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The Weekly Eater

By Nadine Kam

Thursday, December 21, 2000

Eat and
be merry

WELL, I could be a Grinch and rip into on some poor restaurant this week, but strangely, with three days to go until the big day, a funny feeling came over me as I sat down to write.

There were no visions of sugar plums dancing in my head -- if that happened I'd take a long vacation -- but instead, I found memories of malassadas, sushi and all sorts of delicious edibles that find their way to our tables at Christmas, New Year, auntie's 80th birthday, puppy's 3rd birthday, new job, new car or jus' coz, coz you know how we look for any excuse to eat.

So I thought, why talk about the bad when this is the season to count all the good things on our plates? Next time you're counting down the days to Christmas, do it with food:

12. Malassadas from Leonard's. Golden, light, fluffy. This childhood favorite doesn't lose its magic when you're an adult. The only difference is adults are less likely to show evidence of eating one by the ring of sugar around their lips. (And what about that extra ring around their hips?)

11. Pieces in an order of salt-pepper shrimp from Bolai restaurant, split down the back and served with plenty of green onions and spicy red chiles.

10. Coco Puffs. As far as I know, the human limit for downing these chocolate cream- filled pastries topped with a dollop of chantilly cream. (Yes, I do know someone who did this.)

9. Courses of sushi at Sasabune, where the chef says "Trust Me" in coming up with the selections. Luckily, he comes up with satisfying offerings of mackerel, amberjack and tender baby squid stuffed with Maryland blue crabmeat, such that you may find yourself trying 12 or 14 selections instead.

8. Kinds of meat served on a sword at Acqua through "The Rodizio Experience." The Brazilian barbecue features zesty sausages, picanha (sea-salt rubbed sirloin), carneiro (leg of lamb), lombinho (roasted pork), frango (garlic-cilantro roasted chicken), maminha (tri-tip roast), turkey wrapped in bacon and filet mignon, plus seafood dishes, salads and side orders. The meat can be dry, but where else can you sample this much variety, sliced off in bite-size pieces. Just be on guard, lest you bump into one of those sword-wielding waiters.

7. Plump Asari clams sauteed in white wine with butter, garlic and onions, from Mr. Ojisan. You'll be tempted to scoop up all the liquid with the leftover shells.

6. Flavors in rainbow shave ice from Waiola Store. Only three flavors -- strawberry, vanilla and banana -- are poured onto the ice, the closest to a snowball we get in Hawaii -- but by the time they blend together, you get six flavors, the plain ones plus vanilla-ban, strawberry-van, banana-straw. Very cool.

5. Pounds of poke from Tanioka's or Tamashiro's. Within that range you can sample anything from ahi to au to octopus to spicy blue crab.

4. Pieces of chocolate in a small box from Godiva. The perfect emergency gift for the inevitable unexpected gifter.

3. Eastern Garden seaweed rolls. At any dim sum restaurant, good things come in threes, but while I'm willing to leave much of the ordering to chance, taking whatever happens to be on the cart, these crisp, light rolls with the nori flavor are the one thing I have to have every visit.

2. Pies from Ted's Bakery. I can never decide between the chocolate haupia or chocolate mac nut pie, so why choose?

1. Clay pot duck from Chosun Korean Restaurant. This succulent bird is roasted over low heat for four hours in special pots shaped from clay from the motherland. It's stuffed with mochi rice dotted with chopped figs, dates, chestnuts, raisins and herbs, with sliver of deer horn tossed in for a virility boost. You'll need it to survive the holidays.

Merry Christmas!

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Nadine Kam's restaurant reviews run on Thursdays. Reviews are conducted anonymously and paid for by the Star-Bulletin. Star ratings are based on comparisons of similar restaurants:

-- excellent;
-- very good, exceeds expectations;
-- average;
-- below average.

To recommend a restaurant, write: The Weekly Eater, P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, Hawaii 96802. Or send e-mail to

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