I haven’t done a “We Ate It” round-up in a long time! A lot of our eating out has been event-related and much of the rest has been at places we go to a lot…and, truth be told, I’ve slacked off on carrying my camera with me all the time. I need to go back to the 50mm lens—it’s so much lighter.
Anyway…I feel like these places and dishes were worth sharing, so here’s a run through several months’ worth of things that made it into our tummies. Hover over the images for the detailed descriptions.
First up, The Pig & The Lady. For a while, we never set foot in P&L. Not because we didn’t want to, but because it’s hard for us to get away for a sit-down lunch during the work day (and it makes it sooooooooo hard to get motivated to go back) and the restaurant is more-often-than-not totally packed at dinner time. Then, we discovered the late-night hours and started stopping in for drinks and a snack after spending a few hours at The Manifest or elsewhere.
The ultimate after-bar-hopping snack is P&L’s Chicken Fat Fried Rice, which you can get as a side dish for just a few bucks, with a fried egg and bits of chicken cracklin’s added. Do it. You won’t regret it.
We go to P&L a lot now for dinner—we seem to have found a magical time to wander in and grab seats at the bar and I’m not telling you when! My favorite is the kiawe-grilled chicken, which comes with the aforementioned fried rice, egg and cracklin’s, plus an herb salad.
Movin’ on! Some neighbor island goodies. Shake went to the Big Island and came back bearing treats. He visited Mr. Ed’s Bakery in Honomū. They have an impressive selection of tasty jams (they make more than 60 different kinds) but they’re a bakery, so of course you want to know about their pastries.
Shake brought back some “Monkey Bread” (I didn’t sample it; it sort of disappeared before I tried any…hmmmm…) and a selection of hand-held pies. They’re similar to manju, which is popular here—a flaky pastry with a somewhat dry, thick crust packed with fruit filling. The jams must be awesome because the fruit fillings were extremely tasty.
As a child, I didn’t like pizza. Remember, I was an anti-cheese child! Plus, I wasn’t a fan of tomato sauce either. I’m making up for lost pizza time now and if I knew pizza tasted like this I wouldn’t have held out so long. The one in the foreground is, I believe, the Pi Sausage Pizza with housemade sausage, Pi Red Sauce, fresh mozzarella, caramelized Maui onions and Peppadews.
On to some fancier eats… The delightful Olena Heu invited me to join her at Vintage Cave as a guest of the restaurant. It most definitely was NOT to celebrate @Melissa808’s birthday. Nope. Absolutely not.
Vintage Cave has a new chef since my one-and-only visit last year. Chef Jonathan Mizukami, originally a Maui boy, now heads up the kitchen, after more than 10 years at The French Laundry. Mizukami ambitiously offers two tasting menus each night—a “Chef’s Tasting” selection and also a vegetarian option. The very veggie menu is by no means an afterthought. It’s very well thought out and a friend who tried it—and is a tough critic—said it was very creative and quite excellent. In fact, I was greatly tempted to go with the vegetarian option. But I was seduced by foie gras, caviar and abalone, and I didn’t want to be that person who asks for the substitutions.
Here are a few other highlights from the evening’s nine-course meal (including two dessert courses, but not counting the two amuse bouche, bread course and petit fours). The tasting menu runs $295, and if you’d like to add the wine parings to go with each course, it’s an additional $130. Some items, such as the foie gras we had, are subject to an additional supplement charge. Hover over the photos for the full descriptions.
As you can see, the dishes are as beautiful as ever. A lot of people will compare Mizukami to Chef Chris Kajioka, who opened Vintage Cave, but I don’t think that’s fair. They have different styles. I would say that Kajioka’s dishes had more of an Asian or Hawai‘i influence to them. Mizukami offers flavors that I feel are less often seen in Hawai‘i.
And oh, the desserts! Mizukami tapped pastry chef Eddie Lopez, whom he’d worked with at The French Laundry, to take charge of the sweets. In addition to these two amazing creations, we were served an EEEEENORMOUS platter of petit fours. All three of us went home with enough teensy sweets for two more dinners.
Lopez, we were told, is really into chocolate and has plans to roll out a truffle assortment as part of the dessert presentation in the future. I wonder if I can just go for foie gras and desserts…?
But where are the drinks, you’re asking? Ah, well, here you go! With our friend Noelle in town for Thanksgiving and wanting to check out new places, we paid a visit to the new-ish Livestock Tavern in Chinatown. Livestock is a sister restaurant to Lucky Belly—a favorite of ours for late-night sustenance—and offers hearty dishes and excellent cocktails.
The bar is run by Alicia Yamachika, formerly of Pint + Jigger and Nobu Waikiki. Alicia and her compatriot, Allie Haines, contributed a punch to the USBG Punch for Pooches event last month and it was fantastic. Possibly my favorite. When we went to Livestock, I mentioned how much I’d liked it. Upon which I was happily informed that Alicia and Allie—both on duty that night—would happily serve some up for us. Yippee! Punches all around.
Since there were three of us, we could also sample all three of the original Livestock drinks. The menu also includes a selection of “Not Ours” cocktails. A nice way to pay tribute to cocktail culture.
And we had some incredibly delicious food, too:
When we stopped by, it was the last few days of the Fall Menu. The Winter Menu is now being served—we tried it last night (but I am trying desperately to get this post up, so no time to process the photos and add them; you’ll have to check back next month) and the Pork & Porridge, which is what I had (above), is still there. Good, because that is a killer dish! Highly recommended. Oh, and Alicia and Allie’s punch is on the new menu, too.
And I almost forgot about this incredible gadget. I want one. Seriously. It is a little panel set into the bar. When the bartender sets an inverted glass on it and presses down, that little bubble in the middle sends up a powerful jet of water and it washes out the glass! Sooooo cool! (No, they don’t wash your drinking glasses like that. This is so mixing glasses can be rinsed out quickly between drinks.)
And one last photo to close out the recap. I have found my heaven. It’s a bar. With a bakery.
These are little sandwiches of cookie dough between pretzels, dipped in chocolate, made by Kawehi Haug of Let Them Eat Cupcakes. Her place used to be in a scrungier area of Chinatown but now she’s relocated to this much nicer site, inside the newly opened Bethel Street Tap Room. The Tap Room is definitely going to be a go-to pau hana spot for us. Right now, it’s mellow, with no crowd. I’m sure that’ll change. They have pau hana bacon. Like, for free, from 4 to 6pm, you get a pint glass with several pieces of bacon. Oh yeah. (Owner Karen Winpenny felt sorry for me that the boys I was joining had eaten most of the pau hana bacon before I got there—they did, to their credit, save me a piece—so she brought me a cupcake. And then our server brought out more bacon. Because she also felt bad that I had not had my full shot at the bacon. So you can see how I’d be seduced into loving this place.) Anyway, after you’re done with your eating and drinking, you can toddle over across the room to pick out cupcakes. Genius.
See you there!
Disclosure: I was invited to dine at Vintage Cave as a guest of the restaurant. No compensation was received for this post, and the opinions expressed are strictly my own.