Monday, December 29, 2008

A few days late (Da Kitchen Express, Maui)

This wasn't exactly what I had in mind, but I guess it kind of satisfied me. I've been to this particular Da Kitchen in Kihei before, so I really wanted to try their other location in Kahalui by the airport. But if you read my earlier post (Jonny's Burger Joint), you know that we didn't make it in time and they were closed when we first arrived. After being disappointed the first night, I had to get my fix on some "local" type food. All we were eating up to this point was fine dining. By no means am I complaining, it's just that once in awhile you crave some hearty local food that sticks to your ribs :) Da Kitchen serves decent food, but it was not how I remembered it :( The last time I was in Maui I actually ate here twice in the same trip and was pretty happy. I've heard that this particular location wasn't as good as the Kahalui location. Hopefully next time I'll arrive earlier and make sure that I try the other location.

Loco Moco
I was really craving a loco moco eversince I stepped off that plane and what I got was slightly disappointing. This behemoth of a Loco Moco was not what I remembered. I remember Da Kitchen's loco moco being much better! I felt that this one was almost like a meatloaf on top of rice instead of a hamburger patty. The meat was too dense in my opinion. Maybe my preference has just changed....hmmm. I don't know. But I think I have this tendency to compare loco mocos to the one in Las Vegas of all places. The loco moco served at Aloha Specialties is da kine!

Won Fat Guy's Chow Fun
Hey...who they calling fat? Seriously this was a lot of food! I have to say this much... Da Kitchen serves up enormous portions! Mrs. Gohan for some reason ordered the Chow Fun. I thought for sure she was going to go for the saimen, but I guess I was wrong. As far as the Chow fun goes, personally I don't care for sweet entrees. I love sweets in general, but just not for main dishes and this dish in my opinion was a little too sweet.

Da Kitchen Express
2439 S. Kihei Rd.
Kihei, Maui, HI 96753

Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy 2nd Anniversary! (Spago, Maui)

While we were planning our babymoon, we figured the perfect time to go to Maui would be late September early October. That way "Mrs. Gohan" wouldn't be too far along in her pregnancy and uncomfortable to travel and that way our babymoon could also coincide with our wedding anniversary. Before we took off to Maui I had made reservations at these different restaurants and I didn't know which one to choose for our Anniversary dinner. Since we both have never been to Spago's in Beverly Hills, we decided that Spago's in Wailea would be a perfect time to dine at Spago. Our reasoning was that we didn't know how good the other restaurants on the Island were going to be and we figured that the quality of Spago's had to be top notch.

Initially pulling up to the Four Seasons in Wailea it brought up a lot of good memories. We hadn't been down in the Wailea area for a long time so it was nice to see the area again. But I have to say, the Four Seasons doesn't make it easy for non guests to visit. The parking for non guests was quite a walk! The one great thing is that all the fine dining establishments in Maui stated that it was perfectly appropriate for me to wear short pants. And Spago was no different. You got to love that! Eating at a fine dining restaurant in shorts!

Once inside, the first thing that struck us was the amazing view! It definitely was a million dollar view. And we were lucky enough to get a really nice table so that we could view the sunset. The unfortunate thing was that day was the only cloudy day of our entire trip. But that did not take away from the beautiful sunset. It just made it more dramatic. I would have to say there is no other place that I'd would have rather been that night. Spending our Anniversary together at such a beautiful place! What more could I have asked for?

Million Dollar View!
This was the view from our table. It was absolutely gorgeous! And the atmosphere was great! What a way to celebrate our 2 year anniversary. Perfect location, perfect trip, perfect person to share it with!

Big Swell IPA
That evening I was in the mood for some beer and our waiter suggested this local beer. It was an IPA called Big Swell from Maui Brewing Company. I really enjoyed the smooth and bold flavors. It had a nice hoppy taste!

Kobe Beef Angel Hair Bolognese
Wow...Wow...Wow!!! This dish was just phenomenal! This dish lived up to every expectation. The rich bolognese sauce was oh sooo delicious! The flavor of the kobe beef provided the perfect richness and tenderness that matched the terrific pasta. Although they call it angel hair, the pasta was definitely a lot thicker than your typical angel hair. The texture of the pasta was indescribable and the flavor was the best. A waitress informed us that they infuse red wine into the pasta to give it that backdrop. What ever their secret is, they hit a home run on this dish!

"Mrs. Gohan's" food aversion was still bothering her and thought of having beef still did not appeal to her. And because the night before she had eaten the Monchong, the only dish that appealed to her was the salmon. Although the salmon was very tender and moist, personally I felt that it was pretty standard and nothing outstanding.

Molokai Yams
The Molokai Yams were a part of my main entree. I found the color very beautiful but I'm not a big fan of sweet potatoes. I felt that it had a similar taste to sweet potatoes and that turned me off. I only took a couple of bites :(

Caramelized Pork Chop w/Maui Pineapple & Papaya
I settled on the Caramelized Pork Chop with Maui Pineapple and Papayas. The pork chop was definitely very succulent and it went very nicely with the pineapples and papaya. I've tried pork chops with apple sauce before, but I've never had this combination before.

Fuji Apple & Maui Pineapple Crumb Cake w/ Brown Butter Macadamia Ice Cream
This dessert with long ass name was worth every word in its name :) You can just taste every morsel of both the Maui Pineapple & Fuji Apple with every bite. And I can't forget the brown butter macadamia nut ice cream was oh sooo delicious!

Kona Coffee Cheesecake
On this trip my wife was really craving coffee. I guess being back on the Islands reminded her of that one trip we took to Kona, where we went coffee tasting. Ever since she has been pregnant she cut out ALL types of caffeine. So on this night she deviated from her plan and splurged and ordered the Kona Coffee Cheesecake. I told here that having this tiny amount was just fine and that she did not have to worry. It was very yummy! Most importantly my wife was happy :) Happy 2nd Anniversary!

The Four Seasons Resort Maui
3900 Wailea Alanui Alanui
Wailea, Maui, HI 96753


Monday, December 15, 2008

Tasty local food (Honokowai Okazuya, Maui)

I was in need of finding some tasty local food and Honokowai Okazuya definitely fulfilled my needs but also left my wallet a little lighter. I thought by eating at a local place that it would be a lot cheaper than eating at a "touristy" restaurant. Man, was I wrong. Although this place was definitely a local joint it sure didn't seem that way as far as their prices went. I just couldn't get over how expensive food was in Maui. Our lunch was just under $30. Unbelievable! But the cost aside, the food was definitely ono(Hawaiian for good/delicious). From what I've gathered, the original owner who opened up this okazu-ya (Japanese term for a restaurant that serves foods that accompany rice) got his start at the widely acclaimed restaurant in Maui....Mama's Fish House. There is no question the quality of the food was top notch, especially for an okazu-ya. Tasty local food for sure!

Teri Beef (12oz.)
I would have to say this was probably one of the most tender Beef Teriyaki plates I have ever eaten and probably the most expensive beef teriyaki plates I have ever had served in a Styrofoam take out plate. One way I gauge how much I like a particular restaurant or dish is, I ask myself one simple question, "would I order that again, or will I eat here again?". The answer for this particular restaurant would be, yes I would order this dish again, but only if I was in Maui. Because there is no way I'd pay that much for a take out anywhere else.

Chicken Katsu
This too was way overpriced! But again we have to take it for what it's Maui and everything seemed to be pretty expensive here in Maui. The chicken katsu (deep fried chicken with panko) was really good though! The chicken was nice and crispy on the outside and the chicken itself was nice and moist. There was a nice balance between the amount of batter used. It was very nice!

Honokowai Okazuya
3600 Lower Honoapiilani Road
Lahaina, Maui, HI. 96761

Monday, December 8, 2008

I'm glad we didn't cancel! (Lahaina Grill, Maui)

This was actually one of the dinners we were contemplating on cancelling our reservations. Man, were we glad that we didn't do that! I probably expected the least from Lahaina Grill out of all the restaurants we dined at in Maui. I don't know if that had to do with how good we thought it was. I have to be honest, when we first walked in I was still a little skeptical. There was hardly anyone in the entire restaurant. Granted we were there mid week and during the low season of tourism, but still. There was only one other table seated when we arrived. But soon after we got seated all my fears were quelled. I learned later that the person who was waiting on us was Lahaina Grill's sommelier. His name was Richard Olson III. The service that he provided was absolutely impeccable! And his recommendations were spot on! After we returned home we were thinking about all the places we dined at and we both felt that Lahaina Grill actually was our favorite. I'm just glad we didn't cancel our reservation!

Sweet Kula Corn Soup
The area of Kula in Maui is renowned for it's fruits and vegetables, so when I saw that Lahaina Grill was serving a Sweet Kula Corn Soup, I jumped on that. The soup was delicious but not what I was expecting. It had more of a spiciness to the soup rather than being sweet from the corn. The corn was actually the back drop to the soup and really wasn't at the forefront. Nonetheless, this soup was excellent!!!

Chef Arnie's Homemade Meatballs
The pasta was cooked perfectly and the meatballs were great, but this had to have been the most expensive penne pasta dish ever! Every meal in Maui was outrageously over priced! That has to be my only complaint of Maui. Lahaina Grill was no exception. As far as the food good this might have been one of the only places which warranted the prices. Other restaurants seemed to rely on their spectacular view, but Lahaina Grill has no view and solely relies on their food and service.

Center Cut Veal Chop
This dish was on the recommendation of Richard Olson III. The center cut veal chop was very tender and the herb truffle risotto was to die for. I polished my plate clean. I left Lahaina Grill full and happy!

Sunken Chocolate Cake
There's nothing that makes me happier than having a great meal from start to finish. There are too many times when I dine at a restaurant and I leave unsatisfied because of the dessert. Lahaina Grill actually did not disappoint us at all. The flourless chocolate cake came out warm and was not overly rich nor was it too sweet. And when you add Kona Coffee ice cream.....Wow!

Lahaina Grill
127 Lahainaluna Road
Lahaina, Maui, HI. 96761

Monday, December 1, 2008

Happy Turkey Day! (Los Angeles Athletic Club, Los Angeles)

This week I'm diverting from my "babymoon" dining posts from Maui. I'll get back to those next week, but for the mean time I'll share with everyone how me and my family shared our Thanksgiving Day. For the past several years now, my family and I have been spending our Turkey Day lunch at the Los Angeles Athletic Club.
It works out very nicely. Everyone gets to spend a little time together before everyone heads out to see other sides of the family. Although, I do miss how our Thanksgivings used to be. I miss having Thanksgiving at my mom's. I used to love waking up in the morning and smelling all the food cooking. I even used to enjoy helping my mom with getting ready. But the LA Athletic Club is a very nice place to share an afternoon and I still get to spend some time with my family. And besides no one has to clean up :) This year, I even sneaked in some of my own gohan (rice) in a zip lock bag :) "Mrs. Gohan" says I'm ghetto for doing that, but hey, I got to have my rice! And believe me, it made lunch that much better. And besides, my nephew and brother both appreciated it :) Like always, the food was plentiful and very delicious. And after stuffing ourselves, me and my nephew went upstairs to play a little basketball and played a game of H.O.R.S.E. Luckily, I could still beat him :) Maybe in the next year or so I won't be so lucky. This year like every other year, there was plenty to be thankful for and this year was no different. I am truly thankful for everything in my life especially my family!

All the goodies!
To tell you the truth, I skipped this whole section and went straight for the Roast Beef & Turkey, but everyone was saying how delicious everything was :)

Roast Beef
The Roast Beef was cooked perfectly and it was seasoned very nicely. Luckily, I got to get both an end cut and also on my second serving I got a center cut. It went perfectly with my gohan :)

The Turkey was very tender and moist as Turkey can get. The gravy was also very delicious as well. And this too went well with my gohan :)

Los Angeles Athletic Club
431 W. 7th Street
Los Angeles, CA. 90014

Monday, November 24, 2008

Worth the wait! (Gazebo Restaurant, Maui)

I did my study and I was prepared for the wait so I wasn't shocked when I saw this line. I was prepared but I still despise waiting in line. It has got to be one of my biggest pet peeves. But when you have beautiful views and you're in paradise, the waiting doesn't seem that bad. Although, I thought the location of Gazebo Restaurant was pretty peculiar. Always mentioned as one of the top breakfast locations in Maui, Gazebo is located by the pool of the Outrigger Napili Shores. While the location is a little peculiar and a little difficult to find, the food and views are spectacular. In fact the whole time that we were in Maui we ate somewhere different every time with the exception of Gazebo Restaurant. We ate here twice for breakfast. That's how much we loved it! They have the best pancakes. I already miss this place!

What a view!
With views of the blue Pacific Ocean, Molokai and Lanai Islands, and the Napili Bay who wouldn't mind waiting in line! With a view like this even my biggest pet peeve of waiting in lines did not affect me. What a view!

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Pancake
"Mrs. Gohan" decided to order the White Chocolate Mac Pancakes and it was delicious. We were both worried that it might be overly sweet but that was not the case. I asked the waitress whether the topping was some kind of whipped butter or whip cream, but she informed me that it was actually Dream Whip with some added secrets. Regardless, it was delicious!

Fried Rice (half order)
I read somewhere that Gazebo serves up a really good fried rice. So naturally I had to order it and taste for myself. My dilemma was that I wanted to order pancakes as well. The solution....was to order a half order of the fried rice and the short stack of pancakes. Well, the half order ended up being larger than most full orders. Gazebo's version of the fried rice was okay. It just was not my kind of fried rice. It had too many things going on. It seemed to have all the different breakfast meats in there along with bell peppers, onions, and green onions. While I love breakfast meats, I don't know if I like them all together like this. It was a bit much.

Banana Macadamia Nut Pancake
Well here's the picture of my other half of my breakfast. I couldn't help but have that Jack Johnson song in my head "Banana Pancake" while I was eating this. This was absolutely one of the best pancakes I have ever tasted in my life! They were light and fluffy and almost melted in your mouth. These were so good that we came back again another day to eat these :)

Gazebo Restaurant
5315 Lower Honoapiilani Road
Lahaina, Maui, HI. 96761

Monday, November 17, 2008

Maui's best restaurant? (Mama's Fish House, Maui)

The last time we were in Maui we never got the chance to dine at Mama's Fish House, so this time around I made sure we had plans to go. Upon arriving here, I was struck by the beauty of the location. It was simply gorgeous and breathtaking. The views and atmosphere alone makes this restaurant one of the best on the island for sure! Prior to our trip I've heard nothing but good things about this restaurant that perhaps my expectations were set too high. The views and atmosphere are undeniably spectacular, but the food, while it was definitely good I wouldn't go as far as to say this is hand's down the best restaurant in Maui. Our dinner happened to be a momentous occasion. This marked the first time that I ordered a seafood dish for my main entree EVER! Those who know me, know that I'm a meat eater. But I figured when you're eating at a place with the name fish house in it you can't order meat. Beware, you pay for not only the food but the views as well. This place is expensive!

What a View!

What a view! Mama's Fish House literally seems like it was constructed from a gutted out beach house (A really nice beach house!) with open windows. Can you believe this? I took this picture from our table! Wow!

Mai Tai
When in Hawaii, you got to order a Mai Tai. But I wasn't too happy on paying the $15 for the Mai Tai. I have to say this was pretty darn good! Well, it better be for that price.

White Asparagus Soup
The amuse bouche happened to be the White Asparagus Soup. To be honest, I don't really remember much of the flavor structures in the soup other than it tasted pretty good :) I'm not a real big fan of asparagus though.

Shrimp Won Tons
I was expecting something totally different when we ordered this appetizer. Since it was called Shrimp Won Ton I was expecting a won ton stuffed with shrimp. So when these came out I was surprised and intrigued. The shrimp was wrapped with the won ton skin and then fried and served with a macadamia nut dipping sauce. These were pretty good, but I don't know if I would order this again.

Here it first seafood entree ever! The one thing that I like about Mama's Fish House is that they catch the fish daily and they even tell you what boat it was caught on. I love that! I decided on the Opah. And my Opah was caught on the boat “Manaloa”. It was prepared upcountry style with caramelized Maui onion, avocado and jasmine rice. It basically was cooked with shoyu (soy sauce). My favorite thing about this dish was the onions. They were delicious. I would have to say that for my first seafood entree I might order seafood more often as my main dish :)

"Mrs. Gohan" ordered this dish and we had no idea what kind of fish it was. We never heard of Monchong, but now we know. The fish was absolutely delicious. It was moist and light. As soon as I got home I looked it up on the internet and I'm glad we ordered it before we knew what it looked like. The fish is ugly!

Mama's Chocolate Kuau Pie
I just love chocolate desserts and this one didn't disappoint. It was a chocolate mousse cake with a caramel cookie crust. This dessert went really well with my $10 cup of French Pressed Kona Coffee!

Liliko'i Creme Brule
The flavor of the lilikoi (Hawaiian passion fruit) really shined through in this dessert. The flavor was really refreshing and really went well with the overall experience of dining at Mama's Fish House. I would definitely would order this again.

Mama's Fish House
799 Poho Place
Paia, Maui, HI. 96799

Monday, November 10, 2008

Heavenly! (Ocean Pool & Bar Grill, Maui)

With the morning sun, came our first true sight of where we were staying. It's been 7 years since the last time we visited Maui, so we were pretty excited to say the least. And what we awoke to was truly heavenly. If you ever stayed at a Westin, you'll know that the Westin has a line of products called Heavenly. So literally we woke up in heaven :) We were truly happy to be back in Hawaii to do absolutely nothing but relax and enjoy good food. An emphasis on doing nothing. If we were going to Hawaii for the sake of eating, we would have chosen Oahu and not Maui.

Our first day we decided to stay at the resort to relax and eat. So we opted to eat at one of the only restaurants here.... Ocean Pool & Bar Grill. I was hoping to order one of my favorite local dishes (loco moco) but we didn't make it on time for breakfast so I had to find a replacement. After perusing the menu for a few minutes we saw that they had Maui Onion Rings... we had to order them. You can't go to Maui and not have Maui Onions and what better way to eat them....battered and fried! Yummy! It's kind of like going to Kona without drinking Kona Coffee or going to Philadelphia and not eating a Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich, you just can't do that! For my main dish I ordered the special of the day... Chicken Katsu (panko covered fried chicken). The one thing I have to say that I absolutely love about Hawaii, is that I could get gohan (rice) anywhere I want! Hawaii is truly a food heaven for me. I would have to say that the food was decent, but I just wish they had more variety in dining options at the Westin Villas.

Maui Onion Rings
When in Maui, you got to eat Maui Onions! These onion rings were absolutely delicious. They were so succulent and naturally sweet. In my opinion there is no better onions than Maui Onions. I wish I could eat these everyday!

Chicken Katsu
The chicken katsu was okay. I would have to say that these were pretty decent for a pool side bar grill. There was nothing that special about this other than I got to eat rice. The one thing that this meal reminded me of though, was how expensive Maui can be. The prices in Maui are astronomical!

Ocean Pool & Bar Grill
Westin Ocean Resort Villas

6 Ka'i Ala Drive
Lahaina, Maui, HI. 96761

Monday, November 3, 2008

Not sure what we got ourselves into (Jonny's Burger Joint, Maui)

Just off the plane and nowhere to go. After arriving in Maui for our "babymoon", we were very hungry and tired. We decided that we'll try to grab something to eat at the Da Kitchen, but to our disappointment they were closed. So we decided to go check into our hotel and maybe grab something to eat there, but again to our disappointment, not much was open. I asked the guest service guy for some advice and he informed me that most places around there closed at 9pm and he said that there was a McDonalds open. We were just about to go to McDonalds, but I decided to ask the bell guy for recommendations. He told me about Jonny's Burger Joint just down the street. He said that was about the only place still open and that they have good wings. So on his recommendation we drove down the street and found this hidden place.

When we walked in we both were a little weary. This place was straight out of a movie. What we walked into was a bar that happened to serve food. There was no one there to greet us and there was plenty of inebriated locals playing pool. This place didn't seem too friendly initially. Although we weren't too sure as to where to sit we finally decided to find a seat and proceeded to order food at the counter. We decided to follow the recommendations of the guy from the hotel and ordered the buffalo wings. The one thing that struck me was how good the food tasted. I had to ask myself..."does the food really taste good or is it because I'm really hungry and tired?". I even asked "Mrs. Gohan" the same question and we both concluded that the food was really good and that it wasn't our imagination. After having eaten here, I would definitely say I would eat here again. Especially now that I know what to expect.

Buffalo Wings
These were actually one of the best buffalo wings I've had. They were really tasty, crispy, and juicy. A lot of times wings can tend to be a little dry and tough when they are this crispy. These wings were cooked perfectly and flavoring was also spot on.

French Fries
These too were actually one of the better french fries I've had in a long time. They came out piping hot and were cooked perfectly. Crispy on the outside and nice and light and fluffy on the inside. They were perfect!

Jonny's Burger Joint
2291 Kaanapali Pkwy.
Lahaina, Maui, HI. 96761

Monday, October 27, 2008

Our last night in New York (AJ Maxwell's Steakhouse, New York)

At last...Our last night in New York. I have to say that for the most part we were very lucky in all aspects of this trip, but I'm still glad that this was the last night. Yet another restaurant that was participating in New York's Restaurant Week. This whole trip was about eating at new places and this particular night was no exception. Located next to Rockefeller Center, AJ Maxwell's was a new steakhouse for all of us. This time we decided to forgo our usual stop at Sparks Steakhouse and we stuck with our plan of trying new restaurants. To be honest....the deal was unbeatable. $35 for soup or salad, New York Strip, and dessert. If it wasn't for this deal I would have much rather have gone to Sparks or Peter Luger's in a heart beat. While AJ Maxwell's is very good steak house, by no means are they in the same league as other top steak houses in New York.

Cantaloupe Soup
I started off the evening with the cantaloupe soup. The reason I choose this was two fold. First, the idea of chilled cantaloupe soup sounded refreshing and interesting. Secondly, my other choice would have been salad. And if you know me...I'm anti salad :) I am glad that I did get this soup though. It was very refreshing!

French Fries
Not much to say here... Just ordinary french fries

New York Strip
What's better than having a New York Strip steak in New York? Lucky me...Although we all ordered the same cut of meat, for some reason my steak actually tasted better than everyone else's steak. The steak was actually pretty good especially for the price :)

Bread Pudding
Boy.... was this a disappointment! The bread pudding was horrifically dry and in my opinion should not be ordered.

Lemon Sorbet
The lemon sorbet was actually one of the highlights of the evening. Despite the blurry picture this dessert was refreshing and crisp.

New York Cheesecake
I just find it kind of cool eating something in the city in which it gets it's name. There's something to be said about eating either a New York Strip steak or a New York Cheesecake in New York. I'd imagine it's the same when you're eating a Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich in Philadelphia :) With that being said, the cheese cake was pretty good despite the overall lack luster dinner.

AJ Maxwell's Steakhouse

57 W. 48th Street
New York, NY. 10020