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Honolulu & Los Angeles

Honolulu & Los Angeles

Off-Menu - Sn 1/Ep 6Off-Menu - Sn 1/Ep 6

Fine dining or a traditional plate lunch in Honolulu, there's no mistaking that myriad cultures influence the islands’ culinary flavors. In L.A., go beyond Hollywood hot spots - these folks serve authentic dishes from across the world.

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Transcript

- I'm Aida Mollenkamp. I'm a chef and writer with a passion for exploration, and I'm in search of the best food a city has to offer. Whether it's locals-only favorites, or a chef's secret special, join me as I go off-menu in Honolulu. - [Aida] The eight main islands that make up the archipelago of Hawaii play host to an incredible mix of culture and cuisine from all over the Pacific Rim. Oahu is the most populated island, and Honolulu is its cultural hub where all the flavors mix. I'm meeting up with my old friend, Mark Noguchi, one of the architects of Honolulu's food revolution, having opened several restaurants and an incubator kitchen where some of the city's up-and-coming chefs got their start. He's taking me to the Kaimuki neighborhood, where we're starting the day with a bang. - My name is Lee Anne Wong, I am chef and partner of Koko Head Cafe here in Honolulu, Hawaii. - I'm so glad we're here, because I like Lee Anne's cooking but haven't been back in Hawaii since Koko Head opened. - It's been a little while, this is awesome. She packs this joint every day. - Good morning. - Good morning, how are you? Welcome. - Good to see you. - Our bruschetta is one of our most popular appetizers. We make a home-made, Japanese-style caramel rusk made with Hawaiian vanilla and sugar. A macadamia nut lehua honey yogurt, and then it's topped off with thinly-sliced local fruits and a little bit of lime zest. I'm gonna make you guys a delicious, super local menu. - Okay. - So get into this and I'll see you in a few minutes. - Great. - Enjoy. - That's pretty killer. - All the fruits are like, they're ripe. - No, all the fruits are perfectly ripe. None of them are overripe. I really like the combo of everything. - For me, if I really like something, the flavor to me is round, it's like well-rounded. - Yeah, I agree, I agree. - Lee Anne's a really good cook. - Yeah, she can throw down. Okay, so we got the toast, time for eggs. - Eggs Haloa, yep. - Okay. - [Lee Anne] Eggs Haloa is our version of eggs Benedict. So we take fresh Hawaiian taro, we steam it, take the kuana make biscuits out of it using sour poi, and then we take the leaf of the kalo or taro plant, steam it, mix it with coconut milk, serve it with a poached egg and the hollandaise is flavored with sour poi. - You take one, I'll take one. This is basically Hawaii in a bite though, I think. - Yeah, yeah. - That is a proper hollandaise. - Game over, I quit. Quit, quit, I quit. - That was amazing, it was amazing. There's so much smokiness. This is so good. - Yeah. - It's like sour and smokey. - You nailed it though, right? It's because it's all about the basics, right? You make the hollandaise, you roast the chicken. - Make a perfectly poached egg like this one here. - Thank you. - Oh my god and this pork is incredible. - You know it's so good, it makes me mad, yeah. - [Lee Anne] Our cornflake crusted French toast is one of our most popular dishes here at Koko Head Cafe. We take local big island punugulu sweet bread, soak it in a coconut Hawaiian vanilla custard, roll it in cornflakes and serve it with two strips of candied bacon, local Frosted Flake gelato, and a creamy black pepper maple sauce. - Boom. - Yes this is exactly how I want to finish my meal. - Exactly. - Thank you. - Dig in because this gelato's going to melt. The first bite was like a churro that got dipped in ice cream. My second bite was like a churro that decided to make friends with bacon and then get dipped in ice cream. That is amazing. What else you got on the agenda? - You ready? - My name's Scott Nakagawa. I'm part of the family that owns and runs Palace Saimin. Palace Saimin was established in 1946. It's off the beaten trail but definitely a hole in the wall worth finding. - So saimin in a bowl is everything is 100% local right. - Yeah. - It's like this amalgamation of all these different ethnicities all together in one spot. Saimin is straight clear broth. - [Aida] Okay. - [Mark] It's got saimin noodles in it. - [Aida] Right. - [Mark] It's got chopped up negi, green onions, either spam or char sui and like. - [Aida] Kamaboko. - [Aida] Okay. - Large wonton min. - Yes. - Okay, enjoy guys. - There's like freshness from the green onion. There's really good like pork base to it. Those noodles are good. They're like al dente. - Yeah. - Really good cut on them where you've got texture coming in from them. - Still got texture to it. Noodle has flavor. - I've never had the barbecue stick. You drop it in, you just eat it? - Whatever you wanna do. I mean, yeah, you can get to. - Just do this, just do this. That's comfort food right there. So what's next on the agenda? - Well, it's a beautiful day. Got some more stuff to see. Got a ton more food to eat. - Let's do it. - [Aida] Downtown Honolulu balances historic and contemporary culture with everything. From landmark buildings to lei makers. But what's really worth noting is the hip new restaurant scene. Named one of the top 50 restaurants in the country, The Pig and the Lady is taking the city by storm. Chef Andrew Le's strong connection to his Vietnamese heritage results in a menu of animated dishes that have garnered a fanatical following. - I'm Andrew Le, the chef-owner of The Pig and the Lady. The way the name came about is eating at the dining table with Mom, we always did everything around the dining table. Have our laughs, have our arguments, have our heart-to-hearts, all that kind of stuff. And whenever she was cooking for us, we just ate up like little piggies. - So why are we here? - Well, Andrew and I, he's one of my best friends. Both personally and professionally. We came up together at Mavro's. He's hyper-talented. It is some of the most creative food in Hawaii right now. - And it's true Hawaii-style. It's a family operation. - All right. - So this is our Pho French Dip. That's our most famous sandwich that we have. We try to replicate that 12 hour roasted brisket, but we put a lot of spices on there and we thought, hey, you know, I like to dip it, so we might as well put it with a pho au jus. And it's basted with a little bit of thai basil chimichurri, sauteed onions and bean sprouts, cilantro, and an herb salad. Enjoy! - This is how we do. That's for you, this is for me. I mean, I grew up in a town of Phillipe's French Dip and I gotta say, that looks like the best thing I could find, right? A Vietnamese take on a French dip. - Yeah, and like a banh mi. - Oh my goodness. The spices in here, it's so much good, like star anise flavor, that broth has such richness to it. - Look at the clarity. The technique. - Oh my gosh. That's like my favorite pho broth I've ever gotten. - Yeah, that's awesome. - It's like the best soup and sandwich combo that anybody could dream of. - With that banh mi, I'm not really sure how he's gonna top that. - Make some room. - Oh! What is happening right now? - Yes! - You know there's two of us? Andrew. One, two. Are you coming and joining us on this? - No, no, this part is yours and then that's his. We have something on our menu called the Primal Offerings. It has, you know, a big piece of protein. The pork shoulder is slow braised in lemongrass, ginger, and coconut water. Cooked on the bone, so very tender. And it's served with a bunch of different sides and condiments. Shigoku oysters, lettuce, house tortillas, and it's supposed to be eaten with the hands, you get messy. It's usually for like about six, yeah. - I normally can like get the lay of the land. I am not sure where I'm supposed to start. - So the way I would eat it is you get one of the things to wrap, any of the fillers, piece of the meat, any of the sauces, but eat the pork and the oyster in one bite. - I'm gonna pretend I'm eating some greens here. And if this is round two, I'm not really sure what to expect for round three. Are we supposed to eat this for the next month? - Bring it on. - Like have our provision? - Bring it on. - I'm not really sure. Oh my goodness. - Balanced, round, round flavor. - Round, beautiful, that is really good. It's pretty epic. - It's pretty epic. - What's up brother? - Well done. You approve. - Eh. - Oh come on. - You're giving us another course. - [Andrew] It was okay, guys? - It's amazing. I love that it's familiar and yet fabulous. - You guys still have room? What else do you need? - Yes. - If you insistent. - Okay, good, 'cause we have the grand finale coming out for you guys. - Okay. - It'll be special. - Don't know how he's gonna top this. - I didn't think that there was enough food on the table. - Time for dessert. - Hi. - Only at Pig and the Lady is dessert savory. - It's called The Works. We get our stewed bone marrow. Use this to cook the pho. And we have a crostini of uni butter and then the bone marrow is scooped out and put onto the toast, a little bit of chives, and we get black truffles and shave it on top. The sea salt comes from Kauai. So now that all the bone marrow is out, we're gonna fill it up with a little bit of smoked mezcal. - Okay, so it's like how the Italians take the grappa to clean out the rest of the espresso shot. Apparently Vietnamese put mezcal in here. - In the bone marrow. - And then you just go for it. - And make you go for it. - Okay. - Yeah. - You get like the sweet smoke from the mezcal and then like the earthy smoke from the, uh-huh, I see where you're going. - Okay guys, enjoy. - Thank you, Andrew. - Thank you. - This is one of those moments where you're like, is this happening? Is uni with truffle with bone marrow happening? Cheers. If it were legal I'd have that every day. As in legal for my health. You get the nice brininess of the uni and you get the the decadence of the truffle and that bone marrow, it's like animal butter. - Animal, animal butter. - Mark. - Yeah. - I asked you for some good eats in Honolulu. - Yeah. - And you brought it. Thank you. - Can I get wigglies? - [Mark] Ready? - Yeah, I need to walk it off a little bit, though. - Let's go. - Okay. Okay. I gotta go. Yep, you know it. Gooch, seriously. - [Mark] You have fun? - That day was so good. Yeah, I need a high five. It was so, I mean, the food in Honolulu I knew was good, but you just showed me a whole other side. - You said you wanted to eat. We ate. - You brought it. - [Aida] Los Angeles is a sprawling city with so much to discover. From downtown institutions to East L.A. hotspots, I'm excited to show off a lesser-known side of my hometown. I'm starting my L.A. trip at the Grand Central Market, open continuously since 1917. Where you can get everything from fruits and veggies to tacos and ribeye steak. I'm meeting up with Joseph Sholdener, a food visionary who's had a hand in rejuvenating this hundred-year-old downtown institution. The market has almost three dozen stalls and it's still growing. Joseph has done a fantastic job of attracting new businesses that complement vendors who've been here for decades. - We curate it, we mix 'em all together and, you know, you can get your papusas, but you can also get, like, you know, hipster coffee. - Speaking of coffee, I've heard really great things about it so I want you to take me there. - [Joseph] I'm taking you over there. - [Aida] G&B Coffee is the brain child of Kyle Glanville and Charles Babinski. It's a place where you can belly up to the bar and stay awhile, much like a European cafe. - Hi, I'm Charles Babinski, the co-owner and co-founder of G&B Coffee. - What is really like your pride and joy? - Something that we do that's special here is we make our own almond macadamia milk and it's particularly good as an iced latte. - Okay, I think. - Yeah, I was so happy that went that direction. - Okay, so two of those? - This is what's amazing. Two of those, please. - Two of those? - Yeah. - [Joseph] So they started doing almond milk and they were making their own almond milk. And they're mixing macadamia with the almond so you can taste the coffee better. And then they've got this whole, like, the tasting and the pour over and the cocktail shaker, you know, the teas. - It's almost like they have the reverence that a mixologist would have for really well-built cocktails. - Coffee really is the next thing to kind of experience that and they're at the forefront of it. - Well cheers. - Yeah. - There's also a drink that I'm a big fan of which is our Fizzy Hoppy Tea or our sparkling tea that we put hops in. - [Aida] How did you guys come up with this? - Both Kyle and myself are humongous fans of clean, hoppy, vibrant beers and we're like, we love this. Why can't we add this more? And the idea to take that and do it with carbonated tea just sort of popped in our minds. It is just such a refreshing, clean beverage. And I think a representation of flavors that southern California does well. - Oh wow, that's amazing. - There's this sentiment in bars that there really isn't in coffee bars that you can do something other than just the standard one or two drinks. And then, with most coffee bars, people are making espressos, cappuccinos, filtered coffee, and it's fun to be able to go further out and do some more exciting, adventurous things. - [Aida] Thank you. - [Charles] Oh yeah, thank you. - [Aida] Next we're heading to Echo Park, Joseph's old stomping grounds and one of L.A.'s hippest neighborhoods. Echo Park is full of unique boutiques and cafes, including a local favorite, Mohawk Bend. The restaurant is housed in a retrofitted, hundred-year-old vaudeville theater. Amy Yanow uses only California ingredients to create her half vegan, half carnivore elevated pub food menu. - I'm Amy Yanow, co-owner of Mohawk Bend. The menu on Mohawk is personal to me because I am vegan and I am extremely neurotic about what I put in my body. So it's really exciting to present flavorful, thoughtful food that I enjoy eating in conjunction with well-sourced meat products so my friends and the people who don't necessarily subscribe to my diet can eat as well. We're proud of our menu and we're proud of how many people can come together and eat under the same rood. - So my favorite is buffalo cauliflower. - Okay. - It's like, what, it's like a take on buffalo wings. - Yep, it's our take on buffalo wings. We use house-made tofu blue cheese and it's our signature dish. It is not a compromise to eat. - I don't need convincing. - You don't? Okay, all right. - We'll both share that. - [Amy] It's a little spicy. - Okay, I'm gonna go big, go with the burger. Okay, and then I saw the pizza oven on the way in, so. - Yeah, we gotta do a pizza. And I'm thirsty. - [Aida] Like all the ingredients in Mohawk Bend, all 70 microbrews come from California. - Okay, really looking forward to the buffalo cauliflower. - And there. Alakazam. - [Amy] Heaven. - [Joseph] All right, this is so orange. - Is that a good thing or a bad thing? - It's fantastic, I love it. It's all about the color. It's just amazing, it blows my mind. - You mean it's so orange in a good way, like it's real ingredients. - Yeah, 'cause it's cauliflower that's orange. It's beautiful. Wow. - Wow, that's like a true buffalo sauce. You get a nice spiciness. And you can't really tell this is vegan. Whoa, I need some IPA to wash down that spice. - Yeah, it's spicy. - Hi guys. - Hi. - Here's your Mohawk Burger. - Mile high, right? - This is Napa vegan pizza. - Thank you. While you bite into that, I'm gonna toast to you. - Okay. With the hefeweizen. Let me get serious, pull the hair back. Okay. - All right and here we go. Yeah. - And I've got a salad in there. So basically it's really healthy. - It's healthy, yeah. That's what today is all about, health. - Yes. Clearly. Some Neal's Yard cheese. - A new definition of health. You have any room left? - I can make that happen, yes. I will motivate. - [Aida] Koreatown is roughly three square miles and contains at least 500 bars and restaurants. Tucked away in one of the many strip malls is Saint Martha, a completely unexpected new restaurant serving up some inventive fare. Hiding behind the red door, we're transported to a stylish, upscale restaurant where Chef Nick Erven is doing incredible things. - My name is Nick Erven, the executive chef and partner of Saint Martha restaurant in Koreatown. - [Aida] Oh my gosh, this place is gorgeous. - It is, and I love sitting at counters. It's like close to the action. - I'm with you, I'm with you. - Yeah, it's cool. - What's up, guys? - Chef Nick, this is Aida. - [Aida] Nice to meet you. Thanks for having us. - Thanks for coming in. Welcome to Saint Martha. - [Aida] Great things. - You're gonna do a special meal for us, right? - I am, I have a couple treats for you guys. Let's start with our juniper-cured salmon. Salmon, smoked goat cheese, everything bagel churro, pickles, and dill. - Okay, so what's the inspiration behind this dish? - Everything begins with something extremely familiar. You know, a bagel and salmon, that's like, I had that almost every day for breakfast. How can I create that same memory, that same feeling, with something completely different in a way that no one has necessarily seen before? So. - Bagel and lox. Hey, we're for it. I'm gonna take it and try it out. Thank you. What I'm really appreciating is that you'd normally do smoked salmon on a bagel and so now you have the smoked cheese instead of the smoked salmon, and any time a churro is involved, I'm there, so let's do it. - Yeah, churros make everything better. - [Aida] And that salmon is beautifully mi cuit. - Oh my god. It's like the subtlest lox. That's fantastic. - I could just have this salmon on its own and be perfectly happy, but the way he put it all together. Well played, Nick, well played. - And this is just our first course. - Our next dish is our carmen-smoked brisket, chili hoisin sauce, tiny lettuce, and shaved root vegetables. You've got carrots and watermelon radishes today. - That's beautiful, I love watermelon radishes. - Yeah, they're so pretty, that red color. - This is definitely something like our nod to the neighborhood. - My dear, here you go. - [Aida] Okay. - What do you think? - Wow, it's really good. The hoisin is nice, it's not too sweet. Got a good spice in there. And the smokiness coming through on the brisket. And yet it's still California fresh with all the veggies. - [Aida] Just like everything else about Saint Martha, the wine list of over 50 bottles is off the beaten path. - Okay, I have a little taste of a very small production bobal. It's a Spanish grape, but you never see it because you know of riojas and tempranillos and garnacha, but this is actually the third-most grown grape in all of Spain, but it just never gets out. That's more than we need to know. Tell me if you like it. - That's great. - [Joseph] Oh my god, that's sort of Spain in your nose. - I appreciate that and I think that the acid's gonna play really well with this brisket. - [Nick] Uni tataki is bruleed very lightly. Avocado mousse, shaved hearts of palm, serrano chiles, and these are our seaweed Doritos. I recommend scooping up a bunch of the mousse, the uni, the chile, the hearts of palm, and just eating it like a chip. This is my favorite dish on the menu. - Okay, it begs to be asked, why a Dorito? - 'Cause Doritos are delicious. - No, I mean. - It has the texture of Doritos. - Okay, gotcha, so texture of Doritos. - Texture of Doritos. - Basically got. - Plus it sounds awesome. - Yes, it does. - Enjoy, guys. - [Aida] Thank you. - [Joseph] Oh my god, look at that. That is so amazing. I mean, just that alone is an abstract painting. - You're like it's the Rothko of guacamole. - God, I'm just like. Oh, oh my god. - [Aida] Yeah, I need to get in on it? Okay. - It's like a mash-up of a sushi bar and like a Mexican dive and I don't even know what else. - That is good. You've got that really good brininess of the uni going on and everything else is just like really subtle. I can totally see why that's a signature dish. Saint Martha's winning me over. - Nick. - Nick, what we're dying to know. What's the deal with the hipster neon above the kitchen? - Have you seen me? - Yes. So is that you embracing being a hipster? - Yeah. - Okay. We're like, how do we tread on this delicately? It's all been excellent. - Awesome. I can't let you guys leave without having dessert. Here is your carrot chamomile flower cake with avocado marshmallow, roasted carrot sorbet. The white is a creme fraiche cremot, which is like a creme fraiche creme. These three things here are jerk-spiced coconut butter and pumpkin seed brittle. - Sounds good to me. I love that there's that kind of like pound cake texture going on there. - And look at that, I mean, there's, it's translucent. - Avocado marshmallow? - Avocado. - Come on, I mean, it's all the rage. You haven't had an avocado marshmallow before? - Oh my god. - Yeah, I like it. Okay, we did our best to save one bite for Saint Martha, but that was showing a lot of restraint because that is really, really good. - It's fun, right? - Yeah. Really well done. Saint Martha and you have treated us very well. - Fantastic. Thank you guys. - Thanks for having us. - Thanks so much, Nick. - [Aida] This whole day has been fabulous. You've shown me so much of L.A. that I didn't know. - [Joseph] Yeah, there you go. - [Aida] I'm embarrassed to admit it. I mean, geeze, who knew?

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