Steamed Onaga Special - The Onaga is steamed Chinese-style with a sauce composed of ginger, soy sauce, truffle oil, and olive oil .The sauce was truly rich, fragrant and delicious. The onaga is a tender red snapper, and has an extremely tender, springy bite. This is served over steamed saffron rice.

Review: Duc’s Bistro – An Elegant Bistro That Fuses Vietnamese, French, and Local Hawaiian Flavors

If you think about it, finding a place like Duc’s Bistro in the heart of Honolulu Chinatown is kind of strange. If you think about it some more, perhaps it’s not so strange. Duc’s Bistro is an elegant French fine dining restaurant, run by a Vietnamese couple, using fresh local Hawaiian flavors, on a grimy street of Chinatown. If you don’t know what you were looking for, the restaurant’s store front is easy to miss, particularly because they achieve their clientele mostly through word of mouth. This restaurant concept that can only be described as local Asian fusion, which is something that is pretty characteristic of the mixing pot demographic in Hawaii. Duc’s Bistro, in particular, strives to “cultivate the idea of combining the unique dishes of Vietnamese cuisine with the lush and fresh ingredients of Hawaii.” In this case Duc’s Bistro has a menu concept that is Vietnamese French cuisine infused with Aloha.

Duc's Bistro Restaurant Front - Definitely a place that can be easily overlooked among the vendors and shops on Maunakea St. In Chinatown

Duc’s Bistro Restaurant Front – Definitely a place that can be easily overlooked among the vendors and shops on Maunakea St. In Chinatown

Once you walk into Duc Bistro, you can see that it’s a nice restaurant with a pretty classy French Bistro atmosphere.

Duc's Bistro Restaurant Inside - The general atmosphere inside looks clean and classy; characteristic of a French bistro

Duc’s Bistro Restaurant Inside – The general atmosphere inside looks clean and classy; characteristic of a French bistro

Duc's Bistro Restaurant - The bar and tables inside look nice and clean

Duc’s Bistro Restaurant Inside- The bar and tables inside look nice, clean, and seems to be able to accommodate a large crowd

Feeling a bit ambitious, I went ahead and ordered a typical salad, main, and dessert spread for myself. True to my instincts, the food is as much of a fusion as their restaurant concept. Continue reading

Kai Coffee Storefront

Review: Kai Coffee in Waikiki- Ascending As A Premium Coffee House in Oahu

Forget about the Starbucks across the street. If you are in Waikiki and looking to experience a nice cup of joe, head to Kai Coffee in the Hyatt Regency Hotel on Kalakaua Ave. My favorite place for coffee used to be Beach Bum in Downtown Honolulu, but since they vanished, Kai Coffee has definitely picked up steam as the go-to place for premium coffee.

We know that Hawaii is famous for Kona coffee. Some coffee shops will have some Kona Coffee or Ka’u coffee available, but very few will have any more than those options available. Most coffee shops are pretty “normal” (I have yet to find a Starbucks in Hawaii that serves any type of local coffee, unfortunately).

Then there are places like Kai Coffee. Kai Coffee has developed nicely with a beautiful island style branding that caters to the modern coffee drinkers searching for the freshest options in beverages.

Kai Coffee Storefront - The store has a clean design and has developed a brand that encompasses the island-style feel

Kai Coffee Storefront – The store has a clean design and has developed a brand that encompasses the island-style feel

Kai Coffee serves “premium” quality coffee. However, they still are able to cater to a broad market that may like the concept of premium quality coffee, but don’t want to venture too far from the usual Starbucks-type of product offerings.

Kai Coffee Order Counter

Kai Coffee Order Counter

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Kuliouou Ridge Trail - The view from the top overlooks the West side of the island. When you look southwest, you can see Waimanalo, Hawaii Kai, and the back of Kokohead

Kuliouou Ridge Trail Hike – One of the Most Diverse and Fun Trails on The Island

Just 20 minutes drive from Waikiki is one of my favorite hiking trails on the island. The Kuliouou Ridge Trail is only about 5 miles round trip, but from bottom to top, the trail offers a range of views, plants, and terrain that makes it pretty fun. Depending on the weather conditions, it should take about 3-4 hours to complete the trail at a leisurely pace.

The Kuliouou Ridge Trail is extremely easy to find. The entrance to the trail is at the end of Kalaau Pl street. You can find parking along the street, but since it’s a residential street, please be respectful of the neighborhood.

Kuliouou Ridge Trail - From Waikiki, it should be about 20 minutes drive if H1 East is taken

Kuliouou Ridge Trail – From Waikiki, it should be about 20 minutes drive if H1 East is taken

 

Once you enter the trail, make a right when you hit a fork. To the left is the Kuliouou Valley Trail Hike, and to the right is Kuliouou Ridge Trail Hike. You want to go right.

Once you start the trail it gets pretty fun. A bulk of the course is a series of switchback trails, where you climb the mountain by hiking back and forth against the mountain at a steady incline. However, this lets you take a bunch of “short cuts” for a steeper climb straight up the mountain. There should be obvious trails that others have taken to cut through the switchbacks, however, it’s important to be careful of certain “short cuts” that might get you lost.

Below is a series of photos that document a typical hike through the Kuliouou Ridge Trail. This was taken on a trip where the weather was, unfortunately, mucky and slightly raining.

Kuliouou Ridge Trail - The hike starts out pretty easy with dirt and root trails at a easy incline

Kuliouou Ridge Trail – The hike starts out pretty easy with dirt and root trails at a easy incline

Kuliouou Ridge Trail - If you look around you could see some interesting things like this small cave I spotted. There's a trail leading right up to it

Kuliouou Ridge Trail – If you look around you could see some interesting things like this small cave I spotted. There’s a trail leading right up to it

This wasn't here during my first time hiking. Follow the sign right to climb some rocks and continue the trail. I went straight before and took on a harder trail that eventually got me lost

Kuliouou Ridge Trail – The sign wasn’t here during my first time hiking the trail. Follow the sign to go right and climb up some rocks to continue the trail. I went straight before and took on a harder trail that eventually got me lost such that I had to trail blaze to find the correct hiking trail again

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Smoked Tako, Combination Poke Bowl with Hawaiian Style Ahi and Spicy Ahi Over Whole Grain Rice

Review: Ono Seafood – Is it Really That Ono?!

In Honolulu, there’s a lot of hype around the best place for poke, and Ono Seafood seems the be one of the local favorites. Since Ahi tuna is a daily catch around the island, most stores and restaurants will have access to the freshest ahi tuna to make poke, sliced blocks of raw ahi tuna. It’s not hard to find fresh poke on the island, however, poke is more than just that. The Hawaiian poke is a cold salad-type appetizer mixed with several other ingredients.

In comes Ono Seafood. A small shack restaurants with 2 bench tables and 2 small parking spots in a lot.

Ono Seafood Store Front -- The Best Poke in Honolulu!

Ono Seafood Store Front — The Best Poke in Honolulu!

“Ono” in Hawaiian means “delicious, the best”; I don’t know what the best poke is, but Ono Seafood’s poke is certainly one of the best I’ve had.

Ono Seafood Order Counter

Ono Seafood Ordering Counter – Select a combination of mixed ahi poke over brown/white rice for a cheap, ono meal

Once you walk into the store, there is a counter with the menu hanging above so that you can order one of the many mixes of poke they have. You can find the same mixes in the fridge on the side of the wall to simply pick up a half pound of pre-mixed poke for a few bucks. In addition to Ahi tuna, they also have mixes of sliced tako, or octopus.

Here’s the menu:

  • Shoyu Ahi – Ahi Poke with Savory Secret Shoyu, Freen & White Onion, Limu, Kukui, Chili Pepper, Sesame Oil
  • Shoyu Tako – Octopus Poke with Savory Secret Shoyu, Freen & White Onion, Limu, Kukui, Chili Pepper, Sesame Oil
  • Miso Ahi – Ahi Poke with Miso, Ginger, Green & White Onion
  • Miso Tako – Octopus Poke with Miso, Ginger, Green & White Onion
  • Hawaiian Style Ahi – Ahi Poke with Sea Salt, Green & White Onion, Limu, Kukui Nut, Chili Pepper
  • Hawaiian Style Tako – Ahi Poke with Sea Salt, Green & White Onion, Limu, Kukui Nut, Chili Pepper
  • Spicy Ahi – Creamy Mayo Sauce, Tobiko, Ginger, Green & White Onion
  • Wasabi Ahi – Ahi Poke with Wasabi Oil, Kukui, Green & White Onion

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Restaurant and Bar Ko - Nabemono

Review: Restaurant and Bar KO in Kaimuki Honolulu

Located in the neighborhood of Kaimuki and from the outside, looking like any other residential building or church on the block, Restaurant and Bar Ko is a local Japanese restaurant that I find highly under-rated. Among the Japanese restaurants I’ve visited in Oahu, this place definitely offer the best value for the quality of food you get.

Restaurant and Bar Ko is best at preparing their Kaiseki meals – a style of Japanese set menu featuring several small portioned courses. While I’ve never had their Early Bird Kaiseki meal, it amazes me that you can get a pretty good quality Japanese Kaiseki meal for as low as $20!

Restaurant and Bar K change their menus regularly. Below is one of the Kaiseki meals that I was able to try out.

Kaiseki Menu KO Course ($40):

Restaurant and Bar Ko - Kaiseki Appetzer

Kaiseki Appetizer – Chilled Shooter with Uni, Salmon Roe, and Steamed Egg. A wonderful mix of flavor and texture. 

Kaiseki Lotus Root Manju

Kaiseki Lotus Root Manju – Fried Lotus Root Doused in a Rich Crab and Dashi Soup Sauce

Restaurant and Bar Ko - Kaiseki Sashimi

Kaiseki Sashimi –  Tuna, Salmon, Snapper, Hamachi

Kaiseki Grilled Abolone

Kaiseki Grilled Abalone. Incredibly tender and flavorful with the best part being the liver hidden underneath.

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