After lunch at town yesterday, mom and I did some shopping and went back to the office to work. And digest. Because we were going to dinner three hours later. I never used to eat out so much. I grew up with either mom or grandma cooking, and when they didn’t have time, dad would assemble something awesome that most likely included a Saint Germain baguette. But then mom decided she didn’t want to be a stay at home mom and she got a full time job. And we moved father away from grandma. And before you know it, no one has time to cook. So what do we do now? We eat out.
I enjoy eating out a great deal, nothing like trying out new food or dining with family and friends. But sometimes I’d rather have a fried egg and rice, or somen salad, or something like that. Which is why I’m really excited that we’re eating dinner at home tonight! We’re going have gon lo mein (thin egg noodles, dry style) with lots of garlic and oyster sauce, and barbequed Vietnamese pork chops.
But back to last night. Sorry for the tangent there. Last night we went to Shokudo with our relatives. My first visit to Shokudo when they just opened was mediocre. The second and third visits were better…and now I really like the place! I have to admit that part of their draw is the sheer convenience of the place and how easily caters to large crowds. There’s nearly something to please everyone. Prices are very reasonable. And that honey toast! The honey toast! It’s just toasted bread, honey and ice cream. But man. That’s hands down the best item on the menu :)
We started with an order of the mochi cheese ($6.95). Cubes of mochi with mozzarella cheese layered on top and baked. I don’t know if I like, or am simply neutral about this dish. It’s quite a strange sensation in your mouth, hot chew mochi with cheeessseee. Lots of cheeessee. It’s a rather greasy dish. If you order it, make sure to eat it all right away cause it gets super chewy and then hard if you left it sit too long.
Chicken Karaage with Spicy Tartar Sauce ($8.95) – always a hit, little nuggets of fried chicken, soft and sweet innards encased in a crisp shell. The dish is accompanied by an addicting dijon mustard studded tartar sauce. I almost wish I had ordered a separate dish of fries just to dip in the leftover sauce. Almost.
We asked for the Garlic Steak ($18.95) to be sliced in the kitchen (for easier eating since we were sharing). I have to say, I preferred starches to meat, and in similarly this case the potato cubes topped with garlic chips over the steak itself, hehe.
The Beef Sukiyaki Bibimbap ($10.95) was my favorite of the ‘entrees’. It was actually one of the best dolsot bibimbaps I’ve had on the island (good dolsot bibimbaps can also be found at Seoul Garden and So Gong Dong). Our waitress did all the mixing for us, putting on a very enthusiastic show, making sure as much rice as possible touched the surface of the bowl for “optimal crispiness!”
Off the seasonal menu, the Sushi Pizza ($13.95) is essentially an unraveled sushi roll, a layer of nori on the bottom with crisped rice and imitation crab mix. Think California roll minus the avocado, rolled out, grilled crisp, cut into finger food sized square and topped with jalapenos! Silly as this dish was, I liked it quite a bit…it seemed to be a popular dish as nearly every table I could see had an order.
Sticking with the crispy rice theme is Albacore Tuna on Crispy Rice ($11.95). Mini nigiri sized rectangles of crisped rice topped with a slice of tuna and jalapenos. The kitchen seems to have a penchant for topping things with jalapenos.(The Beef Tataki with Balsamic Sushi is another sushi item on the menu I’m interested in trying next visit).
This was my cousin’s first visit to Shokudo so he really had no idea how big the desserts were, namely The Toast. Which is how we ended up with three desserts at Shokudo. I warned him that the toast was big, like big. But he just kept asking, “really?” He was quite shocked at the size when our order was delivered to the table. But we did finish all three desserts, so I guess that wasn’t too much!
We opted for the Caramel Toast ($7.95) – other flavor choices are cinnamon, azuki bean, chocolate, etc. But I like to keep it simple with either the honey or caramel. One day I will try the azuki toast. The innards of two 3-inch high pieces of toast are hollowed out, cubed, toasted and tossed with caramel. It’s then reassembled back into the toast, topped with two scoops of vanilla ice cream, drizzled with more honey and proudly presented at your table, “volia!” (We had a really nice waitress :) You can never stop at one or two bites. Hot cubes of Carmel toast soaks up quickly melting vanilla ice cream. Some bites offer crisp corners and others, the tear of soft white Japanese bread (someone said it’s Saint Germain bread, though I’m not positive on this). If I ever came to Shokudo by myself, I’d just order a honey toast and call it a meal.
Next we move on to the Matcha Cheesecake ($6.95), remarkably light, almost fluffy, on a pie crust of graham crackers. The flavor of the matcha cheesecake is light, but it lingers like an afterthought. Restaurants rarely make matcha flavored stuff as strong as I would like. Off to the side is a vanilla ice cream – completely and unnecessarily covered by whipped cream.
Another item from the seasonal menu is the Tempura Ice Cream ($5.95). What made me curious about this dish was that the ice cream wasn’t simply battered and deep fried. It was instead, wrapped in castella cake and then deep fried! I expected it was going to be real awesome. But it was not. It just okay, too much cake with only a tiny ping pong ball of melted ice cream hiding inside. Maybe they fried it at the wrong temperature, the outside was soggy when it should have been crispy and the ice cream innards…well they quickly melted away and disappeared into the sugary pineapple sauce.
But it was a fun dinner, a really fun dinner! For most outings with other family members we end up at a Chinese restaurant like Fook Yuen or Legends. We’ve been going to Food Yuen so often that no one wants to eat there anymore. Our tastebuds were bored. Repetition is good only up to a certain point. So we decided to try bring out of old habits, and bring our Chinese family who’s so used to Chinese food to a new place where they could still eat Chinese family style but with Japanese fusion food. And they liked it, which is all that matters in the end! :)
Ala Moana Pacific Center, Ground Floor
1585 Kapiolani Blvd
Honolulu, HI 96814
For me, leafing through a recently-released compendium of teas with many first-flush single-origin varieties is akin to salivating over those luscious photos of vegetables in a seed-seller’s catalogue: Each entry promising something new, summoning a hopeful if guarded belief in Nature and the growing conditions of my garden. What will the … Continue reading