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 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 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 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 (
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 :)

Friday, August 3, 2007

A Quick Bite @ Shiro's

We were running late one day and decided to catch a quickie lunch. As we were around the Waimalu area, we decided to go to Shiro's. There's a lot of places that sell saimin but Shiro's is one of the few that I actually like. For me, I'll eat saimin any place as I love noodles but sometimes there's places where you just savor the experience... Here, they have curly noodles that are chewy...the way local-style saimin should be. And the broth is tasty, not overly salty like some places. I remember when Shiro's first opened and people were saying that they had all of these different varieties of saimin. When I later visited in person, I found out that a lot of the "varieties" included some kind of food item on the side (saimin with _____). These days, I've found that the economy has affected the size of the bowls at Shiro's as the amount you are served is much smaller than I remember.

Here's a "table-view' from the front...

There's all these sayings that Shiro Matsuo (the owner) created and printed out and posted on the walls all over...great for reading while you wait for your food...

A snapshot of the first page of the menu...

And what did I eat? Guess you could call this a carbo-special...a medium saimin, no vegetables (veggies cost extra) and an order of crinkle cut fries...yum!

Shiro's Saimin Haven

98-020 Kamehameha Hwy