A famous coconut

21 12 2016

Here’s the famous The Coconut dessert of Alan Wong’s restaurant in Honolulu. The occasion was Darling Husband’s (D.H.’s) 70th birthday dinner last evening. President Barack Obama, if he dines here as usual during Christmas vacation, is likely to enjoy this signature masterpiece, too. Reportedly, it’s his favorite!

Alan Wong's Coconut

The Coconut by Alan Wong’s: haupia sorbet in a shell of chocolate, served with fresh fruit in liliko‘i (passion fruit) sauce. How do they make it?!


Kudos and thanks to my foodie friends Linda and Lori

4 03 2013

Two women I am lucky to have as friends each reached a milestone in their lives and careers in the past few days, and today’s post honors them. Both happen to be foodies. Both have Hakka “blood,” as do I.

Author Linda Lau Anusasananan’s The Hakka Cookbook received the Best Chinese Cuisine Cookbook in the World for 2012 award at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards ceremony in Paris. It’s a crowning achievement following a full career as a food editor at Sunset magazine, where we met, and many years researching around the world the “cuisine” (if you can call it that) of her ancestral Hakka roots.

Linda Lau Anusasananan

Linda Lau Anusasananan

Hakka Chinese people descend from Han people who emigrated and still emigrate from their original land for a variety of reasons. Where they ended up in the world—in China it was mostly in the south in an area known as Meixian—they were not the first, therefore were known as “guest people” who did not get the best land. They were farmers, and their food was humble and of peasants. The book’s subtitle “Soul Food from Around the World” announces the good eats the reader can learn to make from the recipes Linda tested and fine tuned for the home cook. I guarantee they will work for you.

This is what Hakka families everywhere have looked for. The recipes show how regional cuisine influences basic Hakka food. Linda’s work fills a cultural need as well as explains what “Hakka” is with added stories and historical notes. Ultimately, it is a universal story about food, families everywhere, and how the world has gotten smaller.

Lori A. Wong

Lori A. Wong

When I left the magazine test kitchens in Menlo Park, California, those many years ago, Linda became the person I would call when I had a question about food science. Then I met Lori on my island.

This week Lori A. Wong, with her mother Marian, closed Byron’s Drive-In, the last remaining of their 17 or 18—it’s easy to lose count—restaurants on Oahu, ending 58 years of feeding islanders. Old-timers will remember Leon’s tavern, Andy’s Drive-In in Kailua, Orson’s Restaurant, Orson’s Bourbon House, Wong’s Okazu-ya, The Chowder House, Byron II, Andrew’s, Coral Reef, The Chinese Chuckwagon, Fishmonger’s Wife, Oinks, Big Ed’s, Andy’s Ebb Tide, The Little Red Hen, Henny Penny Chicken, Orson’s Chowderette, and The Seafood Emporium.

The landlord is planning to redevelop the land near Honolulu airport where you could get a good meal before boarding your plane. On Feb. 28 it was bye-bye Byron’s Drive-In. The rummage sale starts tomorrow, March 5, through Friday in the parking lot. Everything must go.

Now that you know of the Wong Family restaurant empire, and as you read the list above, most started by Lori’s father Andy Y. Y. Wong who died in 1985, and others by Lori and her mom, you are probably thinking, “They owned that restaurant, too?!”

Yup, and Lori’s first thought is that they had a really good run and that the restaurant business is pau (finished, over).

I became acquainted with Lori through our mutual Reiki teacher and friend Alice Anne Parker. Both Lori and Alice Anne certified me as a Reiki Master. Lori is a healer and was working with hospice patients. Over time I figured out Lori was a foodie. She’s taught in the Food Service department at Kapiolani Community College and now teaches cooking to middle school students at Punahou during the summer. She free lances as a food and beverage consultant.

She loves to try new restaurants with friends—as does Linda (the more dishes foodies can taste and disect, the better; lucky for me), but she rarely mentioned her family’s restaurant empire. But now that it seems to have ended, the word’s out. Bob Sigall wrote a nice column in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Both Linda and Lori deserve a crown and a long rest, but I doubt they will rest on their laurels. These are my friends for a lifetime.

Copyright 2013 Rebekah Luke

Feel better by looking toward the stars

9 08 2011

You'll likely be pleasantly surprised at the food from this hut at the end of Heeia Pier.

Sometimes life makes me grouchy. Other times it feels like the stars are aligned. Today my lucky stars aligned.

My frequent route from the studio takes me to Kaneohe for water exercise at Pohai Nani’s heated pool.

Last month I was sidelined with a physical pain that I can only be sure is a characteristic of aging, as neither my physician, naturopath, physical therapist nor radiologist can pinpoint anything else.

Just because something shows up in a test doesn’t mean it’s the cause of pain, they concurred.

My trainer Malia (I call her my trainer, but her correct title is exercise specialist) at Pohai Nani said, “It could be anything.” She suggested a visit to the doctor. A couple days later, my cousin in his 80s assured me, after I mentioned my problem, “You know, this is just the beginning.”

This “problem” made me grouchy. All I felt like doing was … well, I didn’t feel like doing much of anything.

With the various therapies and time, including Reiki on myself, I’m improving, feeling finer. Hallelujah! Still, though, as the saying goes, there are some good days and some bad days.

This morning Malia said she was outfitting her bicycle and planned to add some cycling to her exercise routine. She was also in a competition to lose some weight. On an impulse I said I’d join her.

Bicycling on the tandem is something I can do with DH. We used to do that a lot when he raced, even taking our bicycle on neighbor-island and continental trips. We were our thinnest then.

Malia’s goal is to shed 30 pounds. Mine is to reduce by 20. That’s a total of 50 pounds between us, all by Thanksgiving Day.

I reloaded the free Lose It! ap to my iPhone to show I was serious. All I do is program my goal, enter what I eat and my daily activity, and it automatically calculates the remaining calories I may have. I think I have a good chance of meeting my goal because I’ve already started to change my diet after reading the book Anticancer. Please see my previous post.

After the pool and some errands, I swung by Heeia Pier for lunch and scored a good parking place, step one. The place has become popular with the breakfast/lunch crowd, and sometimes I have to park on the far side of the boat ramp. Looking at the menu board and considering food choices and my lack of cash — pay day for me is tomorrow, and I robbed my parking meter fund of quarters today — I picked “stir-fried veggies” for $3 and an honest cup of coffee for 50 cents.

Chef Mark Noguchi, formerly of the restaurant Town in Honolulu, is a hard worker. He prepares food fresh and from scratch, so usually there’s a wait. Darn it, I wasn’t quick enough to put in my order ahead of five firefighters (firefighters — that in itself is complimentary of the good grinds at Heeia Pier), and when it became my turn, the word was “no more.”

Gooch — that’s his nickname — must have seen my face fall. Or I must have looked hungry. He said the vegetables didn’t look good enough to serve, so he’d just pulled the item from the menu. “What kind of vegetables do you want?” he asked. “Anything. If they’re fresh,” I said.

Returning from the reefer he said he’d make me some. Before the firefighters got their plates, Gooch brought me a light and tasty medley of eggplant, turnip, onion all from JAWS (Just Add Water, a CSA community-supported agriculture group) in Waimanalo, and watercress from his relative’s farm.

Watercress stir fried with eggplant, turnip, and onion

Half way into it he brought out—on the house—another dish on a real ceramic plate, not a disposable plate: a slice of pan-fried pa‘i‘ai (hand-pounded taro from Daniel Anthony and Anuenue Punua of Mana Ai), topped with a fresh salad of chilled local tomato and cucumber, very very lightly dressed in a barely sweet sesame vinaigrette,  and sprinkled with a little pepper and sea salt.

Taro tomato cucumber salad

Can you believe it?!  Now that’s classy. Not just the food, but the customer service too!

Committed to serving organic and/or locally grown food as much as possible, Chef Noguchi sometimes goes into the field to harvest the ingredients personally.

If you go to Heeia Pier and he’s not busy, ask if there is anything else not on the regular menu that’s being served up that day. You never know!

I think if you caught a fish out there from the pier, he might cook it for you too (if you cleaned it first ;-)), just like it used to be local style.

So healthy. So delicious. So unprocessed. Thank you for bringing beautiful food to the windward side. Thanks to the local farmers (we can patronize the farm bureau-sponsored farmers markets). And thanks to all who support local farmers by buying organic or locally grown fruits, vegetables and meats.

The stars align, but I suspect intention helps.

Copyright 2011 Rebekah Luke

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