Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Pig and The Lady

The Pig and The Lady, Hawaii's newest "Pop-Up" Restaurant located in the space of Hanks Haute Dogs during dinner time. What's a "Pop-Up" Restaurant? Basically it's a temporary restaurant that uses the facilities of another restaurant. The purpose is to showcase the abilities of an up and coming chef. In this case it features the cooking style of Chef Andrew Le. Graduate of CIA, previous Sous Chef at Chef Mavro. Andrew Le has partnered up with Social Media Foodie, Martha Cheng and together they form The Pig and The Lady. Currently they are in their second menu (which rotates about every two weeks), and each menu stays close to Chef Le's roots showcasing traditional Vietnamese food.

Dinner service starts at about 7:30 PM so when i arrived at my table with my two friends we already had food in front of us to share with each other. One bowl was filled with Do Chua, Traditional Pickled Vegetables. I've only seen it with Carrots and Daikon but this also had Cucumbers and Green Beans. In the other bowl was something like a Shrimp Chip. I've had Shrimp Chips Chinese style and these Shrimp Chip like things from Vietnamese restaurants and the difference is that the Chinese Version melts in your mouth as you eat it and the Vietnamese version is crunchy. Chef Le's version is basically a combination of both. As you put the chip in your mouth, it starts to melt on your lips but is still crunchy as you eat it. Extremely fascinating and wonderful!

After a quick word from Martha Cheng and Chef Le, we began with our dinner! Now keep in mind this was my first "Multi-Course" Dinner. We started our five course journey with the first dish; Kajiki Sashimi with Picked Asian Pear, Toasted Rice Puff, Banana Blossom Salad and a Kaffir Lime Sauce. First off the dish looks amazing. Beautifully presented being very simple yet elegant. The first thing I tasted was the Kaffir Lime sauce. COMPLETELY OUT OF THIS WORLD. It was bad actually, bad that my mouth started to salivate and I drooled a little bit. My friend laughed that it happened but i was excited and happy! I dove in the dish getting the perfect bite of everything. Every item on the plate spoke for themselves and nothing overpowered anything. The dish even had some crispy bits of Galangal and that added a nice bite to the dish. From the first bite i had on this dish, I knew this dinner was going to be awesome.

Our second course came out soon after. It was a Slow Poached Egg, Stuffed Tomatoes, Shimeji Mushrooms, Toasted Baguette and a Maggi Jus. They went over that the Poached Egg was Poached for over an hour so it would have velvety whites and a creamy yolk. The Stuffed Tomato made me feel like i was eating a "Spring Roll Tomato" since the filling of it tasted like that of a Spring Roll. The Local Watercress from Kaimuki was great. I've never really had local watercress before and i really enjoyed this one. And of course the main star of the dish was the Slow Poached Egg. It added creaminess and body to the dish. It made it all rich and it was great to slobber up with the toasted baguette. I was glad that the waiter brought out more baguettes for us to eat it with cause if not i would've licked my plate!

The Third Course was the course my friends were extremely excited for. It was a Duo of Pork featuring Crispy Confit of Pork Belly, Grilled Pork Sausage, Pressed Vermicelli Noodles and a Lemongrass Pork Jus. My favorite part of this dish was the sausage, hands down. The Sausage exploded with flavor. And when you ate with the Vermicelli and some of the vegetables it was just a perfect bite. The Sauce was a great compliment to everything adding that nice touch of Lemongrass. Personally i would rather have more Sausage then have the Pork Belly but both were great. My only complaint if any was the the Crispy Skin of the Belly was too Crispy. Other then that this dish was great.

For the Fourth Course, Chef Le brought his mom out and explained that this dish was taken from her book and was as traditional Vietnamese as you can get. Before we even go the food, you could smell the aroma of the broth and it was lovely. Broth, Noodles, Chicken, Shrimp, Fish and Crispy Pork Fat was all that was in the bowl in front of me and it was incredible. Chef Le's Mom also walked around the room dropping spoonfulls of homemade Garlic Chili into our bowls if we desired and of course i said yes! It added another layer of flavor in this bowl of goodness and i wanted more. I slurped down the entire bowl and even all the broth because it was so good! I even made the comment that i wanted another bowl and i'd pay 10 dollars for it! AHH so good.

Now, the last course, the dessert, THE THING I WAS WAITING FOR THE MOST!! Now first off i'm definitely not a sweets guy, i don't order dessert a lot so for me to be extremely excited for this, its amazing. Coconut Pandan Toast, Lychee, Basil Seeds, Thai Basil, Vanilla Ice Cream, Coconut Powder all served with Vietnamese Coffee. Basically Chef Le's play on Coffee and Toast. Since i know most people don't know what Pandan is it's basically the South Eastern Asian Version of Vanilla (As Chef Le would put it). So let's see...this dish was the best dish of the meal. The Perfect Bite? Getting that bit of toast with Pandan, Ice Cream, Coconut powder and the Lilikoi Basil Seeed Sauce with the Thai Basil Leaf, instant freaking Narnia. That's all i'm going to say about it. If you want to know what it taste like, It's to late! Sadly they don't have anymore seatings for this menu. I honestly don't know how to explain this dish except that it's beautiful. Just simply Beautiful. You could taste every component in it and the Thai Basil just lingers in your mouth almost like a palate cleanser after you swallow was just incredible. It almost brought me to tears because it was so good.

This was the Best meal of my life, Hands Down. I plan on returning to them beginning of August to eat Menu Three. Trust me when i say this, Andrew Le will be Hawaii's Next Big Thing. The Creativity and Techniques he brings to the table are incredible. Watch for him. Traditional Vietnamese, Modern Twist. If that's what you want, Reserve your Table Now.

Did i mention it was only $55 : )

Chef Le and Us!

-Chef B

Monday, May 16, 2011

Hiroshi Eurasian Tapas

Hiroshi Eurasian Tapas, a European take on Asian Cuisine. By utilizing different cooking techniques with some ingredients makes the fusion of two worlds harmonious. Tapas are obviously the most common items ordered here (hence the name) but they also have a wide variety of entrees and other delectables! Fish is definitely a specialty here because Hiroshi himself is an avid fisherman and sometimes catches his own seafood to be served at the restaurant!

After a long look at the menu, my party decided on what we wanted. We basically decided to embrace the tapas and order a bunch of those. I asked our server for recommendations and he gladly recommended what tapas to order. Just be prepared that this blog entry will definitely be a long one because we ordered about 10 items!

Before we even ordered we were given “house bread” or what symbolized house bread. We were given House Made Rice Crackers with a Wasabi Aioli. I've really never had Rice Crackers as a chip before and they were probably the best thing you could dip into this wonderful sauce! It had a nice strong feel of wasabi but wasn't an overpowering heat where I needed to drink my water after every bite.

Our first course that came out was the Sizzlin' Hamachi Carpacio. Now this was a great start to an awesome dinner! Thinly sliced Hamachi, Ginger, Tomato, Tofu and a Truffled Ponzu! With my first taste I thought that the Truffled Ponzu was a little overpowering but it became after a few more bites it started tasting a lot better. Definitely something everyone needs to try whenever they dine at Hiroshi.

The next course that came was Hiroshi's Tofu Salad. Now let me first say that I am not a big fan of cold Tofu and was a little bummed out that this wasn't your “ordinary” Tofu Salad. I was expecting different greens with cubes of Tofu, not a big block of Tofu with toppings on it. But my job is to try things and I did and I FREAKING LOVED IT. I think it's only when I get a bite of everything though. I tried the Tofu by itself and the dressing and didn't like it too much but when I tried it with all the different toppings especially the Salmon Skin it made this Tofu Block INSANE! Not only did this salad taste great but just look at the presentation. I was a huge fan of this plate because it just looked spectacular!

The Spicy Tuna was the next dish we had and that was just a little above average then your typical Spicy Tuna you find in most places. I wasn't extremely blown away by it but I did enjoy their homemade Taegu that's featured on top.

We had a couple of Sushi dishes next. The Pepper Seared Ahi Sushi and the Duo of Contemporary Sushi. Not only were these pieces of Sushi complex and looked extremely sexy but they tasted wonderful! The Ahi Sushi is probably the most complex thing I ate that entire dinner. There is like seven or eight different components to just one piece! I didn't fully understand how everything worked till the second one I ate. It has a good amount of spice but there are other components like the Yuzu Vinaigrette that help tone it down.

The Duo of Contemporary Sushi is comprised of Torched Cold Smoked Island Hamachi and Miso Glazed Salmon. Oh my goodness was that Hamachi delicious! Slightly smoky and extremely tender, this piece of Hamachi literally melts in your mouth. As far as the Miso Glazed Salmon though, I found that it had a bit to much Miso for my taste buds and I just wasn't to fond of it. But a small little bird told me that if you're lucky, you might be able to substitute the Salmon for Hamachi and that is a great deal!

Portuguese Sausage Potstickers was our next item to indulge in and quite honestly the only reason why I ordered it was for the Kim Chee Foam. Sometimes I just order a dish because they have a component that I really want to check out! The Foam was intense with an immense amount of Kim Chee flavor coming out of it. The Potstickers on the other hand I didn't really care for too much. I found them to be little dense and overcooked making them dry on the inside. Unfortunately unlike the Hamachi Carpacio, I don't think this dish needed the Truffled Ponzu. Maybe the Ponzu would've been okay but it didn't need the Truffle Oil.

Next up was my favorite of the whole meal, the Steamed Kurobuta Pork Belly. This dish basically consisted of Pork Belly, Tomato Poke, Torched Brie Cheese and Mini Musubis. Yes I know it probably wouldn't sound great in you head but think....Kalua Pig, Lomi Lomi Salmon and Rice. That's what my mind thought of when I was eating this. The Pork Belly was so tender, it just broke apart as soon as you bit into it. And the hidden treasure in that was the Torched Brie. After torching it, it really tasted like Mochi. At first I couldn't tell what it was so I had to look at the menu and was amazed to find out it was cheese! Lastly was the Tomato Poke. I'm not an avid fan of Tomato, especially when it's just a piece of Tomato like you would find in a burger or a salad. However, at first glance I thought this was actually Poke. My first bite of this was heaven. By removing the seeds and the juice of the tomato all you get is flesh and it loses most of that nasty Tomato Taste. They take it to the next level by mixing in different ingredients to make it taste like Poke! I was amazed and delighted because it tasted so good!

Our last Tapa was the one that I was waiting for the longest and was a little disappointed after eating it. It was LaBelle Farms Foie Gras and Crispy Hamakua Mushrooms. They used three different sauces which in my head went harmoniously. Raspberry Reduction, Kabayaki and White Truffle Oil. All three are great by themselves but when mixed together they are unbelievable! Anyways the reason why I was sadly disappointed by this dish was because my Foie Gras was just overcooked and I wasn't happy. It was dry and tasted like if I were to order Liver and Onions from a diner. The mushrooms for me were a little...too big as well. A little hard to eat but I managed.

After the disappointment from the Foie, it just lead to more disappointment going to dessert. We decided to get three different desserts; Haupia Lemongrass Crème Brulee, POG Cheesecake and Island Banana Mousse Cake. Aside from the Crème Brulee, I didn't really care for the desserts.

The Haupia Lemongrass had a nice mixture of both flavors that didn't overpower each other at all. For me the POG cheesecake needed more “POG” taste and the cheesecake was definitely way to dense. I found the Guava Foam a little disturbing also cause it reminded me of Fluoride : ( but it had good taste, it was just a texture thing for me.

The last dessert was the Banana Mousse Cake. I didn't care for this one either. At first I thought it needed more Banana Taste but the sauce helped bring that out. The Cake itself was good, it was like Banana Mousse on top of Banana Bread, super banana-ridiculous. They served a Chocolate Truffle on a Stick which was basically a ball of fudge. Knew I should have ordered the Pannacotta when the waiter suggested it!

Hiroshi Eurasian Tapas is a great restaurant and everyone should try it out. Even though I think most of their menu is safe to call Asian food, I like the twist on some European ingredients and styles. Another thing notable is that on Sunday and Monday they do like a “Eat Local” Menu which is basically a set menu showcasing local products. Something I definitely want to try.

Hiroshi Eurasion Tapas
500 Ala Moana Boulevard
Restaurant Row

Taste: 4
Appearance: 4.5
Location: 4.5
Value: 4
Overall: 4.25 (rounded up)
*Based on a 5 point scoring system with 1 being Not So Good and 5 being Great*]

-Chef B

Thursday, April 21, 2011


After my first bite at MELT during the Eat The Street: Japan event at the end of March, I've been craving for more gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. Luckily earlier this morning I was graced by a Tweet from the wonderful crew at MELT that they were going to be on Ward Avenue in front of Sports Authority from 11am – 2pm. I knew I had to take advantage of this opportunity since I didn't have class today.

I got to the MELT truck about 12:30 and they were about six tickets deep as I waited to place my order. The menu was small and simple. It consisted of five different grilled cheese concoctions and tomato soup (for dipping). The five different grilled cheese sandwiches were; “Triple Melt” (Cave-Aged Gruyere, Vermont Cheddar, Dutch Gouda on Sourdough), “Pastrami Melt” (Cave-Aged Gruyere, Pastrami, Mustard on Rye), “Tapenade Melt” (I forgot what was on this..), “Chorizo and Greens” (Chorizo, Fresh Local Greens, Mustard, Vermont Cheddar), and the “Melt of Shame” (Quarter Pound Kuawihi Beef Patty, Sauteed Onions, Melt Special Sauce between TWO grilled Vermont Cheddar Sandwiches). For me and my girlfriend, I decided getting the “Triple Melt, “Chorizo and Greens” and the “Melt of Shame”. I also got a couple of Tomato Soups so we could dip.

Day 1 Spread!

They make ALL their sandwiches to order so don't expect your food to come out in a minute. The folks at MELT take pride in their work and want you to have the best sandwiches in the world so wait a few minutes and be patient for your sandwiches! Trust me, it's worth the wait. I waited about 15 minutes for my food to be finished and about 7 – 8 more people showed up while I was waiting. I got my bag with my sandwiches and soup and I was a happy little kid all over again.

On the drive to my girlfriend's workplace the smell of the sandwiches in my car was killing me because it smelled so good. That aroma of Cheese, Meat and Bread is a delicious smell and I just wanted to eat it in the car! That was probably the worst car ride I've had in a while since I couldn't indulge in what I wanted to eat.

As I finally arrived at my destination I opened the packages and I had the biggest smile on my face. 3 GIGANTIC grilled cheese sandwiches just waiting to be devoured. The first on my list was the “Chorizo and Greens” as I am a HUGE fan of Chorizo and it was delicious!!!! A little bit of heat from the sausage mixed with the bitter taste of Kale, oh my goodness! It was delicious. The Mustard added a nice tang and the Creaminess of the cheese was excellent! Probably not the best sandwich to dip in your tomato soup though (as my girlfriend pointed out). It really did take away from the flavor of the sandwich.

Mmm Nicely Grilled


However, dipping the “Triple Melt” in the Tomato Soup was a blast from the past! It was like when you were a kid and your mom made you Grilled Cheese with Cambell's Tomato Soup ( mom never made me that!). But honestly the mix of the three different Cheeses with the tang of the Tomato Soup was EXCELLENT. Now let's talk about the Tomato Soup for a second. It's “Fresh Tomato Soup” and you can definitely tell. The Tomato Soup is a little tangy but not too much and it's sweet. It literally taste like if you were to take a nice tomato, squish it between your hands and eat it with a little sugar. Normally I'm really not a big fan of tomatoes but this will definitely be on my exception list.

Again a Nicely Grilled Sandwich

Just wait for the cheese!


Tangy and Delicious!

Now, it's time for the King of Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, the “Melt of Shame”. Oh my goodness, when I first saw this thing on the menu, I knew I had to get it. It's basically a hamburger with grilled cheese sandwiches as the buns. I mean, HOW AWESOME IS THAT! I've seen it on TV and now it's reality for me! And honestly it's better then I thought it would be. It IS a big sandwich but it's delectable in every bite. The patty itself is very tasty and it just added that nice juiciness to the Burger/Sandwich that it needed. Though I think because we didn't start eating it till a while later the burger got a little dry and maybe not as good as it could have been but it was still definitely worth it in every bite.


Don't you want that?

AND WOW, the next day I woke up, looked at twitter and saw that they were near where me and my friend were so we zoomed over to be one of the few last customers of the day. They stop their operation at 2pm or if they run out of food. They had the same menu as the previous day except they ran out of the "Tapenade Melt" (which i found out has Olive Tapenade Spread, Local Tomatoes, Nalo Basil and Vermont Cheddar) and replaced it with a simple "Tomato Basil" grilled cheese sandwich. I decided on getting the two I didn't have yesterday which was the Pastrami and the "Tomato Basil".

My Spread from Day 2



I started off with the "Tomato Basil" grilled cheese and the first bite reminded me of a wonderful Caprese salad even though it didn't have Mozzarella. But the tomato mixed with the sweet basil and the cheese just made it into a wonderful mix of foods. As for the Pastrami grilled cheese sandwich, I loved every bite of this too! The Rye Bread made this sandwich out of this world. My only complaint would be maybe a little bit too much mustard but it's still okay for me.

Overall I think Melt is EXCELLENT. Their grilled cheese sandwiches are wonderful and imaginative and just down right delicious! A big reason why is the bread they use. The Sourdough and Rye bread make these sandwiches exponentially better. Me and a culinary classmate talked about how their bread and how we both loved it because it added to the greatness! Who knew bread could be so good!!! Take my word for it guys, Eat here and you will DEFINITELY not be disappointed. Check their Twitter for the current location or check out their Website for the locations of where they will be around. Remember they're open for only a 4 hour gap OR until the run out of food! So you better find them quick!

Oh And if you're wondering about the prices, they're pretty reasonable since one of these can fill you up! (But i'm a big boy!) The sandwiches range from $6 - $11 with the lowest being the "Triple Melt" and the "Melt of Shame" being $11. The Tomato soup is $2 and thats a great deal! Now go spend your money!!

Taste: 4.5
Appearance: 4
Location: 4
Value: 4
Overall: 4.25 (rounded up)
*Based on a 5 point scoring system with 1 being Not So Good and 5 being Great*]

-Chef B