It's so cheap. That's what I have heard over the past few months when people try KatsuMidori Sushi Tokyo. With menu items starting at $1.00 and up, you would think this place must be horrible. But I was pleasantly surprised to find this brand new authentic sushi spot boats some serious fresh sushi delights. I am by no means a sushi connoisseur, I may think myself a poke connoisseur but not necessarily sushi. I am also the worst when it comes to ordering because I will be happy with cali roll and spicy tuna nigiri all night long.
Cue, this new spot hidden in the Hawaii Prince Hotel and you'll be in sushi heaven no matter your level of expertise. From ala carte, to set menu to rolls and more, this place is similar to a Genki Sushi in that you order from a tablet on the table and ala carte plates are fairly small. However the lunch sets are all $18.50 and include about 5 dishes for you to taste. You can also order the sushi assortments which range from $6 to $35 and are extremely generous in portion and quality. At the end of the day this is a great value for the price, but if you do go overboard and order a lot of things it can get a little pricey. If you just order one set or one cheap assortment the QUALITY and the service are really what puts this over the top.
Directions, enter the Hawaii Prince Hotel lobby facing mauka = turn right and walk past the escalators on the ground level. Head diamond head and eventually you will see the restaurant down the corridor and on your right hand side. The sushi chefs and staff are all very polite and from Japan. You will feel like you are literally in a hole in the wall sushi restaurant in Tokyo.
In April of 2014 I started this blog. As a working journalist it was an opportunity to share experiences, tastes and emotions that I couldn't voice while on the job, or didn't have adequate space on social media. It became an outlet for me to express myself. But my writing didn't begin there. In elementary school I started writing and even won a state award for my literary work. After high school I wrote for a local lifestyle and nightlife publication called HYPE Magazine and during Grad School I wrote a 156 page thesis.
As you can see writing came naturally and the more I write the easier it gets. Now as a freelance writer People pay me to type out word and content for a variety of publications.. My experience as a freelance writer includes news articles, magazine features, editorials, advertorials, food critiques, media kits, press releases, and even ghost writing for other blogs.
One thing that I remain focused on is integrity. I feel that my morals and ethics embedded in me from working in mainstream media taught me to always be accurate, honest and fair. Even though some news media may not remain that way (in my humble opinion and that's a whole other blog) I still maintain these values.
Would you rather hear from a writer who coats everything with sugar and says how great everything was? Or would you prefer a writer who is honest, offers constructive criticism when its warranted and isn't afraid to share a real opinion?
Lets be honest
As a journalist, I believe it is important to be honest. I frown upon those constant write-ups that convey how EVERYTHING is so good. Granted there are some experiences where everything is top notch and you did savor every bite (they are honestly few and far between). But if there was something that was too salty, didn't have enough seasoning or wasn't composed well I am going to be honest and say it. I don't mean to be disrespectful to the chefs, owners or management, but it is simply my experience and my opinion. I worked in the food service industry from when it required a worker's permit, then I worked my way through the front of the house from casual dining to fine dining. I started as a hostess and eventually became a wait captain at the number one restaurant in Hawaii. I am a stickler for service and delicious food. I've eaten at hole-in-the-wall eateries from Thailand to Japan, dined at 1-3 Michelin-star rated restaurants around the globe, tried all sorts of prix fixe, fast food, street food and admit that I am a fairly less than competent cook. But I am confident in my palate and knowledge of food & beverage... So much so that I will admit that I am a true, fair and honest food writer who loves to eat. When I started to write food reviews with an open mind and true honesty I received emails, phone calls and text messages from people saying "you caused quite the stir," "you said all the things we wanted to say," "your article was so true." Don't agree? That's fine at least I can rest assured knowing that I was my honest self and perhaps they will do a better job next time.
I highly recommend a visit:
T 707.942.0700 F 707.942.0103
4060 SILVERADO TRAIL, CALISTOGA, CA 94515
"We welcome guests to join us with advanced reservations daily from 11:00 am – 4:00 pm. For an appointment please call us 707.942.0700 or email us email@example.com."
900 22nd St, San Francisco, CA 94107
On a recent adventure to San Francisco, it was just a coincidence that Alex Le (Co-Owner and GM of The Pig & the Lady) was visiting SF too. I was stoked beyond belief that we were staying in the same city at the same time (our first night in) he invited me to dinner. He along with Chef Todd met me at The Progress in Fillmore, located next to (sister restaurant) State Bird Provisions... I was in for a treat. Noted as one of the hottest new restaurants in SF, The Progress has a near perfect rating on Trip Adviser, Open Table and Zagat. Don't forget about its Michelin star awarded for it's "sophisticated energy and clever cocktails and numerous James Beard Awards." In the end, this was the best meal I had in the City By The Bay and I am glad I get to share it with you.
By the way, "sharing" is the thing right now. Sharable, family-style meals, New American cuisine, seasonal dishes, artfully crafted and with progressive flavors. Each dish that made its way to the table was a beautiful piece of artwork with bold colors, unique textiles, contrasting flavors and textures. Much of the food scene is inspired by rustic wood table tops, rich brick walls, new America meets modern cuisine with a twist on comfort foods.
Caviar on Potato Cloud
And.. the State Bird Peanut Milk is a MUST HAVE!
Reservations are highly suggested: The Progress SF
1525 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94115
Names like Alan Wong, Roy Yamaguchi and Russell Siu are synonymous with Hawaiian Regional Cuisine, to me. These Chefs really laid the groundwork for the culinary journey Hawaii has been on for several decades now. As times have changed the flavors often remain the same, with changes here and there. It's also important to grow, adapt and evolve over time. This is the case at 3660 recently.
You may recall Chef Russell being famous for his slicked back pony tail or was it the ahi katsu? Well a few things have changed, he cut off his long locks for a shorter more stylish hair-do several years back and the famous ahi katsu is still on the menu, but his lesser-known Chef de Cuisine Lydell Leong is poised to step forward and really take the reins in the kitchen, with Russell's guidance of course. With that there are some delicious new menu items that have debuted at the famous restaurant located at the base of Wilhemina Rise off of Waialae Avenue. The cuisine is now reaching higher levels of innovation, elevated flavors, moments of comfort food and added deliciousness. It's definitely worth a visit to enjoy, celebrate and dine of some of the classics while tasting the new additions.
Take a look at the slide show below for a taste:
Brown butter Maine lobster wontons with ramen noodles in a Kahuku corn and lobster miso nage.
Crispy fried prawns with shoe string potatoes and garlic black bean sauce.
Foie gras duo featuring Rougie foie gras, pan seared caramelized vanilla scented pineapple and foie torchon served with strawberry balsamic reduction.
Housemade chicken liver mousse served with pickled red onions, cornichons and grilled pita.
Fire roasted Long Island duck breast with leg confit, burgundy apple reduction, apple-smoked bacon and Kahuku corn potato.
Soy marinated butterfish accompanied with vegetable ribbons, mushrooms and white truffle dashi nage.
Lilikoi creamsicle tart served with vanilla bean semi freddo, macnut brittle, meringue and lilikoi sorbet.
3660 On The Rise
3660 Waialae Avenue, Honolulu HI 96816
Exactly one year ago the James Beard Foundation Celebrity Chef Tour landed on Maui. It was there that some of America's most sought-after celebrity chefs wined & dined (and cooked) on the Valley Isle for a week. I had the honor and privilege of attended two of the public events. I had recently returned from a trip to LA and was a bit star-struck to see Top Chef Season 6 winner Michael Voltaggio in-person. When I was officially introduced to him I noted that I was in LA recently (where he lives) he replied asking if I tried his restaurants (ink. or ink.sack) a bit embarrassed I replied "no I haven't yet, but will definitely check them out when I return." Well promises kept, I recently visited LA for Grammy week and ink. was top of mind.
Lucky for me I was able to score a reservation at 9pm on a Tuesday night, the night we arrived from Honolulu. The decor is rustic meets hipster with a touch of southern charm. Our table was being set upon arrival and I quickly ordered a craft cocktail from the bar. The waitstaff are all exceptional, extremely friendly, well-educated and hipster-stylish.
Here's how the rest of the meal went.
Cocktails are fresh utilize seasonal fruits and herbs to enhance the natural flavors. I had the "vodka" which was basil, cucumber, lime and elderflower -- it went down like juice. Nice, refreshing and crisp. Everyone else commented that their drinks were dangerously delicious and went down easily. ($14-18)
(Upper left) table favorite - Egg Yolk Gnocchi: French onion broth, appenzeller, tiny croutons. Highly recommended by our waiter, this was everyone else's top dish. The gnocchi was like pasta and had a creamy yolk filling that burst in your mouth upon biting down. The flavors were subtle and the overall experience while enjoying this dish was very comforting. ($15) Salt & Charcoal Potatoes - squid ink marinated potatoes served with house made sour cream and Chinese black vinegar (applied in a tiny bottle dropper). This was just like eating a baked potato with all the creamy, salty and meaty flavors in one ($11).
Street Corn: cool ranch "fortuitous", cotija cheese. This is a great example of hour Voltaggio takes American comfort foods and deconstructs them in an outside of the box way. In the end you get all the same flavors of the classic dish but presented in a new way. The corn was like creamed corn served with a crunchy chip topped with ranch flavors, just like eating street corn with cheese and ranch dust. ($12)
(top) Brussels Sprouts: cider vinegar, whipped gruyere aligot. Pretty basic on the brussels preparation, cooked well and seasoned well the only difference was the cheese dipping sauce - tasty ($11). Flannery California Reserve Holstein Beef - Short Rib 8oz dry-aged 10-14 days. Unbelievable and literally melt in your mouth fantastic! This take on southern BBQ with accompanied dipping sauces (chimichurri and bbq was outstanding). ($39)
We were already full but felt compelled to order at least one thing for dessert. This signature dish was dubbed life changing and the best dessert you've ever tasted and it DID NOT disappoint. The apple pie is phenomenal and almost can't be described as it takes all the components of an apple pie and places them on a spoon in your mouth. Get every little bit and enjoy. Phenomenal.
We saw a glimpse of Chef in the corner and heard he was working on his Valentine's Day menu. Requests to see and take a photo with him were chuckled at and he never came back out. As a celebrity chef we understood that often guests want to see the star and he was busy in the kitchen so we didn't get a picture.
BUT, I gotta say this meal was spectacular. I truly appreciated how Voltaggio took what was once simple American comfort foods, elevated them and the ingredients, then deconstructed the preparation and presentation. Together it creates a mixed tape of your favorite hits but in a new, modern, inspired and innovative way. Well done chef! After five years as being touted as one of Hollywood's hot spots the critical acclaim and near 5-star ratings across the board are well deserved. As Chef continues to grow and expand his recent attempt to convert the menu into more of a steakhouse vibe is a hit and leaves me hungry for more!
Until next time I am in LA (West Hollywood)...
8360 Melrose Ave #107, Los Angeles, CA 90069
People often tell me "you're living the dream!" and I am honored. I never expected I'd be a role model or inspiration when it comes to entrepreneurship. I do recall growing up and people always asking what I wanted to be. I would often say I wanted to go to college, I wanted to one day be Miss Hawaii, hopefully make lots of money and I wanted to be happy. Well as you get older you realize the extreme importance happiness has on your life. I decided to take control of my life, surround myself with positivity and do what makes me HAPPY.
After venturing out on my own and starting my own business, which I had no clue how to do and just kind of found my way via the Internet, I realized there are some things that were a real waste of time and I could offer some advice to those who are seeking the same thing. So here it is, some helpful tips for those who aspire to do what makes them happy and to make money while doing it:
1. Form your company as an LLC. Don't waste your time looking in to sole proprietorship as your goal should be to eventually become an LLC anyway. What it means: Limited Liability Company -- for the most part your personal assets are protected in the event that something happens with your company, it is now a separate entity and people can't come after your personal assets if something like getting sued transpires because of your business.
2. Lets NOT have a meeting. I can't stress this enough and one of my mentors even told me (early on) not to have meetings in person all the time; I didn't really grasp the importance of this until later. Everyone will want to meet with you. But sometimes these meetings are a complete waste of time (getting ready, commute time, parking, etc). I would suggest getting down to the details via email and asking what it is they specifically want from you, then perhaps take a phone meeting and then if you are all on board and this sounds like something you want to move forward with then meet in person. Otherwise you will be like me and spend every day meeting with random people in coffee shops trying to figure out why they want to meet with you when you could be doing something else.
3. Don't be afraid to promote yourself. This was a hard goal for me. I can't sell anything and I have tried to learn how to sell myself for years. This is the time to tell everyone what you are doing and why they need you. There is a fine line of being too pushy and aggressive, but if you see someone who could use your services or your products let them know. Say hi my name is and give them your card. It doesn't hurt to try and get your name and information out there. Who knows they might call and if they don't perhaps they might know someone who will. Be authentic, be soft and subtle and don't be afraid.
4. Networking is KEY! Once you've decided on your path, tell all your friends, colleagues, family and co-workers. The best thing that happened to me was former employers, friends, acquaintances and even people I interned for began to reach out. It's these relationships that really help you and if you nurture them and maintain them they will be your best asset. Make sure to tell the most important people in your life what you are setting out to do, what your goals are and how this will help you. They love you and will want to see you succeed.
5. Think positive. It is important to always remember that your happiness is your number one priority. If you are stressed, if things aren't going as you planned or if you don't feel like things are working out at the moment try to think positive. I have gone through this so many times. I doubt myself, I questioned myself, I freakout a little on the inside. Try to stay calm and face forward and do something positive. I have learned that it is the nature of my business to lose clients. I would sometimes (in the back of my mind) take it personal and think perhaps I wasn't doing a good job, maybe I wasn't the right fit, maybe they didn't like me, maybe I wasn't working hard enough. In all honesty there are many reasons why things don't work out and you have to learn from it, persevere and remain steadfast. When this happens it inspires me to work harder, seek out other leads and find other people who I can approach and tell them my passion and what I do. We are all human and each day is a learning experience. I always hold myself to a higher standard, remain professional and always try to think positive!
Whether you want to be a pro athlete, designer, chef or whatever tickles your fancy, I hope this helps to inspire you to do what you do and what you love! Just sharing some of my tips that I have learned along the way. If anyone has any other tips to share please feel free to comment below.