Ask Frolic: Double date night

IMG_3861Ever since I started posting my eating adventures on Instagram, people around town have been asking me for restaurant recommendations for all kinds of occasions.

I figure some of the information might be useful for others, so we decided to start a regular feature on Frolic, where readers can ask us questions about dining, nightlife, events, entertainment, fashion, and we’ll do our best to offer suggestions. So if you have a question or need a recommendation, email us at editor@frolichawaii.com or me directly at grant@frolichawaii.com. You can also hit me up on social media at @chuggy_bear (Twitter and Instagram). We’ll keep things anonymous if you prefer. So here goes with the first question:

Hungry Harry “Chuggy, I need a nice place for a double date. Preferably a restaurant where we can sit, relax and have a great meal. We would prefer a place with nice ambiance since we’re wanting to get to know each other better.”

IMG_3851Harry, my favorite spot for a nice meal where you can open a few bottles of wine and catch up is La Cucina Ristorante Italiano. Chef Don Truong makes the most delicious house-made pastas each day and has a deft hand in creating memorable dishes. Call ahead and make a reservation; the restaurant is small and is always packed. This hidden gem is a hot commodity in Honolulu, and those who have tried the food always return.

My recommendation would be to share each dish family style and sample a variety of flavors throughout the night. Be prepared to enjoy a lengthy meal, about two hours, for a table of four. Start off with the mushroom crostini, toasted slices of bread topped with fresh mozzarella, diced mushrooms and drizzled with a touch of truffle oil. The aroma of the truffles is right on top and makes your mouth water and crave more.

IMG_3603Next, order three to five entrees based on the appetites of your party. My personal favorite is the risotto funghi, a creamy, rich, risotto that melts in your mouth. This is easily one of my favorite dishes of all time and I could polish off a bowl all to myself.

I also like to add in the trenette norcina, a ribbon-edged pasta like a thinner lasagna with a hearty house-made spicy sausage. The fennel in the sausage gives it some bite and balances well with the tomato based sauce. The special pasta clings onto just enough sauce in each bite.

IMG_3616For something more delicate, the carbonara is prepared Roman-style, a lighter version that isn’t weighed down by heavy cream. Bites of pancetta are land mines of flavor hidden in the coils of al dente pasta.

And save room for dessert. The tiramisu is some of the best I’ve had. Light, fluffy layers contain decadence that you need to end your meal with. Get two orders for the table and share or if you’re all dessert lovers, get one for each person.

La Cucina Ristorante Italiano
725 Kapiolani Blvd.
808-593-2626

Hawaii Wiener Derby

The sixth annual Hawaii Wiener Derby brought together pet lovers from around the island for a day of fun and racing. Dachshunds of all shapes and sizes congregated at the Lucky Dog Adventure Park in Waimanalo to find out who is the fastest wiener on the island.

Each dachshund wore colored bandanas and ran to their masters across the 25-yard field at the sound of the starting bell.

Hawaii Wiener Derby

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Something new: Tea Boss

IMG_6900Yet another Taiwanense tea shop — this one called Tea Boss — has come to town, offering milk teas, ice cream floats, foam mustache teas and slushes in a variety of unique flavors, including winter melon, matcha, root beer and Oreo/Kit Kat.

Located along Kapiolani Boulevard in the same plaza as Pho 1, Tea Boss is a convenient pit stop for shoppers and diners in the Ala Moana area. The shop officially opens today and is offering customers free original boba or their signature pink boba pearls with any drink order.

IMG_6892Owners Charlie Chang and Alex Hu say they’re aiming to distinguish their shop from the flood of competitors by importing ingredients from Taiwan to ensure authenticity and consistency They’re also offering a menu that’s pretty diverse by milk tea shop standards.

I sampled the “stache black tea” ($4.75) with the intriguing cheese-flavored foam (see photo above). The cheese foam has two distinct flavors as you sip it off the top of a drink. First, there’s a strong American cheese flavor that quickly mellows into a creamy consistency as it mixes with the tea. Then there’s a soft cream cheese finish that lingers for a couple of seconds. I’ve never had anything like this before, and although it sounds strange, it’s something worth trying.

Toppings for drinks (add 50 cents) include original boba pearls, pink pearls, pudding, rainbow jelly and grass jelly. Prices for drinks start at $3.25 for the house and fruit teas and go up to $4.75 for the stache teas. Free WiFi and wireless charging are available.

Something new: Tea Boss

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Owners Charlie Chang and Alex Hu.

 
Tea Boss
1617 Kapiolani Boulevard
Hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. daily
808-772-9797

Something new: Ahi Assassins

IMG_6659While sitting curbside at a popular Chinatown dim sum spot, I noticed a gigantic Ford truck parked on the street, with “Ahi Assassins” painted across the side along with accompanying social media tags. I immediately checked them out on Instagram and saw that they were selling fresh, line-caught fish out of the back of their boat near the fish auction at the pier.

Catching up to 1,000 pounds a week, they yield about 500 pounds of fillet and 150 pounds of poke. These fisherman sell fish to the auction and cater to friends and family for special occasions. Their customers kept asking them to open a place where they could buy their fresh fish, poke and sashimi.

So owners Josh Schade and Erika Luna did just that, launching Ahi Assassins about a week ago along Beretania to satisfy the city’s endless demand for fresh fish. This cash-only, takeout spot offers seven varieties of poke for a very reasonable $10/pound; marlin dip ($12/pound); sashimi-grade ahi ($18/pound) and daily hot specials. Schade tells us that his prices are so much more competitive because there is no middle man since they are the fisherman.

Something new: Ahi Assassins

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Located on the second floor of a small complex near the corner of University and Beretania, Ahi Assassins sits above Frost City and is near Jiffy Lube and Burger King.

Although the shop is now open Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., the owners plan to eventually extend their hours to Sundays. Be sure to follow them on social media to keep up with their daily specials and hours.

AHIASS on Facebook
@ahi_assassins on Instagram

 
Ahi Assassins
2570 S. Beretania St.
808-372-2930
Hours: Open Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
ahiassassins.weebly.com

Our Top 5: Sandwiches in Chinatown

I’ve been a Downtown worker bee for some time now and consider lunch sacred — the time each day I can step away from the office and enjoy a quick bite before getting back to the grind.

Over the years, I’ve made my way to all kinds of lunch spots, from the most popular eateries to hidden gems tucked deep in Chinatown. Because I frequently seek out portable meals, sandwiches have become one of my favorite lunch choices, and fortunately, there are lots of choices now available throughout Downtown and Chinatown.

These are the five sandwiches that were love at first bite.

No. 5: Grondin French Latin Kitchen

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I visited Grondin for the first time the week it opened, and the house-made charcuterie platter was easily the most memorable dish of the night with creamy pate, sweet bites of cured ham, rich foie gras, sour French pickles and stone-ground mustard.

During lunch, they take these same beautifully prepared ingredients and combine them into a charcuterie sandwich ($12). The rich, porky goodness is balanced with pickled red onions on a soft ciabatta. Each bite is creamy and rich and finishes with a little bite of bitter greens.

Grondin French Latin Kitchen
62 N. Hotel St.
808-566-6768

 

Want more of Our Top 5

Here’s our full roundup of Our Top 5 picks