Spring is about to get sprung... and one of my favorite people of all time is at the helm in the kitchen at the Top of Waikiki. Literally positioned above the region and towering over the bustling streets filled with shoppers, visitors and diners, Chef Lance Kosaka has unveiled 11 farm-fresh new menu items from the kitchen at the revolving restaurant with panoramic views.
From Happy Hour bites to vegetarian options and tasty spins on local classics these new dishes are delicious and bursting with flavor.
Must-try dishes include:
Pan-Seared Ahi Steak
Vegetarian Cous Cous
The Top of Waikiki
2270 Kalakaua Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96815
Open nightly 5-9:30pm
Happy Hour at the bar all night 5-9:30pm
While on my first trip to South Korea I stumbled upon a street vendor selling these crisp, brown, steamy, hot treats to children. I had no idea what was in it but had to order some. To my surprise it was a delightfully delicious chewy subtly sweet pancake of amazingness. Filled with cinnamon, peanuts and brown sugar -- I had to go back for more.
Nothing compares to the very first taste back in Fall of 2016, but thankfully I found another vendor in Seoul to appease my craving of the hotteok pancake yummy goodness! This my friends is ono eats!
On a recent annual trip to wine country, I had my fair share of amazing food. Obviously, with some of the best chefs in the country residing in the region the cuisine is extremely gourmet, innovative and full of fresh flavor. One of the things I love about California cuisine is the fact that the dishes are packed full of garden freshness and elements like texture and preparation are executed perfectly. The highlight of my culinary journey was an outstanding brunch at The Girl and the Fig. Known as a staple in the Sonoma community, this hot spot serves up delightful California cuisine with touches of elegant French technique.
Lucky for us we managed to squeeze our way in for Sunday Brunch! The decor is rustic and charming, You'll find seating inside and outside under a clear canopy tent.
We ordered the:
Grilled Smoked Trout Benedict: it was wonderful and perfectly prepared. The trout added great texture, density and full flavor to a classic brunch staple. Plus the hollandaise was elegant and the combination was sensational.
Brussels Sprout Salad: had great crunch and freshness from the accompanying kale, bacon lardons, pear and cider vinaigrette. This was a fabulous starter to get our palate ready.
Croque Madame: served on a delightfully fresh and fluffy baked brioche bread with brilliant yellow egg yolk, this was actually the first item that I ate when I arrived in Paris 2 years ago. This version was elegant and not as heavy as you'd think. Really nice.
Fig & Arugula Salad: this was the only disappointing item, as there were only tiny bits of dried fig in the salad which wasn't enough to make it the first element noted on the menu and their namesake as well. It was ok, overall disappointing. The arugula was tenderly picked and delicately tossed, not too spicy and had moderate flavor, but the actual figs in the fig salad was missing.
Bacon Sandwich: with a name like that you know it's going to be good. Surprisingly this wasn't as heavy as you'd imagine and was loaded with meats, cheese and topped with frazzled onions. A well-rounded sandwich served with pommel frites (french fries) was a fabulous hangover meal or something to just pick at.
Wild Mushroom Risotto: One of the dishes we all agreed we would return for was this risotto, made with Carnaroli rice, foraged mushrooms, roasted cauliflower and touched with parmesan reggiano the silky, creamy, meaty, earthy, yumminess was decadent yet mildly addicting. Really delicious and perfectly prepared, this was wonderful.
Lavender Creme Brûlée: Expertly crafted creme brûlée with the aromatic essence of lavender delighted my sweet tooth. This lovely end was simply divine.
Meyer Lemon Pudding Cake: Danced on my palate, the blood orange caramel was sinfully delicious and a touch of chantilly really made this dessert dance. Great combination of citrus, creaminess and comfort.
Overall, this was a delightful and dreamy little cafe. The service was excellent, well-informed, friendly yet easy going. Don't forget to order a cocktail, glass of bubbly or 2 Balsamic Bloody Mary's like me!
the girl and the fig
110 West Spain Street
Sonoma, CA 95476
Just coming home from two back-to-back lengthy trips (out of country and out of state) my body was in need of a good therapeutic massage. I was invited to try a brand new treatment at the Hyatt Regency Resort & Spa in Waikiki.
Na Ho'ola Spa often features new promotions and specialty treatments aimed at channeling complete relaxation and body balance. These rejuvenating wraps, scrubs, facials and more often utilize exclusive products and one-of-a-kind innovative techniques.
The Sea Holistic Relaxation Massage starts with a delicate body scrub using sugar-like mineral crystals... and begins with the arms, legs and then back. The body scrub is a no-rinse powder that serves as a smooth yet creamy exfoliant. A towel is used to gently wipe the Phytomer crystals from your skin and the Creamy Body Scrub with Oligomer Crystals powder is then removed in preparation for the massage.
In an effort to recharge the skin and rejuvenate the body, Phytomer Bi-Phase Massage Concentrate with Oligomer is applied for the full-body massage. This truly was one of the best massages I've ever had. Although the main purpose of this massage is relaxation I like extra firm pressure and have some problem areas that need a bit more attention. Typically my hips and lower back are a bit tight and I like my massages to get deep into the tissue and muscles.
Using a technique similar to lomi lomi but also the various movements of the ocean and rolling tides, the massage was outstanding and really got into those problem areas. The product used is meant to replenish minerals while strengthening the skin. This was wonderful as my legs and arms were very dry and I needed to replenish the minerals in my body. The oil in the lotion is aimed at improving circulation and the storage of water, meanwhile the epidermis is smoothed and recharged. The 80 minute holistic treatment was absolutely relaxing, yet recharging and extremely therapeutic. My skin felt silky soft, hydrated and all muscles relaxed. Once complete take a moment to sip fruit infused water and enjoy the turquoise blue Pacific Ocean views for as long as you like. A great respite that will leave you ready to take on the world.
Na Ho'ola Spa
New Promotion - Sea Holistic Relaxation Massage 80 minutes $195 valid through April 30, 2018.
Includes all products used during treatment, spa access (showers, locker room, amenities) to enjoy during the day, beverages and relaxation lounge.
2424 Kalakaua Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96825
(808) 237-6330 email@example.com
As a child I have fond memories of watching the Winter Olympics on TV. I was a young girl on the island of Kauai with dreams of being a figure skater one day. I remember my mom buying me rollerblades and I used to skate in the driveway and imagine that I was on a rink. You can only imagine my excitement when I realized my upcoming trip to Seoul was taking place during the opening of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics. I had my sights set on getting there, seeing it and hopefully meeting an athlete or two.
The road to the Olympics was a bit of a bumpy one. We didn't have tickets and didn't know how we were going to get there. In total I was traveling with 5 friends and nailing down when we would go, what to see and how we would get there was a bit tedious. When we finally agreed on what we wanted to see the tickets to the events were selling out so quick that we were left with no other option but to try and grab whatever we could.
I registered with the official olympics site and purchased 5 tickets for the women's snowboarding half-pipe final the same day as our return flight to Hawaii. After buying the tickets I realized booking the train tickets was no easy task as much of the routes were sold out too. But in the end I had faith that it was all going to work out and we would get there.
We decided it would be best to go Sunday (the day before our departure). We managed to score additional tickets on the train from Seoul to the nearest train station. After arriving in PyeongChang we managed to snatch up 6 tickets to the Cross Country Skiing event that afternoon. Watch the video below for a look at the journey. Sadly, I don't have more images or videos as the weather was so cold my iPhone kept shutting off every time I took it out.
Gladly though, it was really such a dream come true. I love every moment. Being there, the excitement, all the people in attendance from across the globe, the camaraderie, live music, emcee, sound blaring from the speakers and even the risers and ice were all a part of the experience. It was truly incredible to be there amongst these world class athletes and to see their friends and family making the voyage to cheer them on. This truly was a day I will never forget!
Known for their Asian-inspired cuisine P.F. Chang's Waikiki always delivers fresh food, bold flavors and generous portions. I was invited to attend a tasting of the latest menu inspirations and entrees created for Chinese New Year and the Valentine's Day prix fixe menu.
One of my fondest memories visiting LA was always stopping at P.F. Chang's -- now with their Waikiki restaurant sometimes I have to be reminded that we have one here on Oahu. While they offer the classic items you can find at any restaurant around the world they also offer some specialty dishes that are unique to Hawaii.
The Mongolian Beef is probably one of my all time favorite dishes, I could eat an entire serving with a bowl of white rice. Adding shrimp to it makes it a phenomenal combo.
Here's a look at some of the new menu items and also some of the classic favorites:
Asian Caesar Salad
Surf & Turf Mongolian Beef and Shrimp
Salt & Pepper Shrimp with Spicy Garlic Noodles (special for Chinese New Year celebration)
Uncle's Ice Cream Sandwich (Valentine's Day).
P.F. Chang's Waikiki Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center 2201 Kalakaua Ave. Honolulu, HI 96815. 808-628-6760
It's been a few years since I visited M.A.C. 24/7 in Waikiki. Admittedly, this is the location where I had my bridal shower (in the fabulous private dinning room) and I think I may have been back once after that, but kind of forgot about the restaurant which is open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Compared to other 24-hour eateries the cuisine here has really stepped up and offers classic American fare with local ingredients and familiar Hawaiian flavors.
In December (Executive Chef Rey Baysa) they started adding new dishes and began shaking things up when it comes to the traditional classics. Here's a look at some of the new menu items along with some of the signature specialities I'd recommend trying.
Bacon Bloody Mary
Mushroom Swiss Burger
Honey Chicken & Ham Sandwich
Double Decker Grilled Mac & Cheese
Smoked Half Rack baby Back Ribs
Donut Split Sundae
Fried Lobster Mac & Cheese Bites
Ahi Poke Stack
Mochi Pancakes -- these were phenomenal (highlight of the night + gluten free).
Hawaiian Moonfish Tacos
Pina Colada Creme Brûlée
Ooey Gooey Mac nut Brownies
Last week I was invited to sample some of the new menu items at Square Barrels. Located at 1001 Bishop Street this hidden gem of a pub is known for it's gourmet burgers and craft beers. Not going to lie the vibe is hipster meets executive and the food is more refined then your average bar. The artisan burgers are the standouts -- oh and don't forget about the fries. Actually I would say I love the fries as much as I love the Wagyu Burger. They are crunchy, not oily, perfectly seasoned with your choice of garlic, truffle or plain.
The new menu includes seasonal dishes and fresh local meats. The first item was the Dark Berry Salad which was a hefty portion of mixed greens, black berries, blueberries Korean pear, red onion, almonds, feta and a honey tarragon balsamic vinaigrette. This was great and i would highly recommend if you are looking for something light and fresh.
The Wagyu Burger is $21 and consists of ground Wagyu Beef, prosciutto, swiss cheese, caramelized onions, IPA mustard, fried caper mayo and a brioche bun. This burger is outstanding. It's juicy, meaty, delicious and a perfect combination of salty, creamy and chewy. Everyone hands-down thought this burger was the hottest thing to happen so far this year.
Other highlights include the Green Chili Burger, Niihau Lamb and the recently added Banana Fosters. All-in-all get the Wagyu Burger, you won't be disappointed, it's an exceptional burger that will leave you wanting more.
So... What are you doing Saturday nights at 6:30pm? Got 30 minutes to catch up with me? Cause I am headed back to television to host a brand new TV show!!!
That's right I am putting the microphone back on and will launch a new series called Island Style TV on KITV, Saturday nights at 6:30pm.
Who: The show will feature local people, events, chefs, business owners, storytellers, musicians and more and will be hosted by yours truly.
What: I love sharing positive messages, interesting stories and compelling messages. These segments featured in the show will highlight everything that we love about Hawaii while highlighting the local people and businesses behind it.
Where: I am going to start off statewide and eventually head abroad as well, can't say where just yet - stay tuned.
Why: Because supporting each other, learning from one another and offering inspiring messages can really make a difference. I love talking to people, getting to know the details about them and how they came to be where they are today. I will chat with some of Hawaii's hottest chefs, business owners, interesting people and more! Mahalo to KITV for inviting me back on the air!
KITV Announces New Weekend Lifestyle Show
Island Style TV debuts Saturday, January 6th
HONOLULU - KITV is proud to announce the return of award winning journalist, news anchor and Miss Hawai’i 2004 Olena Heu to statewide television, hosting a brand new weekend lifestyle show, ISLAND STYLE TV.
ISLAND STYLE TV will air Saturday evenings at 6:30 p.m. following ISLAND NEWS, and leading into ABC primetime programming. Host Olena Heu brings you the best of Hawaii’s unique island lifestyle and culture. ISLAND STYLE TV is a weekly show that takes a new look at the stories behind the local people and businesses that create the food, fashion and fun that make Hawaii unique.
Born and raised in Hawaii, Olena Heu holds a master’s and bachelor’s degree in Speech and Communication and first launched her television hosting skills close to 15 years ago. After several years working in radio, television broadcast and local nightly/morning news the television personality launched her own marketing and communications business in 2014. Now the entrepreneur and avid food, lifestyle and travel writer, is excited to continue to run her business while returning to television “to share great stories, meet new people and showcase an inside look at everything we love about our island home.”
News Director Mike Darrah says, “It just makes sense. We add content that’s made in Hawaii, is about Hawaii, and is delivered by a respected journalist.” Heu will also appear on Good Morning Hawaii with previews of upcoming Island Style TV episodes.
A key component of ISLAND STYLE TV on KITV is a commitment to identifying stories from across the Hawaiian Island chain that are filmed completely on-location and outside the T.V. studio. Being filmed on-site will help our storyteller, Olena Heu, connect with the people, places, and events that make up Hawaii’s local communities. Social media and community engagement, along with 4K digital content production on all media platforms, will also be a big part of ISLAND STYLE TV. We want YOU to be a part of the show! Follow us @IslandStyleTV and online at www.kitv.com/islandstyletv
ISLAND STYLE TV with Olena Heu on KITV 6:30 p.m. Saturdays beginning January 6th, 2018.
If you're ever headed to the north shore of O'ahu you must stop off and try a snow puffy. These delicious sweet treats are heavenly layers of puff pastry filled with custard cream, topped with an overwhelming amount of powdered sugar and a drizzle of chocolate. They are light, flaky, sweet, creamy, chocolatey and the perfect boost of sugar for your next adventure.
They are a bit hidden but well worth the search!
Paalaa Kai Bakery
66-1425 Kaukonahua Road, Waialua, HI 96791
Try to stop in during the morning hours as they usually sellout.