Sunday, September 30, 2012

Honolulu: Chef Mavro Restaurant

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During my trip to O'ahu for the Hawai'i Food and Wine Festival, I was fortunate to be invited to dinner by Chef George Mavrothalassitis and his wife Donna to their restaurant, Chef Mavro.  

Chef Mavro is one of the 12 chefs that got together in 1991, worked with local food producers, changed the food landscape, and called it  Hawaii Regional Cuisine.  Other notable chefs in this group include:  Roy Yamaguchi, Alan Wong, Bev Gannon, Peter Merriman, Mark Ellman, just to name a few.

Wine Spectator calls him, "One of the most important eleven French chefs working in America."  He's also received a James Beard Foundation award and his restaurant earned the Five Diamond rating from AAA in 2009.  In October 2012, they were listed on Gayot's "Top 10 Seafood Restaurants in the U.S."

See What Jay Eats...

Photo by Chef Mavro Restaurant

Upon arriving, I was greeted warmly by Donna Jung, chef's wife.
My friend, Rebecca Pang, joined me for this incredible evening.

As we were seated in front of our
personalized menus,
I knew this would be a culinary extravaganza!

Champagne to start

A nice way to start this dining adventure

Amuse Bouche

Oursinade, sea urchin froth, topped with uni

a sauce of sea urchin

Photo by Chef Mavro Restaurant
A beautiful dining room

The red ginger flowers reminded me of my
grandmother's house, she always had red ginger
around when we came to visit her in Honolulu.

Ahi - Watercress

Seared bigeye ahi sashimi grade with hanapepe salt
sumida watercress "déclinaison" salad
with hawaiian chili water dressing, kanten
and grilled stems with poppy seed
garlic-lemon-extra virgin olive oil purée

Chef Mavro came to our table to dress our salads
and explained that the delicate greens would
wilt if not done table side. 
Attention to Detail...

Chef Mavro was one of the chefs at the Hawai'i Food and Wine Festival.
This next dish he served at 

Shutome - Kabosu

Fillet of island swordfish crusted with mochi,
citrus-sansho sauce, jumbo asparagus and velouté

This was my favorite dish up to this point,
swordfish crusted with mochi.

Usually when someone says this,
more good stuff is coming...

You don't see this anymore...
"It's one thing to have a famous chef's name on a menu.
It's quite a different thing to have the famous chef cook your dinner"
                                                                                    - Steve Wynn 
                                                                                      Wynn Las Vegas
Chef Mavro is serving table side to the couple across from us, 
a snapper baked in a Hawaiian salt crust.

This is a lost art...

Duckling - Mango

Grimaud farm muscovy duckling
gingered green mango chutney
sweet kahuku corn fritter, "modern" bigarade sauce

I thought this was my favorite of the night,

Lamb - Harissa

Colorado lamb loin, "pissaladiére" with confit tomatoes
lamb bacon, garlic chips, maui onion
black olive powder, american parsley oil'house harris a-lamb jus

Now, I'm not sure what's my favorite...

Goat Cheese - Green Peppercorn

Maui fresh goat cheese, one minute frankie's nursery
fresh green peppercorn strawberry jam
island arugula

Chef George Mavrothalassitis
"Chef Mavro"

I met Chef Mavro over 20 years ago while he was the
executive chef at the Halekulani Hotel.  What was a 20 something
year old doing having dinner at their signature restaurant La Mer?
I have no idea, but I did get to meet Chef Mavro that night.

His response:  "I change my menu each season, 
you don't have to wait 20 years"

Yes chef, I'll be back and won't wait another 20 years...

Time for Dessert
Pre - Dessert

Watermelon in champagne gelée
fresh mint

Nice and refreshing...

Lilikoi Malasada - Urfa Biber

Miniature malasadas, fresh lilikoi "déclinaison"
yogurt parfait, candied pistachio
urfa biber peppercorn sauce

Loved It!

Chocolate - Avocado

White chocolate avocado cremeux
madre Hawaii-grown chocolate bavaroise
corn financier, spiced chocolate sauce
lime oil, basil syrup

The avocado and chocolate worked great together.

Each course from his Summer menu was paired with a wine,
I left out a few dishes and the wines from this post,
there was just too much good stuff. 
BTW, my pictures don't do the food justice,
they look so much better in person.

Photo by Chef Mavro Restaurant
During our dinner at Chef Mavro,
I posted pictures on Instagram. 

Chef Mavro not only followed me, but "Liked" all of my pictures,
imagine that?

Too Funny Chef!

A nice way to end the Summer...

You just have to experience Chef Mavro's cuisine yourself.
He's a French chef, living in Hawaii, sourcing great seafood/proteins,
in an area with Asian influences, how can it not be great?

It was a wonderful dining experience!

BTW, his Fall menu looks incredible too...

Chef Mavro Restaurant
1969 South King Street
Honolulu, HI  96826
(808) 944-4714

Reservations Recommended


I thank them for the invitation and hospitality.
All comments and opinions are strictly my own.

Photos by Jay Terauchi
Except where noted
Jay Eats
©Jay Terauchi

Honolulu Restaurant: The Whole Ox 9/2012

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One of my favorite restaurants in Honolulu is The Whole Ox in Kaka'ako, headed by 
chef / owner Bob McGee.  On my last trip, I was there on the 3rd day of opening and 6 months later, the place is going strong and they now have a dinner menu.  

This trip, I'm in town for the Hawai'i Food and Wine Festival and looking forward to meeting food industry folks from around the world.  Arriving in Honolulu earlier that afternoon, I was ready for some great food.  

I got invited to an impromptu dinner and wasn't going to pass up this opportunity to dine at the Whole Ox.  @nathankam, @RebeccaPang, and I arrived after the group ordered, so I had no clue what was on tonight's menu.  But I knew that everything would be great, just pass the plates...
See What Jay Eats...

Chefs Lee Anne Wong and Bob McGee
with tonight's main course...

We had a few other dishes, prior to the pork shank:
Vegetable Pakora
Ma'o plate
Roasted Chicken

fried potatoes, gravy, and topped with foie gras

An unbelievable dish...

The Pork Shank

Enough to feed a family of 8

All very good!
On my next trip, need to assemble a group for dinner.
Who's in?

Dinner was my first meal at the Whole Ox this trip.
A few days later, I went for lunch...

The Landsberg Law Roast Beef
with horseradish, cheddar, and onions

I love roast beef and horseradish...

Watermelon and Tomato Salad

Another must try side is the beet salad

Dry-Aged Burger
"A Must Have"

If you've never had a dry-aged burger,
here's the place for it.

Chef Bob told me how they prepare
the meat for the burgers.
Not many do it that way...

327 Keawe Street
Honolulu, HI 96813
(808) 699-6328
Closed Sundays

Scrumptious comfort food with big, over the top taste.
From tail to snout, they utilize every part of the animal.
Only use locally grown beef and live for food sustainability.

I have to stop here, I'm getting hungry...

The Whole Ox
September 2013

My first trip to

Follow them on

NOTE:  I was a guest in Honolulu of the Hawai'i Visitors and Convention Bureau
O'ahu Visitors Bureauand their partners.
I thank them for the invitation and hospitality.
All comments and opinions are strictly my own.

Photos by Jay Terauchi
Jay Eats

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Honolulu Restaurant: Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin

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 I've known about this place for awhile now, with all of the other outstanding places to eat in Honolulu, this was further down on my list.  Until now...

Scheduled dinner with @konaish and @onokinegrindz, my Sushi Izakaya Gaku friends.  Unfortunately, @onokinegrindz was unavailable this night, but we got to have one last meal at Downtown at HiSAM (Hawaii State Art Museum).

Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin
Beach Walk Waikiki

In Japan, Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin (Est. 1927) was the first
Tonkatsu restaurant in Ginza (one of the most luxurious
shopping districts in the world and very upscale).

They were the first to offer the now popular "Bite-Size Katsu",
"Tonkatsu Sauce" and the "Katsu Sandwich".  

See What Jay Eats...

Beef Takaki Salad
(Seared Beef Salad)

Not much of a dressing tho...

You can grind sesame seeds
before adding in the tonkatsu sauce,
it gives a nice nutty flavor...

We opted for the Special Kurobuta
Pork Loin Katsu
(Only 25 servings a day)

Kurobuta is a black pig (Berkshire breed in the US)
and under the trademarked name Kagoshima Kurobuta
in Japan.

Thick Cut Pork Loin Katsu

Same cut as the Special Kurobuta Pork

Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin uses premium cotton seed
salad oil from Japan to cook all of the katsu.
(zero trans fat)

Overall, I would go back and have tonkatsu again.
Not sure if I would order the Kurobuta Pork Lion again.
IMO, there are other places in Honolulu to get better pork.

If you want great pork dishes, try Whole Ox in Kaka'ako.
All I'll say is Pork Shank
(You need to bring a group for it...)

255 Beach Walk
Honolulu, HI 96815
(808) 926-8082
Suggest making reservations

You can also grab a katsu sandwich
at Ala Moana Center

Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin stall at Shirokiya
Ala Moana Center

Tonkatsu and katsu sandwiches

Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin
2nd Floor
Ala Moana Center
1450 Ala Moana Blvd #2250
Honolulu, HI 96841
(808) 973-9111

Will have to meet up with @onokinegrindz
another time and thanks to @konaish
for joining me for tonkatsu.

Another tonkatsu place in Waikiki
with a different twist

NOTE:  I was a guest in Honolulu of the Hawai'i Visitors and Convention Bureau
O'ahu Visitors Bureauand their partners on this trip.
I thank them for the invitation and hospitality.
All comments and opinions are strictly my own.

Photos by Jay Terauchi
©Jay Terauchi
Jay Eats

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A 'Sweet' Dessert

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A couple of months ago, I sampled some créme caramel from Créme Caramel LA.  If you don't know what it is, it's the French version of flan (or vice versa), which is a custard dessert with a layer of caramel on top.  Without getting into all of the details, flan is different in many parts of the world.  So, I'll just refer to it as créme caramel...

See What Jay Eats...

Taro, Original, and Coffee

My first tasting of Créme Caramel LA,
thanks to Nina Rodecker

I checked their website and found them
 at the Barnsdall Art Park Farmers Market
on Wednesdays

Sampled all of the créme caramels flavors
and all were very good.

Which made it hard to pick one...
All with great flavor
and not too sweet.

While I was there...

This couple walks up, tries samples of the
créme caramel, they end up purchasing 2 of them.
Not more than 8 feet away, they finished their créme 
caramel AND returned to purchase another 2.  

Nice to have return customers like that...

Bread Pudding too...

I've only seen pictures of their bread pudding,
until I tasted it...

Loved the Caramalized Bacon Bread Pudding!

A lot of places have a very strong bacon flavor in their products,
most are so-so.
But this one has a great bacon flavor throughout.
I really loved this one!

Today's Menu

They have their standard flavors
and special flavors,
so check the board.

Today's Fall Flavors...

Hard to believe it's Fall in Los Angeles,
it's Sunny and 82º

If you can't make it out to one of their farmers markets,
you can order directly from them
or  visit
and save room for dessert

 I got to meet the entire company!

Check their website for the current 
farmers market locations

I love when small businesses have a game plan
and great tasting products.
I've seen too many that don't have one or the other,
and in some cases both.
I guess that's why I get called...

I'm a Fan!

Créme Caramel LA
(818) 949-8352

Thank You!
Kristine de la Cruz
Nina Rodecker

Photos by Jay Terauchi
©Jay Terauchi
Jay Eats

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Hidden Musubi in Waikiki

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I visit Oahu on a regular basis and I usually stay in the Waikiki area.  Except for a handful of places, I'm not really a Waikiki expert.  I was telling one of my Honolulu friends that I stay there, but I don't know where to eat in Waikiki.  I'm usually on Kapahulu Avenue, Kaka'ako, Kalihi, downtown, or other Honolulu neighborhoods for food.

A few of my Japanese friends has been telling me to go here.  Since I'm never in Waikiki, it took me awhile to get over there AND I'm glad that I did...

See What Jay Eats...

SPAM Musubi with Egg and BACON

Caught my eye...

Located behind the Hyatt Regency Hotel 
on Koa Avenue
is this small "Musubi Shop" sign

If you don't look close enough, you'll miss it

Once you pass the first sign,
look for the green sign
between the buildings.

It reminds me of places in Japan

Musubi Cafe Iyasume

Open 6:30 am - 4:00 pm
7 Days a Week

Musubi Selection

SPAM with Cucumber and Ume $2.28
Original SPAM $1.88
SPAM with Egg and Bacon $2.48

Photo by Musubi Cafe Lyasume
Oh yeah, bentos too...

It's a bit too traditional for me,
but I have to remember they get a lot
of Japanese tourists.

Musubi Cafe Iyasume
(click on image to enlarge)

You can call ahead your order
(808) 921-0168

Japanese Fried Chicken
6 pc $4.00

Picked up my food and headed to the airport
Yes, it was time to head home...

Had a friend say to me, "are you still here?"

My pre-flight lunch

Salmon Musubi
and Japanese Fried Chicken

2410 Koa Avenue
Hale Waikiki Hotel #4
Honolulu, HI 96815
(808) 921-0168

NOTE:  I was a guest in Honolulu of the Hawai'i Visitors and Convention Bureau
O'ahu Visitors Bureauand their partners on this trip.
I thank them for the invitation and hospitality.
All comments and opinions are strictly my own.

Photos by Jay Terauchi
unless otherwise noted
Jay Eats
©Jay Terauchi

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Around the Clock: 24 Hour Donut City II

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A friend had mentioned this event to me, she was at LACMA yesterday and told me about this morning's discussion about donuts and I should attend.  Although she wasn't there, she was right about the free donut at For Your Art.

Anyway, I looked forward to a break from putting together food pictures from my Hawaii trip.

Donut Display

Now this is art...

She wasn't kidding about the FREE donut

Too many to select from...

Now if these were actual size donuts,
I'd be in deep trouble...

Here's one of my favorites...

A lot of artwork on the walls,
even had an audience participation section.

But I settled on my favorite one
and started to focus in on today's donut discussion
and the reason why I showed up.

Today's donut panel
moderated by Krista Simmons

Donut trends were discussed, what makes a great donut, history of the donut scene in L.A. as is rooted in the Asian immigrant population, and even shared personal donut stories.  

YES, malasadas from Hawai'i were mentioned too...My other favorite.

After the discussion,
donuts from the Donut Snob
were unveiled for tasting.

Today's donut panel

(Left to Right) Waylynn Lucas (Fonuts), Janeen Gudelj (Donut Snob),
Krista Simmons (Top Chef Masters judge and LAist Food Editor),
and Josh Lurie (

Josh and I attended the Hawai'i Food and Wine Festival
a couple of weeks ago
It was nice seeing him on the mainland this time

My Bacon Donut from Donut Snob

More information on

I'll have to look for Fonuts 
and Donut Snob...

Photos by Jay Terauchi
©Jay Terauchi
Jay Eats