What Are Honolulu Chefs Obsessed with Right Now?

A Vermicular Musui pot, screwpine and rose syrup, and more.

Robert Urquidi, chef/owner, Ethel’s Grill


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From a recent text exchange with Urquidi on his obsession with Topo Chico, a fizzy water from Mexico:


“I just got the last two cases from Kailua Whole Foods.”

“Did you drive all the way to Kailua to get it??”

“I have a water mule now!!”


Urquidi says, “It’s all about the bubbles. Topo Chico has a better mouth feel ’cause they have smaller bubbles than other brands. My friend Landon went to Mexico and told me about it. He’s a sparkling soda water nerd, too.”


Topo Chico is about $10 for a 12-pack at Whole Foods, when in stock. 


SEE ALSO: First Look: The Café by Ethel’s Grill


Kristene Moon, executive sous chef, The Pig & The Lady

Photos: Courtesy of PHAIDON and The Pig & The Lady


“I’m currently obsessed with this book called Bread is Gold by Massimo Bottura. It’s about how he and a bunch of chefs around the world get together to cook for people using scraps leftover from the food festivals in Italy. It’s really good for inspiration and for us as chefs to get to know where people come from. It teaches us about utilizing everything of a product. And to take care of one another. It’s a really good read.”


Bread is Gold$27, amazon.com


Emily Iguchi, chef de cuisine, Fête


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“Really, the one thing I have been obsessively thinking about for the last week is the Vermicular Musui-Kamado. It’s a pot that that acts like a cast iron, sous vide machine and can cook things perfectly without added water or stock, further concentrating the flavors of whatever you’re cooking. It also makes perfect rice. I dream of getting it and I cannot stop thinking about how great it would be to have one.


June 7 correction: We incorrectly stated that the Vermicular Musui-Kamado does not ship to Hawai‘i, but it does.

Vermicular Musui-Kamado, $670, vermicular.us



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“What I do own right now and use is for coffee is called It’s American Press. It makes a really clean cup of coffee without the added sludge that comes out of a French press. It’s also double lined so it keeps the coffee warm.”


It’s American Press, $79.95, itsamericanpress.com


SEE ALSO: First Look: Fête


Chris Sy, baker/owner, Breadshop

Chris Sy Breadshop


Rooh Afza syrup—Shaz (Sy’s wife) remembers this stuff from her childhood, growing up in Kuwait and Karachi. The screw pine has a menthol quality I find refreshing—we’re poaching fruits in it for our Danishes.”


SEE ALSO: New Craft Bakery Will Make You Rethink Bread


(For those not whipping up Danishes, Rooh Afza, a syrup flavored with rose and screwpine, is usually mixed with ice and water or milk for a refreshing drink. It’s often a staple for breaking fast at sunset during Ramadan—which, incidentally, ends this week. The bottle label also recommends it as an ice cream topping.)


Rooh Afza, $10, available at India Market, 2357 S. Beretania St., (808) 888-2277, hamdard.com.pk


Read more stories by Martha Cheng