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Heating Things Up!

A La Carte

February 24, 2019

Story By: Ellise Kakazu | Photos by: Lawrence Tabudlo

Editor Ellise Kakazu warms up with Cafe Asia’s all-you-can-eat dinner spread ($27.99 for adults, $24.99 for seniors age 55 and older, $14.99 for children ages 5-10, and free for children 4 and under).

Brrr, it’s been quite chilly lately. Sure, Hawaii’s temperatures are nowhere near some other states’, but for sun-loving kamaaina the drop in numbers is noticeable — Haleakala on Maui even saw snow a couple weeks ago!

Due to the cooler weather, I noticed many are even busting out their heftiest sweaters and coats to keep warm. Dressing in winter clothes is a surefire way to combat the cold, but one can also heat up with hot and yummy meals.

So grab a jacket and let’s hit the road to find dishes that will soothe us from the inside out!

SIZZLIN’ SHABU SHABU

A hot spot that really knows how to turn up the heat is Cafe Asia.

A closer look at some of the items found on Cafe Asia’s all-you-can-eat dinner menu.

The shabu shabu restaurant, which opened to the public in September 2018, satisfies all appetites longing for steaming pots of freshly cooked meats, seafood, vegetables and noodles.

Co-owner Kylee Lin explains Cafe Asia draws culinary inspiration from many Asian countries, such as Japan, China, Thailand and Korea, offering an array of broth flavors like Sukiyaki, Butter Miso, Coconut Curry and Kimchi.

“We do make our broths from scratch,” Lin notes.

While all the flavors are delicious, Lin shares a couple of the most popular broths are Mala and Garlic Paitan, which are both rich, pork bone based broths.

In addition to the wonderful soup options, customers can find many items to pair their broth with, such as beef, pork, chicken, seafood and veggies. For those who just can’t decide on what to fill their pots with and want to try pretty much everything, Cafe Asia is now offering an all-you-can-eat option.

“People love it,” says Lin.

The indulgent offering is available for lunch (only Friday-Sunday) and dinner (every day) at a very reasonable price. For instance, the all-you-can-eat lunch is priced at $17.99 for adults, $15.99 for seniors age 55 and older, $10.99 for children ages 5-10, and free for children 4 years and under. The all-you-caneat dinner buffet is offered at $27.99 for adults, $24.99 for seniors age 55 and older, $14.99 for children ages 5-10, and free for children 4 and under. The lunch and dinner all-you-can-eat option gives guests an hour and a half time limit.

The all-you-can-eat dinner menu presents hungry customers with many pupu, meat, veggie, seafood and noodle options to choose from. Some possibilities are Five Spice Garlic Chicken, Okinawan Sweet Potato Tempura, Prime Beef Top Sirloin, Pork Belly, Organic Chicken Breast, Calamari and Enoki Mushroom.

Diners who want to keep things simple can opt for preselected sets like USDA Ribeye Choice, Organic Chicken Breast, and Berkshire Pork Belly, all of which come with mixed vegetables, udon or ramen, rice and other protein items.

Cafe Asia also has a stellar appetizer menu filled with freshly cooked items created by co-owner Chen Guang Pan, Lin’s husband. Lin notes Cafe Asia Pot Stickers is an item that Pan invented in their home, and it consists of whole shrimp, pork and zucchini.

According to Lin, providing a place where customers can enjoy a good meal with family and friends is Cafe Asia’s mission.

“(Cafe Asia is a) local, family owned restaurant that wants to provide delicious food for families in the neighborhood,” she says.

WARM UP WITH RICE

Skipping trips to the beach in Hawaii’s current nippy weather is understandable, but you don’t want to miss the raging flavor waves at The Surfing Pig in Kaimuki.

The Surfing Pig’s Jambalaya ($15.50, additional $4.75 with eggs)

According to Adam Kekahuna, director of operations, The Surfing Pig offers a “diverse” menu that revolves around pork. And though many of its offerings have a southern influence, Kekahuna notes The Surfing Pig draws upon many cuisine styles.

“We just serve really good food,” he says.

Many of The Surfing Pig’s creations incorporate its sister restaurant Kono’s award winning 12-hour slow roasted pork. A scrumptious dish that highlights the roasted pork seamlessly is Jambalaya ($15.50), a rice dish that can warm any soul.

Kekahuna explains jambalaya has a “lot of history behind it,” and is inspired by Spanish and French cultures.

Traditionally, jambalaya is prepared with Andouille, seafood, pork and chicken, Kekahuna shares, but at The Surfing Pig, the dish features mouthwatering roasted pork and Portuguese sausage.

Although the restaurant adds its own local twist to the New Orleans classic, the rest of the ingredients that typically make up a jambalaya are present. Onions, celery, green bell peppers, paprika and garlic powder all help to infuse the dish with jambalaya’s captivating flavors.

“There’s some heat to the dish,” Kekahuna notes. “(It’s) definitely a great dish for the cold weather we have right now.”

Guests looking to amp up the tasty meal with more protein can add two local eggs cooked any way for an additional $4.75 — Surfing Pig’s Jambalaya is only available during the restaurant’s lunch and weekend brunch hours.

While pork is the star of the Surfing Pig show, the restaurant also provides guests with other delectable protein options. Customers can bite into items such as Shrimp and Grits, Surfing Pig Burger, Brick Chicken and Ahi Poke, just to name a few.

What’s more, The Surfing Pig can light up any party or event with its delicious fare, as the restaurant now offers catering services for up to 50 guests. For more information, call 744-1992 and ask for Adam Kekahuna, or email adamk@konosnorthshore.com.

After this tasty, heated adventure, I believe the islands’ current colder-than-usual weather isn’t so bad, as it is the perfect time to indulge in hot, steamy dishes. In the words of Frozen’s Elsa, “the cold never bothered me anyway.”

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