Honolulu tops nation for Japanese, Korean food

Honolulu ranks as America’s most popular city for Japanese and Korean cuisines in America, according to a report out today from Chef’s Pencil.

The state of Hawaii leads the nation in its love of sushi. And Thai is the most popular cuisine in Hawaii and Alaska.

The report is based on Google Trends data, a reliable source of consumer trends data. What is unique about the data is that it doesn’t only indicate Americans’ dining out habits, but also shows what Americans are eating at home.

Google provides data on a whole range of topics, including national cuisines, and allocates a score that indicates the level of interest in the topic. For example, Japanese cuisine will comprise hundreds or thousands of searches related to the topic such as Japanese restaurantsJapanese ricesushisushi recipes, and even names of well-known local Japanese restaurants.

Google then counts how often they are used in countries, regional areas, towns and cities relative to all local searches and allocates a popularity score. For example, if New Jersey scores 100 for Indian cuisine and New York scores 80, it doesn’t mean more searches were done in New Jersey than in New York; it means a higher percentage of people in New Jersey than in New York are into Indian cuisine.

Top 5 international cuisines according to Google Trends:

  1. Chinese (Google Trends Score: 64)
  2. Mexican (Google Trends Score: 59)
  3. Italian (Google Trends Score: 38)
  4. Thai (Google Trends Score: 24)
  5. Indian (Google Trends Score: 11)
  6. Japanese (Google Trends Score: 10.5)
  7. Korean (Google Trends Score: 10)

See state and city rankings in the report here:


City-level rankings:

The following cities are regarded by Google as the most popular for each of the top 7 ethnic cuisines:

  • Honolulu, HI is America’s capital of Korean and Japanese cuisines; 
  • Fremont, CA is America’s capital of Indian cuisine
  • San Antonio, TX is America’s capital of Mexican cuisine
  • Seattle, WA and Portland, OR are America’s capitals of Thai cuisine 
  • Yonkers, NY is America’s capital of Italian cuisine; 
  • Newark, NJ is America’s capital of Chinese cuisine

Here is a link to the full study (including charts and tables):


Hotel Wailea announces revamped three-tier culinary experience

 Hotel Wailea, Hawaii’s first and only Relais & Châteaux property, has unveiled its new kitchen and experiential tasting menu to further cement its status as an incubator for culinary talent and leadership.

Envisioned by Hotel Wailea owner Jonathan McManus, and led by culinary director Chef Chris Kajioka, the three tiers of dining include a bistro-chic casual menu on the lanai of The Restaurant, a new chef tasting menu in the Secret Garden launching in early February, and the wildly popular seven-course culinary experience in The Treehouse.

Chef Chris Kajioka
Chef Chris Kajioka

Hotel Wailea is Hawaii’s only hotel to feature a Hestan equipped exhibition kitchen. The detailed-oriented space features a new layout with two custom island cooking suites explicitly designed for the team to work efficiently on both sides, an exclusive fish station to descale and clean fish, and multiple specialty stations for chefs to divide courses. One station even includes a coveted guest counter (playfully called “Table 1”) that allows them to interact with the culinary team throughout their dining experience.

Hestan, revered within culinary circles for their top of the line premium equipment has longstanding partnerships with esteemed Relais & Châteaux chefs such as Thomas Keller and with renowned institutions such as The Culinary Institute of America.

“Hotel Wailea defines both culinary innovation and elevated luxury at its core,” said owner Jonathan McManus. “Our new Hestan kitchen and restaurant developments foster my commitment to creating environments for young chefs in which to learn and thrive. In collaboration with Chef Chris Kajioka, who is instrumental to Hotel Wailea’s culinary growth and success, our joint vision is for both guests and culinary professionals to truly grasp the inner workings of a top-of-the-line kitchen and see their dishes come to life in a unique way from prep, to plate, to export.”

From a sunset toast to a counter-side course with chef commentary, the new multi-course tasting menu experience in the Secret Garden includes optional wine pairings from Level 2 Sommelier Sarah Salgado and starts at $145 per person. Premiering mid-February, the chef-driven menu includes highlights such as Venison Tartare, I’A Hou and Crab Toast with local ingredients shaping the flavor profile of the ever-changing menu. The sculpted tropical garden venue is warmly intimate, with just a handful of tables arranged on private candlelit terraces, while at the same time provides a striking behind the scenes view into the kitchen.

“The new Hestan furnished kitchen at Hotel Wailea is a chef’s dream,” says culinary director Chris Kajioka,” “The new layout allows our team to control the dining experience completely and allows our guests to dine at their own pace. With time, I envision the space evolving as a distinctive forum to host guest Chefs from around the world and introduce fresh, global perspectives.”

Hotel Wailea’s continually evolving culinary program is championed by Chef Kajioka, a semifinalist in the 2017 and 2018 James Beard Awards. Known for his internationally celebrated restaurant Senia in Oahu, of which McManus is a principal investor, and his prestigious background working at Per Se in New York, Kajioka works closely with his prodigy, Hotel Wailea’s Chef de Cuisine, Zach Soto. Kajioka, a Hawaii native, joined forces with restauranteur and hotelier, McManus, in 2016. In the past several years, the duo has made a dramatic impact on the culinary scene in Hawaii. Their upcoming Oahu project, Miro Kaimuki, has already earned a place in Robb Report’s list of “Most Anticipated Restaurants of 2020,” and the stunning new Hestan-furnished kitchen at Hotel Wailea serves as a cornerstone of immersive dining experiences in the islands.

Reservations at The Restaurant at Hotel Wailea may be booked at hotelwailea.com/rhw/ with Secret Garden tastings available on Wednesdays-Saturdays. For more information about Hotel Wailea, please visit hotelwailea.com.

About Hotel Wailea

The first and only Relais & Châteaux property in the state of Hawaii, Hotel Wailea offers travelers an ultra-private elegance infused with relaxed island luxury. The independently owned and operated, all-suite hotel finished a $15 million renovation in January 2015, reimagined as an intimate adults-only escape with 72 oversized suites and a pool overlooking three Hawaiian Islands with residential style cabanas and an apothecary style pool bar. The ideal island escape for couples recognized as “Top 21 Most Romantic Hotels in the World” by Condé Nast Traveler in 2019, Hotel Wailea boasts an unprecedented level of intimacy, privacy and exclusivity in Hawaii. Personalized guest programming is tailored to couples and centered on unique island experiences that embody adventure, romance, and laid-back luxury. Hotel Wailea’s continually evolving culinary program boasts a unique take on seasonal dining with Hawaiian staples and Maui-grown ingredients, including from the hotel’s own organic garden. For more information, please visit www.hotelwailea.com.

Sweet Creams brings ice cream rolls to Honolulu

Another ice cream trend is landing in Honolulu with the arrival of Sweet Creams.

Sweet Creams held its Grand Opening at 1430 Kona Street (next to Ala Moana) today, advertised as the first ice cream store in Hawaii dedicated to serving the popular ice cream rolls that originated in Thailand and has recently caught on in places like New York City, Los Angeles and Boston.

Rolling out flavors such as Strawberry Shortcake, Cookies ‘N Cream, Frozen Hot Cocoa, Pineapple 5-0, and Love You So Matcha, these desserts start with a specially crafted, liquid ice cream base poured onto a pan cooled to around -22 degrees Celsius. Fresh fruit, cookies, candies and more are chopped and woven into the liquid base as it begins to solidify in front of you. After a minute or two, the ice cream is smoothed over the pan, quickly scraped into rolls, and topped with even more fresh ingredients. Customers can also choose custom flavors.

“Not only is it entertaining, the ice cream itself is drawing raving reviews on Instagram and other social sites, and Sweet Creams has already been featured on a couple news stations,” the store says in a release. “Starting out by catering private events, such as birthdays, weddings, and corporate parties, Sweet Creams quickly generated a loyal following through word of mouth.”

With the encouragement of several enthusiastic patrons, co-founders Jeffrey Kao and Bari Carroll – both born and raised in Hawaii – decided to open a store within the first year of business despite having full-time jobs.

“It’s taken countless hours of hard work and dedication, but we really feel like this ice cream concept is going to be a hit,” said Kao. “It’s fun, unique, and we use fresh ingredients without adding in a lot of unnecessary fillers – just the good stuff.”

“We’re doing a lot of interesting things and are excited to roll out new twists as we move forward. The response has been unbelievable so far,” Carroll added.

Sweet Creams will be open daily from 12pm to 9pm at 1430 Kona Street, next to Manichi Ramen and the main bus stops at Ala Moana.

About Sweet Creams

Sweet Creams is the first ice cream store in Hawaii dedicated to the popular ice cream rolls craze that originated in Thailand. Using fresh, local fruits and ingredients, we offer a unique ice cream treat in a fun and exciting way. No freezers needed! Each ice cream roll is handmade in front of you and provides a unique and entertaining experience. We look forward to having you try our exciting new take on ice cream – from Hawaii, for Hawaii! For more information, visit sweetcreamshawaii.com or our store at 1430 Kona Street, Honolulu, HI – open daily from 12pm to 9pm.

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.

Localicious Hawaii to Support Ag Education

Top of Waikiki House Salad

Top of Waikiki is proud to partner with the Hawaii Agricultural Foundation (HAF) to participate in the 2015 Localicious Hawaii; a month-long campaign to promote restaurants committed to supporting the local agricultural industry and raise funds for HAF’s agricultural education program.

For the entire month of March, Top of Waikiki will contribute $1 to HAF’s ag education program, Veggie U, for every House Salad ordered. The popular $12 signature dish features a delicate and colorful mix of locally grown produce such as the MA’O Farms Sassy Mix and radishes, Ho Farms Family Mix Tomatoes and Ho Farms Japanese Cucumbers, tossed in house-made pomegranate vinaigrette.

“At Top of Waikiki, we do our best to purchase locally grown produce when available, and believe in backing the local farms and agricultural industry in Hawaii,” says Executive Chef Lance Kosaka. “We also encourage student internships and educational programs through community colleges to train up-and-coming chefs; HAF’s agriculture education is important for our industry and we support it.”

Localicious Hawaii is made possible through the generous support of ChefZone, a division of Y. Hata, Hawaii State Department of Agriculture, Hawaii Gas, Paradise Cove, Honolulu Brewers Festival and Honolulu Magazine. For further information about Localicious Hawaii, visit localicioushawaii.com.

About Top of Waikiki

Top of Waikiki is Hawaii’s only revolving restaurant and offers locals and visitors alike, a unique dining experience in the heart of Waikiki. Complimentary validated parking is available at the Waikiki Business Plaza. Top of Waikiki is located on the 18th floor of the Waikiki Business Plaza, 2270 Kalakaua Ave. For reservations, call 808-923-3877 or go to TopofWaikiki.com. Groups and special event requests are welcome by prior arrangement. Dinner is served from 4:30-9:30 p.m., 7 nights a week. Appetizers and salads range from $9-19, entrées from $25-45, and all desserts are $9. Prix-fixe tasting menus are also available, at $65 for four courses and $95 for six courses, including the lavish Surf n’ Turf.

About The Hawaii Agricultural Foundation

The Hawaii Agricultural Foundation is a non-profit charitable organization created to promote agriculture and farming. Established in 2007, HAF’s mission is to support and sustain Hawaii’s agricultural industry by addressing critical needs and services of farmers and the agricultural industry in Hawaii, and by better connecting the farmers with the community and vice-versa.

Made Healthier

Made Healthier PhotoMeet Lori of Made Healthier, the latest addition to our roster of Hawaii food blogs. Although she loves to travel, and daydreams about scenic, snowy vistas like those in Switzerland, Austria, and Canada, she’s lived her entire life in Hawaii.

With Made Healthier, Lori shares recipes (broken down into categories like beef recipes, pasta recipes, and breakfast recipes) as well as reviews of Honolulu restaurants, especially Japanese restaurants.

“I figure that if I eat healthy on most nights of the week, I can splurge on plate lunches, Japanese teishokus, and delicious desserts on the other nights,” she writes. “Anyway, that’s my logic.”

On her site, you’ll also find food product reviews, a travel journal, and even a fishing trip journal.

“When I’m not at work or traveling, look for me on the beach,” Lori writes. “You will most likely find me there with a fishing pole in hand…and with any luck a fish in the cooler.”

Check out her site at MadeHealthier.com!

Feeding My Ohana

Shabu Shabu - From 'Feeding My Ohana' on FacebookCheck out Feeding My Ohana by Laurie.

Laurie grew up in Hawaii, went to school in New England, and now lives in the San Francisco Bay area. She’s building an evolving collection of easy-to-make recipes that celebrates “American” food, but seasoned with her cosmopolitan background. So you’ll find all manner of Asian, Yankee, Italian, French, Jewish, Portuguese, Russian, German, Mexican, Persian and Greek food.

“The vibe I always aim for is one that welcomes and celebrates everyone — the casual feeling of a potluck garage party or Ala Moana Park picnic,” she writes. “Non-Hawaii people like the Hawaii-food recipes, and people who are on the site that are actually in Hawaii trust me that the not-Hawaii recipes and restaurants will be good.”

To support the larger community in a food-related way, Feeding My Ohana has also sponsored annual virtual food drives to support the local Second Harvest Food Bank. This past year, the Feeding My Ohana ohana donated over $2,000 in two months.

To learn more, visit FeedingMyOhana.com. You can also follow Feeding My Ohana on Twitter at @FeedingMyOhana or on Facebook.

Island Brew Coffeehouse grand opening on Saturday

Island Brew Photo from FacebookIsland Brew Coffeehouse will hold its grand opening at Hawaii Kai Shopping Center this Saturday.

Social media will be a key way the independently owned coffee shop will find customers and fans, and the first 50 people to check in via Facebook, Yelp and FourSquare will receive a free coffee drink. A separate drawing will provide three winners with a month of free house blend “Island Brew” coffee.

Island Brew Coffeehouse is a community coffee shop in Hawaii Kai owned by four East O’ahu residents, serving premium coffee and healthy food choices with a focus on fresh, local and organic products.

Island Brew was launched in March 2012 by two couples — one whose dream included owning a coffee shop and the other who wanted to build a community-oriented business in Hawaii. The two came together by chance and coincidence through a mutual friend, and they created Island Brew.

“We focused our renovations to create an open atmosphere where people receive great service and feel comfortable,” said Pei-Yu Baez, Island Brew’s co-managing partner. Her husband, Rafael Baez, is a co-owner. “We want to become a part of our community by promoting family businesses and buying local as much as possible.”

Island Brew is partnering with Hawaii coffee growers and businesses. It is also working with schools and nonprofit organizations to promote community service and environmental sustainability.

The shop is also kicking off a partnership with Malama Maunalua, a nonprofit dedicated to restoring Maunalua Bay. People who sign up for the next volunteer opportunity to pull mudweed from the bay will receive a free mini-pastry. It is also looking at partnering with other organizations as a regular program to help the community.

The coffee house, with waterfront views of the marina, offers a variety of coffee grown in Hawaii and around the world, including Jamaican Blue Mountain, Sumatra, Guatemala and Kenya. The Hawaii coffee beans are freshly roasted locally by Charles Asselbaye, Island Brew’s co-managing partner who is also a coffee roast master.

“Our focus is to provide the best quality coffee while remaining environmentally conscious and sustainable,” said Asselbaye, whose wife Amy Asselbaye is the fourth partner of Island Brew.

Island Brew uses compostable “to go” cups made from corn and “to stay” ceramic cups and glassware. It offers freshly baked decadent desserts and pastries, acai, flat breads, waffles and bagels, sandwich staples and healthy options, including gluten free, high protein and organic choices.

Island Brew is open weekdays from 5:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and weekends from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

  • What: Island Brew Grand Opening
  • When: Saturday, May 18, 2012, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Where: Island Brew Coffeehouse
    Hawaii Kai Shopping Center
    377 Keahole Street, C5 Honolulu, Hawaii 96825

For more information, visit Island Brew on Facebook or follow @IslandBrewHI on Twitter. Photo from Island Brew on Facebook.

Young’s Market Sets Fine Wine & Spirited Events

Young's MarketYoung’s Market Company of Hawaii is pleased to announce its Fine Wine and Spirited Events of April 2012. To follow is an overview of must-experience YMCOH events with brief, pertinent details for each occasion. Follow YMCOH at@youngsmarkethi and on Facebook for additional information. Be in the know and mark your calendars for the following events:

Sunday, April 15, 2012
HYDRATE Aids Walk Pool Party

  • Hilton Prince Kuhio Hotel
  • 11:30 AM – 4:30 PM
  • Hydrate ultimate pool party will be the 21st Annual AIDS Walk event. 2010’s Aids Walk attracted more than 5,000 people to Kapiolani Park, which continues to make it the largest fundraiser for the Life Foundation – a non-profit organization who mission is to help people living with HIV an AIDS. The annual semi-day event— organized by Life Foundation – raised a little more than $200,000 in 2010 and is hoping to raise the bar by 15% this year.
  • For more information: www.lgbhawaii.com/hydrate/ 

Sunday, April 15, 2012
John Heckathorn Memorial Mixology Fundraiser

  • Apartment3
  • 6:00 PM – Midnight
  • Cocktails created by some of John’s favorite bartenders including Dave Newman (Nobu Waikiki), Kyle Reutner (Town), Roxanne Siebert (The Standard), Jonathan Schwalbenitz (Murphy’s), Christian Self (thirtyninehotel), Tim Rita (The Modern) and other members of the USBG. Silent auction, Cocktail sales and tips all will be donated to a scholarship fund in John’s name at HPU where he formerly served as a Professor.
  • For more information: www.facebook.com/#!/events/416874148329377/

Monday, April 16, 2012
Kobrand Italian Wine Dinner

  • Hosted by Ricardo Bosco, Kobrand Italian Wine Specialist
  • Paesano Ristorante in the Waimalu Plaza
  • 6:00 PM – 8:30 PM, one seating
  • $75 per person, all inclusive 3-course dinner prepared by Chef Gerry Quach with wine-pairings
  • Reservations available at (808) 487-7926, payment required upon reservations with SWAM (Shiroman’s Wine And More)
  • For more information: www.swamwine.com

Monday, April 23, 2012
Hawaii Culinary Education Foundation Golf Tournament

Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Lancaster Estate Winemaker Dinner

  • Join Jesse Katz, Winemaker, Lancaster Estates (Alexander Valley Sonoma) for a very special Hawaii appearance and dinner
  • Michel’s at the Colony Surf
  • 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM
  • Sunset Reception 6:00 PM
  • Winemaker Dinner 6:30 PM
  • Executive Chef de Cuisine, Eberhard “Hardy” Kintscher
  • $110 per person includes Reception, Three-Course Dinner, Dessert and Wine Pairings
  • Limited seating. Reservations required: (808) 923-6552
  • For more information: www.facebook.com/events/144029519060111/

Friday, April 27, 2012
3rd Annual (SIG) Service Industry Golf Tournament

Sunday, April 29, 2012
Taste of the Nation Hawaii Food & Wine Gala

  • Bishop Museum
  • Chef Alan Wong, Honorary Chair
  • 5:00 PM – 9:30 PM
  • General Admission $100 ($125 at the door)
  • 100% of ticket sales support our efforts to end childhood hunger. The event features Hawaii’s hottest and most talented chefs, each paired with a local farm, along with mixology, wine and local beer. The main stage will feature Honolulu’s brightest young entertainers. A silent auction will include exclusive packages and one-of-a-kind culinary experiences, and of course, the exclusive VIP lounge provides an upscale retreat for VIP ticket holders.
  • For more information: www.strength.org/hawaii/event_details/

About Christa ‘CW’ Wittmier

Young’s Market Sr. Director of Special Events & Promotions Christa Wittmier, also known as “SuperCW,” is author and publisher of Honolulu’s Nightlife Diaries. She has been identified as a “Key Influencer” from national companies such as Media Temple and Red Bull. Her column “Social Lite” can be found weekly in the Honolulu Weekly. Christa is known for offering a straightforward point of view and has never been interested in monetizing any of her social networks. By day, Christa works as Sr. Director of Special Events & Promotions for Young’s Market Company of Hawaii, handling the activation and logistics for over 200 brands of fine wine, spirits, sake and non-alcohol products.

About Young’s Market Company of Hawaii

Young’s Market Company of Hawaii is a leading wine, spirits, and selected beverages wholesale distributor in Hawaii, operating six facilities throughout the state with a workforce of over 160 employees.  The company represents a portfolio of over 250 suppliers and 1,500 brands in Hawaii.  Young’s Market Company, LLC, is headquartered in California with distributorships in Arizona, Utah, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Washington, Montana, and Alaska.

In 1968, Young’s Market Company, LLC acquired two established wholesale firms; Better Brands, Ltd., and Cereal & Fruit Products.  The main office was located in Kalihi and became the dominant wholesaler on the islands of Oahu, Maui, Hawaii and Kauai.  In 1986, the Company moved its office to its current location in the Waipio Industrial park to support its growth.  Young’s Market Company of Hawaii has received recognition as one of Hawaii’s top 250 companies and continues as a business and community partner.

Be part of the YMCH culture by following us on twitter @youngsmarkethi and on Facebook.

Zaratez Mexicatessen

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During my previous visits to Zaratez, I’ve tried the burrito plate, mulitas, and the tacos, all of which that will take you to Mexico and you won’t have to pay for plane fare.

According to the couple standing next to me in line who are of Mexican descent from Los Angeles, and who have been living here for a while, Zaratez is the best Mexican food in Honolulu hands down.

But today, during my visit to Zaratez for a snack and to talk story with Paul Zarate, the owner, informed me that his last day of business will be this Friday, October 28th due to financial reasons. Even though Zaratez won 2011 Ilima Award’s Critic’s Choice for the best Mexican food in Honolulu, it could not save it from the present economic conditions.

But, as one door closes, another one opens, with Paul focusing his energies on catering special events and to search for a new restaurant location in the Honolulu area.

Located across the Pan Am building on Kapiolani Blvd., Zaratez will be open today through Friday from 11AM until all the food has been sold.

Please follow Paul Zarate on his quest to satisfy his customers gastronomic cravings on Twitter at @Zaratez and Facebook.

The last picture in this post are two chicken tacos that will be my last order from Zaratez for a while.