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Why do Restaurants Use Frozen French Fries?

not to defend bad restaurants, but NOT ALL FROZEN FRIES ARE BAD!

I've worked in several well respected restaurants that make their own fries from scratch. Hand-cutting skin-on Russet potatoes, blanching, draining, first-frying, freezing...then 2nd frying to order. The end result is a crispier fry that isn't overcooked. Golden brown crispy outside and light n fluffy inside. It's a little faster on the pick-up (important if you've ever worked as a line cook during a busy dinner service).

Now...I have yet to see a restaurant make their own tater tots...

Apr 05, 2013
wavsurfer in General Topics

5 Good Reasons to Complain at Restaurants

FLATFISH allergy?! The commenter is allergic to flatfish but not other fish? Bogus. As a professional line cook, I take food allergies VERY serious. Safety is number one (above all else, even flavor). But bogus allergies give true medical issues a bad name. How do I know it's bogus? I've worked with several MD allergists and also I have a Ph.D. in marine ecology (a previous life). "Flatfish" is a polyphyletic term to describe the shape of a fish and not its evolutionary history or relatedness. It's like saying you're allergic to baby spinach but not full grown spinach.

Sep 27, 2011
wavsurfer in Features

Recommendations please for GREAT Cocktails in O'ahu

My favorite places for great cocktails, especially the old school prohibition-era (or older!) classics:

-Town restaurant on Waialae Ave, Kaimuki
-Thirty-nine Hotel on Hotel St, Chinatown
-Apartment3 on Kapiolani Blvd, across from the convention center
-Lewers Lounge inside the Halekulani Hotel, Waikiki
-Nobu Waikiki

These are the types of places where the bartenders are true masters of their craft and not just beer slingers or pretty flirty faces or flair shows. The sort of places where you can sit down at the bar and talk about a certain ingredient or liquor or flavor you like or want to try, and they'll tailor something to your tastes. And if you really want old school, the guy at Town can probably even tell you the history behind your classic cocktail as well as the local ingredients used for that gin-infusion.

Good for you for your interest in the Hawaii cocktail scene and understanding that it's far more than mai tais and pina coladas!

2199 Kalia Rd, Honolulu, HI 96815

Sep 19, 2010
wavsurfer in Hawaii

After Dinner Coffee and Desserts (O'ahu)

I don't know if they have a formal dress code, especially for the bar/lounge seating area. It's a nice joint, but certainly not jacket-required or anything like that.

I've gone for dessert-only several times, sitting in the lounge area (maybe a bit louder than the dining room). Call ahead and you can probably make a reservation for dessert-only.

Sep 15, 2010
wavsurfer in Hawaii

Looking for fresh pasta in Honolulu

You could try asking local restaurants if they'll sell fresh pasta directly to you. The best pasta fresca IN THE STATE comes from TOWN Restaurant on Waialae (and really one of the only restaurants in Honolulu that even attempts to make their own pasta). I've had great fat pappardelle to tiny tagliolini there at very affordable prices. Also stuffed ravioli and agnolotti too. And while we're at it, they make the best gnocchi in the state too. Light and pillowy, not the dense nuggets you get at most other Honolulu restaurants. Call up a few restaurants and ask politely. I've personally never tried this, but it's worth a shot.

If you're really serious about learning fresh pasta (which isn't necessarily better or worse than dried pasta; just different), then try to make it at home. Just flour and egg. Some recipes might add in a little water, salt and/or EVOO. You don't even need "special" semolina flour for fresh pastas. If you have a stand mixer, great. If not, the dough kneading is fun to do by hand. Wrap dough and rest in fridge.

If you really want long noodle-type pasta, you can find a cheap, very decent pasta machine (hand crank type) at Ross for $15-19. Or you can learn to use a rolling pin Italian grandma/nonna style, but that's pretty tricky to do well.

OR you can try making the non-noodle pastas. Garganelli (using a clean Sharpie marker), pici, strozzapretti, orecchiette, etc etc. Just like working with Play Dough, but tastier.

3435 Waialae Avenue #103, Honolulu, HI 96813

Sep 15, 2010
wavsurfer in Hawaii

After Dinner Coffee and Desserts (O'ahu)

Nobu Waikiki's dessert menu is pretty amazing. Head and shoulders above the competition. My reasons:

- I don't know of any other restaurant on the island employing "new cooking" or "molecular gastronomy" techniques in their pastry dept. The pastry chef is truly a master of her craft.
-Most Honolulu restaurants outsource their frozen dessert production (gelato, sorbettos, ice creams, etc.) to La Gelateria (closes at 5 PM weekdays). Not Nobu. They make their own gelato in house!
-Taste taste taste. I've tried half of the menu, and they taste flat out delicious. Interesting combinations of flavors and textures and temperatures. Frozen crunchy cacao nibs with soft creamy chocolate-hazelnut/gianduja cremoso and pomegranate
-Visually stunning. Wow any date. See for yourself (photo credits to this photographer, not me):
-Open late. lounge seating until midnight
-I think they have a late night happy hour?
-No reservations needed for lounge seating
-I think they validate parking nearby. Waikiki Parc hotel?

Nobu Waikiki
2233 Helumoa Road, Honolulu, HI 96815

Sep 14, 2010
wavsurfer in Hawaii

What the *&@#%!$ Should I Do with All This Fresh Garlic?

A good tip, straight from every restaurant kitchen to the home kitchen. Garlic confit is widely used in the industry because it's simple, cost-effective and offers great flavor. But line cooks fly through their nine-pans of garlic confit every night and don't store it for very long unlike the average home cook (who isn't cooking 200 covers/night). Please discuss risks of botulism contamination. Safety first!

Also, did you save the fresh garlic greens?

Jun 30, 2010
wavsurfer in Features

Help - just moved to Honolulu - where do chowhounds shop

I agree with Y Hata!

For kitchen equipment and cookware, FORGET those rip-off expensive specialty stores (e.g. Compleat Kitchen, Executive Chef @ Ward, Williams-Sonoma, Macy's, etc.)

Instead, go to a decent restaurant supply store like Y.Hata on Sand Island and Bargreen Ellison in Pearl City or Aiea (across from Pearlridge Shopping Center behind a furniture store, Fortunoff? HomeWorld?). They look like warehouses, but full of durable heavy duty equipment at relatively low prices.

That $12 OXO peeler from Compleat Kitchen is a piece of crap and half as sharp as the $1.50 Victorinox ones you'll find at the restaurant supply stores. A regular stainless steel mixing bowl shouldn't cost $20!

You don't need a $200 All-Clad/Mauviel/Le Creuset/etc. pan to cook amazing food! The best restaurants in the world don't even use these pans. Just get something thick, heavy and sturdy. At home, I cook on restaurant-grade carbon steel saute pans (naturally nonstick like seasoned cast iron, but lighter in weight and faster to heat up; super durable). Heavy-gauge aluminum saucepans, sheet pans & stockpots are what most restaurants use, and they're very good for what you pay for.

See Mark Bittman's advice for restaurant supply store shopping to outfit a new kitchen in the NY Times:

Too bad Y. Hata & Bargreen Ellison aren't as cheap as mainland restaurant supply stores. At least Bargreen Ellison has a nice trade discount (20%?) if you work in the industry, (but don't lie).

Also some good deals at Ross and Craigslist. I've seen bare and enameled cast iron dutch ovens for <$40, Cuisinart ice cream machines for <$15, decent pasta presses for ~$15. I even saw a RobotCoupe for $80 once. Check the Business section of Cragislist for restaurants going out of business. You can usually get baking sheet pans and mixing bowls (and hotel pans and deep fryers, and walk-in freezers, etc.) for dirt cheap.

For the freshest ingredients, try for the farmer's markets. Not just produce, and not just at Kapiolani Community College (KCC) & the Blaisdell Center. Every day of the week, all over the island:

I'm a fan of fresh local Ka Lei eggs @ Safeway or better yet, at their store in Kaimuki (on Waialae kinda near Big City Diner.


MA'O Organic Farms in Waianae has a great weekly CSA veggie box going now, too (especially if you like daikon, beets and Hakurei turnips).

Big City Diner
3569 Waialae Ave Ste 3, Honolulu, HI 96816

Apr 14, 2010
wavsurfer in Hawaii

Late lunch in or near Ward Warehouse, Oahu?

I second the recommendation for Goma Tei in Ward Centre. Their spicy (not crazy sweat/tear-inducing spicy though) sesame-rich tan-tan ramens are the best in town. If you've ever tried to make your own ramen stock (from pork bones and bonito), you'll appreciate this meal from the first slurp.

Also worth mentioning is my favorite sushi place in town, Sushi Masa. Just grab a seat at the bar and ask Chef Masa for his recommendations. Pray for uni. One of the best sushi experiences I've ever had. Not cheap though. Worth every bite.

Sushi Masa
1200 Ala Moana Blvd Ste 425, Honolulu, HI 96814

Apr 03, 2010
wavsurfer in Hawaii

Honolulu/Oahu--udon and/or soba joint?

yeah, definitely the "goma dare" @ Matsugen in Waikiki. They validate parking for dinner, but not lunch. Don't go if you have a buckwheat allergy...they grind the flour in the dining room.

Oct 25, 2009
wavsurfer in Hawaii

10 Vegetable Seed Suppliers

w00t UH CTAHR program in Hawaii! cheap and good seeds and nice people.

Oct 25, 2009
wavsurfer in Features

Butcher in Honolulu

Whole Foods in Kahala sells beef marrow bones by the pound and will cut them for you if you ask nicely. As for "specialty cuts" or whole-animal or whole primal cuts...good luck. They did offer a flatiron steak awhile ago but were clueless when I asked about hanger or even skirt steaks. Try contacting local cattle ranches directly like Kulana and Pu'u o Hoku. Y Hata Restaurant Supply might have veal bones (for stock) but you probably have to buy them in bulk.

If you're looking for offal, try Chinatown or even Don Quixote or the Market City Foodland. I've seen beef cheeks, pork jowls (listed as "pork face"), beef tripe, beef tongue, beef heart, pork kidneys and other gems there.

There are VERY few "real" butchers left anywhere in the US anymore, let alone on our little island of O'ahu. Your best bet may be to get Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage Cookbook and raise and butcher your own meat...

Oct 13, 2009
wavsurfer in Hawaii

hawaii-raised turkey or poultry?

I've been looking for locally raised muscovy ducks, too. I see them sold on Craigslist (maybe as pets) but never in farmer's markets or grocery stores. Whole Foods' ducks are frozen and shipped from CA (white pekin duck breed). Any leads?

Mar 12, 2009
wavsurfer in Hawaii

Hanger Steak on Oahu ?

I checked tonight (23 Jan 2009) and Whole Foods-Kahala does not carry hanger steak/onglet. The young butcher behind the counter explained, "We can't carry that cut, because, y'know, we gotta preserve the integrity of the, y'know, organic...beef."

All nonsense aside, they do have flat iron steaks ($13.99/lb.) and the butcher was kind enough to cut a few marrow bones for me ($2.99/lb.)

Has anyone else noticed that the Whole Foods brand orange juice is almost HALF as cheap as the national brands here in Hawaii? $3.99 vs $5.99/carton? Still not mainland-cheap, but I'll take it. Also whole duck at $5.99/lb.

I'd much rather support local farmers' markets, but this new Whole Foods is a lot better than Safeway/Foodland/Times

Jan 23, 2009
wavsurfer in Hawaii