process & Packaging, an industry leading supplier of brewing systems and equipment, that helps conserve grain and water. Additionally, solar photovoltaic systems will be installed that can generate 50 percent of the brewery’s energy needs.

The brewery will have the capacity to produce up to 100,000 barrels of beer per year, which will allow for increased draft production and package offerings in Hawaii. The new canning operation will enable Kona Brewing to expand its canned beer selections beyond Longboard Island Lager and Big Wave Golden Ale and into a wide array of specialty and seasonal beers.

Kona Brewing is leasing the land for its brewery from the Queen Lili‘uokalani Trust, a private charitable trust founded in 1909 to serve native Hawaiian children. The brewer plans to work with local construction companies, suppliers and vendors. Once the brewery is operational, it plans to hire additional employees to expand the current pub. The brewery is scheduled to open in 2018.

“The Kona Brewing team is beyond excited to start brewing in the new state-of-the-art facility, which will give us the flexibility to produce more innovative, small-batch beers, while increasing our production capability to satisfy the demand for favorites such as Big Wave and Longboard Lager across the Islands,” explained Sandi Shriver, head of brewing operations for Kona Brewing. “We’re taking Liquid Aloha to the next level, and I’m extremely proud to be part of a team that is a leader in efficiency and sustainability and cares so much about the environment.

About Kona Brewing

Kona Brewing Company was started in Kailua-Kona on Hawaii’s Big Island in the spring of 1994 by father and son team Cameron Healy and Spoon Khalsa, who had a dream to create fresh, local island brews made with spirit, passion and quality. Today, Kona is Hawaii’s largest and favorite craft brewery, known for top-selling flagship beers Longboard Island Lager and Big Wave Golden Ale and award-winning innovative small-batch beers available across the Islands. The Hawaii born and Hawaii-based craft brewery prides itself on brewing the freshest beer of exceptional quality, closest to market. This helps to minimize its carbon footprint by reducing shipping of raw materials, finished beer and packaging materials.

Kona Brewing has become one of the top craft beer brands in the world, while remaining steadfastly committed to its home market through a strong focus on innovation, sustainability and community outreach. For the second year in a row, the company sold more than 1 million cases of Liquid Aloha in the Islands. Kona Brewing Co. is part of Craft Brew Alliance (NASDAQ: BREW), a leading craft brewing company.

Facebook: Facebook.com/KonaBrewingCo

Twitter: Twitter.com/KonaBrewingCo

Instagram: Instagram/KonaBrewingCo

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Bombay Palace Brings Pakistani Cuisine to Hawaii

bombay-palaceBombay Palace, which opened late last year in the former Monsoon India space in the Discovery Bay Center, augmented its menu by introducing a few new dishes from the home country of owner Imran Khan and his chef, Gul “Kenny” Khan.

The restaurant, which specializes in kebabs and northern Indian dishes such as Vindaloo, Korma, Kadhai, Saag, and coconut curries, also showcases authentic Pakistani dishes not readily found in the islands. However, the restaurant does focus on using ingredients purchased locally so they are the freshest.

The menu at Bombay Palace is replete with northern Indian Halal dishes popular with locals such as Tandoori chicken made in their own clay oven, Butter Chicken, Lamb Rogan Josh (tender lamb in a home-made yogurt sauce), Fish Tikka, Baingan Bartha (tandoor-roasted eggplant cooked with tomatoes and onions), along with a variety of naan, paratha, and biryani.

However, the restaurant has also decided to specialize in kebabs—rack of lamb, lamb Boti (boneless pieces of lamb), minced lamb, and chicken, all made fresh to order on a sizzling platter. To throw in a new twist, they decided to include a few Pakistani menu items, such as the Chicken Handi/Kadhai (“handi” refers to something made in a clay cooking vessel), which takes tender chicken cooked in a tomato-based sauce with onions, bell peppers, and spices.

Other dishes from Pakistan include Dhaniya Chicken of Ghosht, a stew made with fresh cilantro, onion, a touch of tomato, and spices and Chicken Reshmi Kebab boasting a creamier marinade than the other kebabs. Most entrees are affordably priced from about $15 to $22.

“Being from Pakistan, it is difficult to find authentic dishes as well as Indian meals that we would traditionally enjoy at our home, so we thought we would prepare them for everyone to enjoy, since Hawaii is now our home,” says Imran Khan, owner of Bombay Palace. “Having been here for only a few years, we found that good kebabs are hard to find, so we decided to also focus on serving a good variety of skewered dishes.”

Bombay Palace is located at the Discovery Bay Center, 1778 Ala Moana Blvd., Space 213.

Four hour parking is available for $1 with validation. The restaurant is open for lunch from 11:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and for dinner from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily, 365 days a year. For more information and reservations, call (808) 941-5111 or visit www.bombayhawaii.com. For media inquiries, please contact Sean M. Morris at (808) 781-8888.

 

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New Seafood Buffet at Kahala Hotel

crablegs-kahalaThe Kahala Hotel & Resort has launched a new “Best of Kahala Seafood Buffet” at Plumeria Beach House. The all-you-can-eat dinner buffet at the oceanside, open-air restaurant will be offered Thursday through Saturday only and feature familiar flavors from the East and West.

Buffet favorites such as prime rib and crab legs will remain on the menu, but will be enhanced with additional kama’aina favorites such as pulehu short ribs and Chinese-style steamed fish with scallion and ginger. Among the rotating items will be Hong Kong-style catch, sushi, sashimi and our Kahala Signature Fried Rice.

The buffet runs from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. At a cost of $60 per person, and $30 for children ages 6 to 12, the Best of Kahala Seafood Buffet is one of the best values in town.

For reservations, call 808-739-8760 or email restaurants@kahalaresort.com.

About The Kahala Hotel & Resort

Since its opening in 1964, the Kahala Hotel & Resort is an oceanfront, destination luxury resort located minutes from Waikīkī, yet offering the exclusive ambiance of a neighbor island experience. For more information on The Kahala Hotel & Resort please visit www.kahalaresort.com.

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Hawaii chefs featured on ‘Moveable Feast’

grilled-shrimp-hibachi-style_xlg

Hawaii-based chefs Lee Anne Wong, Jon Matsubara, Peter Merriman, Jim Babian, Isaac Bancaco, and Kyle Kawakami are featured on three upcoming episodes of the public television series “Moveable Feast with Fine Cooking.” The first Hawaii episode, on Oahu, premieres Saturday, Feb. 13 at 7:00 p.m. on PBS Hawaii.

“I’m excited for people outside of Hawaii to see the agricultural community and how Hawaii is so much richer than just white sand beaches,” Merriman told PBS Hawaii. “We have a deep culture.”

He also recalled “[‘Moveable Feast’ host] Pete Evans and crew getting stuck in their rental car at Kahua Ranch! They had to get towed out!”

Oahu – Premieres Feb. 13 at 7:00 p.m.

Chef Lee Anne Wong and host Pete Evans meet fish guru Brooks Takenaka at the Honolulu Fish Auction. Then, chef Jon Matsubara shows Evans how to harvest pineapple. Matsubara prepares his smoking mai tai cocktail, hibachi-style Kauai shrimp, and Kahaluu roast pork belly. Wong cooks up fresh opah, and Evans prepares ahi poke. Guests enjoy the feast at Maunalua Bay.

Maui – Premieres Feb. 20 at 7:00 p.m.

2014 Maui Chef of the Year Isaac Bancaco, and founder of the mobile kitchen Maui Fresh Streatery Kyle Kawakami, show Evans around Maui. Their adventure starts with some off-shore fishing. Back on land, the team prepares a feast at Noho‘ana Farm, known for its taro and poi.

The Big Island – Premieres Feb. 27 at 7:00 p.m.

Chef Peter Merriman takes Evans up the Kohala Mountains to Kahua Ranch, where they pick up Wagyu beef. Meanwhile, chef Jim Babian sources abalone from the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii. The chefs meet up at Merriman’s Restaurant to prepare wood-grilled abalone; pipikaula; pan-seared kampachi with lilikoi brown butter sauce; and lamb curry with fresh ginger, turmeric, coconut, and pineapple-mint garnish.

PBS Hawaii is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and Hawaii’s sole member of the trusted Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). We advance learning and discovery through storytelling that profoundly touches people’s lives. We bring the world to Hawaii and Hawaii to the world.

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Nashville Waikiki Reopening at Aloha Tower

del-nashville

Nashville Waikiki, Hawaii’s only country western and classic rock saloon, opened for business at the Aloha Tower Marketplace on Friday, January 22.

Located on the Diamond Head side of the marketplace, between Gordon Biersch and Hooters, Nashville Waikiki offered special prices, activities, and prizes to kick off the rebirth of this long-time Hawaii favorite, following a 5 p.m. Friday blessing of the new space.

“We’re very excited to be opening at the Aloha Tower Marketplace,” said Sandy Miano, who owns and runs the business with her daughter Karen Huntimer and husband Richard Miano, Sr. “People have been calling and asking for months when we were going to reopen, since the day we closed our doors in Waikiki, actually. Now we’re ready to bring that energy to our new location. We were an instant hit in Waikiki, and we think our old friends and customers will join us here, and bring some new friends as well.”

Originally located in the Ohana West hotel on Kuhio Avenue in Waikiki, the club was a local favorite until it departed that location when the hotel closed in March, 2015.

The traditions that began downstairs in Nashville’s original Kuhio Avenue location continue in its new harbor-view home. Pool tables, dart boards, line dancing, and a staff that Yelp reviewers called “friendly and fun,” “way awesome,” and ”always sweet and attentive.”

Nashville Waikiki is open daily from 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 a.m.

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REVIEW: CPK’s Hawaii Exclusive Ahi Dishes

cpk-bar

California Pizza Kitchen announced its “Next Chapter” menu in December, which included a number of dishes that were developed especially for Hawaii. Karsha Chang connected Hawaii Grinds with Pearlridge location manager Tricia Coloma and skilled server Deirdre to try them last night.

cpk-ahi-eggrolls

We started with the ahi eggrolls. This was my favorite of the three items. They were still warm but not greasy, crisp on the outside and cool and fresh on the inside. We had the starter size, which was the perfect size to share in addition to the other items.

We were told by the server that the eggrolls were originally accompanied by a simple sriracha sauce. The eggrolls now come with an over-sweet sesame-based sauce. I imagine that the new sauce was a compromise for the local palate, but the sriracha sauce, in my opinion, worked much better than the new sauce. There was something in the new sauce that didn’t mesh with the ingredients in the eggroll quite right.

Ryan adds: The sriracha sauce was definitely the way to go. It was an interesting presentation, the ahi having perhaps the most muted contribution to the overall flavor.

cpk-poke-chop-salad

Next we had the Poke Chop Chop salad, opting for the half portion (which was still enough to share). The greens were fresh and had the perfect combination of bitter and fresh flavors. The lion’s share of the greens were made up of arugula, which gave a peppery counterpoint to the sweet dressing.

I always find salads disappointing if they are dominated by one ingredient or have overly large pieces. The salad had neither of these characteristics, but I could complain about the scarcity of the actual poke. Then again, you can never have enough poke.

Ryan adds: Considering I’m not a fan of salads, I surprised myself by how much I liked this dish. The arugula brought a lot of bite.

cpk-seared-ahi

Next, the Seared Ahi. It was served on a bed of bok choy and a grain called faro, which our server said was the new quinoa. While all of the ingredients would have worked for me individually — including the faro which I had never tried before — the combination of the ingredients didn’t quite mesh.

The bok choy was perfectly cooked; neither crunchy or mushy. While I will gladly fight to the death for ahi, I don’t necessarily enjoy it dressed up in a coating of sesame seeds, as it was served here. I think ahi is perfect by itself. It doesn’t need a fancy presentation, or dipping sauces, or any hullabaloo.

Ryan says: This was my favorite dish. If I didn’t know I was eating faro, I could’ve convinced myself it was just a flavorful brown rice. The bok choy was delightful. And c’mon… thick seared ahi steaks? More, please!

Sidebar: Dessert & Drink

cpk-smores

For dessert, we had another new menu item, S’mores, which — like the s’mores at any trendy restaurant capitalizing on nostalgia — were a hot mess, and not in a good way.

Who ever heard of pudding in s’mores? Everybody knows that there are three ingredients in a s’more: chocolate bar, marshmallow, and graham cracker. The three things together, in proportion with no interference and no messing around, are magical. Adding nonsense like pudding turns it from a s’more into…something else.

If they insist on messing with a classic, they could class it up by using a homemade marshmallow or dark chocolate squares. What we got was a barely-browned hunk o’ sugar-coated store-bought Jet Puffs.

Ryan says: Whoa. Harsh. I never order dessert, and I liked it, at least after I found the graham cracker at the bottom. I think they were trying to go hot and cold with the marshmallows and pudding, but I think they should just serve the whole thing hot.

cpk-margarita

I tried a Platinum Margarita with a Chambord float. I am a bit of a margarita snob and was hesitant to try it sullied by anything but good ol rock salt, but the raspberry flavor of the chambord mellowed out the harshness of the tequila very nicely.

Mahalo to CPK for hosting us for dinner, and to Pulpconnection for the heads up! See more photos here. Read more about CPK’s new menu here.

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Chocolatier Pierre Marcolini to Visit Honolulu

Pierre Marcolini 2

Shortly after the opening of his only store in the United States at Ala Moana Center in November, accomplished pâtissier Pierre Marcolini will pay a visit to Hawaii from January 26 to 31, 2016.  The Belgian chocolatier will be touring at least one local cacao farm on the island and hosting a series of clientele events, including an in-store meet-and-greet open to the public.

Pierre Marcolini is one of the most accomplished chocolatiers in the world, having been appointed the first pastry glacier in Belgium in 1991.  He took the title of grand winner in his class at numerous competitions, such as the “Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie” (World Champion of Pastry) in Lyon, France (1995), and the European Pâtissier Contest in Rome (2000), before being inducted in to “Le Salon du Chocolat Hall of Fame” in Paris (2014), receiving the highly esteemed “5 Tablets” Award (2015), being recognized as one of the “Incontournables du chocolat français 2015” chocolatiers by Club de Croqueurs de Chocolat (2015), and most recently, becoming a new certified supplier to the Belgian royal family (December 9, 2015).

With over 30 locations in Belgium, France, Japan, U.K., Kuwait, and now the United States, Marcolini’s discerning taste takes him across the globe in search of the best raw cacao.  As a result, he has made Oahu his next stop, where he plans to visit the Waialua Estate cacao farm, possibly among a few others on January 29, with the hopes of sourcing chocolate for yet another single estate creation.  If all works out, this could help further global awareness of Hawaii’s burgeoning chocolate industry.  In addition, Marcolini will be hosting a few private clientele events on January 27 and 28, and making a stop by the Ala Moana store to meet chocolate fans on January 30, from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m.

“People seeking a personalized Valentine’s Day gift should stop by the new Pierre Marcolini store to meet this charismatic personality, while getting him to write a short message on a box of his exquisitely crafted chocolates,” says Yushi Tajima, president of Il Meglio Del Meglio (The Cream of the Crop), the “exclusive distributor” and franchisee of Pierre Marcolini’s Japan and Hawaii stores.

Marcolini, one of the few remaining European chocolatiers who still roast them beans themselves, is involved in every step of the production process.  His avant-garde creations incorporate the finest ingredients from around the world, including pink peppercorns from Morocco, pistachios from Iran, vanilla from Madagascar, and also rosewater, bergamot, and lemons from Sicily.  Inspired by the fantastic nature and climate of Hawaii, Marcolini crafted new chocolates exclusive to the Honolulu store, including chocolates with marine life shapes and flavors such as macadamia nuts.  The 908 square foot Ala Moana store also offers a wide selection of his classic confections, exclusive pastries, chocolate drinks, cacao bowls, and soft serve ice creams.

Pierre Marcolini is located on the 3rd floor of the new Ewa Wing in Ala Moana Center, and is open from 9:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Sunday.

About Pierre Marcolini

Born in 1964, in Charleroi, Belgium, Pierre Marcolini was deeply inspired by his family and his Italian origins.  By the age of 14, he realized his dream to become a chocolatier and pursued his culinary education in Brussels, earning four culinary diplomas.  In 1983, he became a pastry chef and worked alongside many of the top professionals in Belgium.  In 1996, Pierre Marcolini opened his first store on Avenue Louise in Brussels, and has since grown his empire to encompass over 30 in Belgium, France, Japan, U.K., Kuwait, and the United States. For more information, visit the corporate website at https://eu.marcolini.com/, or his Hawaii-based website at www.marcolini-hawaii.com.

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