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Vegetarian Month at Hard Rock Cafe {Honolulu, HI}

vegetarian month at hard rock cafe

Today I had a lovely vegetarian lunch with my friend at Hard Rock Cafe in Waikiki. We started with some delicious carrot juice and a couple appetizers (not pictured here, but you can see them in the video below). One was a crispy flatbread topped with garlic oil, grilled ratatouille vegetables, shredded Romano and mozzarella cheeses and a drizzle of garlic aioli. YUMMM

vegetarian month at hard rock cafe

OMG this house-made patty of cauliflower, garlic, egg, goat cheese, oregano and breadcrumbs, topped with zucchini, squash, Monterey Jack cheese, arugula, tomato and garlic aioli, served on a toasted brioche bun was DELICIOUS. I made a mess eating it, but it was worth it.

vegetarian month at hard rock cafe

I so appreciate it when restaurants (and especially big companies), acknowledge and embrace their vegetarian customers! See the whole Waikiki location’s menu here and enjoy this quick video of our lunch:


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).

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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.

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

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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.

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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).

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

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Mahina & Suns

412 Lewers St, Honolulu, HI 96815

(808) 924-5810

Sunnyside Pizza {Queens}

Sunnyside Pizza Queens

Whenever I am in NYC, I have to visit Queens. It’s my favorite borough, plus, I have amazing friends who live there. When I was leaving from a quick visit this May, I decided to get a slice of New York pizza on my way to the airport (pizza in Hawaii is pretty disappointing). I chose this place because it was close to the subway.

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I was just early enough to miss the lunch rush. Sunnyside Pizza is small, with just a couple stools for those who want to enjoy their pizza immediately. I was one such person, and the pizza guys talked to me while I ate. That’s what I love about Queens: it’s a real neighborhood, where the pizza guys will talk to you (with heavy New York accents, and in a gruff but friendly way) and ask you where you’re going with a suitcase.

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I know it infuriates some diners, but I ask the staff what to eat when there are too many good options. They recommended a chicken parmesan slice, so I got it. It was amazingly delicious, and I ate the entire, huge slice. If I had been able to save half for later, I would have definitely done that instead, but I knew I would’ve just made a mess. This actually wasn’t quite the classic NYC pizza I was looking for, but I still really enjoyed it.

Sunnyside Pizza

40-01A Queens Blvd. Sunnyside, NY 11104

(718) 433-4040

The Beet Box Cafe {Haleiwa}

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The Beet Box Cafe used to be a small counter where you could order food in the back of a health-food store, on the North Shore of Oahu (in the small, touristy town there called Haleiwa).

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I ordered an iced tea for while we waited for our food (you order at the counter, but they bring the food to you at the table. You then have to bring your dishes to a bin, but sometimes they come get the dirty dishes for you. It’s pretty confusing). I love that they added frozen blueberries in with the ice; by the time I finished the beverage, the plump blueberries had absorbed some of the tea, and tasted even better than regular blueberries.

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I hold a special place in my heart for restaurants that serve breakfast all day. The breakfast options here are so good that even Kiyo ordered off the breakfast menu (and he never does!). He got the Mexicali Blues: eggs scrambled with a crunchy, toasted, sprouted-corn tortilla and jalapeño jack cheese topped with homemade salsa, avocado, and sunflower sprouts, and served with brown rice and Brazilian black beans. He opted to add soyrizo (vegetarian chorizo).

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On the recommendation of a friend, I ordered the Zen, a scramble (choice of tofu or egg) of broccoli, onion, carrots and zucchini “seasoned with curry and love,” served with a scoop of brown rice and black beans and topped with avocado and sunflower sprouts. I LOVED this; it’s the kind of plate of food that I will think about and start to crave. I would definitely brave the traffic of Haleiwa to get to this again.

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Although it was a little pricey (more than $12 per plate) we were both very impressed and satisfied with our meal. We each finished our plate of goodness, and felt very full, but managed to avoid the food coma that comes from overeating food that isn’t nutritious.

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We had to save our cinnamon sugar [vegan] donut for later, since we were so full. I wouldn’t choose to eat this again; it was much too moist to be a donut. There wasn’t anything terrible or disgusting about it, but if I’m going to treat myself to dessert, I want something that’s worth the sugar and calories.

The Beet Box Cafe

66-437 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI 96712

(808) 637-3000

International Marketplace Opens in Waikiki

The old International Marketplace; it was updated another time, before this round, as well.

The original International Marketplace

The brand-new International Market Place in tourist-hub Waikiki (on Oahu) opened yesterday, with world-class restaurants, upscale retailers, and the first Saks Fifth Avenue in Hawai’i. It closed for renovations in 2014, which Hawaii Business Magazine covered:

For more than 50 years, tourists flocked there, drawn to the warren of cheap jewelry stores, kiosks selling kitschy bric-a-brac and the romance of the original Don the Beachcomber restaurant, which opened there in 1956. Owned by The Queen Emma Land Co., the market place was a memorial to – if not Old Hawaii – the tiki image most visitors have of Old Hawaii, replete with ersatz thatched roofs and a Swiss Family Robinson tree house in the grand old banyan that dominates the mall, a tree reputedly planted by Queen Emma herself.

Those days are done.

international marketplace rendition 2016

Oahu’s newest shopping, dining and entertainment destination, this project was developed by Taubman and CoastWood Capital Group in conjunction with Queen Emma Land Company. Now that you’ve heard the technical details, here is what what you really want to know: The new lineup includes the following (a single asterisk before the name indicates brands that are unique to the island):

STORES:

*45rpm

ABC Stores

*Abeo

Abercrombie & Fitch

Aesop

Anthropologie

Banana Republic

*BCBG MAX AZRIA

Brunello Cucinelli

*Capital Teas

*Catimini

Chapel Hats

*Christian Louboutin

Clarks

Crazy Shirts

*Fabletics

Flip Flop Shops

FootAction USA

Fossil

*Free People

GameStop

GNC Live Well

Godiva Belgium 1926

Greenroom Hawaii

*Hanna Andersson

*Herve Leger

Hilton Grand Vacations (kiosk)

Hollister

Honolulu Cookie Co.

*Intermix

Island Art & Sole

*Jo Malone

*Kona Coffee Purveyors

Laline

Lani Beach by Mireille

L’Occitane en Provence

LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics

MAC

Maui Divers Jewelry

Michael Kors

*Mitsuwa Marketplace

*Oliver Peoples

*Ondademar

Pandora

Papyrus

*Penhaligon’s

*Robin’s Jean

*Saks Fifth Avenue

Sand People

*Seafolly Australia

*Shinola

Shoe Palace

*Stuart Weitzman

*Sugarfina

Sunglass Hut

Swarovski

Tabora Gallery

Tesla

*Trina Turk

Vera Bradley

Vilebrequin

*YOGASMOGA

RESTAURANTS ON THE GRAND LĀNAI (THIRD LEVEL):

*Baku

*Eating House 1849 by Roy Yamaguchi

*Flour & Barley

Goma Tei Ramen

*Herringbone

*Kona Grill

*STRIPSTEAK

*Yauatcha

RESTAURANT ON THE FIRST LEVEL

*The STREET, A Michael Mina Social House

Opening celebrations continue this weekend; I know I’ll be going to see the Fabletics store (fitness apparel brand by Kate Hudson) and try a Shaka-stamped cocktail at Chef Michael Mina’s restaurant. Some of the other unique-to-Hawai’i stores are intriguing, and I’m sure they will find no dearth of customers, considering that tourists spend more money in Waikiki on luxury goods than at any other stores in the world. Not to mention, Oahu is home to a population of locals that love mainland brands, strip malls, and shopping. Goma Tei, as I’ve mentioned previously, is my favorite place to eat ramen on the island, and I’m happy to have a good new option for food in Waikiki. Shockingly, despite the over abundance of retail and hotels, there aren’t very many good places to eat in Waikiki (unless you’re willing to drop a ton of money). However, I assume that Goma Tei be a madhouse of tourists, so I probably will not try it out until the next time I’m hungry & stranded in Waikiki (I work in Waikiki, and live nearby).

The shopping center is open from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily (but perating hours for restaurants will vary). For ease of access, the center provides 700 parking spaces and valet parking (which will be a huge draw for locals, who usually hate driving into Waikiki and looking for limited -or expensive- parking).

For more information, visit ShopInternationalMarketPlace.com or on Instagram: @intlmktplace.


Egg Shop {New York}

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In May, I visited New York City for a yoga teacher training (more on that to come). After the training ended, I had a day to hang out with one of my best friends, who I was crashing with.

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We started the leisurely day walking from her apartment to Egg Shop, in the Lower East Side, stopping at Mud for coffee on the way.

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Mikayla and I both LOVE eggs, so we were destined to love Egg Shop. I mean, what food isn’t improved with an egg? Mik decided to be all healthy by ordering the appropriately named “Spandex.”

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This beautiful bowl consisted of poached egg, miso quinoa, avocado, pickled carrot, farm greens and gluten-free tamari (tastes like soy sauce). IT WAS SO GOOD. I want to stock all the ingredients for this in my fridge and just make it all the time.

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I had the”Pepper Boy:” soft scramble, gruyere, bell pepper, maple cured bacon , caramelized onion aioli, all in a bell pepper. This can also come served as a panini, but Mikayla had ordered healthily, so I went for my healthier option too. This was very delicious, but I kind of wish I’d had the panini in retrospect. Mostly because the aioli was lost in this pepper-vessel version, although it did add to the overall rich creaminess, of the eggs.

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And because my friend and I are actually fatties at heart, we ordered this delectable biscuit with honey butter to share. Yes, it looks like fried chicken, and tasted like heaven. This is what you’re salty-sweet food fantasies are made of.

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Egg Shop

151 ELIZABETH ST. NEW YORK, NY 10012

(646) 666-0810

ARVO {Honolulu}

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I recently had lunch with my boyfriend Kiyo in the up-and-coming neighborhood Kaka’ako, nestled between Ala Moana and downtown Honolulu.

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The new restaurant Arvo is similarly nestled, in the right-hand corner of Paiko, a botanical boutique. Paiko is where I would shop were I more settled (both physically and financially) and I wanted to fill my living space with gorgeous, small-batch, artisanal (and pricey) plants, books, stationery, beauty products, etc.

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I absolutely loved our lunch, but Kiyo was less impressed and left still-hungry, even though we shared three items from the Australian-inspired menu. I ordered the lavender latte, which yes, tasted just like lavender. It was beautiful and came out first (you order and pay at the counter, then come up for your food and drink items as they are ready).

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If you’ve ever been to Australia, you know they adore their toast. All the toasts at ARVO are under $7, which is reasonable, and that surprised me. I mean, it’s toast, but considering how expensive everything is in Hawaii, I was expecting it to be ridiculously overpriced.

 

This loaded avocado toast was $6.50. I absolutely loved how they used pretty little flower garnishes (especially since we were sitting in a cafe in a plant store, it felt fitting). The flavors were balanced and it was delicious. I could have easily eaten it all myself.

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Next up: ham and cheese croissant. Nothing special about this, but also no complaints. It was rich, buttery, warm and perfectly simple.

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For dessert, we chose the Nutella toast topped with bananas, the ripest strawberries and coconut flakes. It was perfection; I somehow felt like I was eating something very healthy, even though it was a [satisfying] dessert.  

ARVO Honolulu Kakaako

My one complaint is that they were very slow, but as you can see from this picture, it’s a small operation. They are also a very new cafe, so hopefully they will speed up soon as they work out kinks. They forgot to make one item we ordered (the fruit toast) but when I reminded them (after a 20-minute wait) they were very apologetic and made it for us right away. Had the food been pricier, or had I been in a rush, I would have been very annoyed. But it wasn’t, and I wasn’t, so my mood was unscathed.

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ARVO

Open Monday – Friday 7:30 – 3:00 & Weekends 8:30 – 2:00

Located at 675 Auahi Street (inside Paiko)


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).

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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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Snapdragon Bakery & Cafe, Vashon

Vashon healthy restaurant

Just about a year ago now, a few friends and I accompanied Kiyo back to his hometown of Vashon, a small island in Puget Sound, right next to Seattle. We ate lunch one day at Snapdragon, a vegetarian eatery. The “about” page on their website says only, “Snapdragon opened its doors in February of 2012. Adam Cone and Megan Hastings are the creative minds behind this endeavor.”

I ordered the Lentil Fritters. Favored with mild chilis and East Indian flavors (?), it comes with a yogurt garlic sauce; a slaw of red cabbage, carrots, ginger and parsley; apple chutney; and house-made bread. For $12.50, it can also be made gluten-free or vegan (this goes for many, if not most, items on the menu). I was very happy with my meal and ate almost all of it, even though it was a lot!

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Someone ordered the soup but I can’t remember what it was (offerings change daily).

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Someone else ordered the salad special, and again, I can’t exactly remember what it was. But it looks delicious! I also like how almost everything comes with their hearty, house-made bread.

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