CHEF SAMBRANO Food Articles Video Recipes




Thursday, March 29, 2012

MAUI Fernandos Mexican Grill and Cantina

I can tell you this much, I love Mexican food period. And Maui believe it or not has some pretty good Mex. Okay it ain't Mexico, and it ain't Arizona, Vegas, or Southern California, or Tex Mex, give me some slack here okay? But we do have... not bad Mex on Maui. The true aficonados will total disagree, almost 100% of the time, you know that dude, "What?!!! No way man I went to college in Phoenix, I surfed in Baja, I lived in Mexico, my girl is Mexican, I know the president of Mexico, I live and breath Mexican food bro! So don't you tell me that Maui has good or close to good Mex, man don't go there!"

Well, I will, and I think for what it is and where we are, we do have pretty good stuff, and one place I like is Fernandos Mexican Grill & Cantina, located in Kahului at the Queen Kaahumanu Center next to Sears, Fernandos is really good, I think the food taste good anyhow, and okay, okay I did not go to Mexico, but I did try some killer Mex in Vegas and in Southern Cal, so I know the standards are pretty high when you come from those locations. But Fernandos is a cool restaurant, everyday from 2p-6p, it is Happy Hours time! You can get hard shell tacos for $2.00, Taquitos for $3.00, $2.25 Bud Light/Michelob draft, $4.50 original lime margaritas, it's perfect. The ambience is relaxing, you can do a business lunch here, or meet a friend after surfing, enjoy the t.v. sports might be on.

The $2.00 tacos rule, can't get any better than that, so for 10 bucks, you can have a couple tacos and a beer or  

Phone: 808-871-5999

Pictured Below in order, Nachos, Torta, Chile Verde

Visitors are seeking out the local plate lunch scene more so now than ever before, the Pac Rim high end cuisine are always elevating with chefs on Maui such as Peter Merriman, leading with his high profile restaurants, and I'm out at Kapalua Maui, and believe me, his restaurant seems to be always busy. 

But the visitors who eat at places such as Merriman's are now searching for those mom and pop digs, where a great and tasty meal can be bought without spending a fortune, with shows on the Food Network and Travel Channels promoting out of the way diners that have a local following in anywhere U.S.A., foodies are searching for what Hawaiians eat, and they are out in force.

Recently I spoke to a well known chef here on Maui, he just did not want to reveal his name because of a current venture he is working on with investors, but what he told me was very very interesting.

"Ron if I could do this whole thing over again, and could foresee the future, I would not be in this high end business of fancy high end foods, I'd get some people together, and cook and sell what my grandma and mother made at home, here in Hawaii, there's a plate lunch revolution going on, and it is really hitting very fast!"

Chef went on to explain, "If done right, you would have a huge huge profit margin, the cooking would be much more simpler, no need to find exotic herbs or spices, just the basic ingredients we know and love, salt and pepper, garlic, ginger, shoyu, sesame oil etc. and you could really make a killing, the tourist are looking for Spam Musubi now, my daughter is in college, she makes it for her friends on outings, she said 'dad, I tell them Spam is just like a sausage,' and they eat it up. She goes through lots of nori."

So then what is really happening in the plate lunch world? I'll tell you, visitors that come to these islands are smarter and more informed because of devices such as the iPhone, or Android smart phones, before, the only info they got was from publications such as Menu etc. or The Maui News, or Channel 7's visitor channel, but now, friends are telling their friends around the world about their dining experience.

One visitor told me, "Ron I had a loco moco the other day from L&L, and it was just great! My husband wants to eat that everyday." One visitor asked me, "Ron where can I get some good Malaysian food? I said, I don't know on Maui, but if you like Malay, you would love Filipino food, so I told him to head to Paradise Market on Wakea in Kahului for some adobo, and some pork with mung beans, and some pancit noodles, when he saw me a few days later, the guy and his family were hooked on Paradise and Filipino food, it is just scratching the surface, anyone that wants to make money in the food biz, I'm telling you, go plate lunches and do it right, like how a backyard cook would prepare his or her food, or how grandma and the aunties cooked in their homes, it's a recipe for success.

Another chef I met from New York asked me this, "Ron I'm Italian, I'm a chef, I'm from New York, so the last thing I wanna freaking eat is Italian, what the hell you locals love to eat man?" So I asked him how was his Japanese chops? Did he study the Umami thang? Does he eat at Japanese restaurants? His reply was "No, I don't eat Japanese food, but I know of it, I don't eat sushi or anything like that." So I told him to go to Zushi in Lahaina, and to get the deep fried Chicken Teri with Miso Soup. He went there, and again I saw him a few days later, the chef man from New York was stoked! "That was the best freaking meal I had this whole trip man, so simple, just like how I cook, simple, not overdone man."

Simplicity is what people are after, I've told some folks to go to Aloha Mixed Plate for local food, and they all came back to me happy I referred them there, amazingly, some never tried teriyaki beef the way we make it. People love simple, and that's exactly what local plate lunches are, simple, not complicated at all, you really don't need to be a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu to open a plate lunch counter, just basic cooking skills, fry an item just right, stew the meats just right, not too much salt, stuff like that.

I had some people that were staying in the mansion/gated community in Kapalua tell me that their travels around the world gave them lots of appreciation for food, but guess what? They told me this, "There's nothing better than having Chow Fun and Chicken Katsu once we land on Maui, nothing can take its place!"

Okay you entrepreneurs, get your business plans out, and do your research, find a good place to lease and cook up a storm and sell those plates!

Pictured is a Beef Chowfun Plate

MAUI Local Japanese Food RAMEN YA

You're visiting Maui, you've never been here before, you're used to foods such as meatloaf and gravy, burgers, stews, lasagna, stuff like that. You want to experience what we here on Maui eat, what is our food? If you haven't known this by now, Hawaii is a melting pot of many ethnic backgrounds, nationalities abound here. I the writer of the blog come from a Filipino/American family, in our home our parents cooked foods from America, China, Japan, Hawaii, and the Philippines. Growing up my friends and I experienced many different foods from different cultures, that's Hawaiian food in a sense.

So here is my take on my favorite Japanese Restaurant because it is simple food done right, the prices are reasonable, the dig is in a shopping center, the Queen Kaahumanu Center in Kahului, just minutes from OGG, or Kahului Airport. The menu is not huge, just right, the name of this dig is called RAMEN YA. They specialize in soups, real ramen, not the kind you buy in those foam cups, you know the cases that sell for five bucks, the ones college kids eat because it is cheap, the same foam cups we used to use when we got drunk the night before, just add water and nuke it in the microwave and viola, ramen noodles soup. But not here junior, this is the real deal, RAMEN YA rocks!

OPEN DAILY Mon-Sat. 1030a-930p Sun. 1030a-830p Queen Kaahumanu Center 275 W. Kaahumanu Ave #1043 808-873-9688

Side Orders $2.50-$8.25 Shrimp Katsu, Chicken Katsu, Spam Katsu, Mochiko Chicken, Cold Tofu, Edamame, Gyoza, Unagi Rice

SOUP $3.95-$5.25 Gyoza Soup, Wonton Soup, Miso Soup, Egg Soup, Seaweed Soup.

Here is where Ramen Ya rocks, the COMBO SETS! The Combo Set A comes with Mini Ramen, Mini Fried Rice, 4 pieces of Gyoza for $9.25 B comes with Wonton Soup, Mini Curry Rice, and 4 pieces of Gyoza for $9.25. C comes with Mini Unagi Rice, Miso Soup, 4 pieces Gyoza for $10.75. D comes with Gyoza Teishoku-6 pieces, Egg Soup, and Steamed Rice for $9.25

My favorite dishes at Ramen Ya is the Kim Chee Ramen, the Wonton Ramen, Mochiko Chicken Plate, Beef Curry and Chicken Curry Plates with rice, all for under 10 bucks!!!!! Bring the kids because the chef can make smaller kids friendly meals for less than 6 bucks, not bad my friends. So remember if you come to Maui and want to eat local food, well Japanes food is part of our local food culture, and for sure you'll love Ramen Ya. They are easy to find in the mall, look for the Macy's for women, they are on the east corner, next to Koho's Restaurant, by the way is also a good dig to visit.

In the event you're hammered from the night before, maybe you went to a bachelor party, or watched an MMA fight, got drunk and is suffering a hang over delux, Ramen Ya is the fix for you, believe me, if you've never eaten Japanes food before, you'll love this place, the aroma may be alien to you but believe me again, you'll love it, Japanese cooking is one of the lightest and healthiest of Asian cooking, if you love cutlets, like veal cutlets, or chicken cutlets, try the chicken katsu plate with curry it is the bomb man. And if you want to shop, most of the locals go to this mall, so you may be able to eat a great meal, and then spend more money to help keep Maui's economy going.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

MAUI Sushi @ Kai Ritz Carlton Kapalua

Sunday evening my production man Sascha Bauml said, "Ron we got to get your audio down man, it's important for all the voice over stuff we'll need, but first let's go to Kai and get something to eat." Okay we went, to the Ritz Carlton Kapalua to Kai Sushi in the lobby, over looking the ocean, quite frankly I wasn't dressed right, I was in my uniform, I just got off of Kapalua, really the last place I wanted to be, but what the hell, Christine Sascha's girlfriend got us some grines.

If you're at the Ritz, Kai Sushi is very very good, in fact excellent, the views from the window is awesome, on this particular evening, the water was choppy out in the Pailolo Channel, that 9 mile stretch of ocean that separates East Molokai and the beach in front of the Ritz. But the views are incredible, it will lower your stress just being there. On this evening Tiger Woods just won for his first time in 30 months, winning Arnold Palmer's Invitational. So after we ate, we hung around to watch the t.v. in the bar, and there was Tiger fist pumping as he walked off the 18th a champion again, I always knew he'd win again, he's probably back to banging hookers, he got his groove back, what ever works Tiger, you're not married so you aren't a cheetah.

So what did we talk about? We talked about being multi-billionaires with our video projects, and how we needed to get our funds all lined up, lots of great ideas but without the seed money it's pretty hard to do any kind of biz especially on Maui. Starting out in any kind of business here on Maui is just F....g hard, but we got the will to do it, we just have to stay focused.

Looking at the island, and the local population, as well as the part-timers that own property here, and of course the visitors, there's a lot of potential here even if the nay sayers are saying, "No not now, don't even bother starting a business, it's still too fragile, you may lose everything." Well, what if we F   g died today after I wrote this blog?

After talking at Kai, by the way Sascha had his Spicy Tuna Roll with his Eel, and a Pina Colada without the rum, and I had a plate of Ahi Sashimi, and a Heineken, that's all I needed, I didn't want any rice, too filling, because I had to go and work on audio, that's reading a script, and listening to it again and again to get the right feel. Audio work ain't easy, you kind of have to get out of your lazy zone, and energized, if I ate rice, I'd be slow and sluggish. So Kai Sushi is a really nice spot in Kapalua to get your sushi fix, it is classy, and you are paying for the ambiance.

First pic is Kai Sushi's Spicy Tuna Roll w/ Eel, the second picture is a plate of Ahi Sashimi the fatty part.

Friday, March 23, 2012

MAUI- Holy Mackerel!!!

If Maine is famous for lobsters during the season, then our Spring to Summer Akule (ah koo leh) a mackerel is our good eat. Caught by nets draggin off of a boat, fishermen catch tons of it during the season, and it is very common to see them selling this torpedo looking fish with big eyes (Big Eye Scad) on the sides of the highway for as little as a few bucks for a whole sack of it. Likened to a baby tuna, the reddish/pinkish meat is great tasting, either raw, with sushi rice all rolled up or deep fried with a soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, scallion concoction, Akule rules!

If you are coming from the mainland, during the season, and you have a condo and kitchen, try and get a sack of this Big Eye Scad. Gut them, clean the skin to rid of whatever is on there. Slit them with a sharp knife, season it with salt and pepper, and dredge it in flour, and fry them in hot hot oil, making the outside crispy, but the insides nice soft and moist.

Dipping sauces can be homemade or bought, sweet chili sauce, fish sauce, wasabe and soy sauce, or chutneys can be used for this fish. So remember this fish Akule (ah koo leh), buy some, clean it up, and fry them up, eat it with steaming hot white rice.

Unfortunately Maui sucks, there's hardly any digs that will serve fried Akule these days, what a shame, but you can find a local and have them cook it for you, make some friends while you're here, or if a local invites you to his or her house for some deep fried Akule, do not pass this chance up, for you only live once. I for one if went to Maine and was invited to some local's home for lobster I would not pass it up for certain.

Fried Akule from Ethel's thanks for the picture, notice this fish is crispy on the outside, and guess what? You get a whole fish! Some digs will slam 2 or 3 fish on your plate if they are over stocked, and we locals are very kind, don't be surprised if you find a dig that sells this fish, you'll get some extra on a chance occasion. 

I like my fried Akule very simple, heat up some sesame oil, and soy sauce with ginger and garlic and some green onions and just smother it, over some white rice and a nice mac salad does the trick. Yeah Hawaiians love fish, if we could eat fish 4 out of 7 days out of the week it would be epic, plus the fish has all the good nutrients, like the omegas and hardly any sat fats. Wow braddah, fry me up some Akule.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Maui The Hamburger Steak Plate What Makes It Rock?

Plate lunch aficionados, those people that are always eating lunch at the best and most tastiest restaurants, or counters, or lunch trucks know what makes a Hamburger Steak Plate Rock! And here are some testimonies from my fans of this blog.

Jason (Kihei) Bradda, what makes a good Hamburger Steak Plate is the hamburger quality, the seasonings, the gravy, the rice, the mac salad. The hamburger needs to be of good quality beef, a good grade of ground Chuck, with some fat. And it has to be mixed well, really moist, maybe some minced onions, and some good amount of onion and garlic powder, just enough salt and pepper, some eggs, and steak sauce just to give it flavor. And the patties, has to break apart with a fork. The gravy can't be package kine, no way bradda, they have to have some beef stock or broth around and make the gravy from drippings of beef, so it tastes fresh. Rice needs to be sticky, mac salad has to be just right, some celery, onions, carrots, crab meat even. But the Hamburger Steak needs to be tasty without the gravy, if you bite into a hamburger steak it has to have flavor without the gravy.

Kanani (Waihee) Ron... I don't know who makes a better Hamburger Steak out there, seriously my grandma makes it da bess! She uses ground Chuck, and she marinates the ground beef over night. The secret is the amount of these ingredients, but she uses, salt and pepper, soy sauce, minced green onions, eggs, sour cream, mayonnaise, and yellow mustard, and some steak sauce. Then when she is ready to form the patties, she uses some panko flakes, and she fries it up in a stainless steel pan, and then she uses the drippings from the pan to make a gravy, the gravy is the bomb! Her mac salad has lots of either tuna or crab meat and potatoes, and some other veggies, green peas mostly, her mac salad can be a meal in itself!

Larson (Portland) Bradda Ron, I miss watching your kick ass shows on Akaku, but I tell you what makes one good Hamburger Steak is the meat, got to have quality good kine ground beef, my papa used to grind sirloin from some fresh Maui cattle bradda, and was nuts, the meat was kind of lean but was good with some marbling, but what my papa used to do was put soy sauce, salt and pepper, mayo, minced onions, and some celery salt and oyster sauce. And he would put those suckers on the pan fry em up, and use the pan for make the gravy. He made fried rice with that, and the only thing was papa never made mac salad, he hated macaroni for some reason, so he made potato salad, was ono. I went to culinary school for about 2 years, and learned all the fu fu kine stuffs, but if I was to open one restaurant, cuz would be choke local kine grines, for sure papa's Hamburger Steaks would be on the menu.

Penny (Anaheim) Bradda Ron, a great Hamburger Steak is simple, no herbs, no spices nothin bradda, just some salt and pepper, maybe garlic powder, eggs, ketchup, and Best Foods Real Mayonnaise cuz, if you put mayonnaise in the mix, it makes it really moist, and you gotta smash it on the pan real hot, so it thins out, so it breaks apart easy with a fork when you eat em... hoooooo yeah bradda!

Bradda Boy (Planet Earth) Bradda Ronnnnieeeee!!!! You guys jam on Akaku cuzin but man, here's my take on a great Hamburger Steak Plate. The beef gotta have flavor, I no care where I go buy em, gotta break easy when I hit it with the fork, and the gravy bettah not be package kine! The mac salad has to have moisture man! Mayonnaise cuz, it's all about da Mayo in da mac salad!

Jenna (Central Maui) My husband scolds me when I make the hamburger patties too hard and too thick. He wants it to be moist, and falls apart when he eats it, he doesn't want anything in the mix except some steak sauce, mayo, shoyu, eggs, salt and pepper and panko crumbs, that's it. For the gravy he doesn't mind me using some canned beef broth and stir it up with drippings from the pan I fried the hamburger in. The rice has to be sticky, and the mac salad needs to have crab meat and green peas, and lots of mayonnaise, we go through mayonnaise like crazy in our house, he even puts mayo on his rice believe it or not.

Okay so now you got an idea on what some peeps feel about the famous plate lunch item called Hamburger Steak... it's all about taste, and has to be freshly made, especially the gravy, no package kine cuz! And the mac salad? it has to have some flavor too, it has to be moist, has to have Best Foods Mayonnaise... That's a no brainer for all locals here in Hawaii are mayo lovers, mayo is a condiment that is in every local's kitchen. One would not think to put mayonnaise in a hamburger mix, but it's done, and that makes it rock, steak sauce too, mustard was another. Well, go figure it out, there's all kinds of great recipes. Maybe grind your own Chuck or sirloin? All about freshness it seems... well of course it is... and if you want to open up a local plate lunch dig, you better not cut corners, you can't fool local eaters, they know when they're being screwed, they know what foods should be like, yes sir, yes mam, use quality ingredients, use fresh stuff and you'll be fine. More on the subject later.

Friday, March 16, 2012

My friend Barbara Cobey Mixologist at Sarento's On The Beach in Wailea invited me to visit her friend Barry Allison who owns Kihei Cafe and his other venture FRESH TORTILLAS OF MAUI, located in the Dolphin Plaza in South Kihei across of Kam 1 in the heart of Condo Land. Ha ha.

Note: Barry ran away he did not want to be photographed.

When we got there we were met by Master Tortilla maker, Marco and his assistant Mariano, and it was a very interesting operation, according to Marco, "We make 5,000 tortillas an hour with this machine, we sell to many restaurants, we make the best tortillas we pump them out fast." And yes, fast is an understatement, watching Marco and Mariano work, they are like the Roadrunner ditching  Wyle E. Coyote around the desert. 

The machine is crazy huge, in the factory different types of flours are stacked about four feet high, and in the walk-in fridge, there's stacks and stacks of tortillas, corn and flour ready to be packaged and shipped to its final destination. Barbara and I tasted the fresh flour tortillas that came out when it was warm and headed for the cooling apparatus, man they were fresh! There's a difference from fresh and packaged from some mainland store, you can taste the plastic when you buy those store bought ones from the mainland.

It was a fun time, that invitation was so good, and Barbara is a foodie too, after that she and Barry invited me to go to lunch at his Kihei Cafe in the Kalama Village, cool, there's nothing like being invited to eat, and they let you blog them. It's great for my Foodie Blogger resume I guess, but what is really cool is the friendships you make along this journey called life. Barry is a cool dude, my Blackend Fish Sandwich was great, and Barbara's Country Fried Steak was Epic, yeah I said it Epic, go ahead kill me, excuse me for living. The pics at the very bottom is the lunch Barry got us.


You're looking for Mexican food on Maui, and you've seen the standards like Maui Tacos, or Amigo's, or Fred's, all great restaurants that has been around for years, but try and check out Taqueria Cruz in the Dolphin Plaza in Kihei, Maui. It's close to all of the Kamaole Beaches, 1, 2 and Kam 3.

They want you to know through their take out menu that they are open Monday- Saturday 11am to 8pm, and they do accept Visa, MC, and Discover, but the question is, do they take cash?

Located at 2395 S. Kihei Road #112, Kihei, HI 96753

Tuesdays and Saturdays
6:30P to 830P

They have take out call them at 808-875-2910 B.Y.O.B.

Pollo (chicken) 2.95
Picadillo (groud beef) 2.95
Carne (shredded beef) 3.95
Carnitas (pork) 2.95
Poblano Raja (veggie) 3.95
Pescado (fish) 3.95

Combos range from 7.95 to 9.95 and you get 2 tacos, Rice and Beans, pretty standard in pricing for Maui Mexican Food.

Burritos run 7.95 to 8.95 on its own, fresh Fresh Guacamole add 3.95
QUESADILLAS run 8.95 to 9.95, sodas and juices 1.50; Arizona Green Tea 2.00 not bad.

All items served fresh with fresh chopped cilantro.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

MAUI Chef Tal Ronnen An Inspiration

Last year I was fortunate to have a job at Barnes and Noble selling books, and one area I'd frequent when Cindy our manager wasn't looking was the food section. There was one book that stood out above all others it was Chef Tal Ronnen's book The Conscious Cook. His book is devoted to eating meatless, zero animal by products, it is a vegan cookbook. I used to work along side some very talented young vegan chefs at Down To Earth when Lahaina had that shop. So I knew when looking at Chef Tal's recipes that it was excellent stuff, and for sure it was tasty.

Just reading about this man that devotes his time to instructing and giving talks on healthy cooking is inspirational on a worldwide stage, he's done cooking for big time celebrities, but for anyone that wants to cook vegan and get ideas for great presentations, I do suggest that you check out Tal on the web. awesome information.

If you've never tried a vegan diet before and thought it was just bland food, you are ultimately wrong, nothing could be further from the truth. There are all sorts of fantastic food items one can utilize for vegan cooking. One of Chef Tal's ingredient or product he uses is a vegan mayonnaise called Veganaise from Follow Your Heart, for a product that does not have any animal fats, Veganaise comes really close to real mayonnaise with zero cholesterol.

If there is one Celebrity Chef I'd like to meet it would be Tal Ronnen.  A vegan diet can mitigate blood pressure and diabetes, and depending on what vegetables or fruits you ingest, it can actually put certain cancers into submission.

If you want to learn vegan cooking, check the local paper, hook up with vegans on Facebook and Twitter, check establishments like Whole Foods, Down To Earth Natural Foods, Manna Foods, Maui Culinaray Academy, for information you're bound to find some awesome people that can teach you how to make some vegan meals.

Some sauces that Tal makes from nuts and vegan creams is fantastic, you'd be surprised that using vegan meats can turn any carnivore to halting his or her meat eating ways.

Another product Tal uses often is the vegan meat protein from Gardein, call it mock meats made with vegetables, they have veggie beef tips, veggie turkey, veggie crispy chicken. Go to for more info.

Good luck if you want to pursue vegan cooking or vegan eating, I swear it works, I went on a vegan diet several years ago for a couple months lost close to 30 big ones, and the BP went down! Try it, maybe not full time, but try it and work it into your life, no you don't need to give up meat all of sudden, but give it a go.

MAUI It Started with The Azeka Family

That Korean Style BBQ Short Ribs that's so very popular these days from any shore of the Hawaiian Islands, to the West Coast of Cali to the City of New York and everywhere in-between. Kalbi is king! When you think Beef Short Ribs, for me, I'm thinking "Chewy" because we've all had that not so experienced cook at the grill cooking up thick pieces of Short Ribs and when he puts it on the platter for everyone to take for themselves a hefty piece, we all need a knife to slice through it. Short Ribs are rather chewy last time I checked, it's a cut that really should be slow cooked over low heat for a while, or braised or stewed. But wait! 
If you slice those ribs across the ribs to make thinner cuts you have a Flanken Style Short Ribs like the picture here, you notice the thin bones? There's 5 in the top rib, so the thin Flanken slices makes it easier to eat, so grilling a cut this way is better, seldom did I need a knife to eat a Flanken cut, I just stick it in my mouth and grrrrrrine!

Who made this cut so popular on Maui? One answer, the Azeka family who ran the Azeka's Market in Kihei, now they own the Azeka Shopping Centers, capitalist? Why not, I would. Anyhow that's another story for another day. The Azeka's sold flanked ribs marinated in a sweet soy sauce by the tons, they had the best cuts, soaked overnight, sold in heavy duty plastic bags by the tons I say tons. We'd go there before a big ass evening of beers and friends and buy as many pounds as possibly could, we'd get the Kiawe grill going hot, and just sear those midgets up, nice and charred, but medium on the inside, the chef at the grill would put the cooked ribs in a deep hotel pan that he stole from.... the hotel where he worked, and before you knew it, what he cooked was eaten up fast!

We'd actually stand around the grill and eat it as soon as it was done, no time for the rice, as soon as the chef man was done we'd be on it in seconds. The aroma fills the air on any given Sunday during football season, and for certain on most weekends in some backyard, someone is grilling Kabli. So simple were the Azeka's, it was termed the "sweet meat" consisting of soy sauce, and sugar, and some other secret ingredients. Hmmm I think ginger and garlic maybe? Scallions? Oh well, that's the standard, oh yeah sesame oil too, but it's how they marinated it, just pure Ono Licious!

The Azeka's cut there ribs really nice, not too thick, but I remember they didn't rip us off like some places that sells Kalbi, and I won't name those establishments, but some places will charge you an arm and a leg for thin cuts like paper now that's not a way to treat your hard working customers, no sir Bobby! We locals get bloody pissed off I tells ya! We don't wants ta be ripped! And the Azeka's were Da Bomb! Good size slices for sure.

One time a friend wanted to try it, we turned him on to it, and the next thing you know he's buying shit loads of it for his friends to try... and then... sadly the Azeka's folded their market, sold some stuff and turned their fortunes into the Azeka Shopping Center, man what a business, they Kept It Simple Stupid KISS.

Oh well... go get some Flankens and try it yourself, there's all kinds of different Korean recipes out there, I'm not saying to make it totally sweet, I know some people made it into a Mexican style Flanken, hot and spicy and hey it was great. But growing up on Azeka's style ribs... you get the pic don't you?

MAUI Family Eats Reasonable South Maui

You're staying in the Maalaea, Kihei, Wailea/Makena area, in a condo, a friend's house, or a hotel. You have wheels, and you want food that isn't too expensive, and just right for adults and youngsters as well. Where do you go? What do I suggest? Well, first of all you must have a smart phone, use the Bing or Google search engines. Until then, I'll give you some restaurant names starting with the Northern most marina town which is Maalaea (Ma a la aya), it is off of Hwy 30, about a half mile past the junction of 30 and 31, Hwy 31 is considered the North Kihei Road that leads North and South from Maalaea to Kihei, Wailea, and Makena.

Starting at the marina town Maalaea.

BEACH BUMS This is a great place, epic views of the harbor and ocean, with mount Haleakala in the backdrop, and the coastal Kihei/Wailea/Makena in sight as well. Beach Bums serves up great sandwiches like their home cooked BBQ, Briskets, Pulled Pork, Drunken Chicken, and other items, adults the bar is nice with cold brews and sports on the big monitors. (Located in the Shops downstairs)

ALOHA DELI Howard and Steve Canastra owns this little hot dog shop, juicy all beef dogs with several awesome toppings, smoothies too. After a whale watch or boat trip, this is a nice place for something easy to handle. (Located upstairs in the shops)

Now let's talk about what is close by the North Kihei areas.

Your best bet for the area of Kihei, it's not far if you have wheels, is locate the Azeka Shopping Center, there's a phase 1 and 2, both directly across the street of each other. On the ocean side, there's:

TACO BELL everyone knows this place, if not... you've been living in a cave.

HOMEMAID BAKERY just steps from Taco Bell this is a local establishment where you'll find local style plate lunches.

PEGGY SUE'S this is your local hamburger joint, great burgers. (Across the street)

STELLA BLUES call this your bistro type setting, good food for all.

PANDA'S fast Chinese food, not the best but it'll do for a hungry family.

Now off Highway 31, you'll see the Piilani (Pee ee lag nee) Shopping Village, the Safeway is the anchor can't miss it, it's right across the highway from the Elleair Golf Course. 

RUBY TUESDAYS fun place for the family that's a chain restaurant, sandwiches, drinks, they're well known so you should know what this place is all about.

L&L a local plate lunch restaurant, Chicken Katsu, Hawaiian Plates, Hamburger Steaks, sandwiches.

MAUI TACOS local Mexican food, fish tacos, burritos, tostadas.

BALE Vietnamese food, great soups, noodles and more, sandwiches are made fresh, even the French rolls are great to purchase to take home.

SUBWAY again, if you don't know about Subway sandwiches...

MINIT STOP a local food dig that's tied in to selling gasoline for you hungry car, famous for their Maui Fried Chicken.

Located off of Lipoa Street, and on Lihoa turn right there's a small seafood dig called

ESKIMO CANDY they sell fresh and frozen seafood to restaurants, and have a deli as well, great salads and sandwiches, fish and chips this is one of my favorite digs, say hi to Jeff Hansen and Victory his wife they own the joint.

Right down the street from Eskimo Candy is Pizza Madness, awesome pizzas and sandwiches and spaghetti, bar for the adults just look for the Maui Dive Shop and boom you are there!

Further south, you'll run into the Kukui Mall (Koo koo ee), there's a movie theater there, they have a yogurt stop, a restaurant called Oceans which is great for families for lunch and dinners. It sometimes turns into a night club at night.

Along the strip you'll see lots more places to eat, right next door to the Kukui Mall, there's 

KFC need I say more?

HAWAIIAN MOONS is a local health food dig located across the street from Kamaole Beach Park 1.

THE SPORTS PAGE a local sports bar with delicious food for the family.

MAUI TACOS local Mexican food.

Further South, look for Rainbow Mall

DA KITCHEN local food at its best, plate lunches are sold by the hundreds every day.

CAFE O LEI upstairs American, Asian excellent eats, mean desserts.

Down the street

MOOSE MC GILLYCUDDY bar, tacos, sandwiches and the beach Kamaole 2 is right across the street, "Awesome!"

FRED'S a very very good Mexican joint, downstairs from Mooses, great breakfasts, Juevo Rancheros are killer!

Further down on the ocean side, the border of Kihei and Wailea

Only one place! Sarento's on the Beach, a Mediterranean influenced restaurant, serving great quality kind of your fine dining on the beach, a gazzillion dollar view but prices are not too expensive, you pay for quality and that view. 

And when you get into the Wailea Resort, forget it!

MAUI Kid Friendly Eats

Your flight arrives either at Kahului Airport OGG, or Kapalua West Maui Airport JHM, and you guys are hungry, you have a family of four, your spouse and your two kids, your 8 year old and 5 year old. Your rental car is fine, no hassles, you are staying in a condo in Kaanapali, so where do you go to eat that kids will like? The fairway shops has a Round Table Pizza, and a  deli called CJs, and a Chinese restaurant called China Bowl. Trek to the Whaler's Village and there is a food court downstairs with a Mc Donald's a taco joint and sandwiches, and an Asian food counter all with meals that kids and the whole family will love.

If you are in the Honokowai to Kapalua area which is North of Kaanapali, there's Pizza Pardiso, a pizza place, Java Jazz, L&L Drive Inn for local food, and a Subway. There's also a Time's supermarket that has a deli, and groceries you can buy to take back to your room. In the Kahana area, Dolly's has sandwiches, that's on the lower road across of the Sands of Kahana Resort. A Mc Donald's right at the intersection, and China Boat down the street.

In Napili, there's Maui Tacos, Mama's Rotisserie famous for their chicken and ribs, and a new Thai restaurant opening soon. In Kapalua, there's the Honolua Store, their kitchen is open from 6am to around 3pm, they have ready made sandwiches, and lots of packaged snacks.

In Lahaina, there's a Teddy's Bigger Burgers in the Gateway Shopping Center, a Panda's, and a Genki Sushi, with an Outbacks Steakhouse on the top floor over Barnes and Noble, and there's a deli in the Barnes and Noble too that serves Starbucks drinks, sandwiches, pizza, bagels, quiche. Across the highway at the Cannery Mall, another L&L local dig, there's a Vietnamese dig called Bale, and a Mexican joint too.

Head to Lahaina Town just a minute from the Cannery south, there's Bubba Gumps shrimp, Moose's, Lahaina Pizza Co., Lahaina Coolers on Dickenson, and Kobe Steak House for dinners.

Not the most of a variety, but it is something.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

MAUI- Poi Our Starch

To the left is a bowl of poi, it comes from the taro plant that is native to the islands. You'll find poi on the line at Luaus both commercial and at traditional family luaus. The taste is bland, it's like pudding, it sticks to the spoon. Some people will add a teaspoon of sugar to sweeten it, but if you do that in front of a poi aficionado do expect that person to give you hell! But this is our starch most grew up with, it is very healthy, no funky processing is involved, just water and lots of pounding of the taro plant to a pulp, and this is what you get in the picture. Of course you may ask, what goes well with poi? Well, Kalua Pork is an excellent partner with Poi, Lau Lau, Laua Stews, fried local fish like Opelu and Akule, the first is pronounced (Oh peh loo), and the second (Ah koo lay). Mackerels if you will, and usually it is seasoned with Hawaiian sea salt, and soy sauce with maybe vinegar and ginger, or garlic with a minced green onion garnish. You can purchase poi in bags in most local markets 

A traditionalist pounds the taro into sticky poi, this is the way of the old Hawaiians, it is done with respect, blessings of the plant may take place, the natives valued the source of survival, it was done with reverence, the old were respected, the young were taught the importance of survival, the importance of taking care, to not destroy and the taro plant was grown in a very wet environment or lo i. Taro farmers were looked at as wise men, they were the purveyors of food, today there is quite a controversy with patents on the growing of taro, organic or natural farmers are up against major corporations, those big companies that want to use artificial chemicals to enhance the growth of this sacred plant grown only naturally by Hawaiian farmers.

The modern day consumer will buy a bag of poi such as this in the picture, if you decide to purchase poi, ask the clerks if it is fresh, or if that particular day will have fresh poi coming in, old poi will taste rancid, and sour, with a funky film in the bag. The plastic may lend a taste of plastic, so you do not want to purchase old bags of poi. If you are in the want for poi for a party you'll throw, call the companies that manufacture poi and get information on them supplying you with fresh bags of poi. Poi is a part of our culture, we do respect taro the base plant, without this starch we lose part of our culture.

MAUI Peking Duck

Locals on Maui love Chinese food, and one dish we love is Peking Duck, the famous spiced duck that you see hanging on the hooks in China Towns across the globe.

There's a few Chinese places on Maui that serve up this famous roasted bird, and I've blogged this subject before, and seriously it's hard to find good Peking duck here, however taking a flight or swim to the island of Oahu, right in the downtown area where China Town sits, there's a few excellent places to get it. So when I want good Peking Duck, and don't want to fly to Hong Kong, Honolulu is the city to get it. But this article is again just to let you mainland folks know what we love. Because the Chinese were part of the immigrants that came here long ago to work the plantations in sugar and in the pineapple fields, we grew up with Chinese food. Peking Duck is my fave for sure. A good Peking Duck is seasoned just right, some restaurants make it too damned salty and I can't have that because of the blood pressure thang! I like it just right, a tad sweet, and a little salty, but it has to have that aroma, the skin needs to be crispy, and the insides need to be juicy tender. If your Peking Duck is dried, send it back to the chef, and if he gives you an attitude, find out where his car is at, and flat his tires!!!!

Seriously Peking Duck rocks, it rules the school to me on all the other Chinese dishes, if I see someone eating it in a restaurant, and it looks as I just described? I'm all over it, i want a whole duck to myself, and you're talking an easy 4 lb. bird haha. 

Hanging Peking Duck, sorry bird, the Chinese add insult to injury, not only is this thing dead, but they have to hang it on display too. Leave it to the Chinese but a good Peking Duck is gold babe! Gold, pure gold!!!1

MAUI PIZZA- Pizza Madness

Here's a plug for a great place for fresh pizza here on Maui called PIZZA MADNESS, it is located on the south side of the island in the beach town of Kihei, the address is 145 S. Kihei Road #2, Kihei, HI 96753, the phone number is 808-270-9888

Pizza Madness Maui has the freshest pizzas, from the dough to the toppings, the sizes varies so if you want your own get a mini, and it goes up to 10", 14" and 16" sizes, and the toppings are popular topping ingredients, Anchovies, Bacon, Green Peppers, Ham, Jalapenos, Meatballs, Mushrooms, Olives, Onions, Pepperoni, Pineapple, Salami, Sausage, Tomatoes, & Garlic.

Prices range from 7.85 to 29.00 and if you get a salad with your mini pizza it cost just 2.50, and it is really good!

Their SIDES include: Garlic Bread, Garlic Stix, Cheese Bread, Pizza Breads with 2 items, Chicken Wings, Mozzarella Stix, Jalapeno Peppers 2.50 to 6.50.

Spaghetti Meals 9.50 and up
Hot Sandwiches 8" rolls 8.00 and up salad add ons, Ham, Turkey, Roast Beef, Turkey Avocado, Bacon.

Salads are huge too they have half orders available.

If you are in the Kihei, Wailea, or Makena areas, Pizza Madness is the place to eat, it's casual, it's close to the beaches and golf courses. For the adults, they have the beers too, nice and cold, this is a place I do suggest! Close to the the Catholic Church, and a block form Lipoa St. look for the Maui Dive Shop can't miss it, if you do, ask someone. Or visit their website

Hawaii- Plate Lunches Oahu

Going to Honolulu on the island of Oahu was always a treat, in my teen years, and beyond, it was Honolulu for events such as the University of Hawaii Wahine Volleyball games, golfing, friends and family, shopping because Maui lacked what Oahu had. Rock concerts, my cuz Dwight would get us tickets to some of the greatest rock acts to grace this earth, Rush, Ozzy, Yes, The Police, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Bryan Adams, and many others my brain cells are dead, can't remember too hazy.

But there was one thing back in those days, and even now, that is a must to go and eat, it is Rainbow Drive In, it is a totally local food place, the typical plates are found there on a paper plate in a pie box. Pictured is a mix of rice, mac salad, BBQ Beef, Mahi, Fried Chicken, eat this and you'll go to sleep. 

3308 Kanaina Ave.
Honolulu, HI 96815

Local food is very simple, other plates you have to get is the Curry Beef Stew, Shoyu Chicken, Loco Moco, Boneless Chicken with Gravy, Teri Beef, Chili and Rice, Pasta Salad, or a Slush Float with Ice Cream.... This is an institution, don't go to any place if you're in Waikiki, go here and get that local experience right off the bat... feed the birds there too.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

MAUI Wahoo (Ono) Da Fish Gold

One of my favorite fish to cook here in the islands is the Ono (Oh no).. or Wahoo, a.k.a. the King Mackerel. The fish is somewhat firm, but flaky when cooked, it is kind of on the whitish side, unlike the tuna Ahi or Aku with their reddish meat. If you haven't had Ono, give it a try, it is a game fish for sure, the catch season usually from May through the Fall, fishermen catch sizes from 8 lbs. up to 30 lbs. and beyond.

Ono can be eaten raw, if you like a tasty fish that's not really fishy, Ono is a good eat, Ono Poke with seaweed, kukui nut, onions, and other herbs and spices over soft sticky rice is the bomb, or rolled in sushi.

This fish can be made into awesome fish tacos, a grilled Ono steak over greens with a nice tangy sweet salad dressing. Sauté it in some safflower oil with garlic, add some wine and lemon juice, with some chopped dill, reduce it and finish it off with some cold butter to make a nice glossy sauce to pour over, salt and pepper it and you're good to go and eat.

Most restaurants on Maui will have Ono for you, if you do come to Maui try and check out Mama's Fish House in Paia Town, The Plantation House Restaurant in Kapalua, Dukes on The Beach in Kaanapali, Leilani's in Kaanapali, Kimo's in Lahaina, The Paia Fish Market in Paia, Eskimo Candy Seafood in Kihei.

Or you could call me if you need a personal cook for you and your special someone, we can make something happen with this fish I consider gold.

A pound of Ono,

Ono caught on a boat, they feed on other fish and squid, and can be caught with lures.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

MAUI The Right Spread When Hosting

This is just an idea for those of you who are foodies and hosts of parties, you know who you are, you just want to show off your spread of food to the neighbors and to share a great meal and fun time getting to know everyone which is cool.

This article is not about a fancy table of food, but what kinds of healthy alternatives you have on that spread. There's always someone that you invite that may need a low sodium meal, or a person just can't handle meat, or poultry or seafood, or they may be allergic to gluten or peanuts.

I myself have high blood pressure, it runs in the family, I try to eat right, but sometimes the location you are at at a particular time does not allow you to eat healthy. For myself, I have friends that are constantly cooking out and drinking which is cool, but I always turn away for the simple fact that I'm trying to stay away from salty foods, which is what my friends cook, they are heavy on the salt in all of their grilling, Bless them, I just have to stay away unless I know there is an alternative.

Here's an idea if you are hosting, cook most of your entrees using less salt, and let your guests know that you cooked low salt dishes on purpose just in case someone you invited may need a meal with low sodium. You can always have a fancy salt grinder on the table for your guests, this way in the event someone that does tag along that has a blood pressure issue will feel comfortable. Imagine if you have an ailment and you tagged along to a party that was alright for you to do, but could not eat salty foods? Imagine you passing up on the foods that are offered to you, that feels bad.

Hosting calls for finding out if some of your guests are allergic to any kind of food, or ingredients, and try to be accommodating, after all, you are a host, be a good host and find out before the event, "Hey Jenny does anyone in your party have any food issues? Oh, your uncle has diabetes? Okay I'll have some foods for him, I'll have desserts that are good for him, and some cool drinks he can drink that won't harm him." Now when Jenny hears this, man will she be wanting to come to your party. Heck you'll be shopping anyway, you might as well do it right and be a caring host.

And for diabetics, have sauces that doesn't have lots of sugars, or high in fructose, and desserts can be made with sugar but in a lesser amount. If you go and look at Diabetes cookbooks, you'll get an idea. I've been delving in some diabetes cookbooks and what I've noticed is that a lot of recipes have sugar, or raw sugar, and or honey, or stevia, and agave syrup, but the amounts used is very sparingly.

Have drinks made by yourself, using filtered water that's iced, have organic teas handy, or have lots of citrus fruits for your guest to squeeze in the cold water. For diabetics, they'll love that you'll have fresh water and fruits to make a drink out of, imagine if all they saw were a cooler filled with colas and artificial juices, they can't partake in that.

Grilling meats, trim the fat, or trim some, and leave some on for those that want it, same with chicken parts. Always remember, in this day and age, people are looking for healthier foods, even when invited to someone's party, they will be thinking, "I wonder if Linda has some low salt foods?" Or "I wonder if Jim has everything very salty?"

It is 2012, and the people are looking for healthy alternatives, if you have a few dishes with just veggies, you got your vegetarian crowd happy, and I'm telling you, you cannot go wrong having lots of fresh veggies on hand. And if you can, whip up a veggie chow mein, or a veggie lasagna, anyone can eat those. If you're grilling, get some sliced eggplants, brush some olive oil on it, sprinkle some herb and spice blends, it is very good.

And as a host, do not be offended if someone you have invited turns down your famous fried chicken, if that person says that he or she cannot eat lots of oily foods, do not take it personal, keep your emotions in check, because some people have health issues, and some people won't make it known for they may feel embarrassed. So to kill any embarrassing issues, find out right off the bat if anyone you are inviting has a health issue.

Happy Eating!

Maui- Pad Thai Restaurant

Lahaina, Maui is a neat little seaport town, lots of history dating back to when the Hawaiian kingdom ruled, and then the whalers making stops here, to navy ships stopping during the war years, stories of sailors and locals going at it in bars and on the streets, meaning fights.

When the plantation Pioneer Mill set up business, thousands of acres of cane field, the company hired many Asians to work the fields and the mill. 

As the decades rolled on, more immigrants made Maui home, slowly people from Thailand made Maui home. And with the invention of the jet airplane, Americans traveled to faraway places such as Thailand, and the Thai style foods were discovered by many a traveler. I know a trained European chef that ditched what he learned to cooking mostly Asian foods, and Thai foods is on the top of his list.

Thai chefs utilize lots of peppers, mild to hot, their foods can be spicy, such as the curries, and their noodle dishes, and awesome simple soups. And Lahaina is home to a very well known little restaurant called Pad Thai Restaurant. Located in the Wharf Cinema Center, if you do love Thai or are daring and never had it before, do stop by. They are open from 9am to 9pm daily, and they have 2 hours of free validated parking at the Wharf Parking Lot.

SPRING ROLL 4 PC....8.99
Petite Delicacies of Carrots, Long Rice and Mushrooms are Wrapped in Crispy Rice Paper and Served with Fresh Lettuce and Mint Leaves (Mild).
Fresh Boiled Tiger Shrimp, Mint, Cucumber, Carrots, and Fresh Lettuce Wrapped with Soft Rice Paper.
Tender Calamary Rings Dipped in Batter with Thai Spices and Lightly Deep Fried.
SA-TE CHICKEN (4)....8.99
Boned Chicken Wings Stuffed w/ Carrots, Long Rice, Mushrooms, Green Onions and Egg. (Mild)
Tiger Shrimp in a Coconut Batter, Deep Fried.

This is just a sample of their extensive menu. What looks good at first glance?

The Yum Woon Sen (Chicken or Beef) Salad. For 12.99 it has Squid or Shrimp, Yum salad with long rice noodles, and whole roasted peanuts. The thin rice noodles is the main ingredient, and others are added on to it. You can ask for just vegetables if you don't eat any meat.

Under seafood, I like the Garlic Shrimp, Calamary or Fish for 14.99 it's a great deal considering it is seafood. Large shrimp, tender calamary or fish sautéed with pounded garlic cloves, broccoli, carrots, and mushrooms mixed with a special sauce and served on a bed of chopped cabbage. (Mild, Medium, or Hot)

Looking at the soups, the Tom Yum Gai (Spicy Chicken Soup) for 12.99 looks more my style, tender chicken meat, fresh lemon grass, Kafir lime leaves, simmered in spiced bouillon with green onion and Thai parsley.

As far as the Curries are concerned, the Thai Curry Duck for 16.99 is mines man! Roasted duck in coconut milk and red, green or yellow curry with bell peppers, eggplant, zucchini, and fresh basil.

Pad Thai Restaurant has sides of white rice, brown rice or sticky rice in small and medium bowls, for 2.30 to 4.25 approximately. And you can't leave unless you get Shrimp Fried Rice.

For the Noodles section, what got my attention was the Crispy Fried Egg Noodles with chicken, topped with broccoli and carrots in a special Thai sauce. for 9.99.

And to cool your throat, try a Thai Ice Coffee, and relax in Lahaina after you eat, maybe go upstairs at the Wharf Cinema Center and take in a flick, the multiplex theater shows the most recently released movies.