KCC Farmers’ Market

Saturdays on Oahu means KCC Farmers’ Market for my cousins so naturally we tagged along. They usually go every Saturday to get vegetables and fruit for the next week. KCC Farmers’ Market, which is held from 7:30am to 11:00am every Saturday at the Kapiolani Community College, has some of the most delicious cooked foods I have ever seen. You can easily fill yourself up from just eating from a few stands alone!

We ended up arriving around 8:15am instead of the 7:30am we had originally planned. Since we were late, we made a straight line towards the abalone stand, Kona Abalone. They sell fresh, BBQed abalone by orders – one order (two abalone) for $6.00, two orders (four abalone) for $12.00 and three orders (six abalone) for $18.00. We ended up getting six orders of abalone (12) for $36.00. This is considered fairly cheap. The abalone was so good! It was chewy and tasted super fresh! You get a variety of sauces to go with them – I opted for the spray-on butter.

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After the abalone, we walked around and stumbled upon Otsuji Farms, which serves fresh kale juice and tiny plates. We opted for the Sushi Sliders, which are tempura kale chips with spicy mayo and ahi tuna. This was a nice little snack – the kale chips were very crispy! I would’ve liked a little bit more tuna but for $6.00 for 5 pieces, I thought it was a pretty good deal.

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After some more walking around, we hit North Shore Farms LLC, which is famous for their Pesto Pizza with Waialua grown Big Wave tomatoes and hand-stretched mozzarella cheese. The pizza is pretty much premade and then grilled on site. The pesto made a great sauce and the entire slice just tasted very fresh.

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There are a lot more vendors at KCC Farmers’ Market – there are breakfast foods, a Vietnamese food stand, desserts, and lots of fresh veggies and fruits. You can literally spend hours walking around and sampling all the goodies. If you’re in the area on a Saturday, stop by and try something out!

Smorgasburg

Saturday afternoon brought the Boyfriend and I to Smorgasburg on the Williamsburg waterfront. Smorgasburg, which runs every Saturday and Sunday, is host to over 75 different vendors. Each visit is slightly different than the previous one as some vendors change weekly based on availability. This Saturday, we started off at Dough, which is usually located in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. They didn’t have my favorite flavor (blood-orange) so we settled for Passionfruit Chocolate Nibs ($2.75 each). The doughnut itself was very good but I thought the passionfruit flavor was a bit weird. I think next time I’ll probably try their famous Hibiscus instead. IMG_4506 As I was waiting on the line for Dough, the Boyfriend stumbled on the infamous Ramen Lab’s Ramen Burger line. At 11:20am, the line was already 188 burgers deep. We were #189 and #190. They were serving 400 burgers that day so we were about the halfway point. They only allow one burger per person so make sure if only one person is lining up for a group – round up the group before ordering! IMG_4518 IMG_4523 The line is pretty slow (took us TWO hours to get our burgers!) because they only have one grill and it is split into two sections – one side for burgers and another side for the ramen “buns”. There is one cook on each side with three workers unwrapping the burger patties and “buns”. One worker mans the register while two other workers sets up the burger. IMG_4520 You start with one ramen “bun”, add mixed greens, put on the burger patty, a spoonful of their special sauce and it’s all finished with a handful of chopped scallions and the other ramen “bun”. The burger is then wrapped in a circular wrapper that allows you to eat the burger without taking it out of the wrapper. Genius! Each burger is $8, which isn’t too bad considering how much work goes into preparing one. IMG_4524 IMG_4526 IMG_4527 We quickly found a nearby ledge and began feasting. Boy, that first bite was absolutely heavenly. We both thought the ramen “buns” were very tasty – and intriguing! The ramen was still chewy and bouncy despite the fact that they were in a solid block form. The patty was well seasoned and the special sauce was a nice compliment. It tasted a bit like Chapagetti sauce, which is a sweet black bean sauce used in a Korean instant noodle dish. I’m not sure if I would wait 2 hours again but it was pretty damn good. IMG_4529 As the Boyfriend waited, I would walk around and bring back goodies to the Ramen Burger line. First we tried Landhaus’ Maple Glazed Bacon. It’s more pork belly than bacon but regardless it was very well seasoned. They come $3 for 1 piece or $8 for 3 pieces. I opted for 3 pieces, which we split between the two of us. Because it’s barbequed, the bacon was a bit tougher than we’re used to so biting was a bit hard. You’re better off being a piggy and sticking the entire piece in your mouth. IMG_4509 My second trip around brought us two new items. First was Takumi Taco’s Spicy Tuna Taco ($6.00), which features big eye tuna, jicama, avocado, cucumber, and spicy mayo on top of a fried gyoza shell. The gyoza shell was very crunchy and held together better than your typical corn taco shell. The tuna was just the right amount of spicy but I wish there was a bit more for the price tag! IMG_4511 I also brought back Lumpia Shack’s Filipino-style spring rolls ($7.00 for 6 pieces). I opted for the vegetarian option – Truffled Adobo Mushroom, which features three types of mushrooms: cremini, shitake, and enoki. The spring rolls are topped with truffled aioli and pickled red chili peppers. The spring rolls were super crunchy but be careful because they are spicy! IMG_4510 The last treat that I brought back to the line was Pecan Patti’s Sweet Tea, which was a hot seller that day. Each sweet tea comes in a huge mason jar ($6.00), which is definitely the best deal out of all the vendors at Smorgasburg. The portion size lasts the longest and you get to keep the jar! I opted for the Citrus Sweet Tea, which features Orange, Lemon, Pineapple and Black Tea. The combination is refreshing, sweet and light all at the same time. I wanted to go back for another one but the line was way too long! It was even longer than the Mighty Quinn line! But I highly recommend this one – it was my favorite after the Ramen Burger. IMG_4516 IMG_4517 Although I didn’t try as many vendors this time as I did on my last Smorgasburg visit, I definitely thought the ones I did try this time were pretty outstanding. This is the first time I have waited two hours for a food item and I thought it was worth it. The Ramen Burger lived up to the hype and the sweet tea really quenched my thirst during the two-hour wait. I wish they made bottled versions of that stuff because it is delicious! You’ll have to go try it out for yourself!

Hawaii Edition: Uncle Bo’s Pupu Bar

On our trip to Hawaii, my cousin, who lives on the island of Oahu, took us around to several local places for dinner. One of those places was Uncle Bo’s Pupu Bar. Uncle Bo’s is one of those places that get super popular during dinnertime so you’re better off making reservations ahead of time. If not, your wait can get up to an hour during prime eating hours. Our wait, when we walked in at around 6:30pm, was around 45minutes.

Once we were seated, we looked over the menu, which consists of appetizers/tapas called pupus and main entrees, which come with a variety of sides. We opted to order a combination of both to share. Our party of five ordered quite a few dishes, some very good and some mediocre.

First up was the Spicy Uncle Bo’s Dynamite Shrimp, which featured wok-fried in a garlic chili aioli and topped with a Parmesan panko crust. The despite the name, the shrimp wasn’t very spicy at all. I liked this dish because it was big enough to share but not too much at the same time. The panko crust was light and not too heavy at all.

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Next up was my favorite of the night – the Boca-Rota, or garlic cheesy-bread with sliced prime-rib, sautéed mushrooms and mozzarella cheese in the middle. You take a piece of garlic bread, put some of the middle filling onto it and dig in! The combination was very delicious! The cheese did not make the bread oily at all and the mushrooms + prime-rib combo made a great topping for the bread.

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We also ordered Thai-Style Steamer Clams, which is one pound of Manila clams simmered in a mild chili, garlic and oyster sauce. The bowl looks big but don’t be fooled – the serving size isn’t that large. It’s enough for everyone to have about 2-3 pieces and sample the dish but it’s definitely not enough to fill you up. The clams were only mildly spicy.

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We wanted to try their pastas so we opted for Uncle Bo’s Seafood Catch, which features clams, scallops, shrimp and fish with a creamy tomato linguine. The linguine was cooked al dente and the seafood was very fresh. The portion is pretty big so it’s definitely enough to share!

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Less notable additions to our meal was the Hawaiian Pizza, which I thought was pretty mediocre. I feel that I can get it anywhere – the cheese tasted like prepackaged shredded cheese. I also didn’t like the Pork Belly pupu, which was very dry and did not have the fatty pork belly taste that we all love. I would say skip these two and order something else!

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The service was pretty attentive. Our waitress did give us some bad advice about how many dishes to order – perhaps she overestimated our stomach sizes? Either way, I enjoyed my meal at Uncle Bo’s – but next time we’ll definitely know to make reservations ahead of time!

Quality Meats

Since the Boyfriend and I were planning a date day, we decided to take advantage of the last day of Restaurant Week and try a something new. Our first choice, Café Boulud, was completely booked, so we opted for our second choice, Quality Meats, instead. Quality Meats belongs to the son of the owner of Smith & Wollensky so we knew we were in for a treat.

We arrived about 15 minutes before our reservation and they were able to accommodate us almost right away. Despite it’s small appearance from the outside, the inside is extremely big. There are about 2 levels of dining tables – all very strategically placed.

Quality Meats offers 4 appetizer choices, 5 entrée choices, and 5 ice cream flavors on their Restaurant Week menu. Most of the choices are featured on their dinner menu. After we placed our order, our waiter brought over some cast-iron baked bread, which was pretty good. I like that it’s baked to order so you’re always guaranteed fresh bread.

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After we finished our bread, our appetizers arrived. The Boyfriend went with the Traditional Steak Tartare, which is served with just an egg yoke. You’re given salt, pepper, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, and onions to create a tartare that is to your own liking. We used all the ingredients except for the Tabasco and created a very delicious tartare! The beef was fresh and everything tasted very good together.

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I opted for the Seared Diver Scallops on top of Corn Chowder. The scallops were so delicious – they were cooked to perfection and had a nice sear on all sides. The scallops almost melted in my mouth! The corn chowder was also very pleasant. It was refreshing and had a great summer feel.

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For his entrée, the Boyfriend went with the Open-faced Shrimp Salad Sandwich, which comes with a side salad and waffle fries. Holy moly! The sandwich was huge! By the time he was halfway through, he started to just eat the shrimp salad because eating the bread too would’ve been too much. The shrimp was abundant and the salad was very light – there wasn’t too much mayo at all.

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I went with the Hanger Steak with brandied cherries, which I requested medium rare. The steak was indeed, medium rare. I love it when my steak is cooked right! The brandied cherries gave the steak a sweet flavor, which was very different. I thought the steak was very good – the portion is also very generous.

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For dessert, they offer 5 flavors of their Dressed Up Scoops. I went with the Matcha Mango Bubble Tea. The scoop was a huge portion! It comes with a thin strip of mango and tiny tapioca cubes to mimic bubble tea. The matcha was very prominent and the ice cream was super creamy.

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The Boyfriend went with the Orange Creamsicle and there was a thin strip of orange on the top! The ice cream tasted exactly like an orange creamsicle, which brought back memories of childhood summers. We both thoroughly liked this one – it even had oranges on the bottom!

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The service was prompt and attentive. We opted for the house wine pairing for an extra $5 in addition to the Restaurant Week menu and we were given a taste before agreeing on the wine. The wine, despite being only $5, was pretty good and we received a generous pour. I also loved how Quality Meats gives you the normal portion despite the fact that you’re paying a lot less. What a great show of care towards the customer!

Hawaiian Edition – Surf Lanai

On our summer vacation to Hawaii, we stayed at the Royal Hawaiian hotel, located in the heart of Waikiki and adjacent to Waikiki Beach. Naturally, we ate a few of our meals in the hotel – especially when Surf Lanai, their casual restaurant was just a few steps away from the beach. No matter what time of the day you go, they always seem to have an open table somewhere – whether it is inside (where Azure, their upscale dining option, is) or outside on the patio.

I’ve eaten at Surf Lanai for breakfast and lunch before. We had received vouchers for a free continental breakfast – which would normally cost $25 if you ordered it off the regular menu. This included Kona coffee or tea, a fresh fruit mix, and 3 pastries of the day. You’re also given a shot of the smoothie of the day. We enjoyed this breakfast quite a few times during our stay – it might not look like much but it’s actually quite filling!

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Lunch at Surf Lanai is a bit more filling. We were having a beach day and didn’t feel like going too far for lunch since we planned on spending the whole day at the beach. We started off with an Island Poke Trio ($20.00), which included shrimp, octopus and ahi tuna. All tasted very fresh but my favorite was definitely the ahi tuna.

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I had the Fire Grilled Mahi Mahi Sandwich ($22.00), which comes with a side of fries. The fish was super soft and tender, which was surprising because grilled fish comes out dry very often. The portion size was huge and I couldn’t even finish it!

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We also ordered the Lobster Roll ($24.00), which comes with tempura lobster instead of lobster salad like we do on the East Coast. The lobster, like everything else we ordered, was very fresh. The tempura batter was very light and not heavy at all. The portion size, again, was huge!

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The service at Surf Lanai varies day by day since we’re usually seated in a different section every day. Sometimes we have excellent and attentive service and sometimes we get a more detached and cooler server. I did learn that many of the servers are Cantonese speakers who moved to Hawaii at young ages.