Yakitori Hachibei

IMG_20171025_174624In October, Ev’s parents took the family out to a belated birthday Dinner for Ev.  After much debating, Ev decided on Yakitori Hachibei, which opened in Chinatown earlier this year.IMG_20171025_175753When we first arrived, it was still happy hour (from 5pm – 6pm) so we ordered a few of the appetizers off the happy hour menu.  Our favorite items were the Teba Karraage (fried chicken wings) with Hachibei’s special citrus dressing ($5) and the Goma Kampachi ($5), shown below.IMG_20171025_175516I was impressed with the happy hour menu, which had eight appetizers, 16 oz Kirin draft beers, and a selection of shochu highballs for $5 each.  I wouldn’t mind coming back for happy hour again.
IMG_20171025_184024The family ordered many items off the regular menu, but one of the more notable dishes that we ordered was the Cream Cheese Tofu and Miso Zuke Cheese ($8.60), which we spread on a fresh baguette slices.
IMG_20171025_184453I was also very impressed with the Hachibei Kashiwa Meshi Yaki Onigiri ($5.80 for 2), which was a grilled musubi made with Hakata rice cooked in chicken broth.  They also had a Shiso Yaki Onigri version ($5.80 for 2) that was also very tasty.
IMG_20171025_184903I also enjoyed the various chicken items, which were sourced locally from the J. Ludovico farm in Wailua.  My favorite chicken item was the Hachibei Foie Gras ($3.80), shown above. IMG_20171025_190833And, my favorite dish of the night was the Tsukiyaki Tokusen Kushi (specialty skewer, which was well worth the $6.80 price tag. Of all the skewers I tried that night, I would definitely recommend trying this one.

IMG_20171025_191946We ended the night with a large bowl (3 scoops) of pumpkin cream cheese ice cream, which was a dessert special that night.  I really like pumpkin (my favorite pie is pumpkin pie), but even I thought it had a strange taste.  Even though we would not recommend ordering it again, Connor still enjoyed it.
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A Sneak Peak at Our Christmas Photos

Last weekend we finally took our family photos for our Christmas cards.  We normally take them in November so we were a little late this year.  There were so many good photos this year, I was a little sad that I couldn’t use them all.  Thanks so much to my friend Jolene for being so patient with my family.

Here is a sneak peak at some of the pictures that didn’t make the Christmas Card cut.  Ev  looked at the Christmas cards I just ordered and said that I chose the wrong pictures this year.  Looks like someone just volunteered himself to order our Christmas cards next year.  Ha!

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2 Months

Grayson is definitely the second child.  For Connor, I created this blog so that I could journal about all his milestones and I took a zillion pictures.  For Grayson, Iʻm a month and a half late with this post and he has a total of a dozen pictures for the month.  Part of me feels really bad, and the other parts of me just feel tired…

Here are some pictures of Graysonʻs second month of life.

One Month

They say time flies when you’re having fun. The saying also aptly applies when you have a newborn and you’re exhausted.  Grayson turned a month old last week and I have no idea where the time went.  He and I recently emerged from our self-imposed house arrest and it’s wonderful to finally get out.  Unfortunately, the one month mark also meant that Ev had to return to work.img_20170906_081031.jpgOverall, Grayson is doing well and he has taken it easy on me for the most part.  He is a very good eater and had a good latch from the beginning.   In the past month, he gained a little more than 2 and a half pounds and grew 2 inches.  It’s amazing how fast babies grow.  Grayson also sleeps for longer stretches of time than Connor did at this age so I am gratful. However, he hasn’t quite grasped the concept of day and night yet.  He often wants to stays up from about 3 am to 6 am and then sleeps from 6 am to 2 pm, waking up just long enough to feed every few hours or so.  Now that Ev is back to work, most of the night duties fall on me and I feel like a walking zombie for most of the morning.  I am glad that Connor started preschool in July.  I can’t imagine having to take care of both kids at the same time.  I truly don’t know how these stay at home moms do it.  I’m hoping that Grayson soon learns that night time is for sleeping.  But, for now, it’s ok.  I’m trying to cherish every moment I have with Grayson because this may be the last time I hold such a tiny baby in a very, very long time.  I am so blessed to have a happy, healthy baby.  Hopefully, he figures it out before I return to work.  If not, I’m going to be a very tired mommy.

Madre Chocolate Company – Make Your Own Chocolate Bar

Last weekend my friend Margot got married and as part of the wedding weekend festivities, a few of us attended a Make Your Own Chocolate Bar class conducted by the Madre Chocolate Company, a bean-to-bar chocolate company on Oahu, Hawaii.  The 90 minute class is held every Friday at the Madre Chocolate Company’s Chinatown location and we paid $25 for the class.
IMG_20170901_154907Walking into the shop, we were immediately hit in the nose with the delicious smell of chocolate.  The class began with a classroom style introduction of the origins of chocolate and a brief description of how the company makes it chocolate from bean to bar.  We got to sample the product at each stage of the process, first with the ripe bean, then the fermented dry bean, next the roasted bean, and finally five of the company’s most popular processed chocolate flavors.
IMG_20170901_150401My favorite chocolate was the company’s triple cacao dark chocolate bar, which is the only chocolate bar to include pieces of raw cacao fruit in it.  I also thought the Café Con Leche bar, which was a white chocolate bar flavored with Hawaiian coffee beans, was very unique.  It also contained 5 espresso shots worth of caffeine in a single bar!
IMG_20170901_160532The make your own chocolate bar portion of the class started with placing a plastic mold onto a scale and zeroing out the weight of the mold.   IMG_20170901_154426Then we poured melted chocolate onto the plastic mold until the scale until the scale read 40 grams and placed the mold onto a vibrating machine which leveled the chocolate and took the air bubbles out.IMG_20170901_154215Next, we added various spices and other flavorings to the chocolate such as sea salt, cacao nibs, pink peppercorns, ground coffee, chipotle powder, ginger, hibiscus powder, coconut, etc.
IMG_20170901_154154I decided to make my chocolate bar with puffed rice, sea salt, hibiscus powder and chipotle powder. After the chocolate bars cooled, we wrapped our bar in foil and attached a paper wrapper around the bar.
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Overall, I thought the class was a fun activity for our girls day out. The class was educational and it was cool that we got to taste the different stages of the chocolate making process. The $25 cost of the class was a little expensive, but it was nice to support a local business and we got to take home our own chocolate bar. I was also pleasantly surprised that the class was so well-attended. There was about a dozen people in the class and it looked like everyone enjoyed themselves. I would highly recommend buying tickets in advance.
IMG_20170901_162852Madre Chocolate Company
8 N. Pauahi Street
Honolulu, HI 96813

50th State Fair

The Ohtas had an incredibly busy (but fun) June.  Our weekends are just packed with “activities we want to do before the baby arrives.”  The month started with fishing at Heeia fishpond and ended with Connor’s 3rd birthday.
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On Father’s day we went to the 50th State Fair with my family.  The fair had a special that day and admission and most rides were $2.00.  We went at noon, when the fair first opened. We made the right decision because the fair was pleasantly empty and not too crowded. Here are a few pictures from our visit to the 50th State Fair.
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DSC04162Connor really wanted to go on the Spring Ride, which is one of those rides that repeatedly lifts you up to about 30 feet in the air and drops you at random times.   I’m surprised they let him on the ride.  He looked so tiny.
DSC04167I was worried that this ride would be too scary for him and that he’d be traumatized for the rest of his life (Even I don’t like going on this ride!), but Connor was a good sport.  Ev said that near the end, he started yelling, “I’m all done!” However, he didn’t cry and after he got off the ride, he promptly ran unfazed to the Dizzy Dragon ride.DSC04186
DSC04192Connor also played one of those “play until you win” games and won a blow up emoji-man.  There was a variety of different faces, and Connor wanted the one with heart shaped eyes.
DSC04199This year’s new ride was called KMG Speed, which was a 150 ride that whirls riders around like a giant fan.  I couldn’t ride on any of the rides because I’m pregnant but Kimi, my brother’s girlfriend was willing to go with Ev.DSC04212

DSC04233The 50th State Fair also had a pretty decent petting zoo run by Colton Farms, the same farm that ran the petting zoo at the pumpkin patch at the Waimanalo Country Farms. They had a nice variety of animals and admission was only $3.00 a person.DSC04241

Fishing in He’eia Fishpond

DSC03978A few weekends ago we took Connor fishing at the Heeia Fishpond.  It was very exciting because this was his very first time fishing.  I had never been to the He’eia Fishpond before either so it was a new experience for me as well.  DSC04117The He’eia fishpond is owned by Kamehameha Schools and maintained and run by the non-profit organization Paepae o He’eia.  The fishpond is generally closed to the public and they have signs like this all over the place.DSC04000For the record, no, we did not break into the fishpond.  Paepae o He’eia holds La Holoholo events  about 8 or 9 days a year that allow the public visit and keep any predatory fish they are able to catch from the fishpond.  Tickets to the La Holoholo events are $10 per fishing pole and the event lasts from 8 am to 2:30 pm.  Paepae o He’eia only sells a total of 60 tickets for each event, so Ev and his co-worker (and our friend from school), Wayne, were really lucky to snag 4 tickets each.
DSC03996When we first arrived we checked in and were given a brief tour and cultural lesson about the fishpond.  The He’eia fishpond is an 88 acre brackish water Hawaiian Fishpond in He’eia, Hawaii.  Historians estimate that there were nearly 400 fishponds spread through the Hawaiian Islands in ancient Hawaii but most have been destroyed and there are only about 40 left in Hawaii.  The fishpond were that it was built between 600-800 years ago and the wall is one of the longest fishponds in Hawaii measuring 1.3 miles.DSC04001Initially, when Ev first suggested taking Connor fishing at the He’eia fishpond, I envisioned the wall being this narrow pile of unlevel rocks that Connor could easily trip on and plop right into the ocean.  It turns out, I was overreacting because the wall was massive.  The wall was at least 8 feet wide in the area that we were fishing and it was solid.  What was even more impressive was that the entire wall was built without any mortar or cement! The wall was constructed entirely out of carefully stacked lava rocks on both edges and filled in with coral.  Amazing!DSC04035The wall supposedly narrowed as you walked further down, but we didn’t end up venturing that far from the beginning of the wall and stationed ourselves at the first makaha, which were these channels through the wall with sluice gates on both ends that allowed the brackish water from the pond and salt water from the ocean to flow in and out of the fishpond.   The sluice gates were made of sticks lashed together and their main function was to allow baby fish into the pond and to keep the adult fish contained.  There were a total of seven makaha in the He’eia fishpond.  DSC04015Another benefit of this makaha was that it also had a Hale Kia’i, a guard house that protected us from the wind, sun, and rain.  I think that this was probably the most comfortable day-fishing I’ve ever done.  The wall was wide enough that we were able to cart in folding chairs, a cooler and a bunch of toys to keep Connor busy and the makaha was large enough to provide a small space for Connor to play when he got bored of fishing.
DSC04009The tide was really low when we first started fishing, which made the makaha a perfect place for Connor to “fish” because at low tide the water from the fishpond is flowing out into the ocean and tiny fish from fishpond would gather near the makaha area.  We had Connor sit at the edge of the Makaha and gave him a straight pole with some shrimp for bait.  We had fun watching Connor try to catch the small fish.  Other than allowing us to put the bait on his fishing pole, Connor wanted to fish all by himself.  Most of the time, the bait would fall of his hook and Connor was pretty much just feeding the fishes.  DSC04019However, Connor was able to pull up a few fishes.  Here is a picture of the very first fish Connor has ever caught.  It was a Mamo (Hawaiian damselfish).   You can also see the makaha and the sluice gate in the background.  Connor also caught about four kupipi (gray damselfish) that day, but of course, they were not the predatory fish that we were supposed to be catching, so we caught the fish and then released them back into the water. DSC04024Eventually, the tide changed and the water from the ocean started rushing into the  pond.  The tiny fishes left the makaha area and Connor and I stopped fishing.  After that we spend the rest of the time watching the other people fish, and Connor played in the puddles.  He was covered with mud by the end of the day, but he didn’t care.DSC04066One of friends, Mer, was the best fisherman of our group.  She took home two Kaku (barracuda).
DSC04059We thought we were going to go home empty handed but at the very last minute, Ev caught also pulled up a kaku!  I missed the whole thing because I was inside the Hale Kia’i packing up our stuff when Ev caught the fish.  I was bummed that I didn’t get to see Ev pull up the fish but also really happy that Ev caught a fish and that meant we would get to eat fresh fish for dinner. DSC04107Although our group only caught kaku, some other people were also able to catch some decent sized papio and because we were fishing on private property, Hawaii state size limits didn’t apply and they were able to take home fish even if some of them may have been undersized.  When we got to shore, there was wash area on the dock where we were able to wash off our gear and clean our fish.  We were really happy not have to scale our fish at home in our tiny apartment.  DSC04125Ev’s fish ended up being a little over a foot long and it was just enough to feed the three of us for dinner that night.  Ev fried up the kaku with some seasoned salt and we ate our fish with poi and choi sum.  DSC04130Overall, we had a lot of fun and it was a bonus that we got dinner out of the fishing event as well.  It was a super fun (and exhausting) day fishing.DSC03984

Painting Easter Eggs

Decorating Easter eggs is serious business for my family.  It’s one of our yearly traditions and we’ve been doing it every year for as long as I can remember.
DSC03603I was particularly excited for egg painting this year because it was the first year that Connor was able to do a lot of the egg decorating himself.DSC03586It’s really amazing how much of a difference one year can make.  Connor colored eggs with crayons, lowered the eggs into the dye, and removed the eggs using the wire egg spoon with very little help or assistance.DSC03664This was Connor’s very first decorated Easter Egg masterpiece – a bright blue egg with orange crayon scribbles.  I was so proud of him.DSC03609Other notable eggs this year included my Aunty Ann’s family of Easter egg minions.  DSC03639Kyla drew some very elaborate pictures on her eggs.
DSC03634My favorite one was the egg on the shown below on the left, which had an ocean-theme with orange fish and light blue dye on the top for the sky and light green on the bottom for the grass.
DSC03660Overall, it was a really fun day with the family. I look forward to doing it again next year.DSC03617

All of our final creations
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