Back again at Maui Brewing Company Waikiki, I got to sample a few more dishes, with my fave of all still being the Avocado Toast shown above. I LOVE IT. So simple, being thinly-sliced wedges of toasted crusty bread covered with fresh mashed avocado, still left sort of chunky, garnished with thinly sliced radish, chopped macadamia nuts and cilantro, served on the side with sriracha salt and a lemon wedge. You definitely gotta’ add a sprinkle of that sriracha salt and complete twist of that acidic lemon juice to dress and kick it up. Super healthy and so ono, if you ever hit Maui Brews Waikz, you gotta’ try this! And just $4 for that whole plate during happy hour? Can’t go wrong!
I also sampled the Pork Belly Bao, another winnah! The bold sort of Hoisin-like, yet fruity Plum Sauce generously coated on the tender, nicely charred fatty Waianae pork belly stuffed in these pillow-soft yet glutenous steamed Chinese buns, combined with the mild heat and texture contrast of the kimchi cucumber and fresh sprigs of cilantro totally, totally works!
And it does’t taste like something you’d typically get a traditional Chinese dim sum restaurant. Thanks to the unique flavor of their Plum Sauce and different direction it takes with the Kimchi Cucumber topping, MBC.W’s Pork Belly Bao come across as being a unique and modern twist. And again, 50% off during happy hour at just $7 for this big set of 3 is a fantastic deal!
Finally at MBC.W, I sampled their House-made Nutella and Apple Pizza, which is actually from their Keiki menu. Eh, it’s “aight”, however I guess because I’m not exactly a Nutella or Chocolate fan, it didn’t swoon me. I think if they drizzled it generously with fresh-made caramel sauce, THEN w’e’re talkin’. Even better if they also added banana’s along with them thinkly-sliced green apples. The chopped Mac nuts were a nice though, so I’ll give it that. Also, MBC’s oven-fired pizza crust is EXCELLENT. Regardless of what’s on top of it, the pizza crust here is A-Plus in my book. And just $8 for this full-sized dessert-style pizza really is a bargain, whether for Keiki or adult.
Moving along, I recently tried Jack in the Box new Panko Onion Rings, now permanently on the menu, selling for $2.99 here on Oahu. Which to anyone such as myself that’s into anything “Katsu-fied”, I had to give these a spin.
Before continuing, speaking of anything and everything “Katsu-fied”, this reminds me of Kushikatsu Tanaka, in the new Yokocho Japanese food village in the basement of the Waikiki Shopping Plaza in Waikiki, where as shown above, they really do “Katsu-fy” just about anyhing you can throw at them.
KUSHIKATSU TANAKA Kushikatsu Beef, Zucchini & Cookie & Cream sampler; the meat and vegetable sticks are served with their house sauce, which tastes sort of like a “Ponzuyaki” if you will, having sort of sweet ‘n tangy dashi and shoyu-based flavor that’s thickened just a little
So while this isn’t a new idea, it is a GREAT IDEA that Jack in the Box thought of the virtues of Panko breading vs. the batter style breading they use on their classic Onion Rings. The virtue here being the Panko flakes don’t have crust in it, so it doesn’t absorb nearly as much oil. That said, these new Panko Onion Rings really are fairly grease-free and light, compared to their classic batter style rings. The only thing I found was they were indeed missing that nice subtle spicy flavor from the classic batter style.
Other than that, the texture is far superior on these Panko Rings. Again, hardly oily, feathery-crispy and delicate, yet with enough substance to hold up to, say, pulling the tender sweet onion right out, and the panko crust still holds its hollowed-out shape. You know the deal, where there’s that person you’re with who hates onions, yet likes the tasty batter. So they’ll take the Onion ring, pull the softened, slippery onion out and discard it, and just eat the hollowed-out batter/breading. Gunfunnit, dam keeds. lol
As you can see, I ALWAYS pair my Jack in the Box Onion Rings with their deliciously bad for you Buttermilk House Sauce. We’ve done that since my “hanabaddah dayz” hitting the beach, where afterwards, that combination from the drive-thru was always the best tasting thing on earth at the moment. And it works just as amazing with their new, far superior in texture Panko Onion Rings. Again though, I still kinda’ miss the spices from the classic Onion Rings when combined with the tangy zip from the Buttermilk Sauce.
Speaking of sauce, you don’t think anything “Katsu-fied” will get past me without a visit from the Bull Dog, do you? Oh no, my friends, Bull Dog, as in Bull Dog Tonkatsu Sauce. One of the best store-bought Tonkatsu sauce you can buy, that taste almost as good as the house-made stuff you’d get served at an authentic Japanese Tonkastu Shop.
So I drizzled a circle of Bull Dog Tonkatsu Sauce on a few Panko Onion Rings to see how it would work, and you know what? AWESOME SAUCE! In fact, Jack in the Box should seriously consider serving these with packets of Tonkatsu Sauce as an option indicated on the menu, it’s THAT oishii! The bold and zesty, yet “fruity” flavor profile of the Tonkatsu sauce, combined with the sweet, earthy flavor of the onion within the delicate deep-fried Panko breading is a perfect match. Perfect! I’d go on to saying as good if not better than classic Tonkatsu or Chicken Katsu, it’s that good! Especially if you’re vegetarian, yet want something a lil’ decadent, this is a major go!
Summing it up, I give Jack in the Box new Panko Onion Rings 4.5 SPAM Musubi, only missing a half mark to solid 5 for the lack of spices in it.
Finally for this “Grindz of the Day” installment, we have Hapi Snacks Mixed Crackers Original Party Mix. Which is essentially an Arare and Senbei (Japanese Rice Cracker) Mix.
I learned about these from Diner K, who works for a hotel that caters predominantly to Japanese visitors, and their Executive Chef insisted to only use this brand of Arare when serving it to their guests, being it has the same high standards of taste and quality they would expect as they’d get in Japan.
Very interestingly though, Hapi Snacks are NOT MADE IN JAPAN. It’s a product of Thailand. So you’re probably thinking it’s like any of those other repackaged Arare you find in the stores locally that are typically not made in Japan, with the (lack of) quality and or authenticity to match, but no it’s not. And trust me, I’ve tried them all.
This Hapi Snacks Arare Senbei Mix is ICHIBAN WINNAHZ! It comes in this fairly large 6 oz. metal (not plastic) can with a lid measuring 6½”Hx3¼”D. So being vacuum-packed in that can makes them super fresh tasting and crispy. While each different type of Senbei and Arare, including the really kickin’, clear-you-sinuses Wasabi style all have their own top notch virtues. When you eat it combined with all the different types in one mouthful, it’s the perfect blend. And never mind it being made in Thailand; it truly tastes authentically Japanese. It’s not exactly cheap at about $6 for this 6 oz. can from Don Quijote, yet totally worth it. Plus that lid-capped metal can keeps keeps your Hapi senbei arare party mix fresh ‘n crispy from start to finish.
I’ve only seen this Hapi Mix at Don Quijote, again for $6. If you ever go there and you’re a big Arare fan, definitely pick a can of this stuff up. You’ll thank me later!
P.S. Several weeks ago at Diamond Head Beach I almost literally stumbled across Ka’iwi, a Hawaiian Monk Seal known to frequent the entire east coast of Oahu…
It appeared Kai’wi had just arrived at the beach to nap, when I immediately contacted NOAA’s Monk Seal Hotline to report her sighting.
According to Cianna at NOAA, Ka’iwi is a 6 year old female Hawaiian Monk Seal, NOAA ID #RK96, tail tag #K96, K97. While they don’t have a weight on file, adult female monk seals can weigh anywhere between about 300 to 400 pounds. I would estimate Ka’iwi’s length about 6½ feet.
Ka’iwi was named after the Ka’iwi coast on the south shore (Makapu’u to Sandy’s side) of Oahu where she’s known to have been born. Last year she gave birth to a pup named Kawena, NOAA ID number RH36.
Ka’iwi is one of two adult female Hawaiian Monk Seals known to “haul” (rest) on the East and South shore of Oahu, with the other Being Rocky, NOAA ID number RH58. At 17 years of age, Rocky is a much larger seal than Ka’iwi.
Being mostly solitary, individual seals are known to frequent certain parts of each island. However, according to Cianna, Hawaiian Monk Seals will sometimes travel to either side, or all the way to other Hawaiian islands to feed, mate and/or give birth.
If you see a Hawaiian Monk Seal (an endangered and protected species), especially if it’s hauling (resting) on the shoreline, if it hasn’t yet, please report it to NOAA’s Hawaiian Monk Seal Hotline @ (808) 220-7802.