Saturday, January 31, 2009

Where's da Beef?

Duh, it's the first Monday of the month and that means Italian Beef Sandwich special at hank's! Be warned, the word has been getting out and we've been running out pretty fast.  

Now for Italian Beef purists out there, here's some good news.  I found a new bakery for the bread this week, it's as close as it comes to Gonnella Bread.  Now if you're not from Chicago this will mean nothing to you but as with most classic foods, all components of the dish are important to recreate original taste memory.  In this case, it's the perfect sized loaf, crisp crust and soft interior of the bread that add texture, sponginess to soak up all that gravy and the right bread to meat ratio.  I can taste it already!   Race ya down to hank's!

Thursday, January 29, 2009


GQ, february 09


In 2007, a little-known chef cooked a legendary meal—and then disappeared. Alan Richman checks in on Michael Carlson and his reopened restaurant, Schwa

This was truly an amazing piece telling the unsaid story of the event at Schwa nearly two years ago. I felt journalist Alan Richman did a wonderful job of portraying the intimate aspects of not only a man but also the world he lives in.  I could feel the story as I read... of course I had a connection to it.

Michael Carlson had worked for me as a line cook under Grant Achatz (Alinea) at Trio, my other life.  He had a brashness that could get in your face and a humble side that would return apologetic. Upbeat, funny, always on the move, it was hard not to like him.  When it came to work however, Michael was intense.  His precision was very evident in every movement along the line, aggressive but not bullish, focused and aware.  I admired him and very proud when he opened Schwa.  My dinner there was phenomenal and although I had many concerns about service, ambiance and financial stability, I considered it to be on the top of the Chicago list of great restaurants.  I recommended it to everyone, now only if they could get in.  The following year he took the Food and Wine Magazine's Top Ten list.  He had made it and he did it HIS way, even with being closed on weekends!

So when he abruptly closed after cooking for the culinary giants of the world, I was stunned. Rumors flew around about drugs, alcohol and rehab which I took with a grain of salt waiting to hear the real story.  It all didn't seem real, Michael was a bulldog, he wouldn't take that route. Unavailable by phone, voicemail was full (as usual), I was left to wonder.

So when I heard that he was planning to reopen I was ecstatic, a resurrection!  Excitedly I ate there last May after managing to reach him using every trick in the book to get in. Reservations are impossible.  Michael was the same, vibrant intensity, food reaching new heights and no explaination as to what happened.  Not that it mattered but I was always curious.  What a hell of a story!  

Check it out>>>

Saturday, January 24, 2009


So outside of hot dogs I obviously have an obsession with pizza!  Sorry folks, can't help it, so here it is for this Monday's special (1/26/09).  Seems simple enough, take a grilled Italian Sausage, pour on some homemade pizza sauce, add sauteed green pepper then pile on the mozzarella cheese.  Too simple, so here's a trick that I'm borrowing from my friend Cheryl, BLOWTORCH the cheese.  

Speaking of burnt cheese, it is interesting to look at certain cooking techniques.  Chef Dale Levitski (Top Chef season 3) once said to me "the flaws in the dish can be the highlight".   He would intentionally let the cheese on his Croque Monsieur ooze out onto the pan so it would get nice and crispy.  Amazing sandwich, I hired him to work at Trio because of it.  I guess that will have to show up as a special sometime soon.   Stay tuned.....

Sunday, January 18, 2009


The Man likes hot dogs!  Inauguration Day is here and we find it worthy to make Monday's special in honor our new President so we give you... OBAMA DOG!  He has roots in Hawaii and Chicago so we will start with an island staple, Portuguese Sausage then let's pile on Chicago style trimmings, a condiment overload... mustard, onion, relish, tomato, pickle, spicy peppers and celery salt.  Did I mention the kitchen sink?  Here is a perfectly fused onolicious dog that is promising to be a hit, actually it already is.

It's yours for just $5.50 and by executive decision I'll throw in a free medium soda to salute this masterpiece (hell, let the deal roll for the week, Coral St. location only, offer  expires 1/25/09).  
Support America, eat at hank's!

Friday, January 16, 2009



Hank's will be serving its ono Grilled Portuguese Sausage Dogs at the Hawaii State Art Museum tonight starting at 5 pm.  This should be a fabulous music event with incredible artistS performing not to mention ourselves as masters of the grill.  

This "Live from the Lawn" concert, which happens every first Friday, honors the Grammy nominees for Best Hawaiian Music Album. Featured artist include Keola Beamer, Tia Carrere, Cyril Pahinui, and Raiatea Helm.  Wow, I can't wait.  So bring a blanket, buy a dog and swoon to the tunes at HiSAM tonight (til 9 pm)!

Monday, January 12, 2009


I just finished reading a great food blog from two well traveled local guys traveling eating at wide range of restaurants.  There is much food writing on the Internet these days and since taking pictures of dishes has become commonplace even at the most exclusive restaurants, you can almost taste it.  I find these guys describe a relationship to the experience of food, who they are, what they do and how they eat, it is all very visceral.  It's refreshing since I see a lot of people use the opportunity on forums or blogs to play critic, which is to me a right that should truly be earned.  Just take look at Yelp, what a zoo!   It is amazing what people can say under the cover of anonymity. 

Anyway, it’s nice to read educated, well and responsibly written food, novice or professional.   Check out and it’s not just because we’re in it, there are some really cool restaurant they write about, of course that's in MY opinion!

Saturday, January 10, 2009


Missed it the first time around?  Well here's your chance again.  Seasoned 1/3 pound of sirloin chargrilled and served with your choice of toppings, yum!  It was such a hit last month so get'm while they last, this Monday 1/12, YEE HAW!

Sunday, January 4, 2009




Happy New Year all, hope the holidays were festive and that you're off to a good start in '09.  For us, what better way to begin than with this King of Chicago sandwiches.  Our's is so good we get our friends back home drooling.  Don't know what it is, see my December 1 post or better yet come on down and try the thing, you'll be hooked forever.  Ciao baby!