GIOVANNI'S ORIGINAL SHRIMP TRUCK
Sunday, June 21, 2009
GIOVANNI'S ORIGINAL SHRIMP TRUCK
NORTH SHORE, OAHU
A trip to the North Shore would not be complete without stopping at Giovanni's for some fresh shrimp. This has been a favorite of mine for over 15 years. There is rarely a trip to the North without eating here. I crave their hot sauce like nothing else on earth. Giovanni's hot sauce is bursting with flavor and heat. It is so hot that if you order your shrimp with the sauce on the shrimp. There is a no refund policy. I get the sauce on the side and pour it all over the garlic rice and dip each piece of shrimp in it. The menu at Giovanni's is simple. Shrimp Scampi with hot sauce or without ($13). The place comes with about one dozen shrimp that has been drowned in garlic, butter and white wine. You get two scoops of rice with toasted garlic on the side. The shrimp comes with the skin on so you are going to get greasy and make a mess eating them. This is part of the fun. Your hands get gooey and sticky and smell like garlic. Garlic is everywhere on the plate and it is so good. The shrimp and hot sauce are addicting. I am an addict for Giovanni's. Everyone I take here seems to love it and always want to return. THIS IS AN OAHU MUST.
KUA AINA SANDWICH
I have never been a big fan of the $8 burger, but when my sisters son came out to Hawaii to celebrate his high school graduation I took him and his four friends to Kua Aina on the North Shore. These are high school kids that are all 6' and taller. They eat like elephants. At Kua Aina you can choose between a 1/3 pound and 1/2 pound burger. The basic burger comes with lettuce and tomato. Grilled onions, cheese, bacon, avocado, pineapple or chilies can be added for .50 to $1.00 each. The boys loved these burgers and said they were the best ever. They threw them down in minutes and then consumed two baskets of the French Fries ($3.25). The fries are cut really thin like shoestrings and are crisp and tasty. Thumbs up for the fries. I had the 1/3 pound burger with Cheddar Cheese. It was huge. The grilled onion really ads some nice flavor. The burger was moist and flavorful. After three bites I was full. Kua Aina is an institution on the North Shore. If you are out there and crave a burger, this is probably the best place to go.
WOLFGANG'S STEAK HOUSE
Finally got an opportunity to visit the new Wolfgang's Steakhouse at the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center in Waikiki. Wolfgang's is not Wolfgang Puck as everyone seems to think. This Wolfgang's is an off shoot of Wolfgang Zwiener from New York. Wolfgang spent many years at the great steakhouse called Peter Luger's in New York City. His goal was to take all his experiences at Peter Lugar's and make it better. The Steaks served at Wolfgang's are dry aged for a set number of weeks in a temperature and humidity controlled room. The Manager in Waikiki is William. He remembered us from his days as head waiter at Mortons in Honolulu. William quickly greeted our table and asked if we would like to see the kitchen and dry age room. We all said yes and were lead through the kitchen to a room filled with the largest cuts of beef I have ever seen. All clearly marked with dates so they can be used at the perfect time.Back up to the wait for our table and while sitting at the bar the bartender pulls out a basket of fresh, hot homemade potato chips. These chips were great. Thick, salty and full of potato flavor. You could easily sit at the bar and fill up on these bad boys. Back at the table, we were given another basket filled with fresh hot breads. There were probably three different types. I tried the one with onions on to and it was good. I opted for a Caesar Salad ($10,95). It was pretty basic. My friend ordered the Tomato, Onion and Mozzarella Salad ($14.95). Huge pieces of thick tomato, onion and cheese. Enough for two people. Our other friend went for the Wolfgang Salad ($15). I tried some of this and it was great. The salad features a combination of Lettuce, red onion, roasted sweet peppers, shrimp and bacon with a house dressing. Speaking of bacon, we ordered one slice of Wolfgang's Canadian Bacon ($3). This 1/4" or larger piece of bacon filled a plate. We all shared it with our salads and loved it. Our waiter suggested that we try sharing our steak. He said they would bring the steak to the table and cut it up for everyone. He also suggested that we order the steak for two even though there were three of us at the table. Good tip since we would have went for steak for three had he not let us know that the cuts were huge. The steak for two is $143.85. Good thing I was not picking up the tab. The steak for two easily served all three of us. So figure about $50 per person for the steak. We were busting out full by the time we were finished. The steak was presented on a sizzling platter and cut into nice slices. It was cooked to absolute perfection and was juicy, perfectly seasoned and delicious. One of the best steaks I have ever had in Hawaii.
To accompany our steak we ordered Steamed Broccoli ($9.95) and German Potatoes ($13.95) that were recommended by our waiter. Wow....these potatoes are the best. Basically hash browns filled with onions and bacon. This is a MUST try when you visit Wolfgang's. This was a terrific dinner and when we finished William sent over a complimentary plate of desserts. Plain and Chocolate Cheese Cake and Key Lime Pie with Ice Cream. The Cheesecake was thick and dense New York Style which I love. The service was fantastic from start to finish. The staff really seemed to understand customer service. The dining room at Wolfgang's is a big open space with a lot of tables. There seemed to be no dress code as my guest dined in shorts, t-shirt and slippers. Wolfgang's may be pricey, but it was worth it. The wine list is good but most of the wines are over $100 per bottle. Our wine tab equalled our food tab. Can't wait to return.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
TACO DEL MAR
There is a reason why Taco Del Mar's are opening all over Hawaii. The food is good. It is not at the level of the taco places in San Diego, but for fast Mexican food it does just fine. The meats actually have flavor, the hot sauce actually has some kick, the beans and rice are actually good. The portions are also big while the prices are actually reasonable. I noticed most patrons consuming the Mondo Burrito's. This is like a pound of meat, rice, beans, cheese and salsa packed in a soft tortilla ($5.99). My daughter loves the burritos. They offer a kids size ($3.39) and let you pick the ingredients. The kids menu also comes with beans and rice and chips. The menu is pretty simple here. There are six main items to choose from; Carne Asada Steak, Shredded Beef, Braised Chicken, Carnitas, Ground Beef and what they call Alaskan Fish. You pick the meat or fish and pack it into a soft taco, hard taco, burrito, enchilada, salad or quesadillas. Then you pick black beans or refried and then load on the fixins. I opted for two hard tacos ($4.39). One Shredded Beef and one Braised Chicken. They are large and filled with meat, then topped with cheese, lettuce and Pico De Gallo. I went for the "hot" sauce and it had the perfect heat and good flavor. My only complaint is that they use pre-made taco shells. Other than that they are amongst the best tacos you can find in Hawaii. We also tried the Fish Tacos. Lightly battered fish in a flour tortilla and topped with cabbage and Pico De Gallo. Pretty good, but not at the level of the San Diego Fish Tacos. The beans and rice are very good compared to other places. I have been complaining for 17 years that Hawaii does not have any good Mexican restaurants. Taco Del Mar helps out but I would really love for Roberto's or Juanita's from San Diego to open here.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
BUCCA DI BEPPO
Before seeing the great movie UP, we decided to grab a quick pizza and salad at Bucca Di Beppo. To our surprise we happily found the best Margherita Pizza in Honolulu. Bucca does the perfect Margherita Pizza. The pizza is simply great sauce, mozzarella cheese and fresh basil. The flavors really pop. You can taste the sauce, cheese and basil. The crust is super thin and lightly charred from the oven. The small pizza will serve two people with ease ($12.99).We also tried the Chopped Antipasto Salad ($12.99 small). This salad was fresh and filled with flavor. It included salami, pepperoncini, olives, cucumber along with provolone and feta cheese. Our daughter ordered Macaroni and Cheese from the Children's Menu. Wow a huge bowl of pasta covered in silky cheese for about five bucks. There was enough Mac n' cheese for two or three people. We all tried it and liked it. Bucca takes you into a different world filled with photographs and memories of Italy. Photos of Sofia Loren, Frank Sinatra and the Pope fill the walls. As you enter the restaurant the hostess asks if you would like to tour the kitchen. You can see the staff, fresh ingredients and cleanliness. This place is great for large parties as all of the menu items are meant to be shared. You can order a small or large portions. I cannot wait to return for another pizza. UPDATE: Went back for lunch and tried the Spicy Arrabbiata Pizza ($15.99 small). Wow another great pizza. Pepperoni, spicy sausage and red onions with gorgonzola and mozzarella cheese. This is a meaty pizza with big taste and hint of fennel. Me and my guest loved it. We ordered a small order of Spaghetti and Meatballs ($17.99) and could not eat it because the pizza filled us both up. I took a small taste of the 1/2 pound meatballs and pasta and it was good. A small order will serve 2-3 and maybe even four people. The serving is huge. Got to try the Spaghetti and Meatball for leftovers. The pasta sauce was a bit bland and so was the meatball. Not my favorite by far.
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Cafe Miro is located in Kaimuki in a very unimpressive looking building from the outside. In fact, you could easily miss this place because the sign is so small and it does not look like such a nice place. I was impressed when we entered and found a smiling staff and well decorated and clean restaurant and bar. Seemed like at least four different people welcomed us to the neighborhood eatery. Our waiter was well versed on the menu and ingredients. He also went out of his way to make sure our daughter had a cool beverage in place of fruit punch which was not on the menu. Her special drink came in a large Martini glass and she loved it. I went for a glass of chardonnay. The menu at Miro consists of two tasting menus. The Prix Fixe Menu (3 courses) is $38. The Chef Special Menu (4 courses) is $49. There is also an assortment of add on items such as Foie Gras with Truffle Sauce ($18) and soup or salad for $6-$7. The menu has many choices to choose from. Everything from Roasted Game Hen to Duck Breast, Beef Tenderloin, Rib Eye and several selections of fresh fish. We opted for the Chef Special Menu so we could enjoy a larger variety of the menu items. Prior to ordering, hot fresh bread was brought to the table with butter. Then came a complimentary cold potato soup. The soup was awesome. It was delicious and very refreshing on a hot summer night. I would like to try the same soup warm sometime. The rest of our dinner started out with a bang. We ordered the Appetizer Tasting Plate that includes five different appetizers. This dish not only was beautiful on the plate but absolutely awesome. The combination of different tastes blew us away and we thought we may have found a real gem. The plate included Ahi Carpaccio with Wasabi Mayonaise and Crispy Garlic. This one bite item was the best of the evening. Fresh raw ahi with a slice of avocado. The Fresh Oyster Escargot Style (broiled with herb garlic butter) was also perfect and delicious. The Oyster went down like butter. The Proscuite and Mozzarella Salad with honey drizzle and walnuts was also great. There was also a vegetable terrine and crab cake that were good. Our appetizer plate was followed by the Sauteed Fresh Foie Gras. This was probably the worst Foie Gras I have had in quite sometime. Also the first time one of us did not want to finish the dish. The Foie Gras had a bitter aftertaste and the sauce was bland. The Sauteed Fresh Hokkaido Scallop with Honey Cream Sauce was really good. Two nice size scallops perfectly cooked and topped with fresh mushrooms. My wife had a piece of Onaga fish that was excellent but served with a very oily sauce. The oil ruined the dish. Our meat entrees were Roasted Duck Breast with Balsamic Vinegar Reduction Sauce and Braised Short Ribs with Port Wine Reduction Sauce. My duck was uneatable. I really left all but one piece on the plate along with a piece that had chew marks. I could not chew this stuff and it had absolutely no flavor. The Short Ribs also lacked flavor. For dessert we enjoyed a magnificent cheese platter that included three different cheeses, crackers and fruit. I liked this as a finish. Our other desert was ice cream with several different cakes. Good presentation and flavor. I was so bummed that this dinner started with a bang and ended in a thug. The staff at Miro was gracious. I really wanted this to be a hit. Don't know if we will return here.