Friday, September 25, 2009

Pita fixation

Late-night shopping led to a fixation with pita breads.

Why? First, I like the texture and flavor. Second, the low levels of sugar -- sometimes no sugar -- in certain brands is very appealing, especially when regular bread has up to 6 grams of sugar in a little slice.

So I've been indulging in pita sandwiches the past week. Whole wheat mostly. Taste good! It's worked well with my exercising. I've dropped 6.5 pounds in the past 10 days. No suffering. Just a lot of smart, tasty eating.

The three 'loaves' of pita bread I've bought so far are all Toufayan brand, available at Don Quixote.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Bangkok Chef: Chicken Larb

Yeah, what's a larb?

My quest to eat every item on the menu at Bangkok Chef is in full swing, sorta. No longer content to munch on my BC favorites -- chicken curry and chicken cashew nut -- I stepped out of the comfort zone for a second time this week.

Never heard of chicken larb before. Had no idea what it would taste like. I dug in anyway after covering the Punahou-HBA volleyball match on Thursday.

Looks so ordinary and bland, even. So not true, though. I can always eat the jasmine brown rice. So ono, nice texture. But the larb was so surprising. First, there's the scent of fish sauce -- and I'm not familiar with hum ha (or any of its Asian relatives) at all. Then there's the vinegary taste. Neither is overpowering in itself.

With the basil and chili peppers, all the flavors complement each other. Yes, they are potent separately or combined, which is why that wedge of cabbage was so perfect. I mean, before I dug in, I kinda thought it was pretty goofy to have that cabbage there. Yet, I knew there had to be some kind of genius behind the visual madness. A mouthful of larb and rice, then a bite of crisp, neutral cabbage to cleanse the palate a bit.

There was so much! I couldn't finish this plate in one sitting, so better yet. It made for a great late-night snack a couple nights later.

The more I try new stuff at Bangkok Chef, the more I'm blown away.

Some people should open a bakery

One of them is BJ Hokoana, who makes a spectacular red velvet cupcake from scratch.

Can you believe it? These red velvet cupcakes are homemade.

The best cupcakes I've ever had. The frosting was so good. The red velvet ... from scratch!

Yes, it's even better than it looks.

Portuguese bean soup. Definitely one of the best I've had. Should've stopped halfway through, but it was impossible.

I almost finished the whole container. A moment of weakness. I'm still on track with the selective eating choices (most of the time) and exercise.

Thank you, BJ!

Kenny's Restaurant

Tried something new at Kenny's recently.

Absolutely decadent. I didn't touch this. I'll have my share after I lose 20 more pounds.

This is the Wilted Spinach Salad, which is one of the funnier names for a dish I've heard. It was ono!

Never knew that French Onion Soup has so much cheese in it. Cheese. This was not my soup, but it looked pretty nice.

Hawaii Catering, aka Yoshi's truck

I was driving back from Maryknoll's grand opening ceremony for the new gym today when I passed the truck. It's located on Monsarrat Ave., a block from UH, on Mondays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

This is a classic example of a mobile eatery that serves up restaurant-quality offerings. Friday is Hawaiian plate day at Yoshi's truck, and those of you who cringe when Hawaiian food is offered without poi -- this is the place for you.

Not only is there enough food just with the poi, poke, lomi salmon, onion and kalua pig -- there's also a huge load of beef stew with two scoops of rice. I ate everything but the beef stew. Saving that for later. I'm stuffed.

So much for my "strict" diet. I work out enough these days that I can afford to binge a little with some of my favorite foods. This was unexpected, unplanned and unregrettable.

Thank you, Yoshi!

Bangkok Chef: Pad Ki Mao

Normally, I have the chicken cashew nut plate (a stir fry) from Bangkok Chef. This time, I dabbled into new territory.

I was in the Nuuanu area after work last night, so naturally, I stopped in at the Bangkok Chef there.

You won't see it easily, but there are a lot of chili peppers in this meal. I like the chicken and veggies. The noodles are nice, but with me trying to lose weight, I prefer brown rice as an option. For you skinny people, this dish is divine.

I might go right through the menu at Bangkok Chef. This was item No. 20, I think. There are 31 items, not including the dessert items.

See much more at Bangkok Chef's site.

Diego's Taco Shop: $5 burrito

After being closed for renovation a few weeks, Diego's Taco Shop on South King Street reopened last month. The $5 burrito is back!

Weighs a good amount. It's loaded with good stuff. Promise.

The idea is to hold the burrito vertically and peel foil off as you munch away, but I had to get a shot of the insides.

Carnitas (pork) works for me. Chicken is OK, but pork rules when it comes to Mexican food. This one is also loaded with refried beans, cheese and rice. Salsa on the side.

Still awesome. Thank you, Diego's!

Tacos and More

Finally, I'm in Waianae, I've got some time, and Tacos and More is open!

The restaurant is kitty corner from Waianae Post Office. I've missed out on this place since reading about it months ago. A few weeks back, I was in Waianae, but Tacos and More was closed on that day -- a Sunday. Then I was assigned to cover a game at Waianae, but had too many tasks to do that Friday afternoon. No time.

But this past Friday, everything worked out and I enjoyed some great tacos.

I didn't order the tacos at first. I went with the special, as Javier recommended. Turns out the sauce is fine -- chorizo based -- but it was basically pasta. Not so Mexican, and though this was pretty good, it wasn't incredibly memorable. I pondered what to do next; my football game at Waianae (vs. Kapolei) was still an hour away.

That's when I decided to go back in (I'd eaten the pasta in my car) and get the most basic and maybe the truest test of any Mexican eatery: tacos. That was the best decision I made that late afternoon.

Below, photos of the restaurant and it's cozy rooms, the bar (which is actually much dimmer than my pics show) and owners Laura and Javier. I will definitely be back for more. Until then, to all the folks who claimed that Tacos and More is the best Mexican restaurant on Oahu: I can't argue against that claim, at least when it comes to tacos. I'm a believer!

These are the best tacos I've ever had. Surprised? A little. But I'd heard about this place before. These three tacos are pork, chicken and beef. $8.95 for the trio and worth every cent.

That's right. They're so good, they deserve two photos.

These two sauces were so different, yet so compatible. The red, of course, is chili pepper sauce. Fiery and just a tad sweet. The green was tart, almost sour, but follows through nicely, not bitterly. Both went so well with the tacos. I alternated between each.

One of the keys to this taco's greatness is the shell -- nothing I've ever had before in my extremely limited experience with Mexican food. I love texture in my food, and this was texture and crunchiness and flavor beyond my normal comprehension.