Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bento Mania

I can tell it's summer because I've been showing up to work with my rubber slippers on and putting on my shoes only at the last minute.

Summer means that my "sabbatical" in Honolulu is almost over and I can get out of my tiny basement apartment kitchen, so I went to Marukai to look for inspiration. I got stuck in the dishware and bento area and spent a large chunk of time in bento envy. I also found a super cute blog called Adventures in Bentomaking written by a local girl originally from Hilo, my soon to be home base again.

These are shapes you can make with your sandwich.

These are little cups you put inside the bento box to hold things like grapes, edamame, cherry tomatoes, etc. The shaped ones could probably be used to mold rice.

These look like paper punches for scrapbooking, but they're nori punches to make little nori shapes to put on the musubi.

These are shape cutters to create animals out of your food. Playing with your food bento box style.
These cute little pencil looking things are to "draw" nori paste designs on your rice.

Last but not least, they have bento boxes. It's a good starter. When I get more expert, there are online bento supply stores like All Things For Sale and  Casa Bento.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Review: New Chiang Mai Thai Cuisine

New Chiang Mai Thai Cuisine is a little Thai restaurant in Hilo. They've been open for a while, but we don't normally go to downtown Hilo for dinner, so we had a week day free and decided to try their lunch. The ambience was not ideal. When we went, I think they were trying to expand, so the chef/owner kept having to come out of the kitchen and consult with the contractor. This made lunch a bit long and we're glad we didn't have to go back to work. The homeless adults having loud, colorful conversations right outside our window didn't help either.

Food wise, I think Hilo has so many wonderful Thai restaurants, that this one was just ok. I judge restaurants by my favorite dish that is standard fare in that particular genre of restaurant. In the case of Thai food, I love, love, love green papaya salad. I like the fresh taste, the perfect balance of tang, salt and sweet, the crunch of the peanuts, the firm texture of the green papaya. The New Chiang Mai green papaya was a 3 out of 5. It was missing the lime tang which made it taste uneventful. I still rate it a 3 because I finished it. But I finished it hoping that it would redeem itself. The portion is generous, I just wanted more flavor.

The good - I don't want to only talk about bad, so the good is that they have really good sticky rice and they're more generous with their sticky rice than other Thai restaurants around town. If the curry had a richer balance of coconut milk and curry, it would be a perfect complement to the sticky rice.

If you've tried a better dish at this restaurant, let me know. Otherwise, I'll pass on a round two here.