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Noodling Over Pasta Appeal

Columns Ono, You Know

October 27, 2013

Story By: Ali Resich | Photos by: Leah Friel

In the vast realm of food, few ingredients are as universally loved as pasta. I mean, who doesn’t love pasta? Even diners who may not be able to enjoy it for health reasons or prefer a low-carb diet still seek out a range of pasta alternatives, from rice noodles to spaghetti squash, in order to emulate the indulgent feel of savoring this Italian noodle variety.

So what is it that makes pasta so appealing? Perhaps it’s the staple item’s accessibility — the fact that it is easily available in countless shapes and sizes that pair well with an endless combination of flavors. For me, it’s that undeniable comfort of reveling in a tried-and-true classic. When I sit down in front of a giant bowl of penne thoroughly blanketed in creamy vodka sauce, nothing can go wrong in my world.

While nearly impossible to say, if I had to choose a favorite pasta dish, it would be seafood pasta. I’m up for any mix of sauce and vegetables as long as there are some edible ocean treasures to soak up with each golden strand.

So this week, I put my “carb face” on — as my closest friend and I call the anticipation of losing ourselves amid a plate full of noodles — and went all out with seafood pasta creations at the following renowned Ono, You Know establishments.

JJ Bistro & French Pastry

From carbonara to Alfredo, it’s often the creamier pasta concoctions that lend the most comfort to patrons. That’s why I started my journey at JJ Bistro & French Pastry, where I know you’ll fall in love with the garlic white wine buerre blanc sauce owner and executive pastry chef JJ Luangkhot uses in his Poached Maine Lobster Tail ($18.95).

With a velvety richness that doesn’t overpower the other ingredients, this creamy garlic sauce is seasoned simply with Italian herbs that highlight succulent Maine lobster, shiitake mushrooms and more veggies on a bed of fettuccini. All together, the menu item displays JJ Bistro’s signature mix of Asian and European flavors, all of which are delicately balanced with one another.

“The lobster already has its own taste, so you just need a little touch of Italian herbs to bring it out,” describes Luangkhot, who adds that diners may order his creation with an additional lobster tail for $10 more.

According to the chef, fettucini is ideal for this dish because it’s a versatile pasta, complete with long, thick ribbons that are easy to wrap around your fork and take a generous lathering of sauce with them.

Luangkhot also notes that patrons may request for the lavish seafood specialty to be prepared with rice noodles instead.

JJ Bistro & French Pastry
3447 Waialae Ave.
739-0993

Blue Water Shrimp & Seafood

Known for its fresh plate lunches that highlight a melange of seafood favorites, the Blue Water Shrimp & Seafood truck delights local diners’ palates with a combination of Italian-inspired cuisine complete with Asian touches. Luckily, for my quest, head chef Magdy Elzoheiry features plenty of pasta choices on his menu.

“I’ve loved pasta all my life, since I was a kid,” explains Elzoheiry. “My mom used to cook pasta and when I learned how to cook, I wanted to learn how to cook the dishes I grew up with.”

Elzoheiry’s endearing passion for the classic meal translates into his Shrimp Scampi ($9.95), an undoubtable winner. The chef’s spin on a traditional scampi is prepared with plump and juicy shrimp, garlic, olive oil, capers, white wine and more.

“I prepare it a little bit differently; I add a little bit of cream to (the sauce) and shrimp stock,” says the chef. “The flavor of the dish, it’s unique, and that’s what makes it my signature.”

A heap of saucy linguine seems to shout “eat me” as well, while a dab of garlic butter, fresh basil and tomatoes add brightness to the plate.

Shrimp scampi is served with pasta’s best friend, garlic bread, and salad on the side. Perfect for lunch or dinner, it shines as a stand-out seafood pasta.

Blue Water Shrimp & Seafood
1006 Kapahulu Ave.
688-8891

Mimasuya Italiano of Kyoto

At Mimasuya Italiano of Kyoto, you’re in for a gem of an Italian dining experience, presented through the culinary eye of executive chef and general manager Toshiya Umeda, who adds a Japanese touch of beautiful presentation to every Italian dish created at the eatery.

While the menu has an impressive array of pasta dishes to choose from, none compares to the seafood and pasta glory of Lobster Linguine ($28).

While the dish is composed of a simple combination of fresh lobster, linguine and a traditional Americaine sauce, it packs an incredible punch of flavor thanks to Umeda’s made-from-scratch approach and use of fresh ingredients.

“The Americaine sauce is … a tomato-based sauce that’s actually prepared with fresh seafood,” says service captain Jeffrey Nedry. “So instead of a pasta with seafood and a straight tomato sauce, it has the flavor of the lobster in the actual sauce.”

The resulting flavor is molto delizioso, with details such as a single pepperoncino adding layers of flavor to the deep red sauce that oozes with zestiness. Al dente linguini also holds up beautifully to the exquisite lobster, and the dish is dusted with fresh parsley flakes for a gorgeous finishing touch.

If it weren’t for these lovely pasta formations, there’d be a piece of warmth missing from the world of comfort food. As soon as you give them a try, presto! You’ll be in taste-bud bliss.

Mimasuya Italiano of Kyoto
1341 Kapiolani Blvd., Ste. 101
951-9000