Archive for the ‘cooking’ Category


March 7th, 2014

I'm officially a member of the SAHM Club - Stay At Home Mom Club. It's really nice.

I did this some four years ago but at the time, Olivia was two years old and so I still didn't have any time to myself. It's kind of amazing to have a house that is quiet, and all to myself, for six whole hours a day while she is in school.

My friend Beth Hillyer escorted me through my first day of this new life. In her characteristically sunny way, she invited me to take a long walk with the Labs.

Over I went, and the very second I came out of my car, two yellow Lab pups hurtled towards me and immediately jammed their snouts in my pants. They are one year old and males, therefore overly enthusiastic and learning boundaries. At least one of them should have bought me a drink after the welcome they gave me.

We played with dogs in mud puddles. We looked at her chicken coop and the eggs that her Americana hens are laying in an unauthorized spot, which is in the bamboo when it should be in the hen house. I was given a proper introduction to the hens: Ruby, Buttercup, Brownie, and a whole bunch more whose names I do not remember.

We had lunch, and over pizza she revealed the secret of Stay at Home Momming: "You will not get as much done as you think you should. I drop the kids off at school. I do laundry, tend the dogs, the hens, the yard, the housework, and then it's time to get the boys again. But it's wonderful," she said, of a world whose horizon I'm just starting to peer over.

When I bemoaned my lack of land, she invited me to communally farm at her house. I might have to unleash all my vegetable-growing, chicken-raising aspirations on Beth's yard.




We then parted ways because it was already time to get our kids after school. She sent me home with a basket of eggs that she harvested from the forest, much to Brownie's dismay.

Olivia got my full attention after school. We did homework. She biked outside. I cooked dinner. The husband was happy that everything was taken care of when he got home.

It was a lovely day. I can get used to this!

What's your SAHM or SAHD (Stay At Home Dad) routine?

Meet the new executive chef at Park restaurant

February 17th, 2014

Park Restaurant, which my friends and I tried for the first time last fall, has a new executive chef, Yoichi Saito, who brings with him a new style of delicious, inventive cuisine.

Photo by Tony Grillo

Photo by Tony Grillo

I'd heard lots of good things about the restaurant after it opened last August. Located in The Lotus Honolulu, overlooking historic Kapiolani Park and majestic Diamond Head, it originally offered a Mediterranean menu.  However, with Chef Saito now at the helm in the kitchen, Park will feature his “New American Urban Cuisine with an Asian Influence.”

“Great food has no nationality,” says Chef Saito.  “New American is really a mix of the traditional with the influences of the various cultures around us mixed in.”

Coming from an eclectic culinary background has given Chef Saito the mindset that ignoring cultural boundaries in food preparation is the only way to produce truly inspirational and outstanding cuisine.

Chef Saito’s regular menu includes items such as freshly-baked flat breads, Jim Beam-Truffle Mac & Cheese, Japanese-Memphis Ribs, Hanger Steak Satay, Sous Vide Pork Belly, Red Wine Braised Lamb Shank, Chicken Two Ways, Soy Glazed Grilled Ahi, Misoyaki Salmon, excellent side dishes – Saito’s Brussel Sprouts with dried tart cherries, kalua bacon and lemon have been a huge hit! – and scrumptious desserts.  The menu is also evolving, and there will be seasonal and special tasting menus offered throughout the year.

Chef Saito has decades of experience in both Japan and the U.S. He started cooking at the age of 16, focusing on Osechi-ryori, traditional Japanese foods to celebrate the New Year.  After that he was hooked, and entered the Tsuji Cooking Academy in Osaka, one of the most prestigious culinary institutions in Japan.  There, he studied French, Italian, Chinese and Japanese cuisines, as well as confectionaries.  Chef Saito is a very adept pastry chef, and creates beautiful and tasty Japanese confections, as well.

From 1989 through 2000, Chef Saito worked at the Hilton Osaka Hotel (banquets, French cuisine), Kappou Kasagi in Osaka (sushi and traditional Japanese cuisine), Hananoren in Tokyo (French-Asian fusion), La Rochelle (Iron Chef Hiroyuki Sakai’s French restaurant in Tokyo), and Angelo, also in Tokyo (French-Italian fusion), where he was executive chef.

In 2000, Chef Saito moved to the U.S. and was the executive chef at Wasabina, a Japanese-Italian fusion restaurant, in New York.  During his time there, Wasabina received outstanding reviews from The New York Times and other local publications for their delicious, distinctive cuisine.

In 2002, Chef Saito was recruited by actor Joe Pantaliano to work as head chef at his Asian fusion restaurant (French-Thai-Vietnamese), Bamboo Café Bar, in Norwalk, Connecticut.  After two years and positive reviews, Chef Saito moved to Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s V Steakhouse in NY .

From 2004-2008, Chef Saito was the chef de cuisine, and then the executive sous chef, at Roy’s at Pebble Beach, CA.  Chosen by Chef Roy Yamaguchi as the representative chef from Roy’s, Chef Saito was invited to participate in the 1st Annual Pebble Beach Food & Wine culinary event in 2008, where his cuisine was praised for its flavor and inventiveness.

In 2009, Chef Saito returned to the East Coast to open his own restaurant, Saito, in Greenwich, CT, where he enjoyed excellent reviews, success, and a very loyal following for five years.  One of his programs was a tasting menu offered to only ten patrons, which proved so popular the seats were sold out well in advance.  Chef Saito hopes to start a similar program at Park this year.

"We’re honored and excited about having Chef Saito on board as our executive chef,” said John Henry Felix, Managing Partner. “After starting during a busy holiday season and a sold-out New Year’s Eve, Chef Saito has really created a stir in culinary circles, making Park the hot new place for exceptional food.  All of us at Park look forward to introducing Chef Saito’s cuisine to many new patrons this year!”

Angry Korean Lady

August 5th, 2013

I had the most amazing lunch at the quirkiest of food establishments. Angry Korean Lady in the Imperial Plaza is run by - well - an angry Korean lady. She calls herself the AKL.

I tried to get her photo but every time I held up the camera, she gave it the bird. Oh well. Truth in advertising.


From the moment you walk up to this very small space, you a greeted with hostile signage. When you walk in to the small room, more commanding signage telling you how to order and what to do, on both the walls and each tabletop.

Her House Rules, as she calls them, sound like me talking to my kid: "Write down your order and BRING IT TO ME IN THE KITCHEN..." or this hilarious gem: "After you place your order  and you bother AKL more than 3 times I will post the DO NOT DISTURB sign. This means on your next visit you CANNOT order food and you CANNOT eat your friend's food. You will only be allowed to WATCH others enjoy AKL's cooking."

Sean acting as our waiter

Sean acting as our waiter

I was kind of scared already, but I was with my friend Sean, and he's AKL's friend, so I figured I was "in." Still, I was nervous to talk to her.

Turns out she's a pretty nice, self-taught home cook whose Korean food is so tasty that diners are willing to risk insult and the possibility of being ordered to wash all the restaurant's dishes to eat there.

For a hole in the wall, it attracts all kinds of diners, including local music celebrity Raiatea Helm, eating at the next table the day I went.

Raiatea Helm

Raiatea Helm

Everything on the menu looks fantastic; the family-style menu Sean picked for us was amazing.

We had kal bi, spicy chicken (which I ordered at Spice Level 0 because I don't like spicy, and then I got a sort of scolding from her), meat jun, and man doo. Enjoyable.



Kal bi

Kal bi




I recommend it, and I am even thinking of booking it for a private party (minimum 20 pax, maximum 24, minimum food order per person $30, reservations at least one week ahead).

If you go, make sure to check out the door sign on the Vietnamese nail salon to the left. It's equally as friendly!

Half sheet brownies

May 31st, 2013

One of the hotels I work at had a fundraiser for Charity Walk. I offered to donate something. The night before, I baked a half sheet pan (18 x 13") of brownies.


In the morning, I was talking to my friend Paul as I drove in. In answer to the common question What are you doing today? I responded, "We're having a bake sale, so I made a half sheet of brownies and I'm bringing it in now."

Which opened more than one question, apparently. Keep in mind he was at a field trip at the zoo, chaperoning three kindergartners, so he was distracted and couldn't hear me that well.

"A what?" he said.

"Bake sale," I answered.

Pause. "Are you guys doing that badly?" he asked.

Brownies and baggies! Dude! 4/20!

Brownies and baggies! Dude! 4/20!

"Ha ha ha. No, it's for Charity Walk," I clarified.

"What did you say you made?" he continued.


"What kind of brownies?"

"Half sheet."


"H a l f   s h e e t," I enunciated over the background din of of small children.

"Oh! I thought you said hashish," he laughed.

"No! HALF SHEET," I emphasized.

Hashish brownies. Sheesh. That is an entirely different kind of bake sale.


February 18th, 2013

I had to work slightly later than usual to greet an arriving VIP, and arrived home at 7:30 p.m. one night. Olivia had just been tucked into bed and was trying to stay awake to see me.

I tiptoed into the bedroom to kiss her and her sleepy eyes opened. Though I had prepped her for my lateness, she still gave me the usual grief over not being home earlier to see her.

"Honey, I'm usually home for dinner. Do you know how lucky that is? A lot of mommies and daddies work jobs where they can't do that," I said. I was thinking of all the odd swing shifts at 24-hour organizations, like news, hotels, military, or any number of stores in today's nonstop society. "If I have to stay late some of the time, it's OK, because most of the time, I have regular hours."

That seemed to placate her. She then asked me a really cute question that caught me off guard. "When you work late, do they give you a snack?"

"Well, sure they do. Remember I have the employee cafeteria that I took you to before? Not everyone has a cafeteria, but I'm lucky to work at a place that does," I reminded.

Olivia seemed happy to know her mother wasn't going to starve. (For that matter, I'm happy, too.) "What kind of snack did you have today?" she continued.

Actually, I didn't eat dinner before I left. I just wanted to go home, so lunch was my last meal. We have a zillion junk food snacks in the cubicle office where I sit. I just said what I ate last. "I had spaghetti with bread," I answered.

"What about dessert?" she quizzed. This kid. Priorities!

"I had jello," I said.

"Jello! What color?!" came the slightly more excited response.

"Rainbow," I said.

"RAINBOW?" Olivia exclaimed. It's her favorite. "Why didn't you bring me some?"

I'm a bad mom. It's what she would do for me. She tried to bring home a piece of her popsicle so her father and I could try it. Sweet, huh?

I decided to turn the tables and ask her something. "So. How do you think snack time goes for Mommy? Do you think my boss makes us all sit down quietly to show that we're ready to eat?"

She looked at me like I was ridiculous. "I don't know about work!" she said. Oh. Silly me for asking.