Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Jimbo's & the 50th State Fair

Last night, we were searching for a place to eat. We took our daughter to lessons in Kapahulu so we were looking for something pretty much on that side of town. On the weekend, we had tried to get into that new Japanese restaurant on South King Street that had been featured in the newspaper (Hinone Mizunone - it's a Japanese franchise)...it sounded interesting but no luck. Passing by it looked like standing room only, really full...guess everyone read the same article too. My wife wanted to go to Kochi's but after we parked and peered into the window (surprisingly the parking lot had a lot of empty spaces), we were not sure if they were open or not. Several times before, we had passed by at the same hour and the lot was full and there were tons of people inside. This time, there was no one inside...what gives? Anyway, we ended up going next door to Jimbo's. We go to Jimbo's often enough where we are quite familiar with the food...so no surprises there. At peak hours, there is usually a line and it takes awhile to get a table (small room). If you want good udon, this is the place to go.

Jimbo's make their own noodles(the menu says homemade daily fresh udon noodles) and you used to be able to buy the noodles uncooked to bring home (not sure about now). They have hot versions, cold versions, donburi, and other kinds of stuff. My daughter likes all kinds of noodles (I do, too!) so she was happy about going. She ordered the Tanuki Udon (the one that comes with the tempura chips). I used to order the combos but these days I'm trying to cut back so I order smaller single orders. My wife and I both ordered the Hiyashi Kakiage Udon. It's summer and pretty hot so we wanted something on the colder side. It's cold udon noodles topped with kakiage tempura with the sauce on the side for dipping...yum! When it arrives at your table, it looks soooo awesome. The kakiage is like a huge tempura where there are sliced green beans, carrots and chopped shrimp all combined in a tempura batter and then fried up. First you pick up the grated daikon and chopped green onions on the top of the dish and place into the sauce and mix...and don't forget to mix in the dab of wasabi on the edge of the dish. Break off a piece of the tempura (cause it's sooo big) and dip it into the sauce and then bite...it's so crunchy and crispy, with a melding of those savory flavors from the tempura and the dashi in the sauce...every bite is a delight! And then you alternate with bites of the udon noodles (dipped in the sauce too), then back to the tempura...double yum! Little wonder that you will find many Japanese tourists occupying the tables next to you. Oh yeah, no msg (my wife loves that). Go early if you don't want to wait.



Menu pages
Here's the specials of the day:
Tanuki Udon
Hiyashi Kakiage Udon

On Sunday, we took my daughter and a whole bunch of her friends to the 50th State Fair. During the summer, we have two fairs...the 50th State Fair and the Farm Fair. These events were a really big thing when I was growing up. Throughout the years, it seems like they've kind of gotten smaller and the quality seems to have diminished...but hey, that's me...the kids still love it. Of course, our fairs here don't compare to the ones on the mainland where you can get anything on a stick or the food variety is outrageous. This year there seemed to be a lot less of the local food vendors and more of those stereotype "carnival food sold out of a trailer" type vendors. Sorry I didn't get a lot of pics...plus I didn't really eat as I didn't want anything there. They had vendors selling hawaiian food, korean food, Okuhara fried saimin, hamburger/hotdog/fries, and some other stuff...I thought the assortment of toppings for the roasted corn was pretty awesome(I think it included li hing too), a lot of people was buying this. I took a pic of the plates my wife & friend bought (one is a kalbi plate and the other is korean bbq chicken).

Sandwiches anyone?
"Hawaiian" roasted corn
Toppings galore for your corn...
Hawaiian food & stuff...
Korean food...
cooking & making the plates...
kalbi plate, bbq chicken plate

Of course the kids got ride wristbands and spent a couple of hours riding. Before we left, I just had to demonstrate to my wife my expertise so I easily won two 2 liter bottles of Pepsi on that game where you throw the ring around a post on top of the soda bottle...the only bad thing was that I had to lug those bottles around following the kids until we left. Boy, was I tired...and hot at the end...guess you really feel your age after awhile...

Jimbo's Restaurant
1936 South King Street

50th State Fair

Monday, June 9, 2008

OK, I'm back!

Hi everyone! Sorry for the extremely looong delay in posting. As I mentioned previously, the new school year was taking up a lot of time...what I didn't realise was that it was going to be more than what I had expected...and isn't it always like that? Anyway, with extra stuff at work kicking in and then volunteering for stuff at my daughter's school, well...you know how it goes. and now, it's about one year later...my how time flies. But, I haven't been idle during that time...I mean, you gotta eat... I have a lot of pics...hope I can remember the info that goes with them too. I haven't always remembered to bring my camera with me everywhere but I'll share what I got...I just need to organize it and upload. Thanks to all of you that emailed during the past months...I didn't realise that a lot of people read this blog... Anyway, glad to be back and will be posting some good stuff. Stay tuned.... :)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Catching Up...Joyful Garden

OK, so I've been bad in not keeping up with my posts. At least now I have material stored up...just hope I can remember all of the details...

Anyway, I saw that Nadine Kam had reviewed Joyful Garden, a chinese restaurant in Kaneohe, in Sunday's Star Bulletin. You can read her review here.

Here's an outside shot...

I didn't totally agree with her review so thought I would post my own (no offense to Nadine Kam, of course...who I believe is a fellow Waipahu High graduate...yay Marauders!). And, everyone is well aware that no visit is the same when you go to a restaurant... Anyway, Nadine...the restaurant is located in Windward City Shopping Center, not at Windward Mall! The bad thing is that it's located in the back of the shopping center(which traditionally is slow) but the good thing is that the back has slowly been building up traffic, due to eateries like KJ's, Genki Sushi, Pizza Hut and now, Taco Del Mar.

I've been going on and off to Joyful Garden since they first opened in February (my wife reminded me that it was Super Bowl weekend). On that first weekend, there was a substantial amount of traffic...guess it was all of the people like us checking out the new chinese restaurant in town...plus they were advertising free soda as a promotion...can't beat that, right? I was impressed with the space...very spacious plus there was an adjoining room for private parties, I guess...and they had a plasma tv mounted. Formally dressed waiters...haven't had that in Kaneohe since Eastern Garden left... The wait time was kind of slow and the food was OK...nothing special..but it was their first weekend... Gotta give those new restaurants time to settle in, right?

A few months down the road and a few more tries... Less people dropping by(the room was mostly empty) but the quality of food has improved some. Seems like less wait help (maybe because less traffic?). Looks like they're starting to advertise "local style" plates and that they're going to have dim sum service in the summer...hope that drums up more business for them.

OK, now it's the middle of summer and they finally have dim sum! Kaneohe has been missing dim sum since Eastern Garden closed down. Only thing is, I went to Panda Cuisine last month so this has to be pretty good to top that.

So we went inside and notice that there were quite a bit of people there. Of course as soon as we sat down, the carts gravitated towards our table and the usual showing of dim sum took place..."would you like some _____?"..."or, how about some _____?" ...and they pretty much go through what they have on the cart. There were two carts...one for fried stuff and one for steamed stuff. Not a lot of wait help...noticed only about three people running around. Anyway, seems that the carts didn't have a lot of stuff that we wanted and we were told that the items we wanted were "coming out soon". So we got these...

I like good blackbean spareribs so I usually have to try it at least once at a new restaurant...this one had lots of tiny bits which made it difficult to eat...

Pork hash, I think it had shrimp inside too...

Taro puffs...

There was a long period where no dim sum was offered to us...decided to order from the menu...beef choi sum chow fun...tasted Ok but lots of cornstarch...

We were waiting for new stuff to come out but the carts kept on going farther and farther, never coming back. I know at dim sum restaurants, they like to hit on the new customers but usually they eventually rotate around the room. It was kind of disappointing that this didn't happen. Fortunately, a couple sat down near us so we pounced on the cart after the couple was done. Unfortunately, by that time, all of the new stuff was almost gone...and my daughter was looking forward to har gau...we got the two baskets that was left though.

Taste overall was pretty good but the service was pretty lousy, especially when we had asked for specific items but never got them and had had to ask repeatedly. Kind of disappointing for us. Could be they had an off day. Seems that they are pretty inconsistent, hopefully it gets better. Pricing was pretty standard, I think it started at $2 something for the lower end dim sum. Ended up spending just a little under $20, which is low for going to a dim sum restaurant for us...top it off to the unavailability of stuff we wanted. Guess I'll check back later to see if it changes...

Joyful Garden
Windward City Shopping Center

Monday, August 13, 2007

Sorry! Falling behind....

Hi everyone! Sorry I'm falling behind on posts but the new school year started and I'm trying to get back to the regular routine. That means PTA & other parent type meetings on week nights, trying not to go out with the family on week nights, making sure the kids do their homework, etc., etc. I have stuff accumulated and will try to post... :)

Monday, August 6, 2007

Pea Salad w/Smoked Almonds

One food site that I love to check out daily is Simply Recipes by Elise. She features great recipes that are easy to follow and are personally tested. Recently I saw that she had posted an interesting Pea Salad w/Smoked Almonds. My wife and I love to eat pea salad but the kids refuse to even touch it... I read the reviews and everyone posted that they loved the salad...OK, I was hooked...this sounded good...

Pea Salad w/Smoked Almonds Recipe from Simply Recipes (http://www.elise.com/recipes/)
16-ounces frozen petite peas (do not thaw)
1/2 cup chopped green onions
6 ounces smokehouse almonds, rinsed to take off the excess salt, chopped (preferably by hand)
8 ounces chopped water chestnuts
2/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp yellow curry powder
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Combine the frozen peas, green onions, smokehouse almonds, and water chestnuts. In a separate small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise and curry powder. Gently stir the mayonnaise mixture into peas. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Serves 6.

The ingredients and preparation were simple enough...I thought, "How could anyone mess up a salad?" So I went to the store... Couldn't find petite peas(and I normally see this at the store) so I got "sweet garden peas". My wife doesn't like green onions so I picked up a red onion(on the spot substitution time). And I took the chance that I had water chestnuts and curry powder at home. When I got home, I found out I had water chestnuts but no curry powder(seems that we've been using those Japanese curry mixes so no curry powder). I chopped the water chestnuts, the red onion and found out the hard way that chopping 6 oz. of almonds is a major pain...should have used the food processor. I ended up doing a semi coarse chop. It says to not thaw the peas so it went straight from the freezer to the bowl. Added the mayo and figured I needed something to spice it up and since I didn't have the curry powder I threw in some of that Nalo Farms Creamy Herb dressing that I had bought from the farmers' market. Some salt and some fresh ground pepper. OK, it was tasting time....and doh! ... I found out that frozen peas stay hard for awhile...OK, waited a little longer for the peas to defrost at least a little bit more for the second tasting... This time, it's great! I just love the texture...everything's crunchy...the peas, the almonds and the onion...and the taste is good too... And the best thing is that it's coooold! On a warm evening, it's a great taste treat for your mouth. If you like pea salad, try this...I'm sure you'll like it...and don't forget, use the food processor to chop the almonds :)