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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Doraku Tuna Tataki

Review: Doraku Sushi Happy Hour (4pm – 6pm Everyday) – One of the Best Waikiki Happy Hour Deals

Doraku in Waikiki, located on the third floor of the Royal Hawaian Center,  is one of the very few Westernized Japanese restaurants that I actually go to for pretty good sushi on Waikiki. The restaurant have traditional fresh sushi, Japanese stables, as well as a range of Japanese Fusion creations. The decor is modern and very Japanese-Hawaiian with stained wood tables and chairs. They also have a large slab of wood designated as a first-come first-serve community table in the middle of the dining room. Fun fact: Doraku was created by Kevin Aoki, son of Rocky Aoki – the founder of Benihana.

While their menu is solid, the regular price is suitably (or ridiculously?)  high for the tourist-centric Waikiki strip. That’s what make their happy hour menu so special and more people need to know about it.

The short summary on Happy Hour:

  • $3 Well drinks
  • $4 Kirin Draft
  • $5 large Kirin Ichiban Sake, house chardonnay and merlot
  • $2.50-$7 appetizers (California rolls, chicken kara’age, ahi poke, steak/chicken/tuna tataki, yakitori)

Below are some of the dishes I tried for a single person at the bar. I was happily stuffed by the end of it the meal–

Doraku California Roll

California Roll ($4) – Solid California Roll filler with a good proportion of mayonnaise artificial crab meat wrapped around sushi rice. Not amazing, but a good start

Doraku Kirin Ichiban Sake

Kirin Ichiban Sake ($5) – Nothing goes better with Japanese food than sake. Above is the nigori style house sake, which is unfiltered rice wine with a smooth, creamy, and semi-sweet taste

Doraku Tuna Tataki

Tuna Tataki ($6) – Clean slices of raw tuna served with julienne daikon radish, sweet onions, seasoned wakame, kaiware, ponzu sauce, crispy bits of fired garlic chips, and garlic aioli

Doraku Steak Shishito Pepper Yakitori

Steak Shishito Pepper Yakitori ($6) – Generous chunks of steak on a stick seasoned with savory peppers and green onion. Served with a side of salad covered in a sweet/creamy dressing

Doraku Dyano Don

Dyano Don ($6) – On top of a bed of sushi rice is a mix of the day’s seafood scraps from the chef, light battered and fried. The mix is covered in tobiko roes and tossed with a creamy garlic aioli

Overall, I’m pretty happy about the Doraku Happy Hour. The food is quality Japanese fusion, and the happy hour prices make it reasonable. The only problem is that the 4-6 PM time limit is a bit restricting for most people that have working day jobs…

 

Yelp Link: http://www.yelp.com/biz/doraku-sushi-honolulu

DK Steakhouse's Dry-Aged Bone-In Rib-eye Steak- Definitely one of the best dry-aged rib-eye steaks I've ever had. Cooked medium rare with very simple seasoning, this bone-in rib-eye really melts in your mouth with each bite. It is so tender, and so full of concentrated, rich beef flavor, a small bite of this can easily poison a vegetarian.

DK Steakhouse – The Dry-Aged Rib Eye Is Not Just Any Other Steak

DK Steakhouse in Waikiki serves a 15-day and a 30-day dry-aged rib eye steak that are definitely the best steaks that I’ve ever had. The rich, concentrated flavor in each bite of the tender, melt-in-your-mouth steak definitely puts me in paradise. Not all dry-aged steaks are created equal. Some restaurants may disappoint you, but I’ve never been disappointed by DK Steak House’s 15-day and, if I’m feeling glutinous, 30-day dry-aged bone-in rib-eye steak.

What is a Dry-Aged Steak? 

Dry aged steak has become a good marketing tactic in recent years to charge an extra premium on choice steak at steakhouses. The increase in price is partly due to the extra processing it takes to dry age the steak, and also the fact that a steak loin will, on average, lose 20% of its volume during the process. During this process, the steak becomes more tender and its flavor becomes more rich. The dry-aged version of a choice steak is often be marked up an extra 15-25% compared to the non-dry aged version.

The Dry-Aged Process

First, let’s go into the dry-aging process and why it makes the steak so much more amazing.

Below is the a run-down of the typical dry-age process:

  • A large loin of choice beef is cleaned, dried, and wrapped
  • The loin is air-hanged in a dry fridge that’s temperature controlled between 30-35 degree Fahrenheit
  • The fridge is often kept dry with some sort of humidifier or drying agent
  • Keeping the humidity and temperature in control is important to prevent bacteria or spoilage
  • As the beef hangs, the outer layer begins to dry up, moisture is lost, and enzymes break down the connective muscle tissues in the steak, thus increasing tenderness
  • After the desired aging period, the beef loin is taken out of the fridge, the outer hard crust and any mold is removed, and then cut into steaks

So what are the results of the process?

If done right, all the flavors and moisture gets concentrated towards the inside of the loin during the dry-aging process, ensuring that the resulting steak will be rich in sweet, meaty flavor. The muscles are broken down, allowing plenty of delicious buttery, marble fat to permeate through the steak. In each bite, the steak is so tender that it will melt in your mouth.

DK Steakhouse’s Dry-Aged Bone-in Rib Eye (15 days/30 days)

DK steakhouse’s dry-aged bone-in rib eye is definitely one of the best dry-aged rib-eye steaks I’ve ever had. Cooked medium rare with very simple seasoning, this bone-in rib-eye really melts in your mouth with each bite. It is so tender, and so full of concentrated, rich beef flavor that each bite of this can easily put a vegetarian in a coma or a meat lover in heaven. It’s so pure that I normally don’t even order sides with the steak (it’s also a 22 oz steak). As you start to cut closer and closer to the bone, you get even more concentrated sweet, nutty flavor.

DK Steakhouse's Dry-Aged Bone-In Rib-eye Steak- Definitely one of the best dry-aged rib-eye steaks I've ever had. Cooked medium rare with very simple seasoning, this bone-in rib-eye really melts in your mouth with each bite. It is so tender, and so full of concentrated, rich beef flavor, a small bite of this can easily poison a vegetarian.

DK Steakhouse’s Dry-Aged Bone-In Rib-eye Steak- Definitely one of the best dry-aged rib-eye steaks I’ve ever had. Cooked medium rare with very simple seasoning, this bone-in rib-eye really melts in your mouth with each bite. It is so tender, and so full of concentrated, rich beef flavor that each small bite of this can easily put a vegetarian in a coma or a meat lover in paradise

In terms of value, the normal bone-in rib eye is $47, 15-day dry-aged is $53, and 30-day dry-aged is $58. For just $6-11 more, you can go from a steak that provides a good experience, to a phenomenal experience. The 22 oz steak is also quite hearty and can easily filly one or two people up!

DK Steakhouse is on the top floor of the Waikiki Marriott hotel. The steakhouse shares a dining floor with their sister restaurant, Sansei Seafood Restaurant. Here is their website: http://www.dksteakhouse.com/. They definitely serve good things other than steak, but to be honest, the dry-aged steak is what makes them stand out to me.