Category Archives: Tastes of Hawaii

Hawaiian Kona Coffee: Arguably the Best

Remembering the first time I tasted Hawaiian Kona coffee was the first time I believed to be tasting the best coffee in the world. Being a fan of coffee, I have tried many different types and I stand strong by my choice that we have one of the best. ‘Mountain Coffee’ created in the slopes of the volcanoes from the islands, rich with minerals creating the ideal conditions for the growth of the coffee bean.

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Originating from a Brazilian coffee plant, the Reverend Samuel Ruggles brought the coffee plant to Hawaii sometime around the 1820′s. Today around 800 Kona coffee farms and workers from different parts of the world including: Mainland Americans, Japanese, Filipino, and Europeans.

How is the Kona Coffee Harvested?

Spring time is when the coffee blooms and is nearly ready to be picked. Sprouting green berries by the first quarter of the year and after mid-year the ‘cherries’ are ready to be picked. Providing around fifteen pounds of cherry that is hand picked and set to ferment in a tank creating about two pounds of roasted coffee.

Kona coffee is only grown in Hawaii and history would contest that every person who tried to duplicate it was not successful. Despite an infestation of a green beetle in the fields found around 2010 measures were taken to counter balance the bug by bringing in a ground fungus that is helping to destroy the beetle.

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Where Can I buy some Hawaiian Coffee?

Kona Coffee Online Store

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During your stay on the islands take advantage and try some of the different tasty varieties of our coffee. Many different flavors and prices of the coffee can be purchased at almost any store. Macadamia chocolates and rich Kona coffee is the best way to start a day before you venture out and experience what Hawaii has to offer.

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Rock Bottom Bar and Grill

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I was looking for a chill place to hang out with my buddies and we stumbled across this dive bar and thought ‘what the heck, why not?’. We were pleasantly surprised by our time at this place, wholly unexpected. We got over to the spot a little earlier than the normal crowd and the bartenders/servers were relaxed and really helpful. They have great specials each and every day, and a killer menu. What was this awesome place you ask? Why it’s Rock Bottom Bar and Grill!

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We tried a few different things such as the patty melt, garlic fries, mini corndogs, and the garlic chicken. The food was cooked well and was a welcome change from most bar kitchen food. Here is the complete menu for you to look at. This bar also has everything else you would want in a local neighborhood bar such as pool tables, dart boards, beer pong tables, plenty of TV’s, and good music all served with reasonably priced drinks. Sometimes they do have a cover but never more than $5, and usually on nights when they have special events like the UFC fights or the live band.

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We all agreed that this was a very chill place to come relax and hang out with friends. There is plenty of room and we never really felt crowded. They do also have karaoke upstairs as well as another bar and the pool tables. It is located near UH and we found plenty of parking and it was one of the best random spots that I have ever found out here. The address is 2535 Coyne Street, Honolulu Hawaii and it is called Rock Bottom Bar and Grill.

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Written by James Bredeson

Honolulu BeerWorks Hidden Craft Brew in Kakaako

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I was introduced to this fun friendly hidden gem this weekend through a couple of friends of mine and I was hooked. This spot looked a lot smaller from the outside, but once we entered the door I was floored. The decor is rustic and very inviting. They boast open seating and a friendly environment, as can be attested to by the picnic table type seating arrangements. There is also a outdoor seating area where we met with our friends for a small birthday get together.

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The menu boasts many types of craft beers and everyone enjoyed the flavors of these amazing brews. They also have a way for you to try many different craft beers at the same time. You submit your list and they bring a small (4 oz) flight of your selections for you to enjoy. Since the flights are $2 each its a great way to try each of the selections if you are up for trying them all. The feeling I got from sitting in the open air section of the bar was one of a friends backyard while drinking beers and talking story.

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The menu is not complicated and offers some salads, sandwiches, soft pretzels, and mac and cheese. We tried the mac and cheese and it was served hot with a nice panko crust on the top and we agreed we all enjoyed it. I also had the Italian Hoagie, and I thoroughly enjoyed the sandwich, it was filling and served with a side of crispy chips and a beer flavored dill pickle that just hit the spot. We also had an order of the pretzel sticks and they were served with two dips to try out as well. One dip was a mustard mix, and one was warm nacho cheese, both worked really well with the warm pretzel sticks.

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Overall I really enjoyed the experience and ambiance of this small establishment in Kakaako. I will definitely have a place to take my friends when they come out to the islands to see me. I would suggest this place to anyone who enjoys micro brews or craft beers and is looking for a fun place to hang out in Kakaako. Perhaps I will even see you there, Aloha!

Written by James Bredeson

1950′s Diner in Waikiki “Rock Island Cafe”

RockIsland1The Rock Island Cafe is a nostalgic collection of 1950′s memorabilia in a very nice diner located in Waikiki. The entire place is decorated with the overall 1950′s theme and you are allowed to browse through all of it and most of the vintage collection is for sale if you choose to purchase it. The music and television shows that are on during your visit are all themed for the 50′s. The atmosphere is fun and inviting and will definitely bring back some memories of that period in time.

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The food is good and reasonably priced for food in the same Waikiki area. The staff was helpful and checked back often while waiting for the food to come out of the kitchen. The menu is much like what you would expect from a diner, they offer burgers, nachos, fries, chicken wings, pizza’s and sandwiches. How could you forget about the old fashioned shakes and malts, they make some of the best shakes in the islands. There is also a full bar available so you can get your favorite cocktails with your meal as well.

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Located near the main entrance of Kings Village on Kaiulani Street in Waikiki this one of a kind diner in Hawaii is easy to find. Just stop on by while walking through Kings Village take a step back in time and enjoy the quirky atmosphere and overall fun diner. I will definitely be stopping by again and having some more of those delicious nachos with a thick milkshake. Hope to see you around the way, Aloha.

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Written by James Bredeson

How to make Leonards Malasadas at home

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Here in Hawaii, we all love our malasadas especially if they are from Leonard’s Bakery! Today I will share the recipe given by Chef Leonard Rego of Leonard’s Bakery so you will be able to attempt to make these delicious Hawaiian treats for yourself. My mouth is watering just thinking about getting started. All totaled this recipe will take you just over 2 hours from start to finish. So lets get started shall we?

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First off you will need to make sure you have all the ingredients. The ingredients listed below will make an estimated 24 malasadas for your enjoyment.

Ingredients:
Yeast Mixture Dry Ingredients
2 Teaspoons Active Dry Yeast 4 cups All Purpose Flour
1/4 cup warm water 1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 Tablespoon of sugar 2 teaspoons of grated nutmeg
Wet Ingredients Cinammon Sugar Coating
4 well beaten eggs 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted ground cinammon added to taste
1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup of milk Vegetable Oil for frying
1 teaspoon of Vanilla extract

Now that we know what we will be working with, Let’s begin: In a medium sized mixing bowl combine the dry yeast and warm water and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Mix until the yeast is completely dissolved, and set aside for 5 minutes. While that is sitting we can start on the dry ingredients. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, nutmeg and salt together. Once they are combined make a sort of well in the middle, then set aside. Grab the yeast mixture and stir in the milk, vanilla, butter and eggs. Now we take the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients into the well that we formed earlier. Mix the ingredients together until a nice smooth soft dough forms. Then we cover the dough with a clean towel and place in a warm spot until the mixture doubles in size, this usually takes about an hour.

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After the dough has risen, take the bowl and push the dough down. Oil your fingers and pinch off golf ball sized pieces of dough and place on greased baking sheets. Grab another clean towel and cover the malasadas and again place in a warm spot for approximately 15 minutes. While that is waiting, we can prepare a heavy high sided pan with oil for frying. Heat about 2 inches of the vegetable oil until it reaches 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Then test the oil by dropping a small amount of the dough into the oil, the dough should start to color almost immediately.

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Working in small batches fry the malasadas until they are a nice uniform golden brown, this usually takes between 7 and 10 minutes. Place the fried malasadas on a plate that has been lined with paper towels until they are cool enough to handle. Then all you have left to do is roll them in the cinnamon-sugar coating and serve these marvelous delicacies to all of your friends and family.

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They will always ask for more or for you to make these amazing snacks for every event or get together. This island favorite is sure to please just about any palate. I’d like to take this time to thank Chef Leonard Rego of Leonard’s Bakery for sharing this recipe with the rest of us, so that we too can enjoy these at home.

Written by James Bredeson

 

 

 

A Slice of Italy in Diamond Head

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Happy Valley Pasta & Pizza.

It was “amore” at first taste. Yes, love at first taste. I have most likely consumed enough pasta and pizza so far in my lifetime to feed half a large country for a full year and this marinara sauce is probably the best I’ve tasted. Call it the hunger I was experiencing. Call it the ultra positive feeling I had about eating at this place for the first time. Call it what you want, it was “scrumtrulescent” ~ Will Ferrell. We even asked our server about this amazing red sauce we were dipping our delicious cheesy bread into and she said they had recently changed the formula! Well done Happy Valley Pasta & Pizza, well done. Moment of silence.

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So what did we order? Well, pizza of course. And not to be cheated out of our full newbie experience we ordered the “Owner’s Favorite Pizza” of course. This wasn’t just any pizza you’re used to though. This heavenly circle of sustenance was created with: shrimp, calamari, corn, broccoli, mushrooms, mozz, and a white cream sauce. Let’s not leave out the perfectly cooked crust! Lightly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Then, it was gone. Sad face, but I’ll be back!

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Everything we had there tasted fresh and being a pasta & pizza lover, I can’t wait to try everything on their menu. They also have a good drink menu and some decent parking. Check ‘em out!

Written by Johann Moguel

Aina Haina Chop Suey in Hawaii Kai!

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I’ve eaten at many a Chinese restaurant in my day and this is the first one in a long time that actually tasted fresh and not all MSG’d out. There have been several times where I would try different places and they basically had the same standard quality type of dishes globbed in a thick sauce just tasty enough to please the unknowing. Those of who don’t know how food can really taste across seas. I’m positive people who grew up here could tell you where all the excellent restaurants are, but this place sparked an eyebrow after first bite.

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We stopped in for a quick lunch and ordered the Crispy Wontons, Seafood Rice, and Salt & Pepper Shrimp. Right off the bat we received a pot of hot tea and water. They read my mind on the tea! Mahalo servers at Aina Haina! Needless to say I enjoyed everything they put in front of us. The wontons were cooked perfectly and the seafood was fresh. The seasoning on everything was perfect. Especially the scallops in the Seafood Rice that soaked up all the love they put into cooking their dish.

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The service was good and they seemed overly happy to hear our positive raves. Don’t take my word for it, go eat and bring your “hangry” stomach!

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Written by Johann Moguel

Tasty Diner & Lounge in Chinatown Honolulu

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Unassuming on the outside, cool atmosphere on the inside. Walking down N. Hotel St. you’ll see a discrete white sign below an overhang that reads “Down Beat Diner & Lounge”. The diner comes complete with your diner and pub favorites yet cater to vegan and vegetarian options by boasting they can make any food item on the menu vegan or vegetarian. On top of that, they carry as much locally grown produce as possible as well as sourcing their beef from the Big Island. The service was great and on point. The part I like about these foodie type places is that they also pride themselves on signature cocktails and drinks. I had a non-alcoholic ginger brew and my friends had iced black ginger tea. Perfect for a hot day.

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Just given the tons of low price items on their drink & food menus plus the great service, this is going to be a place I’m going to visit regularly. And who doesn’t love a place that offers breakfast all day long! *Me high-fiving the diner gods.

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So what puts the “lounge” in “Down Beat Diner & Lounge”? Well, next door they have a lounge just made for the night life outfitted with a top of the line sound system. Which is finely tuned for music showcases 3-4 nights a week. And what cool lounge wouldn’t come with a full service bar loaded with house made drinks and everything else your drinking face can think of!

Written by Johann Moguel

Fun for the Whole Family in Honolulu

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Looking for that fun night out for the whole fam? I suggest Dave & Busters right next to the Ward Theater off of Auahi St. in Honolulu. I’ve been to a few D & B’s yet the one in Honolulu just feels like a higher quality. It’s cleaner with multiple levels plus there’s tons of lower level parking. The 1st level provides your restaurant and bar with many TV’s to watch multiple games and/or UFC fights. The drinks are good, the food is excellent, and they usually have specials through out the week. Try the bacon mac ‘n’ cheese.

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The 2nd level is dedicated to the games only and for those who haven’t been to a D & B, they have all kinds of everything for everyone. Haha. Skee ball, the latest in arcade games, billards pool tables, beer pong, ha….yes, beer pong. My personal favorites are the first person shooters and skee ball. Skee ball, of course, being perfect to get all those tickets for the….Prize store! Then the 3rd level is a dance floor and full bar complete with lounge areas and bottle service. Some of the level is open and some is covered. Cool thing is you can rent it for special events.

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Regularly check the website for special daily events as they have great deals. Just like any event center they have private rooms in case you want to hold an fiesta for a large group. Then after a few hours of gaming everyone could walk right next door to catch a flick.

Written by Johann Moguel

SPAM and Musubi

Dearest mass manufactured meat,

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I would like to send a formal apology for belittling you my entire life as I resided on the mainland. Also for the bullying you received from 99.9% of mainlanders as well as possible miss-use of what you were produced to become. You were not meant to be bought in bulk by survivalists who believe the zombiepocalypse is going to begin next week because your shelf life is almost a billion years. Nor to be made fun of in a music video by Weird Al Yankovic, though very funny…border line hilarious.

Although you were blast to be used as fodder in many food fights and purchased solely for that purpose, I have decided to throw in my “I don’t fully appreciate SPAM” towel.

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I have turned a new leaf, or vacuum sealed can if you may. Since my move to Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii, I unknowingly consumed your goodness, wrapped in a delicious mixology of spice, rice and seaweed now known to me as Musubi. What I first thought to be an elaborate conspiracy by my island friends was actually a well thought out hazing process welcoming me to my new tropical surroundings. Once I found out, at first there was deep seeded hidden anger and frustration vibrating through every cell in my body. All those angered cells collaborated into one giant mutiny eventually revolting through my vocal chords in which everyone in the room heard as, “WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME THIS WAS SPAAAAAM”?! ……..Silence…….then laughter erupted. Not being able to handle the situation or my emotions, tears filled my eyes as the laughter continued. Soon I was simultaneously laughing and crying as the transformation continued. Finally, I wiped away the tears. Looked at everyone as they sat in anticipation for me to speak and I said, “Can I have another one of those delicious Musubi wrap things?”. The transformation was complete. I dedicate this collaborated song with K-Ci & JoJo to you SPAM:

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I will never find another mass produced meat sweeter than you,
Sweeter than you
And I will never find another mass produced meat more precious than you
More precious than you
SPAM you are close to me you’re like a porterhouse,
Close to me you’re like a dozen wings,
Close to me you’re like a roasted chicken,
Close to me you’re like a T-bone steak,
You are the only one my every meal and for you this song I sing

And all my life I’ve prayed for a meal like you
And I thank God that I, that I finally ate you
All my life I’ve prayed for a snack like you
And I hope that you digest the same way too
Yes, I pray that you microwave well too

Written by Johann Moguel