Something new: Magnolia Ice Cream & Treats

Magnolia, the self-proclaimed “halo-halo place” known for its wealth of Filipino ice cream flavors, grand-opened their very first scoop shop last week in Waipahu’s Seafood City.

With almost two dozen flavors available, Magnolia serves up exotic flavors like buko pandan (coconut with pandan), ube, jackfruit and mais queso (corn and cheese).

With almost two dozen flavors available, Magnolia serves up exotic flavors like buko pandan (coconut with pandan), ube, jackfruit and mais queso (corn and cheese).

Two of the specialties are the mais con hielo (a dessert of sweet corn, shave ice, corn flakes and mais queso ice cream) and Magnolia’s version of the halo-halo, known as the Mahalo-halo. But does the $5.59 halo-halo live up to the hype?

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The Mahalo-halo, I mean. “We import our ingredients frozen from the Philippines instead of introducing additives to make it shelf-stable,” Ramar Foods VP PJ Quesada says. “It makes for a much better halo-halo.”

The rainbow jelly, coconut, sweet corn, shaved ice, a specially formulated condensed milk and ube ice cream create a superior halo-halo. The finely shaven ice and lack of syrup help the components mix together evenly for a superior texture, creating a sweet treat that really hits the spot on these hot summer days.

I’m a huge fan of ube ice cream. That plus the fact that Magnolia is only 10 minutes from my house, and it’s hardly surprising that my second visit took place one day after my first, in the company of my lucky parents, who were finally initiated into the world of Filipino ice cream. My mom is still talking about it.

I didn't know what to expect from the maiz con hielo ($4.49) with the two prevailing flavors of corn and cheese. This frozen treat was surprisingly refreshing that I would definitely order again. The sweet corn throughout is a nice, unfamiliar flavor that works well with the shave ice and crispy corn flakes.

I didn’t know what to expect from the maiz con hielo with the two prevailing flavors of corn and cheese. This frozen treat was surprisingly refreshing that I would definitely order again. The sweet corn throughout is a nice, unfamiliar flavor that works well with the shave ice and crispy corn flakes.

Ramar Foods President Primo Quesada with his family and friends celebrating the grand opening of the very first Magnolia scoop shop.

Ramar Foods President Primo Quesada with his family and friends celebrating the grand opening of the very first Magnolia scoop shop.

Pan de sal with ube ice cream.

Pan de sal with ube ice cream.

Service with a smile! $2.99 for a single scoop, $4.99 for a double. We got the langka (jackfruit) and buko pandan, a creamy, almost vanilla-like herb with young coconut chunks. I'd definitely order the pandan again for its signature flavor that is hard to find in Hawaii.

Service with a smile! $2.99 for a single scoop, $4.99 for a double. We got the langka (jackfruit) and buko pandan, a creamy, almost vanilla-like herb with young coconut chunks. I’d definitely order the pandan again for its signature flavor that is hard to find in Hawaii.

Magnolia Ice Cream & Treats
94-050 Farrington Hwy.
808-675-2350
magnoliatreats.com
Monday-Sunday 9 a.m.-9 p.m.

Something new: Ed Kenney’s Mud Hen Water

Ed Kenney’s Mud Hen Water opened this week, the locavore chef’s third restaurant in Kaimuki. It’s next to Kaimuki Superette, his casual lunch spot where orders are served on cafeteria-style trays, and across the street from Town restaurant. “The name comes from the translation of Waialae, the watering hole where the mudhen gathers. We want Mud Hen Water to be the gathering place in Kaimuki,” says Joel Seger, one of the bartenders.

Steamed clams ($13) with kalua pig, cabbage and charred chives. Easily one of our favorites, the pork's smokiness adding another layer of flavor to the briny clams.

Steamed clams ($13) with kalua pig, cabbage and charred chives. Easily one of our favorites, the pork’s smokiness adding another layer of flavor to the briny clams.

Like Kenney’s other restaurants, the vibe at this one is casual. And like many watering holes, it’s open evenings only. Knowing that Kenney had been describing local and Asian touches on the menu, in contrast to the contemporary and traditional American and Mediterranean-inspired dishes at his other places, I put together a small group of friends and headed over.

Scanning the menu, we found things like smoke meat carbonara, cold ginger rabbit, a riff on the Chinese favorite, and lup cheong madeleines with miso-whipped lard.

Cold ginger rabbit ($15) with the traditional ginger and green onions, crunchy puffed rice and mountain apple mostarda. A bold, tasty dish.

Cold ginger rabbit ($15) with the traditional ginger and green onions, crunchy puffed rice and mountain apple mostarda. A bold, tasty dish.

Because of Kenney’s commitment to supporting local, the menu changes daily and features ingredients that are in season. So don’t get too attached to your favorite dishes.

I still remember the tender octopus roll I had at Kaimuki Superette the week they opened. The octopus here is the grilled he'e and luau ($16) lives up to that: ultra tender and full of flavor, it melts in your mouth.

I still remember the tender octopus roll I had at Kaimuki Superette the week they opened. The octopus here in the grilled he’e and luau ($16) lives up to that: ultra tender and full of flavor, it melts in your mouth.

The restaurant has a throwback feel with stone masonry propping up the bar and lining the open kitchen. And the dishes remind you of long-ago times, like the Okinawan soba with braised spare ribs, and are often both nostalgic and progressive, like the beets with avocado and ogo.

The Okinawan soba with braised spare ribs ($16) reminds me of eating a simple but delicious saimin as a kid with my dad. All the flavor is there and the simplicity of the dish is appealing.

The Okinawan soba with braised spare ribs ($16) reminds me of eating a simple but delicious saimin as a kid with my dad. All the flavor is there and the simplicity of the dish is appealing.

The menu is crafted for parties to share, tapas style. The drink menu has eight cocktails, eight beers including Maui Brewing Co. and Kona Brewing Co. labels, and almost a dozen wines.

I love any dish with ogo and the beets ($10) with macadamia nuts, sesame seeds, avocado and ogo are delicious. At first glance you wouldn't think the salty crunch from ogo would pair well with the earthiness of the beets but it works in every way. Photo by Thomas Obungen

I love any dish with ogo and the beets ($10) with macadamia nuts, sesame seeds, avocado and ogo are delicious. At first glance you wouldn’t think the salty crunch from ogo would pair well with the earthiness of the beets but it works in every way. Photo by Thomas Obungen

The half chicken ($28) is pricey but worth it. The pieces are juicy and tender and go well with the tamarind mustard, Szechuan salt and shrimp chips.

The half chicken ($28) is pricey but worth it. The pieces are juicy and tender and go well with the tamarind mustard, Szechuan salt and shrimp chips.

Overall Mud Hen Water is a relaxed local restaurant that’s perfect for a casual dinner with a few friends. Be sure to order the he’e, half chicken and beets as they are all well-seasoned and the perfect size for sharing. If you’re looking for something more nostalgic, the Okinawan soba really hits the spot.

Mud Hen Water
3452 Waialae Ave.
737-6000
Parking: Eight stalls behind restaurant; otherwise street or nearby public parking
mudhenwater.com

Video credit: John Kim

Hidden gem: Honolulu Kitchen

Summer has officially started, the kids are out of school, traffic is better and it’s the time of the year for potlucks, bbqs and parties.

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We pulled up to Honolulu Kitchen in Waipahu near Tanioka’s on Farrington Highway after hearing about its golden, deep fried manapuas. The owner, who used to work at Chun Wah Kam (you can see the similarities in offerings and layout), started this casual eatery across Tropicana Square. The menu features some dim sum including local favorites like pork hash, shrimp siu mai and gau gee, steamed, baked and fried manapuas and plate lunches.

The plate lunch line is full of local favorites like sweet & sour spare ribs, orange chicken and char siu pork belly.

The plate lunch line is full of local favorites like sweet & sour spare ribs, orange chicken and char siu pork belly.

The plate lunches are quite good and reasonably priced at $6.25 for one choice and $8.75 for two, but the star of the show are the deep fried manapuas. At $1 each, we made sure to try one of each flavor (31 available that day) and rigorously tasted a variety of the crispy treats.

The money shot.

The money shot.

Each manapua is about the size of a tangerine and has a favorable filling-to-bun ratio.

The Rosetta Stone of fried manapua.

The Rosetta Stone of fried manapua.

The inside of the deep fried cream cheese manapua. The cream cheese was quite light almost tasted whipped as it warmed up inside the manapua.

The inside of the deep fried cream cheese manapua. The cream cheese was quite light, almost tasted whipped as it warmed up inside the manapua.

They have over 30 flavors to choose from, both savory and sweet.

They have more than 30 flavors to choose from, both savory and sweet.

Honolulu Kitchen
94-861 Farrington Highway
808-671-5241
honolulukitchen808.com
Monday-Thursday 7 a.m.-7 p.m.
Friday-Saturday 7 a.m.-7:30 p.m.
Sunday 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Coming soon: Chris Kajioka’s Kaimuki restaurant

It’s been nearly a year since Chris Kajioka’s departure from Vintage Cave, the $10 million restaurant where tasting menus started at $195. He did a little traveling courtesy of a James Beard scholarship and helped his Michelin-starred friend and mentor Mourad Lahlou open his new restaurant, Mourad, in San Francisco. And then Kajioka came home and is looking to open his own restaurant in Kaimuki.

Kajioka announced the plans for his new Honolulu restaurant on Instagram (@ckcuisine21) back in March.

Kajioka announced the plans for his new Honolulu restaurant on Instagram (@ckcuisine21) back in March.

His partner in the new venture is Anthony Rush, the Devon-born chef at Fera in London’s famed Claridge’s Hotel. The two met at Per Se, Thomas Keller’s three-Michelin star restaurant in New York City, back in 2007 and have kept in touch since. “Anthony is easily one of the best cooks I’ve ever worked with,” Kajioka says.

Both have impressive resumes. Kajioka’s includes Roy’s and San Francisco’s Aziza, Parallel 37 and the Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton as well as Per Se. Rush has cooked at French Laundry and Per Se, Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck (the second best restaurant in the world according to World’s 50 Best list 2004) and Fera.

We had lunch at Koko Head Cafe the other day. When I asked how they would categorize the style of cooking for their restaurant, they said only that diners could expect fresh, local, seasonal ingredients prepared in ways foreign to the Hawaii palate. What they want, they said, is to make people happy through food.

Anthony Rush (@chefantrush), Katherine Nomura Rush and Chris Kajioka (@ckcuisine21) outside Koko Head Cafe, site of their Friday pop-up.

Anthony Rush (@chefantrush), Katherine Nomura Rush and Chris Kajioka (@ckcuisine21) outside Koko Head Cafe, site of their Friday pop-up.

“We will have a casual dining room,” Kajioka says, “but also serve an eight-seat chef’s counter where we are going to have a lot of fun.”

“One of the features we wanted was a true chef’s counter,” Rush agrees. Hawaii doesn’t really have any where diners get a one-of-a-kind meal based on the ingredients available that day and the expression of the chef. The closest we have are omakase meals at one or two higher-end sushi bars.

Our meal wound down and Kajioka, Rush and his wife, Katherine Nomura Rush (who’s from Los Angeles) prepared for their next stop, a local microgreens farmer. I asked the Rushes if their date to move to Hawaii had been pinned down yet. “We’re about to figure that out,” Rush says.

Their as-yet unnamed restaurant is slated to open this fall.

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This Friday evening, Kajioka and Rush will cook a $100-a-head preview dinner for 36. The pop-up quickly sold out over the weekend. Follow Frolic’s Melissa Chang (@melissa808) and check this site to see the creations Kajioka and Rush prepare.

A sneak peek at Friday’s menu shows a solidly English lineup including Yorkshire pudding and Eton mess, a dessert usually of strawberries, cream and meringue.

Something new: Breadbox Hawaii

There’s a new from-scratch bakery in Manoa Marketplace celebrating their grand opening this week. Breadbox Hawaii is a Japanese-style bakery selling full and half loaves, cookies, chocolate truffles, doughnuts and more.

House shokupan (Japanese soft white bread) and wheat loaves ($4 half/$7 full) line the shelves. There were only a couple left when we arrived at 10 a.m.

House shokupan (Japanese soft white bread) and wheat loaves ($4 half/$7 full) line the shelves. There were only a couple left when we arrived at 10 a.m.

Owners Mike Price and Alan Martin come from families with ties to a former pizza shop on Kapahulu and Duc’s Bistro in Chinatown. Price also owns Baby Awearness & Island Tea Party upstairs from Breadbox. When he saw that the old Manoa Bakery space was vacant, he got the lease and started planning the bakery with the help of Martin, his head baker. Martin is a Kapiolani Community College culinary graduate who’s worked at the Whole Ox Deli, the Pig and the Lady and Nobu Waikiki.

The Breadbox Hawaii team.

The Breadbox Hawaii team.

Browsing the small shop, we decided to try one of everything Breadbox had left.

Our box included old fashioned doughnuts, a yeast doughnut, two macaroons, shiro pan, pizza pan and chocolate orange mousse.

Our box included old fashioned doughnuts, a yeast doughnut, two macaroons, shiro pan, pizza pan and chocolate orange mousse.

Doughnuts are shaped by hand and topped with housemade flavored glazes. “Adult flavors” like amaretto and kahlua are in the works, where the liqueur will give each bite a spiked kick.

They gave us a bacon biscuit ($2) straight out of the oven. The smoky, peppery bacon bits inside the buttery layers were a nice savory touch.

They gave us a bacon biscuit ($2) straight out of the oven. The smoky, peppery bacon bits inside the buttery layers were a nice savory touch.

The team is still ramping up to full production, so selections and quantities are limited and they sell out quick. Price says they plan to expand their menu to include breakfast items till 10 a.m. Dishes they are working on include toad in the hole, eggs benedict, stuffed Portuguese sweet bread French toast and biscuits and gravy. Check their Facebook page to see when they’ll start serving these.

Breadbox also hand-makes dark chocolate truffles ($1-$1.50), each with a ganache filling.

Breadbox also hand-makes dark chocolate truffles ($1-$1.50), each with a ganache filling.

Using baguette dough, Breadbox makes an "epi" ($5), a classic made to resemble stalks of wheat. Filled with bacon and cheese (pictured), spinach and garlic, or pizza flavors, these are big enough to share with a friend.

Using baguette dough, Breadbox makes an “epi” ($5), a classic made to resemble stalks of wheat. Filled with bacon and cheese (pictured), spinach and garlic, or pizza flavors, these are big enough to share with a friend.

An assortment of cookies ($1.25 each). We didn't get to try their favorite, bacon chocolate, because they sold out earlier in the morning.

An assortment of cookies ($1.25 each). We didn’t get to try their favorite, bacon chocolate, because they sold out earlier in the morning.

Find Breadbox at Manoa Marketplace next to Manoa Sushi on the ground level.

Find Breadbox at Manoa Marketplace next to Manoa Sushi on the ground level.

Breadbox Hawaii
Manoa Marketplace
2752 Woodlawn Dr.
988-8822
Breadbox Hawaii on Facebook