Mahina & Suns {Honolulu}

mahina & sons waikiki restaurant review

Mahina & Suns is a trendy new restaurant in Waikiki, aptly located within the equally trendy and new boutique hotel Surfjack (“Hotel & Swimclub”). The restaurant is by local celebrity chef Ed Kenney, who is renowned for focusing on local, organic ingredients, and reinventing classic dishes of Hawaii (many of which tend to be cultural mashups).


My boyfriend Kiyo and I took my mom to this restaurant per her request, for her birthday. She enjoyed a gin cocktail with her birthday card.


I can’t remember what else was in my drink, besides cucumber, but it was light and refreshing, and I liked it a lot.


Instead of bread (an uncommon free starter snack in Hawaii) we were served salted boiled peanuts. This is a classic Hawaii snack, and a very delicious and addictive rendition. We ate all of these, and I even ate the pickled jalapeño.


We started by sharing “The Naked Cow,” thin crust pizza with Naked Cow Dairy fromage blanc, uncured bacon, and Maui onion (you can add more toppings; we chose green olives, parmesan and arugula. Take note because this is a stellar combination).


We all really enjoyed the pizza. There aren’t many good pizza options in Hawaii, as I’ve mentioned on the blog before.


Kiyo ordered chicken; an usual choice for him. He enjoyed the pan-roasted half-bird, served with hapa rice (white and brown mashup), pickled mushrooms and green coriander chutney.


My mom ordered the avocado tacos, made with shishito, pickled red onion, and smoked yogurt. I felt that it should have said on the menu that the avocados come fried (I’m guessing my mom wouldn’t have ordered them if she’d known, but she didn’t complain).


I ordered a starter for my main dish: the butter lettuce salad. It didn’t look like much, but it tasted more complete and interesting than it looked. radish, asparagus, sunflower seed, cured egg yolk, topped with avocado dressing.


After dinner, we walked around the hotel. It’s very cute! I felt like I was in California, at a Hawaii-themed hotel, rather than actually in Hawaii. There aren’t many trendy places here that actually hit their mark.


I went back recently for lunch, and very much enjoyed the Wild Salad (although it was just slightly overdressed) topped with garlicky tomato toast, and a fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice.

mahina & suns salad

Mahina & Suns

412 Lewers St, Honolulu, HI 96815

(808) 924-5810

Zimmern’s Belgian Beef Stew [Recipe]

If you’re still not sure what to cook for Christmas or Christmas Eve dinner, look no further. My boyfriend Kiyo and I save recipes torn from magazines etc., and this recipe is from that collection. We ate the hearty Belgian beef stew with freekeh, which I highly recommend. Even though we live in Hawaii, where 70 degree nights are considered cold by locals (myself included), we craved something hearty and wintery to eat this time of year. This simple but classic recipe was just perfect.

Zimmern's Beef Stew Recipe

Belgian Beef Stew by Andrew Zimmern (from Food & Wine Magazine Nov. 2014)

Active: 45 min Total: 2 hr. 45 min

Serves: 6

  • 3 lbs. trimmed beef chuck, cut into 1.5-inch pieces
  • Salt & white pepper
  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 6 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 3 onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • One 12-oz. bottle Duvel or other Belgian golden ale
  • 1 quart beef stock
  • 3 thyme sprigs, 3 parsley sprigs & 1 bay leaf, tied in cheesecloth
  • 10 new potatoes, halved
  • 2 large carrots, cut into .5-inch pieces
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • Parsley for garnish
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Season the beef with salt and pepper. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the beef and flour and shake well; remove from the bag, shaking off excess flour. In an enameled cast-iron casserole, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add one-third of the beef and cook over moderate heat until browned all over, 5 minutes; transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining oil and beef.
  2. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the casserole. Add the onions, season with salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened and browned, 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Add the beer and cook, scraping up any browned bits. Return the meat to the casserole and add the stock and herb bundle. Bring to a boil, then cover and braise in the oven for 1.5 hours, until the meat is very tender.
  3. Add the potatoes and carrots, cover and braise for 25 minutes longer, until tender. Discard the herb bundle. Stir in the mustard and vinegar; season with salt and pepper. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Wine recommendation: Dark-fruited Italian red: 2010 Di Majo Norante Ramitello

Jimmy’s Down the Street, Coeur d’Alene

Jimmy's Down the Street in Coeur d'Alene

Almost exactly one year ago, Kiyo and I ate a ridiculous, massive breakfast at Jimmy’s Down the Street in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. It was on our two-week road trip from the Atlantic to the Pacific. We began right on the East Coast, at my grandma’s house in Rhode Island, and ended on an island off Seattle (Kiyo’s hometown of Vashon).


We’d already been driving for 12 days by the time we arrived in Idaho. We probably could have gotten there in half the time, but we went slowly, visiting friends and family, and camping in Yellowstone. We decided to also camp in Idaho, since we don’t know anyone there.


Fun fact: we had absolutely zero service the whole time we were in Idaho. We came from Yellowstone, and got a big dinner at Five Guys in a random town on the way to our campsite, which was lovely, close to the surprisingly stunning Lake Coeur d’Alene.


We pitched our tent and Kiyo built a robust fire in the pit.


We enjoyed the warmth, watched the mesmerizing flames until they flickered out, and went to bed early.

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Kan Zaman, Honolulu

Kan Zaman Honolulu

As you might expect, there aren’t myriad Moroccan restaurants in Honolulu. One of the few is Kan Zaman (which means “Once Upon a Time” in Arabic), located in the heart of downtown. My dad took Kiyo and I out there for dinner right after we moved back to Hawaii about a year ago, and I recently met Kiyo there for lunch. You can sit outside, in the back, and throughout the small restaurant the decor is simple yet perfect. It’s very simple and charming, and you can tell it’s Moroccan, but it isn’t excessive in any way.

The first meal we began with the mezza sampler, which was fabulous. It included (left to right): baba ganoush, warak inab (Lebanese stuffed grape leaves), hummus and taktouka (a Moroccan cooked tomato and green pepper salad). Served with pita bread, this was the perfect starter to share and whet the appetite.


My second-favorite item was another that we all shared (we shared everything we ordered, which isn’t necessarily what’s intended at the restaurant, but it’s possible and quite easy). Not only does the house-pulled mozzarella with za’atar look beautiful, but it’s fun to eat! Also served with pita, as well as “vine-ripened” tomatoes, which were a little lackluster. I’ve never seen mozzarella like this, and I am a fan (but to be fair, I am a fan of pretty much any and all cheeses).


We shared two entrees. The first was merguez sausage served over (not much) couscous and steamed carrots, cabbage, pumpkin, potato, chickpeas, onion, tomato and zucchini (I felt like they skimped a bit in serving our portion. Do you see all those vegetables there? I certainly don’t remember tasting pumpkin). The sausage was plentiful and was good, but not the best I’ve had.


This looks like a plate of just french fries, but actually, it was our second entrée: chicken tajine. Braised with coriander, smoked paprika, cumin, lemon, saffron and olives, it was indeed topped with fries. These were extra tasty since they soaked up the juices from the chicken. It wasn’t the prettiest dish (I especially am wary of all-brownish plates) but it was good. The flavors didn’t pop as much as you might expect, but they were married nicely.

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Goma Ichi Ramen, Honolulu


Gomaichi is Japanese noodle shop founded in 1995. There is a rivalry among locals here in Honolulu; people are either loyal to Goma Ichi or Goma Tei. My friends, family and I have always patronized Goma Tei, so one night, a few friends decided to try Goma Ichi and compare.

Goma Ichi Ramen Honolulu

Goma Ichi used more vegetables than Goma Tei, which I appreciated, except that the vegetables seemed to be canned, which means they had almost no flavor. The noodles and broth were tasty, I thought comparable to Goma Tei. These noodles were maybe just ever-so-slightly better, because they were chewy, which I like. In my opinion, the char siu at Goma Ichi wasn’t as big or delicious as it is at Goma Tei.

We didn’t try any of the appetizers, but they looked good, and similar to Goma Tei. Overall, you can’t go wrong at either ramen restaurant. They are both very good! I remain loyal to Goma Tei, but Goma Ichi is almost as good (and I may be biased since I’ve always gone to Goma Tei).


Goma Ichi 

Open: Monday – Saturday,11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., 5:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. 

Location: 631 Keeaumoku St # A, Honolulu, HI 96814 Phone: (808) 951-6666 

Brunch & Botanical Garden, Brooklyn

Sorry if you’re seeing this twice – the scheduler on my WordPress has been acting up so some posts have been sent out / put up early by mistake. So here’s today’s post!

Brooklyn brunch and botanical garden

Wow, it’s been awhile since the last Sunday Brunch post. Brunch is my favorite meal, but sadly, I now work weekends so no more Sunday brunch for me 🙁 Kiyo and I have tried to go a few times here in Honolulu, between my work and teaching, but by the time we get there (around 1 or 2) all the most popular items are sold out. Plus, I have to rush back to work or teaching afterwards. No fun. Hopefully soon I will have one weekend day off per week (fingers crossed)!


Last year around this time – or was it Autumn? They are so similar and both are the best times in New York, when it’s sunny and cool but not too cold – my friend Geneve was visiting NYC so we met up for a day in Brooklyn. I drove from Queens – the only acceptable way to get there. The subway route between the two boroughs is a nightmare!

We somehow ended up at a Polish “diner” called Teresa’s, but it was more like a café than a diner. We got a nice table outside and shared a few items: halubky, which I love (my grandmother makes the Russian version all the time). It is meat and sometimes rice, vegetables and even bacon, stuffed inside a cabbage leaf, baked in tomato soup. Delicious. We also had sauerkraut, dumplings (pierogi) and some sort of sausage… there was a good amount of meat, which is typical of a Polish meal.


On the side, beets, of course…


And a cucumber salad (salad, according to many Eastern Europeans and all Russians, involves mayo). Maybe not really a brunch-style meal, but tasty nonetheless. I thought it was simple but solid Polish fare.


Afterwards, we drove to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. Since we were already playing tourists, we took some photos with this statue in the parking lot.


Here is Geneve, at the pretty entrance to the park.

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Tacos el Gordo, Las Vegas


In honor of Cinco de Mayo I’m sharing some AMAZING tacos I had in Las Vegas.

tacos vegas

I was staying at the Wynn for work, and I wanted to get out at least once and find some local food. I don’t remember how I heard about Tacos el Gordo, located just a few blocks down (away from the strip) but I’m so glad I went. You order at the counter, and can watch them hand-make the tortillas and sear the meat.


There is a radish and lime station, which I thought was genius (I like a lot of radish and lime on my tacos).

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Rice Bowl, Astoria


Since January, every week I’ve been teaching and practicing yoga, working retail, taking a nutrition class, working on eyechow, and studying for the GRE. Today I am taking the GRE (ugh, but also happy to get it over with).



The bad news is: this post is awful (I don’t even remember what was in this rice dish but I can see from the pictures it was some sort of sausage with lime and fresh herbs. Sounds yummy!). The good news is, with studying now over with, I will have more time to turn back to eyechow, yay 🙂 New posts coming up!

Club A Steakhouse, New York

Club A Steakhouse NYC Salad

One year, when Kiyo and I were still living in New York City, we went on a belated Valentine’s Day date to Club A Steakhouse (we never have gone out on actual Valentine’s Day). It was a large restaurant (we were seated upstairs) that felt very closed off from the frenzy of the city, which was nice for a date. We started with the usual breadbasket and split a salad with blue cheese, onion, radish and tomatoes.

Club A Steakhouse Dinner

Kiyo and I both had meat, and we split mac & cheese and French fries (just trying to keep it light, you know). It’s been awhile so I can’t remember details but I know we both enjoyed our first two courses.

Club A Dessert

The dessert was my least favorite part of the dinner, by far. To be fair, both tiramisu and zeppole fall very low on my list of favorite desserts. But, these zeppole were served cold, which was very unappealing. Whatever the cream was on top was ok, but the donuts being cold really made me not want to eat them at all. The tiramisu was ok, but not noteworthy. Overall it was a very nice date experience, but I’d recommend skipping dessert or finding it someplace else nearby… Magnolia Bakery, anyone?

Club A Steakhouse

Open: Monday – Tuesday 5:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m., Wednesday – Saturday 5:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.

Location: 240 E 58th St, New York, NY 10022 Phone: (212) 688-4190

Club A Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Dinner at Oceana, St. Thomas

Oceana St. Thomas

Last March, Kiyo and I took an amazing vacation to St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. One night, our lovely hosts (Zan‘s parents) took us out to dinner at Oceana.

dinner at Oceana St. Thomas

They served us an amuse bouche. I can’t remember any of the details of the food, but I remember it was really good!


Between the four of us, we ordered a variety of option: here’s the chicken…

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