Hidden gem: Surfin’ Salsa

Longtime reader @Russkar shared his secret spot for his favorite enchiladas and chimichangas — all the way on the edge of Mililani. His descriptions convinced me to make the trek from downtown for a Mexican lunch — twice in one week.

Right across the street from Mililani Golf Course, the Surfin' Salsa truck opens for lunch and dinner five days a week behind Mililani Shopping Center.

Right across the street from Mililani Golf Course, the Surfin’ Salsa truck opens for lunch and dinner five days a week behind Mililani Shopping Center.

This family-run truck prides itself on made-from-scratch recipes for all of their food, including handmade corn tortillas. Owner Jhon Acuna and his mother Olga cook up a menu with Mexican and Colombian influences that includes enchiladas, sopes, chimichangas, burritos, tacos and tortas.

Your Surfin' Salsa meal starts with complimentary chips and salsa. They serve it to you while you wait, even if you're doing takeout!

Your Surfin’ Salsa meal starts with complimentary chips and salsa. They serve it to you while you wait, even if you’re doing takeout!

The steak torta ($9) is definitely a two-hander. Filled with lettuce, tomatoes, guacamole and sour cream, the sandwich is perfectly toasted.

The steak torta ($9) is definitely a two-hander. Filled with lettuce, tomatoes, guacamole and sour cream, the sandwich is perfectly toasted.

The enchilada plate (3 for $12.25) is my favorite item on the menu. The red enchilada sauce is perfectly seasoned and is a must for first-timers. Although I've tried the enchiladas with all the fillings, the cheese is my favorite. Perfectly gooey and flavorful, the rich cheeses make for a filling meal.

The enchilada plate (3 for $12.25) is my favorite item on the menu. The red enchilada sauce is perfectly seasoned and is a must for first-timers. Although I’ve tried the enchiladas with all the fillings, the cheese is my favorite. Perfectly gooey and flavorful, the rich cheeses make for a filling meal.

The first meal I had at Surfin' Salsa was so good, I had to go back the same week. This time, I got the chimichanga plate ($11) with two golden brown, deep-fried corn tortillas.

The first meal I had at Surfin’ Salsa was so good, I had to go back the same week. This time, I got the chimichanga plate ($11) with two golden brown, deep-fried corn tortillas.

Last Friday they were serving up al pastor tacos ($2) all night long so be sure to follow their Facebook page.

Last Friday they were serving up al pastor tacos ($1.75) all night long so be sure to follow their Facebook page.

The succulent meat is cut right off the spit and onto your taco. Pick your sauce and get everything on it.

The succulent meat is cut right off the spit and onto your taco. Pick your sauce and get everything on it.

One of my new favorite dishes is the asada fries ($12). Loaded with grilled steak, sour cream, cheese and guacamole, this is perfect for a table of three or four to share.

One of my new favorite dishes is the asada fries ($12). Loaded with grilled steak, sour cream, cheese and guacamole, this is perfect for a table of three or four to share.

Surfin’ Salsa
95-130 Kamehameha Hwy.
692-2471
Tuesday-Saturday 12 p.m.-8 p.m.

Something new: Up Roll Cafe

A sign promising sushi and coffee caught my eye one day in Kakaako.

I don't usually think of sushi and coffee together. I was curious so I walked in.

I don’t usually think of sushi and coffee together. I was curious, so I walked in.

Up Roll Cafe, which celebrated its grand opening earlier this month, is owned and run by Anna and Manny Maniwa, formerly of ilandsoda, a truck that used to serve sodas and sandwiches in the Yajima lot at Sheridan and South King. The new cafe, along Halekauwila near Keawe, is a hip, clean and bright space, with seating both inside and outside. There’s no designated parking, however; just metered street parking.

The featured menu items are made-to-order sushi rolls.

Use the clipboard ordering system to pick out your sushi roll, type of rice, sauce and toppings and hand it off to Anna or Manny and they will prepare it fresh for you.

Use the clipboard ordering system to pick a sushi roll, type of rice, sauce and toppings, then hand it to Anna or Manny and they will prepare it fresh.

Fill your roll with a variety of fresh toppings including sweet onions, cilantro, mint, green onions, shiso, shibazuke (pickled cucumber and shiso), avocado and much more.

You can fill your roll with sweet onions, cilantro, mint, green onions, shiso, shibazuke (pickled cucumber and shiso), avocado and much more.

Manny makes your roll fresh to order.

The rolls are made fresh and available throughout the day, including for breakfast.

There’s also a full coffee menu, with espresso, lattes and more. We tried the iced coffee, which was okay. Next time, we’ll try the espresso.

The matcha latte ($3.75) is light and foamy with a bright green tea flavor.

But we did enjoy the matcha latte ($3.75), which was light and foamy with a bright green tea flavor.

We ordered the pork miso roll ($8.25) with cucumber, sweet corn, takuan, ginger dressing, lettuce and fried onions. The ingredients are wrapped neatly in nori and make for an easy handheld meal for those on the go. Think Chipotle for sushi rolls.

We ordered the pork miso roll ($8.25) with cucumber, sweet corn, takuan, ginger dressing, lettuce and fried onions. The ingredients are wrapped neatly in nori and make for an easy, handheld meal for those on the go. Think Chipotle for sushi rolls.

They also serve breakfast sandwiches ($3.75) that are buttery popovers stuffed with either corned beef or bacon & egg. The corned beef is more like a corned beef salad much like a tuna salad.

They also serve breakfast sandwiches ($3.75) that are buttery popovers stuffed with either corned beef or bacon and egg. The corned beef is more like a corned beef salad, similar to tuna salad.

Although the custard puff ($4.25) looks really sweet, it's balanced and airy. This was my favorite sweet of the meal and I can't wait to enjoy the pillowy custard again.

For dessert, we tried the house-made custard puff ($4.25). It looks really sweet, but it was balanced and airy. I can’t wait to enjoy the pillowy custard again. There also was a chocolate cake and coffee jelly.

The Up Roll Ultra ($15) is the burrito sized roll where you pick your protein and fill it to your hearts content with any of their free toppings and up to seven of their additional toppings all for one price. We let Manny choose for us omakase style. The resulting ahi roll was delicious, filling and gargantuan.

The Up Roll Ultra ($15) is a burrito-sized roll. You pick a protein, then fill it with any of the free toppings and up to seven additional toppings for one price. We went the omakase route and let Manny choose for us. The resulting ahi roll was delicious, filling and gargantuan.

Our Up Roll Ultra roll.

Our Up Roll Ultra roll.

Overall, we found the concept fun and promising. We’ll definitely return to try more rolls and beverages.

Team Up Roll: Manny Maniwa, Ryan Plaza and Anna Maniwa.  Follow them on Instagram @UpRollCafe

Team Up Roll: Manny Maniwa, Ryan Plaza and Anna Maniwa. Follow them on Instagram @UpRollCafe

Up Roll Cafe
665 Halekauwila St.
909-475-0099
Monday-Friday 7 a.m.-6 p.m.
Saturday 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Facebook.com/UpRollCafe

Something new: Taps and Apps

With 36 craft beers on tap and a food menu by Du Vin’s former executive chef, Hawaii’s newest brewpub opened over the weekend in Mililani Mauka. You’ll find a rotating selection of solid brews like Goose Island Matilda, Ballast Pt. Sculpin and Belching Beaver milk stout. And yes, we said brewpub: Taps and Apps will also have homebrews made on premises.

Beer flights are four 4-ounce pours for $12 to $16.

Beer flights are four 4-ounce pours for $12 to $16.

Why Mililani? The story starts with general manager Chris Overton, a food and beverage veteran. He left Hawaii to attend the University of Nevada Las Vegas and stayed in Sin City to work at big name venues like Brooklyn Bowl.

Then he got a call from his parents. Come home, they said. They had found the perfect spot for a bar. Located between Navy Federal Credit Union and Wing Stop, Taps and Apps would be a watering hole for the central Oahu crowd.

150 seats and a nice outdoor patio fronting Meheula Parkway.

150 seats and a nice outdoor patio fronting Meheula Parkway.

Overton, his fiancee and parents built out the site from scratch. From the hand-stained furniture to the decor along the walls, touches throughout are the result of their labor.

The bar is double-sided with tap handles running back to back. Beer prices range from $5 to $10.

The bar is double-sided with tap handles running back to back. Beer prices range from $5 to $10.

Daniel Kawamoto, the executive chef at now-shuttered Brasserie Du Vin, created the food menu. We weren’t able to sample anything during our sneak peek last week, but choices include pizza, burgers, escargots, oysters and wings. It’s a range of American pub grub classics with a smattering of French dishes.

Beer cocktails caught my eye. There’s a take on the Moscow mule called the Taps & Apps mule and a Vegas spin on a bloody mary using Jose Cuervo, a house tomatillo mix, a hit of lime and Sierra Nevada pale ale.

Here's all the beers on draft. Overton is adding his two homebrews, a honey citrus wheat and an IPA.

Here’s all the beers on draft. Overton is adding his two homebrews, a honey citrus wheat and an IPA.

For non-beer drinkers, there are a number of handcrafted cocktails, wines, spirits, juices, coffee and soft drinks. I’m looking forward to going back and trying Overton’s two homebrews as well as Kawamoto’s dishes.

Chris Overton and Daniel Kawamoto.

Chris Overton and Daniel Kawamoto.

Taps and Apps
95-1830 Meheula Pkwy Suite C6
626-8277
Daily from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Taps and Apps on Facebook
TapsandAppsBrewpub.com

This Saturday: Good eats at Calabash & Cooks

Calabash & Cooks, a benefit for the Malama Learning Center, returns to Kapolei High School this Saturday. As a resident of Waipio I appreciate this rare grazing event on my side of the island, even more so because this second Calabash looks to be bigger and tastier than the first.

The Malama Learning Center brings art, science, conservation and culture together to promote sustainable living throughout Hawaii through education.

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Here’s last year’s lineup of chefs and their Kapolei High School student helpers. This year, Zach Sato of Merriman’s Kapalua joins Mark Noguchi of Mission Social Hall & Cafe as honorary chef co-chair. Also featured will be Kaahaaina Cafe, Miso & Ale, Kealoha Domingo of Nuikealoha, vegan chef Ori Ann Li, Firehouse Food Truck, Nani Kore and Kapolei High’s culinary arts program, Hurricane Heat.

Here’s a sneak peek at what you’ll eat on Saturday.

Photo by Tracy Chan

Photo by Tracy Chan

Mark Noguchi & Zach Sato’s collaboration dish for VIP guests
Maui cauliflower, Southiphong family egg, tomato

Merriman’s Maui
Wakame-braised local pork belly, okayu, cured yolk butter

MISSION Social Hall & Cafe
Niihau eland ma po tofu custard, spiced rice

Kaahaaina Cafe
Seared ahi wasabi cream brulee with tatsoi, taro masu and ma’o greens; warm passion fruit bread pudding

Firehouse
Chicken kelaguen tacos

Ori Ann’s Vegan Kitchen
Taro and vegetable char siu bao

Nani Kore
Housemade kimchi salsa served in a tortilla shell, drizzled with a house sriracha aioli

View More: http://byadrianenicolephotography.pass.us/calabashandcooksMiso & Ale
Pork rafute, roasted garlic eggplant jun, pickled vegetables

Kealoha Domingo
Kai ia (fish soup featuring Ho Farms vegetables and fresh island fish)

Pono Plates
Panko-crusted taro cakes with roasted garlic aioli, pico de gallo

Kapolei High School “Hurricane Heat”
Sweet Ewa onion, anchovy & kalamata olive bruschetta

The entertainment lineup includes Chinagu Eisa (Okinawan style taiko), Shakti Dance Movement and Devi Dance Company (tribal fusion belly dance), Hālau ʻO Kaululauaʻe and Hālau Nā Maka O Ka Lauaʻe (hula accompanied by Kanai ʻa and Friends), and vocals by David Adler (rhythmic folk originals) and Hawaiian Style Band singer-songwriter Wade Cambern. He will be performing his hits including “Love and Honesty” and “Rhythm of the Ocean.”

View More: http://byadrianenicolephotography.pass.us/calabashandcooks

Tickets are available online
$75 VIP, $35 presale, $20 keiki (ages 5-12), $25 students (with valid ID)

Calabash & Cooks
Saturday, April 18, 2015
5:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Kapolei High School
91-5007 Kapolei Parkway

What we liked about Courtyard Brunch

I was invited to the very first installment of a monthly brunch series at Ward Village’s IBM building Sunday, which is how I got to spend the morning eating, sipping and shopping. This month’s theme showcased women chefs and farmers.

Here are my five favorite things about Courtyard Brunch:

5. The courtyard

The courtyard is transformed into a fun space under a giant tent with food, drinks and shopping.

The courtyard is transformed into a fun space under a giant tent with food, drinks and shopping.

There were tables and couches throughout the courtyard where you can relax and enjoy brunch.

There were tables and couches throughout where you can relax and enjoy brunch.

4. The food

MW Restaurant, the Pig & the Lady, Morimoto Waikiki and Whole Foods Market created tasty dishes. This is MW's steak and potatoes with bacon chimichurri, Naked Cow black truffle butter biscuits and home-style hashbrowns.

MW Restaurant, the Pig & the Lady, Morimoto Waikiki and Whole Foods Market created tasty dishes. This is MW’s steak and potatoes with bacon chimichurri, Naked Cow black truffle butter biscuits and home-style hashbrowns.

Pastry chef Jayme Vaniew of Morimoto Waikiki served a passion tofu cheesecake layered with a lilikoi cremeux, graham cracker crumble, tofu cheesecake and topped with a compressed li hing mui pineapple chip.

Pastry chef Jayme Vaniew of Morimoto Waikiki served a passion tofu cheesecake layered with a lilikoi cremeux, graham cracker crumble, tofu cheesecake and topped with a compressed li hing mui pineapple chip.

3. The chefs

I love how the brunch was a great way to showcase the talents of local chefs at Hawaii's top restaurants. Here are Wade Ueoka and Michelle Karr-Ueoka from MW Restaurant.

I love how the brunch was a great way to showcase the talents of local chefs at Hawaii’s top restaurants. Here are Wade Ueoka and Michelle Karr-Ueoka from MW Restaurant.

2. The mini farmers’ market

Whole Foods, Naked Cow Dairy and Holoholo Farm set up a mini farmers' market with produce, cheeses and flowers for purchase.

Whole Foods, Naked Cow Dairy and Holoholo Farm set up a mini farmers’ market with produce, cheeses and flowers for purchase.

1. Meet up with old friends, make some new ones

The first brunch drew quite the crowd and I ran into foodies and friends in the crowd. The atmosphere is casual and it was a great time to say hi to old friends and make new ones as well.

The first brunch drew quite the crowd and I ran into foodies and friends in the crowd. The atmosphere is casual and it was a great time to say hi to old friends and make new ones as well.

The courtyard brunch will be a monthly event at the IBM building courtyard. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online or at the door. Each ticket comes with three food vouchers and one drink voucher. Additional food and drink vouchers are available for purchase. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Ward Village Foundation and local nonprofits.