Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Persistent Persuasion

Since I haven't posted a new blog in over 5 months, I must be ultra busy with some other super important stuff right?  Well, sort of.  Have you ever heard of the saying that people have to hear something at least 3 times before they absorb it?  That's why companies say their website, phone number or message 3 times in a 30 second radio ad or why you have to be told by your significant other something 3 times before you actually listen!  In the past few months, I've noticed that the persistence of a facebook post, commercial or just seeing or hearing something over and over has been extremely effective in getting me to follow some of the latest trends.

From Linsanity to Kony 2012, we've been bombarded by traditional and social media so much that even if we don't want to hear about something or see something, we can't get away from it.  Speaking of Linsanity, I couldn't help but jump on the bandwagon.  Asian dude from Harvard doing well in the NBA, what's not to like?  I even bought a LINSANE shirt from Kineda!  And that KONY 2012 viral video?  I must've seen it posted and re-posted at least 20 times before I finally decided to watch it but I did....eventually.  For awhile, I actually thought he was actually campaigning for the presidency!  So I guess it's good thing that I was "forced" to check out the short film before I went to vote.

But there are 3 things that I've tried to avoid in the past month or so but failed in doing so because people kept talking about it or I kept seeing stuff about it everywhere.  I'm sure many of you felt the same way I did about at least one of these things.  I have to admit that I enjoy all of these very much now even though I avoided them like the plague for a long time (ok, not that long but it felt like it!).  Here they are:  PINTEREST, DRAW SOMETHING and THE HUNGER GAMES.

The latest and greatest social media tool to land.  It's supposedly growing faster than google+ and twitter, etc.  It basically lets you "pin" your interests to your very own customized boards through images.  If you're one who thinks that pictures are worth a thousand words, then check it out.  So as you browse the web, you can pin images which in turn links to the original source so that you can refer to it later.  It's probably most well known to brides gathering ideas for the big day or to crafters pinning the coolest DIY projects on the web but I find that anyone can use it for whatever interests they may have.  For instance,  I have a board that I created where I pin unique ideas to decorate or renovate my home.  Of course, some ideas are too grand for my crib now but one can dream and be prepared!  I have an image of a staircase going up but a slide built adjacent to it going down!  How dope is that!  And there's another one of a foldaway craft center for the missus.  I don't mind her doing her crafts but I don't want it all over the place either.  Or let's say, you're a shoe aficionado, you could pin the latest and greatest kicks to your board for your fellow aficionados to enjoy.  Yes, I know...81% of pinterest users are female.  So what?  Us guys just take a little longer to catch on.

Draw Something:
You all know what I'm talking about.  This app unleashes our preschool artistry brilliance once again!  The first 100 times I saw people posting it and dishing out their usernames and inviting us to come play, I abstained.  But I finally gave in as well and have unveiled my artistic talents as well.  I draw like Jackson Pollock but my friends seem to manage :).  In a nutshell, you draw things so that the other player can guess what it is and you accumulate points to buy more colors, etc.  It's a mindless, unrewarding waste of time but it's so much fun to see the crap that your friends put out for you to see and expect you to guess!  You really get to see who paid attention in art class.  I drew a tadpole for one of my friends and she was baffled because there was no letter "S" for her choose to type in what she thought it was.  Hilarious!

The Hunger Games:
Tried to not fall for this one either but yet again, I've failed and I've seen the movie as well as read the book.  There was just so much hype that I had to see what it was all about.  A little too much lovey dovey shenanigans for me but overall it's a good story with a lot of underlying messages such as the effect of war on children and how the government controls what they want us to see or hear or how society is so captivated by violence.  The movie followed the book pretty closely but of course, it is way easier to follow if you read the book.  The camera work in the movie had some "Blair Witch Project" moments which made me queasy with all that running through the woods action though.  Eating a big dinner beforehand probably didn't help.  So if you are going to see the movie, I highly recommend that you not eat right before or eat something light.

Well, that's what I've been up to.  Hopefully, it won't be half a year before I post something new.  Just wanted to share my take on the latest and greatest.



Monday, October 17, 2011


Well, it's been over two weeks since I've been back from vacation so I guess it's time to write something about it because I know everyone's been anxiously awaiting a blog...hahaha!  So here it is.  Towards the end of our vacation, we decided to check out Hollywood: Grauman's Chinese Theater, Kodak Theater, Walk of Fame, etc.  There was more traffic than normal because some of the streets were blocked off and there were white tents and red carpet everywhere.  Hmmm..what the heck was going on?  Apparently, we just so happened to stumble upon the World Premiere of Iris, the latest Cirque Du Soleil show to come out.  So of course, it was a red carpet event where the stars would be coming out and struttin' their stuff for the paparazzi and media.  Since we were there, we decided to perch ourselves on the 3rd floor of the Hollywood & Highlands Mall and had a pretty decent view of the stars rollin' up in black Escalades.  I must admit, it was pretty exciting to see stars up "close" but that wore off after about an hour.  It was actually just fun trying to guess who the stars were and trying to remember their names and what shows or movies they were in.  It's rather ridiculous how many pics the media/paparazzi  take of the stars and how each celebrity stops and poses for a good five minutes each!  It's like a never-ending vidal-sassoon commercial!  Stars always say how they hate the limelight and attention but they LOVE it, you can see it on their faces!  Well, most of them anyway.  Everything was so over the top and superficial but it is LA after all.  Here are some of the stars we saw: James Cameron, Cindy Crawford, Mario Lopez, Christina Milian, Figgins from Glee, Christina Hendricks, dorky dude from Body of Proof, Neil Patrick Harris, Patrick Dempsey, Priscila Presley, Matthew McConoughey, Camila Alves, James Gandolfini, Jon Favreau, Vanessa Hudgens and Anne Heche.  My camera battery was dying so I couldn't take pics of them all.  Besides, I knew it'd be all over the Internet in an hour anyway!

I thought it would be funny to show the crappy pics we got of them with my point and shoot canon from way above vs. the professional pics you can find on the web now.  The pics I took are below and the pics below that with the close ups I took from zimbio.com.  ENJOY!

Cindy Crawford and her family
James Cameron
Christina Milian

No clue who these people are...

Vanessa Hudgens

the back of Vanessa...I think that's her sister next to her.

Mad Men's Christina Hendricks and her Body of Proof hubby

Doogie Howser and his partner

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Plodding up Pillbox...

I say plodding because it's been quite some time since our last hike, just about 9 months...man, how time flies.  We wanted to do a hike that wasn't too punishing since we've had such a long lay off.  We decided on the Pillbox Hiking Trail in Lanikai aka Lanikai Bunkers, Kaiwa Ridge or just Pillbox.  It's relatively easy to find as you just heads towards Lanikai and it's right across from the Mid-Pacific country club.  Besides, it's listed as a Facebook Place so just click on the address on your phone and it'll lead the way.  Phones truly are "smart" these days.  There's a lot of parking on the right side of the street once you get there so no worries about that.

This hike is rewarding from the start as you can already see the Mokulua Islands after about only 5 minutes of hiking.  It's a short hike but steep with a steady incline for most of the way.  Remember, it is a ridge hike so there's no shade whatsoever unless you go on a day that was overcast like we did.  Make sure you wear sunscreen and/or a cap whether it's overcast or not and bring some water.  I was glad that the sun wasn't glaring down on us but it did mute the scenery a little bit.  Don't get me wrong, once you make it to the first Pillbox, the view is well worth the exercise.  If you make it....ahem...when you make it to the first pillbox, there's no reason not to go to the second pillbox as most of it is just hiking laterally.  Of course, you might want to stop for a breather at the first pillbox and soak in the beauty before moving on to the second.

the view after 5 minutes..you could cheat and go back down! ;)

From the top, you can see all they way from Chinaman's Hat to the Makapu'u Lighthouse with the Mokulua Islands, Kailua Beach and Lanikai Beach in between.  Everyone on this hike was particularly nice as well.  We actually saw a lot more tourists than locals though....surprising.  Be careful on the way down though as it can be slippery with the dry dirt and rocks...take your time and you'll be fine.  You can easily get up and down the hike in about an hour not including the time you spend at the top.  But what's the rush, it is paradise after all.  I also read somewhere that you can continue on past the 2nd pillbox and that it eventually loops back down into the Lanikai community.  We didn't attempt it this time but it's definitely something we'll try the next time.  So whether you're visiting the islands or if you're kama'aina, don't take this opportunity for granted and make your way to Lanikai.  As an extra incentive, there are a lot of great places to eat in Kailua to reward yourself after the hike: Teddy's, Boots & Kimo, Cinnamons, Fat Boys, Lanikai Juice, etc.  We decided to try Crepes No Kai for lunch and it was the perfect end to another fulfilling hike.  Who knew plodding could be so much fun?

Chinaman's Hat is in between the two ranges...look closely.
  Now wipe your nose print off the screen.

Mokulua Islands from the Second Pillbox

Isn't it lovely?


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Say what? Healthy and tasty? Hmmmm...

So is it really possible for food to be healthy and tasty?  I certainly would’ve never thought so but I might have to change my mind after eating at GRYLT at the Manoa Marketplace last Friday.  I’m assuming it’s pronounced GRILL-IT but who knows and who cares, as long as it’s good right?  It’s located at the old Blazin’ Steaks location next to First Hawaiian Bank.  In fact when I looked at my credit card statement, it still says Blazin’ Steaks Manoa.  Maybe it’s the same owners?  If not, I hope the money is going into the right bank account!

Anyway, their slogans on the window said ‘Fresh and Healthy’ and ‘Savory and Tasty’ so I had to give it a shot.  We were actually going to give Hanaki’s “new” Shabu Shabu a try despite all the brutally bad reviews on Yelp but they were closed for some reason.

GRYLT’s atmosphere and décor had a franchisee feel to it but it actually isn’t one.  Kudos to them for doing a great job on signage and marketing.  Some people think that it’s a bad thing to look like a franchise but I disagree.  It sure beats hand written signs in sharpie and masking tape!

The concept of ordering is pretty straight-forward: line up, order a starch, vegetable/salad, entrée and sauce (optional).  The starches included white rice, brown rice, whipped potatoes and mashed cauliflower.  The salads were Spring mix, Baby Romaine, Baby Spinach or you could get grilled veggies.  The entrée choices were Steak, Ahi tuna, Shrimp, Chicken or Tofu.

We decided to try two different plates.  We tried the steak and ahi tuna which were both prepared medium rare although you can have them cook it to your liking.  Both were tasty and went great with their Asian fusion sauce.  While I’m no culinary expert, it tasted like a combination of mae ploy, honey and McDonald’s sweet and sour sauce.  There’s a reason I don’t cook.  As for the salads, we tried the Spring Mix (Mandarin orange, tomatoes and Thai vinaigrette) and the Baby Romaine (Tomato, onion, parmesan cheese tossed in honey mustard).  Both were excellent as well.  It’s also a plus that they try to use local ingredients as much as possible.  I think I’ll try the grilled veggies next time because that looked awfully good as well.  The whole meal worked well together and the prices are reasonable.  Most of the plates are less than $10 which is not bad at all.  The service was friendly but it was noticeable that they’ve only been open for a short while.  Their system and communication could definitely be better as it was not efficient and everyone seemed a little flustered.  Basically, you go down the line in a cafeteria style and then pay at the end.  Perhaps they should reverse the process and take your order first.  And maybe write stuff down so that they staff knows exactly what each person ordered.  It’s like at those restaurants where they take your order without writing it down and try to impress you with their memorization skills but then you end up with chicken when you ordered salmon.  JUST WRITE IT DOWN!  Sorry, that’s a pet peeve of mine if you didn’t notice.  They’re still new and hopefully with a little more time, they’ll get the process down pact.

So if you’re in the Manoa area and can’t decide where to go, give GRYLT a try.  Most of the reviews on yelp were good except for a few by the people who are generally never happy with any place.  But like I always say, when it comes to food, the only opinion that matters is your own.  TRYT….hahahaha!

Grylt Manoa

2764 Woodlawn Dr. , Honolulu, Hawaii 96822
Phone: (808) 988-7832

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My BEST and WORST celebrity encounter....

Ironically, my best and worst celebrity encounter is the same person.  I recently deleted my Friendster and MySpace pages because...honestly, who really uses them anymore?  Before I deleted the pages though, I saved all my blog posts and came across this one and it made me laugh and cry all at the same time so I decided I would re-post it here.  I actually posted this blog on January 30, 2008 on my MySpace page which was www.myspace.com/KreukieMonster (stop laughing!).

So as all of you can probably tell from my myspace url, I'm a huge Kristin Kreuk fan.  For those of you who don't already know, she plays Lana Lang on Smallville and will be playing Chun Li in the new Street Fighter II movie.  Anyways, I was in LA for a trade show and on the way back home, I saw Kristin at the Starbucks in LAX.  She was dressed in bohemian attire but I could tell it was her.  At first I only caught a glance of the side of her face but I had to make sure it was her so I waltzed back into Starbucks carrying my bright red tote bag full of catalogs from the show and pretended like I was looking for someone (not her of course).  Sure enough, we made eye contact and it was HER!  Man, she's gorgeous!  So I was 5 ft. away from her and instead of smiling, I just stood there paralyzed and mute.  She probably thought I was a stalker...hehe.  I've been waiting for the last 7 years to meet her ever since I first saw her on Smallville in 2001 and when I finally had the chance...I choked.

For those of you who know me well, I'm somewhat arrogrant, a big mouth and not one to shy away but I guess every Superman has his kryptonite.  I didn't even think to use my cell phone to take a picture with her or of her.  She was with her boyfriend anyway so that's my excuse for not being too aggressive.  So for all you guys know, I could be making all this stuff up but I don't care...I know and that's all that matters.  Whether or not I made any new business contacts, my trip was well worth it.  Have you had any COOL celebrity encounters?

Friday, May 13, 2011

My time in Madrid...was ILL!

Smart car...no need to parallel
That was a pretty lousy attempt at a pun with the title but that pretty much sums up my time in Madrid.  Madrid was our first stop in Spain on our Eurotrip.  Spain was probably my favorite country in Europe.  Unfortunately, too much drinking, lack of sleep and excessive traveling led to getting sick in Madrid.  It'd be great to go back and enjoy the FIESTAS and SIESTAS at 100% healthiness!  Enjoy!

September 14, 2005
 3:51 PM

The couchette ride was alright, noisy and cold but I slept through most of the 8 hours.  The train ride from Irun was a lousy 7 hours.  The conductor kept blaring the horn to tell people to get away from the tracks so sleeping was virtually impossible.  So 15 hours later, we finally arrived at Madrid.  My first impression was that it was like LA and very similar to the US compared to London and Paris.  We were pretty exhausted when we got to the train station and even worse, we both were coming down with colds!  As tired as we were we still had to figure out where we were headed in Spain.  After some contemplation, we decided to go to Seville and then to Barcelona and drop Bilbao.  Kinda bummed about that because we wanted to go to the Guggenheim but it’s too out of the way.  The couchette from Seville to Barcelona was 74.50 euros!  Better be good!  Nothing’s ever easy for us but I guess I shouldn’t expect it to be.  The metro stop we needed was closed down so we had to find an alternative route.  Eventually we made it to the hostel just to be directed to another one.  It was closed for renovation.  We are staying at Cat’s Hostel which is the sister hostel to Mad.  An awesome hostel and great people but COLD SHOWERS!  Spain has been a little easier to manipulate because we can speak some Spanish and more people speak English.  Prices are also a lot more reasonable, water and soda are 1 euro and not ridiculous like Paris and London.  Beer is also cheaper.  Jamon (ham) seems to be the meat of choice here.  Our hostel mates are cool too.  Ian is from England, Josh from Australia and some dude from Fresno who goes to Stanford.  We ventured out to Plaza de Mayor for a snack and sangria and took pics of the Palacio Real (Royal Palace).  After dinner we went to chill at the bar and then the fun began.  We met Peter and Brent from Sunnyvale, Morag from Scotland and headed off for a pub crawl.  At the bar, we met other people:  Lindsay and Brinn from Santa Clara, Diane from LA, and Katie and Erica from New Zealand.  We drank and danced…it was great!  Madrid really knows how to party.  We were sick but the alcohol cured that.  I woke up this morning feeling like shit with a fat headache.  Okay, so the alcohol was only a temporary cure.  Today was the first day we missed breakfast.  I didn’t get up until 11 am, not bad considering we slept at 5 am.  I feel awful today, we went to the Museo Nacional del Prado, which is supposed to be the best but I could barely stand.  I just quickly looked at everything and left.  Oh yeah, we had McDonald’s today, a BBQ chicken sandwich and fries…good stuff and a fried apple pie.  I ordered in Spanish too!  So we’re back at the hostel now just chillin’ during siesta.  Madrid has a lot of museums and gardens to check out but I really can’t handle another museum right now.  I just like enjoying the lifestyle in Spain.  We’re off to Sevilla tomorrow but it’s still early, I’m sure lots will happen from now until then.  Just waiting for my laundry so that I can take a nap.  Tired, very tired.  It’s been a challenge at times traveling with Jason but mostly because we have different interests.  He loves to take pictures and takes forever at attractions.  I just enjoy the fact that I’m actually in London, Paris, on the Eiffel Tower or in Spain…I don’t need a gazillion pics to remember the experience maybe just one or two.  Other than that, this trip has been awesome after the first week.  3 more exciting weeks to go!

September 14, 2005
 10:22 PM

Calling it a night early…still sick and tired.  We ate dinner at a vegetarian place called Maoz…it was actually good.  I had falafel and I hate falafel.  We had ice cream afterwards too.  Morag, Jason and I took a lazy walk back to the hostel and had a drink.  We’ve met some great people here in Madrid.  We’ll be having dinner with Peter in Sevilla tomorrow.  Tapas, paella and sangria….mmmm.  I can’t wait.

Plaza Mayor

looking for a place to get a sangria

Found the sangria...now trying to break into the Royal Palace.
Morag, Me, Peter, Brent and Jason

Teens playing futbol in the plaza.

Friday, May 6, 2011

You talk THAI?

Thailand is definitely one of the top 10 places I'd like to visit but after watching the latest episode of Bizarre Foods, I think I'll skip North East Thailand (Udon Thani) and stick to Bangkok and Phuket.  Thai food is probably one of my favorite cuisines with it's red, yellow, green, panang curries, pad thai, pad se ew and sticky rice to pull everything together.  But some of the stuff I saw on this episode was just downright NASTY!

First, there was the bug eating which isn't that bad but in this case, they were eating Dung Beetles which you've guessed it...is found in cow dung!  Why would you opt to find your protein in a pile of S#$%!  They literally wait for a fresh pile of dung to be dropped and then rummage around to find the dung beetles before they eat all the CRAP!  So let me get this straight...they eat the crap that eats the crap?  Nasty just nasty.

If the dung beetles aren't bad enough, the rice farmers in Thailand have their own method of pest control..they eat them before the pests can destroy their crops.  So every few weeks, these farmers will go hunting for rice-field rats and make a feast of them!  They de-fur them by boiling them and then either grill them or make a stir fry!  GROSS!  I'll stick to the awesome flat noodles of PAD-SEE-EW and leave the PAD-RAT-SEE....EWWWW to the farmers!

Though watching this episode made me sick, I still want to go Thailand but maybe I'll just stick to the city cuisine.  BTW, I put up a new poll of places I'm thinking about going in the near future...vote or let me know if you've got any advice or experiences to share of any of those places.

Monday, April 25, 2011

More, Morimoto please...

If I was uber-rich and had no bills to pay, this is one restaurant that I would frequent at least once a week.  This past Saturday, I finally got to try Morimoto in Waikiki.  I heard great things about it prior to going but it's when I saw it featured on an episode of Hawaii 5-0 a couple of weeks ago that did me in.  Hahaha...not really but it was a reminder that I needed to check it out.  For those of you who don't know, Chef Morimoto is a well-known Japanese chef and has appeared on Iron Chef Japan and Iron Chef America.

It's located in The Edition Hotel so of course the atmosphere and decor is modern and typical of any fine dining place.  It is a fairly large restaurant and it was filled to capacity.  Recession?  What recession...people must be eating their mortgages.  I checked out the drink menu first and again like any other fine dining establishment or bar, it alone would have been enough to break the bank so I just had a beer.  Food over drinks any day!  We sat outside on the large lanai area with a nice backdrop of Waikiki.  We're spoiled because a sunset above the horizon of the ocean on a beautiful day happens all the time here but it was still nice to see.

The service was top notch.  Our server, Kaulana knew the dishes inside and out and made everything sound irresistible.  They were attentive but not overly attentive where it was like they were eavesdropping on your conversation a la Hiroshi.

And finally, the food.  The food was AWESOME!  Everything is made when you order it, nothing is pre-made including the dessert.  They even have their own rice polishing/producing facility.  It's amazing how they take ordinary dishes and make them EXTRAORDINARY.  I've never been to a place where I enjoyed every dish until now.  The pics I took do not do it justice at all.  It was kinda dark and I just wanted to hurry up and take the pics so I could eat.

Seafood 'Toban yaki': kona lobster, king crab, mussels, clams, diver scallops, in a red spicy miso-sake broth
The broth tastes a lot like the Spicy Pirikara broth at Ichiriki but with a little more kick.  It's served with 6 pieces of a sliced baguette to dip in the oh so ono broth.  Plenty of seafood to share.

Braised black cod: ginger-soy reduction, pickled bell  peppers, budo mame
This dish is like miso butterfish but better.  The picture makes it look terrible but it was truly delicious!

Chef's Loco Moto: Wagyu beef, sunny side up egg, hayashi gravy, fukujinzuke
Not your ordinary loco moco.  Wagyu beef and quail egg instead of your regular hamburger and egg.  Like I said, ordinary to EXTRAORDINARY in one moto.

Ishi yaki buri bop: yellowtail (hamachi) cooked tableside in a hot stone bowl
Just the name alone makes you want to get up and dance!  It's Morimoto's take on a bi bim bap.  Do the Ishi yaki buri bop!!!

Hot and Cold Tofu dessert

Chocolate Peanut Bombe: milk chocolate cremeux, salted peanut ice cream
I read mix reviews on this dessert but I thought it was SCRUMPTIOUS!  It's like a melt in your mouth Reese's Peanut butter cup.  The assorted sorbets (right) are also made from scratch and are served with the real fruit chunks that correspond to the flavors.  We had mango, lychee and honeydew. 

Not shown is most of the appetizers we had: Takoyaki with abalone, beef curry pan, salmon skin roll and wagyu beef sushi...all were very good as well.  I would highly recommend ordering a bunch of dishes and eating it family style.  That way you can try a little bit of everything but beware, once you take a bite, you won't want to share anything!  The total dining experience was 5-stars.  So if you're in Waiks and not sure where to go, give Morimoto's a try...you won't be disappointed.  But I've probably hyped it up too much and you'll be let down.  So my parting words will be, "Don't go, it sucks, go get your loco moco from L&L" but if you listen to that, that's your bad. ; )