Something new: Franky Fresh

Franky Fresh is the culmination of Darien Provenza’s love for burgers, his dad, the 80s and hip-hop. The new burger shop near the top of Waialae Avenue features five burgers made from Big Island beef, four sandwiches on toasted French bread and three thick cereal milkshakes (yes, cereal. More on that later).

The walls, as notable as the menu, are lined with boomboxes found on eBay, street art and memorabilia including a Fresh Prince poster and Kid ‘N Play’s ‘2 Hype’ album. Provenza even set up a Super Nintendo with a ton of games like Mortal Kombat, NBA Jam, Mario Kart and Bomber Man.

The Marky Mark ($12.95) has a ground lamb and beef patty, roasted mini bell peppers, tomatoes, grilled onions, feta cheese, kalamata olives, romaine lettuce, spicy aioli and tzatziki sauce. The big, bold Greek flavors, the dill in the tzatziki, the salty olives and juicy peppers make the Marky Mark stand out.

The Marky Mark ($12.95) has a ground lamb and beef patty, roasted mini bell peppers, tomatoes, grilled onions, feta cheese, kalamata olives, romaine lettuce, spicy aioli and tzatziki sauce. The big, bold Greek flavors, the dill in the tzatziki, the salty olives and juicy peppers make the Marky Mark stand out.

Provenza grew up in a family with a long history in the food industry. Even though he’s only 27, he has over a decade of experience in restaurants, including his family’s Fat Greek eateries. He named his burger shop after his dad, Francois (Franky).

If this brings back memories, Franky Fresh is the spot for you.

If this brings back memories, Franky Fresh is the spot for you.

Provenza found a challah bun for the burgers that was soft and pliable but stood up to the toppings and sauces he was piling on each burger. For the sandwiches he found a toasted French bread that had just the right amount of crispiness.

The Heavy D ($14.95) can only be eaten with two hands. Piled high with fried chicken tenders drenched in buffalo sauce, fries, mozzarella cheese sticks, beer-battered onion rings, jalapenos, honey bbq sauce and blue cheese, this sandwich is perfect with a nice cold beer. Franky Fresh is BYOB until they obtain their liquor license.

The Heavy D ($14.95) can only be eaten with two hands. Piled high with fried chicken tenders drenched in buffalo sauce, fries, mozzarella cheese sticks, beer-battered onion rings, jalapenos, honey bbq sauce and blue cheese, this sandwich is perfect with a nice cold beer. Franky Fresh is BYOB until they obtain their liquor license.

Relive the best parts of your childhood with housemade milkshakes loaded with your choice of Cap’n Crunch, Cinnamon Toast Crunch or Trix.

The thick and creamy milkshakes have your favorite cereals blended right in. My personal favorite is the Cinnamon Toast Crunch ($7). The smooth, even flavor of the cereal is interspersed with crunchy cinnamon bits.

The thick and creamy milkshakes have your favorite cereals blended right in. My personal favorite is the Cinnamon Toast Crunch ($7). The smooth, even flavor of the cereal is interspersed with crunchy cinnamon bits.

My favorite burger is the Fresh Prince ($12.95, comes with fries or a salad), a burger stacked with Swiss cheese, onions, baby portobellos and bacon. I love mushrooms and onions on my burger and I can’t say no to perfectly melted cheese tying all the ingredients together.

The Fresh Prince will flip your life upside-down. Carlton Banks would approve.

The Fresh Prince will flip your life upside-down. Carlton Banks would approve.

The newly renovated space has dine-in tables and a bar awaiting a liquor license.

The MC Hammer ($12.95) is a simple roast beef sandwich served on toasted French bread and dressed with wasabi aioli, a great alternative to the traditional horseradish. The au jus is full of flavor and perfect for dipping.

The MC Hammer ($12.95) is a simple roast beef sandwich served on toasted French bread and dressed with wasabi aioli, a great alternative to the traditional horseradish. The au jus is full of flavor and perfect for dipping.

Yes, sometimes you need to blow into the game cartridges to get them to work.

Yes, sometimes you need to blow into the game cartridges to get them to work.

Run-D.M.C. wants you to walk this way and order some burgers and shakes.

Run-D.M.C. wants you to walk this way and order some burgers and shakes.

The menu is printed on vinyls to fit with the theme. Feel free to bring your own cardboard and b-boy to the beats and music videos put together by local DJ Blake.

The menu is printed on vinyls to fit with the theme. Feel free to bring your own cardboard and b-boy to the beats and music videos put together by local DJ Blake.

I'm a big fan of their commitment to the 80s hip-hop lifestyle and vibe. Everything from the decor to the music is well thought out.

I’m a big fan of their commitment to the 80s hip-hop lifestyle and vibe. Everything from the decor to the music is well thought out.

The Franky Fresh team.

The Franky Fresh team.

Franky Fresh is next to the Fat Greek, and parking can be tough. The lot is small so you may need to go to the pay lot across the street by City Mill or find street parking on side streets.

Franky Fresh is next to the Fat Greek, and parking can be tough. The lot is smal so you may need to go to the pay lot across the street by City Mill or find street parking on side streets.

Franky Fresh
3040 Waialae Ave.
808-734-0404
Monday to Sunday 4 to 10 p.m.

HFWF: 5 cheesy questions with Kent Torrey

For this year’s Hawaii Food and Wine Festival, which gets underway Saturday and runs through Sept. 13, Kent Torrey of the Cheese Shop in Carmel, Calif., will be bringing more than a thousand pounds of cheese to the Sept. 12 Corks & Forks event at Hawaii Convention Center.

Torrey and his team of cheese experts from the Cheese Shop, Carmel, CA. Photo from the Hawaii Food and Wine Festival 2014.

Torrey and his team of cheese experts from the Cheese Shop. Photo from the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival 2014.

I had a chance to converse with Torrey, who grew up on Oahu, via email, and he’s incredibly excited to return to Hawaii to participate in his second festival. Here’s what he said:

Have you planned any activities for your time in Hawaii?

First, to take a deep breath, smell the air. Nothing quite like the aromas of all the flowers, the ocean, the warmth of my home-in-the-islands. Next, gotta put my haole feet in the sand and ocean. I so miss the temperature of the ocean. Love living in Carmel, but miss surfing in warm water. Looking forward to seeing my parents, going up to Manoa Valley to gather some greens and flowers for our cheese table too. But most importantly, being part of this incredible fifth year festival We are truly honored to have chefs Roy Yamaguchi and Alan Wong ask us back, to bring our small part of the culinary world back home to everyone in Hawaii and to participate with all of our other chef amis. Also very excited to see the keiki this year at the zoo, because they are the future, and if I get them hooked on cheese, I’ve got 35 more years of job security, as I am not counting on social security.

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Since you grew up in Hawaii but no longer live here, what food(s) do you miss the most?

Lots… Crack seed, malasadas, King’s Bakery sweet bread (they ship to the mainland, but tastes better at home), lilikoi jam and juice, lehua honey, Matsumoto shave ice, lumpia, poi. Yes, I do eat this to the chagrin of mainland friends, Grace’s plate lunch with two scoop rice, kimchi on the side, and let’s not for get my Punahou school’s fantastic mango chutney!

What is your favorite part of the Hawaii Food and Wine Festival?

The feeling of ohana. I think we who are from Hawaii are so lucky because of our big melting pot of cultures. We are already open to new/unusual/unique things, and we have always shared with each other because of ohana. Now bring the rest of the world here, and the interaction of sharing that with each other — just magical, especially in paradise!

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You’re a Hawaii Food and Wine Festival veteran; how has the festival changed/evolved?

This is our second Hawaii Food and Wine Festival. I am so impressed by the overall scope of the fest, the abilities and partnerships of all the sponsors working together, especially Hawaiian Air, who have been so gracious to help us bring 1,000 pounds of cheese with us! This has to be one of the most logistically difficult festivals to pull off, with all the different activities, to include doing events on the outer islands beside Oahu. The Hawaii Food and Wine Festival team (Denise, Aya, Nicole, Jackie, Jason, Chefs Alan & Roy, and all the others) do this flawlessly!

What is your best memory from Hawaii?

Now you’re making this tough on me. I am too sentimental, have too many fond memories of my youth, and now thinking back… tears in my eyes! The memories of the sunrises, sunsets, the billions of stars in the night sky, the smells, the natural beauty that is Hawaii, the constant smiles and laughter from anyone all the time (you never really see this in big cities), the music, and not just the songs and dances of Hawaii (be it traditional or contemporary like from my classmate John Kolivas’ Honolulu Jazz Quartet), but the music that is water lapping on the beaches, winds blowing through the mountains and trees, even the damn mynah birds at dawns light.

In previous years, you have brought more cheeses than we could count. Approximately how many cheeses are you planning to bring this year and will any of them be new?

Once again, we plan on bringing our famed 1,000-pound display, about 70 full wheels, then a whole bunch of smaller soft ones, wedges, etc. We will definitely have some new cheeses like Grottone from Naples, Italy (dubiously dubbed by my staff as the Jurassic Egg cheese because of the shape/color), and Aged Koko’s Coconut Gouda from the Netherlands. This tastes like toasted coconut shavings. And we’ll also bring back some of last year’s favorites like the young Koko’s as well as Raspberry Bellavitano from Wisconsin, Dry Monterey Jack (hey, gotta bring something from California), and of course lots of other fun cheeses from around the world, including some made in our home of Hawaii.

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Corks Forks-1For more information about the event, Hawaiian Airlines Presents Corks and Forks Pacific Coast, visit hawaiifoodandwinefestival.com

Tickets: $325 Priority Admission, General Admission and VIP sold out.

Something new: Cafe.gg for gamers

When I started getting into PC games in middle school, my game of choice was Starcraft. This was a real time strategy (RTS) game pitting the human Terran, futuristic Protoss and hive-mind Zerg against each other in an intergalactic tug of war. My friends and I quickly learned the advantages of each race and battled each other for bragging rights.

Official snack of gamers everywhere. Photo courtesy of Hot Pockets on Facebook

Official snack of gamers everywhere. Photo courtesy of Hot Pockets on Facebook

But my computer had the slowest internet connection and my friends complained every time I slowed down the game. So we started meeting at gaming cafes like E-topia, Netwerks and the Zone. We spent hours there, taking a break after every match to rub our victory in our opponent’s faces (or wallow in our defeat) and grab a Hot Pocket and some Gatorade before sitting down for more.

Those were good times. But those days are now gone, and pretty much the only PC cafe left on Oahu is PC Gamerz. So when I heard of a new gaming cafe in Moiliili, I had to check it out.

Located right off South King Street, Cafe GG is tucked away in Da Planet, a no-frills card shop that has been around for over a decade.

Located right off South King Street, Cafe GG is tucked away in Da Planet, a no-frills card shop that has been around for over a decade.

Cafe.gg opened in July inside Da Planet, in the building behind Sushi King and next to the post office. It’s a friendly environment that is really buzzing on Sundays, when a weekly Magic the Gathering tournament brings together dozens of players. There are 20 custom-built computers plus Wii U, Xbox 360 and business-class internet. They’re still building a game list, but current hot games like League of Legends, Hearthstone and Dota 2 are installed on the PCs.

It's clean and air conditioned, most moms would approve.

It’s clean and air conditioned, most moms would approve.

Sundays are busy with the weekly Magic tournament going down all day long.

Sundays are busy with the weekly Magic tournament going down all day long.

The timing was perfect: My laptop’s motherboard died a week ago and I was without a personal computer, so I spent a good amount of time at Cafe GG testing out their setups (i.e. gaming). That’s how I got to meet the owners. Entrepreneurs Quincy Solano and Jordan Takemoto have a history in the gaming landscape here in Hawaii: They founded eSports Hawaii and are involved with Hawaii Gamer Expo, Team Brult and the High School Challenger Program.

The Cafe.gg team: Jordan Takemoto, Jon Kawasaki and Jonathan Kim (missing: Quincy Solano)

The Cafe.gg team: Jordan Takemoto, Jon Kawasaki and Jonathan Kim (missing: Quincy Solano)

Avid gamers, they held planning meetings for Cafe.gg on League of Legends, but that devolved into hours of gaming without any work getting done, so they switched to Skype. Now they hang out at the cafe or next door at Izakaya Naru on Tuesday nights having pupus and beers.

At $20 for 8 hours of playtime, their rates are a bargain for an entire day’s worth of play. And here’s an even better deal: Frolic readers get a special rate of $10 for 8 hours of play. Just let them know you read about them on Frolic! This offer cannot be combined with any other promotions. Limit one per customer, offer valid through September 19, 2015.

They have console games too. A Diddy Kong player challenged a guy playing Dark Pit.

They have console games too. A Diddy Kong player challenged a guy playing Dark Pit.

I’ll be back this weekend. Cafe.gg has monitors that play movies and occasional eSports tournaments at the request of customers. While I was there the International, the biggest international Dota 2 tournament with a prize pool of over $18 million (you read that right), was being broadcast live. I’m hoping to catch ESL Cologne, a huge Counter-Strike tournament, this weekend with other CS:GO fans.

Now, what does the “gg” in the name stand for? For the unitiated, it means “good game.” It’s what you type at the end of a game, usually when you’ve lost.

Cafe.gg will celebrate their grand opening Aug. 29 with tournaments and extended hours.

Cafe GG
2700 S. King St. Building A
791-2345
cafe.gg
Monday-Friday 1 p.m.-9 p.m.
Saturday-Sunday 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

Hidden gem: Sadie’s BBQ Inn

Korean food is my go-to after a long day at work. There’s something comforting about a hot and spicy kim chee chigae or fatty marinated kalbi with veggies and heaping scoops of rice.

I found Sadie’s when a friend recommended a new-ish (opened late last year) Korean restaurant near Leeward Bowl in the Pearl City Shopping Center. I’ve been back multiple times since, each time trying different items.

Banchan! The side dishes are generous.

Banchan! The side dishes are generous.

They are very generous with the banchan and ask if you’d like any refilled throughout the meal. My favorites are the kim chee, which is more sour than the stuff you get at the store, and cucumbers that are a touch spicy and very crunchy.

My number one dish at Korean restaurants is dol sot bi bim bap. The dish ($14.95) is served in a steaming stone pot that delightfully crisps the rice as you mix it with a flavorful kochujang. I love that it's full of  flavor, crunch, heat and refreshing crisp veggies.

My number one dish at Korean restaurants is dol sot bi bim bap. The dish ($14.95) is served in a steaming stone pot that crisps the rice as you mix it with a flavorful kochujang. I love that it’s full of flavor, crunch, heat and refreshing crisp veggies.

Another personal favorite. Sadie's spicy pork ($13.95) is charbroiled, producing a smoky flavor to go with the spice.

Another personal favorite. Sadie’s spicy pork ($13.95) is charbroiled, producing a smoky flavor to go with the spice.

The Sadie's Special ($19.95) is a nicely portioned plate of king kalbi, bbq chicken, meat jun, fried shrimp and mandoo. The king kalbi is especially good and my next visit will be for a full order of the succulent, marinated big-bone kalbi.

The Sadie’s Special ($19.95) is a nicely portioned plate of king kalbi, bbq chicken, meat jun, fried shrimp and mandoo. The king kalbi is especially good and my next visit will be for a full order of the succulent, marinated big-bone kalbi.

I really like jap chae ($11.95) and eat it as a side. This one comes with two heaping scoops of white rice. The noodles are well-seasoned and mixed with a generous amount of chopped beef.

I really like jap chae ($11.95) and eat it as a side. This one comes with two heaping scoops of white rice. The noodles are well-seasoned and mixed with a generous amount of chopped beef.

The still-boiling seafood soup ($13.95) is briny with shrimp, squid and butterfish.

The still-boiling seafood soup ($13.95) is briny with shrimp, squid and butterfish.

The spicy garlic chicken ($12.95) jumps out at me. The crispy pieces are battered, deep fried and tossed in a sweet chili sauce loaded with garlic. The sticky sauce is familiar and delicious.

The spicy garlic chicken ($12.95) jumps out at me. The crispy pieces are battered, deep fried and tossed in a sweet chili sauce loaded with garlic. The sticky sauce is familiar and delicious.

Wait, a kim chee bbq beef burger ($7.25)? We had to order it. Remember all the burgers you had from drive-ins like Likelike and Heights growing up? This tastes exactly like that except with kim chee, whose spicy tang is delicious on a juicy burger. The fries aren't all that spectacular, I'll opt for the mac or potato salad next time.

Wait, a kim chee bbq beef burger ($7.25)? We had to order it. Remember all the burgers you had from drive-ins like Likelike and Heights growing up? This tastes exactly like that except with kim chee, whose spicy tang is delicious on a juicy burger. The fries aren’t all that spectacular, I’ll opt for the mac or potato salad next time.

You can find Sadie's on the bottom side of Pearl City Shopping Center near Ben Franklin Crafts.

You can find Sadie’s on the bottom side of Pearl City Shopping Center near Ben Franklin Crafts.

Sadie’s BBQ Inn
Pearl City Shopping Center
850 Kamehameha Hwy Unit 132
808-454-4488
Okazuya 5 a.m.-2 p.m.
Restaurant 6:30 a.m.-9:00 p.m.
sadiesbbqinn.com

Did this: All About Sweets

Hundreds of hungry sweet tooths gathered for the first ever All About Sweets at Kakaako Agora this past weekend. The draw? The best cupcakes, popsicles, drinks and chocolates from a slew of local vendors.

The line wrapped around the block before the 7 p.m. start

The line wrapped around the block before the 7 p.m. start

You bought sweet dollars (a.k.a. scrips) to redeem with the vendors inside. Sweet dollars are transferable and can be used at future All About Sweets events.

You bought sweet dollars (a.k.a. scrips) to redeem with the vendors inside. Sweet dollars are transferable and can be used at future All About Sweets events.

These vanilla bean custard-filled cruffins (a croissant-muffin hybrid) were a big hit and sold out quickly. The sweet custard is sinfully smooth and stuffed inside the flaky layers.

These vanilla bean custard filled cruffins (a croissant-muffin hybrid) were a big hit and sold out quickly. The sweet custard is sinfully smooth and stuffed inside the flaky layers.

JJ Bistro and French Pastry's cheesecake was light, airy and subtly sweet.

JJ Bistro and French Pastry’s cheesecake was light, airy and subtly sweet.

Kathy Sills of Aloha Pops brought frozen pops that hit the spot on this warm summer evening. The chai tea was delicious!

Kathy Sills of Aloha Pops brought frozen pops that hit the spot on this warm summer evening. The chai tea was delicious!

Remember the Something new  piece we did on Chocolea in Manoa? They were serving up their signature chocolate truffles and sipping chocolate.

Remember the something new piece we did on Chocolea in Manoa? They were serving up their signature chocolate truffles and sipping chocolate.

S'mores cupcakes? Yes, they're as delicious as they sound. Let Them Eat Cupcakes tops them with heavenly buttercream frosting.

S’mores cupcakes? Yes, they’re as delicious as they sound. Let Them Eat Cupcakes tops them with heavenly buttercream frosting.

Here's that buttercream frosting. Absolutely perfect.

Here’s that buttercream frosting. Absolutely perfect.

Thirsty Coconut's organic coconut mocha freeze was a crowd favorite. It really hit the spot as the event heated up.

Thirsty Coconut’s organic coconut mocha freeze was a crowd favorite. It really hit the spot as the event heated up.

Eyebrows on fleek for Tea on Fleek's mango mojito tea.

Eyebrows on fleek for Tea on Fleek’s mango mojito tea.

Coconut lemonade slush, vanilla bean custard-filled cruffin, sweet potato macarons, chai tea pop and cheesecake.

Coconut lemonade slush, vanilla bean custard-filled cruffin, sweet potato macarons, chai tea pop and cheesecake.

Diamond Head Bakery brought their biggest, boldest flavored crackers. Have you tried their furikake, cinnamon toast or sweet chili crackers?

Diamond Head Bakery brought their biggest, boldest flavored crackers. Have you tried their furikake, cinnamon toast or sweet chili crackers?

Overall, All About Sweets was a great event with a huge turnout. Although space was limited, they did a very good job at controlling the number of people inside the venue so lines wouldn't be too long.

Overall, All About Sweets was a great event with a huge turnout. Although space was limited, they did a very good job at controlling the number of people inside the venue so lines wouldn’t be too long.

The organizers told me they have two events in the works — another preview event much like this one, and a much larger expo in 2016. Stay tuned for more details.