Mana'e Goods and Grindz ▪ Molokai Island

Mauka Side Hwy 450 East
Kaunakakai, Hawaii

After a good hike to Haipuapua Falls on Molokai Island, we asked our guide where we should eat and she recommended having the chicken katsu at Mana'e Goods and Grindz. You can't beat the recommendation of a local connoisseur!

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Mana'e Goods and Grindz.

Mana'e Goods and Grindz might not look like much of a restaurant, but rather a counter like its name describes; however, its food was awesome. Well really, we can only vouch for the chicken katsu  since we each ordered the Japanese fried chicken dish. The plate included a generous portion of fried chicken morsels, a serving of rice and a salad (there was a choice of potato salad I think too).

Mana'e Goods and Grindz - Chicken Katsu plate
Chicken katsu plate.

The boneless pieces of chicken were still moist and so crispy. It was such a treat to dip them in the BBQ sauce. This chicken katsu became a baseline for fried chicken for the rest of our trip.

Mana'e Goods and Grindz - Chicken Katsu
Chicken katsu.

Mana'e Goods and Grindz is the perfect spot for local fare. We really felt like we got to try some good Hawaiian food! We even drove all the way there for seconds but it was unfortunately closed by the time we got there on Labour Day.

 Mana'e Goods and Grindz on Urbanspoon


Big Daddy's Store ▪ Molokai Island

67 Ala Malama Avenue
Kaunakakai, Hawaii

After arriving on Molokai Island, Cee, E and I went searching for lunch on the main street. After debating between different small restaurants, we agree to try filipino food at Big Daddy's Store.

Big Daddy's Store
Big Daddy's Store.

Big Daddy's Store is a no-frills lunch counter. You pick a meat and a vegetable dish, and it is served with rice. I think E ordered the Korean fried chicken that looks mighty good, with a side of mung bean.

Big Daddy's Store - Fried Chicken
Fried chicken.

I was still trying to be somewhat "healthy" and ordered the pork adobo, braised pork that really reminded me of the Vietnamese version of braised pork. The pork was well cooked and tender. The vegetables were a mix of okra, squash and greens.

Big Daddy's Store - Braised pork
Pork adobo.

We knew were eating authentic local food as we were surrounded by local diners. That's the way I like eating my food!


The Chart House ▪ Waikiki

1765 Ala Moana Boulevard
Honolulu, Hawaii

On our first night in Waikiki, still feeling jet lagged, we decided to go downstairs and have dinner at The Chart House. The Chart House is a seafood/steak place and was packed on the Friday we were there.

The Chart House
The Chart House.

Cee ordered a Hawaiian dish, ahi limu  poke ($11.50), which is a raw fish salad. I am not the biggest eater of raw fish but I figured I should learn quickly if I was to be in Hawaii. I ordered the black & blue ahi (lite: $8.50). I actually enjoyed it very much, and it was the first of many ahi that I had rare. I especially liked the spicy wasabi sauce and the accompanying creamy avocado.

The Chart House - Ahi poke The Chart House - Black & Blue Ahi
Ahi Poke; Black & Blue Ahi.

To accompany my ahi, I also ordered the crab & shrimp stuffed mushrooms (lite: $8.50). For some reason, I expected something light but it was nothing but light. The mushrooms sat on mashed potatoes, and a hollandaise sauce was doused on the stuffed mushrooms. It was very good!

The Chart House - Crab & Shrimp Mushrooms
Crab & shrimp stuffed mushrooms.

Finally, E ordered a main of seared tuna that she seemed to enjoy.

The Chart House - Seared Ahi
Seared tuna main.

Chart House on Urbanspoon


Wailana Coffee House ▪ Waikiki

1860 Ala Moana Boulevard
Honolulu, Hawaii

Cee and I landed in Honolulu after traveling for more than 12 hours. We debated what to do while we waited for E to come home from work. Finally, we landed on hanging out at a coffee place nearby and the shuttle company recommended Wailana Coffee House. Wailana Coffee House is more diner than coffee house, with an old school decor.

Wailana Coffee House Wailana Coffee House - interior
Wailana Coffee House.

Cee ordered a burger that gave her access to the salad bar. I stole some of her kimchi that was so, so tasty. This was the start to the numerous Asian influences we observed. While there were Korean pickles at the salad bar, my choice of banana lumpia ($5.50) was of filipino influence. Bananas wrapped up and deep fried, topped with ice cream and whipped cream. This was the beginning of a very decadent holiday in Hawaii.

Banana Lumpia
Banana lumpia.

Wailana Coffee House on Urbanspoon



I had the most amazing opportunity to visit Hawaii when my friend Cee's friend's, E, was to spend four weeks in Honolulu for work. Lucky for me, I invited myself and tagged along to visit Hawaii for the first time. There is a reason that Hawaii is everyone's dream vacation; it's because it's a beautiful, idyllic island.

I just wanted to write an overview of my week in Hawaii, which will be photo heavy. I will follow with the food write-ups (17 of them in total!). It's a different vacation when you travel with a fellow foodie and we did not hold back!


E stayed in a condo in Waikiki, in the heart of the action. It was perfect to go on morning runs on the beach (especially when I would wake up, still on East Coast time) or walk to a great selection of restaurants in Waikiki.

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Cee and I landed on the Friday before Labour day weekend, and we decided to join E on a 3 day trip to Molokai Island. Molokai is the 5th largest island in Hawaii, and is one of the lesser touristy one, unlike Maui.

Molokai Island.

We rented a Jeep and E drove along the coast to check out beautiful beaches. We also went on a few hikes including to Haipuapua Falls and down the Kaulapapa Trail to find a beautiful remote beach.

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Beaches on Molokai Island.

One of the highlights of Molokai was enjoying fresh tropical fruit: passion fruit, pomelo, papaya, pineapple. The lady who ran our B&B had avocado trees. On one of our hikes, we walked through mango trees, and I could smell the fruit that had fell on the ground. Surreal!

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Tropical fruit.

When we got back to Waikiki, we checked out the city, including going to the flea market at Aloha Stadium (where I picked up  my own ukulele!). There, you will find souvenirs that are more affordable than in Waikiki. I also tried pineapple with li hing mui, a Chinese (I think) mix of sweet and salty seasoning. There is a lot of Asian influence when eating in Hawaii.

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Flea market.

Cee and I spent a day driving along the North Shore to check out more beaches. We encountered shrimp trucks, and looked at sea turtles basking in the sun on Laniakea Beach.

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North Shore beaches.

A worthwhile expedition is snorkeling in Hanauma Bay. It's very touristy and busy but that's because the reefs are just amazing. I saw so many colourful fish swimming among the reefs. I was also lucky enough to come face to face with a green sea turtle, slowly munching on its lunch of seaweed.

Reefs in Hanauma Bay.

Capturing sunsets in Hawaii is a must!

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Hawaiian sunsets.

Upcoming posts include encountering an Iron Chef, eating malasadas (Portuguese donuts), visiting many Diners, Drive-in and Dives and going to our first luau.


Caramelized Onion and Pancetta Quiche

This recipe was such a winner that I actually made it twice in the span of a month. I love the savouriness of the pancetta and Gruyère cheese and the sweetness of the caramelized onions against the ultra flaky crust.

Caramelized Onion and Pancetta Quiche.

I also loved this quiche recipe because I actually learned how to master three recipes:
1) caramelized onions
2) flaky pâte brisée - perfect go to recipe for pie dough
3) quiche

I was able to master the three recipes because they were very easy to follow with some good, no fail tips that can be applied to other recipes.

Caramelized Onion and Pancetta Quiche
Originally seen on Cupcakes and Cashmere, recipes from Simply Recipes.

Caramelized Onions
The main tip for making good caramelized onions is patience, patience and more patience. I put the timer on to make sure I cooked the onions for 40 minutes and did not cheat! You should plan to make more than the recipe requires because it'll be hard to resist sampling some, or it'd be great to save for other recipes (like onion dip!).

* olive oil
* 2 red onions, sliced thinly
* salt
* 1 tsp balsamic vinegar

Heat olive oil in a pan on medium/high heat.
Add the onion slices and sprinkle a little bit of salt on top.
Cook, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes, until onions have softened and are translucent.
Reduce the heat to medium low and cook for an additional 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are well browned.
Add balsamic vinegar and cook for 10 minutes more, until onions are completely caramelized.
Set aside.

Red onions Caramelized onions
Caramelized onions.

Pâte Brisée
The key tip for a flaky crust is to use frozen butter. Do not skip this step and you will have the best crust with minimal effort. From Simple Recipes - refer to the site for great step by step pictures.

* 1-¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
* ½ tsp salt
* ½ tsp sugar (increase to 1-½ tsp if for a sweet recipe)
* 8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, very-cold, cut into ½ inch cubes
* 3 to 4 Tbsp ice water, very cold

Cut up a stick of butter into small (about ½-inch) cubes, and put it into the freezer for at least 15 minutes, better an hour, best overnight.
Place the flour, salt, and sugar into a food processor and pulse until well combined.
Add half of the butter cubes and pulse 6 to 8 times.
Add the other half of the butter cubes and pulse 6 to 8 more times. You should have a mixture that resembles a coarse meal, with many butter pieces the size of peas.
Add a couple of tablespoons of ice cold water (without the ice!) to the food processor bowl and pulse a couple of times.
Then add more ice water, slowly, about a tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition, until the mixture just barely begins to clump together. (If you pinch some of the crumbly dough and it holds together, it's ready, if not, add a little more water and pulse again. Try to keep the water to a minimum. Too much water will make your crust tough.)
Remove the crumbly mixture from the food processor and place on a very clean, smooth surface.
Use your hands to press the crumbly dough together and shape into a disc.
Work the dough only enough to just bring the dough together. (Do not over-knead or your crust will end up tough.)
Sprinkle the disc with a little flour on all sides.
Wrap the disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour. (At this point you can freeze the dough disk for several months until ready to use. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator before proceeding.)
When you are ready to roll out the dough, remove the disk from the refrigerator and place on a clean, smooth, lightly floured surface, letting it sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
Sprinkle some flour on top of the disk.
Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a 12 inch circle, to a thickness of about ⅛ of an inch thick.
Place on to a 9-inch pie plate, lining up the fold with the center of the pan. (I used a fluted tart pan with removable bottom.)
Gently unfold and press down to line the pie dish with the dough.

Quiche crust
Flaky crust.

Although the recipe calls for pre-baking the crust, I skipped this this step both times with no issues. In terms of tips for quiche, if you follow the recipe for the egg mixture, you can add any filling that you come up with, although cheese is kind of required. Just mind the filling ingredients when seasoning the quiche. In this case, there is no need for additional salt, considering the salty pancetta and cheese as filling. Once the dough is rolled, it's just an assembly job.

* 1 recipe pie dough
* 6 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated (1-½ cups)
* caramelized onion
* 3 large eggs
* ½ cup milk
* ½ cup heavy cream
* pinch nutmeg* Pancetta, cubed and cooked
* chives

Ingredients for quiche Quiche into the oven
Quiche closeup
Quiche ingredients.

Preheat oven to 350F.
Place tart pan on a baking sheet to catch any run-off there might be. (This is worthwhile as there will be run-off.)
Sprinkle half the cheese evenly over the bottom of the crust.
Spread caramelized onions and pancetta over the cheese.
Top with remaining cheese and chives.
In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, cream, and eggs.
Season with nutmeg and pepper.
Pour egg mixture onto crust.
Bake until just set in the center, 30 to 35 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack for about 10-15 minutes before slicing.

Quiche slice.

This makes the perfect brunch dish, that can be served with a side salad. Everything can be prepared the night before, and just baked in the morning.


Look for less : Sweatpants

I have been obsessed with getting sweatpants at the derision of my friends since seeing these pictures.  But I and my vision trudge on, so I thought I'd do a look for less.

Zara is definitely my go to for jackets these days.  They are very affordable for the high fashion styles they carry, like this faux leather sleeved version of the classic black jacket.

via Zara

I don't really need to tell anyone where to get white tees, but I love getting mine on special at Gap!

via Gap

To stay true to the inspiration photo I went with these loungewear sweats from Gap, they had a fashion version that very quickly sold out.  Of course I would get a larger size for a looser fit than on the model.  For a dressier version, try these.

via Gap

The Isabel Marant Dicker boots have been worn by everyone under the sun!  When I first saw them I scoured the web looking for cheaper lookalikes with no luck; now the market is saturated with them.  Nonetheless this is a very flattering and comfortable style, so don't wear it out!  I was lucky enough to stumble across my pair at an Aldo outlet in the US for the ridiculously low price of $22.49, but here is the newer version.
via Aldo

Mine have been crazy comfortable. These seem to have a taller heel but still manageable.

Would you dress up sweatpants?