Maui 2022

Hello there!
Happy 2022 and happy lunar new year! 

As always, you know something happened if I’m writing a blog entry; whether it’s a new recipe or travel. This time, it’s not a recipe. 😂

I wanted to share some amazing experiences I had at Maui! My husband booked this trip for the beginning of January to start the year refreshed. But unfortunately, our dog got badly injured, so we had to postpone it to February. Honestly, it was the perfect timing as we were both getting burnt out from work and we just needed to unplug and rest – focus on ourselves.

We didn’t want to do too much as we wanted to enjoy the island itself. The activities and restaurants we went to were just the right amounts. And by the end of the trip, we (or more so, me) were ready to go home and cuddle our fur baby and just get some Asian soups inside our stomach. 

If you want to see the list, here is my Yelp list here

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Lodging: Camp Olowalu

Photo from campolowalu.com

If you want to try something new outside of the usual hotel resort and Airbnbs in Maui, and don’t mind the outdoor; highly recommend glamping @ Camp Olowalu. We chose the Tentalow, which comes with a private, open-air shower and sink, and two twin beds that are easy to move around to make into a “queen”. What I loved about our tentalow was showering under the stars or watching the sun rise while bathing in hot water.

Tours

O’o Farm Lunch Tour

O’o Farm is located in the upcountry of Kula and provides quality local produce to Maui restaurants like Pacific’O. They provide breakfast tours and lunch tours, which include a tour around the farm and a gourmet meal prepped from the farm itself to provide the “farm to table” experience. When we went, we had a five-course meal: focaccia, salad, tofu and veggie dish, fresh catch with veggies, pan-seared chicken, and a dessert. You can watch a quick highlight from the Instagram Reels I created after going there.

Gemini Snorkel Sailing 

Photo credit: Island Dream Productions

We discovered Gemini Sailing while driving by Honolua Bay, as we heard the snorkel at this specific beach is amazing. We signed up for a sail on our last full day and the whole experience was amazing! We meet and board the boat on the beach of Kaanapali Beach. From there, we take a 45-minute sail to Honolua Bay, with a few pauses here and there to watch the whales pass by. What’s amazing about the Honolua bay is that it is part of the Marina Life Conservation distracted, which means it is protected by the state and the wildlife in that specific area is just alive and well kept. Out of all the areas we snorkeled in Hawaii (it’s not a lot, but what we’ve experienced so far), we truly loved this bay due to the variety of fishes you see and swim with; the number of turtles that are curious about you more than you are about them, and the clear blue waters.

After you explore the waters, Gemini provides a hot lunch buffet, which includes BBQ chicken, Kalua Pork, and other assorted food items, and an open bar and other beverages. There’s also a professional photographer on board, so if you forgot your camera or your GoPro died (like us), they were there to capture moments before, during, and after, which was so helpful to us!

Overall, Gemini really put the cherry on top for us on our trip. We also spoke with a couple that’s been coming to Maui for many years and every year they come, they sail with Gemini (I think they said it’s been 25+ years?). They were #couplegoals for sure!

Food

As I mentioned early, I listed all the restaurants and activities we did on my Yelp page, which you can look HERE. But I wanted to highlight a food truck we went to, pretty much… every day 😂

Thai Mee Up – Ahi Rice Plate and Pad See Ew

There is a parking lot of food trucks across from Costco in Kahului and this specific food truck is called Thai Mee Up. Their price is really cheap (compare to some other Thai restaurants we went to) to the amount of food they give you. What I loved about them is they give you samples to try and each time, the quality of the food was delicious. The first time we went we got the Panang Curry ($10) and Pad Thai ($11). What I liked about their pad thai was their noodle wasn’t overcooked where it felt like mush, and it wasn’t dry where it felt like it was just left out for a while. Their noodles were the true definition of “al dente” in a good, well thought out and cooked pad thai. The second time we went, we go the pad see ew ($12) and Ahi plate ($14). Again, both dishes are cooked to quality and great taste. But also, don’t take my word for it – give it a try yourself!

All in all, it was a much-needed few days on the island that I’m super grateful my husband booked for us. It was a great way to celebrate my birthday and a new year, and to feel refreshed to tackle work!

Hope this helps you explore a few places in Maui. Remember – be kind, love, and be happy. Aloha 🤙

Korean Spicy Chicken Stew (닭도리탕)

Hello from the end of 2021 😂
I’m terrible at being consistent on this and I do apologize. Well, not really?
Not really since 2020-2021 has been such a strange year! And literally my life has been the same hustle and grind. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that my husband and I got a dog and he’s the best pup we can ask for; especially with our busy schedule. But other than that, everything has been the same 🙃

But enough of my life update. The main reason I’m back is to share another recipe that I love making and eating, especially during these cold days. It’s called 닭도리탕 (dak – do – lee – tang), which is pretty much a spicy chicken stew. You can add clear noddles or rice cake, but we’re simple people and love having the extra broth to mix with our rice.

If you follow the instruction, it should be pretty straight forward. If not, let me know and I can help explain more! No photos as I was quick to make to feed my hungry self and husband. But maybe I’ll do a reel next time around. But here we go!

Ingredients:

  • Chicken
    I used chicken thighs this time around, but you can use whatever part of chicken you like! Used two packs of the Kirkland Organic Chicken Thighs
  • Potatoes (used 3 golden potatoes)
  • Carrots (used 2 thick stalk)
  • 1 Onion
  • Green onion (used about 3 stalk)
  • 1 serrano pepper (optional)
  • Water
  • Milk

For Sauce:

  • 10 spoon1 of soy sauce
  • 4 spoon of chili paste
  • 3 spoon of sugar2
  • 2 spoon of chili flakes
  • 1 spoon of mirin
  • 1 spoon of grated garlic

COOKING TIME

  1. Brine chicken in milk for 30 minutes.
    Make sure you use enough milk to cover every piece of the chicken. This step is tenderizing the meat.
  2. During this time, create your sauce by combining the sauce ingredients together.
    NOTE:
    1. The spoon size I’m using is this wooden spoon I got from Amazon and has been my go to when making Korean food. If you don’t have a wooden spoon, your silver cereal spoon works too 😂
    2. Whenever I make Korean food, I rarely use granulated sugar. I like using plum extract (매실청) instead. So sweetness could be different here. Taste the sauce and adjust to your liking.
  3. Two options here:
    1. Rinse the chicken from the brine and boil. The impurities will rise up, so as that comes through, spoon it out and continue the recipe
    2. After the brine, transfer the chicken to a pot and bring to a boil. Once chicken is cooked through, strain the chicken and rinse in cold water. This is just making sure your chicken is clean from impurities.

      I was in a rush, so chose option 1. Rinse the chicken from its milk brine and transfer the chicken into the pot with enough water covering the chicken (about 2~3 cups), add 3 spoons of granulated sugar to the water. I know, I used granulated sugar 😏
      Cooking on high heat
  4. Once water is boiling and impurities start to come out – spoon it out! Once you have cleared out the impurities, add potatoes
  5. After about 5 mins, add the onion and carrots and continue to cook for about 5 minutes.
  6. Add your sauce and lower your heat to medium-high. Continue to cook for about 20 minutes, covered.
    NOTE: I was using a dutch oven, which doesn’t have vent, so I had the cover just cracked off to the side to allow steam to be released.
  7. In the last 5 minutes of the 20, lower your heat to medium-low and add green onion. You can also add serrano pepper if you want an extra kick.
  8. After 20 minutes, give it a taste and serve!

Guess who’s back?

Hi 🙃
How are you?
It’s been a while, yeah?

Can’t believe the last time I wrote anything was over a year ago, and that’s when we were all free to travel without (some) care in the world! I hope all of you are staying safe and healthy during these times of events 🙏

So, what brought me back? A couple of things: wanted to start writing again and sharing any food recipes or food recommendations… most likely the longer food recipes, since eating out is a bit limited. I think last time I wrote in this blog, I didn’t have this specific Instagram account created, but I started a food Instagram! Mainly for recipes and food pictures of dishes I made. With that being said, I got a high request for this recipe, so let me go ahead and start sharing it! 🙂

Korean Braised Short Ribs
I feel like this dish is pretty easy to make. However, I can see why people think it’s an inconvenience as there are some steps that require a long wait time. But isn’t that the same as baking a loaf of bread? … if any of you started baking bread during the shelter in place 😂

Ingredients:

  • Short ribs (I used about 3lbs)
  • Potato (two Yukon Gold potatoes)
  • Carrots (My husband and I love carrots, so I used about four)
  • 1 cup of soy sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup cooking wine
  • 1/2 cup sugar1
  • 2 big spoon2 of sesame oil
  • two big spoon of grated garlic
  • 1/2 spoon of grated ginger
  • chopped green onions (about two stock of green onion)

Here we go

  • In a large bowl, place your short ribs in the bowl and cover in a bath of cold water for about an hour to 1.5 hours. This will drain out the blood from the meat/bones 


  • After 1-1.5 hours, pour out the blood water and rinse before transferring the short ribs into a pot. Fill the pot with water (enough water to cover the meat) and bring the water to a boil. We’re blanching our meat here
    I like to add a couple or cinnamon sticks + bay leafs to the water as well to flavor the meat. 
  • After the water comes to a boil (I keep it going for about 20-25 mins), pour out the water and the meat into a strainer and rinse away any extra impurities and set aside 

  • Cut potatoes and carrots into large chunks and set aside. 

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the following together: 1 cup of soy sauce; 1 cup water; 1/2 cup cooking wine; 1/2 cup sugar1; 2 big spoon2 of sesame oil; two big spoons of grated garlic; 1/2 spoon of grated ginger, and chopped green onions.
  • Once sauce has been created, add your meat back into the sauce bowl and coat the meat with the sauce. We’re going to transfer both the meat+sauce into a pot, so don’t have to worry too much about getting the meat coated in the sauce.  
  • After a light coat, transfer the meat+sauce into a pot and bring to boil on high heat. As you see your sauce boiling, add in your carrots and potato, reduce heat to low-medium, cover and let it simmer (I did about 20-25 mins again).
  • Once your veggies are cooked, and your rice is set. Serve and enjoy!

NOTE:

  1. Instead of sugar, I like to blend together 1/2 an apple/Asian pear (depends what’s in season), 1/4 onion, and garlic together and massage that mixture with the meat to make the meat more tender. If the sauce isn’t at a sweet/tangy taste for you, feel free to add a little bit of honey or sugar. Whatever is easier
  2. Koreans tend to have a “go to” spoon they use, which could be found at your local Korean Market, but my “big spoon” is our standard cereal spoon. 😂

I know some of you are visual learners (so I am), so I dug up some old photos to help. Maybe next time I make this again, I’ll record it for you! But, give this a try! Let me know how it turns out with a photo. If you have questions, feel free to reach out and happy to help!

As always – stay safe; stay healthy; be kind.

Cheers, Jane

Aloha!

Oh dear – 2019…
Last post, Oct 2018…

So, how has everyone been? Haha

It has definitely been a long time since I wrote. What happened?
TL:DR – switched careers and now coordinating for executive leadership roles, got engaged in January 2019, and just been enjoying life as it comes!

Literally, that has been the quickest recap to the last seven-ish months (I’m not that interesting, sadly).

So, why the sudden urge to write again on my blog? Well, I traveled! And not to just some place – to THE place of paradise and relaxation. Yes, my blog friends – Oahu, Hawaii!

This trip was particularly special as I traveled with (my now) fiance along with his mother and his grandmother. It was everyone’s first time there – so a lot of Yelp-ing to find the hottest spots to eat. My brother’s friend (TY) was super helpful by recommending places to try as he is a local over at the island.

As we stayed on the island for 8 days, we did visit a lot of restaurants. With about ~40 restaurants on my list, I’ll write about my top three restaurants that I enjoyed while listing out a few of my other favorite restaurants with a summary of our orders + specialties. Let’s get started!

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Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck

Giovanni's Shrimp Truck
Shrimp Scampi w/ Rice

There’s all this hype about this shrimp truck. A few of my favorite YouTubers posting IG photos of the food here, so we thought we’d try. And boy… does it meet the expectation!

We got the original “Shrimp Scampi”, which comes on a plate with a dozen shrimp and two scoops of rice that is drizzled with garlicky goodness. The shrimp is cooked perfectly and seasoned well with the sauce and the amount of garlic is just right.

A lot of the people in the crowd was comparing the taste to Boiling Crab, but to me – Giovanni’s shrimp was a better fit as it did not give me the guilty feeling of consuming so much butter. HIGHLY RECOMMEND!

Liliha Bakery 

Butter Rolls w/ Guava Jam
Butter Rolls w/ Guava Jam

This place was recommended by TY. My fiance and I are big fans of loco moco and TY mention this is the place he goes to for his loco moco – so, the next morning after getting the recommendation, we headed over. There seem to always be a line forming outside of the restaurant (we went a few times throughout our trip) but they are very quick to get their customers seated (as they have both table or counter choices).

As a starter, you get four butter rolls with a side of guava jam. I don’t know what it is about butter, but these rolls were DELICIOUS – with a nice golden coat of toasty crunch and the right amount of butter on the rolls that it can be enjoyed with or without the jam.

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Loco Moco w/ White Rice

For our main, we ordered the loco moco. If you don’t know what a ‘loco moco’ is, it’s a popular contemporary Hawaiian dish that consist of white rice, topped with a hamburger patty and a fried egg then smothered in gravy. The loco moco here was definitely divine as my fiance and I are big fans of a smokey tasting patty, which Liliha did well. You also have the option to pick a different type of rice you would like the patty to be on top of. I preferred the original white rice, but you do have the option of substituting the rice with fried rice or brown rice.

Another dish we tried (and is a restaurant favorite) is the Oxtail Soup. If you had oxtail pho – it is a very similar consistency and taste, which hit the spot for me after days of swimming and hiking (sometimes you just really need a nice bowl of soup).

SIDE NOTE: On the bakery side, they have these delicious poi mochi donuts, which was the reason why we kept coming back to this location.


Helena’s Hawaiian Food
**TY recommended

This is a ‘hole in a wall” place that you know it’ll be good because of the number of cars and people waiting outside of the restaurant.When looking at the menu, there are options to order any dish individually or if you want to mix and match, there are combo sets you can order in regular or large quantities.

For our order, we decided to go with the Kalua Pig + Pipikaula short rib with rice combo set. We also added an order of the fried butterfish collar and boiled butterfish collar w/ Watercress (in case his grandma couldn’t eat something hard) – and everything was flavorful! We actually ordered to go, which included a tray of onion, haupia (coconut pudding), and a small to-go bowl of poi (porridge-like texture made from taro).


Sweet Home Cafe
Taiwanese Hot Pot

  • Broth choice: House Special + Healthy Herb (creamy/white soup base)
  • A fridge full of veggies, seafood, noodles on different color plates that identify the cost of each item
  • The sauce is self-serve on the side of the restaurant (didn’t realize that till the end of the meal)
  • At the end of the meal, a HUGE complementary shaved ice bowl 


TsuruTonTan Udon Noodle Brasserie

Japanese noodles

  • Located in the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center
  • Had the Tan Tan Udon – Spicy miso broth with ground pork
  • Noodle texture was good – chewy; seem thicker than normal udon noodles  
  • The appeal of this restaurant – the bowl size that the udon comes out of. But just your usual udon place


Don e Don
Korean 

  • Came here for the “Gamja Tang” – Pork neck stew with potatoes. Huge serving and a lot of meat!
  • Also ordered Pork Spare Ribs, which was full of tender meat, which is great to eat with a side of salad


Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin

Japanese

  • Ordered the Special Kurobuta Pork Loin Katsu-don and 7oz Kurobuta Pork Loin Katsu
  • The thickness of the pork was about an inch and each piece melts in your mouth.


Heavenly Island Lifestyle
Breakfast & Brunch

  • Located next to the Shoreline Hotel Waikiki
  • As the location is next to the hotel, a very popular and busy restaurant. Also, advertise its focus on organic products.
  • Ordered the pineapple mimosa with the pork belly egg benedict and the island’s acai bowl

Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha
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Dessert – Shaved Ice

  • Ordered the Strawberry Dream and Uji Kintoki (matcha based with mochi and red bean). Simple and refreshing!
  • Got to meet Uncle Clay, who is the sweetest and most humble uncle! To speak with him and be welcome by him was the cherry on top!


Chief’s Luau

Hawaiian + show

Chief’s Luau is not a restaurant, but I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND attending this luau to enjoy good food and AMAZING entertainment. Chief and his team know how to entertain their guest. Not only does your admission ticket include food and drinks, but you also get to participate in fun activities before the show: weaving your own headband, tasting pure coconut meat, airbrush tattoos, learn how to start your own fire!

The food is buffet style, which allows you to eat as much as your heart desires! The fruit punch is great and the bartenders that make the paid alcoholic beverages are generous. But, the highlight of the whole experience was the Polynesian dancing, the singing, and the demonstrations that Chief would do on the stage. I can’t say anymore as I do really hope you visit this place! It was so worth it.

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Well, there you go! Ten places I would recommend on O’ahu. Again, totally optional but I found these places very enjoyable and dear to my heart (or my stomach I would say). As true Hawaiian culture – mahalo and aloha.

Until we meet again!

Cheers, Jane

 

Viva Las Vegas (off strip)

Hello world!

Another – long time no – write entry.

I know, I know… why does it take me so long? Because I feel like creativity works best when I feel like writing vs when I force myself to write. And I also just came back from Las Vegas; meaning I have some food adventures to share with you! 🙂

Since I’ve been dating my boyfriend, we’ve been going to Vegas too often. But luckily, I met a man that enjoys food more than gambling which allows us to venture off the strip then staying within the hotel walls.

This time around, we went to Las Vegas to watch our favorite comedian, Russell Peters. He is currently on tour after being MIA for a year and with good reasons. I’m always so impressed with his material and I could listen to his stuff for hours. By following our favorite comedian, it allowed us to stay off the strip at the Palms Place Hotel – and I must say… I really like it there! The suite style room with the kitchen definitely makes a great place to stay if you have kids or plan to stay for a while. Wish we took advantage of the kitchen, but NEXT TIME!

For food, we discovered a few new places this time while revisiting some of the favorites. Here is a list of places that we went to this time:

  1. Cafe Sanuki
    Legit cafeteria style restaurant. You grab a tray, order your meal, then pay at the cash register. It was a fun experience if you want to experience the Asian cafe style. Really enjoyed their tempera and the Shoyu Pork Udon and the Niku Beef Udon.
  2. Sweets Raku  FAVORITE.
    Had their Chef Dessert Set (which includes their special of the day + chef’s special) and their Sweets Raku Dessert Set (includes special of the day + one main dessert choice).
    That days special was a mango sorbet or a raspberry sorbet, which were both tarty and refreshing. The chefs special was an apple pie with honey ice cream and a blown sugar apple filled with whipped cream. And for the main dessert choice, we had chosen the “Mars” which included a cool fire show.
  3. Shang Artisan Noodle
    Shang is known for their hand-pulled noodles. We’ve been here before but had a major craving for it again. I recommend the pork & cabbage dumplings + their potstickers. We’ve tried their Shang Beef Noodles (which has a spicy broth), but if you prefer a non-spicy broth, the beef shank noodles were great.
  4. Good Pie
    For dinner, we saw great Yelp reviews for this place and decided to order-in as my boyfriend had to do some work (delivery by DoorDash). We ordered the Johnny be good, Detroit style, which means the pizza has a thick crispy crust (more bready if you like bread). The pizza was great delivered, but I bet it would have been better if we ate it at the restaurant.
  5. Sapporo Revolving Sushi
    Conveyor belt sushi – NOT all you can eat. Each plate is about $2.50 while you can order other things at a different price. Uni was great, so were the salmon and tuna.
  6. Goong Korean BBQ  FAVORITE
    Whenever the local Uber drivers ask why we’re going off the strip to eat and what is the best place to eat Korean BBQ in Vegas, we always suggest Goong. Goong’s meat quality is pretty high compared to what we get in the Bay, and the price is pretty reasonable as the quality of the meat is high. We like to order the Wagyu Beef platter that includes banchan (Korean side dishes), Korean pancake, soup, and steam eggs. Definitely, recommend trying!

Hope you enjoy my list of restaurants as much as I enjoy eating at these restaurants haha. And as always, thank you for stopping by and reading my blogs! If you have any feedback or recommendations, feel free to leave me a comment! I would love to explore new places and new items of foods. Well, till next time!

Cheers, Jane.