Thanksgiving Foodie (and Pop-Up) Weekend! (Minus the turkey, plus the shabu shabu, Vietnamese, and ramen)

Posted: November 26, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

It’s that time of year again!  Time to give thanks for all the blessings of the previous year and look forward to the blessings of the year to come!

This was a huge foodie weekend for the vivacious Hawaii food scene!  The Pig and the Lady Noodle Bar at Taste on Saturday night and Chef Shige Nakamura of Sun Noodle fame serving a one-night-only ramen extravaganza (“No Ramen, No Life” by Ramen Lab NY) Sunday Night at Lucky Belly rounded out this amazing weekend!

A really good friend of mine just came back into town and she was in need of some serious local grindage!  Welcome home Christina!


First stop, we went to Asuka Nabe + Shabu Shabu in the Kaimuki neighborhood near Coffee Talk.  One of my favorite shabu shabu spots, this new spot run by Kenny Ikeguchi, is a great place to bring friends for a clean, filling meal.

They have a number of delicious broths:

  • Kombu Seaweed Soup
  • Osaka Sukiyaki
  • Wafu
  • Spicy Umakara (my favorite, about a 6/7 on the spicy scale, kim chee is a 6)
  • Famous Asuka Broth
  • Tomato Soup Base
  • Green Pea and Veg
  • Seafood Soup
  • Oolong Tea
  • Chicken Collagen
  • Paitan

Pretty much everything comes with rice, they have white rice but also an AWESOME “Gokoku-Mai” mixed 5 grain rice!  Definitely have to get the Gokoku-Mai!

Prices are very reasonable ranging from $17-$35 per set (kalbi, chicken, beef, pork on the lower end; seafood and premium cuts including wagyu on the high end).  Each shabu shabu set comes with assorted veggies -won bok, bok choy, kabocha, soft tofu, udon, and gyoza.

Below is the beef, pork, chicken, and prawn combo shabu shabu ($19.95).  Delicious!  Great variety and selection!  I usually get this with the spicy umakara broth and create a sesame and sriracha dipping sauce with sesame seeds!


Below is the wagyu beef shabu shabu ($34.95).  Beautifully marbled beef, perfect with a lighter broth to keep the integrity of the high quality beef and dip in a light ponzu sauce!


Next is the vegetarian set ($16.95) which is definitely a deal.  This presentation is awesome and looks like a garden being brought over to your table!  There are 15 seasonal veggies in this dish and aburaage tofu.


On the nabe side, they have:

  • Asuka Nabe
  • Yosenabe
  • Niku Dango Nabe (meatball)
  • Tomato Nabe
  • Spicy Umakara Nabe
  • Paitan Nabe
  • Chicken Collagen Nabe

Prices range from $20-$25 for nabe.


Next up, Pig and the Lady Noodle Bar (Pop-Up) at TASTE in Kakaako on Saturday!

TASTE is a new innovative space around the corner from Hank’s Haute Dogs and The Whole Ox in the up-and-coming Kakaako neighborhood!  Resident Chef Mark “Gooch” Noguchi helps facilitate an ever-changing lineup of a who’s-who of the food scene in Honolulu.  

Most recently The Pig and the Lady (Chef Andrew Le and family) Noodle Bar made an appearance serving their fantastically awesome pop-up food at TASTE!  As a regular to their Wednesday afternoon/evening spot at the Blaisdell Farmer’s Market, visiting them for some pho and banh mi was a no brainer.

This event was a gathering of only the greatest foodies in Hawaii!  I met up with @Hepunahele and fam, ran into @Konaish @Melissa808 @ricknakama @wedgelee @gotcpa1972 Mark “Gooch” Noguchi, and Mike Prasad!

The Le’s bring the bold and diverse flavors of Vietnamese cuisine to the forefront of the Honolulu food scene.  They are able to incorporate previously taboo ingredients into their offerings expanding the palate!  Things like headcheese, chicken liver pate, and beetlenut leaves were all but forbidden from the Hawaii palate just a few years ago and now even the non-adventurous eater can enjoy these delicacies every week!

This is the Le Saigon Banh Mi.  Bringing together the sweet and savory pigginess of the pork belly and incorporating headcheese (if you don’t know what headcheese is, google it; it’s not at all cheese, but very much head) and chicken liver pate!  This perfectly porky sandwich is such a good gateway banh mi to the foodie looking for something different than a Subway meatball sub.


This is the lemongrass tofu banh mi!  Deliciously vegetarian, I have come to appreciate dishes that accentuate the natural flavors and pairings of our non-meat eating friends.  I really love this banh mi for a variety of reasons, one of which is that it tricks me into eating healthier (if Dr. Harada saw food pics on Facebook or Instagram, he would probably shoot me).


New to the menu is a kalbi banh mi!  A risky move mixing Korean flavors into their culinary arsenal, the Pig and the Lady executes a neat little sandwich.  The marinade for the kalbi is spot on and is a meaty, pickle-y mess of a sandwich.  Would definitely order again!


Lastly was the Pho Ga.  Made from a chicken broth, this light, hearty pho appeals to the masses.  Not overly complicated with the mess of veggies you would get elsewhere, this seemingly simple dish has deep and clean flavor.  Would definitely grab this again!


Definitely give them a visit!


Ahh, and now the feather in the cap, the cherry on top, the ice cream in the root beer float, the pinnacle of the weekend has arrived!  But not before a 40ish minute wait for Chef Shige Nakamura’s ramen at Lucky Belly!


The hype flyer says it all!  Three items on the menu, Ramen Lab NY in the kitchen of Lucky Belly, Dusty and the crew on staff, ridiculicious in our bellies! (yes, wordsmithing taken to a new level because of the ramen served!)

Ran into @Konaish @Melissa808 and @ricknakama again!  Also made a new buddy with @electricbamboo!


Look at this menu!  You can’t make a poor choice.  I hear from the Nonstop Honolulu peeps that everything was amazing!  Going into the event waiting patiently in line, I really wanted to try the NY Heritage ramen- and my preliminary choice was only reinforced as satiated patrons exited raving about their choice of the heritage ramen.

This line wasn’t for the faint of heart.  The wait was a lot shorter than I thought it would be after @ricknakama had been standing in line at the peak of the dinner hour.  I stood in line maybe 40 minutes before getting seated.


Here is the menu posted outside the restaurant.  Lots of passerbys asked if we were waiting for some club.  SOME CLUB?! Do they realize the magnitude of this event?!

In my boyish anticipation, I snapped a voyeur shot into the kitchen of Lucky Belly watching the ramen being prepared!


And here is the money shot.


First off.  Let’s take a second and pause.

<end pause>

The broth was magical.  Think of a flavorful tomato sauce at a badass Italian restaurant, seasoned with ripe crushed tomatoes, simmered for hours, sprinkle in some oregano, basil, parsley, and then make a RAMEN BROTH out of it.  Truly inspired.

Then they added this awesome romano/parm reggiano cheese to the dish to give it the richness and thickness that you can close your eyes and revisit for days to come.  I had “a moment” with the ramen tonight.

Quartered, pan fried, crimini mushrooms, basil and italian sausage rounded out the NY Heritage Ramen dish.  The crimini’s were a nice touch, pieces were big enough to enjoy, but not too big to find unwieldy.  The italian sausage was missing a little somethin-somethin.  I tasted the fennel (maybe needed to roast the fennel a little to draw out some flavor?) but it lacked salt? or maybe a hit of sherry to bring it to the next level.  Granted, being a one-night-only deal is a tough gig since you wouldn’t have the lead time to make a bunch of sausage, but it didn’t detract from the dish.  It couldn’t be stand-alone, but it worked well with the ramen.

WHAT A GREAT WEEKEND!  Till next time.

-Chuggy Bear

  1. Nice!! It was good to see you at all these events (although I gotta admit, they were so crowded, I could easily have missed you)! I’m especially sending good wishes to the Le family—I wish them much success in their pop ups!

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