Posted on November 11th, 2013 at 11:00 AM by hawaiidining

In any restaurant worth its salt, or any cook’s home who has any idea what they’re doing, you will get asked how you’d like your steak cooked. Most of us have a stock answer to this, as ingrained within our hearts and minds as our favorite color or middle names. But are you asking for your steak the way you actually like it?

We’ve seen it time and time again in restaurants — someone orders a steak medium rare, cuts into it and deems it far too rare. You are absolutely, without question entitled to eating your steak at the temperature you prefer, but we want to make sure you’re asking for the right thing. Do you really know how you like your steak cooked?

Posted on August 14th, 2013 at 9:08 AM by hawaiidining

Its time for some lunch with friends at ‘AMA ‘AMA at Aulani Resort. ‘AMA ‘AMA is the signature restaurant at Aulani and along with its killer views of the ocean, has a menu that over the last few months been outstanding, ever since executive chef Kevin Chong took over duties from Patrick Callarec (who in my opinion was the wrong choice for the venue).


Today I’m joined by Tina and Werner Weiss, who is the founder of We had a great time talking about their visit to the resort and how nice the open air dining room felt.


First off I enjoyed the “Daily Local Plate Lunch” ($21.95). The selections change every day depending on the fresh catch and local fresh vegetables available.


First is the chilled Agedashi Tofu. This Japanese inspired dish uses Silken (kinugoshi) firm tofu, cut into cubes, is lightly dusted with potato starch and then deep fried until golden brown. It is then served in a tentsuyu broth made of dashi, mirin, and shō-yu (Japanese soy sauce), and topped with finely chopped negi (or spring onion). This was an outstanding variation on the hot version usually served in Japanese restaurants or homes like mine.


Next is a fresh mixed local greens salad with a light miso dressing with radish and daikon shavings. Excellent for a warm summer day in Hawai’i.


The main plate is a medley of Fresh Ahi (tuna) Poke, Avocado, Japanese cucumber, Hawaiian broccoli, green onions, seaweed, and Gari (pickled ginger) on a bed of rice. Now this is Hawaiian Comfort Food.


Tina ordered the Angus Chuck Burger (from the Big island) with Lemon Grass Chili Bacon with Gruyere Cheese, Kamuela Tomatoes (from Maui), Manoa Lettuce (from Oahu), Pickled Dikon, and Carrots ($18.00). It was served with a side salad made from fresh mixed local greens with a light vinaigrette. She must have enjoyed it because her plate was clean by the end of the meal!


Finally Werner ordered the Kula-roasted pulled Pork sandwiches in steamed rice buns ($16.00). This triple deal featured a different sauce on each of the “Hawaiian Tacos.” One has a Teriyaki sauce, one has a Sweet BBQ sauce and one featured a Tomato salsa. Served with a light salad…. it was exclaimed to be “terrific.”

I must say that I have changed my opinion on ‘AMA ‘AMA’s menu. I now heartily recommend this restaurants fare.

Posted on June 7th, 2013 at 11:46 PM by hawaiidining

2 cups sushi rice, cooked per package directions

1 tablespoon cream of coconut

16 soy wrappers

16 fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered

1/2 cantaloupe, cut into four-inch-long by 1/4-inch-wide rectangles

1/2 pineapple, peeled and cored cut into four-inch-long by 1/4-inch-wide rectangles

toasted coconut, for garnish

1. Let sushi rice cool slightly; stir in cream of coconut. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

2. Lay one soy wrapper on a flat surface. Place about 1/4 cup sushi rice on the soy wrapper, pressing with moistened fingers to cover the whole sheet.

3. Place one piece each of pineapple and cantaloupe, and four pieces of strawberry in the center of the rice-covered sheet.

4. Starting at one end, fold about 1/3 of the roll up, then roll the sheet into a cylinder, keeping the fruit in the middle. Moisten soy wrapper to seal.

5. Cut into 4 equal pieces. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

6. Garnish with toasted coconut.

And there you have it! The perfect light, refreshing dessert for this summer’s entertaining! And the fun presentation is guaranteed to be a winner with kids, too.

Posted on June 7th, 2013 at 8:39 AM by hawaiidining

By Mark Hickson: Today I had a quick lunch at Aulani Resort’s Makahiki Resturant while reporting on the expansion construction. I ordered the Mākaha, a Ham and Swiss Cheese Sandwich topped with Caesar Salad and Pesto-marinated Tomatoes served open-faced on Focaccia Bread ($13.00) with Coke.

What can I say… it is was “broke you mouth, good.” Every single ingredient was in Hawaiian, “killah.” The Focaccia bread was soft and fresh. The Ham was seasoned just right and the Caesar salad topping blended it all together. I loved the scent of the Pesto-marinated Tomatoes that ran throughout the sandwich, along with the Maui Potato Chips, this is the item to order! Take a bite, Yum!!

Posted on March 12th, 2013 at 3:35 PM by hawaiidining

OK, I’m back at Ama’ Ama’ to try some of their new Island offerings for lunch. The menu has been slowly changing over the year, offering more “local eats” each time I visit.

I was a totally beautiful Hawaiian day (that’s why I live here!), so I started off with a Cucumber Lychee Fizz. If you didn’t know, Lychee is a locally grown fruit that originally came from China. It is very popular in deserts and as a flavoring on Hawaiian Shave Ice. This drink was very light and refreshing. It had a touch of Lemon and Ginger, and as you can see, nice and cold! Do you want to see the “Off the Hook” bar menu? Just click HERE!

From the starters section I ordered the Nori-wrapped Ahi Tuna Tempura with Mustard and Pickled Vegetables ($13.00). This dish was GREAT! The Ahi was done to perfection and literally melted in you mouth. It came with a soy-mustard-wasabi dipping sauce that really complemented Ahi Tempura. Could this get any better? The pickled vegetables were superb. I eat a lot of pickled veggies here in Hawai’i so I’m saying, without reservation, that these little gems were the best I have had in a very long time.

Next is my main entree’ the Daily Local Plate Lunch ($20.95). It consisted of Island style BBQ Pork Riblets with White Rice, a Mac and Potato Salad, and Chili Cheese Fries!

First I tried the Mac and potato salad. Everyone here on the Island has their own version of Mac Salad, and it’s taste can be all over the map (yucky to killer good). I found Ama’ Ama’s version well done.

Next is the Chili Cheese Fries. With this dish… what you see is what you get! The funny thing is that I was not expecting it as part of a Hawaiian plate lunch! It seemed really out of place. It would have been much better served with a Hamburger or a Hot Dog.


Now for the main part of the box lunch, Island style BBQ Pork Riblets with Rice. It looked yummy but after a few bites I found it overwhelming in the sauce department. There was too much Hoisin Sauce added to the base sauce, and it overpowered everything. I never tasted the Pork or Pineapple, just the sauce. Unfortunately I didn’t finish the dish.

So let’s review: Great Drink, Killer Appetizer (I should have ordered two), and a disappointing entree’ where none of the dishes complemented each-other. Why was there French Fries, Mac Salad and Rice? Someone needs to learn the old culinary adage, “three starches do not make a right.”

Posted on November 1st, 2012 at 12:30 PM by hawaiidining

After four days of one fabulous food event after another, what better way to close out the Hawaii Food and Wine Festival than on a beach at Disney’s Aulani Resort. The stars were out Sunday night, both at the Ko’olina lagoon, and in the clear skies above. The Hawaii Food & Wine Festival once again delivered a amazing group of chefs, which included stars like Iron Chef Hiroyuki Sakai, Marcel Vigneron, Susan Spicer, Mourad Lahlou, Patrick Callarec, Celestino Drago, Patrick Fahy, Dean Fearing, Scott Higa, Jackie Lau, Raphael Lunetta, George Mavrothalassitis, Andrew Sutton and Seamus Mullen in addition to chefs from other events who came to Aulani Resort to enjoy the closing festivities. The mood at the event was kept lively and fun, starting when arriving guests were given synch bags to carry their shoes in… because the event was held right on the beach!


Iron Chef Hiroyuki Sakai’s wrapped Kampachi with fruit salsa.

Grilled beef with Hamakua mushrooms and pepper threads.

Grilled Kulana Beef with poached Kona lobster all on a braised ox tail truffle stuffed potato and black truffle emulsion.

The Hawai’i Food & Wine Festival finale, hosted at Ko’Olina Resort with Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa, and JW Marriot Ihilani Resort & Spa.

photos: Ed Morita/Hawaii Agricultural Foundation

Posted on August 31st, 2012 at 12:27 PM by hawaiidining

Aloha! This is my second lunch at Aulani’s Makhiki Restaurant. It features easy and light fare, perfect for a hot Hawaiian day. Served is a variety of salads, sandwiches, and pizzas… all build-you-own. What fun! They also have signature entrees and a four item Keiki section (for my mainland friends Keiki is Hawaiian for “kids”). As tempted as I was to order the same thing I had last time (Story and Menu Here), I ordered their Crispy Asian Salad and big glass of un-sweetened Iced Tea. For only $10.00 your get sizable plate of Mixed Greens, Candied Pecans, Crispy Wonton strips, Tomatoes, Avocado, Orange Slices, Julienne Red Peppers, Gari (Japanese Pickled Ginger), and toasted Sesame Seeds tossed in a Ginger-soy Dressing. So how was it? Completely refreshing! It was light with a lot of different textures, it was sweet, salty, crunchy, fruity, exotic, and well balanced. The candied pecans were to die for… really! With my bottomless Ice Tea I was one happy boy. My waitress even brought me a paper cup with a top and straw so I could have my unfinished tea to go. How sweet!

Posted on July 5th, 2012 at 12:24 PM by hawaiidining

Papalua Shave Ice and Mama’s Snack Stop are two co-located food shacks in the middle of Aulani’s Waikolohe Valley, between the main Pool and Rainbow Reef.  Papalua Shave Ice (not “Shaved”) has been in operation since the resort opened last year. It is a traditional Shave Ice stand with local flavors like Lilikoi, Haupia, Mango, and Watermelon. I always get a rainbow with Guava, Grape, and Pineapple. Yum!

Mama’s Snack Stop just opened this week and offers hot dogs, chicken tenders, fries, and sweets with seveal Kieki (kids) combos. Remeber this is pool food so the menu is very limited. The buildings local Hawaiian theming is right on, and as you can see no long queues!

I ordered a Local Red Frank in a Soft Roll, an order of Fries, a Macadamia Nut-Pineapple Cupcake, and water.

For those of you who have never been to Hawaii the “Red” hot dog is very popular here. Redondo’s Hawaiian Winners are the best known. I was pleasantly surprised to see my Hot Dog was actually a “Puka Dog!” Puka is Hawaiian for “hole” where you dont cut the bun longways, you put a hole at one end and put the dog in the Puka. These dog aren’t served with all sorts of toppings, just a sauce. Needless to say they are very tasty and easy to eat. The fries were very good too.

But I saved the best for last. The Macadamia Nut-Pineapple Cupcake was incredible! On top was a very thin slice of dried pineapple with white chocolate on one side. Next to it was a triangle of white chocolate infused with Vanilla. The vanilla sugar-cream frosting has little Mickey Mouse sprinkles on it and was surrounded with a ring of chopped macadamia nuts. The pineapple cake’s inside was full of a wonderful pineapple preserve with a touch of whipped cream. I’m tellin ya, it was totally worth $4.50!

Posted on June 17th, 2012 at 3:40 PM by hawaiidining

Aulani’s Makahiki restaurant has had a few changes since opening nine months ago. One of those very recent changes is that they now serve lunch. On the new menu is, build-your-own Pizza, build-your-own Salad, and build-your-own Sandwich. The signature entrees are two of their favorite Pizza, Salad, and Sandwich combos along with the Chef’s Special Bento box. When looking at the menu I was struck on how reasonable the prices were.

I opted for the Chef’s Special Bento box. For those readers unaware what a “Bento box” is Wikipedia has a great description: Bento (弁当, bentō) is a single-portion takeout or home-packed meal common in Japanese cuisine. A traditional bento consists of rice, fish or meat, and one or more pickled or cooked vegetables, usually in a box-shaped container. OK, now you are in the know! My Bento consisted of three slices of very fresh Ahi Tuna Sashimi with a small cake of Wasabi, Chicken Teriyaki served on a bed of shredded Cabbage, Cucumber and Carrot Namasu, Fried Rice, and Mochi Ice Cream.

I loved the Chef’s Special Bento! First I started with Cucumber and Carrot Namasu. Namasu is very similar to Sunomono whereas the thinly sliced fresh vegetables are lightly cured in Rice Wine Vinegar, Sugar and Salt. This was an excellent start to my meal. Next I moved to the Tuna Sashimi. With a little dip into the soy sauce I had poured over the Wasabi, it just melted in my mouth. So good! Next was the Teri-chicken and Rice. The pre-cut chicken breast was tender and moist and the Teriyaki was bold but not overpowering. You may ask, “are you saving the best for last Mark?” Yes I am! The Fried Rice was “Broke Da Mouth” good (Hawaiian Pidgin for something so delicious it Broke your mouth). It had Peas, Carrots, Pork, and a killer sauce that the rice was stir fried in. Yummy! But wait, what about the Mochi? Do you see the little white ball in the picture? That is an Ice Cream Mochi. A Mochi is pounded sticky rice that is made into a pouch so you can put sweets into. This had Kona Coffee Ice Cream in it! What a great way to end a meal. My lunch made my day at Aulani.

Posted on June 17th, 2012 at 3:38 PM by hawaiidining

Note: This review was originaly posted September 4th on The Disney Food Blog

So the resort has been open for five days now and I thought it would be the perfect time to dine in the resorts signature restaurant, ‘AMA’AMA. The restaurant is named after the tasty mullet fish ʻamaʻama that us locals enjoy. The setting is an open air thatched roof fishing shack on one side and a minimalist fishing factory with concrete pillars and a large fish holding tanks complete with pipeline and spigot. Of all the beautiful facilities at Aulani Resort this place’s theme is the only one that doesn’t work.

Our reservations were for 5:30pm and my wife and I were seated directly. Unfortunately since it is an open air dining area (no walls) the sun was low enough to shine in so it was very bright and hot at our table. In retrospect I would wait until sunset to be seated. For drinks I ordered a Pineapple Papaya Cosmo. It was fun, tropical and fresh with a light foam on top. Good enough to order a second, which I did! My wife’s Coffee was bitter and tasted like it was re-heated in the microwave. Seriously, we live in Hawai’i and are accustomed to having great local coffee. This was not it.

Our waiter Kevin was wonderful! He was a delight to talk to and really helped make the evening. My wife ordered Island Field Greens with a Papaya Seed Vinaigrette salad and the Paniolo Rack of Lamb (medium-well), with Island Fruit and Poha Berry Chutney. Feeling dehydrated from heat she ordered a Lemonade that has a slight taste of ginger and was very refreshing. She found the Salad “ordinary” and only ate half. Her Lamb was not a “Rack” but three bone-in chops that were burnt on the outside and undercooked on the inside. The wine sauce (not described in the menu) had not been reduced properly and exhibited an alcohol taste.

I ordered the Hamukua Mushroom Tart with Baby Arugula, Coriander Crème Fraiche and Parmesan. My entrée was Grilled Keahole Lobster with Lemmon Grass Sauce, and Korean Pancake. To complement my meal I ordered a S.A. Prum Essence Riesling. The Mushroom Tart was delightful. It has an unexpected savory sweetness that was very satisfying. My Lobster although small was perfect. The small veggies were pickled Japanese Sunomono style and the “Korean Pancake” was very much like a crab cake. There was also a tempura Shiso leaf for a fresh flavor contrast. The star was the Lobster that was cooked to perfection and melted in my mouth.

Wow! How could our two meals be so far apart? After five days they should have worked out all the kinks with the new kitchen staff. Was Chef Patrick Callarec in the kitchen last night? Maybe not.

So we finished with desert. I had the Coconut Panna Cotta with chilled Passion Fruit broth and Green Tea Tuile while my wife had the Hawaiian Chocolate Cake with K’au Coffee Cream and Caramel Chard. Both were great! We ended our evening being serenaded by two musicians singing traditional Hawaiian songs. That was very nice.

O.K. so here is the bottom line. At $198.00 before tax and tip the “ANA’ANA is not every night fare. The quality of the food preparation needs to be improved and frankly the restaurant does not feel Hawaiian. All-in-all we will not be rushing back any time soon for dinner.