Archive | January, 2011

SOK is back in business!

31 Jan

Readers, loyal or casual, may have noticed that SOK has been taking a bit of break. Tom’s family came to Hawaii, so I’ve been playing tour guide this week — fun, but not a lot of time for blogging. The good news is that I’m back in KL, with even more material! Look forward to posts about airline food, malasadas, and other culinary delights.

Natto redux

21 Jan

Only a week(ish) since my natto post, and it’s featured in the Chicago Reader’s Key Ingredient challenge! It’s natto, haute Mexican-style. The horchata-risotto is a bit weird, but I might try the pasilla chiles and fried onions.

The Pineapple Room

20 Jan

My mom and I went to The Pineapple Room for lunch the other day. The Pineapple Room is the slightly more budget-conscious offering fromAlan Wong’s , Obama’s favorite restaurant in Honolulu, which I have never had the opportunity to visit. (I’ve never been to Spiaggia, either, which is Obama’s Chicago fave.)

Alan Wong was one of the first chefs in Hawaii to incorporate local flavors and cooking styles in a refined restaurant menu. Here’s a sample of the menu to give you an idea of what I mean:

The specials

Somehow I managed to live in Hawaii without eating a loco moco. I thought Alan Wong’s version, aka the world’s fanciest loco moco, would be a good start.

Fancy-pants loco moco

This was a daily special, so the patty is made from kalua pork hash, rather than the classic hamburger patty (which, at The Pineapple Room, is made from local grass-fed beef, of course). The gravy is actually a (local, humanely raised) veal au jus, which is a little like using truffles in a Swiss mushroom burger. A delicious concoction, but one I fear is not representative of the loco moco genre.

Tart of the day, Nalo greens salad, and Hamakua tomato soup

My mom went a little lighter, with a quiche/salad/soup combo. Most of the ingredients, and all of the vegetables, are locally sourced, which was pretty rare until about five to ten years ago. (You’d think that people living in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, thousands of miles from anything, would be the first to jump on the eating local bandwagon, but no.) The quiche was great — fresh corn and spinach — but the soup was the most interesting, sort of a mashup of gazpacho and tomato bisque.

Haupia halo halo

Yes, despite polishing off a plate of fried rice, topped by pork hash and two eggs, I still managed to have dessert. This one was a creative twist on halo-halo, the Filipino version of shave ice. Like ais cendol, it combines shave ice with fruit, sweet beans, jelly bits, corn, and a sweet syrup. This version used coconut syrup and a classic Hawaiian sweet called haupia, which is basically a coconut jelly. Despite all the ingredients, the halo-halo came off as refined, almost restrained; a fitting end to an elegant riff on local food.

Market Monday: Kona Abalone

18 Jan

Sustainable abalone, hot off the grill

Abalone is too delicious for its own good. Demand for the tasty mollusk has led to overfishing, and in the past decade there hasn’t been enough abalone to go around. Fortunately, aquaculturalists around the globe have been working on farming abalone, so I can enjoy eating abalone without worrying that I’m responsible for its extinction.

They’ve even got an abalone farm right here in Hawaii! I was very happy to find this abalone stand at the KCC farmers’ market stand sells abalone raw (for future cooking, not sashimi, although that would be awesome) or grilled for immediate consumption. If you haven’t tried abalone, I highly recommend it — I think California has some limited abalone fishing, if you’re stuck on the Mainland. Abalone is meaty, almost like calamari, but with a sweet shellfish flavor.

Hello Kitty Wine

17 Jan


Just the thing to serve at your Hello Kitty-themed wedding.

Or, if you want to BYOB to the Hello Kitty restaurant (which I will definitely be paying a visit to):

I didn’t feel like paying thirty bucks for novelty’s sake, so I have no idea if the wine is any good, but I did notice that Kitty-chan is importing her booze from Italy, so it’s probably at least drinkable. And it’s definitely going to be the cutest wine in the cellar.

Lazy Post Day

15 Jan

It’s late and I don’t have much to write about today, so I thought I’d share this article I read a couple of weeks ago: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2010/dec/28/malaysia-travel-food-and-drink?intcmp=239

Check out the comments section if you want to see how seriously Malaysians take their food.

Tomorrow I’ll be back with a report on the Honolulu version of the Green City Market.

I’ve been cooking Chinese wrong all these years.

14 Jan

I offered to make dinner tonight, from a recipe my mom saw in a Japanese magazine. The recipe called for katakuriko, which literally translates to “shape holding flour,” and which I interpreted as corn starch.

“I thought you said you needed katakuriko,” my mom says to me.

“Yeah, I have it right here,” I reply, holding up the box of corn starch.

“That’s not katakuriko. The katakuriko is in here,” she says, pointing to a bag on the counter labelled helpfully, in English, “KATAKURIKO — Potato starch.”

I’ve been using the wrong ingredient for all these years! But it explains why I can’t find corn starch in KL.