Rainbow Cake from Dee-Lite Bakery

Rainbow Cake from Dee-Lite Bakery

I ordered a cake today from Dee-Lite Bakery because it was a co-worker’s birthday. Another co-worker and I decided we should have something light — a fruit-flavored chiffon. It ended up being a guava chiffon cake, mmm…

Although I salivated all morning, hoping to taste a slice of such a luscious-sounding cake, I left the office before the cake was cut. So, on my way home I dropped by Times Supermarket, which carries Dee-Lite cakes.

And I knew exactly which cake I would get:

The wondrous Rainbow Cake.

With layers of lime, guava, and passion fruit chiffon, the Rainbow Cake is smile-inducing in color and taste. It is an embrace of local flavors.. which are well-balanced, so you can taste each flavor — but they are complimentary to each other, not clashing.

The layers of chiffon cake are separated and covered by white icing, then decorated with sprinkles and a sort of guava sauce.

Delicious. It put the original guava cake out of my mind. :)

Dee-Lite Bakery / Saint Germain’s Bakery
1930 Dillingham Blvd.
Honolulu, HI 96819
(808) 847-5396
5:30am – 9:00pm

Also at Waimalu and Waipahu Times Supermarket.

Today’s Bento (3)

080620 - Today's Bento (3)

Redondo’s hotdog, rice with shiso fumi furikake, slices of cucumber, strawberries, freeze-dried pineapple.

Freeze-dried pineapple = unsweetened, unsulphered. I don’t like the crunch and grainy texture (from the sugars) of it, but when it sits in the bento box for a bit and absorbs some moisture, it softens up perfectly.

Or you can just leave the bag open.. Oops.

For non-Hawaii residents, Redondo’s hotdog is a brand of hotdogs made in the islands. It is dyed red (eh..) and may be referred to as “the scary red one.” That may be off-putting, but its unique, spicey/peppery taste is well-received here.

Today’s Bento (2)

Spinach salad and grape tomatoes with cranberry vinaigrette. Bing cherries and blueberries.

I figured I wouldn’t be in the office for long today, so I just packed a light lunch. Mmm, fruit!

Today’s Bento (1)

Onigiri with nori komi furikake, cucumber slices, and corned beef omelette.

My lunch today was missing a second container, which should have been filled with fruit, but I used it to pack lunch for my sister. This was filling by itself!

Panya Bistro & Bakery

Panya Laksa
“Malaysian-style w/ Shrimp, Fish Cake, Aburage, Bean Sprouts, Corn, Aromatic Herbs. Served with 2 types of noodles.”

Lunch at Panya is always a treat. Their salads, sandwiches, and entrees are always delicious.. and you can finish off your meal with a dessert from their bakery! All of their products are of high quality. If I could afford it, I would eat here every day!

The word among sales reps — who have been in hundreds of different kitchens — is that Panya has the CLEANEST kitchens and preparation procedures. One sales rep friend even went so far as to claim that Panya is the *only* one of her customers with high standards for cleanliness and food preparation.

Whether or not there’s truth to that, I can assure you that anything you order will be of the highest quality. :)

Panya offers breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks, and pastries. Drop by if you haven’t had the chance to yet! You may find the prices a little expensive, but they will be lower at Panya Express, the Queen St. location. I don’t mind having lunch at Panya Bistro, since prices are very fair for being in Ala Moana. However, if you’re looking to buy pastries, I suggest you head to the Queen St. location instead.

If you haven’t visited Panya before, I highly recommend it. :)

Panya Bistro & Bar
Ala Moana Center, 2nd Floor
Between GAP and Genki Sushi

Panya Express
711 Queen St.
Mon-Fri 7:00am-3:00pm

The Mandalay (review)

Noticing an article in the Honolulu Advertiser’s Dining Out feature on possible options for Father’s Day lunches, my mother suggested we go out for Father’s Day brunch at the Mandalay. The article was neutral, only stating what the Mandalay would be serving for brunch but not giving an opinion on the restaurant. Figuring that the Honolulu Advertiser wouldn’t mention a restaurant if it wasn’t any good, I was open to my mother’s suggestion.

My mistake lay in not consulting food blogs first. It was only one hour before we were set to go to the Mandalay that I finally thought of looking up reviews by fellow Hawaii bloggers. My doubts grew as the reviews I came across (1, 2, 3) were not very favorable. But, with only an hour until lunch time, it was too late to search for a new restaurant.

But, I figured, how badly can someone mess up dim sum?

The Mandalay is located downtown on Alakea St., close to the state capitol and the Hawaii State Art Museum. It is owned by Larry and Linda Chan, who ran the Eastern Garden restaurants for 15 years until they closed the last one down in 2005. I remember Eastern Garden fondly, my family having visited the Aiea location often as I grew up. The food was good, the prices were low, and the restaurant was always pleasingly busy. I did, however, notice a decline in quality in the 2-3 years before the restaurant closed. The decline was not only in the quality of the food, but in every aspect of the restaurant — new plates and forks would be requested after finding the ones on our table greasy or still with bits of food on them.

Still, with memories of Eastern Garden’s earlier years in mind, I was hopeful.

Larry and Linda Chan have opted for a more upscale restaurant. The restaurant has two levels for diners. Those on the bottom floor can enjoy the airiness of the restaurant, the ceiling high above them. There are also decorative vases and costumes on the first floor. Those on the second floor can enjoy the river rock-lined wall, and they are in prime position to people watch.

When we walked into the restaurant, there were three other small parties waiting near the bar/reservation desk. This seemed a little too much for the host, even though there were a lot of empty tables. We were ten minutes early for our reservation, so Linda asked if we could wait. My family and I were a little confused at this, since there was food out and many tables were empty, but we headed out to wait. Immediately after that, Linda came out and said we could wait at our table instead, but we would have to wait a while before eating.

We waited as the staff changed our tablecloth. They do it each time a party leaves. This is a nice touch, but especially welcome because the white tablecloth underneath the new yellow one was terribly stained. Service was a little odd at first. Despite Linda’s remark that we had to wait, a server welcomed us to begin (although the buffet wasn’t fully laid out yet). Our drink orders were taken, and those who ordered sodas were quickly brought their drinks. However, for the two people who simply wanted water, it wasn’t delivered until we were already on our second plate of food.

The simpler items on the menu consisted of somen salad, tofu and watercress salad, chicken and wonton salad, hot and sour soup, fried rice, gon lo mein, steamed pot stickers, pork shu mai, beef broccoli, spring rolls, chicken feet, pan fried white turnip cake, tempura-style nori-wrapped shrimp, deep fried taro puffs, baked sweet cream bun, deep-fried mochi filled with azuki bean paste, mini egg tart in crispy tart shell, and almond tofu topped with azuki beans. As for the entrees, there was of course some kind of fried chicken, some kind of seasoned shrimp, etc., but they failed to provide an indication of what exactly we were eating.

The food was pleasant enough, but there was nothing outstanding. It was all average-tasting food. However, to be fair, this was a buffet. Not fully satisfied with the buffet’s offerings, and curious about the rest of the restaurant’s offerings, we asked a server if we could order off the menu. She responded with, “Yes. What would you like?” We looked to each other briefly before one of us responded, “Steamed char siu bao… and a menu, please.”

I failed to order the Drunken Clams that Reid and the Honolulu Advertiser had raved about, but I have to say that the dishes we ordered were fairly sub-par. To be fair, it was nowhere near terrible. The probem lay in the expectation of higher quality food for the Mandalay’s high prices. The service was odd at times, but once the place filled up a little after noon (and it was packed!!), the servers seemed to get into things, and service was quick and attentive.

Helen Wu of the Advertiser summed it up well,

The Mandalay is definitely nice, but it shows glimpses of greatness, which makes the dips of lackluster food and service all the more frustrating…[S]ervice fluctuated from extreme attentiveness to complete neglect.

My experience at the Mandalay was not terrible, but for the price, it wasn’t quite worth it either. While I wouldn’t return for their dim sum (I prefer the rolling carts of Mei Sum and Legend’s), others have had good experiences with the dinner menu. That’s fair enough, and I wouldn’t turn down an invitation to try dinner there with friends. Even if the dinner lives up to others’ rave reviews, however, the Mandalay clearly still has room for improvement.

The Mandalay has been open for a little over two years, long enough for the disappointed reviews to pile up. Having been a fan of the Chans’ Eastern Garden restaurant, I would love for the Chans to be successful in their new venture. Here’s hoping they have the ability to realize the Mandalay’s faults and turn their restaurant into another success.

Gros Bonnet Bake Sale

Gros Bonnet has a bake sale every Friday morning. Get there early because the best items are gone by 10 o’clock! The Gros Bonnet staff supervising the bake sale is very friendly and always ready for a chat. :)

Marathon Bread