A Grand Turkish Meal

Happy Fourth of July! Wishing you all a safe celebration.

I have a few days until I begin culinary school. I’m super excited to start this new journey. From next week, I’ll be highlighting my weekly posts on dishes I’ll be making in my classes. If time permits, I’ll post additional blogs about new restaurants I’ve dined at or exciting dishes I’ve made.

This week, I’d like to share about Turkish cuisine- one of my top five faves. I’m so happy to say that Istanbul Hawai’i has finally opened their restaurant! I remember ordering a lamb-beef doner from their food trucks at Night Market years ago. I would always get excited whenever I saw their food truck. This is a long time coming and I’m so ecstatic to have finally dined at their restaurant.

My friend and I were so excited. The restaurant was packed! We had a late reservation. There were reservations all through the evening. It was busy the entire time we were there. Even near closing, the place was filled. I was so happy to see how busy it was. It shows that the food is spectacular and that business is a success.

The menu was pretty overwhelming. A lot of dishes were very foreign to both my friend and I. I’ve been to Turkey twice; had authentic Turkish food there. I’ve also had Turkish food in Japan as well. My experiences eating Turkish food in its native country to Japan, and at home, have all been very different.

We used our helpful friend, Yelp, for suggestions on what to order. We honestly didn’t have a clue on where to start. We also took my friend’s friend’s suggestions and ordered what she thought was really delicious. Great recommendations! We shared the meze platter, which seemed like a popular dish. The meze platter (top right image) contained the following: fresh pita bread to accompany the three hearty dips: hummus, muhammara, and babaganush. I liked all three dips equally. They were fantastic! I’ve only had hummus before. The muhammara was made with roasted red peppers (not spicy). I’ve heard of babaganush before, but never had it. I didn’t know it was made with eggplant. It was delicious! The other dishes on the platter were: su borek, spanakopita, and peynir and karpuz. The su borek and spanakopita were pies, very similar to each other, but tasted completely different. The peynir and karpuz dish was very interesting. It was watermelon with feta cheese and Turkish olives, drizzled with balsamic vinegar. Not my favorite on the platter because I’m not a huge fan of watermelon, but it was very fascinating to try. The balsamic vinegar made it easier to eat. We ordered the iskender doner dish (bottom right corner image), which was lamb/beef combo with rice pilaf, and a refreshing toss salad, with my fave, tzatziki sauce- whoo hoo! We had to order more pita bread at this point to eat with the tzatziki sauce. So, so good! We chowed down our delicious dishes with some very refreshing drinks: a caffeine-free organic hibiscus lychee iced tea (bottom left image) and a saffron lilikoi sorbet with prosecco. My friend ordered the latter and welcomed me to try it. I am getting that drink next time! Last, but not least, dessert. We saw a lot of images on Yelp of the hatay kunefe dish (top left image). From the looks of it, you wouldn’t think it’s a dessert. It looks like crispy noodles. It’s actually shredded phillo, which is a like a flaky pastry. Underneath the phillo, is glorious cheese, mixed with a honey syrup. Oh, goodness gracious! The shredded phillo is topped with crumbled Turkish pistachio and kaytay, which is a kind of thick whipped cream. Hatay kunefe is a small dish, but don’t let that fool you. It is super filling and rich!

What a meal! Everything was beyond fabulous! I can’t wait to dine there again to try more dishes. I love lamb! Istanbul Hawai’i is the perfect place to go, as there are a lot of lamb dishes on the menu, for both lunch and dinner.

To the land of the free… Happy Independence Day!

Stay safe!

FS x

Seventeen of 20 Things 2020 Has Taught and Reminded Me + Comfort Food Made With Love

Happy Monday and last week of 2020! We’re in the home stretch! Let’s make the best of our remaining days of the year. I want to end the year strong! Let’s show 2020 what we’re made of!

The 17th fact that the year has taught and reminded me was:

17. Every day is a blessing and gift.

Despite the year we’ve had, I did my best to see the light and optimism in the cards we’ve were dealt with. It was a tough and challenging year, but I was reminded that every day is a blessing and gift. It’s all about perspective and how you view things. I strongly believe that even with chaos amongst us, we can still see and experience positivity in and from it. I was constantly reminded of how much I have been blessed with. The fact that I get to wake up to start afresh every day is awesome. I have an opportunity to make better choices, be more loving to others, and make a difference. Life is a precious gift.

Last fall, I visited a dear friend in the Midwest. We made dinner together one night (see featured image). It was so special and yummy. My gf made her mom’s Swedish meatballs, which I never had before, and mashed potatoes. Double yum!! I had made Indian chicken curry. We also made rice and green beans. It was a delicious treat we, her family included, enjoyed very much. It was simply lovely.

Y’all know about my passion for cooking and food. Cooking with others brings joy and love in my life. We know that food connects people together. So does cooking. I always feel closer with whom I cook with. It creates a special bond I can’t quite explain. Overall, it’s lovely and cheery.

Wishing all of you a wonderful week. Until tomorrow. Peace!

FS x

New Year with the bestest of friends!

I was blessed to have spent the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019 with my dear friends. We dined at Chef Chai’s, a Thai-fusion place with my family. My family and I always enjoy the food there. However, we were disappointed that they didn’t have the deep fried whole fish. They had sold-out of the dish before we dined there that evening. Nooo! It must be a very popular dish.

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Butternut squash lobster bisque soup. That was so yummy! I am determined to use butternut squash in my cooking and make a soup.

Ordered the jumbo prawns. Absolutely delicious!

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So glad they had brown rice! It was mixed with coconut milk and ginger. Interesting mix!

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We couldn’t resist dessert- deep fried banana cream cheese with gelato and berries. Oh boy! So good!

Chef Chai
1009 Kapiolani Blvd.
Honolulu, 96814
http://chefchai.com/

Afternoon tea with my girls!

My girlfriends and I had afternoon tea at Vintage Café at Ala Moana last weekend to celebrate the belated holidays. It was such a busy season last year, we couldn’t get together before Christmas or New Years. Ah! So glad we finally got together to have a much needed celebration.

It was a lovely and relaxing afternoon. I absolutely loved it there. I’m always a fan of afternoon tea and love trying different places that offer afternoon tea. I would definitely go back to Vintage Café again- and I will…next month, haha! I love the daintiness of having tea. The dishes are beautiful and the food is so quaint and cute. I also love those tea places where you can dress up with hats and shawls. Super fun!

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I ordered the Georgia peach nectar rooibos tea- non-caffeinated. That was amazingly delicious. I loved how it smelt so peachy.  Refreshing! It tasted better with honey.

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Yummy finger food!!!! I just love the tray.

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Mmm! Could I eat the entire tray? Aww, darn… Only could choose one…

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I ordered the Jidori club, which was a chicken sandwich with arugula and eggs. Yummy!

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The homemade scone was amazing. It came with sweet cream and mango/ginger jam. Interesting jam flavor, might I add. I did enjoy the sweet cream. The dessert of choice was a banana tart/pie.

Afternoon tea is every day from 12-3pm. They have two prices: $18 and $34- includes champagne.

Vintage Café
Ala Moana Center (next to Bloomingdale’s on the street level)
1450 Ala Moana Blvd.
Honolulu, 96814

 

Reflecting on 2018 and embracing 2019

Happy New Year’s Eve Eve! As 2018 is coming to a close, I’m reflecting on this past year and embracing the welcome of 2019. I hope 2018 was a great year for you all. I hope 2019 brings more blessings your way! It’s going to be an excellent year!

My family and I are blessed! Our good family friends treated us to a delicious dinner at Haleiwa Joe’s this holiday season. Yummy! They are known for their prime rib. They have limited prime rib daily- and they go fast! It’s first come, first serve. It’s also very reasonable for the portion.

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Look at this bad boy! Wow! I had a taste from my sister… it was to-die-for! Totally worth it!

We just couldn’t stop talking about the size of the prime rib and the price. We were so impressed! It’s really, really worth it!

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I ordered a fish red Thai curry. That was pretty good. Very healthy- haha!

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Had to try the banana bread tiramisu. Mmmm!

Haleiwa Joe’s has two locations: Haiku Gardens in Kaneohe and on the North Shore in Haleiwa.

We dined at the Kaneohe location. The view is gorgeous.

46-366 Haiku Road
Kaneohe, 96744
https://haleiwajoes.com

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!

This hole-in-the-wall place is SO worth it!

Yay to the weekend again! Happy Fall, too!

My gf and I found a wonderfully delicious and reasonable Japanese restaurant in the beginning part of Waikiki. It’s called Do-Ne Japanese Food. It’s not easy to find, as it’s a very small joint. Best to make reservations, as there’s only 17 seats in the restaurant. Totally reminds me of Japan, especially the food. Oh.my.word! Mouth is watering just thinking about it.

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This kimchi was BOMB! Oh my goodness! One of the best kimchi dishes I’ve eaten in a lonnnnng time.

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The set for $16.99. Amazing deal! I ordered the special: stamina seafood don set. Yummy! The don included: ahi, ika, natto, ikura, okra, and egg, over sushi rice. The set comes with salad, miso soup, tsukemono (pickled veggies), and appetizers: choi sum, shrimp with somen, and salmon.

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Hamachi collar. Thee best!

We also ordered grilled octupus (tako) and agedashi tofu (deep-fried tofu). Everything was excellent! We are definitely returning again to try more of their food.

Do-Ne Japanese Food
1614 Kalakaua Ave.
Honolulu, HI 96826

So worth it! Have a great week.

FS~

 

 

 

Spicy mouth!

Happy Sunday! Hope you all had a nice weekend.

Last week, my new friends/colleagues and I dined at Himalayan Kitchen in Kaimuki. I was stoked! Indian food makes me super excited, every time! Not only is it health for ya, it’s so good! I was craving for lamb and ordered the lamb madras at medium spice. I usually will order a masala or vindaloo curry sauce, but wanted to try something different. Madras is made with tomatoes and coconut milk. Boy, was it hot for medium (I’m usually able to handle that level of heat). It was so spicy that I couldn’t finish my meal. Yikes! I guess the heat can make you full faster. Good idea if you want to lose weight, huh? 😉 Haha! Nonetheless, the dish was excellent! I enjoyed it very much. I ended up finishing my curry when I returned home. By then, I was used to the level of spiciness, it didn’t seem hot anymore. Haha!

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Holy moly! Look at this piece of plain naan!! The shape looks like a huge turkey leg! Naan is a must-order to pair with the curry. Oh, and rice, too. Basmati rice is the bomb!

They have a variety of different naans, which is a type of Indian bread. Can’t go wrong with the naan. I do love the cheese and garlic naans, too.

Visit Himalayan Kitchen
1137 11th Ave.
Honolulu, 96816
808.735.1122

For your reading, an article on health benefits of curry powder: https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/herbs-and-spices/health-benefits-of-curry-powder.html

Cheers to a Chilean wine!

It’s Wine Wednesday!

When I went on my South American cruise in 2014 with my travel gang, we went to the Concha y Toro winery in Santiago, Chile. I bought the Shiraz Rosé blend wine from their collection. It was pretty good. I liked the combination of red and rosé.

I’ve attached some pictures of their beautiful winery campus. It was serene and peaceful. I would love to go back one day.

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This winery was beautiful and HUGE!

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So serene. This reminded me of my old college campus in California. Like a walk in the park.

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https://www.conchaytoro.com/?lang=en_us

Av. Nueva Tajamar 481, Torre Norte, P 15, Las Condes, Santiago de Chile

Thee BEST soup/salad buffet ever!

I love Sweet Tomatoes/Souplantation. They are, hands-down, the BEST soup and salad buffet EVER! Their food is so good; so refreshing, and healthy.

It’s been several years since I last ate there, in California. I got to dine there recently in Arizona. My friends took me there when I went to visit them. Yay! I was so stoked! It was well worth it! The quality of the food never changed!

There were too many selections to choose from, so I took pictures of all the food- haha! It was overwhelming for sure! My top faves were the toss salad with pickles and red wine vinaigrette dressing, spicy cucumber quinoa salad, the garlic cheese bread, the blueberry muffins with honey-whipped butter, and the vanilla/chocolate soft serve frozen yogurt. Oh my gosh! My mouth is watering just thinking about it. I want to go back! I wish we had a Sweet Tomatoes here in Hawaii. I would be there ALL THE TIME!

Sweet Tomatoes/Souplantation (various locations)
https://souplantation.com/

Holy moly chicken!

Happy Sunday! Man, did this weekend fly back or what?

Last weekend, we celebrated one of my gf’s bdays at Restaurant 604, near the Arizona Memorial. We loved it there. The view was very serene, as it looks out at the marina. We want to go back during the daytime. I’m sure the view is even more breathtaking in the daytime. We enjoy outdoorsy-type of restaurants. It feels more open and we get to breathe in the fresh air.

The bday lady and I ordered the same dish! Roasted half-pound chicken with garlic mash. Oh my gosh! It was a lot of food! The chicken was huge, and so full of meat! I loved it! The gravy and mash were amazing! Mmm mmm! I ate this for the next couple meals. It was THAT much! I want to try their pasta next! You know me and pasta! My go-to comfort food!

Restaurant 604
57 Arizona Memorial Dr.
Honolulu, 96818
https://www.restaurant604.com/

Enjoy the last day of the weekend!